When I was practicing law, my team would use a “straw dog” to decide in robust discussion whether a legal argument had enough truth to ever see the light of day.

Michael R. May

Michael R. May

(2) comments

Steve Rose

Mike, you have indeed set up straw dogs. I read voluminously. I also listen to podcasts and "talk radio, e.g Public Radio, on average to or more hours a day. One argument you've set up witout labeling it is the "one or the other" argument. Yes, it is harder for me to lay my hands onn a source of information I've heard, unless I'm making notes; but in the world of google, I can almost always find the text for thepodcast or its antecedent; and often the research I do in those written sources would not have happened, had it not been for the prompt of the podcast. Second, ignoring the relative efficiency of podcasts vs. print, I can comofrtabley and safely listen to them while jogging, biking, or working around the house. The same would not hold were I trying to do the same activities while trying to keep my eyes on the printed word--paper or screen. The last argument I'll give, although there are many more, is this: some of us, myself included, have better recall of information I *hear,* over informatin I read. Also, the idea of a bookclub, whether it be for written text or spoken language, provides the opportunity for folks to process ifnromation by mulling it over with others. If a bookclub depends on a member citing source by page # so everyne else can check its veracity, I suggest these souls devote themselves to governmental goings on. We need those kind of watchdogs more there than in a circle of friends who hope to grow in their understanding and apreciation by virtue of gathering in a social unit.

Michael R May

Steve, thanks for taking the time to comment. As always, your pen a robust observation.

I did not intend to set up a "one or the other" straw dog because one of the great problems our culture has is dualistic thinking. Dualistic thinking falsely forces a "one or the other" choice. (If fact I regard dualistic thinking as a form of craziness threatening our culture's survival that calls to mind the ancient Roman explanation for the collapse of great nations such as ours, "Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make crazy.")

Instead, my concern is that w are increasingly an "aliterate" culture that does not read with any depth and not for knowledge. In that context, my point is not "either or", but to defend reading's primacy against the rising tide of pod casts.

As for being able to recall something from a podcast, I offer 2 thoughts. First, if one has to Google to recall what was said on a podcast, it falls into the trap of "Google Brain" operating rather than the speaker's brain. Secondly, folks often say really interesting things that I want to hear more about, but when I ask the simple question, "What do you mean?", I often get a blank stare because they have no recollection of the source, context or substance of their statement. Asking, "What do you mean?" is not cross-examination in a government committee, but we do need to have sources of knowledge that lodge in our own brains to be recalled for robust conversations.

Again, thank you for helping me to understand the issues surrounding podcasts much better.

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