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知识付费和押韵的历史

知识付费和押韵的历史

本文来自微信公众号:白川夜舟(ID:yongxia0522),作者:K同学


这一周,罗振宇的跨年演讲又成了小热点,每天都能在朋友圈里看到鄙视罗和帮罗反弹鄙视的文章。


正好也身处知识付费行业,来说几句废话。


先放一封半年前的内部邮件,那时我觉得我司花大力气制作实用类课程,有点误入歧途。


和各位交流一点想法,欢迎diss和反驳。


我今天做ppt的时候,重新想起麦克卢汉的一句话“媒介即信息”。


简而言之,传播媒介决定了信息密度和质量,古人结绳记事、烽火为号,也能传递重要信息,但用绳结狼烟写不出《追忆似水年华》,“词汇量”不够。


麦克卢汉的高足波滋曼写《娱乐至死》,说电视就是脑残的媒体,上一秒是火灾空难国会辩论,下一秒可能就是广告或创造101,这怎么可能传递严肃信息,电视唯一能干好的就是娱乐。


手机碎片化更甚。


罗辑思维能成功,我现在认为本质上是娱乐的成功。


3000字的专栏篇幅,能传递毛线严肃内容,把一个idea讲透就不错了。


所以干脆放弃实用,就刷认知,讲idea,和大学生最常用消磨时间两大神器知乎和wikipedia一样,intellectual porn。


更近一步讲,文化程度稍高的人刷罗辑思维、知乎、wikipedia,和可能文化程度差一点(存疑)的人刷抖音和快手,没有本质区别。


就是娱乐,一些背景不错的人,给我分享一些没听过的idea,管他能不能实践,我似乎在学习,反正爽了。


反过来看,在手机上做实用课程,是不是走偏了?


我现在认为罗辑思维是娱乐公司。


刷新知 = 吃鸡刷抖音撸A片,本质就是低成本让你爽。


如果嫌弃“娱乐”和“严肃”定义太模糊,我觉得可以用成本(时间、注意力)来区分。


娱乐=低成本爽,严肃=爽的成本高。


在这个连续的光谱一端,是撸A片刷抖音吃鸡,即时获得快感,几乎零脑力成本。


在另一端,可能是极限的思辨乐趣,比如大三我读斯特隆伯格《西方现代思想史》(European intellectual history),一度有了弄懂黑格尔和康德的错觉(半月后再看又不懂了……),那种快乐终生难忘,但这快感是在图书馆啃一个星期换来的,我不觉得自己能在碎片化环境里(北京地铁是典型场景)把那本书读下去。


B站上有邓晓芒讲康德全集,但我相信哲学系的学生更多是边听边做笔记(在电脑上或纸质笔记本上),而不是在打饭排队等车间隙听一耳朵。


如果我们预设手机典型用户的场景是碎片化,问题来了,大部分正常人无法在这样的环境里持续投入精力寻求上面说的“严肃”快乐。


罗辑思维各种刷idea的课程,其实在光谱上靠近吃鸡刷抖音撸A片那一端,在手机端有先天优势。


靠近康德那一端,需要投入精力,甚至反复揣摩、改变自己行为的课程,比如投资理财、读书在手机上先天劣势。


要规模,就要娱乐化,让用户低成本爽,否则永远木有规模,手机上尤其如此。


做实用类课程的公司,永远干不过娱乐公司罗辑思维,不只是时间上的先发优势,关键点在娱乐,那是最符合手机碎片化场景、包装得无比高大上的精神A片精神鸦片。


现在看来,这封邮件有点幼稚了,某一家知识付费厂商究竟在做“娱乐”,还是在做“在线教育”,可能只是名词之争,从用户需求出发,知识付费服务的核心在于让用户更低成本、更痛快地获得知识和经验,不管是认知类的思维模型,还是实用类的拍照技能。


最近在看 Will Durant 那本《The Story of Philosophy》(哲学的故事),Amazon 评分 4.4,goodreads 评分 4.11,常见、可靠的“哲普”读物。


Will Durant 在《再版序言》里讲了各领域普及读本(outlines)先是备受追捧,后被冷落鄙视的一小段往事,对照今天“知识付费”在朋友圈的起伏,真有点“历史不会重复,但会押韵”的意思。


用我的三脚猫英语粗译几段:


The “outlines” came because a million voices called for them. Human knowledge had become unmanageably vast.


普及读本是时代千呼万唤的产物。人类知识太浩瀚,难以掌握。


Every science, and every branch of philosophy, developed a technical terminology intelligible only to its exclusive devotees; as men learned more about the world, they found themselves ever less capable of expressing to their educated fellow-men what it was that they had learned.


每门科学,每门哲学分支,都发展了一套只有“行内人”才懂的术语,人对世界了解愈多,却发现向受过教育的同类解释自己所学愈发困难。


“in the midst of sciences endowed and enthroned as never before, new religions were born every day, and old superstitions recaptured the ground they had lost.”


科学从未被如此推崇,新宗教却每天都在诞生,旧迷信也在收复失地。


The first “outlines,” the first efforts at the humanization of knowledge, were Plato’s Dialogues. The pundits possibly know that the Master wrote two sets of works—one in technical language for his students at the Academy; the other a group of popular dialogues designed to lure the average literate Athenian into philosophy’s “dear delight.” ...By the humor of history, his technical works were lost, and his popular works remain. 


最早努力让知识更人性化的普及读本,是柏拉图的对话录。专家们可能知道,大师写了两种作品,一种用专业语言,面向他在学院的学生,另一种则是通俗对话,旨在吸引受过教育的寻常雅典人感受哲学之乐...历史幽了一默,柏拉图的专业语言作品散失了,对话录却流传下来。


For us, however, the career of the outline begins with H. G. Wells. The historians did not quite know what to do with The Outline of History; Professor Schapiro described it as full of errors, and a liberal education.It was full of errors, as any book of large scope is bound to be; but it was an astonishing and stimulating performance for one mind. ... History became popular, and historians became alarmed. Now it would be necessary for them to write as interestingly as H. G. Wells.


对我们而言,普及读本写作始于 H.G.Wells 。历史学家对《世界史纲》无所适从,Schapiro教授称此书谬误百出,不是专业著作,只适合学生博览。此书确实谬误甚多,任何涵盖范围庞大的书都会如此,但读起来却是一次充满惊奇和启发的脑力体验。...历史流行起来,历史学家开始警惕。现在他们必须写得和 H.G.Wells 一样有趣。


The appetite of the layman grew by what it fed on. There were in America millions of men and women who had been unable to go to college, and who thirsted for the findings of history and science; even those who had gone through college showed a moderate hunger for knowledge. When John Macy published The Story of the World’s Literature thousands welcomed it as a genial and illuminating survey of a fascinating field. And when The Story of Philosophy appeared it had the good fortune to catch this wave of curiosity on the rise, and to be lifted to an undreamed-of popularity. 


普通人对入门读本的胃口越来越大。在美国有无数男男女女无缘大学教育,他们渴望历史和科学知识,甚至那些上过大学的也渴求知识。John Macy 的《世界文学史话》对文学这一迷人领域,提供了欢快易懂的综览,出版后备受欢迎。《哲学的故事》运道好,赶上这波好学的浪潮,获得了梦想不到的流行。


Then came the flood. Outline followed outline, “story” followed “story”; science and art, religion and law, had their storiographers...The public appetite was quickly satiated; critics and professors complained of superficiality and haste, and an undertow of resentment set in, which reached every outline from the last to the first. As quickly as it had come, the fashion changed; no one dared any longer say a word for the humanization of knowledge; the denunciation of outlines was now the easy road to critical repute; it became the style to speak with a delicate superiority of any non-fiction book that could be understood. The snob movement in literature began.


随后是普及读本潮,史纲之后又是史纲,“故事”之后又是“故事”,一本一本出,科学、艺术、宗教、法律,都有人为之撰写普及读本...公众很快就吃撑了,批评家和教授抱怨普及读本肤浅和滥造,不满的暗流涌动,波及所有普及读本。潮流来得快,去得也快,无人再敢为知识人性化张目,抨击普及读本能便捷地建立声望,用微妙的优越感谈论易懂的非虚构书籍成了一种范儿。鄙视链运动开始了。


Will Durant 的这篇序言写于 1930 年代,如今80多年过去,历史像是转了一个圈。


他应该做梦也想不到,我今天在这个叫手机的玩意儿上点点按按,明天就会有人把他的这本书送上门来,我再点按一番,就能找到10篇读书笔记和总结。


知识信息空前丰富,获取又如此便捷。


但知识“术语化”、“小众化”的问题解决了吗?似乎木有,以前几天的另一个热点“央行降准”为例,人人关心,因为事关房价、股价和钱包,但即便上过大学的,又有几个能说清楚“降准”是什么操作?


这样重要的财经概念(不重要哪能成热点),也能陌生如此,我们的日常教育和学习是不是出了什么问题?


奥格威曾经在《一个杂志读者的自白》这篇署名广告里为《读者文摘》辩护:


The instinct of these editors is toward clarity of expression. The current issue, as I write, includes articles on religion in schools, on the Congo, urban renewal, violence on television, Abraham Lincoln and safe driving. Each of these subjects is presented in a way which I can understand. If I did not read about them in The Digest, I wouldn’t read about them anywhere. I wouldn’t have time.


《读者文摘》的编辑本能趋向清晰表达。比如我行文时的这一期,讲了学校的宗教问题、刚果、市区更新、电视暴力、林肯和安全驾驶,每个话题都是用我能理解的方式讲述。如果我不从《读者文摘》里读到这些内容,我也不会在其他地方读到,我没有时间。


Some highbrows may look down their noses at The Digest, charging it with superficiality and over-simplification. There is a modicum of justice in this charge; you can learn more about the Congo if you read about it in Foreign Affairs Quarterly, and you can learn more about Abraham Lincoln in Carl Sandburg’s books about him. But have you time?


一些高端人士对《读者文摘》嗤之以鼻,说它肤浅、过度简化。这指责有一丢丢道理,在《外交》季刊上你能更了解刚果,在 Carl Sandburg 的书里你能更了解林肯,但你有时间看吗?


通俗易懂 = 有时间,专业晦涩 = 没时间,这应该算广告大师的一个小洞察?


我们没时间补习经济学常识、法律常识、历史常识,有没有可能,是因为没有轻松、简单的入门材料呢?


我无意为罗振宇辩护,也没打算把“得到”和《世界史纲》《哲学的故事》相提并论,但我想下面几个问题应该有效:


  1. 按照网易《谈心社》之前的计算,中国持有本科学历的人不到4%,这些没上过大学的人,对最经典和最前沿的知识信息,有木有需求?


  2. 有没有可能通过手机这个超级发达的载体,用更通俗、轻松、搞笑、娱乐的方式,满足他们的渴求,让他们获得一些这样的知识经验?代替读书肯定是虚妄,但能让他们听得兴味盎然,愿意自己去找书来啃,是不是也有价值?


  3. 一些上过大学的高知人群,会不会也有这样的需求?毕竟他们可能也没时间读每个领域的经典和前沿书籍。


  4. 能不能通过满足这些需求,赚一些钱?


如果需求确实存在,满足需求赚钱合理,那知识付费行业被吐槽,本质上还是第 2 个问题没解决好。


最后给大家讲个伍迪艾伦的"知识付费"段子:


I took a course in speed reading, learning to read straight down the middle of the page, and I was able to go through War and Peace in 20 minutes. It’s about Russia.


我学了个速读课,学着从每页书中间往下读,这样能用20分钟就把《战争与和平》给看了。该书貌似与俄国有关。


欢迎对号入座~


本文来自微信公众号:白川夜舟(ID:yongxia0522),作者:K同学

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