A good friend sent me a YouTube link yesterday to a fascinating classroom lecture about games and meaning. I listened to it on my walk, and it was painfully obvious: podcasts are better than classes.
This professor possessed tons of interesting information about the topic. But he rambled for nearly two hours and the good stuff was buried in bunny trails and non-linear hodge-podgery. It was really awful in terms of structure and efficiency of information.
But that’s exactly what you’d expect. Professors bulk up on tons of ideas for years, then are given a few hours a few days a week to say anything they want to a bunch of students who may or may not pay attention anyway. It’s a recipe for horribly presented information.
There is a massive difference between knowing interesting information and knowing how to structure information interestingly.
Even a decent podcaster knows how to structure information interestingly. It’s what a good conversation does naturally. A host can work with time constraints, a desire to get specific questions answered, order the information in a logical or chronological manner, and set it in a meaningful context.
I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts where professors or other possessors of information are interviewed by those who know how to constrain and present that information. The results are almost always better than an unconstrained lecture. A podcast interview is more likely to get to the heart of the idea faster and better. It forces the presenter to get outside their own head and present in a way that matters to others.
I’ve also listened to tons of lectures in my life. Most awful. Some good. A few great. The good and great ones are those that have tight constraints, and typically have been presented hundreds of times, and gotten lots of active feedback so the speaker has it dialed in.
Put a smart person in a room with no constraints and tell them to talk and the results will be most sleepy college courses. Pair them with a person who can structure information well, and the result will be much better.
This is not an anti-intellectual observation. The opposite. The anti-intellectual position – the one that doesn’t value big ideas nearly enough – is the one that advocates just letting the possessor of those ideas blab about them unconstrained whether anyone’s gaining from it or not. Ideas are too valuable to be confined to lectures with minimal structure, efficiency, or feedback.
I’m bullish on podcasts for this reason. A lot of people think the podcast market is saturated, but compared to books and lectures, it’s just getting started. I welcome growth in the format. It’s good for ideas.
(The best way to get your questions answered is to host a podcast. It’s easy to get started.)