Are you creating value?
And other questions you need to ask yourself as a (content) creator.
Advice on content creation centres around engagement. From Minimum Viable Products to public beta reading to data driven writing, almost everything that an aspiring content creator is taught focuses on engagement. See what people engage with, do more of that – get eyes on the page as quickly as you can.
But, is what you are creating good for people, and right? Or is your writing the equivalent of cigarettes, and full of popular myth? Engagement won’t tell you. You have to make those judgements as a creator.
This weeks video:
Those of you who follow, kind of maker Twitter, will see people talking all the time about don’t just consume, create. And actually for me, there are two sides of the same coin. They view information and attention as a commodity.
And yes, I guess producing is better than consuming in some ways. But it really depends on the intention behind the production. If what you’re doing is gathering together, the stuff that you saw, because you were interested in it because you clicked on it because you followed that click bait and then you’re following that to other people. You’re part of the loop as opposed to being outside of the loop. And that’s, that’s no better. So what I’m going to talk about here is more conscious, creating and being a lot more careful with what you copy and slowing down a lot.
So the quality of the content that’s produced varies immensely. And one of the outputs of, one of the kind of outcomes of that is you see really long held myths, still being circulated . All the time, including by new people who were only doing their reading today. You see people talk about learning styles as though each individual has a learning style, if you were sat there thinking that you learn best by, um, by listening or by seeing. You’re wrong. You don’t, you’re more engaged by one of those paths for whatever reason, but you don’t learn best. The actual learning quality of different medias doesn’t vary for different people. Apart from, by the kind of the quality of the media, that’s produced by people. There, there are no learning styles. This is a disproven myth, and it’s still circulated. It was still in teacher training programs until quite recently in the UK.
The same goes for a lot of the content that’s produced at the moment. There are many myths along those lines, which are research-related and seem to gain credence simply because they’re being re-circulated by people. And so, unless you want to perpetuate those myths, you need to slow down because you need to check what you’re saying, at least in some depth and you need to decide on whether you’re going to try and educate people or entertain people in a way that reveals something deep, something true, or just in a way that gets clicks.
The same goes in a way, for things like minimum viable products and customer led product development. The problem with that is it’s all about what people are clicking on and what they’re interested in. It’s not about what’s good for them. And one of the things you should be doing as a product designer or as an educator, or as somebody who is producing content for entertainment purposes, Is thinking about what’s good for people, you should be making that judgment.
You produce the product that you think is good for people. And then if they agree with that, it fits. If all you’re doing is trying to entertain people, you’re not going to lead them anywhere good. You’re just going to lead them down and into the loops that I’ve talked about, when I refer to, dopamine loops or curiosity based learning, or the attention problems that most people have now.
So the type of content that I’m encouraging here is slower, less voluminous and produced with an intent to educate or to enlighten as well as to entertain or engage. The entertainment, engagement are secondary. I think that’s really the most important thing. So you have to slow down.
The caveat is that the way that I be, producing media, the way that I’m doing it myself. And the way that I’d encourage other people to do it is, is less productive. That will be less volume going out there and you need to work out how you’re going to deal with that.
So for me, it’s been about leveraging other people as well. So I outsource really early on compared to most people I’m not working all the hours that I could. I have a much longer timescale view. I don’t mind going slowly with producing things because I’d rather contribute something worthwhile to the world. Engagement is far less important to me than the impact I have on the people who do engage.
The question that you need to ask when you’re deciding how to produce content is what’s your ideal. Are you more interested in a direction that that reaches an awful lot of people, but maybe passes along some content that’s disproven or bad for them, or simply reinforces all of these loops that I’ve been talking about or has other negative impacts.
Are you more interested in developing your own skills and processes first? Which is a step that is difficult for many people to take for professional reasons that they need the money. So they need to do something quickly, but needs to be thought through. Where do you want to get to skill and process wise? what environment you want around you? How do you want to use other people?
Engagement and learning are two incredibly different things. And the only way to get to what you want to teach people, what you want your audience to learn is to think through what’s important to you and to think about this strategically. So what is the long-term outcomes that you want people who watch your things or read your content to have. That will change over time, of course. You need short-term plans too, and you need to fit all of this around how you’re working in life. But the overall message that I’m giving here is that you should be contributing something worthwhile if you’re producing, not just taking.