Two Rising Forms of Consuming Content

When writing the thirteen trends article, I had a bit of trouble thinking of all thirteen, so I reached out via Twitter and also internally within The Industry team. It was only after the article had been shared a great deal around the web that I had plenty of “duh” moments where other trends popped into my head that would have made much more sense than a few that I included in the article. As we all know though, hindsight is 20/20, and even then it can be a little blurry.

Instead of going back and editing the initial post, I’ve decided to just write about a new trend when I (and/or someone else) picks it out from within our industry. The one I (and others) have noticed is that of quick and limited consumption – brevity in multimedia communication.

Quick Consumption

This has been around forever, with the trend depending on the form of communication it’s trying to shorten. The most recent in my mind being the entire concept of microblogging. Twitter, as a prime example, gets short snippets of information – 140 characters to be precise – across the globe, ready for quick, immediate consumption. The infatuation with it is that while it does manage to consume a lot of our – or at least my – time, it gives the illusion of being unobtrusive.

With the introduction of applications such as Instagram, The Best Camera, and most recently Vine, this entire concept is being done with media instead of just characters. We all know Instagram has been around for a while, but until Vine came around, we hadn’t completely realized that instead of just being a form of social network, it actually defined its own type of social interactions.

Many people consider Vine the ‘Instagram’ of video and that’s sincerely all it is when you break it down into its most vital elements; if Instagram were 2D, Vine would be 3D. It’s that extra little dimension in sharing and consuming moments that is making it the latest and greatest.

By limiting it to six seconds, Vine allow for just enough of that extra element to be displayed without it making users feel like it’s a complete waste of time. Would five seconds work as well? Would seven be too much? We’re not completely sure, but they chose six for a reason and it’s that extended, yet brief consumption of someone else’s life experiences that keeps us going back for more.

So while “quick consumption” of data isn’t exactly new, it seems with each few years the stakes seem to dramatically rise in an effort to fit more and more data into the shortest amount of time possible. It’s a trend that Vine feeds off of and I’m sure throughout the year, other companies will try their hand at taking a chunk of the market share away from Vine by implementing the same strategies.

Limited Consumption

This is a trend that seems to just recently be coming to frutition. Sure, we’ve seen the spy movies with self-destructing letters and emails, but as far as implementing it into our day-to-day communication, there hasn’t really been a lot of integration thus far.

When Snapchat came around that changed a little bit – or a lot as far as this trend goes. Instead of using iMessages to send photographs of yourself (be them SFW or not) to others, you had a platform that allowed for a much quicker, less permanent way of doing so.

Instead of dozens and dozens of images taking up space on someone’s phone, you view the photograph for a set timeframe and it’s gone forever. Not only is this much easier on behalf of the recipient, but it also makes them a bit more attentive on the image being shared. With scarcity comes priority and when you only have ten seconds at most to view an image, you’re going to soak in those ten seconds a bit more than if you know you could go back to the image later.

This could all sound a bit creepy if you look at it through the eyes of a sext-crazed teenager – or any age for that matter – but the concept of limited-consumption communication once again goes into the psychology of human interaction. It makes the form of communication a bit more intimate in some regards, while also doing the most they can to protect those who try to abuse the system.

The exact same thing could be said for Facebook’s blatant rip-off, Poke. It uses the limited consumption to prioritize those few moments of visualized communication between you and your friends/acquaintances.

By Facebook realizing the significance of an application such as Snapchat, it goes to show that it’s going to be much more than a one-off application more than likely. I could easily be wrong in making that statement, but my initial intuition is that although Snapchat is a horribly designed application as far as aesthetics goes, the idea behind it is absolutely brilliant. It does what all social media tries to do and gets behind the psychology of human interaction.


Quick and limited consumption of the social interactions between humans seems to be trends that are picking up more and more with time. We are in the data age and with everything that is thrown in front of us on a daily basis, entrepreneurs and designers alike are trying to find the most efficient way to present a minute amount of that information to us.

I expect this entire philosophy to continue to grow not only through this year, but the coming years as well. We’ve only seen the beginning of limited consumption, but it seems to have made its mark already and it will be interesting to see who will be next to capitalize on the concept.

Overall, I hope this gave you just a little bit of insight into the trends mentioned above, whether you agree with them or not. AS always, I’m not writing to state absolutes, I’m writing to get conversations going as they pertain to design in some form or another. The broader our knowledge base and outlooks are, the better we can understand opinions other than our own, which is ultimately how we grow as not only designers, but as humans.

I’d love to hear any thoughts and/or opinions on the stated trends; leave it in the comments below, link and elaborate on it on your personal blog, but more importantly do whatever best suits your desire to give others insight into your thoughts. I always do my best to reply to comments, I hunt down and reply to tweets linking my articles, and I always love direct conversations via Twitter in regards to them. Get sharing your insights and see what comes of it.

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