Watching TV makes you smarter, argues Steven Johnson in this article in the New York Time Magazine.

He then goes on to talk about a lot of TV shows (which I don´t know, because I rarely watch TV). While I think that Steven Johnson has a point, he does miss the key issue here: it is not watching TV what makes you smarter, it is that video, properly used, is a much more powerful mean of transfering information than text.

A movie has 5gb of information and you get it in 2 hours. A book has only 5mb of information. That is a ratio of 1000 to 1 and it takes you 30 hours to read. So any information packed in video format reaches you much more quickly. When you watch video you are multitasking, you are using your eyes AND your ears. Trough your eyes you are getting an incredible wealth of images. Through your ears words, sounds and music. Writing is sounds turned into letters, turned into words, turned into grammar, turned into meaning. Writing is just slow, very slow.

The only good thing about writing is that, because it is so slow, it gives you time to think. That could be the only reason why reading text may sometimes make you smarter than watching video.

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Mariano on May 26, 2005  · 

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