I’m working on a podcast right now. Because of this, I’ve been listening to a lotof podcasts, watching a lot of vlogs, and reading a lot of blogs. Some have been so much fun to consume while others, not so much.
I’ve been working through what, to me, is the difference between good content and bad content. I’m not talking about style and taste; it’s okay that we might disagree about what we like. The world is big enough for many different flavours and styles. But regardless of a style, I believe there is a question we should always ask when we’re about to publish anything. It’s a question a publisher or record-label might ask — but in a world of self-publishing, we have to ask this question of ourselves.
Does it bring value?
There can be different types of value, and I think those might be tidily wrapped up with three qualifications:
Does it entertain?
Does it inform?
Does it inspire?
I feel like this should be qualified with an ‘at least’; does it at least entertain? Too often, I find myself watching something because I have nothing else to do. I crave noise so much that I’m willing to just stare at a video or read something of zero value, just to avoid doing nothing. The problem is, the way our brains are wired, we really don’t ever do nothing. But we do need time to have unstructured thought so, just sitting and staring at the sky might feel like we’re doing nothing, but that nothing time is critical for our brain’s development. Entertainment is great, but even entertainment for the sake of entertainment should be limited. In this, I’d liken it to a meal from some fast food joint vs. something from pretty much any French restaurant around. Sure, a fast food burger will give us the thrill of taste and will fill our bellies, but it will do little more good than that; and perhaps a lot of bad. When you’re consuming something, is there at least some lasting value in the entertainment? Did you actually laugh, or just comment that something was funny? Did you tear up because you felt something, or did you comment that something is sad?
If it can be both informative and entertaining, we’re off to a good start. But just because there’s information provided, doesn’t mean that you are any more informed than you were before. Simply knowing something is completely different than possessing information that you’ll be able to use in some practical way. Sticky information is rare in a world where we can quickly Google anything we don’t know. The ability to convey information — even if it’s over the course of time — and make it stick is a rare and special skill.
If you’re going to ask me to give my time to consume something you’ve created; or, if I’m going to ask you to give your time to consume something I’ve created, are we both going to be better for it? There is a lot out there that is intended to suck us in, but we need more that inspires us to go out. I know a lot of people who watch those cooking clips — you know, the ones where they time-lapse some gorgeous hands chopping and stirring and flipping… but they seem content to just watch the videos and never even try to make what they watch and then share, much less be brave enough to try something new. Content of great value inspires us to action!
One of the core values of the Ink & Feather Collective is to always bring value. It’s hard work! There so much content that would be so much easier to produce by replicating or stating the obvious, but we would just be adding noise, and no one needs that. Through our work, we hope to inspire others to think about the value of what they’re bringing to the world. Let us all commit to lessening the amount of twaddle we both create and consume and turn up the threshold of what is worth our time.