Sunday, November 9, 2008

Word Nerds on stories and story telling - podcast review

The Word Nerds, David and Howard Shepherd, went to a story telling festival in Jonesborough Tennessee and reported from the scene in their latest podcast, #108 about stories and story telling.

TWNThey discussed their own relationship with story-telling, which turns out to be a family issue. So they were brought up with stories they call the Jack Tales and the Grandfather Tales, which have roots in both England as well as the Appalachians. And they have a history of attending the story telling festival in Tennessee. In the podcast, they tell what they have listened to, less about the specific stories and more about the story tellers. A lot of names to follow-up on, if you believe the recommendations of the Word Nerd brothers.

Is podcast a form of story telling as well? Tentatively Dave and Howard ponder the question and if they lean to agree, I might suggest to say no. There are podcasts that are used to tell stories, or that seem to fit in with the old oral traditions of mankind, I feel that the majority of podcasts are still an attempt at radio, which is more of audio newspaper and magazine style. It takes a much more careful definition of story telling, oral tradition, media and another ten years of podcast evolution to bring more light into the question. In the mean time, podcasters will be addressing their audiences, that picked them in traditional as well as innovative ways.

Previous reviews of TWN on this blog:
Ambiguity and linguistic tics,

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Max Planck - Making History podcast review

The amazing quality of Ran Levy in his podcast Making History with Ran Levi (עושים היסטוריה) is that he is capable of combining several crucial elements in his retelling of history. For one, since his topic is always related to science, he has to explain the science. Next, since he wants to tell the story, he has to take in the narrative, with all the historical context, which expands beyond science, most of the time. Third, he always introduces the humane side of the story.

This we have seen in previous stories about Darwin and Newton for example. In his last podcast he turns to the important physicist Max Planck. Here is a story of a careful, conservative who by chance causes revolution in the world of science and what is more, endures hardship and deception in his personal life.

In a stunning performance Ran Levi incorporates within the history of Max Planck, both the necessary explanations of quantum theory as well as the chronology of events replete with the details of Planck's private life. The contrast between in the scientific importance of his work, the relative success in physics and the tragedy of Planck's family life are put to work in one coherent story. A great history podcast, once again.

Ran Levy has begun a project aiming to deliver his podcast not only in Hebrew, but also in English. With proper translation and reading, that project should turn into a great success.

Isaac Newton,
Making History with Ran Levy - Hebrew Review

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