7 episodes

It’s a common warning that we need to be carefult to not "go too far down the rabbit hole" – that is, we don’t want to get too caught up debating the specifics of some particular definition, or want to avoid going too far off on some tangent. And in almost all cases, this is certainly great advice.

But I also think we don’t want to lose sight of the rabbit hole entirely. If the definition of something has such a contested meaning, it must be pretty important. Or at the very least it’s a sign that something interesting is going on.

In each season of Beside the Rabbit Hole, I pick a topic that has the potential to go down a definitional rabbit hole, and I walk us right up to the edge. But instead of diving in, we explore that surrounding area and see what issues are at stake and to understand why there’s a rabbit hole to possibly fall into in the first place.

Beside the Rabbit Hole Ben Pettis

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

It’s a common warning that we need to be carefult to not "go too far down the rabbit hole" – that is, we don’t want to get too caught up debating the specifics of some particular definition, or want to avoid going too far off on some tangent. And in almost all cases, this is certainly great advice.

But I also think we don’t want to lose sight of the rabbit hole entirely. If the definition of something has such a contested meaning, it must be pretty important. Or at the very least it’s a sign that something interesting is going on.

In each season of Beside the Rabbit Hole, I pick a topic that has the potential to go down a definitional rabbit hole, and I walk us right up to the edge. But instead of diving in, we explore that surrounding area and see what issues are at stake and to understand why there’s a rabbit hole to possibly fall into in the first place.

    The Future of Podcasting (Episode #4)

    The Future of Podcasting (Episode #4)

    In this final episode of Season One, I try to wrap up my discussion of the video podcasts and talk a bit about the future of podcasts more broadly. Despite my best efforts to keep us exploring the area besidethe rabbit hole and not go too deep into it, it seems like we inadvertently ended up there anyway. So in this last episode I try to walk us back up to the surface by talking back over my experience of producing a video podcast and finally by considering Spotify’s recently announced video feature.


    What makes a podcast a podcast is not so much the file type, format, or how it gets shared but the relation between the producer and the audience. Yes, that’s a fairly vague and unsatisfying definition. So maybe we don’t have a good definition of what really makes a podcast a podcast, but maybe that’s okay. But even if we struggle to define it, there’s something special about this format – and the possibility for an intimate connection between producer and listener.


    Podcasts are a medium that lets us share our experiences in the world, and to partake in the experiences of others. And hopefully I don’t have to convince you that there is significant value in that. So let’s keep listening to podcasts, and let’s keep making them. And no, they don’t necessarily have to be video!


    Questions? Comments? Concerns? Get in touch with me - bpettis@wisc.edu or see my website www.benpettis.com. You can also tweet at me @ben_pettis_.



    Music Credits:

    Voxel Revolution by Kevin MacLeod
    Pamgaea by Kevin MacLeod

    License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license


    Additional Works Cited:

    Morris, Jeremy Wade. "The Spotification of Podcasting." In Saving New Sounds: Podcast Preservation and Historiography, edited by Jeremy Wade Morris and Eric Hoyt, 208–23. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021.



    Schwarz, Jonas Andersson. 2013. Online File Sharing: Innovations in Media Consumption. New York: Routledge.

    • 10 min
    • video
    The Technological Re-enactment Walkthrough (Episode #3 Supplementary)

    The Technological Re-enactment Walkthrough (Episode #3 Supplementary)

    Full video of my technological re-enactment method for studying media history - in this case, the potentials and failures of the video podcast.

    This is a bonus video for the main episode of my podcast, which you can find here in this same podcast feed.

    There are three main steps involved when doing a technological reenactment:

    First, you need to identify the core characteristics of the experience that you are trying to re-create. These are features of the experience holistically, and don’t necessarily have to be specific pieces of hardware or software.

    Second, you would determine what parts—if any—of the original experience you still have access to, and what parts you need to fill in with more modern technology.

    Third, keep a running list of what substitutions you had to make, so you can consider how those more modern technologies affected the experience as a whole.

    • 12 min
    • video
    The Technological Re-enactment (Episode #3)

    The Technological Re-enactment (Episode #3)

    In this episode, I move away from talking about video podcasts in overly broad terms and try to get down and into the trenches. What was the process like of getting video podcasts onto a device to view them? And what was it like to actually watch a video podcast? And how did that affect the podcast intimacy?


    To answer these questions, I first describe a method for doing media history that I’m calling the "technological re-enactment." Unlike something like emulation or retro tech preservation, the technological re-enactment is meant to be more accessible by more people – largely thanks to its attitude of "close enough." We don’t have to 100% replicate the technology of a given era, but we can try to get as close as possible by substituting in modern technology only when needed. By doing so, we can try and recreate the core aspects of what it was like to experience old forms of technology.


    There are three main steps involved when doing a technological reenactment.


    First, you need to identify the core characteristics of the experience that you are trying to re-create. These are features of the experience holistically, and don’t necessarily have to be specific pieces of hardware or software.


    Second, you would determine what parts—if any—of the original experience you still have access to, and what parts you need to fill in with more modern technology.


    Third, keep a running list of what substitutions you had to make, so you can consider how those more modern technologies affected the experience as a whole.


    Ultimately, the experience of watching podcasts on the old iPod was terrible. Which wasn’t anything surprising: Given the limits of the technology – that is having to pre-load all the videos – along with the small size of the screen, it was just too much work for a less then stellar experience. This is because podcasts are characterized by forming an intimate connection between the podcast producer and the podcast listener. But when you have video, and can see that the podcaster is in a different place and time than you, the illusion of intimacy is lost.


    And, as I’ve shown with my technological reenactment, adding suboptimal video technology on top of that is essentially just a death blow for the video podcast. Despite the promise of it being the "next generation of podcasting," it’s not really surprising that it didn’t take off.


    Supplemental Video on the Technological Re-Enactment
    In this episode, I was going to give a bit of a walkthrough of my process of doing the technological re-enactment of video podcasts. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at doing a walkthrough in a brief manner and ended up rambling for upwards of 20 minutes. Even after cutting it down, it was just too much and we ended up too far down the rabbit hole. There will be a supplemental video episode with a full walkthrough for those who are interested. But otherwise, this episode just gives and overview of the process.


    PodcastRE
    I found the old episodes of video podcasts that I used during my technological re-enactment using the PodcastRE podcast database and archive. You can find out more information here https://podcastre.org.


    Handbrake Preset:
    You can download a copy of the Handbrake preset that I mentioned in the video on the episode page on my website.


    Questions? Comments? Concerns? Get in touch with me - bpettis@wisc.edu or see my website www.benpettis.com. You can also tweet at me @ben_pettis_.


    Music Credits:

    Voxel Revolution by Kevin MacLeod
    Space Jazz by Kevin MacLeod
    Cherry Blossom by Kevin MacLeod

    Mischief Maker by Kevin MacLeod


    License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license


    Additional Works Cited:

    Owens, Trevor. The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018.

    • 12 min
    The Podcastiness of Podcasts (Episode #2)

    The Podcastiness of Podcasts (Episode #2)

    This episode continues my exploration of why it is that the video podcast has generally failed to take off in popularity. Even as technology has improved, podcasts remain a distinctly audio phenomenon. Perhaps this is because of some fundamental characteristic of podcast that makes them better suited for audio. I call this characteristic the "podcast-iness" of podcasts.

    A better way to think of this podcast-iness is in terms of intimacy. Podcasts are unique because they create a close connection between the podcast producer and the podcast audience. Because they are often in the audio format, this relationship often feels personal and deeply intimate. We listen to podcasts in ways that are deeply integrated in our day-to-day lives: in the shower, while commuting, and so on.

    But if you were to add video in to the mix, it becomes a lot more difficult for the podcast to create that intimate relationship. By adding video, we get a clear signal that the podcaster is not there alongside us as we listen. Video actually makes a podcast feel less intimate, which is a large reason why video podcasts are not as popular as audio ones.


    Questions? Comments? Concerns? Get in touch with me - bpettis@wisc.edu or see my website www.benpettis.com. You can also tweet at me @ben_pettis_.

    Music Credits:


    Voxel Revolution by Kevin MacLeod
    Pamgaea by Kevin MacLeod
    Cherry Blossom by Kevin MacLeod


    License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license


    This episode also includes short clips from the following podcasts:

    Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me
    Up First
    99% Invisible




    Additional Works Cited:

    Lindgren, Mia. "Intimacy and Emotions in Podcast Journalism: A Study of Award-Winning Australian and British Podcasts." Journalism Practice (June 25, 2021): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2021.1943497.


    Rae, Maria. "Earwitnessing Detention: Carceral Secrecy, Affecting Voices, and Political Listening in The Messenger Podcast," 2019, 20.


    Spinelli, Martin, and Lance Dann. Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution. London ; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

    • 10 min
    What Even is a Podcast? - Supplemental Materials (Episode #1 Supplementary)

    What Even is a Podcast? - Supplemental Materials (Episode #1 Supplementary)

    Beside the Rabbit Hole – Episode #1: What Even is a Podcast? - Supplemental Materials

    This supplemental "episode" includes screenshots of Apple's website from the WayBack machine. These screenshots give a sense of how Apple defined podcasts—including in the video format—throughout the 2000s.

    What is a Podcast? (Episode #1)

    What is a Podcast? (Episode #1)

    Beside the Rabbit Hole – Episode #1: What Even is a Podcast?

    In this first episode of the first season of Beside the Rabbit Hole, I give a brief little intro to the concept of the podcast series as a whole. After that, I explain the topic for this inaugural season: the potentials and failures of the video podcast.

    Podcasts seem to be everywhere these days—if you’re reading this there is a really good chance you are already familiar with what podcasts are. But when you try and come up with some sort of an all-encompassing definition that covers all types of podcasts—news, entertainment, drama, etc.—we start to see how difficult it is to define podcasts. They’re kind of like radio, but also kind of something entirely new. But throughout the various definitions of podcasts, there is an unspoken assumption that they have to be audio only.

    But what if we put this assumption off to the side? In fact, in the mid- to late-2000s there was somewhat of a push to promote video podcasts as the "next generation of podcasting." Yet this never really took off and a decade later we still think of podcasts as primarily audio. If it were just the case of poor technology, we might expect video podcasts to have become popular as mobile video improved. But this wasn’t the case, and this season of Beside the Rabbit Hole hopes to interrogate just why that might be.



    Be sure to check your podcast feed for a bonus "episode" – a PDF file with screenshots of the Apple website pages that were referenced in the episode. (PDF files may not display in all podcast apps – sorry! You can download this supplmental PDF on the website)


    Questions? Comments? Concerns? Get in touch with me - bpettis@wisc.edu or see my website www.benpettis.com. You can also tweet at me @ben_pettis_.


    Music Credits:

    Voxel Revolution by Kevin MacLeod
    Pamgaea by Kevin MacLeod
    Mischief Maker by Kevin MacLeod

    License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license


    This episode also includes short clips from the following podcasts:

    99 Percent Invisible
    This Day in Esoteric Political History
    Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me
    Just the Zoo of Us
    My Brother My Brother and Me
    No Compromise
    Serial
    Up First
    The NPR Politics Podcast




    Apple Events

    WWDC 2005 – from AppleVideoArchive on YouTube
    October 2005 Special Event – from Seung-hyun Kim on YouTube


    Additonal Works Cited:


    Hagood, Mack. "The Scholarly Podcast." In Saving New Sounds: Podcast Preservation and Historiography, edited by Jeremy Wade Morris and Eric Hoyt. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021.

    Hansen, Samuel. "The Feed Is the Thing: How RSS Defined PodcastRE and Why Podcasts May Need to Move On." In Saving New Sounds: Podcast Preservation and Historiography, edited by Jeremy Wade Morris and Eric Hoyt. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021.

    Spinelli, Martin, and Lance Dann. Podcasting: The Audio Media Revolution. London ; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

    • 10 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
1 Rating

1 Rating

I’m down with this rabbit hole ,

This show RULEZ

This show is amazing! Ben is hilarious and his outtakes always make me listen/watch right to the end. I always wondered what happened to my favorite video podcasts from the mid-2000s and this podcast helped me figure it out! Can’t wait for season two!!

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

Apple TV+ / AT WILL MEDIA
Pushkin Industries
C13Originals
iHeartPodcasts
Adam Thorne
Glennon Doyle & Cadence13