Soundbites vs. long-form - The Centre for Independent Studies
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Soundbites vs. long-form

Long-form writers and podcasters are reversing the last few decades of the ‘soundbite’ media trend that assumes the shorter the content the better.

This creates enormous potential, but also tension, and no one personifies this gulf more than Jordan Peterson — a leading proponent of  long form discussions.

After a lengthy absence because of health issues, Peterson has been slowly returning to the public eye, and agreed to an interview with The Sunday Times.

However, the piece, published late January, was so unflattering Peterson subsequently wrote a blog post entitled “Why I (stupidly(?)) agreed to an interview request from the Sunday Times.”

Since his rise to fame, Peterson’s views have often been maligned and caricatured. Unlike much public discourse, he has a very discursive style which can be easily misrepresented.

If you have watched his personality lectures or his ‘Maps of Meaning’ course (as this nerdy writer has done) he weaves issues together over many hours.

Plucking something out of context, such as his discussion on the personality differences between men and women, the ideas can seem peculiar.

But Peterson plaits many different ideas together brilliantly. For example, his discussion of the differences between men and women includes references to psychology biology, art, religion, history — and even The Lion King.

On their own, quotes such as “enforced misogyny” or “witchy women” do not make sense; because they are not supposed to.

Peterson invites people into his thought process and explains, in unbelievable detail, how and why he has come to his conclusions.

Peterson attracts such a loyal, and large, fan base because he explains things at a level most are not used to.

Many contemporary public debates and discussions take place in highly compressed formats. A one-hour television show will often cover numerous topics and there is only so much you can say in the time allowed.

There is certainly a skill, and utility, to this compressed format. But as the popularity of long-form podcasts like Peterson’s shows, there is an appetite for more.

And, as the compressed world of debate continually meets with the never-ending potential of the long-form world, it will be interesting to see who wins out.