The "Multi" in Multimedia Should Include Text

By Joel Barker

I have been working all day on a project and needed to switch over to another issue late in the afternoon. I also needed some calories. These two problems are easily solved by riding down to the nearest Internet-enabled food source.  After a largely quiet and solitary day creating content, It was kind of nice to be around the babble of people.

While scarfing my fries, I wanted to research some capabilities of an e-learning application. A quick Google offered me a promising link off the manufacturer’s web site.  As the people around me were detuning from work and talking about their last trip to Vegas, I clicked on the link.

Now, a quick tutorial can be really helpful in many situations. But if you have co-workers next to you, you are going to need headphones. If you are working in your coffee shoffice as a lot of independent people do, it is going to be hard to listen to the content over the howl of the espresso maker.  If you are just about to get on the plane, a static text document to download and read would be a welcome distraction from the senastion of your own knees freezing up from disusue and the haunting fear of snakes. Streaming web content will do you no good.

Thinking of that poor long legged ophiophobic plane traveler, if he or anyone has a text-based document in his hand he can skim it to see where the value lies. Skimming information to see if has any value is critical to a busy person. Absent a way to skim video, you are stuck with plowing your way through it and possibly bailing out partway through because it wasn’t worth your time in the end. This does not make delighted customers out of potential customers.

Text is easier to share and refer back to than a video as well. One can email the document to someone and say “does the section on page 3 about illegal reptile trafficking answer your question?” With a video, you are going to have to call out “watch the part between 1:21 and 2:16” and then both people will have to recall what they beheld during a discussion.

We love dynamic content. Word Lions kicks out all manner of learning products and web videos. However, I am reminded today that The Word is still of great value. There are places and times to just offer a great, concise white paper or instructional document. Your hungry, laptop wielding customers will thank you.