Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday August 15 2006

Last night Patrick and I did another mp3.  The last conversation we had was about something we have some expertise concerning - or at least sustained records of doing - namely libertarianism, that one will surely prove more impressive than this one, which was about the “War on Terror”, about which we both known little more than two randomly selected intelligent people picked with a pin.  But, for whatever it may be worth, here it is.  It lasts just over 45 minutes.  We tried to say some profound things.  It’s anyone’s guess whether we succeeded, and they’ll surely be as many guesses about that as there are listeners.  Whoever they may be.

Sadly, the sound quality is not always of the best.  Patrick’s microphone worked fine, but mine didn’t.  I fluctuate between being okay, and decidedly faint, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of one of the scenes in Singing in the Rain.  Apologies.  I’ll do some tests to find out what the problem was, and, as the politicians say, make Sure That Nothing Like This Can Ever Happen Again.

Given what an unsatisfactory substitute for listening to Newsnight this latest conversation will surely be, it is perhaps worth saying now in writing what I also touched on during that first conversation with Patrick.  Broadcasting is doing a performance.  And if podcasting is done by someone like Instapundit, then that’s a performance too, complete with jingly music at the start and at the end, and a carefully prepared script.  Fine.  Kudos to Instapundit, and to all the other big time podcasters who are causing such grief to old school broadcasters and entertainers, by playing them at their own game.

But when I and my various friends have our recorded conversations, we are playing a rather different game, and in some ways a more interesting one.  For me, the most intriguing consequence of podcasting, at any rate the way I do it, is that it firms up, so to speak, the intellectual relationships that I have with those I talk with.  A conversation is a conversation.  But a recorded conversation, which both parties can listen to again, if dispute were to arise or merely if mere memory of some exchange that one wants to recall were to fade, is something else again.  It’s like a written debate, but without all the grief of writing.  (During podcasts, you can say a lot more, or at any rate to allude to far more notions.) This is what being a trial lawyer, or a legislator must be like.  Suddenly, there is a record.  We aren’t celebrities.  Yet, there is a record.  And it is one that we can easily access.

Have I already compared podcasting with digital photography?  If not I do it now, and if so I do it again.  It’s not that Billion Monkey pictures are as good as those done by Real Photographers.  And, as this latest effort makes clear (what with my voice being unclear a lot of the time), we are not as good at this recording malarkey as the real broadcasters are, in my case not nearly as good.  Podcasting is not like blogging, where we bloggers hit the ground running and where our combined - more to the point linked - efforts immediately started running rings around those grand personages who still fill the pages of the Old Media, rings we are still running, and which, after first protesting that blogging was nothing, the Old Media people now struggle to imitate.  Podcasting is pretty much like broadcasting, only there are typically far fewer people listening, and usually for good reasons.

Nevertheless, as with digital photo-ing, especially now that we can bounce our digital photos around on the internet as per podcasting, podcasting is terrific fun, and will greatly enrich our lives, in ways that I am already experiencing, and in other ways I cannot yet even imagine.