“There Are Too Many Skeptic Podcasts”

I’m catching up on blogging things from the past. A few months ago I heard the episode of Skepticality that was the audio of Tim Farley’s presentation from Skepticamp 2011 in Atlanta. It was entitled “Please Don’t Start Another Blog or Podcast!” I like Tim Farley’s stuff on Skepticality, but I’m going to say right up front, I think the entirety of the sentiment and content of his presentation was pure assholery.

The basic gist of his talk was that there are already lots of online skeptical venues, many blogs and podcasts and websites so you, newly minted skeptic with enthusiasm, you should not start another one. Because there are too many. Bullshit. I’ve been hearing this kind of sentiment for as long as I’ve been involved in the blogosphere. When I went to Bloggercon in Palo Alto in 2004, people were making that kind of statement, that there were “too many blogs.”

There is a cruelty inherent in this kind of statement. It says that there is a time period that one can join the party and after than that, you are shut out. Sorry kid, you should have been involved in 2005 and then you could have a skeptic podcast but because you missed it we don’t need you. Sorry, person who wants to blog but we filled all those positions in 2002.

These stances are clearly nonsense on the face of it and driven by the fallacy of full consumption. That is to say – any amount of production more than I personally can consume is excess. This is a selfish and solipsistic view and is inconsistently applied. People will say there are too many podcasts on topic X because there are more than they can listen to, but they never say “There are too many television shows being produced” or “Too many books being published.” These rules only apply to the hoi polloi and their citizen media, not the serious professionals doing serious work.

I’m on record as saying there are never too many of any of these things. There are not too many blogs, not too many podcasts, not too many skeptic podcasts, not too many comic book podcasts, not too many stand up comedian podcasts or any sort of category you can come up with. Back at Bloggercon 2004, I made the statement that “I don’t think there are too many blogs if there are ten billion in the world, one for every single person and some people having a few. I’m not required to read any more than the ones I care about, which is all anyone is asked.”

I’m sure Tim Farley has good intentions with his presentation and has the goal of making the skeptical community a more efficient entity. However, the methodology he is using to state that is downright harmful. Telling people you can’t get involved in the way that excites you because other people are already excited and doing that is not an effective motivational message. Creating a class system where the early adopters get to do whatever they please and the late comers are relegated to helper roles is not cool, and is the opposite of everything I believe about citizen media.

If you care, create. If your creation isn’t that good, it will find it’s own level. More importantly, as you log the flight time it will get better. Telling people not to start is telling them not to log that flight time, not improve, not develop skill sets. It is stunting tomorrow’s superstar creators because today has superstars. It is short-sighted, not fun, not cool and a terrible message for any kind of community.