Approximate Thinking Books Creativity Education Knowledge Leadership Learning Psychology Thinking Wisdom Worldly Wisdom

Book, blog, or Podcast: Should I even read books?

Book, Blog, or Podcast – Which should a wise person chose?

Before SBF decided to magically evaporate the money of FTX depositors, he was on a quest to impress investors. This quest included his wisdom on books… and why we don’t need them. This, however, is not unique. Many are jumping into this argument..

The differences between reading books, blog posts, or listening to podcasts should be clear to interested in using these media to gain knowledge and develop their skills.

You can listen to the podcast on this here :

Book, Blog, Podcast : Media and Overload

Book Blog or Podcast : Media , Attention , and Limited Mental Resources

Needless to say, we don’t have any lack of information available to us. In fact, in our age, all the world’s knowledge is (relatively) easily accessible.

Accessibility and availability are not the problem… Economy is. Where and how should we dedicate our attention… Attention is the most scarce resource available to us, not information.

A higher level of responsibility is upon us. We have to choose… wisely.

Book, Blog, Podcast : Some basic differences

Unlike a book, which is supposed to be clear and refined, and it passes through iterations of editing and refinement, a podcast is a space for someone to reflect, to discuss.. it is open-ended, and the creator might wander around and throw ideas around. In this sense, a blog post is frequently to the podcast: they are more subjective, more focused on exploration, and ‘relaxed’.

Even the dynamic of interaction between the podcaster and the listener is different. Think about the pace. Who sets the pace, and how does the pace affect how ideas are elaborated and understood in the receiver’s mind. (in this particular detail, the blog and the podcast depart a bit).

Focus & Flexibility

The Book: Creator control, Receiver Flexibility

When reading a book, you have full control on the pace. But the book itself is a refined outcome. It (should) have a clear target and should be more concentrated in that sense. The creator is focused with the book, the receiver has their own pace, and have more room to explore the ideas as they set their own pace and assign weights to the different ideas.

The Podcast: Creator flexibility, Receiver (intellectual) limitations

With a podcast, and this is very important, the opposite is true. The creator has more flexibility, and can jump around different ideas sometimes, and they have control (to a large extent) on the pace, which the receiver has to follow (less flexibility).

Implications for Understanding and Content Type

This probably has implications for understanding, but more specifically for the types of topics that are most suitable to each of the media.

Would you prefer to read a nice Novel, or listen to it? What differences does this lead to in terms of your own imagination and interpretation of events and thoughts?

A book vs a blog post –> the stupidity of SBF

Book Blog or Podcast — SBF : “If you wrote a book… you F@#$ed Up !”

In this interview, SBF extends his (only retroactively evident) stupidity from messing up management, finance, and asset allocation to knowledge. There is obviously no nuance whatsoever in his position, something that should have been seen by the many people rushing to invest with him.

A book vs a podcast –> the _____ of Vitalik

Book Blog or Podcast — Vitalik : “Is reading books even necessary ?”

Question for people who argue that reading long-form books is virtuous or even necessary: Are podcasts an acceptable substitute? If not, why not, and what even is the difference between a podcast and an audiobook? (I frequently listen to both)

Vitalik / @VitalikButerin

What I said in the beginning can help answer both… Book are a condensation of experiences, and a concise exploration of an idea from different dimensions. They should present an integrated perspective, with supporting anecdotes and good documentation. Podcasts and Blog posts are a fluffing of a thought… A personal exploration, in which the subjective identity of the creator is more present.

Neither form is generally, completely, and inherently better. It boils down to the content, and to the objectives of the consumer of the medium.

Books are a complete perspective. They are filtered and reviewed.

Books vs Audio Books : Who sets the pace for thought ?

Should you listen to a book, or read it?

Again, the answer can’t be a sweeping one.

Many books should have been a blog post. Many can be listened to. It depends on the topic, your understanding of the topic, and what you need done.

You have to try.. and you surely don’t need to read anything and everything.. Many are ego exercises, and don’t deliver enough substance or even enjoyment.

Book, Blog, Podcast, Audio Book : Final Thoughts

Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly 

Francis Bacon

Few are to be digested..

I would even say that some books should be read more than once. A friend once told me “Reading a good book twice is better than reading two books once”. Why is that?

To get the opportunity to reflect on the content and opinions once the basic and foundational knowledge has already been established. This is quite interesting, because it means that you can have interesting combinations of Podcast / Audio Book / Book…

A couple of ideas :

This next quote is a great screenshot I had, and unfortunately lost the source (sorry – if it is you, please connect). The key thing about a book is its refinement and editing to distill the wisdom. This is why books that particularly fail on this front, and end up being fluff, can typically be replaced by some audio version…

A list of reasons to read more were posted by @RyanHoliday on twitter:

6 reasons you need to read more:

1. To tell the future

2. To be an informed citizen

3. To soften your solitude

4. To solve problems

5. To engage in conversation with the wisest to ever live

6. To be a better leader (all leaders are readers)

I would add (not in order of importance) :

  1. To Understand the World
  2. To Grow as a human
  3. To Develop different Skills

This is relevant too… Your objectives, are quite important for your choice.

Choose Wisely : Book , Blog , Podcast , Audio Book — In a nutshell

So, choose how you spend your learning time based on :

  1. Your objectives : Are you exploring? an audio book or podcast might be great. Are you engaging deeply? Do you want to be ‘lost’ in the book?
  2. The type of the content you’re reading (its topic, its complexity, the field,…)
  3. What is your level of knowledge and expertise in this field (or how many times have you read things like this) If you know things pretty well, you might want to listen to them quickly, or skim through descriptions.
  4. How interesting / important is it that you remember, learn, or explore this particular content.

Relevant Resources : Think-Grow Knowledge Modules & The Atlas of Worldly Wisdom

The Think-Grow Knowledge Modules are mini-libraries of book summaries, each giving a wide (wise) enough view of a specific field.

They offer a simpler, wiser, and more convenient approach to reading about different fields. The Better Brain Library in particular has summaries of books on intelligence, thinking, and mental training.

The Atlas of Worldly Wisdom is an online course about the bigger picture. It compiles hundreds of super ideas into a map for excellence and peak performance, aiming for the creation of meaningful work. Check it out if you’re interested in the practical and managerial applications of wisdom.

Leave a Reply