Three years ago I took part in a little podcast challenge called The Dog Days of Podcasting where, for every day in the month of August, we are encouraged to release an episode. I went ahead and planned 35 episodes around a single theme and later published the episodes as a digital "book" on iTunes, complete with the audio scripts and some additional info that didn't make it into the published show. It was good fun for the most part, though a little difficult to maintain around the schedule imposed by the day job. As yet another August is fast approaching, people are thinking about the annual event and considering whether they'll participate or not … myself included.
Despite the amount of work involved, I really enjoyed putting out a run of podcast episodes around a common theme. By having this on the Doubtfully Daily Matigo podcast, it allows for a certain amount of flexibility. There is no overarching topic nor a large audience with expectations to stick to, and that can leave a person free to experiment. To try new things. To remix old things. To fail and not get hung up about it.
At the end of the 2015 Dog Days run, the digital book idea was something I had kicked around as part of a Patreon perk. Because every episode was researched and scripted, I was able to quickly turn it out when the annual challange came to an end on September 4th. The book itself required less than a dozen hours to put together and, while the download numbers show it to be a spectacular "failure", the process gave rise to other ideas that I've helped other podcasters implement with much greater degrees of success. So it should come as no surprise when I say I would really like to take another crack at the themed podcast run which includes a supplimentary object, be it a digital book or something along these lines.
But on what subject?
A few weeks back I joked about having a show called "WTF You Cookin'?" as one of the more recent post themes on this site has involved bread recipes. However, this isn't something that I could realistically do on a daily basis for the Dog Days of Podcasting challenge as eating an entire loaf of bread a day would be quite difficult. Baking something different every day and recording myself while doing it would also bring a number of challenges given the day job and the fact that there's a new little person who is often demanding attention from people while they're working in the kitchen. So a recipe-based show is not in the cards unless I start recording episodes every Sunday and release them only after I've collected a month's worth of shows … which is silly.
Technology is something that I could certainly discuss, but that would likely be insanely boring for a lot of people. Rather than "read the news" about the latest gadgets or rant against the state of the Internet, I would use technology as a theme to examine current and future ethical questions that will arise as a direct result of the rapidly-evolving robotics and cognition engine projects around the world. This is a subject that I've given a great deal of thought to over the last few years, but could I put out a month of episodes on this topic? Would this be better as a series of examinations or a single, large essay that examines the theme and how we can approach some of the philosophical hurdles that must be addressed at some point? Is this something anyone would want to listen to?
How about one of the previous podcast concepts I dabbled with in 2014 and 2015, such as the "Thousand Words" podcast? This show sounds deceptively easy to create, but is incredibly difficult to get right. Essentially it boils down to this: if a picture is worth a thousand words, could I describe an image with enough detail for a listener to picture it in their minds before seeing it themselves? This is something that could certainly be done in both podcast and book form, but would it be "interesting"?
Does "interesting" even matter with projects like this? For all my talk about freedom with a show like Doubtfully Daily Matigo, I seem to put a lot of consideration into whether something would be of value to others rather than asking whether the attempt to try something different would be of value to myself.
I've yet to decide whether I'll take part in this year's Dog Days of Podcasting challenge, though I am leaning towards trying to participate. The hardest part of this endeavour isn't the technical aspects of podcasting, but the creative elements.