Content Arbitrage

Note to my future self…

Great ideas locked in books can be unlocked by more digestible mediums like videos.

Today I was listening to a podcast with Eugene Wei and one of the interesting ideas that stuck with me is this concept that I would rephrase as content arbitrage. Eugene’s argument is that some of civilization’s best ideas are stuck in indigestible formats (i.e. dense books) and that we as a society would be well served if those ideas could be widely distributed to the masses in a medium that fits into the current workflow of most people (e.g. short videos). This adaptation of ideas from one medium to another is content arbitrage.

There are obviously a couple of drawbacks. First, it’s important to preserve nuance and context when it comes to explaining any idea. Books can be a good medium to do this because the author has more a broader “surface” to elaborate on their ideas.

Second, the cost of production for videos tends to be higher than text (especially articles, blog posts, etc.). However, the speed of consumption is higher. In other words, it takes a lot more resources to produce 1 minute worth of video vs 1 minute worth of reading material (I might be wrong here and the it varies wildly but in general I feel this must be true). Therefore, it’s important to figure out how to produce compelling video at scale to make “content arbitrage” worthwhile.

I will say that it’s dangerous to dismiss certain mediums because they can be perceived as intellectually less rigorous (books > movies). Although the medium does alter the message, I think that with enough effort to produce compelling work content arbitrage is a net positive phenomenon for society. Think about it. It’s how culture gets passed. When people started writing down the oral traditions that their parents and peers told them they were doing content arbitrage and think about the impact that had. The rate at which we can refresh old ideas and repackage them into more modern forms the more quickly we can develop culturally as a society.

That’s it. Now back to work..

Today I became exposed to this wonderful idea that

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