Sometimes you get little hits of something on the wind, and it makes you wonder if it means a change in the weather. To wit:
- A lunchtime conversation with IT colleagues where it’s mentioned that the lion’s share of network traffic in the evening at the College is from Netflix.
- An anecdote by a professor who surveyed his class after providing them with prerecorded video lectures; more students had watched the video content than had read the textbook.
- Google searches on how to do something call up more and more links to video how-to’s rather than to text-based instructions.
As I write this, a third of “The Latest” and “More Top Stories” entries on CNN.com link to video-only content. And I, for one, am not a fan. If I wanted to watch television, I’d go use the television. I grit my teeth when all I can find is video help for a certain thing, and my aging mind reels, “I can read faster than than I can watch this!” (Not to mention that most how-to videos always have the same preamble, “Hi, this is So-and-So and thanks for visiting my channel. Don’t forget to like and subscribe!” — the time spent watching those introductions is more time I could have been spending doing whatever it was I’d wanted to do.) Not to mention that almost all of the big-press coverage of anything to do with e-learning is all about video content — whether it’s MOOCs, flipped classrooms, or whathaveyou. (“But e-learning is more than that!” goes the mind. “What about collaborative writing, and e-texts, and portfolios, and… and…?”)
I am almost totally convinced that this is a product of my age. I am passing into the time when I am no longer anyone’s target demographic, except maybe paper-based media companies and hawkers of certain dietary supplements. And it’s been bandied about for years that video will comprise more and more of the Internet’s traffic as a natural consequence of increasing capacity. But what I’m wondering is, is that the way preference is shifting? Almost everyone reading this will have grown up entirely and squarely in the television age, but I suspect that many, like me, also grew up — and older — around books, magazines, newspapers, and the textual Internet. I understand that print media ain’t what it used to be, and I’ve read Sven Birkerts’ Gutenberg Elegies, but (maybe it’s a product of my age, too –) I never even for a moment considered the wavering of the written word on the Web until, really, today.
Could that be a real thing? Are there studies? Any marketing people in the house? Is this just a puff of wind?
I’m not trying to alarm anyone, more thinking out loud. I’m sure this isn’t some sign of the post-literate apocalypse, but it could be a sign of a new content equilibrium to come. But for what it’s worth, I’m happy to type this, and happy for you to read it. Don’t forget to like and subscribe!