Periodic Content – A Curious Reflection

The question that motivates this blog post: “If a creator is supposed to have new contents by the end of some constant periods, how do we know if they always put out their best effort or cut corner to meet the deadline?”

Right. So what do you think, Thien?

Let’s start from the worst form of periodic content: News.

It has been a common practice in this attention economy for television to give us “breaking news” everyday. I will not, in this post, go deep in the reason why these “breaking news” are only good for distracting us, cranking up our level of anxiety, without actually let us perform better at our most important tasks. Try Mark Manson’s explanation for this, or Made You Think podcast’s discussion

Ok.

Buzzfe… Why does this even make its way in here? Moving on.

TV show? Full disclosure: I don’t watch Game of Thrones. But from the constant discussions of my colleagues at work, it doesn’t seem to live up to expectation after each seasons. Even the author of the GoT book series, George R. R. Martin, is taking his time in publishing new book. That could at worst be a writer block for the guy, or at best means good old George is doing his best to fine-tune the story. This is in stark contrast with the HBO screenwriters, having to pull some new GoT story out of their butts every year.

Ok.

Let’s see. How about periodic podcasts? Tim Ferriss’s podcast, for example? Since Tim is supposed to deliver a new episode every Thursday, how do we know that he is really putting a lot of effort in hunting down the best guests to talk about the most intriguing topics? Now, I only listen to the podcast since November 2018 so I’m not sure about the its publication schedule from earlier. Incidentally, Tim podcast’s new episodes have been coming out in a sporadic manner as of the last 2 months. While I feel a bit let-down for not reliably having a deep conversation to listen to during my commute home on Thursday, I can understand and respect that Tim is taking his time to produce the best content possible for us.

Ok, but. And here is a capitalized BUT.

As a famous writer said in one Tim Ferriss podcast–I already botched his name, and I’m going to butcher his quote as well–although he is a writer with the freedom to work on his own term, he should be a professional that does his job everyday, reliably. He mentioned Seth Godin making a blog post everyday. Some days, his posts are subpar. But some different days, it could be gold!

Stephen King also has a similar approach of writing 6 pages per day. Some days, his 6 pages are subpar. But some other days, they are gold! That’s the secret sauce for why he can produce so many horror books in his career. That’s a damn good way to force himself out of writer’s block. It’s funny how George R. R. Martin, the guy who struggle in immense pressure to finish his GoT books, asks exactly that during an interview with King.

What’s the verdict, then?

For the things that people have the tendency to take for granted, the creator should have the responsibility to take their time with their content and only publish when they have something worth publishing. News organization, with the burden of so many people relying on them for true and useful news should be more selective about what they push out. They should not be afraid to say that there is no news worthy information on a certain day, or even a certain week, possibly month. BBC once did that.

For things that the audiences know that they should be selective about. This should be communicated up front. For those things, the creator can push their contents out periodically. Nonetheless, we, as the audience, have the power to influence creators to create more quality contents. Our power play is simple but effective. If we don’t think some recent periodic publications have been rivaling the quality level of past publications, we can simply walk away, turn it off, seek out better quality content creators. Our time/attention and our money is the strongest resource that we, as the audience, have.

The goal is still to incentivize creators to aim for quality over quantity. They may continue to use quantity as a mean to eventually come up with quality content, but their publications to us should be held to a certain floor of standard.

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