Streaming Philosophy

Live streaming philosophy continues the conversation.

It is likely that Grassroots Philosophy will cease meeting in-person in August 2019. However, this doesn’t have to be the end. Starting in June, GRP will begin live streaming philosophical discussion and text analysis on Twitch and posting recap videos on Youtube.

What exactly does this mean? And how would this work? Admittedly, streaming philosophy is a clear departure from the online gaming Twitch is known for. Yet it has a robust Just Chatting section, with hundreds of streamers sharing their lives and thoughts online, receiving hundreds of thousands of viewers each day. No other philosophy stream is broadcast on Twitch. GRP broadcasts would be similar to current casual educational philosophy content like the successful podcast PhilosophizeThis. We’ll be adding video, allowing us to maintain a more realistic relationship in between the discussion participants, and a live chat feature.

Twitch is an interactive platform. While philosophy podcasts and animated videos do extremely well, viewers and listeners aren’t able to give real-time feedback or ask questions. Rather than philosophers talking to the community, they’re talking to each other. This may limit accessibility for many community members; philosophers no longer feel they need to explain difficult terms, fully defend certain positions, or expand on the historical environment – often taking the background as assumed knowledge. By discussing philosophical works and arguments in real-time with viewers, live streaming will hopefully further involve individuals in the conversation. They have an opportunity to have their own ideas tested against others’ claims.

The standard format will involve reading a philosophical work out loud and discussing its meanings and implications while taking notes and answering questions. Other streams will include interviews with professional philosophers and thoughtful community members, drinks and discussion, and multi-person discussions. As this experiment progresses, we’ll continue tweaking the format to benefit viewers.

Of course, this may not work. Moderating an online philosophy discussion may prove too taxing. The large degree of anonymity available to Twitch viewers allows them to bring up opinions not necessarily related to the subject at-hand. Individuals may choose to deliberately interfere with the discussion over and over again to get attention. To solve this, clear rules have been established at the start of each stream that prohibits topical political discussion and overt harmful discourse and encourages respect and thoughtful discussion. More practically, chat participants may be banned or have their messages deleted. As (if) the channel grows, a team of trusted moderators will be chosen to help monitor chat participants. Lastly, people may just not be interested in hearing about philosophy from me or put off by the format.

Still curious? Preview the channel at twitch.tv/grassroots_philosophy.

Written on June 15, 2019