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If you were to ask me what my professional secret advantage is, I would say I love reading. Seems to be a strange thing to brag about.  After all, almost all of us can read. The fact that you are reading this post says you can read but do you enjoy it? When you need information do you look for videos or text? Here’s where my love of reading becomes a real advantage. Ever try to find a small detail in a video? Can you imagine standards presented in a video?

Four hundred years ago the ability to read was almost exclusively limited to the nobility.  Moving forward by about two hundred years and more people could read but the amount of reading material was very limited. Having more than twenty books in your library almost defined you as a scholar.  You could say last century was the golden age of reading.

Today that skill is waning. Think about it. I already know the majority of your entertainment is visual.  When you need information do you look for videos or text? For me, I always start looking for text. It’s simply faster. Especially when I know the first few articles won’t give me the whole story.

While you’re trying to find that YouTube video on changing the belt on your riding lawnmower, I’m able to go through multiple articles and I don’t have to try to hear the narrator over the music that always seems selected especially to give you a headache. Are you starting to see why I consider my love of reading a major advantage?

You’ve heard all of that but let me elaborate a little. When you do a search, even for videos, half the problem is using the right words. While you’re going through the list of related videos and trying to determine which one might apply to your problem, I’ve already reviewed the first three pages of offerings from Google. This also allows me to change my search terms several times to get a better match on my topic.

Recently Microsoft told me my version of Windows 10 was about to lose support and I needed to update. Of course, when I tried to update, my computer churned away for an hour and finally gave me an error message. Not surprisingly, there were several YouTube videos purporting to give me the fix but long experience sent me to the online forums.

None of the forums had a clear answer for me but by reading through the posts I was able to see the tools they were using to troubleshoot similar problems. As I went through this, I learned about the log files Microsoft creates during an update. I also learned how to access these files because they are considered system files. Finally, I learned how to decipher these logs.

It turned out Windows thought I had a bad hard drive. I boot from a PCIE drive that my BIOS assigns the last ID number. My first SATA drive was a TrueCrypt drive that Windows considered unformatted. When I moved that drive to a different SATA location, my update problems went away. Being honest about this, it still took me three days to get there and a lot of failed attempts. That’s a lot of work to allow Microsoft to put Edge on my computer. Especially when I have no intention of giving up Vivaldi.

That’s not my point though. The videos would have taken me through a set of steps to fix the normal user’s problem. As you saw above, my system is anything but normal. By reading the forums, I was able to progress through each step of troubleshooting.

You don’t need to go this far

I’m not trying to say that videos are bad. Videos do provide a much wider flow of information. Like any tool they have their place.   When you want to see how to put something together, there’s no question that videos have the advantage. I’m only saying that you need more than a hammer in your tool box. Sometimes you need a secret advantage.

In my riding lawnmower example, I already knew how to replace the belt but my mower had an idler bracket that seemed bent. The illustrated parts catalog showed me what the part was but the line drawing was too poor to see details. I had to watch three videos but finally found one showing my part at the right angle to see that my particular part was bent. Armed with the proper nomenclature from my search into the parts catalog, ordering a replacement on Amazon was relatively painless.

Are you starting to understand why I’ve always considered my love of reading a secret advantage? It allows me to find solutions and information far faster than the people relying on videos. Unfortunately, I’m starting to see companies concentrate on developing instructional videos rather than text. This definitely isn’t a temporary trend.

You’ve probably noticed that the quality of instruction manuals has declined dramatically. The last power tool I bought came with a manual having five pages of court ordered warnings and two small paragraphs on operation and maintenance. This trend will only get worse. The majority of people writing these manuals were raised on videos and have no idea how to organize their thoughts on text.

This situation  isn’t limited to manuals. Look at the output of reporters, bloggers and contemporary authors. The current quality of these products is only accelerating the deterioration.

Sadly, my secret advantage is becoming less relevant with each breath I take.

 

© Copyright 2021 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen
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