G’Day World “On The Pod” #56 – Noam Chomsky

How do you approach an interview with a man who has just been voted the world’s leading intellectual and who you have admired from a distance for a large part of your life?

Well, I decided to aim for an audio Chomsky primer. A Chomsky distiller. Rather than allow myself to ask him questions about current events, which will become dated and obscured by the mists of time a decade from now, I attempted to capture the over-arching themes of his political activism of the last 50 years and to explore the personal motivation behind his activism. I completely avoided his work in linguistics, which would have been completely over my head.

Of course – I failed. I’m not that good an interviewer and I didn’t have enough of his time to even begin to put 50 years of social activism into context. But you shoot for the stars, right?

So who is Noam Chomsky?

Here’s a mini-bio courtesy of Wikipedia:

Avram Noam Chomsky, Ph.D (born December 7, 1928) is the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, often considered the most significant contribution to the field of theoretical linguistics of the 20th century. He also helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior, which challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of mind and language dominant in the 1950s. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has also impacted the philosophy of language and mind (see Harman, Fodor). He is also credited with the establishment of the so-called Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power. Chomsky is also widely known for his political activism, and for his criticism of the foreign policy of the United States and other governments. Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist, a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism.

According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, between 1980 and 1992 Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any living scholar, and the eighth most cited source overall.

Bono of U2 called Chomsky a “rebel without a pause, the Elvis of academia.” Rage Against The Machine took copies of his books on tour with the band. Pearl Jam ran a small pirate radio on one of their tours, playing Chomsky talks mixed along with their music. R.E.M. asked Chomsky to go on tour with them and open their concerts with a lecture (he declined).

However, he is also one of the most reviled people in America. Google Chomsky and you will find plenty of articles and sites dedicated to besmirching his reputation. He’s called the “Ayatollah of Anti-American Hate” and “the most treacherous intellect in America”. Wikipedia has a whole section devoted to criticisms of his work and of him as an individual. The far right hate him for questioning American foreign policy and for suggesting that American imperialism is alive and well. The far left despise him for not being left enough. The mainstream media ignore him for reasons best understood by themselves (you wouldn’t want to get in the way of people watching Reality TV, right?). The intellectuals hate him for questioning their silence.

Outside of America he is considered one of the few voices who have had the bravery and stamina to publicly question his country’s behaviour, day after day, year after year, for 50 years.

Whether you agree with his positions or not, this is a man who has devoted a large part of his life to truth and justice and is considered by many to be the world’s leading thinker.


The G’Day World Theme Song is Save Me by The Napoleon Blown Aparts.


G’Day World “On The Pod” #55 – Mena Trott, Jackie Huba and Steve Rubel at BlogOn2005

Last week while I was at BlogOn2005 in NYC, I had the great privilege to sit around a table with three of the world’s most admired and read bloggers:

> Mena Trott, president and co-founder of Six Apart, the company behind Typepad and Moveable Type.

> Jackie Huba, who, with her partner Ben McConnell, wrote a terrific book “Creating Customer Evangelists” and runs the Church Of The Customer blog.

> Steve Rubel, Vice President, Client Services at CooperKatz and Company, a mid-size PR firm in midtown New York City, and the guy behind the well-read Micro Persuasion weblog.

We started the chat by following on from the panel that Steve moderated where he asked the question “what does ‘markets are conversations’ really mean?” and then got into a general discussion about the current state of blogging.

Listen closely for the moment when Steve made us all go misty eyed. It was a beautiful moment and not one that I want to trivialize at all, because it’s actually quite a powerful idea.


G’Day World “On The Pod” #54 – Rod Adams

Rod Adams is based in Maryland in the United States. He founded Adams Atomic Engines in 1993 to design and market nuclear powered gas turbines.

I chatted with him recently about the safety of atomic energy vs fossil fuels. Some of the stuff he has to say might challenge your current perceptions.

This show was recorded using Skylook, the awesome cool plug-in for Microsoft Outlook, based in Melbourne Australia.

Oh and if you hadn’t noticed… it was sponsored by our very good friends at MOTOROLA.

G’Day World “On The Pod” #53 – Michael F.

Michael F.
runs the Teen Podcast Network (the other TPN).

He’s 14.

That’s all I’m going to say.

Oh, except for this…. this show was recorded using Skylook, the awesome cool plug-in for Microsoft Outlook, based in Melbourne Australia.

G’Day World “On The Pod” #52 – Dave Slusher

Dave Slusher talks to me about his role in the VERY early days of podcasting and explains why his site is called EVIL GENIUS CHRONICLES.

We chat quite a lot about the directions, good, bad and ugly, that citizen media is going in. He also let’s me know what he thinks about TPN!

If you want to hear Dave’s thoughts on our chat POST the discussion, check out his podcast on it here.

Oh, and by the way, this show was recorded using Skylook, the awesome cool plug-in for Microsoft Outlook, based in Melbourne Australia.