The Subtle Differences Between Reading, Listening and Watching
It’s not just about taste.
This morning I wondered (again) why we still read written words.
Considering the developments there have been in mediums like audios, images, videos, games since the time of old writers whom I prefer to read, I habitually ask this question because they aren’t there to answer it for me!
Is it because of the habit of the readers, tradition or is there something special in writing and reading that has made this medium of expression so persistent?
To understand what is going on, I created a table with three columns and infinite rows. In the first column I wrote Writing-Reading. In the second, Speaking-Listening and in the final Imaging/Watching.
I then decided to conceive a statement that is fundamentally important as an information communicated by us human beings:
The sky is blue today.
First, I wrote that down in the second row of the first column.
Second, I uttered it out loud.
Third, I imagined a blue sky.
If anyone was to communicate this information to another person for amusement, all three of these mediums of communication would work perfectly well. But if the information was crucial, it would depend on the distance between the persons and their context.
- If both/either of us were in a situation where we couldn’t speak/listen, or create visual things/view them, we would be forced to do it through written words.
- If both/either of us were in a situation where we couldn’t write/read, or create visual things/view them, we would be forced to do it through spoken words.
- If both/either of us were in a situation where we couldn’t write/read, or speak/listen, we would be forced to do it through visual creations.
With this assumption in mind, if I wonder (again), why we still write/read words, it could mean the following:
- Both/either of us are in a situation where we can’t speak/listen, or create visual things/view them.
By both/either, it could be me (the writer of this story) and you (the reader).
But we are not in such a situation. I can easily utter all these things and post audios or visually explain all this and you can listen or watch it. But why do I write, and why do you read?
This either means, my assumptions are wrong or the thing I am conveying is not at all crucial.
(REMEMBER THIS .)
But then I think about it hard:
Will I be able to convey exactly this through speech or sound? Because if there is a difference in what I convey through writing and speaking, (irrespective of whichever being true or fun) then each medium has to exist because each conveys something else. Yes, I can record it and you can listen to it or use Medium’s AI for it. Let me come back to it in a while.
Similarly, if I try to convey exactly the same thing through visuals, it would mean I have written all this beforehand and have merely filmed all this. And just like the above, if there is a difference in what I convey through writing and videoing, (irrespective of whichever being true or fun) then each medium has to exist because each conveys something else.
What about converting the written text into audios and videos?
It would bring the conversion phenomenon into play which would imply necessity, convenience, preference or taste.
Now, going back to the statement I used this morning:
The sky is blue today.
It was a simple statement I conceived in my mind before converting it into any medium. It means, I already knew the statement before communicating it. But in real life, our communications are hardly that simple (Unless we are all thinking and communicating in haikus). We learn things as we communicate, we make things up as we communicate and we modify things as we communicate.
Which means all of these mediums have their own peculiarity. They are like different personalities.
Now, a great example of whatever I have said is the fact that everything I wrote after the (REMEMBER THIS .) point above, I conceived while writing this! It’s like this writing has its own self with its own nuances.
The actual thing I had discovered this morning was regarding the conversion phenomenon. It was all about control over words. Both Psychological and Technological control.
- While writing and reading, I have the greatest control of words, which means control over the idea conveyed. Control over my imagination and concepts.
- Writing and reading is by far the most convenient method of communication and production for me. Audio and Video would mean fancy equipment and editing.
- While speaking and listening, the words are dynamic. There isn’t much control over them. If speaking and listening are to reach to the level of control and convenience as writing and reading, we need revolutionary visual representation of the words. Visual representation because, we are visually driven animals. WE NEED VISUAL CONTROL. Which writing and reading provides us.
- While watching is the most convenient means of consumption, creating visuals is sophisticated and complex. During the time I manage to create something out of my morning idea, I would have already transitioned into something entirely different.
So, what does it all mean? What do I do?
If I am to be a good thinker and writer, which is synonymous to being a good thinker and communicator, I need to utilize all three and whatever will come across me tomorrow. I need to be able to combine writings with images and sounds; speakings with writings and images; images/videos with writings and sounds.
- Written and Read words have their own distinct nature.
- Spoken and Listened words/sounds have their own distinct nature.
- Visuals and Watched things have their own distinct nature.
- Utilizing the conversion phenomenon would mean making use of people’s necessity, convenience, preference and taste for communicating my own ideas.
All three combined can mean new avenues in learning, communicating as well as earning!