Is the textual web dying?
When the Internet was originally founded, websites were white and blue and consisted predominantly of text.
Fast forward to now and we have lavish websites, consisting of beautiful stock photography and font faces.
We have smartphone apps which do our work without us needing to open our browser.
Snapchat, Instagram, Vine etc. run off images and videos, every app these days is focusing more on audio-visual.
It’s like the textual web is dying.
Or is it?
The Image Centric Web
New social networks are on the rise, Instagram is attracting teens and Snapchat is gaining the attention of the youth.
These apps are attaining huge user bases growing everyday.
A common trend among these evolving social networks is the form of content.
These apps are focused on images and videos, basically, audio-visual content.
Audio-visual is booming these days, everybody is trying to incorporate it into their systems.
Meanwhile text is sitting in the corner like, “Somebody notice me!”
We are moving towards a more image centric web.
Text, which prospered during the early stages of the Internet, is now fading away.
Everybody is focusing less on text, and more on images and videos.
The stream, a modern concept of providing content is evolving substantially.
The stream, synonymous to its name provides a stream of content curated towards your preferences and “likes”, it eliminates the need to go anywhere to find content, it’s all in front of you.
This concept can be seen in Facebook, Twitter and various other social networks built around the idea of the stream.
In these social networks, an algorithm controls what content is displayed according to our “likes” and “favourites”.
This essentially means that an algorithm is controlling what you see and what not.
It eliminates the freedom to explore and discover what we like ourselves.
It’s also causing us to have a shorter attention span.
Short Attention Span
Our attention span is becoming horribly slow, we can’t pay attention to something without getting distracted.
You must’ve noticed that whenever you try to do something, say, study for a test, your mind is constantly diverted, you’re checking your phone, eating chips, and roaming around the house.
Why? Because your attention span is slow, during the early times, humans required to pay attention to their surroundings in order to survive.
As time passed, and luxuries developed, the attention we had to devote to our surroundings decreased considerably.
As a result, our attention span became short and we started paying less attention.
And now, technology has further spoiled us.
With information on the tip of our fingers, we don’t need to concentrate on reading books and scavenging through information, just Google it!
If you want to know the height of Barack Obama for some inexplicable reason, you don’t have to open his biography and look around for mentions of his height, or ask an unusually wise man, you just take out your smartphone and type into Google: “What’s the height of Barack Obama?” and Google presents you with the answer: “1.5 meters”.
We don’t need to pay the same amount of attention as we did before to learn, all thanks to technology.
That’s also why teenagers and young people find it difficult to read a book continuously over a long period of time, their brains have been wired to get distracted.
The Internet is one of the biggest factors causing this to happen. If the Internet Didn’t Exist, things would be quite different, but because it does, we have a short attention span.
Our Impatience is Killing Text
Because us humans are blessed with a short attention span, we do not have enough patience to read through a lot of text at once.
Whenever we see a lot of text at once, we get intimidated and skim through parts of it, and at times, don’t even bother to read it.
We need visuals and breaks to keep us interested in a string of legibly arranged alphabets.
That’s what I, and various other bloggers do to keep you, the reader, interested in what we have to say (or write).
If this post did not contain any images, I doubt people reading it carefully and not skimming through it.
It’s inevitable, content writers have to use “visual baits” to retain you to their content.
New web applications and softwares are eliminating the need to use media to keep you interested in their content, their content is media itself.
This could mean that in the future, the Internet would be a place where images are important than text, and text is a mere sidekick.
But What’s At Stake Here?
What if text dies? Let’s say the Internet becomes a place where images are king and text is a mere sidekick. Even then, how is it bad?
If the web became a place where images and videos are the primary form of content, then our already horrible attention span would become even worse.
All these visual goodies would further shorten our attention span, it could become even difficult for us to focus our heads on studying or reading.
This would also bring about the plight of writers; novels and books would have to be stuffed with images like kids’ books, epic novels and fantasies would be filled with pictures.
Blogs would fall or the definition of a blog would be altered, with people not having any patience to read a lot of text, blogs would either become more of a place where only images and videos are shared or maybe even a thing of the past.
Breaking into Internet fame would become even difficult, if images and videos became the kingpin of the web, the stream would also become a dominating part of the Internet.
If the stream controlled the content we consumed, newbie creators would have a tough time getting internet-famous. Big players would be more on our stream because we already “like” them and know them, small-time individuals would not be there, thus nobody would actually know if they even exist.
Rays of Hope
But not all hope is lost yet, we still have places which assure us that text isn’t going away, WordPress, Medium etc. are sites bent on “textual content”, their main form of content is text.
These sites are popular and have a huge community of readers and writers alike, who consume text and appreciate the things it does.
But the most important of all, the biggest hope, is you.
You are reading a 1200 word article that I have created, every one of your view, like and comment is a huge boost to me and my blog, and it essentially drives me to write more.
Similarly, every single thing you read and appreciate drives its creator to make more content of the same type.
You are saving the Internet, and I’m proud of you.
Do you think the Internet would transform into a place where images and videos are primary? Or is text here to stay? Whatever your thoughts, let me know through the comments below.