May 17, 2021

"I don't listen to podcasts. The format has never appealed to me. I am a visual learner. I love to read. Reading allows me to jump around..."

"... skim where I think it appropriate, moderate my pace, and return to passages that are important. With reading, I can easily highlight, or copy and paste a key phrase into a blog post. Moreover, much more care is put into the printed word. Authors (present company included) labor over every sentence, word, and syllable. Podcasts are different. Less care is put into the spoken word. Unless the narrator is reading from a transcript, we are left with the normal flow of conversational english.... Sure, I can play it at double-speed, but I am still stuck with his chronology...."

Writes Josh Blackman (at Volokh Conspiracy).

The thing I don't do — and for some (but not all) of those reasons — is watch the news and news commentary shows on television. You have to give yourself over to their control of your precious time. With text, you control your own time, according to your needs and abilities and predilections. And it's so passive. I can't easily blog it or send it to somebody. I'd have to either transcribe it or make a little video clip of it. So I would be either bored or agitated by the slowness, the repetition, and the loss of the opportunity to do something with it. 

But I wouldn't designate myself a "visual learner." I'm just someone who likes to do things with text. So, mostly, I read.

I have my uses for audio, including audiobooks and podcasts. I like an audiobook for a long walk for 2 reasons: 1. It keeps me from dwelling on the walk as a slog, and 2. It forces me to continue linearly through an entire book. And I like the right podcast while doing various tasks — housecleaning, personal hygiene, and so forth — that require some but not that much engagement. I like the sound of good conversation, the feeling of human company, and some random material to mix with my stray thoughts.

1 comment:

Ann Althouse said...

Peter writes (from Hong Kong):

Here’s a thing on “visual learning” which I think is interesting.

I was sent to China in 1976 by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (your State Department) for two years’ intensive study of Mandarin Chinese followed by a tour at the Oz Embassy in Beijing. Result: I learnt to speak, read and write Chinese.

Further result (and this is the interesting bit — at least to me): I found I could memorise reams of Chinese poetry and prose [strike]quite relatively [/strike] easily because I could *picture* the characters. By contrast I’ve always found it hard to memorise chunks of English (unlike many folks who can, of course… Peter Ustinov, Christopher Hitchens).

I’ve found that ability continues up to this day and helps enrich the study of Classical Chinese; this “thing” of Chinese being easier to memorise because of its pictorial element. I can visualise the characters, clear and sharp on the page.

There have been suggestions that one of the reasons ethnic Chinese are so good at maths is because their language encourages mental pictures and symbols. I don’t know… I suspect it’s more to do with “tiger mums” and the education system.

Otherwise, on my own walks in the Country Parks, I find the sound of birdsong and wind in the Chinese willows rather alluring.