The age of content overload

This post is in response to not only indspire #273 prompt but also the blog posts written by fellow indibloggers on the topic suggested by Dr. Rekha Rani.

It is interesting to note that fellow bloggers have examined the topic from various angles. I have also put my views as comments on their blog posts. So this post is a hotchpotch of those comments. To make it a little more palatable I will also give a gist of their views.

Veteran blogger Sreedhar Bhattaram is of the view that every one has a unique story to tell and the story must be shared for the benefit of the society. He also says that it is real life that gives a fertile ground for learning and Books are not the only source.

No doubt Everyone has a story to tell and should try to transmit the wisdom. In olden days knowledge passed in oral tradition. Transmitting knowledge orally is easier than doing it in writing. When you speak, certain aspects like grammar etc. are ignored. Also, while speaking you use gestures to make up for lack of words and sometimes to emphasise your points. But while writing, one has to be exact and write in such a manner that the readers get your meaning as nearly as possible to your intended thought. Many people have great ideas and thoughts but they may find it difficult to express in writing. Like movies, writing is a medium of transmission of thought, information, and feelings. It is as much an art as science. Every writer should not only respect the basic rules of writing like grammar, sentence structure etc., but also write in such a manner that the reader finds it interesting and not much difficult to understand. While real knowledge comes from real life, the art of writing comes from reading and practice in writing.

You have brought out different motives associate with writing like one can write for oneself that is writing can be a form of catharsis and it need not always be out of the primary need to be read by millions. In fact there is nothing alarming about having more and more writers.

Tomichan Matheical has highlighted the importance of reading for a writer. Even I used to ignore this facet in my initial days when somehow I wanted to become a writer. Subsequently I realised how important reading is to writing. As he has rightly said people who rush in to become authors without depth in reading produce trash.

It is important to not only read more, but also to read quality literature. Another aspect he has brought out is about the importance of reading classics. In every age lots of trash must have been written. But some books stood the test of time, those books of bygone era are the so called classics. So without doubt one can conclude that to read classics is definitely not a waste of time.

Suman Deb Ray cautions publishers against replicating the success of a few mediocre books reaching the status of best sellers. I have come across a number of such books displayed at vantage points of prominent book stores.

In India the tag best seller is increasingly being associated with mediocrity. Even I found one such book full of grammatical and other silly language based errors giving out the impression that you do not need to have mastery over the language to produce best sellers for Indian readers. It even need not be proof read or edited properly.

Dr. Rekha Sahay thinks it is immaterial whether there are more readers or writers. It is good news that more and more people are taking to writing. Somewhat similar view is expressed by Parwati Singari when she says writing for some could be an end in itself. It could be a kind of cathartic experience for the writer and thus writing has great utility whether it is being read by others or not. If others read, it is like sone pe suhaga.

I think the need of the hour is to make the younger generation interested in reading and writing and to encourage them to reduce time spent on social media and youtube. Seen from this angle, more and more people should be encouraged to take up writing without worrying about their quality of writing in the short run.

Abhijit Ray has pointed out the anomaly of assuming having more writers than readers since reading and writing are closely connected. According to him:

One cannot deny that as more and more authors create content the quality may suffer. It is however, the choice of readers. If readers do not find a content appealing they may not read. At the same time, those who write does not mean that they do not read. Reading and writing cannot be mutually exclusive.

Arvind Passey has given some interesting statistics about the growth of the publishing industry. According to him there is nothing disastrous in having more books published while there are too few serious readers. According to his reliable astrologer, “… every book is born with its set of readers already decided by the stars. No book vanishes into eternity before its task is completed.”

I wonder what could the intention of a reputed author like Ruskin Bond be when he sounded the alarm bell. First of all is there really an alarm bell? As my blogger friends have pointed out from different angles there is nothing to be alarmed even if such a scenario arises.

I feel the traditional publishers and authors are perhaps worried about the self publishing industry, which is eating into their pie. Books are not the only source of reading. Internet and social media has opened plethora of avenues for the aspiring writer. Mr Ruskin Bond perhaps is pointing out to all the contents available waiting to be read.

But then, traditional publishing made it difficult for new and unknown writers to see their work published in spite of having merit. As Mr. Ray has pointed out on his blog post if there is more content than needed, it is upto the reader to make the choice.

I feel writers like Ruskin Bond need not necessarily be alarmed. Of course, if traditional authors are worried about their own market share being reduced due to the advent of self publishing and other easy publishing platforms, that is another story.

To me what is alarming is that the young generation is spending more time on audio visual mediums like youtube even to learn their school and college lessons. To gain in depth knowledge in a subject one has to study and no audio visual media can replace this.

On one hand we have exponential growth in availability of content for reading. On the other hand there is exponential decline in reading habits among the young generation. That is something to be worried about.

Our focus should not be whether we have more writers or less writers.
Our focus should be to make the young generation interested in quality books. The good thing is that quality reading material is available for public consumption as never before.

About the issue of content overload, market forces and various other factors will make sure quality content stands out and survives the ravages of time.

10 thoughts on “The age of content overload

    1. Trash content may become popular due to clever marketing in the short run. But ultimately quality content has a way of overshadowing the trash in the long run. Hope same thing happens in India before it is too late.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You have nicely summed up the views of different bloggers on the issue. I have not penned any blog on this topic but expressed my opinion through comment on the relevant blog post of Tomichan Matheical Sir.

    In my humble opinion, writing trash is a waste of own resources as well as those of the prospective reader. The way a good teacher has to be essentially a good student in the first place, the same way a good writer has to be essentially a good reader in the first place. Before starting to write, one should read a lot both in terms of quantity and variety so that his / her vision gets broadened and quality stuff only comes out of his mind when he expresses himself.

    However, I have a different thought also in this regard. Everything is not written to be read by others. Sometimes (just in my own case), it is a means for the writer to vent out own feelings, frustration and stuffiness which gives him / her inner relief irrespective of its being read by anybody else. It’s the creativity meant for ‘SWAANTAH SUKHAAY’ (that is, own inner pleasure). It can be called therapeutic writing or a kind of cathartic experience as termed by Parwati Singari Ji.

    I appreciate the points jotted down by you from your side also. Those can be termed as ‘Truth And Nothing But The Truth’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There could be another side to writing where writing is an end in itself. Seen this way all kinds of writing should be welcome. As has been expressed many bloggers there is nothing alarming about having more and and more writers.
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t this the issue, or non-issue everywhere. As social media continues to replace spoken communication people are writing more, even if its just an Insta footnote and that is happening all over the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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