The Hierarchy of Difficulty in Content Distribution on the Internet

I talked about this concept in a segment about Luminary in Episode 92 of Shades of Brown but I also wanted to get it written down as a blog post because I think it is worth sharing.

So the general summary of the idea is that there is this hierarchy of difficulty when it comes to distribution of various forms of content on the Internet.

Textual Discourse

At the bottom of the rung we have text, you know, this very thing, blog posts, written journalism published on the web. Text is the easiest thing to distribute on the web. Really anyone can get up and running with a WordPress blog in a matter of minutes and start publishing immediately.

You don’t even need to buy a domain name if you don’t wish or need to. Just a subdomain on will work for the basic task of publishing and distributing your written content across the web.

Text content distribution is relatively low on the resource usage front as well, cheap to serve from a bandwidth perspective, takes up negligible amounts of disk space, you get it. It’s dirt cheap.

Macro Images..wait no are they image macros?

At just a step above text are images, you know the stuff memes are made of? Photography, your PharahxMercy fanfic drawing etc.

Images are slightly harder to create, usually require more specialized tools and physical equipment like cameras, photo editors and drawing tablets.

But the topic of this post is about distribution so let’s talk about that. Images take up more bandwidth and storage space than text. So stuff gets a bit more expensive, especially if you want to start distributing a lot of them to a lot of people. It starts adding up. Hey TechCrunch I’ve got a startup

Audio is the stuff that got all of this going in my head. Podcasts, music, the mumble rap you posted on SoundCloud at 4AM in the morning thinking no one would notice.

Audio takes up maybe a little bit more space than images, depending on context, podcast files are usually significantly larger than the average MP3 file.

This particular segment seems redundant so basically what I said about images applies here as well. I just wanted to make that joke about mumble rap on SoundCloud, leave me alone.

Coming to you live in 4K Video

At the top of the ladder is video. Video files are big. Like humongous. And they keep getting bigger.

It is therefore the most expensive to distribute. CDNs are basically a necessity if you want your video to actually be watchable without excessive buffering. So this means YouTube or Vimeo.

“Solutions” like PeerTube exist, using WebTorrent to distribute the distribution load but this barely works in where most residential internet connections are asymmetric with very little upload bandwidth to spare for video distribution.

Anyways, without really getting into the weeds here: video is expensive to distribute. This is why everyone uses YouTube. We all know it sucks as a platform but we don’t like those expensive CDN bills either eh?

That’s all from me, stay distributing. Peace out.