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My Mum Doesn’t Get YouTube: Why Text is King

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of January 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Steve Rubel has a smart post up at the moment on Why Text Remains King of the Web. In it he reflects upon why Robert Scoble’s videos don’t tend to generate the buzz that they could and why text has it over video:

  • It’s scannable
  • Text does better with SEO
  • Text is better to consume in the workplace
  • Text is better on mobile devices
  • Text is easier for distribution

While I think some of the above is slowly changing as technology catches up I think a lot of it rings true. It’s why I put most of my time into textual mediums rather than video.

I’ll add another point to what Steve’s written:

My Mum Doesn’t Get YouTube.

OK – perhaps Mum could work out YouTube if she put some time aside to learn – but recently I was talking to my family about online video and the blank stares that I got from my parents made me wonder if they’d ever watched a video online before. They’re not online all day every day but the majority of what they do is email and searching for articles on their subjects of interest with Google. They live in ‘text content land’ – right in the middle of it.

While many of us who are into the blogging and social media game have been doing video for years now and are completely at home with watching them, embedding them, sharing them with friends….. it can easy to forget that perhaps as a fairly tech savvy bunch we might be ahead of the field (or at least some of it).

Perhaps it is partly generational or perhaps it is about personality (or a mix of both) but I’d guess that there are a fairly significant proportion of the population who are either unsure how to view video, don’t know where to find video or have no interest in video and who are much more at home with ‘reading’.

I do see a future in online video (and think it’ll even increase in popularity in time, particularly with some demographics) and I’ll continue to use it on my own blogs – but I’m betting that text is also here to stay.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I now see older generations getting more into the online world, opposed to ten years ago when it was the new thing and only the techy kids were into it. Still though, the older generation isn’t adjusting as fast as the new web technology.

    Video should really take a step back, and be considered an extra feature rather than a main component to a lot of websites.

  2. On my blog and website I have used both. I still prefer the written word however. I love reading also and would find it rather difficult to take a video to bed rather than a good book.

    I think text with good relevant pics works better.

    I rarely ever click the video links.

    For entertainment purposes I do watch movies online.

  3. Ha I thought it was just me. I prefer text to video when its informational (as opposed to entertaining). Videos add life and color that text just can’t do.

    But as for a 20 minute explanatory video (like someone just standing their talking to me about something) I much prefer text. In that case, video is too slow for me. I like text because I can read at my own pace, and even skim through some sections.

  4. While my mom certain gets YouTube, and it’s true that more and more people are using video in their content, text will always be king.

    Why? Time.

    I absolutely hate it when someone posts content that’s only available in video, and doesn’t even bother to type up a synopsis. Why should I spend 5 minutes of my time watching your message, when I could just read a whole transcript in under a minute? I usually won’t bother. I have better things to do with my time than hang around and wait to see if you have something useful to say.

  5. I’m with Caitlin…time is everything. I have about 200 blogs that I follow. It’s all I can do to scan through the text to find something that interests me. I really wish I had time to watch all these v-blogs and blogcasts that everyone is putting together…really, I appreciate the time you put into them…but I just don’t have time to watch/listen to all these things.

    If you want to reach me with your content, put it in writing.

  6. Great post…I guess I am gonna use video on my blog too…!! :)

  7. Very quality post!
    I also agree that text is most important for your site or blog. It’s much more optimized (for search engines), everyone can find it and usually it can contains more useful informations!

  8. I agree with all those folks that love video.. I do think that written blogs are easier but it doesn’t mean that let’s say my target audience is not capable or does not prefer watching video.

    Simply look at Revision3.com’s impressive list of video podcast, these guys are making hundreds of thousands of dollars every month with advertising and great content that people do watch. Their flagship show “Diggnation” is watched by more than 200,000 every week.

    Video will be the best tool in the very near future and Video podcast will replace one day, let’s hope, information television.



  9. I have to say that while I definitely agree that text is king, I will still be creating videos as well. There are some things that can be said/shown in about 30 seconds, but would take 5 pages to write down.

    My grandparents watch videos, but they have to be emailed to them first. :D

  10. I don’t think my mum liked text.

  11. For me, video simply isn’t a format that I am interested in – especially after having come from a life where I don’t really watch television or movies. I just see things like YouTube as a waste of time, and generally just ignore any video that is on any site or blog that I visit.

    I am pretty sure that I am in a minority, though.

  12. I agree that the written word is king, but the web is too diverse to dismiss video. As web use grows, so will the preferences of users.

    Written content has many advantages over video, but video is a tremendous resource that complements the written word in so many ways.

    Just yesterday a friend was asking me about a ritual dance from Mexico, she had read about it but wasn’t sure, from the written description, how it was performed. I told her to go to YouTube and watch, which she did.

    The writings mentioned the origins of the dance, as well as the significance and symbolism; the video showed the performance. The articles cannot give you the feel for the dance, but the video cannot go into depth about it. The two together turned out to be perfect.

    I think this is the future of the web for young and old.

  13. Till the interest speed and accessibility technology develops ‘Text is REALLY King’.

  14. It’s great that video is widely available and all, but I prefer reading. I like listening to music in the background while I read stuff and work on things, and I hate having to pause Winamp to watch a video. I also hate sites that ONLY have videos and refuse to have a text version of things. I also don’t watch much TV or movies, so internet videos are no exception. I guess it’s about control… with a video, the person who made it is in control of how it sounds and how fast it goes… with text I can scroll past boring bits easily and read as fast or as slow as I like. It’s not just the non-tech-savvy people that don’t like videos.

    Not to mention I live in South Africa and the internet speeds here are nothing compared to Europe or the US, and we have data caps.

  15. Christine Taylor says: 01/17/2009 at 3:19 am

    Very interesting article. Let me add that I personally don’t bother watching videos because of the speed (or lack thereof) of my bandwidth. I’m on DSL but in my small town that’s my only choice, and most video is choppy and not worth watching. Video can certainly help in marketing, but video producers should remember that a lot of their potential customers live outside large cities, and bandwidth speed is a big issue. Always include a transcript!

  16. I believe bloggers will use more and more videos, this technique has a very high power in Google indexation and can not be abandoned…

  17. I agree with this post 100%. My traffic is higher while people are at work. There is no way these people will watch a video at their desk with a boss around. In fact, a lot of people don’t even have a sound card or speakers at work since many businesses feel they are not needed.

    Video does have a place, but text will be around and be king of the web forever.

  18. My Dad thinks YouTube and Twitter are used by people who think it’s cool to ramble about what they had for lunch.

    Mom thinks Twitter is slang for a stupid person.

    Social media relies on both text and video. I tend to use video as a ‘performance enhancer’ to blog posts instead of featuring it standalone.

  19. mercy says: 01/20/2009 at 8:24 pm

    I agree that the written word is king, but the web is too diverse to dismiss video. As web use grows, so will the preferences of users.Written content has many advantages over video, but video is a tremendous resource that complements the written word in so many ways.
    Adult Dating

  20. For me, it is about speed, but not my Internet speed: it’s my reading speed.

    I can read 1,000 wpm on average. If I’m skimming, I can hit 10 times that – maybe more. If it’s dense technical material I might drop to 400-500 wpm.

    If I have to listen to you talk, it’s way under 200 wpm, probably in the 150-175 wpm range.

    I don’t have the time to waste on that. If your blog focuses on video, I don’t visit it.

    Poor readers like video because it doesn’t change anything: if you read at 150 wpm, video doesn’t slow you down. If you read even more slowly, video might even be better for you. However: you can learn to read faster – much, much faster – but you can’t do much to speed up video without it becoming incomprehensible.

  21. text doesn’t take as long to download

  22. On my blog and website I have used both. I still prefer the written word however. I love reading also and would find it rather difficult to take a video to bed rather than a good book.The opportunity and need to personally advocate the same is definitely increasing which is a sign to this Keyboard that video usage continues to spread.. The spread is a good thing because videos are a nice accessibility augmentation for persons with cognitive disabilities..

    I can also see some benefits to pod casting. People can listen to them anytime via mp3 players and such. I think that sites that encorperate different mediums and do it right have the idea. I think having a pod cast AND the typed transcript is a great idea. I think a supplimental video now and again is also a nice touch. Don’t just rely on the multimedia (unless that’s your site’s theme)

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