Video from FRESH MILK XV: The Age of Infobesity with McLean Greaves

We are pleased to share a video from FRESH MILK XV, held on Thursday, April 10th 2014,  which featured a talk titled ‘The Age of Infobesity’ by our visiting speaker McLean Greaves, a Barbadian-born, Toronto-based expert in digital media and Vice-President of the Interactive division at ZoomerMedia.

Thank you to the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Barbados for recording the event!

The Age of Infobesity:

90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the past two years. With the rise of social media, mobile devices and the latest buzz — the Internet Of Things — humans are facing an unprecedented amount of data to consume. The result: a rapidly shrinking attention span.

Presented by veteran digital media executive McLean Greaves, this talk explains how we got here, the role of digital marketeers in monetizing reduced attention spans, and solutions for future generations where the average North American student now owns 6.7 devices but is increasingly forgetful.

A Review of FRESH MILK XV – The Age of Infobesity

Visual artist Ronald Williams reviews Fresh Milk’s last event, FRESH MILK XV, which took place April 10, 2014 at The Milking Parlour Studio.

Photographs by Dondré Trotman.

McLean Greaves presenting 'The Age of Infobesity'. Photograph by Dondré Trotman.

McLean Greaves presenting ‘The Age of Infobesity’. Photograph by Dondré Trotman.

On Thursday April 10th, McLean Greaves, renowned media industry veteran took centre stage at FRESH MILK XV. He presented a brief, but ironically informative, lecture entitled ‘The Age of Infobesity’. Derived from the medical condition obesity, where there is an unhealthy excess of body fat, infobesity refers to an overabundance of information which can have dire physical and cognitive effects.

According to McLean, when we gain information it triggers a high reward center in our brains—the same area that responds to pleasurable stimuli like food and sex. This combination of high reward value and the availability of social media devices make information extremely addictive. Our information craving is evident in everyday life; from hours spent obsessively playing social media games to the average office worker checking their email 30-40 times an hour.

The fact that the media industry is well aware of our addiction and readily exploits it is perhaps more disturbing. It is now widespread knowledge that many, if not all of our online activities are being observed, but the internet itself is designed to distract us. The time spent on sites, the amount of words most likely to be read on a page, the most click-worthy zones on our screens; it is all monitored. McLean states that as a result, the search engines, pop-ups and pop-unders are tailored to suit our individual internet presence, as if catered by some omnipotent being.

However, he is quick to point out that this godlike entity is one of a sinister nature. Given the statistics he presented, I would have to agree with him. The average attention span of humans has fallen 33% since 2000, from 12 seconds to 8 seconds – To put that into perspective, a goldfish’s attention span is 9 seconds long. McLean continues to say that not only has our ability to focus been affected, but our face to face social interactions have suffered as well. Just 5 hours of internet surfing changes the way the brain works, with the decision making and problem solving areas of the brain showing less activity.

Furthermore, according to McLean, the average American teen owns 6.7 devices (slightly less for the Caribbean) and is almost constantly connected to the information network, making them the most susceptible to the effects of infobesity. Quite understandably, as this is the internet age—the only age many young people have grown up in—the older generation’s attention span is more resilient than that of the youth. Needless to say, this does not bode well for the future as projected productivity levels will decrease while stress levels increase. However, the situation does not need to be tragic, as solutions lie in the problem.

There are various programs which control and monitor the time expended on computer activities, and while still controversial, video games have shown promise in the effort to increase the attention span in children. Like any addiction, or even a medical condition like obesity, it takes time and discipline to correct. As we are well into this age of infobesity, it would seem wise to utilize the technology to solve our problems, rather than fight a seemingly unwinnable war.

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About Ronald Williams:

portrait

Born in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1990, multimedia artist Ronald Williams developed an interest in art from a very young age.  His art education in the Barbados Community College’s Fine Arts program forced him to view art as a powerful cog in society. Currently, Williams’ work focuses on race and sociology, investigating how sports and the black athlete fit into popular culture. Ronald manipulates popular imagery to compose computer generated images, using digital collage to speak about a multiplicity of issues, i.e. society’s perceptions, stereotypes, fantasies and various nuances about the black athlete.

FRESH MILK XV – The Age of Infobesity with McLean Greaves

FM XV Flyer

On the heels of our last public event, FRESH MILK is pleased to invite you to FRESH MILK XV, which will be held on Thursday, April 10th 2014 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Fresh Milk Art Platform Inc., St. George, Barbados. The evening will feature a talk by our visiting speaker McLean Greaves, a Barbadian-born, Toronto-based expert in digital media and Vice-President of the Interactive division at ZoomerMedia.

The Age of Infobesity:

90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the past two years. With the rise of social media, mobile devices and the latest buzz – the Internet Of Things – humans are facing an unprecedented amount of data to consume. The result: a rapidly shrinking attention span.

Presented by veteran digital media executive McLean Greaves, this talk explains how we got here, the role of digital marketeers in monetizing reduced attention spans, and solutions for future generations where the average North American student now owns 6.7 devices but is increasingly forgetful.

The event is free and open to the public. See our About page for directions.

McLean-Greaves

About McLean Greaves:

McLean Greaves is Vice-President of the Interactive division at ZoomerMedia, based in Toronto Canada. A renowned cross platform veteran, McLean is responsible for leading an integrated digital strategy of the Boomer-targeted company including mobile, social media, SEO and IT infrastructure covering television, radio and print media lines.

Prior to ZoomerMedia, McLean served as the executive producer of the network television series, ZeD, a cutting-edge cross-platform format that landed five Gemini nominations in its inaugural season as well as selection in the prestigious INPUT TV conference (Denmark) and two Leo Awards, including Best Variety Show. His second season followed up with more critical acclaim including Gemini, Webby and a prestigious Emmy® nomination for Advanced Media. Season three landed four Gemini nominations and a Media Person Of The Year nomination at the Western Canadian Music Awards. During this same time, McLean also created and produced Burning To Shine, an intimate documentary on the popular Canadian rapper K-OS collaborating with the CBC Radio Orchestra.

Prior to his foray in television, McLean ran an “afrosomething” start up in New York City where, as founder of the urban dotcom company VMI, he was twice selected as a Silicon Alley “cyber star” by the Village Voice and Virtual City magazines. His new media and television projects have drawn positive reviews from the likes of The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Wired and Crain’s Business Weekly. Former clients include filmmaker Spike Lee, music mogul Sean “P-Diddy” Combs and media giant Time Warner. McLean’s NYC days also included stints as Vice President of Content at HBO’s Volume.com, Associate New Media Editor at PAPER magazine and frequent contributor to Essence, Vibe, BET Weekend and The Source magazines. As a guest lecturer, McLean has presented at the PBS Technology Conference, Western Canadian Music Awards, New York University, Columbia University School of Business, Pratt Institute and others.

In addition to broadcast and digital media, McLean has written for several magazines including Paper, Globe & Mail Newspaper, Vibe, Essence, The Source and Zoomer.

McLean is a graduate of the British Columbia Institute Of Technology and has served on various boards including NewMedia BC and NextMedia.