Software Architect / Microsoft MVP (AI) and Pluralsight Author

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How Tech Needs To Cancel Reading

The prospect of cancelling reading might seem extreme at first. However, we need to take into account how the work and social environments have been affected by the pandemic. The coronavirus situation has driven a drastic change of tact in business interactions. Employees are encouraged to stay at home whenever possible. As a result, the home office routine is replacing the typical commute to work and face-to-face meetings. It’s not just the workplace that’s gone digital. Friends catch up on Zoom. Households plan their weekly grocery shopping online. The bottom line: every day is a collection of never-ending screen-reading and typing. People’s attention span for online content is saturated. 

 

It makes no doubt that we can’t safely go back to a non-digital environment in the current health crisis. However, we can tap into the range of tech tools and gadgets to reduce the reading load. Every day, people produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. For comparison purposes, a quintillion has 18 zeros. In other words, that’s a lot of data. We can’t control data creation. But we can control the format in which we choose to distribute it. Removing reading altogether from your business interactions with customers can help the messages to become more digestible. 

Don’t write it, show it

Here’s an important question that every company needs to ask: do you need to write everything down? The pandemic has revealed that video is the preferred format for the stay-at-home population. Users have consumed more video content online since the start of the pandemic than during the same period before. As a result, businesses can explore this new option. With the help of a professional team, you can transform your web content with a corporate video production, hence rendering information easily consumable. Videos can be used to introduce complex concepts, launch new products and services, or display your latest news.  

We need to talk

Users are struggling to maintain their attention span through texts of varying lengths. But they are comfortable listening to texts rather than reading them. The technology to turn written texts into spoken words is not new. Companies can look at tools that can read web pages. These are typically used for blog articles, as you can find audio readers that speak your content. Additionally, there are also alternatives to vocalise the majority of your web interactions with the audience. Azure speech services are one of the favourite solutions to make your chatbot speak, reducing reading fatigue for users. 

Reducing reading load

Ultimately, websites need written data to share and convey their messages. Video and audio tools can only do so much for the typical user. But, you can consider how artificial intelligence can help tackle the reading load. When text is unavoidable, it can be useful to introduce automated summaries to your platform. Engines that produce summaries of lengthy articles exist. You may be familiar with Reddit’s summary bot AutoTLDR bot. (Too-Long-Didn’t-Read). But AI solutions are becoming more effective at matching human cognitive and linguistic skills so that soon readers can receive an accurate and informative sum-up of long content, the ideal tool to know whether or not it’s worth reading! 

There’s more to the reading load than we realise. When most digital data is available for reading in a post-pandemic world, maximising non-reading formats can support attention span, concentration, and interest. Additionally, users who rely on screen readers can also benefit hugely from non-reading formats that make consumption and interactions less reliable on eyesight. 

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