At a recent tech rally, Mark Zuckerberg famously stated that, “In 5 years, most of Facebook will be video.”Really, it’s not surprising that he would say that – no offense to Mr. Zuckerberg; video is popular, and there’s certainly no denying that. Obviously, here at ilos, we think that video as a medium is pretty powerful for communicating knowledge, but the idea that it’s going to completely replace something like reading text, or browsing photos is ridiculous. Why? Because different forms of media are better at communicating different things, or eliciting different emotions. The message dictates the medium, not the other way around.
Mozart wouldn’t have considered a book to express what was in his symphonies, just like Tarantino would never consider a radio broadcast to tell his stories. Neither of those media would have worked for their purpose. As it turns out, this same principle applies to all of our communication throughout our day-to-day lives. A video is a great way to express something we can’t describe well in words, but for certain things, it can be overkill, or detract from the message.
Video shows reality, even when people would rather it did not.
People love visual stimulus, there’s proof of that all around us: the popularity of apps like Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. display this well. This does not mean, though, that everyone will want to show the world everything, because our realities aren’t always pretty, which is something video does a great job of exposing regardless of if we want it to, or not. It’s much safer to just write “Done with finals!” than to make a video about it, and let everyone see your messy dorm room.
It’s also much more interesting to read someone’s ideas, than to watch them fumble through them on camera, so unless people are all willing to put extra hours into memorization, staging, and visual effects into each video they make, I won’t expect video blogs, or video updates to take over, completely.
Video can actually get in the way of our browsing.
We speed read, and there’s a reason. The average adult can read at around 300 words per minute, with college students reading at 450 wpm. With that speed, a reader can browse through and pick out the pieces that are relevant to them, allowing them to get the idea much faster. So, unless adding visuals to your message is really helpful, it’s probably better to let people read it.
Accessibility is an issue as well. I mean think about it, if 90% of Facebook is video, say good bye to browsing it in public. You’ll need to put on headphones, or be in a room by yourself just to check your news feed. On the contrary, you can read through short news stories, tweets, or status updates at your convenience, when they are written. You can, often, even keep up with the movie you’re watching, or the conversation happening around you while you browse, but couldn’t with video.
At the rate that mobile is taking over, we don’t exclusively go online in the privacy of our home office, anymore, we are on the bus or the train, in a coffee shop, at lunch, or at a bar. None of these places is conducive to video-centric internet.
Video will continue its popularity, because it’s still exceptionally powerful.
Take the following graphic, for instance:
A circle is something visual, so it’s a no brainer to communicate it visually. The same goes for things like tutorial videos, or music videos, or documentaries; video works great for these. On the other hand, I’m not so sure I’m interested in scrolling through 200 video tweets or Facebook updates.