According to this article about amazing web stats from January 2009, there are an average of 900,000 blog posts published within a twenty-four hour period. Even if the average reader would skim through each post at a rate of one per minute, it would take approximately 1.75 years to read every one.
With this amount of content added on a daily basis, the web is rapidly approaching a point where content is becoming heavily saturated. Content aggregators that point to other people’s content are increasing in popularity, even though the demand for original content is not slowing down.
Content saturation is a challenge that every content creator (i.e. writer) must face sooner or later. There are a few effects of content saturation that are becoming more and more apparent each day, and I’d like to point these out to you:
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the original source of an idea. All great journalists are taught that citation goes a long way toward establishing your credibility as a writer. Because there are so many blog posts created every day, the “original” post may get lost in a noisy sea of words and links.
- Content saturation fosters plagiarism. When you have 900,000 blog posts created every day, it is very easy for any writer to fall into temptation. After all, if they take one person’s blog post or idea and re-formulate it as their own, who would find out?
- A writer’s credentials are less important than the post’s or website’s content. In more conservative times, a writer’s background was as important as the content they were writing about. If you were writing about finance, for example, you either had a background in finance or you interviewed people in the field to ensure you got the details correct. In today’s environment, there is little-to-no differentiation between one writer or another, even if that writer has no background or experience in what they’re writing about.
- It is harder to tell the difference between opinion, observation and fact. Many writers vie for stronger prose to express their point more authoritatively. “Top 10 Marketing Tips for Your Novel” for example, is one topic I’ve been reading up on. Not one of these articles provided proof of concept (e.g. case studies, real life examples) to show how or why these tips were important. While one of these articles might be more factual than another, without citations or credentials, it’s really easy for any author to get confused.
- A reader’s attention span is nonexistent. Over a decade ago, this article talked about how readers don’t read the web, they scan it. This lack of attention span is forcing writers to write less words for any particular topic, not more. In fact, I did the math after reading this article about the change to WordPress.com’s homepage and found that, on average, each blog post was only 250 words.
- It is more challenging to write on “original” topics. With that amount of content created each and every day, it’s quite possible that multiple people could be writing about the same topic of conversation at the same exact time.
In an upcoming post, I’m going to show you some techniques that you can use to combat content saturation to spruce up your writing and reading skills. For a different take on content saturation, read: Warning: The Internet is Almost Full.