Selective Attention

A few years ago I was in the mode of shopping for a new car: a MINI Cooper. Suddenly, I noticed how many MINI Coopers were sharing the road with me. This concept, known to researchers as “selective attention,” refers to our brains hardwired tendency to focus on one thing at a time. A fascinating article in the Wall St. Journal discusses this idea further by relating it to listening in on select conversations during cocktail parties or even talking on the cell phone vs. talking to a passenger while driving an automobile. Relatively few members of the population are effective at multitasking (2.5 percent) and even students who are using Facebook in school classes are not learning effectively–which bring consequences when it comes time for exams. For marketers and PR people, it means we rarely have someone’s undivided attention. What does it mean for you?

Advertisement

Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Brittanica

Wikipedia turned 10 in January 2011. It has come a long way from its roots as a hackneyed collaboration of articles to up-to-date content moderated by editors around the globe. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center revealed just how popular the service has become. Read it here: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Wikipedia/Report.aspx

However, Wikipedia is still not accepted as a definitive source of news because the content and descriptions can be added by anyone and some people have figured out how to fake out the system. At the heart of the controversy is its banishment from academia. According to professional researchers, the information is not vetted using a more rigorous, scholarly method as used by its nearest competitor, Encylopedia Brittanica. Does it matter? Is the venerable Encyclopedia Brittanica nearing extinction? Will Wikipedia ultimately turn to advertising to fund its existence? Will this influence the content?

Here’s a test, search for the following words–Oliver North–using both services and then compare the results. (Naturally, membership is required to get detailed information from one of the services–which is a very important distinction.)

What are your thoughts?