Now that I have some stability in my life, I’ve been thinking and wanting to spend more of my time and attention on the things in life that I am truly passionate about. It’s mostly nerdy things, wanting to blog more and start yet another podcast or three, get back into computer programming, maybe learn an instrument like piano or how to play the guitar that i got for Christmas years ago, gathering dust in the corner.
I get inspired by great content and the people that are behind it, but at the same time, while listening to great audio podcasts like Radiolab, I imagine the eight year old version of myself starring up at the monkey bars on the school playground; the bars seemed just out of reach, but at the same time, a lifetime away.
There are great podcast like You Look Nice Today and Radiolab that while listening I am just amazed at the level of production and the amount of time that has to be put into each episode. There is an almost dibailitating thing by spending too much time watching and listening to everyone else’s work, especially when I’m are just starting out and don’t have a body of work to show, that scares me from taking the first step in creating something of my own. I think of shows like Radiolab and This American Life as the shows that all others are judged by and the little lizard brain that I spend way too much time listening to and following it’s advice has scarred me into inaction much of my life.
I get these fits of energy and focus, where I am able to shut out the voice in my head and actually create something, anything with my mind and hands. There is usually a process that envolves me buying yet another domain name in hopes that this time (about the 70th time) that I will actually make something and keep up with it. A podcast that maybe goes 6 episodes or a new blog with 4 posts is my normal tolerance to stick with something. I feel at times as a litterbug on the internet, littering the web with these scraps of content that exist forever, never to decompose.
This single blog post is something that I have kept coming back to and rewriting for almost a month. Each and every time, starting by reading and deleting most of the words that I somehow thought were good and descent writing on one of my sleepless nights, but I have to come to a point where I can let my work out and let it stand for me, and in a way that is a very vulnerable thing. Maybe I should just click publish.
Below is a post I wrote for discussion in my Mass Media and Behavior class about Stupidity and the Internet.
The topic of stupidity and its suspected growth has become a topic for conversation in the culture. Movies like Idiocracy and the documentary titled “Stupidity” have investigated the roots and imagined the possible future world of idiots. I think what lies at the root of the issue is a lack of critical thinking about our lives and the world around us.
In Idiocracy, Mike Judge shows us his vision of the future we’re headed for as people become mindless zombies and are beholden to the large corporations that infiltrated the government. I personally would enjoy having a Brawndo-esk energy beverage piped into my home, but not replacing water as in the movie.
I hate to go on a education bashing rant as I aspire to become a teacher, but I feel that there is a lack of using critical thinking skills as a way to examine the world. In school we are taught the scientific method as a way to test our hypothesis about a science experiment but that valuable analytical process isn’t applied to other arenas.
Everything we’ve learned and discuss in class involves looking beyond the first glance and analyzing the issues and motives of the people who bring us the news and entertainment.
I think the internet and the growth of new media can lessen the brain drain of TV with the larger variety of content the reaches targeted audiences and engages audiences better. Certainly spending countless hours watching cat videos on YouTube isn’t going to expands one’s horizons, but it is the interaction through the internet that engages people. A recent study from the University of Stiriling showed that avid facebook users had an increase in working memory capacity versus control and social networking and youtube study participants.
It was in colleges where the internet was born and raised and academia as a whole has a vested interest in seeing knowledge spread and the internet not become a vast wasteland. Most teachers dislike Wikipedia, but I see that as a missed opportunity for academia to open the gates spread the knowledge for the betterment of society. Projects like MIT’s open course ware are all about sharing the mountain of accumulated knowledge. Sir Isaac Newton was famously quoted as saying “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” He was referencing the great minds that had come before him and their learning making his discoveries possible, and I think that the internet can be a tool to help others jump up on our backs and see farther.
The first episode of “Put This On,” a video podcast that comes from two “Monsters of Podcasting” Jesse Thorn (host of “The Sound of Young America” & “Jordan, Jesse, Go”) and Adam Lisagor (member of the “You Look Nice Today” podcast) made it’s web debut today. Put This On is a change from the normal tech based talk that often comes to mind when talking about podcasts. Put this On also is different in how it got started, they used Kickstarter.com to help raise funds to get the podcast project started. Kickstarter.com is a site that touts itself as ” A New Way to Fund Ideas and Endeavours” and provides a place for those with an idea and the willingness to to the footwork to gain funds to get started. Many of the Kickstarter.com projects come from artists wanting to make a book, record a new album, and other projects of the like. Thorn and Lisagor were able to use Kickstarter.com in a way to test the virtual waters to see if their idea for Put this One would work and to attract sponsors and gain the startup cash to get the series started right.
Thorn and Lisagor were looking for $1,500 to start “Put this On,” and within days of announcing their intentions and using twitter to get the word out quickly exceeded their initial goal and at the end of the funding round had pledges from people and businesses in total of more than $3,900. In full disclosure, I was one of the backers pitching in a couple of bucks to the cause. Most of the donnors pledged fifty dollars or less while Metafilter.com (a longtime sponsor of Thorn’s other podcasts) stepped up with $1,500 in return for a post-roll advertisment by Thorn and Lisagor that airs at the end of each episode.
The production value of “Put this On” is excellent and should serve as an example for anyone who wants to start a video podcast and really shows that online video has grown up to take on old media. Certainly, anyone who has ever worn jeans or ever will should check out the first episode of “Put this On.” I think the use of Kickstarter.com is an interesting development in the world of podcasting. It is a twist on the donation model that many podcasters have tried, but with varying degrees of success. Not only do the donnors have the enjoyment of seeing the project come into reality, but they also feel a sense of ownership as they were there on the ground floor, getting the project started. It will be interesting to see what Jesse Thorn and Adam Lisagor come up with in future episodes of “Put this On” as they attempt to educate people on how to dress like grownups. I will admit that I could use the advice as there was a period in middle school where I wore sweatpants everyday, and despite what Michael Jordan’s hanes commercials would lead you to believe, sweatpants will not help your jump shot or help you in the ladies department either.