Seven seconds

… is the average attention span.

Marketing theory says seven seconds is how much time a digital marketeer has to prime a customer’s attention.  Entrepreneurship adage claims that the first seven seconds of an elevator pitch matters the most.  It’s how long we take to figure out what’s on TV before deciding to switching the channel, how much time elapses before your doctor interrupts your “what happened,” and how quickly we grow tired of the mundane for a better thrill.

We lose focus quickly because is because we are afraid of noise.  Noise is meaningless data, and today’s media brims with it: the internet, television, even books.  With so much information to parse through, we develop a fear of missing out on the signal amidst the noise.  Along this fear grows a sense of urgency – an urgency to find the meaning in the next seven-second bite that makes all the wasted time worthwhile.

Each seven-second attention spans is a journey primed to start, an odyssey doomed to fail, hastily abandoned before embarkation.

What happens if we just took a deep breath and slow down for a minute?  For one thing, we will have beaten the average by eight-and-a-half folds.

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Howard Chen
Vice Chair for Artificial Intelligence at Cleveland Clinic Diagnostics Institute
Howard is passionate about making diagnostic tests more accurate, expedient, and affordable through disciplined implementation of advanced technology. He previously served as Chief Informatics Officer for Imaging, where he led teams deploying and unifying radiology applications and AI in a multi-state, multi-hospital environment. Blog opinions are his own and in no way reflect those of the employer.

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