Sunday, August 3, 2008

New map for the Pentagon - UChannel podcast review

Very frequently, with recorded lectures that make it to podcast, as a listener you miss out on the visuals. these days, very few lecturers face their audience without a slide show and so, for the podcast audience, it is always guessing what was on the slide. Unless, you get an enhanced podcast, but these are still quite rare. Frequently the loss is quite minimal, but sometimes, the loss can prove to be vital - or seem to be so.

UChannel podcast tries to address that problem, as many other institutions, by filming the lecture and posting the video on line, or as a vodcast. For once, I decided to give the video a chance at UChannel's lecture The Pentagon's New Map with Thomas Barnett, after his book with the same title (see picture). First I saw the video and soon I understood this was no different than the podcast. The camera is on a fixed stand, with a fixed focus, which gives hardly a clear view of the screen on which the slides are projected. Moreover, the camera follows the speaker, Tom Barnett, as he paces across the room and thus most of the time has no view of the screen at all.

Barnett delivers a lecture of modern day geopolitics which is curried with a lot of criticism of the US foreign policy. In his view the US fails at nation building and he tries to show how and why it fails. The emerging picture is not just a grim one, in spite of all the alleged policy mistakes. Barnett's world view is much more optimistic on the possibilities of repairing failed states and aiding faltering states to become fully functioning states in the international system. The options are plenty, the methods work well, they are just not implemented by Washington.

More UChannel:
Slavery and the Supply Chain,
Iran 2009,
The denials of yesterday,
Nuts and bolts of empire,
Islam meets Europe.

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