Life in the Blinkosphere

The blogosphere may be the blinkosphere. That’s the upshot of a study by Canadian researchers who found that Web users judge a site in “one twentieth of a second–less time than it takes to blink,” according to a Reuters article.

The article encapsulates a study published in the scholarly journal Behavior and Information Technology. Study author Gitte Lindgaard, a psychology professor at Ottowa’s Carleton University told Reuters, “Web designers have to make sure they’re not offending users visually.” But, he added, “When we looked at the Web sites that we tested, there is really nothing there that tells us what leads to dislike or to like.”

This study merely strikes fear into the hearts of Web designers without giving them any guidance. So let me point back to a previous posting in which I summarize the results of a separate study of what browsers liked and disliked — once researchers glued them to a chair and tracked their eye movements.

Object lesson: On the subject of what does and doesn’t work in site design let me point you to Dvorak Uncensored, a tech news blog by a guy who’s been a branded commentator for years. I was driven there by a Topix alert that mentioned Linus Torvalds and some issue involving digital rights management. I didn’t make much of the DRM issue ( PC World suggests that Linus wants Linux to be DRM capable to help it stay commercial while free software advocates think copy-proofing schemes should be anathema.) That was too techie for my tastes, but I noticed that the Dvorak site had a horoscope engine. I clicked to check my fortune and was taken to a page wrapped in ads. Silly? Perhaps. But an indicator that Web publishing is like fly fishing — it takes a bright and shiny to hook ’em.

On to serious stuff: Borrell Associates says online job search nearly tripled in 2005 to $3.5 billion while newspaper job listings grew 17 percent during the same period to $5.4 billion. “The report predicted that online job ads will overtake newspaper help-wanteds by the end of next year,” according to an article in MediaPost. It quotes a Borrell researcher as saying, “The handwriting’s on the wall for the traditional recruitment advertising business.” Major metro newspapers are more at risk than small papers. Borrell offers free executive summaries but charges for full reports.

Info resource: Many interesting articles, links, reports and tools to be found at, whose self-described mission is to “(bring) journalists together to decide for themselves what their purpose and aims are.”

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media