DOP 94: Are Videos or Text Better for Learning?

Posted on Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021

Show Notes

#94: Some people like reading text. Some people like watching videos. Which one are you when it comes to learning and building your skillset? Today, we talk about what we like as both producers and consumers of content.


Darin Pope

Darin Pope

Darin Pope is a developer advocate for CloudBees.

Viktor Farcic

Viktor Farcic

Viktor Farcic is a member of the Google Developer Experts and Docker Captains groups, and published author.

His big passions are DevOps, Containers, Kubernetes, Microservices, Continuous Integration, Delivery and Deployment (CI/CD) and Test-Driven Development (TDD).

He often speaks at community gatherings and conferences (latest can be found here).

He has published The DevOps Toolkit Series, DevOps Paradox and Test-Driven Java Development.

His random thoughts and tutorials can be found in his blog

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Viktor: [00:00:00]
When you want to consume something that is hundreds of pages or hours and hours of videos as alternative, then books might be a better thing.

This is DevOps Paradox episode number 94. Are Videos or Text Better for Learning?

Welcome to DevOps Paradox. This is a podcast about random stuff in which we, Darin and Viktor, pretend we know what we're talking about. Most of the time, we mask our ignorance by putting the word DevOps everywhere we can, and mix it with random buzzwords like Kubernetes, serverless, CI/CD, team productivity, islands of happiness, and other fancy expressions that make it sound like we know what we're doing. Occasionally, we invite guests who do know something, but we do not do that often, since they might make us look incompetent. The truth is out there, and there is no way we are going to find it. PS: it's Darin reading this text and feeling embarrassed that Viktor made me do it. Here are your hosts, Darin Pope and Viktor Farcic.

Darin: [00:01:11]
Now, if you've been listening to this podcast or watching our live streams for any amount of time, you know we are unabashedly unashamed of telling you that we have books and courses and if you haven't bought them all yet, you should go do that right now.

Viktor: [00:01:27]
Be ashamed.

Darin: [00:01:28]
Be ashamed. All the links are down below in the show notes. Only partially joking, but we decided we wanted to talk about learning styles. In the last episode, we were talking about how do you create an environment where people who would normally leave, don't leave and one of the items that we brought up was having a company invest in their employees, that's considered to be a reason why somebody might want to stick around. But in that training, man, there are so many ways to do training today, especially as we're recording this, we're still in the pandemic times, so everybody's in some way, shape or form probably still locked down, working from home. Maybe not locked down in the way it was locked down, but you're working from home. So you're not able to go to classrooms and sit through trainings for multiple days and this whole online learning has really popped up huge in the past year and we wanted to talk a little bit about text versus audio versus video and how each of those may apply or not apply to you. So Viktor by admission prefers text.

Viktor: [00:02:46]
I changed that.

Darin: [00:02:48]
okay. Hang on a second. You have changed, but let's rewind for just a second. There was a time to where you thought it's just much easier for me to write a book.

Viktor: [00:02:59]
ok as author. Yes.

Darin: [00:03:01]
as an author. So right now, we're speaking as a content producer, you preferred and still may prefer, we'll talk about it in a minute and then we're going to flip around and come at it from the consumer side, from the student side. But as a producer of content, text by far, is the easiest. True or false?

Viktor: [00:03:22]
Was. For me personally, was. Was. Yes, definitely was. Now at least for me, and I cannot really speak for everybody in general, but for me, somehow video is easier. It's harder to keep up to date. So absolutely no doubt but if we ignore keeping up to date, if I imagine it as being something done once, video is easier because I can speak no matter how horrible my accent is while when you're writing. So I have a feeling and I might be wrong, that making a mistake while speaking is much more acceptable than writing.

Darin: [00:04:09]
I a hundred percent agree with that statement.

Viktor: [00:04:13]
At least this is now not now jumping into more consumer than producer, but I think that those things are somehow related, like if you would transcribe what I'm talking right now, and I know that it's hard to understand me in any formal way, but for those of you who can somehow, I bet if we would have a tool that transcribes perfectly like perfectly, it will still be unreadable what I just said.

Darin: [00:04:41]
yes, it would be because that's how I start the transcriptions for these episodes. It is unreadable,

Viktor: [00:04:48]
and I doubt that that's only me. I would guess that you would be more readable than me, but still, you wouldn't be fully readable either. I'm sure of that.

Darin: [00:04:57]

Viktor: [00:04:58]
So, there is more work involved, unless and I think that this is also one of the differences, which I attribute to experience gained through repetition that initially it's easier to work with written words, but over time when you get practice, then that might not be the case anymore. It's similar like, let's say conference speaking. I know it's not directly related, but I think that you'll see that I'm getting to the same point. First 10 times you speak at a conference, you probably create a script of everything you're going to say. You basically start with the written word and then translate it into a conference talk. I guess that that's how most people work. That's how I worked. But over time, you learn tips and tricks and you don't need that first step. You can jump straight into bullet points and then go on a stage, which is not only knowledge about subject matter, but also getting used to speaking on a stage and I think that educational content is somehow similar. First videos that I created, I was literally reading something that I was writing for a long time and proofreading and all those things and now there is one of two things is happening. I'm getting lazy. So I'm skipping that part or that part is not that needed anymore.

Darin: [00:06:27]
maybe it's not needed as much anymore because even though you may not be writing out word for word what you're saying, you still have an outline that you are following. Let's take, for example, because on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, you release a 20 minute medium form video on DevOps Toolkit Series. It's a YouTube channel, by the way, if you haven't subscribed, go subscribe to that. It's a sister channel to DevOps Paradox, let's put it that way because it is. An example that you did in 2021 was a video about AWS LightSail containers. You could not have taken the single bullet using AWS LightSail containers and created a 20 minute video out of that one sentence. No way.

Viktor: [00:07:22]
No, no, absolutely not. There is a lot of work, both in writing code, testing, but also reading, figuring things out, rehearsing in your head. I actually rehearse the talk in shower, then I don't do the same talk. It's nothing alike, but it's going through different permutations and gathering the information. There is a whole process. Those 20 minutes, that's like days of work. Let's say that you have for 20 minutes, or let's say four pages I'm not sure how many pages that's equivalent of written material, you need that pre-work anyway, maybe slightly, even for recording. You can say you need less of that preparation for written because you're partly preparing while writing, but same thing is for recording. I have three hours of material for those 20 minutes, so it's not in one go, maybe not three hours, but at least three times more material in length raw material, than what ends up in that video. So there is repetition. There is repeating and preparation and everything. I'm just saying that I personally feel less need, everything else being equal and everything else happening, to write down exactly what I'm going to say word by word, not thoughts by thoughts.

Darin: [00:08:36]
There are times where having that word by word in front of you is important. Let's say if we're doing the right thing and we were actually marketing the courses other than just mentioning them here and there, there would be a sales part of whatever we're talking about that we would want to say word for word, because we had scripted that really tight and we would not want to mess that up because of the messaging. But unlike what we're doing right here, which in complete transparency, we looked back and it's like, Oh, this is one we haven't talked about. Let's go talk about this. That's how this episode came about. We're able to talk about it because we've gone through these processes much, like what he was just talking about. Starting out, we used to do things a lot more, not necessarily scripted, but a lot more structured. Now we have a single point and then we can talk about it for however long it may be. But now from a producer side, I like how we're using producer and consumer. You will understand as you listen to upcoming episodes, but as a producer, you've switched from text to video. Do you think you can produce video content faster? Let me rephrase this. Can you produce quality consumable content faster via video than you can only by text?

Viktor: [00:09:54]
I would say that it's more or less the same, because each has its own quirks. Like when it's text, you write it, you read it, you rewrite it, you read it, you rewrite it, you read it and then you proofread it. It takes a lot of iterations. Video, I believe, takes much less iterations to make material. But then the editing part is a killer. When I say for 20 minutes, you need three hours of raw material. That's the easy part. You sit in front of, especially when you get used to it and you have a posture and everything set up camera, whatever you sit and you talk. That's easy. I could talk for days. That's the easy part. But then you listen to it and you say, Oh my God what just happened? How do I make this make any sense? It's like as if I'm young guy, ate some funny mushrooms and then I think that I was very clever and then you record yourself and you look at it in the morning and say, Oh my. That was bad analogy I know. But.

Darin: [00:11:04]
bad. Bad, very bad analogy.

Viktor: [00:11:06]
But yeah. Editing is just horrible and then you need to cut something and then you realize that you cannot cut because you have two words. You want to cut one, but they're connected in a way that you cannot. It's a nightmare and reshooting is not an option. I mean, it's an option, but then it's next day, you have different clothes. It feels different. It almost needs to be done in one go, everything, all the material and it either works or it doesn't.

Darin: [00:11:34]
Let's talk about text a little bit more. Now with the books that you're producing other than you have a couple that went through a legitimate publisher, we do self publishing on Leanpub. Which the great thing about that and if you've never looked into, Hey, I'd like to write a book or even write a short pamphlet that you would like to sell. We're not getting compensation from Leanpub on this, right? This is completely just talking about the process that we use. Leanpub is great because if you already understand Git, you can tie in Git. It'll bake the EPUB PDF. You can generate a print copy from it that you can submit to Amazon. All the things are just there. And then they take a small cut when you sell something. And by the way, the cut they take is a very reasonable size cut compared to Amazon. I'll put it that way. So if you've never looked into Leanpub, if you're wanting to publish something, It's great. Now that also means you probably wouldn't be able to use some tools because there is a specific format in the way that repo or Dropbox has to be in order for it to work. It's configuration over, or excuse me, convention over configuration. Let's put it that way. Is that true?

Viktor: [00:12:50]
Yeah, exactly. Convention. Yeah. You just need to follow certain structure.

Darin: [00:12:54]
You follow the structure, everything works. So if you're not that way, okay, you might have to do it a different way. But the good thing about text from a producer thing, if there is a quick change or if you need to work with somebody like me, I'm helping doing proofreading. It's easy. I fork it. I put in pull requests. Life goes on. I can't do that same level of help on videos or a proofreader. When you're doing video, it's a very linear thing.

Viktor: [00:13:20]

Darin: [00:13:21]
A couple of things that can be done in parallel. If we were doing the right thing and doing social media marketing around the video series, then that could be being done in parallel, but I can't help at the same time he's doing video editing. Whereas on the book I can help and work in the same place he is. He just has to deal with a potential merge conflict.

Viktor: [00:13:40]
There is less opportunity for collaboration. Let's put it that way. The big YouTubers, they all have people editing their videos. They earn money. They pay people to do that, but it's kind of, I do this and then you do that. With books, it can be, both of us are working on this. You make those changes. I accept changes. I rewrite changes. It's kind of collaboration. This is more like what we spoke in one of the previous episodes synchronous asynchronous. It's synchronous. I can record, and I can give it to you to assemble into a movie, but we cannot record together at least during pandemic and then distance wise and we cannot edit it really together, even if there is a tool that would allow you to edit online, I cannot imagine how that would work to be honest.

Darin: [00:14:32]
So enough on the producer side. Let's flip over to the consumer side. Some people say they learn better by text. Some people say they learn better by video. Actually, there is one more thing I want to say about a producer. If you are a producer of content and you're only doing one form of content today, you are doing your consumers a huge disservice because you are potentially leaving out a large market that you don't even know about. That's all I'll say about the producer side. Let's go back over to there to the consumer side. If you're a consumer, you're a software engineer that is writing Go microservices and deploying to Kubernetes. That is your role within a company. Your friend is Stack Overflow. That's day one. Reddit, probably. Still text. Maybe you bought a book from fill in the blank publishers or from an indie publisher. Still text. When do you move to video? That next step is okay, you've been searching and searching. Well probably, if you've been searching on Google and not using something like DuckDuckGo. If you're using Google, YouTube is probably showing up in all of your search responses. You're probably going to go look at YouTube for something that might be a five minute video. You might not look at a one hour video because a five minute video was probably going to be better than scrolling through a 10 minute blog post. Those are always funny. Seeing blog posts that have the estimated time to read 10 minutes. That estimated time thing. If you're a native English speaker, maybe. You can probably get through it a lot faster. I'll take a video any day over text.

Viktor: [00:16:10]
It really depends. I think on the type of the content and there is a huge variety of learning things you are looking for. Most of the time, you're looking for something quick. How do I solve this problem? How do I upgrade an application using Helm? That's StackOverflow type of stuff. I'm not going to go to a course. I'm not going to read a book how to upgrade an application with Helm. I'm going to find a snippet. A command or something like that and then there is something in between I would think that you want to go deeper than specific thing, like how I upgrade my application. I want to find out what is Helm. Now for that I'm changing my opinion and I think that for that, video material is better without doubt. I think it's easier to digest. It doesn't require even full attention because I can somehow multitask with videos. While I personally cannot multitask with anything but snippets in written material and then if we go to something huge, then I'm going to spend days and days on this specific topic, then I'm undecided, but slightly leaning maybe towards books. When you want to consume something that is hundreds of pages or hours and hours of videos as alternative, then books might be a better thing simply because, and this is me personally, I don't know how people behave. My attention when watching something is much shorter. I'm more willing to watch hundred videos that are 20 minutes than 2000 minutes of a video. I know that a video can be broken into smaller ones, but it's still the same thing. It's almost like Twitter versus books, right?

Darin: [00:18:12]
It is. In fact, I was watching a video of someone the other day. He did a webinar that was an hour, hour, 15 minutes. I couldn't make it through. But then he went back and added chapters. It ended up being on YouTube. He added the chapter marks in, and then I saw exactly, Oh, there's eight different sections to this video. Well, eight sections into an hour hour, whatever, 12 to 15 minute sections. Oh, I can do 12 minutes and there's the thing I actually want to know about. Back over to if you're a video producer and you're putting stuff on YouTube, make sure you're adding timestamps because it helps your consumer find the things they're looking for.

Viktor: [00:18:50]
One of the reasons why I like videos is that I have that feeling of establishing a connection with the producer in a way. When I watch John, I just invented a name, I have that type of connection that I probably wouldn't have if John wrote a book, which is more like some kind of human contact. Maybe somehow it's easier for me to receive things when that is accompanied by gestures and motions. Of course it depends on the content. If John is showing me a terminal screen for 10 hours, then Hey, John can just as well go away. But there is something about that connection when you see a person. Realistically, I could argue that I could learn everything I learned from professors in university by reading their books. But there is still somehow that captivating need or essence that you get when you go to a class, if a professor is good, of course, and listen to him instead of reading the book. Most professors publish the same thing that they're teaching as books anyways.

Darin: [00:19:55]
You called out something there a moment ago to where John is on a terminal for 10 hours. Video content should not be slideware. Let's put it that way. If you are doing videos, I'm going to back to the producer side again. If you're doing videos that are nothing but slides, I'm not saying no slides, even though I like to say no slides and then if I have one or two, it's not that big of a deal, but even then that slide could be potentially just turned into a picture. Because if I see bullets, there's different ways to do bullets from a producer perspective than putting them on a slide. Again, this can be argued across the board, but I don't like slides in general, when I'm watching video content. There has to be a reason for that slide to show up.

Viktor: [00:20:35]
Try to remember last couple of talks that you thought were fantastic, that you saw in conference or whereever, right and I bet that most of the time, you had a big screen with the slides of that person and a person talking. I bet that most of the time your eyes were on that person. You had both options and if that person is good at what he's doing, you're watching that person by choice most of the time. During good talks, occasionally your eyes go to slides to scan those three bullet points because that's something that will be memorized in your head and then you go back to that person. At least that's how I react when attending good talks.

Darin: [00:21:18]
That's true and you can do that in a large venue setting. However, In video, when you're in a 1080p single screen, you don't have that same level because unless you've got a 72, 85 inch TV, you can't put a person and a slide side-by-side to where you have that same spatial reasoning. That's the reason why I'm saying that's why I don't like slides from a video perspective.

Viktor: [00:21:46]
Exactly. I was mentioning now talks more to demonstrate when you have a choice. My example would be equivalent if you would watch a video, if you could have a technology, where you could watch a video on two monitors where one monitor has animation slides and the other one person, and then that would be similar, but that's not how videos work. When you have a choice, you focus more on a person and occasionally on slides, then that's how videos should be as well. It's okay to put a slide every once in awhile. Okay. Three seconds. Three bullet points. Go back to a person.

Darin: [00:22:21]
So we know today that from the producer side, you have moved from text to video. Where are you at today from a consumer side? What do you prefer?

Viktor: [00:22:33]
Videos, by far and this is probably something that others don't do. What I've found myself doing now that the COVID working from home and all those things, at least half of my working hours, I have YouTube in one screen sometimes even in the background sometimes in foreground, but I have it running, playing stuff while I'm working. It's almost a replacement for, you know, you put your music on your headphones while you work. I am getting that habit with videos and then occasionally I would stop, I hear some keywords, I hear something very interesting and then I would stop working and focus on that video maybe for a minute, maybe for half an hour. It really depends on what it is and then continue. It's almost like driving that when you listen to audio podcasts or something while driving, your main focus is still on the road. I hope. I hope really, but then still, you know, you're listening to those things. Something is entering there. You might even go back to some parts later when you can stop driving.

Darin: [00:23:39]
I've also moved to video probably more than book, just because books get out of date really fast from a technical perspective. Things that are business related or marketing related that aren't tactical, they're more just here are truths, those books aren't going to go out of date. But hey what's going on in this version of this application that I'm doing, that's got shelf life until the next version comes out and we found this through the video courses and the books as well, but especially the video courses. It was like, okay, what happened when Istio upgraded from what 14 to 15 to 16 or whatever the numbers were and things broke in the Canary course? Was it the Canary course? I think it was and it was like, Oh crap. Now what? So, as a producer, you want to be able to create content that hopefully stays the term is evergreen to where you never have to update it again, but then you're probably not producing content for technical or for software things, because that's always ongoing.

Viktor: [00:24:45]
Depends on the length. So if you compare, like, let's say canaries, like, I don't know, six, seven, eight, 10 hours. I don't remember how long. That all needs to work. Now if you're talking about YouTube videos, they're usually, I mean, some people do hours and hours split into different, but usually videos are self-contained topics within 20 minutes, half an hour and now you have for every 10 videos, one, you might need to unlist or keep it, but basically it becomes irrelevant or less relevant, but then that's one out of 10. If it's one section out of 10 sections in a course, you cannot do that because one doesn't work, everything falls apart. Going back yes, for a producer, when it's a long, continuous single subject, very technical, books are easier because of that. Books are easier to maintain, not necessarily to produce, to maintain, but when it's a longer period of time, but for many different subjects, shorter snippets, then videos are just as easy or easier.

Darin: [00:25:45]
So you see where we land on this. We both like video today. Text still has its place. I will go back as a producer. I will go back and say that I would rather go live on YouTube than to sit down and preproduce a video. It's so much easier because so much. And you might think, well, it may not be as slick and you might not have all the stuff. You're right. I might not, but I'll get there because to produce even a five minute video, I spent probably about eight or nine hours to get five minutes done. Whereas with live, I could have done that same five minutes live and I probably would have still prepared for three or four hours for a five minute video, but I did not need all of that extra post-production. If you're going to do pre-produced videos or post produced videos instead of just live stream and say it, call it done, I feel for you cause there's still parts of what I do that I have to do that with, but let me just go live. It comes from my background and it really comes from your background as well being a conference speaker, you just get up on stage. You've got this block of time and then you're done. I come at it from working in radio and working in the theater. Showtime. Done. In the middle? There's the show.

Viktor: [00:27:08]
But that's the thing about live. Simply expectations from something live are different. So let's say the example you mentioned. Go on a stage. Do your talk and you say this was a great talk. Now this great talk, I would never ever publish it as a course video course. Never. It's so bad as a video course or some, let's say edited video published video. It's bad. For live, it's great. It's simply different criteria. Same thing in television. A live TV show. We watch them. We like them probably and then you have TV series. You would never allow that level of quality of a live show in a TV series or a movie. Right? Simply expectations are different.

Darin: [00:27:54]
And I will say here again, some more transparency. You're listening to this podcast. At this point in time from when we punched record, it is now 36 minutes and 17 seconds. If you were to look down at your podcast player right now, it's probably closer to 26 to 29 because we're recording it live. I haven't edited it yet because there's gonna be a lot of things that get cut out. It's not abnormal for me to cut 10 to 15 minutes out of a podcast. Ums AHS. I'll leave those in. So don't take those out, Darin when you're editing this. All those get taken out, so it's better experience for you as you're listening,

Viktor: [00:28:35]
and full transparency of those 15 minutes, two minutes are from Darin and 13 from me.

Darin: [00:28:42]
Probably pretty close or extra long pauses. Cause even though it sounds like we're smart and we're able just to flow naturally throughout all this. No, that's called editing. Okay. Text versus video and we threw in audio. I'm going to say audio. You're using audio through YouTube, right? You're not necessarily watching YouTube, but you're listening to YouTube. And then you might watch YouTube based on what you heard.

Viktor: [00:29:07]
I would say that I'm more listening to YouTube than watching and I'm not so saying YouTube videos that are only audio, but full videos. Motion pictures. I still listen to it more than watch.

Darin: [00:29:20]
Hmm. Very normal. What do you think? How do you learn? Do you like text better? Do you like video better? Go over to the Slack workspace, go to the podcast channel. You will see a post for this episode and because we're recording it, I don't have the title for it yet, but you'll see it. And in the thread of that episode, you can go ahead and chat about which do you like better and also if you haven't bought the books or courses yet, please go do that.

We hope this episode was helpful to you. If you want to discuss it or ask a question, please reach out to us. Our contact information and the link to the Slack workspace are at If you subscribe through Apple Podcasts, be sure to leave us a review there. That helps other people discover this podcast. Go sign up right now at to receive an email whenever we drop the latest episode. Thank you for listening to DevOps Paradox.