3620 Podcast: Sounding Scholarship

July 11, 2012    

For a number of years, I’ve been hankering to try my hand at audio production. But “audio production” makes it sound more professional than it is. I wanted to try to become Ira Glass. That’s really what’s going on.

In the spring of 2012, I started sending e-mails around my program, reconnoitering about whether there would be enough support to start putting together an Annenberg podcast. Sure enough, I’m not the only one who dreams about becoming Terry Gross. We decided that we want to release about 15 minutes of content each week, polished and suggestive and scholarly. And it shall go by the name 3620.

In terms of content, here’s what we’re aiming for:

1) It should remind us of why we do what we do. That is, it should excite us about our own research. This means we have to do some translation. If a journal article requires that we use and modify some hefty concepts and words, then the podcast requires we distill them down. This means we can take journal articles, books, interviews, etc and poke them for their stakes. Why do we study this stuff? Why is it important? Along the way, we’ll find that we might make some good stories and discover some interesting stuff.

2) It is not ancillary to our research. It is constitutive and generative of it. Sometimes the best ideas come to you not while you’re deep in writing a paper, but once you’ve looked away from it for a second. In producing content for a podcast that is not in a traditional academic form, we will generate ideas and tease out the subtleties of ones we already have. Too infrequently do we get to talk to each other about what it’s like to actually do research; how it works, what the problems are, how to make it better all the time. Opening up this black box might very well make us better researchers!

3) It’s about capitalizing on the interesting things that happen around us all the time. Funny stories, surprising facts, and fascinating ideas riddle our daily lives. But you can only start to make them meaningful when you activate the feelers that can help you keep track of them. So let’s activate those feelers! We should go ahead and pull all those loose threads that pop up from day to day and unravel them into complex, fun content.

4) It’s a form of digital scholarship. It’s good for our brains to focus on producing something that will never go under peer-review. And not just some product, but a really smart, intriguing product. This is certainly a form of digital scholarship and we’ll explore how.

Please check us out each Monday!