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For certain types of writing, a moving picture is worth a thousand million words

July 5, 2013

This week, I’ve started working to put the tile on the walls around the new bathtub. I have the old Reader’s Digest book on home repair, which told me what to do and intermixed a few pictures here and there. When I read it, I knew 100% more about putting tile on the wall, but still knew practically nothing.

So I did what I would do if I were researching a book. I Googled it. Or more correctly, I Youtubed it.

If you want to put tile on a wall, you have a functionally infinite number of posts you can use to guide your effort. There’s nothing like seeing someone do the thing you want to learn how to do.

Of course, everything you see on the Internet isn’t true–the following commercial notwithstanding–so I consulted several resources before deciding how to move forward.

All of them more or less said the same things. Start in the middle, put the putty on the wall, then comb it with the jagged side of the trowel, do small patches. And take your time. After watching the video from The Home Depot, I realized that I had made a mistake putting up my backer board, so I went to the store to get some guidance.

As I start the actual process of putting up the tile, I won’t feel constrained by fear of never having seen what I want to do. And if I have concerns, I can always take the computer into the bathroom with me and watch the video as I work.

In short, because people have used video to show me how to do something, they’ve added value beyond the written word.

If your writing something technical in nature, a step-by-step how-t0, adding a video could make your work more useful than words alone. Of course, if you put the video out there for free, there might not be a reason to buy the book–unless you don’t make videos of everything in the book.

Either way, for certain types of non-fiction, a picture may be worth a thousand words. And a moving picture could be worth a thousand million words.

 

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