Archive for category Entertainment
The Internet is bursting with multimedia goodness. I can watch TV shows instantly on Netflix or Hulu (except when I’m in Europe, WTF guys?), listen to music on Last.FM or Pandora, engage myself with an endless stream of pointless games that nonetheless consume giant chunks of my life, and of course, read stuff.
But I think the printed word gets a bum rap. It doesn’t have the glamour of those other so-called “rich” media. It’s generally perceived as boring and tedious. Because YouTube and similar sites have dropped the price of video distribution to essentially nil, marketers and bloggers have been using video more often, because they think it is a better way to present the information in an engaging way. Sometimes this is true but there are reasons that the printed word is still the undisputed king of communication. I wanted to reflect on these qualities because while I enjoy a good video, there are certain things that are better left to text and certain vendors and bloggers would do well to keep this list in mind before replacing that text-based content with a fancy-pants video.
- Text is fastest to scan – I’m not talking about search engines here either, although that is a concern for all internet sites. I mean that people can scan a textual web page for the information they want in much less time that it takes them to watch a video containing that same information. They can tell if the page is devoid of any useful information without wasting their time.
- Text is non- invasive – Have you ever surfed the internet in the proximity of a sleeping person and clicked some innocuous looking link that spawns a website blaring sound at you? I have, and it can be, um,embarrassing. Of course good web designers know to never have sounds start playing automatically and those cases are rare,but if you are distributing content in an audio or video format, there is a good chance I won’t be looking at it when I am in on my laptop in a public area- which is often. Sure I could plug in some headphones, but they are already plugged into my iPod. So now you want me to stop what I am listening to and hear what you have to say?
- Text is naturally asynchronous – Video is sequential, linear. One reason text is so great is that you can see a lot of it at once on a page and read it in an order of your choosing. To achieve the equivalent of flipping between two pages with video you would have to stop, rewind, and fast-forward relentlessly. This is an essential advantage for displaying technical data that needs to be ruminated upon, but is also a feature of printed media that every successful magazine and newspaper exploits.
The printed word is in fact, one of the (or even the) most important technologies ever invented by humans. It is a superior way of presenting information in a number of contexts. People who create and distribute content should keep this in mind. Before publishing on the internet simply ask the question “Which media format is the most useful way to distribute this information?” I think that a large percent of the time you will find the answer is text.