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.

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