Well they've gone and done it. They've ruined the internet. How hard is it to just write words and post them on a website? Evidently, very. It's much easier to prop your camera up and make a poorly lit video of yourself sitting on your couch mumbling your message and post it on youtube. Or better to ramble on about your topic off the top of your head and call it a podcast. Or if your topic is easily divisible, work up a slideshow.
I have over recent years come to terms with the imminent death of the written word. Honestly, in day-to-day activities, writing is almost a lost art for anyone under 25. But look, you need to match your media to the type of communication you are doing. The most efficient way to inform of anything complicated is via writing. The best way to inform someone of options is writing. It may be appropriate to punctuate this writing with pictures or videos to illustrate points but the words are what organize your thoughts in such a way that your audience can zero in on the specific information I want.
For example, let's say you want to express a thorough opinion on some non-trivial topic -- you want to editorialize. The first thing you would probably do is give some background. Well, if I already know the background I can skip those paragraphs. If you put it in a video I either have to sit through it or try to find a good place to which to skip forward. If you're a good expository writer, I can see where you're going at any given point by reading the first couple of sentences of section to see if it's new to me or you're just treading old ground. I need to be able to focus on the key points to me, or you're going to lose me.
Even something like a how-to guide is better when text based and highlighted with short direct pictures or video clips demonstrating what is described. Example: I recently needed to do some scratch buffing and touch up painting on my car. I had a general idea of what to do but I wanted to know if there were any tips or tricks that would be of value, so I fired up youtube. I found a video on how to apply touch up paint. I was approximately 6 minutes long. The first minute was a short logo and intro since this was apparently meant to be part of a car maintenance series. The next two minutes was a man standing in front of his car explaining that touch up is for paint chips and giving examples of how paint chips happen and explaining the how using touch up not only improves the appearance of the car but helps prevent rust. Let's pause there. The target audience for this video is people wanting to do touch up on their own car. So they probably already know what touch up is and certainly already want to do it, why go through all this pageantry? As it turned out, there was nothing new to learn from this video for me. But had it been text based -- say a step by step description of the process with video clips as demos -- I could have seen that in about three seconds.
Perhaps it's just poor design. If you want to see how to do a how-to video, go to facebook and search on "video recipes". Sites like 12tomatoes and Delish understand that these are not V shows they are producing. They whip through everything you need to know in under three minutes. No narration. Very, very well thought out, Phone friendly. They figure their audience is in the kitchen and they just fire up the recipe vid on their phone. They can pause it, or just replay it if needed because it's short enough. That, my friends, is how you do design -- give your audience exactly what they need. Whoever came up with this format for how-to videos deserves a medal.
Another example: I recently found a link to an interview with an industry personality with whom I share interest. I really wasn't interested in much of the technical detail as I was in the more conceptual aspects of his work. Normally I would either be hunting and pecking through the video to find what I wanted, but in this case there was transcript posted along with the video. Joy! I found out what I wanted in about five minutes versus sitting through a 25 minute video. There's a rule for life: always include a transcript.
All this make me yearn for the old days when people wrote plain text in blogs and since you needed HTML skills to insert a picture, and even when you did the browser wouldn't render it right, few people did. But not any more. Writing and reading are too hard and you can't do them well on your phone. So we have taken the tremendous abilities of adaptation and problem solving our ancestors evolved over epochs to survive and dominate in the primal world and used them to rid ourselves of the need to write or read.
And now I find myself, once again, an old man yelling at clouds. Even in small ways text is gone. What's left is it is 140 characters -- grammar-less, unpunctuated, uncapitalized, and misspelled -- and the demographic for even that is aging. Young millennials have no need of such archaic devices as an alphabet. Perhaps they process images as effectively as I process text. They communicate in images via snapchat, and the future is theirs.
Worse though, and what can't be dismissed as a consequence of my grumpiness, is that all these wonderful tools we have for speedy interaction with our screens have been turned against us. Land on a page and try to scroll and, as likely as not, nothing happens because the site is hunting across several third-party ad providers to load up every corner the page with video ads and flash links, then once it downloads and presents them and returns your cursor to you the focus in the wrong place for you mouse wheel to work, so you manually adjust the scroll bar and try to click on what you want to read, but by then the page is reloading fresh ads and one of them shifts everything on the screen just enough to move your link out from under your mouse and place an ad there for you to unintentionally click, which pops open another page that asks you if you are willing to take a survey and you have to hunt around for the little "x" to kill the survey window and by then the original page is reloading yet another set of ads so you just kill the tab and abandon whole idea of reading what you wanted.
In the end, you wanted to read something like 5k of text information and instead end up downloading hundreds of megs of videos and ads and don't get to read it anyway. I cannot fathom how any of this works for the advertisers. Do you know anyone who has not immediately dismissed an ad when given the opportunity? How about anyone who hasn't closed a page rather than sit through a 15 second autoplay video commercial that can't be dismissed. And to answer your next question, yes, these are legitimate websites, not some clickbait trash.
It's just awful. They've ruined the internet. Just totally ruined it. I'm beginning to see the attraction of Murder She Wrote reruns.