There are so many ways to communicate these days. Social, radio, television, CDs, streaming, telephone, and direct messaging are just a few. All told there are actually 25 modern communication activities that we’re exposed to every day. But which ones do we consider important? And which ones do we pay the most attention to? That’s some of the issues that economist Will Page discusses in his book Tarzan Economics. If you recognize the name, that’s because Will used to be the chief economist for Spotify.
The book is a fantastic look at what he calls “the eight principles of pivoting through disruption,” but what I found fascinating was a list of communication activities that we experience, and even better, the ones we find the most important. Ready? Here we go.
In order of importance:
- Phone calls
- Text messaging
- Websites and apps
- Recorded TV
- Live TV
- Live Radio
- Social Networking
- Personal digital audio
- Streamed music
- On-demand radio
- Music videos
- Online video clips
What’s shocking here is that some of the legacy communication formats like phone, email, books, television and radio we consider more important than the ones that get the most hype, like social networking, streaming and online video.
There’s also another way to look at this though. We can look at what communication activities get most of our attention. Again, the legacy formats come out looking pretty good.
In order of what gets our greatest attention:
- Phone calls
- Online shopping
- Video calls
- Websites, recorded TV, newspapers, video games, magazines, free on-demand, DVD/Bluray, Paid on-demand (tied)
- Instant messaging, online video clips (tied)
- Photo or video messaging
- Social networking
- Live TV, on-demand radio (tied)
- Personal digital audio, music videos (tied)
- Live radio, CD/vinyl (tied)
- Streaming audio
What’s particularly shocking on both lists is that music is pretty much last in attention and importance to most people. Things that we take for granted, yet feel are somewhat dated like phone calls, books and email are at the top.
The lesson here is that we can’t take the legacy communication activities for granted, and we shouldn’t overemphasize what many consider the “modern” ways of doing things. When it comes to fully capturing someone’s attention, the good old phone is still the best.