Mediums at School, of Words, in Ears

Three spring examples of the medium and the message.

  • Joe Rogan spoke with Eric Weinstein about what is ‘mainstream’ and wondered why Rogan isn’t ‘mainstream’ when thirteen+ million people watched his interview with epidemiologist Michael Osterholm.
  • Ben Thompson referenced his Books and Blogs post. It explains why Thompson hasn’t written a book and instead writes Stratechery.
  • Dan Carlin recalled going full ‘Mike Brady’ on radio and badly wanting to revisit that character, but didn’t because radio is different than podcasts.

It’s said that people get the government they deserve and a related expression might be that we get the content we incentivize. 

One perspective about reading books that I disagree with is that we need to read the sources. ‘Go straight to the stoics, or economists, or philosophers or whatevers’ someone will shout. Sure, eventually. It’s really helpful at first to start somewhere with some footing. It’s helpful to start first with a storyteller.

Before I read Darwin’s writings I read The Beak of the Finch. In that book the reader gets close enough to smell the Galapagos Islands. When author Jonathan Weiner writes about the beak sizes and the rain patterns and the berry growth it clicks. Of course there’s going to be variation.

Reading about finches made clear that there’s no better finch. When one type of weather pattern is more common then one type of fruit is more common and one type of finch is more common.

We get the finches the environment allows.

In the past Rogan, Thompson, and Carlin would have had a newspaper column, a television gig, or radio seat and sold books because that was the business model for ideas. It was the media the environment allows.

This works for school too.

Weather changed berries which changed finches. Technology changed media which changed models. Distance learning changed education which changes the learners. My daughter’s teachers were as out of sorts teaching digitally as a finch on the wrong island or radio personality in the wrong time.

The medium of school is the classroom. The format is seven to three. The schedule is forty-four to fifty minutes. For every class. For every student. Doesn’t that sound like radio? Like a newspaper column? Like a talk show?

What’s the incentive? Finches need to eat, producers need to earn, kids need to…

In that spirit I’ve started a daily email. It’s one story each weekday that might give you a new perspective on a current problem. Sign up.

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