The subject of time is an ever-present theme in the “Just in Time” articles. It is in the name of the publication. Value creation is a function of time. It is an investment today for a return in the future. It is well known that we overestimate what we can achieve in a year and underestimate what we can achieve in 5 years.
I was given a piece of advice from a writing mentor. It went like this. “For your content to have value it must either be timely or it must be timeless”.
When I heard that for the first time, I was troubled by what it meant to produce content that would fit into these categories. My brain needed to process this titbit of seemingly valuable advice.
What is timely content? In short it is news. It is information that is time sensitive. It is the share price of Tesla today and an opinion on why it is up or down. By tomorrow the content has little value. The news cycle has moved on, there is a new story. Timely content becomes yesterday’s newspaper very quickly.
Timely content imposes its own deadline. Timely content requires context of the events and circumstances of the time. This context can often be assumed if you are familiar with the circumstances of the time. However, reading the content years later, perhaps as a history student, requires additional reading and effort to understand the relevance of the content.
Timeless appears to be the antithesis of timely. Timeless content should have meaning and value no matter when it is consumed. Years after a piece has been written, a reader should be able to find value in the content.
The insert is a beautiful example of a timeless piece of writing. It is a memo drafted by David Ogilvy, giving advice on how to write. The advice is as true in 2021 as it was in 1982.
My favourite piece in the note is in the second line, “People who think well, write well.”
Justin Spencer-Young @fastforwardjsy