|product manager||Brian Degenhart|
|senior editor||Toria Sheffield|
|associate editor||Nikita Petrov|
|production associate||Arthur Rizzotto|
|Bob and Margie Rosencrans|
|Duke Usdan and Tara Litin|
|Julie O. Ybarra|
|Henry and Eleanor O’Neill|
Bloggingheads.tv, founded in 2005, was the first website devoted to split-screen video dialogues about politics and ideas. A central aspiration of the site was laid out in an early mission statement: “We hope to be in one sense an unusual expression of the Internet. Almost all blogs have a dominant ideology and a fairly homogeneous comments section to match. We pride ourselves on having a diversity of views in our diavlogs and an accordingly diverse comments section, where thoughtful disagreement is expressed in civil terms. (OK, usually thoughtful, and usually civil.)”
Since January of 2012, Bloggingheads has been operated by The Nonzero Foundation, whose name is, in a sense, an allusion to this mission. In game theory, a non-zero-sum game is a game that won’t necessarily produce a winner and a loser, but, rather, could have a win-win outcome or a lose-lose outcome. (For example: nuclear war is lose-lose, and peace in a nuclear age is win-win. Or, less dramatically: Sometimes liberals and conservatives are both better off compromising and reaching an agreement—that, say, keeps the government running—than failing to reach an agreement.) One common obstacle to reaching a win-win outcome is the failure of the participants to see things from the perspective of other participants. A primary mission of Bloggingheads, and The Nonzero Foundation, is to help people see things from perspectives other than their own—and, in particular, from perspectives that, for whatever reason, they aren’t normally able to appreciate.
This may mean helping Americans see world events from the perspective of non-Americans, or vice versa. And it may mean crossing various other divides—not just national but ideological, ethnic, cultural, religious, linguistic, gender, whatever.
These good intentions aren’t enough. If Bloggingheads didn’t do a good job of creating smart, engaging conversations about politics and ideas, it wouldn’t matter how many of those conversations crossed how many divides, because few people would watch them. That’s one reason we work hard to provide entertaining illumination—to shed revealing light on politics and policy, and the world of ideas construed broadly, in an atmosphere that favors candor, spontaneity and wit. Another reason we do this is because it’s what we enjoy doing.
And there’s a third reason we do this: Because we don’t think it gets done much. Yes, “real” TV features some vibrant, high-level conversations about politics and ideas. But the economics of broadcast and cable TV seem to mainly encourage something else. “Dialogue” on television is often an exchange of rehearsed talking points, and interviews are often a series of canned questions, with little or no impromptu follow-up. For all of the unscripted talk shows on broadcast and cable TV, there’s very little true spontaneity.
The distinction between online video and “real” TV is said to be disappearing. In the coming years, for more and more people, all video will be available on the big screen in the den, and the screen will be fully interactive. When this revolution is complete, we hope to be around and available in your den. But until then, we suspect, some of the most interesting and important TV will be found not on “real” TV but online. We try to be a good example.