Words Won’t Come Easy

You’re carrying a Hollywood-grade special effects studio in your pocket. You might even be reading this on it. But that pocket studio is making reading a marginal activity.

So goes the theme of a New York Times report on the Post-Text Future. Reading is going out of fashion: “The defining narrative of our online moment concerns the decline of text, and the exploding reach and power of audio and video.”

It’s a two-way dynamic. We’re familiar with watching video and other multimedia content, which have dominated data consumption for years. As that special-effects studio improves – better cameras, new filters, augmented reality – we’re creating as much as we’re consuming. This sounds empowering but the volume of content returns power to big tech platforms. Cataloguing, searching and processing video and images involves heavy lifting by AI, even if the end user finds the benefits outweigh privacy risks.


  • Writing a newspaper column or a blog was conscious creation: Opening the software, typing the post, clicking “publish”, awaiting editorial confirmation and feedback.
  • Most video production today is frictionless and many users aren’t even thinking they’re adding to the internet’s total content when they create visual content.
  • Consumers have access to largely free tools to create dazzling content of the sort only professional broadcasters had just a decade and a half ago.
  • Who’s ordering all this new visual content, and to what end? What’s a trustworthy space to share the videos you produce, or to watch videos relevant to your interests produced by a community you belong to?