text is a temporary lossy workaround

as an extremely text-biased person with an unjustifiable fetish of long-form text, it pains me to have to start to accept that text (hence writing and reading) is not the most effective method for information transfer.

text might be the most efficient (storage and transmission wise) and relatively convenient (skimmable, indexable, tangible), but I am becoming more convinced that the most effective means of communication is audio.

text is a temporary lossy workaround.

we started with oral culture. we spread culture using myths and stories.

then the invention of writing (in all the different forms in different culture), and later technology for printing, allowed us to externalise, persist, and scale knowledge. we developed reading skills. text proliferate. we gained eye for an ear. the literacy culture reigned.

all until the capacity of our digital infrastructure and advancements of compression and transmission mechanisms grew to accommodate more ubiquitous distribution of audio and video formats. the pendulum swings back and oral culture 2.0 is born: the shift towards audio and video.

this is not to say that we should stop investing in writing and reading skills. rather: there is value in being able to communicate well in every medium.

two things I know for sure
1. capturing your thoughts in writing is more difficult than externalising them by speaking
2. creating an engaging, substantive, and clear communication of the just-right length is not easy but it is easier than ever with all the technologies we have access to these days

if I have to describe the soundtrack to my writer’s block, it’s this: “no one has the attention span to read long-ass text anymore. if I want to get my ideas out to as many people as possible, I gotta make it short, snappy, and probably not in text”

whether that belief is true or not and in what context, I guess I have nothing to lose brushing up on my speaking skills.

but I suspect the solution is by answering the real questions: who am I speaking to and what am I trying to say?

5 Replies to “text is a temporary lossy workaround”

  1. Jacob says:

    Really interesting. On the one hand, I’ve been listening to many more audiobooks over the past few years. On the other hand, while I agree that capturing our thoughts in (good, high quality) writing can take effort, I don’t find dictating to be an easier way to externalise my thoughts— it’s harder to get into flow. Conversation, however— with the right person, all that self-consciousness can evaporate, and the ideas can come quickly. And of course, all of this is subjective, depending on what our minds respectively need…

    1. tre says:

      Agreed on the potentials of conversations!

      Your comment reminds me that last week I heard Morgan Housel mentioned in The Tim Ferriss podcast that he’s surprised to find that audiobooks of his books sell more than his books — an experience that his fellow authors also shared.

      Also interesting that you don’t find dictating to be easier than writing.

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