David Heinemeier Hansson

February 2, 2022

The infuriating ease of Rogan's popularity

For Rogan's own sake, and for all of our sakes, I hope we'll soon move on from picking apart every facet of his popular podcast. But before we do, just one more thing. Really 😂

In this whole saga, I must admit to a guilty pleasure of chuckling at all the folks infuriated by the fact that Rogan commands such popularity from his off-the-cuff approach. Here's his own presentation of his style:

These podcasts are very strange because they’re just conversations. And oftentimes I have no idea what I’m going to talk about until I sit down and talk to people. And that’s why some of my ideas are not that prepared or fleshed out because I’m literally having them in real time, but I do my best and they’re just conversations, and I think that’s also the appeal of the show. It’s one of the things that makes it interesting.

Yes! Fucking yes! The spontaneity is indeed key to the appeal. That's what makes it feel like a conversation rather than a deposition. There's a time and a place for depositions, and there are plenty of journalists pursuing those, but that's not this show.

This is a spontaneity that relies on intuition, flow, and open mindedness. Not studious preparation. And herein lies the crime. Because there are other people who do far more work than Rogan to prepare for their podcasts, but they don't have millions of listeners? How is that fair? They Did The Work!

This is the confusion of the novice. Conflating effort with value. Nobody is listening to your show because of how much effort you put into it. They listen because they find it funny, interesting, illuminating, or otherwise valuable. Sometimes those things come as a product of studious effort, but other times they do not.

Millions of listeners have chosen that they like these conversations. Not in spite of the off-the-cuff approach, but because of it. They're voting with their attention in an almost perfect market of choice. There are a million, billion, trillion other hours of podcasting someone could lend their ears to, but they're lending it to Rogan.

How dare they!

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.