New Models Podcast_
Caroline Busta had a career in print magazine publishing in New York and Berlin before launching New Models - an online, progressive news platform dedicated to exploring the complexity of current affairs and culture in a changing digital landscape. Part-original-news-source, part-aggregator, Caroline - together with collaborators Daniel Keller and @LILINTERNET - present New Models Podcast, a central component of the platform’s offering. In a conversation with Caroline, we hear the story of a group committed to challenging the way we receive and consume information in modern times.
What made you decide to start New Models? It was conceived during the “weirdening" of 2016 and 2017, when it seemed like the online space had really started to dictate the terms of real-life events, rather than the other way around.
I was working as the editor of a print-based art journal, however there was a growing disconnect between the pace of that publication and the way that discourse were circulating online through things like 4chan and memes. It felt like print was no longer a necessary vehicle for new information; but the idea of a magazine being something that gives context to a set of terms, styles, codes, and ideas that centre a community, seemed more important than ever.
“It felt like print was no longer a necessary vehicle for new information; but the idea of a magazine being something that gives context to a set of terms, styles, codes, and ideas that centre a community, seemed more important than ever.“
Can you outline how the platform works? At the core of New Models is the aggregator page, it features links to articles we feel are relevant to our community. The articles are selected by hand, based on tips sent in by users and daily scanning by New Models' core team. The page evolves at a human pace with a few new articles each day. Most links remain up for around a week, and after that everything is accessible in reverse-chronological order via our archive.
That immediately sounds very different to the fast-paced, digital approach employed by most editorial platforms. Yes, as a writer in 2019, it’s easier than ever to be published, but the challenge is for what one publishes to be seen, or to linger long enough on social channels to be read by the target reader.
I wanted to create an online vehicle for amplifying good articles and for allowing them to appear in the company of other related takes. This process of sifting through the news naturally lent itself to debating the news, and recording those debates in the form of a podcast.
How did you go about setting up the podcast? My partner @LILINTERNET has a background in music production and Daniel [Keller] had a backlog of original research he wanted to air. LILINTERNET ordered a bunch of cheap equipment from Shenzhen and organised a very basic set-up. We started out using the storeroom of our friend's techno label as a recording studio but they moved so now we just use our dinner table, which actually works really well!
Why does the podcast work as a medium? I think there’s a few reasons, podcasts provide humanising context; you can convey a higher degree of nuance through voice, you can convey irony and humour, but also the position of the speaker, whether they are young or old or nervous or confident, where they come from, it’s all information that gives a depth to their words which text alone cannot.
Podcasts allows issues to be addressed with complexity. So not only does each individual come across as a complete subject, but their arguments can be tested out and explored over a period of time among a group of speakers. As a listener, you get to hear risky lines get checked and status quo upended in real time, without the intervention of the tone police or trolls.
There’s this para-social relationship between the host and the listener. Thanks to the individuating forces of social media, and over 30 years of neoliberal economic policy, our sense of real-world community has been diminished, and so it’s almost like podcasts provide the sound of friends. I guess zines and radio shows have long-served a similar purpose. Hearing and reading people discuss issues relevant to your world in plain language, in a relatable way, has always been appealing, and even more so now.
Oh, and podcasts free listeners from the screen.
“If the writer's challenge is now not to be published but to be read, then the reader's challenge is not just access to information but access to the particular information they actually need, and finding quality stuff to read today is labour.“
For the user, is New Models feels like a reaction against the perception of increased choice on the internet. If the writer's challenge is now not to be published but to be read, then the reader's challenge is not just access to information but access to the particular information they actually need, and finding quality stuff to read today is labour.
So we aim to provide some filtration. New Models isn't for everyone, just like a particular music scene isn't for everyone. But for those who identify with the frame we offer, we want to be a useful filtration service. The logic here is sort of like how, in the days before peer-2-peer file sharing, the cities with the most interesting music scenes usually had at least one really good record store.
Vote for New Models Podcast if you want to hear more from them. Each of the Curators selections with the most votes will receive further exposure, a mentoring session with one of the curators and the opportunity to create a podcast that shares their own story.
Holly Herndon, Berlin-based electronic composer and musician on New Models Podcast