Nuggets of Information: I Love ‘Em!

Who is responsible for info coming to us in easily digestible nuggets? Those items that run just a sentence or two or three, but tell us the main facts we want/need to consume.

Was it the “three dot” newspaper columnists back in the first half of the 20th century? They wanted to get as many names in bold print as possible and the best way to cram several names and events into finite page space was via the well-edited nugget.

Was it New York magazine in the 1970’s? The mag’s fresh design layout allowed for numerous nuggets to be sprinkled throughout each issue, among their longer pieces.

Was it TV news consultants in the 1980’s? They told local stations that the key to ratings wins was “high story count.” This method had been shown to be effective a couple of decades earlier by top-forty radio, which presented news with energy and excitement.

Was it PowerPoint users in the 1990’s? Having a presentation on your laptop was quite impressive 20 years ago, but required reducing longer text paragraphs into bullet points.

Was it text messagers in the 2000’s? Texters have taken minimalism to an extreme, but have shown us that information can be communicated with a single letter and/or punctuation mark: k?

To all who have played roles in condensing info into nuggets, I thank you. As do others.

The St. Louis Business Journal’s page two “Shoptalk” column is its most popular feature, filled with nuggets. The Wall Street Journal’s “What’s News” on the left side of its front page has basic facts—via the nugget—and lists the page where the full story is printed. Many of the emails in my inbox each day consist of nuggets with links to details, should I want more. Twitter allows quick and easy scrolling through nugget after nugget. Another popular form of communication in 2012 is the “infographic,” with simple illustrations and lots of nuggets.

In common usage, a “nugget” can refer to something that’s bite-sized or to something that’s golden. In the world of communication, a nugget can be both.

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