Pods & Play: The Work Plan

Another exciting project I’ll be working on this semester is – at last! -researching and developing the Seize the Play podcast! I’m taking this project on as a CMAP Directed Study for the semester. Our class meets weekly to share updates, give critiques, …and basically act as a commitment device for staying on track.

Part of my coursework will be to post regular ‘journal entries’ about the project. But this isn’t one of those. I’m not there yet.

First thing first has been to develop a well-thought out work plan that gives me structured assignments throughout the semester. Creating my own syllabus felt weird at first. Trying to create a workload that struck a balance between being meaningful yet manageable was tough. It helped to clearly set out my intended goals and write out precisely what all I need to do and learn to get there.

Presented below is my current Work Plan (and HERE is a link to a much prettier Google Doc – the weekly plan is even color-coded)! The work is clearly divided into three sections: research, skill building, and production. While the research and skill building parts are pretty set in stone, I’ve left the production section fairly flexible to account for the fact that I can’t know my production schedule yet – setting up interviews and figuring out those last weeks will be a part of the process itself.

Seize the Play Work Plan

  1. Topic & Background: I will be researching and producing a podcast that will explore various ways in which people embrace the concept of play in their lives. I’m particularly interested in those who have made play a central aspect of their professional or lifelong aspirations. Whether they’re performers, artists, athletes, researchers, designers, my goal is to educate and entertain people by introducing them to the fascinating lives of people pursuing these passions. I’m also interested in exploring the sorts of communities that arise from these forms of play as well. My overall hope is to inspire listeners to embrace play as an important and meaningful part of our lives.
  2. Goals and Objectives: The final product of this class will be the first fully edited episode of my podcast (or two, depending on the length and depth that I decide on). Between now and then there are three core areas of work that I’ll need to carry out:
    1. Research on Play: While each episode will highlight a distinct form of play, I want to dive into the research of play itself. The philosophical term is ‘ludology’, and is the glue that holds all of these subjects together for my purposes. I want to identify and accustom myself with a number of theoretical frameworks surrounding play that I can explore in new ways throughout the episodes.
    2. Format and Design: I want to study similar podcasts to decide what structure and format I want to use. I also need to study how to create high quality content: I need to learn interviewing skills, how to plan and prepare for each episode, and how to present the material I collect in an engaging, digestible format.
    3. Technical Skills: I need to learn how to create this form of media! This will cover every aspect of the production and distribution process from equipment, software, editing techniques, hosting and distribution, and social media sharing.
  3. Core Project Questions: Here are the three core questions that I hope to examine:
    1. What benefits can being playful hold, personally or societally? And what risks?
    2. What are some interesting ways that people are engaging in playful endeavors, and/or encouraging others to be more playful. And why?
    3. How can play be used for good?
  4. Readings/Media: Here are some key works that cover my three core goals.
    1. Research on Play: This list of books comes from a mix of Eric Gordon’s recommendations, MIT’s Playful Thinking series, and my own outside research.
      1. Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
      2. Play Matters by Miguel Sicart
      3. The Grasshopper by Bernard Suits
      4. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown
      5. Selected essays from Rules of Play by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman
    2. Format and Design: This will involve listening and critiquing various podcasts, reading articles on podcast critiques, and learning about interview skills and effective storytelling.
      1. Podcasts to explore
        • RadioLab (science and philosophy; high rated)
        • This American Life (storytelling, high rated)
        • Back to Work (productivity and work)
        • 99% Invisible (design; high rated)
        • The Dice Tower (games)
        • Nerf This (esports)
        • Ludology (board games)
        • Tell Me Something I Don’t Know (creative variety)
        • Freakonomics Radio (behavioral economics)
        • The Tim Ferriss Show (long-form interviews)
      2. Interview skills and effective storytelling
        • Online research: Goal will be to create a guide
        • (This is also covered in the Lynda.com Podcast course)
    3. Technical Skills: Learning sound editing software, equipment to use, how to ensure good sound quality both in person and over voice calls, etc.
      1. Producing Professional Podcasts” course by Richard Harrington (5 hour course)
      2. Further online research and guide creation for myself on topics of equipment, software and studio.
      3. Visiting and joining the Podcast Garage in Brighton + attending events/classes there.
  5. Deliverables:
    • A paper or presentation on ludology and the value of play
    • A written guide on effective strategies on interviewing and prep research
    • A design document clearly detailing the podcast’s expected format, style, and length
    • A set of final technical specifications for equipment, software, and methods of sharing the podcast
    • A sample audio production / test interview
    • A list of main topics of interest as well as specific guests to approach
    • Finished production of 1-2 episodes of the podcast
  6. Challenges to Completion:
    1. Setting up interviews: finding time, space and working around schedules.
    2. Balancing breadth and depth: It could be easy to fall down rabbit holes of play theory and/or specific episode topics.
    3. Balancing research, pre-production, and post-production: Measuring when to actually begin production vs. continuing to develop my vision and researching how to create an actually engaging product.
  7. Weekly Schedule:

 

WEEK # ASSIGNED READING/WATCHING/LISTENING ASSIGNED DELIVERABLE
Week 1

(1/17)

<Group Assigned Readings>
Week 2

(1/24)

<Group Assigned Readings> Work Plan Draft

Inspiration Presentation

Week 3

(1/31)

<Group Assigned Readings>

Homo Ludens, Huizinga

Analyze two listed Podcasts

Revised work plans with dates for presentations, deliverables, and content
Week 4

(2/7)

The Grasshopper, Suits

Reach out to Podcast Garage

Analyze two listed Podcasts

Week 5

2/14)

Play Matters, Sicart

Analyze two listed Podcasts

Journal #1: Play & Pods
Week 6

(2/21)

Play, Brown

Rules of Play, Salen+Zimmerman

Journal #2: Play & Pods
Week 7

(2/28)

Begin Producing Professional Podcasts course

Analyze two listed Podcasts

Process Presentation: Ludology & Top Topics
(3/7) Finish PPP course

Analyze two listed Podcasts

SPRING BREAK
Week 8

(3/14)

Research interview tactics

Research audio storytelling

Reach out to top subjects

Technical specifications

(hopefully w/ EC or PG)


List of top Subjects

Week 9

(3/21)

First topic research

[Create recording plan]

Journal #3: Interviewing & Storytelling
Week 10

(3/28)

Second topic research

[Finalize recording plan]

Journal #4: Full design doc
Week 11

(4/4)

<Production planning & interviewing> Sample Audio Production
Week 12

(4/11)

<Production planning, interviewing & editing>

Presenters’ readings

Journal #5: Audio Journal
(4/18) <Production planning,  interviewing, & editing> NO CLASS
Week 13

(4/25)

Presenters’ readings Product Presentation

Launch Day!

Week 14

(5/2)

Sleep Final Directed Study Production Books Due

 

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