Never mind the blogging …

A few people have been talking about ‘the end of blogging’, suggesting that the rise of more micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter has transformed the exchange of information and communication.

The ‘end of blogging’ discussion is akin to that of the ‘end of the long copy advertisement‘, which has be raging for decades.

One of the texts I remember in Ad-School was first published in 1938, and continuously modified in the following decades. “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples. He mentions about writing

“Ads with lots of facts are effective. And don’t be afraid of long copy. If your ad is interesting, people will read all the copy you can give them. If the ad is dull, short copy won’t save it.”

David Ogilvy, in 1963 commented

“Research shows that readership falls off rapidly up to 50 words of copy, but drops very little between 50 and 500 words. In my first Rolls Royce advertisement I used 719 words—piling one fascinating fact on another.”

In 1963, most people read newspapers and long copy ads were perfectly acceptable, predominantly full of ‘important’ facts – to sell an idea or product.

20 years later, Ogilvy explained why they still worked

“I believe, without any research to support me, that advertisements with long copy convey the impression that you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not. Direct response advertisers know that short copy doesn’t sell. In split run tests, long copy invariably outsells short copy.”

We are immersed in media that knows and exploits that we are essentially ‘difference’ engines. We notice things that are ‘wrong’ or opposite to the expected perception. They are smothered with aspiration, sexuality and cultural semantic devices – in the hope, we will ‘read their message’ before the next one a few moments later.

Retention in advertising and education is desirable, yet conflicting.

In doing this, the media are very comfortable to rehash, remix and leverage past media messages – and often blatantly rips off the work of artists in the process. Few are making the effort to create new ideas in the way Ewan McIntosh is attempting at 4ip. But then again, it takes a stack of cash too, and that is not something education can draw on.

We then wonder why teens find it acceptable to do the same – remash, repurpose, rip off – and call it evidence of learning.

We constantly devalue communication by taking shortcuts. Students are continually exposed to commercial ‘push’ content, who’s sole intent is retention through differentiation. I learned in advertising that very few copywriters are great at the long copy ad and just about everyone thought they could write a short ad.

A short ad is star burst  information usually designed, like Twitter, to grab your attention to do one action in just a few words. As the price of media placement falls and the opportunities increase – they can blast us more often. The long ad strives to inform you of much deeper thoughts, and relies on accuracy and relevance. It contains much more information. You don’t advertise using long copy to teens. They are conditioned to receiving short, sharp busts of information – which they cope with by learning to multi-task.

picture-2Educators never needed to market themselves in K12 – they have tenture! We never needed to allow for multi-tasking or digitally media ‘savvy’ read/write/create learning environments.

Teachers always set the agenda and the pace and held the keys to formal learning. Web2.0 is then a disruptive technology. People have become brands and brands now leverage popular culture and visual imagery to grab your attention. The messages are no longer about, as Oglivy said, “piling one fascinating fact on another”‘.  Like it or not – educators have to ‘sell’ learning in new ways, using new approaches and help learners make sense of it all.

Today’s teens are fed a daily diet of  instant, franchised information – short messages that have specific intentions – few of which worry too much about being un-biased, impartial, ethical, moral or accurate. The result has been a generation who now ‘skim’ content, not critically analyse it.

Ever seen a teen read a game manual before playing the game?

In 140 characters I can make a point, shout or push a link, but I really hope that people don’t pass the idea to students that ‘blogs’ – or more specifically – extended writing is not relevant or worse –  as long as you can short message and skim, you’ll succeed.