The thing with fast food is that you can avail it quickly and when more people avail more food quickly, it soon becomes a commodity. And very often, fast food may just fill the stomach without nourishing much.
The food we value is the one that not only has the right nutrients, but is also cooked with care and attention to ingredients, balance of flavors and texture. It fills our stomach, nourishes us and feeds our well being.
I guess it’s the same with the media we consume. In a bid to stay updated all the time (which is hardly what we call learning), we consume a lot of Tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook updates etc. These are quick bites that may fill your time with an illusion of learning, unless your goal is to just fill the time with something (and hide behind it).
But if you are set out to truly learn something and go deeper, then you need slow media that is cooked slowly with care, has the right ingredients and is nourishing.
Sound bites are intellectually stimulating but unless they go deeper into our system, no change actually happens.
And learning that does not lead to change in mindset, actions and behavior is not learning, but only intellectual stimulation.
The other problem with these sound-bites is that they offer a very narrow view of the topic at hand. Truth is that nothing happens in isolation and everything is somehow connected to a larger system in ways that are not always visible.
Real learning involves a systematic exploration of all connected aspects of problem at hand. It requires a more nuanced conversation.
Take leadership, for example. Real leadership is rooted within our own deeper self, our past conditioning, cultural background and the demands of a given context. It demands a layered conversation and systems thinking within a given context, not just a list of silver bullets.
When there’s unlimited shelf space allowing unlimited podcasts, which can be of unlimited length, the goal isn’t to get the show on the air faster or to make it noisier. Instead, the goal, like the goal of a good book, is to say something worth saying, and to do it in a way that’s worth waiting for. – Seth Godin
Slow media is anything that takes time to create and consume, provokes thinking, challenges our assumption, initiates a conversation worth having, nudges us to act differently and creates an emotional connection.
Social Web is noisy and cluttered because people try to create media that pulls mass viewership to generate required number of hits, likes and shares.
The essence of social learning is to find authentic sources created with the spirit of a nuanced and collective exploration and stay away from sound bites.
Personally, I find most value in having a good layered conversation with someone I admire, reading good books that are written in a conversational tone, podcasts and videos where individuals share deep and relevant insights on something worthwhile and blogs that carefully weave a conversation incrementally through the posts.
But then, I just don’t skim through these (or bookmark them for later reading even when I skim). I preferto read with a pencil. I take notes as I go, summarize in visual notes, then share on the blog and connect insights that are related and relevant. Finally, when it all goes deeper into my system, some of it manifests in action. That is how we learn slowly and improve gradually.
To really learn effectively, we need to consume slow media, slowly.
I created a series of sketch notes for Tiffani Bova’s “What’s Next” podcast where she meets brilliant people to discuss customer experience, growth and innovation. Tiffani Bova is a Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. I will post sketchnote versions of selected podcast episodes that enlightened me.
During 2001 dot com bubble, one of my friends, a competent software developer, was laid off because of lack of business in the technology he worked in. He was smart enough to understand that the company needed people in a new project that was to be developed on a totally different technology. He learned the new technology, re-skilled himself fast enough to face a client interview for the new project and was retained even before his notice period got over.
In my formative years, he stood as an example of someone who totally disrupted himself when he was forced by external circumstances. Obviously, today’s complex and fast changing world demands individuals to disrupt themselves based on internal drivers of change, before external circumstances compel them to change.
In a business context, there are many organizations like 3M, Apple, NetFlix and Google whose success can be attributed to their ability to disrupt themselves continuously.
“Not just products, services and companies, the fundamental unit of disruption is an individual.”
Individuals disrupt themselves when they take some risk, do things that they have never done before, learn constantly, connect the dots and think about intersections between current reality (what they have done so far) and possibilities (what they could do with all innovations around them).
One of her key advices in the podcast is:
“Play to your strengths, not just what you do well but what others don’t.”
The insights in this podcast are very relevant to individuals and businesses alike.