Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Topics for Episodes 1 and 2

While the podcast is unscripted, that doesn't mean there is no structure. Each episode, we will have 1-2 topics we have agreed to explore, whether we have a special guest or not. The moderator's job is to let the conversation wander into creative areas, but not go totally off into the weeds. Nothing is strictly off limits, so long as there is a logical connection to our focus.

Episode 1

For episode 1, the topic is cutting edge physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. This would include subjects like gravity waves, dark matter, cosmic inflation, multiverses, and so on.

Episode 2

For episode 2, the subject will be distributed trust, the future of peer-to-peer, and of course, crypto currencies. We've all heard of Bitcoin, but how many of us know what it is? Did you know there are other crytocurrencies out there is well? What is going on with that, and where is it head in the future?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Becoming a host

Here are roughly the steps. Any questions?
  1. Figure out how to record a hangout, or find another panelist who can do it for you. We will work up some detailed instructions for Mac soon, not sure about Windows or other platforms yet. Mix minus approaches will work on any platform, but you will need a mixer, and a digital recorder like a Zoom helps too. If you can't do any recording, then we will use a Hangout on Air, and let Google record it for us. Set up a plan for Hangout on Air, and invite the entire community to watch.
  2. Work with everyone else to generate a list of invitees and get deeply involved in topic discussions. Track the invitees responses, and make sure they know how to find the hangout.
  3. Be ready and checked out when the recording hangout starts. Start the hangout, invite the panelists in to the green room. Get everyone else settled in, and start recording. 
  4. Make sure everyone gets involved, and everyone gets their questions asked. If the discussion wanders into an area that stimulates interest, let it keep going. Otherwise, move it back on track. Let it go for at least an hour.
  5. Cut off the hangout, roughly level the audio, render it to a mono .wav file, zip the .wav file, and upload it to a designated folder, and send a link to the YouTube video to the producer. The producer will handle the post-production and posting.
  6. Submit a list of links and other material for the show notes.

Friday, March 27, 2015

You can join the panel pool at any time

To join, go over to the G+ community and request to join, or send us an e-mail (unseenpodcast (at) gee-mail) from the address you use to log into Google, and I will send you an invite. People who join now will receive a save-the date invitation starting early May.

If at any time you decide that's enough for you, just send another e-mail and we'll take you out of the pool.

For each Episode, there will be a new topics thread started in the G+ community. Contributing actively in that thread will help get you invited back more often. Also, contributing funds, volunteering to guest host, strong participating in an episode, or helping us find and schedule special guests will also make you a more frequent panelist.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

the Panel for Episode 1 is largely formed

The panel for each episode will be announced during the Episode, however, I am pleased that Dr. Ben Tippett of the Titanium Physicists podcast plans to join us. We will focus the episode on cutting edge science, and in particular, physics. If you have questions for Ben, get them in by commenting here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Submission to iTunes

We will be on iTunes sooner rather than later, but we will probably wait until we have 2-3 episodes out and the logo art ready. Probably around the latter part of April. Until then, you can come here to find out how to listen to the podcast - I promise it will be easy. Tell us what pod catcher you use, and we'll have instructions.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Watch this space on April 4th

We will announce the RSS feed URL as well as where you can direct download episode 1. With the RSS feed, you can subscribe to the podcast with just about any pod catcher.

Friday, March 20, 2015

What you need to participate

The Unseen Podcast is an open participation podcast - we want it to be possible for anyone who speaks English and is connected to the internet to participate. Expensive audio gear is not a requirement, and in fact will just get in your way unless you really know what you are doing. What we want you to focus on is the discussion itself, and the content you are bringing to it.


You obviously already have access to a computer if you are reading this, so we'll skip that. Almost any reasonably modern computer will do. I use a four year old MacBook Air, and it works just fine. See software below for what you will need to run on it. If you use a mobile device for the Hangout, please try to do it over WiFi.

You do not really need a webcam, but if you use one that is OK.

You will need a cheap pair of headphones or earbuds. Please do no use your computer speakers.

Ideally, you will not your computer's internal mic, since most of them sound awful. Unless you have access to a studio, please use a dynamic mic (if you have a studio, you don't need me to tell you what mic to use). There are quite a few dynamic mics on the market (I own two ATR 2100s from Audio Technica) for well under $100, and many of these plug straight into your computer's USB port. Pop screens and shock mounts are not expensive and can help quite a bit. you will probably want a desk stand or arm to hold the mic for you. 


You will need to be able to access Google Hangouts. You can probably use any of the popular browsers. Just log into G+, click on Events, and click "Join Hangout" when the hangout time comes up. That is it. Unless you are the host/moderator, you do NOT need to record the hangout. If you do need to record the hangout, we'll provide further support.

To listen to the podcast after it comes out the next day, just use your favorite pod catcher. Many people use iTunes for this, and we will be available on iTunes. I recommend PocketCasts for Android, but there are many others.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A small amendment for participants

The invitations you will receive at record date - 2 weeks will not be for the hangout.  It will just be an event. The hangout invitations will go out to those who RSVP "Yes" and possibly "Maybe" about 1 day before recording.  If you use a Google calendar, it will automatically tie you a link to the hangout when it starts.

The first 5-10 minutes will be setup, and then we will record for no more than 60 minutes. The time constraint will be to save space on the hosting service, as well as to not try our listener's patience over much. At about 55 minutes in, we will start wrapping up.

If you are going to be a late arrival, let me know and I will save space for you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How this is going to work

First, join the Google+ Community or the podcast. If you haven't already received an invitation, send me an e-mail telling me something about yourself, what time zone you live in, and your availability to participate. In addition to special guests, the panel for each show will be selected from community members.

You should receive an invitation about two weeks before the show. Please RSVP to this invitation ASAP. If you can't make it, an invite will be sent out to a replacement panelist. The number of people invited will vary from week to week. The times will also vary, as we try to include panelists from Europe or the West Coast.

On the night of the show, just go to the event in the community and click "join hangout." The host will go around and introduce the panel, then off we go.


  • Please come prepared to talk about, or at least ask cogent questions about, something relevant. We will discuss broad topic areas in the community the week before the show (your chance to chime in and shape things). 
  • We'll keep things at the "Scientific American" level - that is, no specialized knowledge is assumed, but a good general background - an educated listener. If we use a bit of jargon, we need to explain it at least briefly.
  • The discussion is unscripted, and there is no rule that says we have to hit all the topics. Creative tangents are fine, going off the rails into a swamp of distractions is not. It will be the host/moderator's job to recognize the difference and move things back onto topic when necessary.
  • If you are new to the show, please think through a quick, 20-30 second self-introduction. You might want to rehearse it mentally once or twice. When I say, "[your name], who is [your name]?", that is your cue to hold forth with that.
  • Sometimes we may have special content. I will explain when the time comes.
  • The podcast will be unedited. Seriously. Don't say anything you might regret.
  • The podcast will be distributed under Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike.

What will get you invited back more often:

  • Contributing to the Community.
  • Showing up in the first five minutes or so (we will start recording about 5 minutes in).
  • RSVPing even when you can't make that session.
  • Coming well prepared to discuss the topics at hand
  • Contributing thoughtfully and backing up your assertions with evidence and literature.
  • Encouraging other people on the panel to speak up.
  • Asking questions
  • Admitting when you don't know
  • Being civil to everyone, even when there are sharp disagreements.
  • Contributing to the show notes (due right after the show)
  • saying something funny.
  • Staying until the end.
  • Volunteering to look something up and get back to us.
  • Volunteering to guest host.
  • Sounding OK.
  • Sly references.

What will get you invited back less often

  • failing to RSVP
  • RSVPing "yes" and then failing to show up.
  • interrupting people, or attempting to dominate the conversation
  • being rude, offensive or bullying to other panelists
  • sounding like crap
  • dogmatic assertions or denials without supporting evidence
  • Not contributing

A few technical points

  • best not to use the mobile Hangout apps. They're not very stable. hopefully, this will improve.
  • If you have limited bandwidth, turn off your camera. We're only recording the audio.
  • please use earbuds or headphones. This helps prevent echo. The video isn't being recorded (at least, not yet), so it doesn't matter how dorky your headphones make you look.
  • If possible, please use a decent USB or analog mic instead of your computer's internal mic. These can be had for well under $100. Audio Technica, among others, make good cheap mics. If possible, you should use a dynamic mic instead of condenser, unless you are in a studio.
  • Please turn off or mitigate noise sources in your environment as much as possible (fans, TVs, etc.). Mute your mic when not talking.