Idea #8: Blog the vocabulary of TV


We’ve all watched a movie or a TV show and heard one of the characters mention something mind-bogglingly erudite. Sometimes, we decide that it’s worth looking up. Those of us with TiVo (or Hulu) pause, mozy on over to a search engine, and type in, “What does disingenuous mean?” However, we usually just let the question fester in the back of our minds, waiting for the next big word to come in and replace it. Personally, I hate that practice. It’s simply letting knowledge pass us by.

The Concept:

Start a blog that makes that knowledge accessible by posting explanations of terms and ideas brought up on TV. It’s like Heard On TV, except instead of music, one sees terminology.

Once you find a clip like the excerpt from The Office, linked  here (sorry, I can’t embed it), post it if possible, name the term (Lachrymose, in this case) find the definition, and teach your readers about the term. If it’s a scientific concept, go over the background information as well.

Create a viewing schedule of what you will be watching live, and post as soon as difficult subjects come up. It’s liveblogging, applied to broadcasts.

The Pros:

  • For both the blogger and readers, this is a great way to learn new words and become more articulate.
  • If you look hard enough, there’s no shortage of terms like this, even on fictional television.
  • This is a fun way to go beyond dumbly watching some of the more complex TV series such as House, Numb3rs, and so on. Over time, you recognize terms and processes before even looking them up.

The Cons:

  • It will take time and intelligence to figure out and post the meanings of certain ideas.
  • Having looked up several terms in my illustrious career as a couch potato, I’ve sometimes experienced the need to correct my friends in the middle of conversations. Don’t do it. In real life, you’ll quickly become that pedantic guy nobody likes talking to, and that’s hard to bounce back from.
  • Unless you use Twitter as a platform for this, the response is not as immediate as one would like. This means that users might simply go to a dictionary website, missing out on your explanation of the term(s) in context.

David Matsumoto is the Director of Humintell, a company focused mainly on facial expressions, lie detection, and body language. He has his own blog at Humintell, in which he analyzes several scandals and the lies involved. Additionally, he posts his scientific commentary on the show Lie To Me after every episode airs. His posts were one of the inspirations for this idea. Here’s his commentary on the last episode of 2009.


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