Hide table of contents

If I (a 19 year old male) texted "www.readthesequences.com" to my roommate, the probable outcome is that he would skim the site for under a minute, text back something like "seems interesting, I'll def check it out sometime", and then proceed to never read another word. I have another friend, one that I would consider a smart guy. He would consistently rank above me in our high school's math team, and he scored in the 1500's (≥3SD) on his SATs. The same dude did not read a single book during the entirety of his high school career.[1]

Attention is one's scarcest resource, and actually reading something longer than a paragraph is a trivial inconvenience, especially for my generation.

What, then, does manage to hold the fickle eyeballs of zoomers like me? Well, TikTok, mostly. However, there is one (very popular) genre of TikTok video worth investigating. In this genre of video, a Reddit post is broken into sub-paragraph chunks of text, and these chunks are sequentially rendered onscreen while a text-to-speech program reads them to the user. The text is overlaid upon a background video, which is either gameplay from the mobile game Subway Surfers, or parkour footage from Minecraft. The background gameplay provides engaging novelty to the user's visual cortex, while the synthetic voice ensures that the user doesn't have to go through the hard work of translating symbols into sounds. Really, it's all quite hypnotizing.

The fact that these videos are often recommended by TikTok's algorithm implies that they are among the most-engaging videos that our civilization produces. Therefore, to reduce the effort-cost of reading the sequences, I gave the TikTok treatment to Book I ("Map and Territory") of Rationality: From AI to Zombies.

(Update: Circa 2023-02-09, all these links are dead. This was in response to an AWS alert notifying me that 85 gigabytes (or more) of data had been transferred out. I really shouldn't have used a public S3 bucket to serve video in the first place, as it exposed me to an unacceptable amount of risk in the form of a denial of wallet attack. I've got a second batch of videos in the works, which I intend to distribute via a more secure mechanism.)


Predictably Wrong

Fake Beliefs

Noticing Confusion

Mysterious Answers

Interlude: The Simple Truth

Do whatever you want with these videos. I may or may not convert the other 5 books of R:AZ, and I may or may not upload them to TikTok. If you want another work of text converted to video, please pitch it to me in the comments, or DM me.

  1. No, not even the books assigned in English class. He used SparkNotes. ↩︎





More posts like this

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:13 PM

I like the idea, though I think even in that reddit overlay format, which I've seen, people are unlikely to watch a 9 minute tiktok.

Seems interesting, I'll def check it out sometime 

Jokes  aside, this is a cool idea. I wonder if reading it yourself and varying the footage, or even adapting the concepts into something  would help it be more attractive to watch. Though of course these would all increase the time investment cost. I can't say it's my jam but I'd be curious to see how these do on TikTok though since they seem to be a sort of prevalent genre/content style. 

Interesting idea! I do like the subway surfers format.

If you upload them to TikTok I would be interested to learn what kind of engagement they get. I agree with Chana's comment that they seem pretty long, but it's hard to predict these things.

Oh my goodness, this worked on me! I think you're onto gold

I agree with other commenters saying 9mins seems too long but the general idea is good. I think a human read shorter summary would be really good. A lot of the videos like this I’ve seen also have some synthy soundtrack over the top which I’d add, just because I was put off by it being missing