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Contemplating Content

I once read a statistic, that more content is produced each year than was created in the previous five thousand years. At first blush this seems like an improbable feat, but delving into some of the available statistics about the internet and it doesn’t seem impossible. Take YouTube for example, I understand 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute. That is 9,460,800,000 hours of video every year. Content is indeed king, but for all the volume, does quality suffer?

The answer to this is to be found in how one defines quality. Certainly the technical quality isn’t suffering… much. As hardware and software improves, the capacity to produce content of a high technical quality comes into the grasp of anyone with a device and internet connection. When I first started producing content online, video codecs were problematic – to say the least. Programming had to be done by hand and there were no plug-ins which could enable e-commerce or anything else you could wish for with the click of a button.

But for all the gloss, I do wonder about the underlying content. A classic case in point is movie making. Even ‘low budget’ films today have a technical quality which evaded even the best films in the days or yore. But the ease with which technical quality can be achieved, is creating a certain laziness. Plot needs to do less of the work in captivating an audience as CGI will invariably make up the difference.

This is perhaps what draws me more and more to the written word. Though a visual man at heart, I have grown tired of the flickering images of social media where unlimited filters and effects cannot cover the dearth of thought.

Some might argue that 100daystooffload.com is only adding fuel to this bonfire of quality because ‘posting this much content… dilutes the pool of topics and results in slightly lower quality content.’ As a general rule I would agree because as a researcher I know how many days I can spend in the archives just to yield a single paragraph. In such a context I know the daily automatic writing style of near continuous blogging doesn’t permit for such detailed analysis.

Yet where I would disagree is because this type of writing seeks to fully engage what Daniel Kahneman termed ‘System 1’ in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. A mode of thinking which is ‘fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, unconscious.’ At its best, a lifetime of experience and thinking is compressed into a seemingly immediate response. In the case of blogging, the decades I have spent in research are pulled together into a moment of ecstasy – or as mystical writers of the seventeenth century would term it: ‘a state of rapture that stupefied the body while the soul contemplated divine things.’


This post is day 024 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. If you want to get involved, you can get more info from 100daystooffload.com.


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