Educating in a Post Literate Era Requires Entertainment, Engagement, and No Reading

Some time ago Vox Day, a fairly keen observer of the passing scene, opined that we have entered a post literate era.

Now this is a tragedy to me, for I love little more than I love the written word. I love musty old tomes, the weight of the book, the feel of the pages, the smell of the binding. Some of my fondest memories are of sitting in a chair at the cottage, Chopin’s Nocturnes on the CD player, rain falling against the window, with a good book and a cup of coffee.

Those days are not past, for me. They’re not even past for my family, for I am raising a brood of readers. All my boys love to read, and my wife and I take great pains to nurture that love, because in a post literate age, the literate will be kings.

I once saw a high school  test from the very early 20th century, and there were questions on it I couldn’t answer before 2nd year University. That was the science/math stuff which are the bread and butter of Engineering.

Then there was stuff I couldn’t answer at all, because Latin has been completely removed from the high school curriculum. In fairness, I was as literate in French as the high school students would have been in Latin, so we both knew how to read a useless language.

Just this week I read that 56% of American adults read at below a 6th grade level. That is shocking to me, especially when you consider just how badly the standards have slipped.

Our society is getting dumber and less educated by the year.

This does, however, present an opportunity. The old, Web 2.0 offered the opportunity to make money by creating long form content; long blog posts, large scale courses with long video portions and a crap tonne of worksheets and shit.

The new, Web 3.0 looks to be shaping up for infotainment. Short video courses, deliverable by phone app, delivered in bite sized chunks, for an audience that demands to be entertained before it will allow itself to be educated.

So what does this mean for content creators?

  • Learn to work in video.
  • Keep your lessons short.
  • Make your content entertaining.
  • Make your content mobile friendly
  • Deliver your content in an app

If your audience wants to be assed to take notes and use what you’re teaching, they will, but it’s no longer incumbent upon you to design your training around worksheets.

Keep in mind, this does not mean there will be no market for the written word. This does not mean there will be no market for long form content. What it means is that market will be continuously smaller, and simultaneously smarter, more selective and more discriminating.

If you use your short content to gate people into your long content, the short content will be cheap, nearly free, but the good content, the long and deep content, will be premium.