Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 9 seconds

How fast do you type? On text vs rich media #nugget

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 9 seconds

So we’ve moved onto a new unit of #ccourses while i was… Distracted πŸ™‚ And we’re being encouraged to create “nuggets” out of readings… Pick a quote n do sthg creative with it.

So my quote is a super-simple one to make a super-simple point from the reading by Weinberger, preface to Small pieces loosely joined: a unified theory of the web:

“And how long will it take to do this? I dunno. How fast do you type?”

It made me realize that in all the time we have had computers and internet, and despite audio and video and speech recognition and touchscreens and mice… A LOT OF what we still do online involves some form of typing or other.

We were just having a discussion at work this morning on theories of “rich media” (not my area of expertise so just paraphrasing my colleagues) – where text is a lean medium… And f2f is the richest probably (it affects all senses, including smell and even taste if u bring food!) – and audio, video, interactive stuff, all somewhere along the spectrum. And my colleague was talking about how not every purpose needs rich media.

Which brings me back to myself. I sooo prefer reading text to watching video. For many reasons, but mostly it’s coz lots of video doesn’t add value beyond the text. Video hangouts or whatever are awesome if i am participating – that’s a rich and potentially deep n meaningful experience for me. Video can make a great point v quickly but if it takes too long i lose focus. I also hate the linearity of video (and audio), that i can’t jump ahead knowingly (i can jump ahead of course, but text has clearer “anchors”).

But back to the quote – my mom was telling me yday how she hated the idea of text chat, and i remembered sthg really funny. I learned to type on typewriter when i was pretty young; my mom had a book to help and i learned, but i didn’t become a SUPERFAST typist because of it, nor did i become fast coz i studied computer science: i became fast because of text chatting way back before the internet was properly “rich”, when our email was telnet, black screen, white text. I wanted to look at the screen and respond quickly and now i am pretty sure i type faster than i talk (and i can talk a coherent convo while typing). Helps with blogging, tweeting and email πŸ™‚

I do, however, use visuals when it makes sense. It just usually doesn’t for me. And i love it when the really creative maker folks like Terry, Kevin, Simon and now also Susan (see her recent blackout poem) create rich multimedia “things” and they do it so well! Learning so much from you guys, learning that started in #rhizo14, #clmooc and now here on #ccourses πŸ™‚

So for this post, i thought to create a comic/cartoon on my experience this week where i put out a call on twitter for folks to respond to my students’ questions about edu games, and i thought it would say:
Q- how do I get tens of educators to help your students, answer their questions?
A- i dunno, how fast do you type? All it takes is a tweet or two πŸ™‚

Comic coming up soon (iPad not great for these things. But downloading some apps now) – ok crude version of cartoon done on notability on my iPad:


But the way i am using the quote fits quite nicely with this other quote in the text (which, strangely, uses the “nugget” term earlier in the quoted paragraph):

We are the true “small pieces” of the Web, and we are loosely joining ourselves in ways that we’re still inventing

14 thoughts on “How fast do you type? On text vs rich media #nugget

  1. I feel exactly the same way that you do about video (and I abhor sites that immediately play a video when you open them). If I have a coice between reading a transcript and watching a video, I choose the transcript 90% of the time. But (as you know) I do love visuals and love making them and trying to intersperse them into text. And although f2f is undoubtedly the “richest” in the logical sense, I like text because I can revisit it over and over to glean more out of it. (or maybe f2f just disappoints me all too often…) Great post!

  2. I’m with you, Maha: it’s text every time for me as well if I have a choice. I also learned to type on a typewriter — a manual typewriter at that, where you had to really *press* the keys to make them bite into the paper! I was about 13. A group of us were taken from our registration classes, before normal classes even began, and led up to this creepy room at the top of the building, and taught to type. “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” Repeat. Repeat again. All fingers on the right keys… etc. For the first couple of days of this I thought it was some kind of punishment (none of my friends had to go). But it remains the most important practical lesson I’ve ever learned. I’ve been a touch-typist since the age of thirteen… The only time I was ever tested for speed was when I went to a job interview once. I was 60 wpm in the mid-90s. I imagine I’m about the same now.

    1. Reading this, David, I just realized something funny: i don’t know my typing speed, but now we also have our iPad typing speed, our sms typing speed – right? We don’t just type on keyboards anymore. For a long time i used to type really noisily on computers because of my initial training on typewriters. I was quite slow typing on the iPad at first, but now I blog mostly on it, and because my thoughts flow really fast, i learned to type faster on it. Interesting all of this πŸ™‚

  3. Alas I’m an intellectual omnivore and I love it all — but (and here it comes) I don’t like witless videos and I don’t like witless text and I don’t like witless music. So “wit” — not just being witty, but being usefully about knowing or exploring or intensely being — becomes the point of value. And conveying “wit” has different modes and opportunities in different media. Yet another reason I love Susan’s blackout poem. (Just thinking about it makes my spine tingle again.) It’s both space and time, visual and text. It’s an element of “witness” — wit-ness — just like this very post, which chooses and develops a nugget with exemplary wit-ness. Weinberger would be proud!

  4. Maha,

    Me too. If you’re going to make me watch a video to make your point, there better be something far more compelling about the video than the text version of it. Let me skim! Give me random access! You’re video isn’t the boss of me!

    But I’ve assumed that that’s just me be being a an old man. So it’s especially fascinating to read what you’ve written, not to mention to see you making more of that nugget than there was in it originally.

    BTW, last year I got myself a clackety keyboard that imitates the old IBM Selectric that was the pinnacle of electrics; I was just a grad student and couldn’t accord a Selectric (I had an IBM model C), but I’d used them. Fantastic. But it turns out that now it’s just too clackety. So, I’m back on a low-throw Apple-y keyboard. I guess I’m just not that nostalgic.

    — David W.

  5. @dweinberger wrote “Me too. If you’re going to make me watch a video to make your point, there better be something far more compelling about the video than the text version of it.”

    Hear hear. The two (or more) approaches should complement one another, not be copies of one another.

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