Venture Capitalist at Theory

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2 minute read / Apr 4, 2024 /

This Message Will Self-Destruct in 33 Seconds

The average American attention span has fallen from 150 seconds in 2004 to 75 seconds in 2012 to 47 seconds in 2023 - a 5-6% annual rate of decline.

Year Avg American Attention Span (sec) CAGR
2004 150 -
2012 75 -6%
2023 47 -5%

How does this compare to these blog posts?

In 2013, the average reader dwelled on this site for 47 seconds.

Today, it’s 33 seconds, a 3.6% decline - which is a bit better ! but probably within the realm of statistical noise ยก


Over the past decade, the average word count per post on this site has fallen 40% from approximately 560 at the peak to approximately 350 today.

Metric Annual CAGR
Attention Span Change -5%
Blog Dwell Time Change -4%
Word Count Change -4%

So the deflation is consistent. We could argue the posts themselves are shorter, which reduces dwell time - but it’s the other way around.

Content on the internet has compressed : YouTube shorts & tweets come to mind. They provide a faster time to value/dopamine. Authors, rewarded for shorter content, mirror the rest of the web.

So, in ten years, when I update this data, expect it to be in a haiku like this one:

Attention span drops,
From one fifty to forty-seven,
Web’s brief dance evolves.

In the realm of blogs,
Seconds tick from forty-seven,
To thirty-three, soft fall.

Words on screen shrink too,
From five-sixty to three-fifty,
Echoes of the quick pulse.

Who said poetry is dead?

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