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Posts Tagged ‘podcast

The Pessimists Archive podcasts are few and far between. But when they are released, they are a joy to listen to.

The latest one focused on faces. As in the unwarranted fears of how technologies might affect your visage, e.g., smartphone face, tech neck.

The narrator revisited history to uncover what bicycle face and radio face had in common: The use of those then new technologies supposedly caused people’s faces to get wrinkled or stuck in unpleasant ways.

When the rotary telephone gained popularity, it was phone face that caused worry. But phone face was not about the neck crick or longer jowls caused by cradling the phone. It was about not knowing exactly who was calling.

All this was not just about fear-mongering incumbents putting down their competition. In the case of wrinkly faces, cosmetic companies claimed to have remedies for the affected faces.

Whatever the reason for the putdowns, generating fear of the new was the goal. The narrator had a response at around the 34-minute mark of the podcast:

New, uncontrollable things don’t wholesale replace old, controllable things. Instead new technologies integrate into an existing and ever-growing ecosystem. They create more options and therefore even more control.

Technology laggards need to be made aware of this. Technology evangelists could focus on such a message instead. Even if the laggards do not adopt the newer technologies, they might step out of the way for others to try. We all need to face our fears by replacing unquestioned ignorance with critically negotiated knowledge.

What could be cuter than a teddy bear? Not much.
 

 
Yet there was an anti-teddy bear movement. The most recent Pessimists Archive podcast provides all the details.

In hindsight, such a fear seems unreasonable and even impossible. But back then, it was fuelled by irrational fear and the need to maintain the status quo.

There is still much fear of educational technologies current, cutting edge, and future. The fears are based on the same unwillingness to see possibilities, mitigate risks, and embrace change.

So while edtech evangelists might feel the burden to be unbearable now, this too shall pass. I say we grin and bear with it.

Just as soon as the harried assessment phase of the semester of one institution was over, I had to contend with the administrative and preparatory work with another institution.

So occupied was I that I left this little gem languishing as a draft in my Notes app — the “evils” of the telegraph.

The tweet, newspaper clipping, and podcast comes courtesy of the Pessimists Archive.

In the 1800s, the telegraph was a new technology and along with it came fear, mistrust, and disinformation. Back then, people wondered about:

  • Speed vs truth
  • Ease vs security
  • Convenience vs privacy

Today, people wonder the same about social media. The more things change, the more they remain the same. This happens because we do not learn from critical analyses of history.

I just started following Pessimists Archive on Twitter and listening to its podcasts. Both focus on the common but irrational fear of all things new.

The Twitter feed describes itself as sharing “reactions to old things when they were new”. Consider how this reaction in 1889 is still relevant in 2019.

It is 130 years later and people are saying the same about mobile phones.

Each podcast is about 30 to 40 minutes long and is released only every one or two months. I have listed to a few episodes and I can see why they are infrequent. They lead the listener with engaging storytelling and well-researched historical bites.

I liked two audio snippets in the episode about comic books. In describing how people lament about new technologies, the narrator said that you cannot herd cats but you can move their food. This described the human condition of gravitating to comfort (the nostalgic past) and collectively opposing change (the new present or uncertain future).

But when trying to bring change, we often impose it. For example, in the episode about comic books adults declared that they took action because they were thinking of the children. But they did not ask the kids what they felt and thought.

The furore over comic books has gone and the fuss now seems like wasted effort. The worry now is with computing technologies and video games, and we might be making the same mistakes. It is easy to say we speak for a group, but have be asked and listened to them first?

One of the podcasts I subscribe to is No Such Thing As A Fish. I listen to its weekly releases and am catching up on previous episodes.
 

 
In episode 187, No Such Thing As An Ant On Its Gap Year, the panel discussed (around the 30-minute mark) the marshmallow experiments.

Like most people, they started with the supposedly predictive nature of the experiment, i.e., children who delayed gratification were more successful later in life. However, the experiment was more about the children’s coping mechanisms and decision-making.

The panel also critiqued the experiment, e.g., what if the children were not hungry, what if they did not like marshmallows, what if the more immediate factor was whether the kids trusted the adults to actually provide the marshmallows?

The initial mention was bad because it perpetuated the wrong idea about the original experiment. The follow up was good because it modelled ways of thinking critically about the experimental design. However, the whole process could have been good had they corrected the perpetuated misconception of the experiment from the start.

My message to teachers and educators is simple — do not perpetuate misconceptions. Dig beyond the surface, bust myths, and model critical thinking.

One of the podcast channels I have recently subscribed is No Such Thing As A Fish. It is helmed by the fact-finding team behind the QI television series.

I have been binging the series in reverse order and recently listed to episode 244 No Such Thing As A Fishman (iTunes) (Spotify).
 

 
Stephen Fry made a guest appearance and shared his thoughts on how warped our thinking can sometimes be. He described how we do not seem to take offence to violence but vilify basic body functions.
 

 
Around the seven-minute mark, he mentioned how we think nothing of phrases like “Traffic was murder!” but might consider “It was shitting bad traffic!” as rude.

The juxtaposition was ridiculous, I LOL’d anyway, and I got his point. It was a matter of questioning one’s perspective.

If we are to nurture more empathetic learners, we should not just deluge them with the experiences and cultures of “others”. We also need to help them explore and question their own biases and standards. If we cannot look past ourselves, how are we to gain insights into others?

I am on a restful hiatus and taking the opportunity to binge on entertainment that I discovered or have been putting off.

I have always listened to podcasts, but these were not a main staple of my learning and laughing diet. One of the audio-based gems I unearthed recently, My Dad Wrote A Porno, is four-years-old.

The name of the podcasts speaks for itself. If it does not, here is a review of sorts.

The podcast has done so well that it earned an HBO special recently.

The podcast is not for the prude or the faint of heart. You need a healthy sense of humour and a pair of earphones or headphones to enjoy it. You might also need some thick skin if you listen to the podcast in public — people might wonder why you ugly laugh and cry.

If you this podcast a habit, you might appreciate how an intrepid trio of friends critique one of their father’s attempts at writing erotica, or more accurately, erratica.

It did not take me many walks and commutes to binge listen to all four seasons. I am now a Belinker who wonders what will happen to the Confidential Order of Cookware Knights.


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