Facebook is predicting the end of the written word–at least on Facebook, which the head of the company in Europe says may well be all video in 5 years. Suggesting that reading and writing will be all but obsolete (though not completely), Nicol Mendelsohn said, “The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video,” which “conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”
This is not true, as media expert Neil Postman has shown. It certainly isn’t “quicker” to watch a video, as opposed to scanning a few paragraphs. And the information value of videos is quite low, if you are looking for ideas and facts, as opposed to emotional experiences. And “stories” can be told with much more depth in writing, as nearly any comparison with a movie and the novel it was based on will prove.
And yet, I can see Facebook and other online media replacing the written words with visual images and oral performances. This would be in line with the predictions of another media scholar, Marshall McLuhan, who said that when this happens, we will revert back to a pre-literate culture, one that is tribal, anti-rational, and functionally primitive. [Read more…]