Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thinking Through My History Podcast

There is a lot of work to do before I can start a podcast as I have tasked myself.  Firstly I need to understand what history is and what is its purpose.  From there I need to understand what history means to me and what I want to see in a podcast about Chicago history.  From there I need to decide what format I want to use (and what I'm capable of) and if I can actually write a couple of dozen episodes.

I've tried to do a podcast before and managed one episode.  It just didn't feel right, I had a good deal of trouble getting my thoughts together sufficiently.  The original impetus for that podcast was similar to how I feel now, but I don't think I had really thought through the details I listed above.  Also, I hadn't the experience of trying a podcast when I had started that podcast.  Now I have that experience to give me some idea.

There are several articles on-line that talk about the purpose of history.  I've also found many quotes about history.  They capture most of what I found and how I feel about studying history.

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”  ― George Orwell 
“If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree. ”  ― Michael Crichton 
“The first duty of a man is to think for himself”  ― José Martí 
I don't agree with the following two quotes:
“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”  ― Napoleon Bonaparte
“Half of writing history is hiding the truth”  ― Joss Whedon
I feel this is a counter to those two arguments:
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”  ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark 

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”  ― Winston S. Churchill 
"Study the past if you would define the future.”  ― Confucius 
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”  ― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works 

These two seem to work together:
"To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.”  ― Marcus Tullius Cicero 
"History is important. If you don't know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.”  ― Howard Zinn 

“History is a Rorschach test, people. What you see when you look at it tells you as much about yourself as it does about the past.”  ― Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution 

“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. ”  ― David McCullough 
“You have to know the past to understand the present.”  ― Carl Sagan 
“A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

"I am interested in historical truth, and truth in history is often unpleasant and distasteful to those of fine sensibility.”  ― Mercedes Lackey, The Fire Rose 

This one inspires me to teach history to those who would hike the Chicago Lincoln Avenue Trail:
“The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.”  ― Stephen E. Ambrose

“Anybody can make history; only a great man can write it.”  ― Oscar Wilde 
“Never question the power of one! Throughout history it has been the actions of only one person who has in inspired the movement of change.”  ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free 

“It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts." -Bill Vaughan 
Well, I'll give you what I can figure out and you take from it what you will.
I feel that in a way history is a foreign land that I have close ties to and I can understand somewhat.  It is a fun place to visit, a flight of fancy, an escape and it helps me to put today into perspective.
So far the ideas I have for the podcast are as follows:
  1. Reboot Chicagoland History Week
    1. Pros
      1. I already have the blog and artwork such as it is
      2. Very little production needed.  
      3. Less time consuming.  If I script properly I wouldn't need editing
      4. No costs
      5. Can have guest interviews
      6. More scholarly
      7. Could be outlined rather than scripted
      8. Could have audience participatory games like trivia questions
    2. Cons
      1. It didn't work before
      2. Less fun than drama
      3. Ends up being more trivia oriented and less useful, historical, and much less useful as a map to the future (and all that highbrow stuff)
    3. Questions
      1. Should I get a cohost?
      2. Should I cover the whole area or just Chicago?
      3. Will the name be confusing?
      4. Should I start with Lincoln Avenue?
  2. Chicago Time Machine - modeled after Dr. Who and Young Indiana Jones it would be an adventure audio drama following characters as they use a time machine to explore Chicago's past
    1. Pros
      1. No temptation to outline, I would definitely script this
      2. Drama would help keep it lively
      3. A completely fresh view
      4. One topic at a time would be plenty to fill the podcast
      5. More like fiction and therefore helpful in exercising my writing muscles
    2. Cons
      1. Production time and cost would both be the highest - this may be a complete deal breaker
      2. Needs actors 
      3. Couldn't really have guests and interviews
      4. I'd have to learn and include a good deal of minutia to include in the background to add authenticity
    3. Questions
      1. Could I do this strictly as a narrative and tell the story rather than act it out?
      2. Could I produce CLHW as a podcast and still write this, but not produce this?
  3. Chicago History Detective - following something that exists today back to it's origins.  This would be similar to the TV show "Connections." 
    1. Pros
      1. Less production needed, can be all narrative, but still somewhat dramatic
      2. Again, a complete break form CLHW
      3. A mix of the scholarly and drama
    2. Cons
      1. Could be too contrived
      2. Difficult to find a way to include guests and interviews
    3. Questions
      1. Would this lead to too much researching?
      2. What if I started on one topic and it ended up taking me too far?
  4. My Kind of Town - same as rebooting CLHW, but with a new blog and new name
    1. Pros
      1. Avoids confusion and any other problems of rebooting CLHW
      2. Probably most of the same pros as CLHW
      3. Could allow for easy widening to more towns than just Chicago
      4. I could use the first four notes of My Kind of Town like the NBC chimes.  This would eliminate any other need for music
    2. Cons
      1. I could run into the same problems as CLHW
      2. Isn't the best way to draw in listeners who search for Chicago
    3. Questions
      1. Is this already being used?
      2. Is this too loose a structure?  Will I lose my focus and peter out?
This is where I am with the podcast so far.  Well, there is this and I've already started gathering and studying research material.

Anyone have any answers or opinions?  Share please, I would enjoy it very much.

By the way, I don't know what happened to the font.

No comments: