Rebirth of Dialogue
In an era in which 140-character tweets have replaced 30-second sound-bites, more than 8,000 people paid to attend a two-hour dialogue between a psychology professor (Jordan B. Peterson) and a neuroscientist (Sam Harris). It was their fourth public debate/discussion/dialog with thousands paying to attend.
The events were uploaded to YouTube and millions have watched since then.
Radio and TV talk shows and news shows like 60 minutes are time-constrained. Traditional print media are space constrained.
But videos and podcasts–are not so constrained. If it takes a half-hour for someone to explain a complex issue, and another hour to explore it, the time is there.
Joe Rogan, who hosts a popular podcast and YouTube channel, spent nearly three hours talking with Edward Snowden two days ago. So far more than 6 million people have watched at least part of the discussion.
What’s going on?
We think something important and we hope to explore it in this colloquy.
Millions of people listen every week to hours of ongoing discussions among a growing circle of public intellectuals. Much of the audience is under 30 or college age.
Are the youth more interested in dialogue than we give them credit for?
In an era that many might describe in terms of “shrinking attention spans,” there’s a growing number of substantive dialogues taking place delivered through audio media distributed through podcasts and YouTube.
These are dialogs–and discussions–not monologues. Their hosts seek out spirited discussion partners with whom they often disagree on fundamental issues. They try, through dialog, to understand the other and to discover what’s shared, not just what’s contentious.
Many of us lament the reappearance of tribalism and the intensity of culture war issues. And the media that most of us consume is often “affirmation journalism” and shallow. But younger people–and some of us oldsters–are seeing hopeful change at least in the nature and format of listening.
It takes time to understand a new idea or carefully reconsider an old idea. These in-depth dialogues give people as much time–hours if needed– to fully comprehend the logic–and sometimes emotion–beneath a differing view. With a break from the polarizing distractions of the daily news cycle, there is a hunger to develop a considered response to a different view.
This colloquy will depend mostly on dialogues that participants review using podcasts and YouTube. There will be little or no expectation of reading, but about 90 minutes per week of watching and listening is what we expect. Participants should listen to the week’s dialogues, and email discussion questions for the whole group to Peter and Mike the day before each session. They will curate the questions into a list for the full seminar dialogue.
Mike Wolf is a high-tech guy who keeps trying to retire and keeps failing.
Judy McGeorge is a Colloquy Downeast Steering Committee member more comfortable with books, but interested in exploring the world of online learning.
I’m intrigued by dialogue topics of neuroscience, philosophy, mythology, artificial intelligence, gender, media, religion, and tribalism.
And open to what turns on the other participants.
Here’s a sampler. I’ll be adding more later:
Sign me up!