Writing as a Medium for Communication

Writing is my medium of choice when it comes to communicating a message. In the workplace, this means emails, slack messages, and documentation rather than meetings and presentations [1].

Writing as a medium for communication has its pros and cons. Sometimes at work, I’ll write a document for an upcoming product release but not many people will read it. Compared to other forms of media like YouTube videos, photos, TV shows, or podcasts, writing is arguably the least engaging form of media.

I’m guilty of this myself. When I’m learning something new, whether that be cable crunches or the simulated annealing algorithm, I default to YouTube videos rather than a blog post on the same topic. This is especially true in today’s instant gratification culture where many (myself included at times) don’t have the patience or attention span to read through a wall of text.

While I see engagement as one of writing’s downsides, writing as a form of communication has many upsides. The largest one being clarity of thought. Jeff Bezos famously prioritized the six page memo over powerpoint slides. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking,” he says. Videos or presentations are more focused on aspects like how is the presentation delivered, the tonality and dynamics of the presenters voice, and their overall confidence. There’s showmanship involved. It’s seemingly more about how you present then what you present.


[1] Written communication isn’t inherently better than verbal communication. For example, an email is better than a status meeting and a small meeting discussing a design decision is more productive than discussing over slack.

November 14, 2021

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