So what's my absolute favorite thing about these creator-distributed podcast times that we live in? You might think it's the chance to learn all about new indie-rock music, since I do a monthly podcast episode here myself about the subject; but in fact, the thing I like the most is the chance to listen to a growing amount of nerdy wonky policy-obsessed lectures on political and cultural subjects, without having to actually physically attend the lecture itself. After all, there are more groups than ever sponsoring series of smart public lectures on all kinds of intellectual subjects, nonprofits and educational institutions and tech conferences and the like; it's just that it's hard for most of us to travel to that lecture, afford that tech conference, which is why before now such speeches have had only a limited impact.
Take for example the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, which has a fascinating history: Originally called the Church Peace Union, it was started in the early 20th century by Andrew Carnegie, one of the infamous Industrial-Age "robber barons" of the unregulated 1800s who then felt guilty over all the money he made, funding a series of educational programs and public resources, many of which still exist and thrive to this day. The non-partisan thinktank has a simple mission, to sponsor a series of essays from a series of intellectuals on the subject of ethics and politics, and especially how it's applied to the global days we live in; they then distribute these essays through a publication and live events, and in just the last few years have decided that a free podcast of these events is yet another appropriate part of that mission.
It essentially lets me sit in on all the sessions the Council sponsors, a good lecture a week or so, learning just a whole slew of fascinating information and insights into international affairs that I didn't know before; recent episodes, for example, have dealt with how a peaceful permanent resolution could possibly be brought about between Russia and Georgia, and why Bush was right to try to spread democracy throughout the world, just went at it in such a horrible, horrible way. Such lecture series are more important than ever, I think, as it becomes clearer and clearer that Americans simply aren't going to get a good education on these issues from the usual sources; that Americans must literally go and seek out this kind of information, if they want to be reasonably sophisticated in their knowledge of world affairs, a yearning in fact that more and more Americans are precisely having these days. You can stop by the official Carnegie website for their podcast's RSS feed, or simply search for them in the iTunes Store; and in fact, you can find a whole series of interesting lecture series as podcasts now at iTunes, something I encourage you to check out if you're ever over there.