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Igor Spasić for Oblac

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Video killed the text star

Look here.
There is no pause button.
No colors. No sound.
No animation plastic.
There are only letters and the whole cosmos of your intelligence and imagination.
And are you ready to replace video with stimulation?

Pictures Came And Broke Your Heart

7 minutes of video to get to one CLI command. 23 minutes to run the Hello World example. 45 minutes of video to learn about three novelties of some new concept. But also 300 minutes of video, and I still don't understand the concept I'm studying.

According to one study, YouTube is a favorite platform for acquiring knowledge among the younger population (up to 23 years). This coincides with my observation; through recent conversations with younger software engineers, I’ve noticed a recurring answer: watching video tutorials as the primary source of additional knowledge (one that is not acquired in the workplace).

This state of affairs can be viewed in two ways. One is attributing the results to evolution. Everything (the world) is changing rapidly: we no longer listen to records, but stream songs. Take it or leave it, the demand for survival is inevitable: you press the play button or are labeled as a victim of the digital generation gap.

Rewritten By Machine On New Technology

Reading is active. Watching is passive.

Research confirms this, it's no secret: watching video content does not drive cognitive processes in the way that reading does. Further research on this topic indicates that the adoption of the content is more complete if it is in the form of a text.

However, the research I have come to is not complete; the mentioned advantages are not so drastic that we could irrefutably press "stop" on the video and exclude it from the equation forever. The video has its powers: it can be more efficient and more convenient to use.

In fact, it is not a problem in education with video content. The problem is when it becomes the only and/or primary source of learning. Then we are not talking about evolution, but degradation. Man is not evolving at the speed of technology.

I Heard You On The Wireless Back In Fifty Two

Things are drastic in the field of software engineering. Prone to technology, we rely on it pretty lightly. As typing code is just a skill, learning by watching only becomes meaninglessly inefficient.

The ease of generating video content does not make the situation any easier. Mixed with the need for attention and natural propensity to talk, inefficient content is multiplied by geometric progression and actually slows the learning down.

Why do I find video content (mostly) inappropriate for the education of software engineers? If we expose the problem: code is text. The code is understood by reading. A video that retells the text adds an extra layer to the learning process. Instead of dealing with an active understanding of the source, we are dealing with a passive understanding of the narrative.

In other words, the essence of the video can often be presented in simple, short text. It can be understood in a significantly shorter time than some video could.

The same goes for presentations - they are nothing more than live video. I have gone through hundreds of software presentations and I’ve noticed the same pattern: inefficiency of knowledge transfer. But more on that another time.

This doesn’t mean that every text is good. But the text medium has one wonderful feature, which video content doesn’t have. I call it "scanning"; I don't know if there is an official name for it. The exercise makes it easy to, by scanning the text, quickly - really quickly - get information about whether it makes sense, whether it offers a solution to a specific problem, and whether it is worth consuming further. Only then can one get to a more careful reading of the content.

We Can’t Rewind We’ve Gone Too Far

I would not like to ring all the bells and shout that it’s high time, but the situation is threatening to get out of control. In the desire to become efficient, we have allowed the technology to obscure our goal and, thus, slow us down.

If we go a bit further: we’re becoming lazy. Are we not?

I met your children
What did you tell them?

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