Volume Over Quality
Across the board, we’ve achieved a state of media overload. You choose your cable TV plan based on how many channels you get. Movie theaters hedge their bets by showing many different films on smaller screens. A YouTube viewing session allows you to go further and further down a rabbit hole.
People make viewing decisions based on quantity. Fire up Netflix and you can watch a never-ending sea of content. The creators of which often see pennies for their work where it used to be dollars. That’s not any one companies fault. With so many choices, content must be a blockbuster in order to be considered successful. This means that the vast majority of effort goes unnoticed and is a financial loss.
Here’s an example of volume and quality tipping out of balance. I produce a lot of educational content for a great company called lynda.com. They’ve been responsible for helping a whole lot of people get better at their jobs and enjoy their hobbies. In the past, people needed to buy individual classes or subscribed to watch entire courses. The site is amazing and responsible for a whole lot of people staying relevant and employable. These days though its becoming a paid search engine.
The company has started to actively market the service as an alternative to YouTube. I get that it's convenient (and better) to search a site that hires true professionals and has high standards. Unfortunately most people simply use search and watch a video or two. Gone is the organized structure of learning with a beginning middle and end. People skip the hands-on practice and instead search for just what they think they need. I realize that the company is simply responding to what people want (as opposed to what they need).
The problem with this approach is two-fold. If humanity had to rely on learning only what it thinks it doesn’t know, that’s a lot of lost learning. This means that rather than truly learning from a master, people just get a few tidbits. Plus it also leads to a lot of duplication of information so that search results look better.
Eating at a buffet is rarely a way to experience true genius.
This is not unique to lynda,com, its just indicative of how consumer demand is having a negative impact. People don’t consume complete works, rather they graze. They search out technical skills as the sustenance they feel they need... all the while missing out on the artistic and business skills that they really lack.
It would be like walking down a busy street and stepping into 10 different restaurants. The modern consumer skips lines and goes right to the kitchen and just grabs what they think looks good. Access and convenience drive the choices. No one stops to sit down to a great meal or appreciate the skill of the chef. Instead they spend more efforts on their search to find everything they want, all the while missing out on experiences and opportunities.