The PS Cast, Asynchronous Communication

A couple topics, about communication of all things!

Asynchronous Communication

[Same old musical intro]

I find it interesting how some people (and I don’t know if this is just “some people” or “almost all people except for me”) put things on the internet that they are intending only for their own private use. Like, someone will start a blog, and use it just to write things that they intend to keep to themselves. They don’t intend on sharing it with anyone. They’re just using the internet because it’s convenient.

There are tools that you can use on a private computer that are not on the internet, and are intrinsically secure. Not completely secure of course. Someone could, somehow, get into your computer and get your files. But certainly more secure than a blog, where anyone who has the internet address, or anyone who can search for it, or anyone who can find it through links to your site will be able to look at it! And your security is one purely of obscurity!

There’s someone I know who has a blog that they keep just as a journal! They don’t share it with anyone. In fact, I asked them, “hey can I read the article?” and they’re like, “No no no no no! I don’t use it for public. It’s a completely private… It’s my journal. Like a private journal.” But… it’s on the internet! And I was like “Why…? Do you not understand what the internet is for? Like… how…?”

I suppose it keeps it… backed up? I mean, it’s going to be hard to loose it… I suppose. Uh… if it’s on the internet. Certainly it’s going to be harder to loose it than if you have it on a floppy disk somewhere. But it’s so foreign to me, this strange idea that you would use the internet for something completely private. And, I’ve used the internet for things that are mostly private. But I put them on a section of my website that’s, first off, labeled “private”. It’s Perifarlblibleh! I can’t even say it! It’s difficult to say. It’s a tongue twister.! And then I’ve got directory browsing turned off so you can’t just go in there and poke around and see what’s in there. You have to know the exact name of the file. And I don’t name my files sequentially… you know. I take some precautions so that people won’t see these things unless I give them a link.

And certainly the person could then share it with someone else. But I only put things on the internet that I plan on sharing with someone! To use the internet for something completely private that you would have no intention of sharing with anyone is just… it seems very strange to me, I… I understand there are reasons for it. You can use it because the internet is well backed up. Because it’s on a remote server, you could use it as a remote backup or something…

And to not look around at the other options for cataloging things? ‘Cause you can have time stamped documents. You can have text editors! I mean, you don’t need a full… Maybe it’s just the experience of feeling that their own private life warrants an entire website? Maybe that’s a pleasing experience? I… Its… That… If so, that seems kind of delusional to me, but I mean, people delude themselves all the time about all kinds of things, so that’s not surprising.

Aah, yeah, I don’t know.

Private websites. Why?

So here’s something we should do! (I don’t know if we do this already (“we” as a culture, or as people who talk to people) but) Considering schedules and the difficulty of meeting people face to face, and the difficulty of… well, I guess that’s it. Oh! And the difficulty of asking the right questions in an interview! If you’re going to interview someone, it’s very difficult to ask the right questions.

And so, I’m sure (and I’ve never done this, but I’m sure) there’s a whole art to asking the right questions and researching the person beforehand so you can tell what kind of questions they’ll have interesting answers to… but that just seems like a whole lot of work.

A whole lot of unnecessary work.

Here’s what I think we should do.

Asynchronous Interviews.

So, the interviewer has some set of questions that they are interested in the person answering… otherwise they wouldn’t be interviewing them. So that person (the interviewer) should just record those questions. As if they’re interviewing them in person.

“Hey! Here I’ve got blah blah blah blah so and so! It’s good to talk to you have you on the show! Thanks for joining me!”

And then you pause.

And then you go on.

“So, what’s your biggest accomplishment in blah blah blah blah blah.” Something along this nature, or whatever it is you’re trying to ask. You’re going to ask a leading question. You’re going to want them to respond in some length, but not too much length.

But fortunately, we have the capability now of editing stuff very very easily! It’s just super easy to edit audio together. So, what you can do is you can have an asynchronous interview where you ask all these questions. You send the stuff to the person you’re interviewing. Have them record the answers that they give. And then, you can go back and change your questions to really, just perfectly match the answers that they give! And it will sound fantastic! It’ll sound like they are super smart! It’ll sound like you’re super smart! It won’t waste the audience’s time! It’ll be great!

So I think, definitely, we should do this. Asynchronous interviews.

If you want me to interview you, I will do this for you. And if you ever want to interview me, do this for me!

So, this has several advantages. One of which is that then you don’t have to arrange your schedules to match up! You can have your questions all recorded. You can send them off to the person you’re going to interview. The person can take their dear sweet time with it! (Now, of course, this means that they might never get around to it, but then again, if their time is that valuable, maybe you should pay them more or something.) And then when they can get around to it, they answer your questions, send ’em back, then you can edit them at your leisure.

It doesn’t require that you have a good day when you’re interviewing them. It doesn’t require they have, like, a good breakfast the morning  that they have the interview, they’re not going to be flustered. They’re going to pick the time that they want to answer the questions. They’re going to do it in a calm collected manner… I hope! Or, whatever manner they want to answer the questions in! They’re going to be able to choose when to deal with your interview, instead of you, kind of, barging in on their life, and making them deal with your interview whenever’s convenient for you AND them.

So, I think it would be much more convenient. It would help people to have better ability to ask and answer questions. You might be concerned that editing the questions afterword is not… I don’t know. I don’t really care about “journalistic integrity.” All I care about is that the thing that the person is trying to communicate is accurately conveyed. And if that’s better conveyed by changing the questions afterword so that they lead in better or they flow better… or changing the order of things… cutting out things they say that don’t make sense. As long as it conveys what they were trying to say, I think that it’s an improvement.

[Same old musical outro]

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3 Responses to The PS Cast, Asynchronous Communication

  1. Luke says:

    Yeah journalistic integrity is a huge problem. Its one of the reasons why people specifically request live interviews for TV and things like that. They want to make sure that what they say isn’t changed. Apparently (this information comes from Dad’s friend mark) that TV and radio stations would much rather do the interview at some other time and be able to edit it down, but its usually by the request of the interviewee that events are held live.
    Audio of this comment.

  2. Toad says:

    I think Luke’s on to something there, and I think that’s already done, and a big part of how people are “misquoted” in newsmedia.

    In your example, you suggest that the interviewer ask a question “A”, to which they will later receive a reasoned answer “A'”. Then, based on some motivation other than clearly presenting the subject matter, the interviewer decides that “A'” would make a much more interesting/entertaining/profitable response to question “B”, and they edit the interview (indeed, easily, as you mentioned) and publish question “B” followed by answer “A'”. Now the interviewer has conveyed exactly what s/he meant to convey, with whatever weight the interviewee carries, but the interviewee’s actual intentions may not be conveyed clearly at all.

    That happens, I would suggest, all the time. Newspaper columnists, television talkshow newswriters, and even comedy writers take snippets of responses to actual questions (whether directed to the writer or to someone else), couch them in another question, and present them at face value. In the last case, it’s often hilarious! In the second case, it’s base and trite. In the first case, it borders on dangerous.

  3. Ziggy says:

    While I totally agree that it can be (and sadly, likely is) used the wrong way round (as you have both pointed out), my suggestion was that editing be used to genuinely improve the conveyed information on the part of the interviewee. This practice will build (on the part of both parties) a virtuous cycle of trust and increasing candidness. That the technique has been abused in the past casts suspicion not on the technique, but on the perpetrators of the abuse.
    If the interviewee mistrusts the interviewer, they can always make their own version of the questions and their responses, and release that freely. This used to be impractical when dissemination was gated by mass media agents, but the internet has made it dead simple.
    Our public institutions are still waking up to the implications of the internet. For instance, why does the US President talk to “the media” at all? He should make them download his addresses from the government website along with everyone else!
    Audio of this comment.

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