An experiment with personalized podcasts

by on July 24, 2007 at 7:23 am in Books | Permalink

Lately I’ve been intrigued with the idea of individualized uses of mass communication technologies.  Imagine if they made an episode of Seinfeld tailored for your personal consumption.

So I’d l like to try an experiment. I will make a podcast — a personalized podcast — just for you.

You can ask me anything you want, and I’ll try my best to answer the question.

I believe this will be fun for me.  But to give it a chance of being fun, I need a principle of rationing.

So if you want the podcast, pre-order my Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist.  The Amazon link is here, Barnes&Noble is here.

There are a few simple rules:

1. Write me at that you have pre-ordered.  You must pre-order (and write me) before 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, July 26.

2. We again use the honor system.  Last time I was amazed how many people submitted proof of purchase voluntarily, without my even asking. 

3. When you write to me, include your question.  Only one question per purchase.

4. I’ll write you back with a link to the personalized podcast.  If I can’t answer or at least address your question (e.g., "Who is the mightiest tailor in the Ukraine, and why?"), I’ll let you know and you can try another question.

5. The offer of the secret blog has expired, you get only the podcast.

What if I’ve already pre-ordered?  Don’t worry. 

One option is to order another copy.  But I don’t wish to penalize lovers of secret blogs (I’m one myself).  A second and cheaper option is to review the book on either or Barnes&  If you have already pre-ordered and you write a review within three weeks of publication date (Aug.2, so that’s Aug.23), at the right time just send me a copy of the review along with your podcast question.  I’ll record these additional podcasts later in August.  That way you’ll have both a secret blog and a personalized podcast.

When will I get my podcast?  I have blocked off several days this week to do nothing but record your podcasts.  Call me crazy but I’m quite looking forward to it.  (Since I’ve blogged every day for four years, perhaps you’ll believe I am an outlier.)  We’ll see how long the process takes, but if you wish to be early in the queue, pre-order and write in now.  I’ll answer questions in the order I receive them.

How long will my podcast be?  That depends on your question.  But I envision my answers as roughly comparable to the answer I would give a good friend over dinner.

What can I do with my podcast?  You can link to it, send it to your friends, or disseminate it as you wish. 

I do want to receive your interesting questions and even your silly questions.  But impossible questions involving paradoxes of self-reference will be returned automatically.  And when it comes to the Newcomb problem, let me tell you right now, the cautious Tyler is taking only one box…

1 Gretchen Rubin July 24, 2007 at 9:20 am

Zoikes, I can’t wait to get my hands on your book. It sounds fascinating — what a subtitle. And I’m interested to see how your inimitable blog style translates onto old-fashioned paper.

2 eddie July 24, 2007 at 10:15 am

“What is the answer to an impossible question that your automated impossible question detector can neither pass on to you nor reject?”

3 Tyler Cowen July 24, 2007 at 10:17 am

The median length really depends on the question…I will treat it like an interview, but without a page or TV time constraint. Obviously the more I know, the more I will have to say. I will try my best to have satisfied listeners.

4 Dirk Gently July 24, 2007 at 11:27 am

Is the secret blog gone forever?

5 Person July 24, 2007 at 11:44 am

What if I’m willing to pay for your podcast answer to a question, but don’t want to buy your book? Could we
work out a Pareto-improvement whereby I pay you a little more than the value you attach to another book
sale, for the podcast? Do you have a price in mind for this?

6 Thief July 24, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Order placed. Question on its way.

But if you answer it with “just buy my book!” I’m canceling my pre-order. 😉

7 Tyler Cowen July 24, 2007 at 2:05 pm

Let me just say, you people have some mighty complicated questions. But that’s fine…

8 eddie July 25, 2007 at 8:48 am

Apparently my self-referential-question-detector-defeating self-referential question crashed Tyler’s blog last night. Sorry about that.

9 p July 28, 2007 at 11:47 pm

Fascinating. The arsenal of silly tricks to promote your book has actually broken through my generally strong defense mechanisms against advertising and I have added your book to my wish list at Amazon. Well done.

I was surprised at your decision to use the honor method, but that is turning out to be the most interesting aspect of all this.

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