Every morning at around 7.30 AM, I’m greeted by the friendly – although somewhat anxiety-inducing – ping of my Outlook inbox. As I struggle to keep my eyes open, around 35 new emails demand my attention with their little blue unread bubbles. While sifting through my inbox, I notice how different each piece is. From long, detailed notes to agency stakeholders to internal newsletters to large corporate announcements, each communication has a particular style. Some have a very stuffy and detailed voice while others are more conversational. Although all of these pieces have a different purpose and voice, they all are forms of business writing.
Digital media has changed the way we create and communicate stories to one another. From Snapchat blips to WordPress blogs, content creators need to conform their message to the stipulations of the platform. Natively, shorter more impactful content has been shown to perform better with audiences. Although long-form pieces have been regaining their popularity and effectiveness, not every reader will want to dedicate the time to mull through a 1,500+ word article.
A picture is worth a thousand words. This is a phrase we have all heard at least a thousand times, but sometimes we need to be reminded that a picture is more than just what meets the eye. Only a little over 100 years ago, people believed that everything they saw in photographs was true. As long as the photograph was taken where and when the caption says it was, it was generally thought to be accurate and, at times, even more reliable than the testimony of a human eye witness (Ritchin, 1985). This mindset is now few and far between in today’s society. Nothing – not even a smiling selfie – can be published without meeting extreme scrutiny from the receiving public.
As a society, we are always looking to learn things faster and simpler. Exerting the least amount of energy as possible is a MUST. When presented with a wall of information, I admit that even I cringe and then proceed to Google various sources in order to find somewhere that will tell me exactly what that novel of an article was trying to say in bite-sized chunks. It is arguable that I might have gotten my answers quicker had I just sat there and read through the entire article – but does that mean I would have understood it?
For the past six weeks, I have been honing my ideation and prototyping skills in order to create an app for my hometown of Hillsborough, NJ. Why would a township need an app? Good question. I believe that a township app could help maximize their communication efforts for a fraction of the cost of what they are currently doing. Although the project would require budget, the township throws away so much money by creating paper flyers, posters, sandwich boards, and other forms of advertising that just doesn’t reach the intended audiences.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that paper rules. Paper houses the scribed words of history, brings joy through art, and helps us document our life experiences. While many people believe that paper is falling to the wayside due to the digital revolution, paper is still as relevant now as it was centuries ago. Think about it. The physical presence of one piece of paper is enough to qualify a human being. A birth certificate, a diploma, a resume, a marriage license, a letter of recommendation. The list goes on. It’s amazing how this material can stimulate creativity or rigidity – just by how we envision its purpose.
Our lives are completely run by apps on our phones. Let me explain…
Every morning, I wake up and turn off the alarm on my phone. I then check my notifications, which usually consist of emails in my inbox, social media likes/comments, and messages from friends who think its socially acceptable to start a conversation at 3 AM. When I arrive at work, I frequently check Whatsapp in case my boss had to share something on the fly with me. Throughout the day, I browse Instagram, LinkedIn, and Buzzfeed. These “app breaks” are almost like those a smoker would take. Just being able to scroll mindlessly helps me decompress.