Tue 12 January 2016
(originally comment on Dan Carlin’s “Common Sense” show no. 298)
I have been amused by your plea for the intelligent discussion. I am persuaded there is a platform for the increasingly intelligent discussion, which is even more interesting in that it is more successful more depth it comes not in breadth. You won't have your TV discussion (who cares about TV these days?), but I believe there already is such platform. You heard about it … obviously I mean podcasts. Leo Laporte (of TWiT.tv fame) claims that the only thing he learned about podcasts is that they are more successful more in depth they go. His second most successful podcast is Security Now which is by far the geekiest one with the issues like The Current Security Issues of UDP protocol, or detailed description of the SSL handshake. Leo’s persuasion is that podcasts crave depth, and with Internet it is a way more possible to find enough people who are truly interested in the topic to desire the most depth possible. If you want to make a podcast about golf, he claims, it is possible, but you have to be the geekiest golf podcast available (and of course, it doesn’t hurt if you (or Leo) are a well-experienced radio show host ;)).
I don't know if you publish anywhere statistics on sales of your individual episodes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if geekiest episodes of yours (e.g., Prophets of Doom) were not complete flops. After listening to the Blueprint of Armageddon episode about The Battle of Verdun (and spent half night on it ;)), I couldn't sleep for three days because of constant nightmares. However, I am grateful for that episode, because finally it was something which really persuade me about how the Great War actually was truly horrible. And I have gladly paid for the Ghosts of Ostfront and another sleepless nights.
To have another example, I would present to you EconTalk, which is the show of one professor of economics as host (from the George Mason University) talks with another professors (by far not only economists) on the level appropriate. Russ is very open of being strongly free-market leaning, but he is certainly not a pundit, and he is willing and able to have a very intelligent and deep conversation with a very left leaning people or people whose opinions he clearly detests (e.g., various Keynesians, Thomas Piketty), although he is able to exactly point when necesary (and it happens very rarely, e.g., Piketty) that he thinks their arguments are weak.
I can give you a way more podcasts like this: History of Philosophy without any gaps and he goes the walk … we are at the episode 244 and just starting on Saint Thomas Aquinas ;). Or take for example, Communio Sanctorum, History of the Christian Church, unfortunately after 100 episodes and being around the Thirty Years War the quality went seriously down as the author switched to not very well done apologetics and left the story of history. Pity.
My point is that podcasts are fantastic opportunity to renew a very thorough and thoughtful discussion.