What we share online in 60 seconds

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds

For online communications in a world where information can be shared in an instant, does blogging still matter? Choose the shortest format to tell your story and work back from there to cover the different platforms where your audience resides

Neville Hobson, also known as @jangles, has posted a recent presentation to Slideshare: Is there any point in blogging? The slides are a great walkthrough the different formats now popular for communicating online and how organisations can use the channels effectvely. Also included in the slides is the infographic above. Published in June 2011 by GO-Gulf.com, it gives a real feel for the massive volume of opinions flowing across the Internet and why ‘big data’ matters. Imagine being able to mine those insights in real-time to influence decisions.

Here’s Jangles slidedeck:

And back to the question that forms the title. Is there any point in blogging? Well here I am, writing a blog post… 🙂 But the answer, in true consulting style is ‘it depends’. The overall value is definitely lower than 5 years ago due to the sheer number of blogs out there. Thanks to power laws and long tails, discoverability now has little correlation with quality of the content. Industries that benefit from visuals and location-awareness may find short format alternatives like Instagram and Pinterest of more benefit than the longer format of traditional text-y blog posts.

Two tips to get the most value out of blogging/online communications:

  • If you have to pick one medium, choose the shortest format that tells the story. Work back from there.
  • Make the content available on the platforms that your target audience inhabits.

Presentations should have an impact

Over recent years, PowerPoint has taken more than its fair share of blame for bad presentations. Blame the bullet points! As a result, we’ve seen the rise of beautiful presentations, simple presentations, photogenic presentations, interactive presentations… and still there are plenty of terrible presentations, even without the bullet points!

Using slides to support a presentation should be for one purpose only – to make an impact, to leave an impression on the audience, to help get a point across and hope that it is still remembered long after the event. Use whatever style helps achieve that goal.

And whilst I don’t think I could bring myself to create a presentation quite like this one… it demonstrates the point perfectly 🙂

Presentation by Dave McClure

Misleading Pictures

Jon Udell has an excellent blog post showing why you should not assume that images are providing an accurate picture.

He mentions reading two of Edward Tufte’s books over Christmas. Coincidentally, I was also reading some of Tufte’s work during December: ‘The Visual Display of Quantitive Information‘ and ‘The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint‘. Both are excellent reads if you are interested in doing a better job of presenting information, as well as how to spot misleading visualisations.

Here is one snippet that should be observed by all those (mostly Microsofties, at the moment) who are swooning over the new visualisation features in PowerPoint 12 and Excel 12:

The number of variables depicted should not exceed the number of dimensions in the data. The use of 2 (or 3) varying dimensions to show one-dimensional data is a weak and inefficient technique, capable of handling only very small data sets, often with error in design and ambiguity in perception.

Anybody who uses 3d bar charts needs to consider this point carefully. Here’s a simple example:

The data presented in these two charts is identical, but it is much clearer and easier to analyse on the right. The shaded area in the 3D version on the left does not add any information and makes it harder to compare the data values.

On a related subject (I had a bit of a reading splurge during December) the book Freakonomics provides some great examples that demonstrate why we should not jump to conclusions and assume cause and effect when we see correlation between two data sets. Correlation only indicates a relationship between two elements, it does not prove that one causes the other. One of the most common abuses of statistics is to present indicators as causes.

As the technologies to store and analyse large quantities of information improve, it is important that we also improve our abilities to correctly interpret and present the information if we are to avoid poor decisions and the resulting consequences.

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