On podcasts and other things

<<Written on the 21st Sept 2018>>

Lots of things change when you move to a new city, the rhythms of your routine are disrupted to allow for new activities and interactions, one of the things that I’m enjoying is starting to listen to podcasts. This is mainly due to me walking and running a lot more that I would do in London. The podcasts are a perfect way to allow your mind to drift amongst the architecture as you walk.

I’ve mainly been listening to the Adam Buxton podcast, which I love! It’s made me reflect on the podcast as a format – I know that I’m really late here and millions of people have probably written deep, thoughtful and clever pieces about the podcast form, but here’s my dumb reflections; the podcast produces a different type of intimacy, I think this due to the reduction in scale of the production team. It feels like an intimate chat with an interesting person. It allows for type of content that I wouldn’t normally listen to. I guess the barriers to entry are just high enough to make sure the most of them are ‘ok’, but it gives really creative people, access to voice based broadcast to produce amazing things, that you would normally hear on national radio.

Adam Buxton really surprised me, after years of people suggesting the show, I hadn’t got around to listening to it.  I think it was because I had a different idea of what it would be; in my head it was more sketch comedy less chit chat. He is obviously from a really privileged background and this comes through in many of the shows… he’s the typification of middle-aged, white, privileged, liberal, smart man, but completely aware of it and is lovely, brilliant and very funny with it.

One of the things I enjoy, is seeing the mechanics under creative work – the conversations about the struggles for creative people to produce work. It’s pretty inspiring.

Today is a day of lunches and dinners with interesting people, first was a lunch (nice Israeli Falafel place in Greenwich Village) with Michel Morgensen. Michael studied at Goldsmiths on the MAID programme during its last year. It was lovely to see him and reflect on how crazy 2016-17 was. Our conversation focussed mainly on how there was still a mis-match between industry’s expectation of design and how more critically informed programmes positioned the practice. We talked about tactics to overcome and survive in these times.

We also spoke about the Gulf states, the strange cultural and economic paradoxes they face (all the resources to achieve interesting things, but so much of their ambition ends up feeling like shopping; culture bought, transplanted Western ideas and cultural practices, that ultimately don’t self sustain).

After lunch I learnt that Pat Loughrey, the Warden, was stepping down. I was surprised at how much the news affected me. I really like Pat and think he’s been a positive force in Goldsmiths. Any change of leadership at that level brings with a level of risk. In our current political and economic times in HE, it’s particularly risky to find someone with the same understanding and ethos.

This sparked an interesting conversation later with Tony about the politics of US Universities; how finding the people at the top was a very difficult thing to do… a process fraught with risk. I think it’s really sad that many of the people in top leadership positions in education lack a sense of intellectual vision about education. I hope to God we find a good one.

In the evening I had dinner with Tony, Fiona and Tim Marshall (the provost of the New School). We had some great conversations about the ambitions and intricacies of design education. How many academic and professionals end up hold lines (on what should be taught, how elements of design learning are important) even though they never learnt that way themselves.

The end conversation was an amazing story, told brilliantly by Tim, about the trials and tribulations of the New School – it’s political history and the traumas of a President that didn’t fit with the schools philosophy. Many of the stories, the political action of staff and students, felt very familiar, more evidence that Goldsmiths and New School are connected in a deep way.

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