By creating a podcast you make up for the “lost” time

REPORT

How can you talk about podcasts while making a podcast? What is time and what does it mean to lose it? Can technology help us to make up for the lost time? Is there really lost and won time? Even if the questions above seem too philosophical, the truth is that we collide with them in daily life, in which we seem to be running and not getting there or, maybe, ultimately it doesn’t only look that way but it essentially is.

During the event entitled “I'm always running and I can't catch up”, organized by the Heinrich Boell Foundation – Thessaloniki Office on March 14, 2024 at “Pikap” café-bar, Maro Pantazidou and Antonis Faras talked about the lack of free time, exhausting working rates, anxiety deriving from time that goes by and also about technology as social and political issues. The discussion was held on the occasion of the participation in the 26th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival, which was taking place at the time, of the two episodes of two podcast series, “Losing Time – One week before the future of work” by Maro Pantazidou and Paris Selinas and “TechTalk” by the technological cooperative Sociality, in collaboration with the research collective Open Lab Athens.

The creators of the two podcasts recorded their discussion, a thought-sharing process with observations and questions with the audience, a process which in turn co-created a new live podcast. The discussion was later followed by a two-hour dj set by Pale Penguin, including songs directly related to the issues discussed.

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Maro Pantazidou and Antonis Faras are recording a live podcast during the event.

But let us see what it means to make a podcast about podcasting or, as Antonis commented, a podcast within two others – what really drove Antonis and Maro to do something like that.

“We wanted to waste a little bit of time in a different way. One of my motives was to look behind the ‘I can’t make it on time’, ‘I am too tired and can’t handle it anymore’, says Maro from Pikap’s loft, starting the discussion and having the rec button already pressed.

Maro addresses the audience asking “How many of you can’t make it on time” and a lot of hands are raised. One of the goals of the podcast series “Losing Time – One week before the future of work” was precisely that collective dealing with our everyday experiences which show our struggling with time management, as well as the quest for ways of experiencing time differently. “This is how we started the podcast series with Paris and other friends and we finally found the time!”, he noted.

 

 


►playlist

Listen below the playlist of dj Pale Penguin on Spotify, with tracks related to time, work, and technology, specially made for the night of the event: 

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The microphone was then passed to Antonis who, while talking about the podcast “TechTalk”, revealed that it took him more time than he expected… “This, however, was the most interesting feeling: a lot of times you take things up and you don’t even realise how much time of work is required or how you must distribute it evenly through the day”, he added, stressing that the podcast itself was a good lesson for this, as well. Antonis also addressed the audience advising them to make a podcast to understand not only how they can manage time but also their voice!

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Maro and Antonis pose questions to each other

Since the event was unfolding under the supervision of the podcasts’ creators who were recording a new one at the same time, Maro was asking Antonis and Antonis was asking Maro, digging deeper into the issues of time and technology.

Maro: How did you deal with technology?

“My first contact with technology when I get up is my cell-phone”, someone said, and then we asked him: “You don’t go to the toilet unless you ’ve used your mobile phone?”. The cistern, the lights and all that stuff made us wonder what constitutes technology in our everyday living.

Antonis: We decided to do something different, to use a way called speculative design. We worked together with the colleagues from Open Lab Athens and we tried to plan some scenarios with hypothetical days and activities, throughout which we were asking people, who were coming to the workshops to create the podcast, to take a stand. Some of them were too futuristic: we were asking what would happen if we woke up the next day and didn’t have Internet. However, another question we posed was asking people to describe us their daily use of technology: from the moment we wake up in the morning until going to sleep at night. We then realized something very interesting, far from the fact of how every person consumes different type of technology during the day. “My first contact with technology when I get up is my cell-phone”, someone said, and then we asked him: “You don’t go to the toilet unless you ’ve used your mobile phone?”. The cistern, the lights and all that stuff made us wonder what constitutes technology in our everyday living.

 


►video

Watch below a short video with snapshots capturing the event’s atmosphere:

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Maro: At the end of the day, can technologies save us time?

Antonis: This is the one-million-dollar question! It depends. A designer came to a workshop and was explaining to us the tools that no longer exist. “I was dealing with difficult tasks before but now I am taking them up easier, however, on the other side, I’m not getting any sleep because more things are required. Once I was confident in executing a certain part of the job while now it is required from people to know every work stage”. We have been discussing this among us and we concluded that there is quite a tendency when technology pace is increasing, work rates related to technology to grow more – this is the point where I think we are the little hamster running in the wheel…

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During the event, the audience participated through technological mediation as well, replying to Maro’s and Antonis’ questions which were to be found around in the form of little pieces of paper with QR codes. Some of the questions were “what technology or device saves you time?” (among the choices were the microwave oven and the refrigerator, the cell-phone, the robot vacuum cleaner) and “on which day of the week you can manage your time better?”.

Where are we in the timeline?

The time of the event was probably not evolving in a linear way, but Antonis kept asking Maro about the matter of time linearity.

According to Maro, in the podcast about time, she and Paris zoomed out and wondered about the current perception of time: how do we see time, how embedded and worn out are some time perceptions and up to what extent they are affecting our life.

“In the western world, in this age of late capitalism, we perceive time as something linear that has beginning, middle and end and we would like to show that this linearity creates losers and winners in society, life, even in the world stage”, she explained.

If I see time as a line and I think that I’m not at the point where I’m supposed to be according to the line, I feel that I’m a bit behind. The relationship of ‘I’m behind, I’m ahead’ on the timeline is being conveyed in wider social processes, namely it is a way of considering that a community or an entire nation is not as evolved as we are.

Maro and Paris examine from this perspective the way time creates segregation and social justice issues. Again, with Maro’s words: “If I see time as a line and I think that I’m not at the point where I’m supposed to be according to the line, I feel that I’m a bit behind. The relationship of ‘I’m behind, I’m ahead’ on the timeline is being conveyed in wider social processes, namely it is a way of considering that a community or an entire nation is not as evolved as we are. This discussion relates to more geopolitical issues, that touch colοnialism. In a socio-personal level we also know that it is difficult to stay behind, and in a political level it is highly problematic to consider that entire nations stay behind. We rarely though understand that time linearity, covered as a way of thinking and as an ideology is the reason creating these situations and thoughts”.

The issue of time linearity was employed in the same way in the technology podcast. As Antonis explained, “there is a theory called technological determinism: technology is essentially pushing societies forward in a line of progress, and what is actually happening is that every new technology increases social prosperity and has better results for people’s lives, while in reality we see that this is not the case”. Antonis brought as an example the series’ episode that focuses on gender and technology and especially gender and reproductive rights. “We then discussed about the book ‘Elusive motherhood’ from Eliana Kanaveli and Aliki Kosifologou, and Eliana told us that assisted reproductive technologies have largely developed. However, this does not mean that motherhood is getting easier for women. Social enforcement rather becomes more intensive, keeping up with the logic ‘come on then, in years gone by, you should have a child, there is technology that can help’ ”.

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Is time management a collective or a personal matter?

Going back to the event’s title, the discussion focused on the separation between work and non-work time, on their relationship and the way this separation, combined with technological development, is affecting our psychology and our existence, namely matters also dealt in the respective podcast.

Work tools are transferred to cell-phones and the differentiation between free time and work time is getting difficult or even impossible. In that way, a new generation is being created, or rather, a new sociality of ‘always on’, where the dot in our apps (messenger etc.) is always green

The “I'm always running and I can't catch up” is definitely not a personal but a collective problem. Grabbing the chance from the feminist say that “personal is political”, Maro referred to how young people are forced to have more than one jobs in order to survive, something that results into greater time fragmentation. Actually, this is a result, as she said, of the lack of community and state infrastructure on care services that lead in a bigger creation of duties. At the same time, the internalization of the prescript of time to always be productive, to take us further and to abolish the right to laziness. In fact, in an episode of this series they discuss about modern stress, the “weekend’s anxiety”, namely the anxiety we wake up with on Saturday mornings (those of us who don’t work) and the questions we pose to ourselves around free time management. We end up, like she said, wondering: “At the end of the day, is free time easier to manage compared to working days?”. Reflecting further upon this, Antonis presented the concept of “prosumer”, related to the question of free time or mandatory productive time. This concept has spread widely with the massive growth of social media, it connects the words “producer” and “consumer” and highlights the state where work tools are transferred to cell-phones and the differentiation between free time and work time is getting difficult or even impossible. As he pointed out, in that way “a new generation is being created, or rather, a new sociality of ‘always on’, where the dot in our apps (messenger etc.) is always green”. In fact, many times it is almost difficult to escape this condition because even if you try to disconnect from your apps, you might still appear as if you are active, hence available.

What would it mean though for free time to be truly free? To this question, which was interposed to both of them, answers were more interesting. Maro used as her own favorite answer another person’s view, who participated in the workshops followed by the podcast’s production. According to her, it’s not enough for a fraction of our time to be free, our whole life should be free, a position that reconnects us with our desires, other people, with work and our relation to activity. Antonis recalled those moments during the weekends when we want to look at the ceiling but all of a sudden we feel guilty. It is certain that throughout the workshops and the participatory processes, many people got to share their thoughts on time experience and on technologies as political or non-political matters, as Maro said, as a neutral canvas onto which we live our lives.

In the same way, namely with a collective sharing of perceptions of time, technology and of the creation of a podcast as a possibility of talking about all these, the discussion of that night came to an end. Instead of answering the question whether that night we saved or lost time, another, more emancipatory perspective was suggested: to consider time outside the logic of profits-losses and to make our life viable through collective efforts.

 


►podcast

“Losing Time” and “TechTalk” podcasts were created with the support of Heinrich Bell Foundation – Thessaloniki Office and you can listen to them respectively here and here.

Stay tuned for new episodes of both series.

 


publications

The thoughts on free time as well as excerpts from “Losing Time” podcasts can be read on the zine called “Lost! Time” curated by Maro Pantazidou and Paris Selinas and designed by Christina Biliouri.

On the occasion of “TechTalk”, the publication “In front of the technological mirror” was created, designed by Yannis Zgeras, where social reflections on technology are analysed.

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