We've been working
in secret on a podcast, called Media Buddhi A-Z. Here's how it came about.
In October 2021, I announced a new project to help us learn to have better conversations, especially around tricky topics. I wrote: "If we don't have the tools to truly discuss something, we'll keep going around in circles, shouting at or misunderstanding each other, or quietly fuming inside. But if we do learn the vocabulary of our times, our discussions will be richer and more nuanced.
It's only when a phenomenon has been identified, described, admitted and named that we can talk about what it with ease."
The new project is a political dictionary. I identified 113 terms for it, such as algorithm bias, bullshit, cancel culture, dog-whistling, extreme speech, feminism, and so on that I would explain with the help of one-minute vertical videos. I asked you and other readers for help in growing this list.
Within a week, that list of terms had grown to 189, thanks to all the suggestions and recommendations that came in.
At a rate of two one-minute videos a week, I figured this project would be wrapped up in 18 months. And so I rolled up my sleeves and fired this video out, on the word anonymous.
It kind of worked, but…there was something missing.
It seemed clear to me that a one-minute video wasn't long enough to fit everything in. And so I thought, maybe I should make it longer, say, three minutes. The thing with a three-minute video though was that it wouldn't fit into YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels, places where you can (for the moment) find the most people.
The ideal thing, I decided, would be to stick to one-minute videos as a complement to something else.
Enter Divya Chandra, a fact-checker. She joined the team here at BOOM in December 2021 and one of the first things she did was to record a mock episode with me for a potential podcast.
That's when the whole thing fell into place for me. I'd long thought a podcast would be the next thing to do, but I didn't have the time to do it all by myself.
Now with Divya in tow, I asked another fact-checking colleague, Archis Chowdhury, if he would be interested in doing a show with the two of us. Archis had previously done a podcast for BOOM, and when I asked him if he was interested, he said yes.
With the blessings of managing editor Jency Jacob and founder Govindraj Ethiraj, we now had a team.
Audio is the ideal medium for a project like Media Buddhi A-Z, for both the creator and the listener.
For us, a podcast is a space where we can work out the kinks in our approach to framing terms. Contested terms like minority appeasement, victimhood, bhakt, liberal and others will require careful handling. But since the podcast is aimed to be conversational (three folks chatting), there will be space to advance theories and frames, pick apart examples, and decide exactly how to approach some topics. There's also the space to make mistakes and correct them
For listeners (hopefully), it will be a chance to learn along with us, and use these terms to make arguments and concessions in debates.
Right now, it looks like we will launch in April. We've recorded mock episodes, written the guiding script for the first three episodes, and are in the process of sourcing original music for the podcast. Rather excitingly, Bangalore-based singer-songwriter-guitarist Bruce Lee Mani has agreed to find some music for us. Optimism is in the air!
And oh, our list of words has now grown to over 200.
A version of this piece was first published on the same date here.
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