What happens to a generation when a 20-50 page document gets delivered to your doorstep every day filled with professional insight on daily news, culture, sports, business, and interesting stories? My guess would be that generation grows in thought and perspective, perhaps even empathy. Regardless your occupation, from accountant to zoo keeper, there was a fresh set of stories waiting to be consumed. Remind you, this document came to your doorstep every single day. Back then, people called them newspapers and they were physical pieces of paper.
Today it’s easier to look at SnapChat feeds or laugh at our generations 24/7 version of America’s Funniest Home Videos: BarStool Sports — which is hilarious nonetheless. While technology has made it easier to consume information, my biggest question is: “are we consuming the right information?”
One argument can be made that with all the information out there, any individual is free to read any type of story they want at any point of the day. True. But one value the newspaper or any other periodical like Life Magazine or even my local Atlanta Magazine did/does well is curate and approve. It takes significant mental cycles to individually curate what you read today.
Before, it was simple. You just picked up the paper. Today, for me, it’s combing through Twitter or my Apple News App, figuring out what author wrote it and understand the slant associated with it.
We are in the Wild West of content consumption. In a few years, I predict we’ll judge our content consumption like our food consumption (example: an hour a day of looking at friends, or BarStool on Instagram). We’ll begin realizing the effects of our content and its opportunity costs.
Reading 20-50 pages a day filled with a variety of key insights is an example of an opportunity cost from a generation prior. Studying Shakespeare is another good example.
The ones who have the discipline to curate their content intake with the most value-add content will exponentially produce gains over those who do not. A better way to say it: individuals now have to create their own newspaper for themselves. The really hard part here is getting over our biases, deep interests, and industry-specific silo. The fascinating thing about newspapers are the random tidbits one is exposed through shear proximity of content. Here is a worthwhile podcast on Learning How to Learn via Barbara Oakley and Farnnam Street which helps navigate learning new skills.
Inversely, the barrier to good content creation is getting higher every day. For example, when Instagram came out, it was new and fun to take a picture of a scenic view and create a clever caption. That sort of discovery was unique back then. It lets the viewer know you’re in a beautiful place and can write a sentence or two about it. Today, I want to know even more, like what was the most interesting aspect of it? How did it make you feel? What is the history of the place? Being content producer and editor is the future of the media that’s interesting and worth reading.
It sounds simple but is hard in practice.
Overall, having the discipline to curate versatile, insightful and quality content is key. Newspapers used to be the easy answer — I’m not sure what it is today. On the inverse side, approving high quality content from your production side will help the former.
Curate and approve in the Wild West of Content.