Books as Snacks! Thoughts as soundbites!

Give me a nicely cooked, well laid out, intriguingly concocted dinner anyday with thoughts to chew on, ruminate over and digest. The number of words connected to thinking and eating – chew on, ruminate, digest – are many. Normally, I’m writing in my own little world and very rarely pick on people, but Seth is a favourite 🙂

Come now, the implication that the only way people are going to read is by converting thoughts, that I am going to assume are insightful and deep, into "tasty bites" or "mini pizza" is, to me, horrifying. Yes, I do understand that people aren’t reading anymore, in fact, having just put down Vance Packard’s The Waste Makers published in 1960, apparently they weren’t reading books 45 years ago, either. So the question becomes, should authors continue to write tomes that make you think, where, naturally the audience, while small, is geared towards understanding your thoughts, or should one cater to the exigencies of the day?

And while we’re on this topic, let’s take that thought one step further – A viable analogy could be the brewing battle between the titans of mainstream media (MSM) and the ever increasing numbers of bloggers sharing their POV with the "world". Here too, I wonder if the situation is partly due to the "entertainment" factor involved in conversation, dialogue and discourse, something that up until now, was not possible with what one read in the newspapers unless you went to a coffee shop. That too, methinks, went out with Dr Johnson. So, instead, centuries later, we have the blogosphere.

And that, the blogosphere, is slowly evolving into a "world" in it’s own right. The world of the mind and the currency is original thought. In which case, there is a visible strategy in and of itself, do you set up a blog to cater to the masses, or do you follow your own path?

However, commentary and observations aside, should books turn onto the same style, becomes the question? I know that Seth has been evolving his practice away from books, and with valid strategic reasons, I don’t question his decision here. I do however ask if this "snacking" of books is an early indicator of the assimilation of all ideas into the "soundbite" style.  And whether we’re losing something extremely valuable in the process?

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3 Responses to Books as Snacks! Thoughts as soundbites!

  1. seth godin says:

    of course it’s not a good thing!
    but it’s true
    so, if it’s true should we leave the snacking to those that create nothing but, to belabor the analogy, junk food?
    There is great street food in Thailand. Here, we get McDonald’s. I’m delighted to be part of the effort to improve the quality at the same time we support grazing…

  2. Niti Bhan says:

    🙂 I know, I grew up in Kuala Lumpur and my parents live in singapore. there’s nothing better than hawker food 🙂 but it’s not “junk” food in most cases.
    I must agree, however, with your point, that it is better to do that, than to leave it to those that create nothing better than “junk food”. Then, there is no alternative, is there? Is this the organic “whole foods” version of idea spreading?
    As for McD’s, it’s an idea whose time is nigh.
    however, a part of me hopes that the increased reading and writing that the growing world of blogs brings, will bring us full circle back to Johnson’s days of coffeehouses 🙂

  3. There are forms of writing that may be quickly eaten but only slowly digested; the proverbs of Hebrew wisdom literature or a Zen koan; two examples that tend to leave readers ruminating for a good long time. And even stain glass windows have been used to communicate “insightful and deep” thoughts. But like Niti, there is a part of me as well that hopes for a return to the days of Mr. Johnson – even if I am more likely to order a Diet Mountain Dew than a coffee.

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