1. Despite what I said in my recent post below, people are still using the word obviously to describe things that aren't obvious. I have pointed it out to some of them who, theoretically, are 'worried' about what forces are abetting the rise of extremism. They persist. (I doubt they noticed.)
2. I'm worried that non-fiction, isn't-this-an-interesting-and-revealing-story style podcasting has a real problem. Non fiction books used to operate on a sort of cycle, churning back through the same topics every ten years ago once the world had forgotten the story of, say, the tulip mania or the Dutchman who sold Goring a forged Vermeer.
But podcasts are rapacious for content. They get through all these stories quickly. If you like this sort of podcast, you reach the point fast where almost everything that doesn't depend on in-depth reporting is being recycled.
The tendency then is to focus on the now. But if you are doing the now, you are contributing to the problem of watching the bouncing ball. Watching the bouncing ball when it is your job to say something about it is interesting makes you angry when nothing happens and you start blaming the ball. Take, for eg, some complicated negotiation that would always have taken a few months. Now a weekly group of podcasters starts getting irritable that there's still no new news about this thing and they're still speculating more or less in the dark about it. They have to say something, though, and so they start saying things like there is a kind of problem with a system that isn't getting anything done and how can we still be looking at this thing again. But some things are just complicated and take time.
And some things are a problem. But it's not hard to tell which is which from inside this environment which treats the two imposters just the same.
Again, these are the kind of podcasters who will blame Facebook for knowingly harming public discourse, and who understand that online sources of news and the 24 hour news cycle are problems. But they still can't stop themselves making the situation worse because it is literally their job.
I'd be interested in some kind of experiment where we try to look at what today's tv or newspaper news would have looked like without the internet or 24 hour cycle. It's impossible, really, but it might be on some level an interesting thought experiment. Would the same stories be the top stories? I don't know. I might do it if I weren't already behind on three plays about other subjects.
(If you don't know what these plays are and you are using this site to keep up with my news, let me tell you that you are making a big mistake.)