Consensual cannibalism and other things I learned about in my digital history class

On Monday I returned from nearly a week at the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy conference. In one of the panels, a professor noted the blog The Partially Examined Life. During his talk, he specifically mentioned the podcast on Utilitarian Ethics: What Should We Do?, so on my delayed airport travels back to VT, I listened to that very strange episode. It is an exploration of the first five chapters of Jeremy Bentham’s An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, and Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”…those readings are all normal. The strangeness kicks in when the podcaster takes a deep dive into the idea of the greatest happiness principle and discusses gladiators, consensual cannibalism, and the ethics of illegal downloads.

Maybe now would be a good time to insert a quick personal preference: auditory products, for me, are not generally the most compelling things. The above podcast didn’t especially help me like them more. I rarely listen to podcasts outside of this class. I love visual and written products, but find it difficult to be persuaded, moved, or informed by auditory alone. This makes the podcast project’s audio piece an interesting challenge for me. I tend to zone out with podcasts, rather than be drawn in, and I have found myself wondering about ways I can address this personal tendency in the production of my own podcast. As with most writing, I found the process easier once I got into it. The hardest part is sometimes just starting it. I was a little confused by the mismatch in page numbers with word count in the assignment. I love the process of writing where I get to cull through a bunch of data and sources to find the best pieces of information or most interesting quotes. Organizing this information is one of my favorite challenges. I often prefer academic and wonkier writing as well as lyrical and very abstract writing, so keeping this grounded, clear, accessible, and concise is important. I am not good with catchy titles nor transitions in writing or in speaking. Sometimes I can hide this in my writing, but it often seems very stark and obvious in oral communication, so I will likely have to do several rounds of edits to help my podcast flow better from area to area. Finally, I’m not tech savvy and haven’t explored audio equipment in the past, so I anticipate that will present me new challenges as I finish recording and editing the complete podcast.

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