Image for post
Image for post

Surprise! Our Attention Spans Aren’t Dead!

How Quality & Depth Have Found a Home in Pocket

Pocket
Pocket
May 29, 2015 · 5 min read

Mad Men has now come to a close, we’re more than halfway through Season 5 of Game of Thrones, and the second installment of True Detective starts in just a few weeks. All three of these shows got their start in the age of the DVR and view-on-demand, showing that when you give people control over when they can watch a particular show, more complex and deeper storylines thrive.

Since Pocket is frequently called the DVR for the Web, we used a Save as a signal for the kinds of content people are interested in coming back to later. We surfaced the Top 500 most-saved articles of 2015 (thus far) to see if the same trends — the popularity of more complex, deeper stories — are playing out online. Here’s what we learned:

Attention Spans Aren’t Dead!

In the Top 500 most-saved articles from the first half of 2015, we found that the average article length is 3,190 words, which would take over 15 minutes to read.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

And, in stark contrast to the belief that our attention spans now last no longer than 140 characters, the longest article on this list is a twenty-two-thousand-word piece on treatment for heroin addiction from The Huffington Post. It takes just shy of two hours to read.

You might be asking yourself…but, wait, did anyone actually read that? In this case, yes, of those that saved this article, 43% read it in Pocket. That stat is a little lower than Pocket’s typical 50% Read Rate, but still high considering reading Dying to Be Free is the equivalent of watching two HBO shows in a row.

We’re Fascinated With Our Own Minds and What’s Happening in the World

Image for post
Image for post

Even more surprising are the articles themselves. The most popular psychology articles aren’t self-help-centric, but instead broadly span from articles on why people misunderstand one another to neuropsychiatric disorders (turns out that, yes, you can catch insanity).

Here are some of the more popular psychology pieces saved to Pocket within the last six months:

As for culture, technology, and current events, we find that people don’t typically save “breaking news” to Pocket. Instead, what’s popular is the commentary and aftermath analysis of what’s happening and how it’s impacting society, both today and for the future.

It’s the pieces that dig below the surface of an issue and give it deeper context and meaning. Like an in-depth, long-form piece from The Atlantic on what ISIS really wants or a Matter investigation into why recent outbreaks of measles are only just the beginning of an ‘eradicated’ disease comeback.

Here are a few more examples:

Pocket as a Place for Self Improvement

We find that people are using Pocket to focus on building healthier habits, become better leaders, build stronger relationships, and improve their lives in unconventional ways, like learning to develop the situational awareness of Jason Bourne.

Here are some of the more popular examples in the self improvement category:

The More Complex, the Better: Quality Content Wins When You Can Save It for Later

— — —

You can find the articles referenced here (and more) in this collection: http://pocket.co/soUBTd

Pocket

Written by

Pocket

Capture content that fascinates you from across the web, then read, watch, or listen to it in Pocket. Get the Pocket app and fuel your mind. getpocket.com

Pocket

Written by

Pocket

Capture content that fascinates you from across the web, then read, watch, or listen to it in Pocket. Get the Pocket app and fuel your mind. getpocket.com

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store