The lure of ‘Live’

Late last night, I dialed into a webinar. In the first 10 minutes, I knew that the content wasn’t relevant to me – it was mostly redundant stuff. And yet, I stayed on for 40 minutes of sleep time that I would later wish I had saved. My first thought was about how if that webinar were a video, I would have closed it in 10 minutes without any problem.

Live communication is compelling. The moment we have a problem, we’d rather pick up a phone and talk to customer support, even if it made more sense to send emails and have written records. Sporting events on tape are never the same, even if we have tuned out from the results of a game. Something about a live event, perhaps the fact that it happens only once, ratchets up their urgency in our minds.

Asynchronous communication like video or written communication can often be more effective than live communication. That is why books and documentaries are better mediums for learning than their ‘live’ equivalents. Asynchronous communication takes away the urgency of doing everything on the spot, but allows its creators to work on their own terms. Work produced asynchronously has to work harder to keep its audience engaged, ensuring that the work produced is of higher quality.

It pays to embrace asynchronous communication as a better medium for learning. In the words of Marcel Proust, conversations are the currency of relationships, but for learning the truth, one turns to books.

Conversely, this indicates the privilege live events bestows on their presenters, which serves as a reminder to be worthy of their audience’s time and attention.

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