July 13, 2006

California Podcasting

What could be more "California ideology" than listening to intellectual ideas as digital books-on-tape (aka podcasts)?

Nothing sums up the California Ideology better than the long running TED conference. TED stands for "technology, entertainment, design" and that's a tab of acid and a pinch of pop religious psychology short of an inclusive definition. And if TED represents the 1990's core of the ideology than the Long Now Foundation must be the trailblazer, marking the direction the ideology is evolving towards in this new millennium. And conveniently enough both organizations are now podcasting, letting you tune in with out ever leaving your computer, flipping a page or moving a dirty dollar.

I've been flipping through the offerings for a bit, and most are predictably interesting. Worth listening to for sure, but don't expect to be challenged or surprised by what you hear. So far only two have managed to surprise me and both are well worth the effort.

The Long Now podcasts are not surprisingly much longer than the TED ones and Stephen Lansing's "Perfect Order: A Thousand Years in Bali" fills that hour and a half with decades worth of fascinating research on the intersection of religion and ecology in Balinese culture. Incredible stuff.

Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise, but listening to Tony Robbins in action was far more engaging and interesting than I had expected, particularly if you just listen to the audio, rather than watching the video. It's actually rather an inverted Nixon-Kennedy debate situation, Robbins comes off far more intelligently when you can't see his pretty face and infomercial energy. On the other hand the video is worth watching if only because it captures the now classic exchange between Robbins and Al Gore.

In any case, Robbins is a motivational speaker, so of course he knows how speak well. It's worth listening to just to observe his technique. More than that though, what I didn't know about him is that he is pop priest of Neuro Linguistic Programming. As the new age movement shifts more towards the scientific and psuedo-scientific, pretty much makes Robbins the spiritual face of the California ideology. Give him 22 minutes at TED and he'll give you the world. For all the talk of Christianity in America, this is America's real religion, in one neat tidy package.

Posted by Abe at July 13, 2006 05:27 PM

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