I was, like, I can’t even. I mean, it’s like something isn’t right. I feel, like, it isn’t right? Like, removing, like, words? It’s so, like, strange. I was all, “Facebook, like, turning to an all, like, all-video format is, like, going to, like, further make people, like, not read and everything?”
It’s only a coincidence, I suppose, that Facebook’s method of signaling is the ‘Like’ button.
In five years time Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, who heads up Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London this morning.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech.
“The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video,” Mendelsohn said. “It conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”
No, it doesn’t. Mendelsohn (and Zuckerberg), if they really believe such a thing and aren’t bloviating, are wrong—and they’re wrong if they’re bloviating, too. And not only wrong, and not only preposterously wrong, but stupefyingly preposterously wrong. With some exceptions, such as conveying information in a painting or showing the positions of the mangled cars in a crash, video does not convey “much more information in a much quicker period” than reading.
You can read these words faster than you can listen to them. Too, you can re-read them much faster than re-watching them, which involves making a device go backwards and then forwards again; whereas your eyes can do the same trick in an instant.
Imagine watching a video of somebody reading Spengler’s The Decline of the West. Not only would the audience spend many more hours assimilating the material than readers, who again can not only read, but re-read (a necessity with this book) faster than watch, they would also fail to see the irony in their act of listening to what was meant to be read confirms the thesis of what they should have been reading.
If you don’t like that example, feeling man’s journey is essentially one of progress and any book which dares to disagree isn’t worth reading, then feast your eyes upon any math of physics text, or a book of history written by any author prior to the Twentieth Century. Videos of the same won’t cut it.
The comparisons aren’t entirely fair, I admit. Facebook is a “platform” for flummery, foolishness, families, and felines, subjects which are not content rich. Videos suffice. This may be why Facebook censors content which leads to written discussions.
Anyway, the non-reading trend is only being embraced by that dismal company; it did not create the trend. For instance, a librarian at a major university confirmed that students who amble down to the “learning center” do not do so to read books, but to engage with their “devices” in a pleasant setting. Of course, textbooks, with their colorful sensationalism and textual pablum, discourage any but the most ardent seeker of knowledge. Educational theory has been discouraging real books for some time, which accounts for much including the hideousness of textbooks.
Casual reading has been decreasing for some time, and this has led to what was written to be simplified, and that led to speech which is less descriptive and more demonstrative, and that leads to people unwilling to read better books, which leads to what’s being written to be simplified, and so on.
Like, am I right?