How writers can adapt to the doubling of human knowledge

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The prospect of human knowledge doubling may excite you or terrify you but be aware that it’s happening. Here is how smart writers might adapt to this prospect…

I delivered another training workshop this week and, while waiting for my turn, I sat in the audience observing another presenter. She had a terrific slide about how long it takes for human knowledge to double.

Here are the stats she cited:

  • In the year 1900: 100 years
  • In the year 1945: 25 years
  • In the year 2014: 13 months
  • In the year 2025: 25 hours

Isn’t that mind-boggling? Here’s what those numbers tell me about writing:

The best writers will become the best, most efficient researchers. With human knowledge doubling at this pace, writers will be at a huge advantage if they can find the information they need quickly. This will not be achievable simply by being faster. Writers will need to become more strategic in collecting research and they can best do this by focusing on exactly what they need — and ignoring the rest. (This is where mindmapping can be so useful.)

The best writers will be succinct. With human knowledge doubling at this pace, readers will be faced with even more material to read. Why would they want to spend time with a writer who’s being unnecessarily long-winded?

The best writers will tell plenty of stories. With human knowledge doubling at this pace, readers will be drawn to the most interesting material. Numbers numb, facts frequently bore but stories are sticky and almost invariably interesting.

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