NEW YORK – Demetri Kofinas, technology and media entrepreneur, spoke with The National Herald about his latest project, Hidden Forces, listed on iTunes as one of the top podcasts in the Society & Culture category.
Kofinas has created a remarkable series of discussions with experts on varied topics including finance, cybersecurity, television, complexity theory, space warfare, and artificial intelligence. Kofinas’ boundless curiosity drives the series and the conversation which often takes unexpected turns, and highlights fascinating, and also troubling, aspects of the world around us.
Taking time out from his busy schedule, Kofinas spoke with TNH about Hidden Forces, the changing media landscape, and the need for an informed public.
Kofinas may perhaps be best known to our readers for his extraordinary story of surviving a brain tumor shared in the pages of TNH in 2015. Coming face to face with his mortality on a daily basis through surgery and treatments, Kofinas knew he had to do something with his life.
After his recovery, he wrote about his ordeal and also channeled his tremendous energy and intellect into some fascinating projects including his production company Offline, producing the life-affirming comedies of William Shakespeare- Much Ado about Nothing, Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
With Hidden Forces, Kofinas delves into topics that should be making headlines and we should all know more about than we do. The format is not new, but way Kofinas leads the discussion allows for the deeper questions to be discussed more thoroughly than anywhere else.
As noted in the description on his website, “What drives the changes we see in the world? What are the hidden forces that influence our lives? Markets, algorithms, the frontiers of physics, culture, technology, space travel, the human mind… I’ve spent the better part of my life asking these questions. I built my career in media obsessing over them. For me, this has always been a quest to discover the true nature of my world, where I come from and where I’m going. This podcast is about uncovering and understanding the mystery of a world that is so rich and beautiful in its design and function, that to not wonder at its magnificence is to miss something profound.”
When asked how the topic for each episode is chosen, Kofinas said, “It has to be general interest in topic, and relevant societally, even if it doesn’t seem to be.”
Referencing the podcast on television, Kofinas noted that you can’t talk about the history of the 20th century without discussing the influence of television and how it has changed the way we experience events, for example the Vietnam War.
Television allowed for a visceral connection that didn’t exist in the way people heard about the Peloponnesian War, he observed. After World War II, television dominated American culture, and as Kofinas said of the discussion with famed historian of television culture, Professor Gary Edgerton- Dean of the College of Communication at Butler University, it was near to his heart. “I heard most of my stories about manhood, courage, humor, myth, and sex from that gorgeous, magical, flashing box.” He also wished the discussion could have gone on longer, a recurrent theme with Kofinas whose curiosity on such a wide range of topics is apparently limitless.
Kofinas is also concerned about the way people get their information. He said, “How do I learn about anything today? Facebook and what drives it is an algorithm we don’t understand.” Noting the emotional response and competing headlines that draw people to click on certain things and not on others, he worries about the lack of a journalistic ethos on social media which is driven by the highest number of clicks since Facebook is interested in maximizing its revenue. Everyone is now a consumer rather than a reader of information.
Kofinas includes a reading list with each podcast, encouraging his listeners to read for themselves the texts that inspired or were mentioned in the discussion. He noted that Episode 2 with financial commentator and New York Times bestselling author James Rickards on Complexity, Economic History, and the Coming Financial Crisis
was the best one in terms of audience share and the top podcast in the second week.
The success of the podcast is encouraging for Kofinas who hopes to expand Hidden Forces in terms of technological innovations and audience. He noted that you cannot have true democracy without an informed public.
Episodes 1 to 8 are now available online www.hiddenforcespod.com and on iTunes with more episodes soon to be released.