Hobby Horse

Interviews that go elsewhere

Lessons from the first week

First episode down, another recording in the can (will be edited and posted this week) and so far I feel like there is lots of room for improvement while the show gets its legs.

In my mind, there were some problems on the Kottke interview:

  • I started with a 5min monologue when people just wanted to hear Jason. If I ever talk before an interview in the future, I'll try and keep it to 30-60sec max.
  • We didn't do a solid intro, so the interview also started with me talking for another couple minutes before Jason got to speak (I cut a quick welcome part)
  • We got a little too bogged down in details about the game in the middle. Unless you've played the game, and even then played it to the higher 40th-50th levels, there's probably 5-10min that don't make sense.
  • The bit about anxiety was the goldmine, and future interviews should focus on why people do their other projects instead of just about the other projects.

I've recorded the second episode, but I hadn't edited the first yet and I think it'll take a few more interviews before I hit a stride on how to structure the interviews to get subjects to talk about their feelings about their work more than the work itself.

I'm also working on how to describe the "boundaries" of the podcast, maybe some quick rules on considering future interview subjects:

  • "hobby horse" is maybe a little patronizing if someone's side thing is politically or civically important, hopefully, it becomes clear it's kind of a silly title not meant to judge subjects
  • describing subject matter as someone's "obsession" is too limited, and kind of induces judgment and can have negative connotations. I prefer to think of things as hobbies, side projects, passions, collections, and things people are deeply interested in, and those don't necessarily need to be at the level of "obsession"
  • Interview subject matter should never be othering a person. Don't interview people about their race or children or illness as the sole focus.
  • Most of the ~25 people I have on a list of future episodes are doing things I like and enjoy, but a handful are doing things I openly dislike (mostly personal preferences). I need to figure out ways to structure an interview that isn't completely "convince me why I should like the things you like" and more letting them talk about what and why they like something.
  • I'm going to have to find a balance between "tell me about the thing you do" and "tell me why you do the thing you do" that'll probably stress more of the latter.