Heard the phrase “reading is dead” lately?

Yup. Me too.

Now I recognize the irony of writing a blog post about whether you’re going to read … this blog post. But what’s my alternative?

I was at a meeting the other day in which a couple of people talked about how no one reads anymore. I hear this a lot. It’s easy to say. More and more of us are content creators. There are 4.59 billion indexed pages on the Internet. There are Vine stars, and YouTube stars, and still a few blogging stars.

A Great White Library

Thousands may not be flocking to your content anymore, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a substitution effect taking place.

Mark Schaefer calls this the problem of content shock:

The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.

It’s not about reading.

Reading dead?

Harry Potter collection

Ask J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin about that.

To be fair, this particular conversation arose in the context of Web design–and the imperative to consider very carefully what goes on the page. They are correct. Getting this stuff right is very important. All this competition means your opportunity to grab my attention is getting shorter and shorter.

But words per se are not the problem. You can have the same discussion over whether to write short posts or in-depth articles, or shoot 90-second quick hits or 18-minute TED talks. The answer is always “it depends.”

What are you trying to do? Equally important: what do you want your audience to do next?

No one goes to your Web site to read.

People go to Web sites for news, information, help, product specs, to buy something, to learn something, to be amused, to be inspired–

We go because we want or need something. Provide that something, and we’ll stay as long as we need to.

Photos by Magdalena Roeseler, Lucia Whittaker, Mo Riza (Flickr).