Podsplaining


Jason Snell says I’m full of it. He’s probably right, but for the wrong reasons.

I’m not on Twitter these days, but someone shared this with me:

That’s me he’s talking about. Things got a little mean in the back and forth of people chiming in to agree with Jason (I didn’t see anybody disagreeing). The general consensus was that, yes, I was full of it. Joe Steel called me a “myopic snob”! Even Merlin had some gnomic wisdom: “Some people have trouble admitting they enjoy something ‘til they have a strong feeling on what they like much less than that thing.”

Boom! A good old-fashioned medium-sized internet takedown. I guess it was a mercy that Jason didn’t call me out by name (I suppose that would have given me unearned traffic ).

Except maybe if he had then people might have stumbled across the piece he was referring to and found out that actually I didn’t make the argument he constructed of straw for his followers to chomp on.

Jason:

I think the piece’s thesis is that he thinks podcasts he doesn’t personally enjoy should be less popular.

Well… no. Actually it wasn’t. Nor was it that “one format is fundamentally superior to another”. Nor was it that “hyper-edited NPR-style podcasts were fundamentally superior to live discussion panel podcasts”.

I think what might have happened is that Jason tripped over some of the juicier turns of phrase in my piece (“fancy-pants babblers”, “the cult-of-personality crowd”) and missed the actual point I was making. I’d have been willing to admit those were injudicious and unnecessarily inflammatory if there was any honest disagreement with my piece. But instead I got a thousand people uniting to call me a fool for something I never said.

Podcasters are a touchy lot. This is why every 6 months there is another “podcast wars”.

For the record, of course I don’t think that “hyper-edited NPR-style podcasts [are] fundamentally superior to live discussion panel podcasts”. You can actually read that right in the piece:

Which is fine! That is their jam, and it is totally working for them. But let’s not pretend that’s the only way!

The point being that live panel podcasts are what everything thinks they should do when they start out, but we already have those on lockdown, thanks.

When I said: “Do you know why the unprepared, lazily edited, rambling and soon-irrelevant podcast is so popular?” I didn’t mean “popular with listeners, and shouldn’t be”. I meant that it was an attractive pitfall for podcasters themselves to fall into. I’ll take my licks for awful phrasing, there.

A number of people said it was dumb that people (me) don’t understand podcasting is a medium. I agree, which is why I wrote, literally:

Podcasting, in fact, is a medium

So what was my point overall? It was that for new podcasters trying to get started, the way to success long-term is not to emulate what you see widely done, but to branch out and do something with longer-lasting value. That’s how you differentiate yourself in the busy podcasting landscape. There are some great examples of this out there already, some older and more established, some newer. For listeners, why not shake up your podcast lineup and reward the effort that goes into these offerings with your attention?

Could I have written that article more clearly? Most certainly. Why am I explaining myself now? Because I am Internet Man, and this is the hallmark of my tribe. Also, being burned in straw effigy is painful.