Being Short and Concise

Blaise Pascal once wrote,

“I only made this letter longer because I had not the leisure to make it shorter.”

One of the most significant changes the age of Internet has brought in our lives is the availability of time. I find it funny that regardless of the profession, every single person is busy these days. Not only that people are getting busier and their free time is reducing, the technology is also converging towards a shorter product delivery.

For example, Google Videos was launched in 2005 around the same time as YouTube. There was absolutely no comparison in terms of resources between the two. It was a David vs Goliath battle. However, one of the reasons YouTube swiftly rose to the top was that Google Videos was a comprehensive platform. With the amount of money they had, Google could afford all kinds of video durations. YouTube, on the other hand, was more suited towards shorter and hence more personal videos. In the end, Google had to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.

With the advent of smartphones, apps are replacing websites for our interaction with the Internet. Their short, concise and to the point interaction is pretty much aligned with the user’s goals. Also, with the rise and then fall of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), it has been realized that any course videos that are longer than 10 minutes are not welcome by the students. Most of the MOOCs now offer 5-8 minutes long lectures, some examples of which are MIT backed edx and Udemy.

Interestingly, this reduction in time and attention by the user has not resulted in an easier life for the creator. Coming back to the original quote above, creating good quality content still requires spending a significant amount of time to cover the whole spectrum regarding a topic, then as an extra step, one has to peel off everything inessential. Condensing information into shorter and shorter forms is an incredible skill and it is only going to rise in significance with each passing year. In other words, look for the 20% that holds 80% of the core meaning in every creation.

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