A few months back I read this article in the New York Times science section by John Tierney and marked it because I thought it very interesting. When the topic of viral video distribution came up in our Think Tank “Quo F Vadis” that my friend Wilder and I started, about the future of the film industry on the internet, I had to go back and dig it out.

When it comes to newspaper articles, it seems that the ‘awesome’ factor out ways the ‘cool’ factor and that the stronger the emotions the more the article will be shared – interestingly enough in the newspaper world longer articles did better than shorter ones and I think with visual content we see the reverse. “Short, shorter, shortest” is the recipe for a viral hit.

I think where an article might have an advantage over a video is that it’s “scan-able”; a video is a linear affair. I also think that a forwarded article has a notion of “look how cool AND smart I am by forwarding you this awesome intellectual article about optics of deer vision” (no kidding – read the article). Whereas a video sub-text would be “look how hip and cool I am” OR “how outraged I am by this injustice”. No wonder Mashable has near daily list of top YouTube hits. This Sunday: 10 best wedding dance videos. Tomorrow: (educated guess) 10 funniest dog tricks.

Where does that leave us, content providers? Are we all decimated to 2 minute one-offs or webisodes? How will long format content be consumed in the future? Who will pay for it; consumers, aggregators, advertisers?

Have you watched yourself lately watch content on line? How long is tour attention span, when do you decide to commit or skip to the next video or task? What are you willing to pay for and what do you expect to be free?

Tell me…

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