“Why doesn’t someone…”
Hopefully, you’ve discovered the the podcast project. (Originally it was called “Parkour, They Said”.) The original project was entirely based on the written word and was inspired — ironically — by podcasts in general.
In late 2015, I was lying on the floor slow-roasting myself before the wood stove. I had stumbled onto a new-to-me podcast — yes I remember which one, no I’m not telling — and I was starting from their first episode. The episodes were horrible, but I knew they would get better, since a recent episode is what had drawn me in.
But listening to those early episodes left me with a litany of ideas:
I can’t even understand them with this crappy audio. Why aren’t all podcast episodes fully transcribed and available?
But honestly, no one would read the entire, long transcript of this horrible ramble-session. Why not break that large interview apart into its basic themes? Then people can read the entire interview, or just a part.
Why not have a standardized set of themes on the site? Then the “chunks” of the interview can be organized under those themes, and people can read just the material on a particular theme.
Why not add translation functionality? That’s way better than a podcast because people can read the interviews in many languages.
So wait, why bother with podcasts at all?
Why not just open it up with a form where anyone can write anything? Then people can contribute their writing in any source language, and the site then facilitates communication by translating everything to/from every language.
…and why not make it a generic project, conveying whatever everyone contributes? Well, what would we call that? It’s just a collection of whatever it is that people have to say…
…and why not make several sites, each on a particular topic. How do we name and label each site?
“Parkour, They Said.”
(Bully on you for reading this far! You now know that the “Try Parkour they said, It’ll be fun they said,” meme is not in any way related to “Parkour, They Said”. :)
What could possibly go wrong?
I know, right… that whole project above is a TERRIBLE idea. (I’m not being sarcastic.) There are at least two, major problems:
- Writing is hard. People don’t like to write. Actually, it turns out that writing well is also very much harder. It’s as if one could make an entire living if one could write well. :P So this project’s success depends on… Oh, that’s a problem.
- The way the project works, and its purpose, are not the least bit obvious, and the name is downright obtuse. Worse, the name uses a wonky grammatical construct, (“topic, more information”) which is uncommon generally, and a straight-up Unicorn in spoken language. And the meme does not help. So, go ahead, say, “Parkour, They Said” out loud. Did you manage to convey everything about the project? Oh, that’s a problem.
But, whenever I spent 10 minutes blabbing about the project, people seemed to think it was a good idea. (This was probably the conversational equivalent of Beer Goggles on my part.) So, after many months of talking about it, we built it anyway.
“You should write something for Parkour, They Said!”
I spent more than a year, randomly in my spare time, talking about the project and trying as politely as possible to repeatedly nag a few hundred people into writing. I learned at least two things:
- Writing is in fact really hard, and people already know this.
- “Parkour, They Said” is a strikingly unhelpful name for an already non-obvious project. If the project had been called Snorklewacker, (yes, yes it is, yes I did,) it wouldn’t have been any harder for me to explain, or any harder for everyone to remember. And just for the triple-bonus, start in the hole, difficulty score, we put it on a “.world” domain.
Surprisingly, a number of people actually managed to write some really interesting things. This made me very happy.
“Craig, why don’t you just make a podcast?”
I really like talking. (Everyone who knows me just laughed and thought, “collossal understatement there Craig.”)
Via a perfect storm of things not worth the deep dive, I wind up in a ton of fun, wide-ranging, interesting, and educating conversations. That’s not just me being hyperbolic; I regularly find people glommed onto my conversations. (I literally have a new friend who — their words — “was just eavesdropping the shit out of that conversation”, and we started talking when my original conversation partner moved on.)
People — often the people who were eavesdropping my conversations — started saying “that conversation should have been a podcast episode.” So the idea of making a podcast was gaining some footing in my head space.
But, I have a problem. It’s called shiny thing syndrome, or ADHD, or whatever. (“Get off my lawn! We didn’t have all these fancy acronyms back in my day.”) So I was really, REALLY, determined to not add “podcast” to my list of things to do. I already had this crazy “Parkour, They Said” web site sucking up time.
In one last-ditch, Herculean effort to avoid the inevitable, I started offering to help people write by recording Skype calls and passing them the transcripts. I think I did three recorded calls before I had convinced myself that-
“Hello, I’m Craig Constantine…”