Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top 6.573 things

It's the time of year for 2010 predictions, musings and rants. Among the many, I'll add mine.

1. Shorten your top # list.

Top (fill in the number) lists are growing shorter. Do you remember "Top 20"? Today, if you come across a top 100 list, you will skim the top 5, maybe the top 10. A few gallant efforts are trying to keep the Top 10 list. (David Letterman will be the last holdout).

Many bloggers are trimming to 5 or 6 points.

Short attention spans? Too many blogs? Smaller computer screens (like my cool new netbook). The scrolling resistance movement?

Let's face it: The fast pace of Twitter and other social media sites is literally leaving you with only 37 seconds to read a linked story before you have to check Tweetdeck again.

The love affair with lists won't entirely fade because bullets and numbers seem to package info very nicely for us. Journalists seem to love them.

So, keep manufacturing lists to get attention.

But, really, we simply don't have time to read any list longer than, say, five things.

(Um, gotta go. I just got 14 new emails, 300 new tweets to check and a long lost high school classmate who just found me on Facebook.)

2. Pithy works. The English language continues to suffer. Spellcheck is used less. The watchdogs we grew up with (i.e., William Safire) are no longer around to beat on us for bad grammar and stupid phrases.

Somehow, we no longer cringe over bad writing, just bad pitches. If it's glib, we'll read it. Substance will continue to take a back seat. But, as long as Snopes is around...Sigh.

3. Sensitivity training needed. Please keep the sensitivity training in court orders and other judgments handed down to public figures, like overpaid athletes who run into stands to fight with fans or a barely audible rapper who beats on his girlfriend.

You see, when the TMZs and the Perez Hiltons of the world rule by shock value, there needs to be a balance. Our only reminder that values still have, well, value is when someone is ordered to do community service. The sentencing phase in celebrity court cases still draws huge amounts of attention.

Side benefit: Cutting the anointed idols down to size is our only hope in slowing the pace of reality programming. (Did you hear about the "marriage referee" show coming next year?)

OK judges - time to be even more creative. Wouldn't an appropriate sentencing order in 2010 require a drunken, out-of-work actress to work five days a week at a Rescue Mission to feed the homeless? Or for a new reality show to be created on Court TV to follow a wannabe-boxer-who-plays-right-tackle in the NFL as he picks up trash along the freeway or talks to young boys about the dangers of pre-marital sex?

4. Aggregating continues. The cry of "I just need one site that gives me everything" will continue as millions of more blogs and Web sites appear and strain the world's server capacities. Anyone or any company that delivers this solution will be placed next to Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison and hailed as delivering the eighth wonder of the world. Yeah, I know: Google, Bing and others are trying.

5. "Instant" moves into "future." Today, I can use a Droid to scan an item at my local clothing retailer and compare the price online to find the cheapest price. Instantly. If the online price is cheaper, I can actually stand in that retailer's store, order the same product over the Internet and somehow escape without the store manager giving me angry stares or spraying me with a cologne sample. I can use the GPS function of my phone to hunt down a reporter attending the same conference, or become the "mayor" of a coffee shop. My Google page is automatically refreshing my current search with Twitter updates.

Now is now.

So, what's next? Telling me what's going to happen. Now, that will be cool. Heck, the Weather Channel has been doing this for years.

Think of all the time I will save if someone can tell me that my PR pitch to the Wall Street Journal (online edition, of course) will fail or succeed before I waste my time crafting that perfect pitch.

6.573. Four jobs. Multitasking and working from home were simply training and a precursor to morphing a single job description into three or four. Employers won't hire one person. They will hire a fourth of a person. We'll all work from home, answering to 3 or 4 bosses or "paycheck providers" (as the new mantra emerges). The possibilities under the new economy are endless.

Still with me? Then you must not have a Twitter account.

Happy Holidays.