Ben Chinn

Slightly nerdy ramblings and linkage

Do The Reading

This has been widely quoted but only came through my transom recently: when asked how he got so smart David Foster Wallace replied “I did the reading”. The more you read the smarter you are: simple but true, doubly so if your reading challenges your assumptions, takes you where you’ve never been and teaches you something without without feeling like a chore. There’s thousands of those opportunities around, in every bookshop and library, a click away if you’re not into the whole brick and mortar thing.

I’m ashamed to say I don’t read enough, sometimes even going for long stretches of time without cracking a book at all. Then a book will hook me and I’ll start devouring pages again as if literacy were a new experience.

Even a mediocre book can be rewarding or educational. My guess is that writing a book takes an enormous amount of effort and time and so it’s just not worth writing a bad one if you an possibly avoid it. Plus (at least for now) books are mostly distributed by publishers with editors to control quality and even work to make books better than the authors are able to manage by themselves.

With this in mind I present a hierarchy of text media, from least useful to most valuable.

  1. Facebook updates
  2. Tweets
  3. Posts
  4. Blog Posts
  5. Magazine Articles
  6. Newspaper Articles
  7. Books

Even though they are the oldest technology in the list, books still offer the best word for word value.