Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Problem With Podcasts And Videos

For the past few months I've been wondering why I've always shied away from most of the podcasts or videos I've been confronted with. What I mean is, I'll follow a link on Facebook, Twitter or the web that I think might be interesting only to find that I have to listen to a podcast or a watch a video to get the information that I was teased about. Almost always, I will never take the time and be off to another point of the web that I can read, rather than listen or watch.

Yesterday I got to thinking about the reason for this and came up with some conclusions that may be interesting to only me, but I think might be reflective of other consumers of online information.

1) I like text better than most podcasts and videos for the same reason that consumers like digital music better than CDs - random access to information. If there's a podcast or video of someone giving me information, I have to consume almost the entire file before I can determine whether it's something that I want or not. If it's text, I can skim it in a few seconds and make a decision to read it in detail, or zero in on a portion that I find particularly interesting. It's a lot more efficient and less time consuming.

2) When is a video interesting? When it shows me how to do something instead of telling me, or the material is visual in nature to begin with. I can read something a lot faster than the time it takes to tell me how to do it. Plus, most of the time my time is wasted by the setup (about the topic, the speaker, background info, etc.) that I could just skim over if it were text.

3) When is a podcast interesting? If it's one-of-a-kind material, extremely timely, or an interview of someone seldom heard, and it enables me to perform another task while I'm listening. That's what makes radio so compelling. You hardly ever simply listen to it by itself, and that's why it's so good when driving.

I numbered these three points as an example of my premise. You can zero in on them quickly and decide whether to consume the information or not that way. If you decide you want to read, you can cherry pick just want you want in a flash. Try doing that with a video of a talking head or a podcast.

Remember this the next time you want to shoot a video. If you can't add any more information that if you just wrote it down instead, stick with text.

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