EGC Clambake for April 29, 2008 – “CREATE South Wrapup”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for April 9, 2008. I play a song from Alana Davis; I talk about our CREATE South conference and how it went, and our goals for the next year; I play a song by Chris Yale and then dance me to the end of love.

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Ed Cone on Conway

After his trip to CREATE South, Ed Cone and his wife came back the very next weekend. What’s interesting about that post is the place they had lunch is in downtown Conway, walking distance from my house. This little joint is across the parking lot from the hardware store I shop, around the block is the restaurant at which we had our anniversary dinner and the theater we go to see the community plays. I really enjoy my little town and I get a kick out of seeing Ed enjoy it too.

The Way You Play the Game

I’m not even going to pretend this story didn’t make me cry. At Central Washington University, the women’s softball team was playing Western Oregon. CWU really needed wins to make the NCAA playoffs. When Sara Tucholsky – a career .153 hitter – hit the only home run of her career, she hurt her leg rounding the bases. The umpires said the rules did not allow her teammates to help her around the bases, which would eliminate her home run. Central Washington players determined that nothing in the rules prevented the opponents from helping her, so two players picked up Tucholsky and carried her around the bases, stopping to touch each base with her good leg. This is a team that – if they lost this game by one run and if they lost a bid by one loss – was costing themselves the post-season by this action and they did it anyway. I have to say that makes them the biggest winners possible, regardless of the score of the game or their win-loss record. (They lost 4-2, and thus didn’t make the post-season.)

Thank you, Central Washington University softball team. Thank you, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace. You made my aching heart feel better.

When You Cut Houses, They Bleed Money

The house repairs continue. What started as a simple tile job escalated to a floor repair but it didn’t stop there. It kept going into a chimney, roof, soffit, wall and floor repair. I came home last night and saw where things were at. I never thought I’d be so happy to see rotten wood in my house. While some of it was bad, it wasn’t as much as we had feared. I think the worst is over and now we are back to putting this place back together. It’s a bad feeling when everything the workmen do requires more work from another workman, so I’m glad to see that chain come to an end.

Mevio/Podshow “Never Believed in User-Generated Content”

Unaudition: Step Up and Take It
The Dream of Quitting Your Day Job is Now a Reality

Yesterday I got an email from Derek Coward, pointing me to this pair of articles: one about Podshow changing their name to Mevio, and another about how Mevio was focusing on professionally produced content, as opposed to that shitty stuff that they’ve focused on for the last three years, I suppose.
I’ve actually let up on Podshow a lot in the last few years. Their biggest positive is that they have done positive things for my friends. They allowed Drew Domkus and Michael Butler and others to quit day jobs that they weren’t digging and they’ve allowed a lot of people that I like to make some money podcasting. I’ve had my doubts about them and given them shit along the way but I decided that unless and until they really screwed a friend of mine I would give them a break.
Still, I’ve always been queasy about the company and particularly about Ron Bloom. Back when I used to listen to the Daily Source Code and they did that long episode that was Curry and Bloom discussing their views and goals for their newly forming and at the time still unnamed company. After listening to that long painful show, I decided that if I ever found myself shaking Bloom’s hand, I’d count my rings and fingers afterwards.

When I read the story, there is one quote that really stands out to me.

“We have never believed in user-generated content as a business, or even as a sustainable entertainment offering,” said Ron Bloom, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, MEVIO.

That statement puts the basics of the Podshow/Mevio philosophy into a funny state. Now the question is whether Bloom was lying three years ago or is he lying now? It’s really strange to claim that Podshow never believed in user-generated content as a business because, like, we were there. This seems like a form of brass balled, straight in the face prevarication that would be a stretch even for the Bush administration.

I remember the weird feeling I got in my stomach when I went to the first Podcast Expo in 2005 and saw the t-shirts Podshow was giving away. Of all the things they could have pumped, the important aspect to them was about podcasters “quitting their day jobs.” It was a blatant appeal to the wannabes who hoped to become Dawn and Drew. “Come join up with us, and soon you’ll be doing this for a living too!” As it turns out, that was never something Podshow “believed in as a business, or even as a sustainable entertainment offering.” Is there any possible reconciliation of that statement and of the pitch Podshow has used to recruit individual podcasters all through its history? I’ve looked for one and haven’t been able to find it.

I couldn’t remember the exact wording of those shirts, so I put out an appeal on Twitter for someone to send me a photo of themselves wearing the shirt. Slightly vindicating Twitter for me, I woke up this morning to the attached photos of Mr Jamie Nelson in said shirt. If I’m understand his email correctly, he was in fact already wearing it to sleep in when he saw my tweet. Now seriously, look at those shirts. I’m not treating the shirts as the definitive mission statement of the company, but they are a clear indicator of the way Podshow represented themselves to the amateur podcaster. Dudes, you were never part of the business plan, and you were never something the company believed in. How does that make you feel about the last three years of loyalty to the company. It puts me in mind of a quote Patrick Nielsen Hayden frequently uses: “Just because you are on their side doesn’t mean they are on your side.”

So, to clarify my stance: I wish no one in particular ill will. I’m not rooting for anyone’s business to fail, and I don’t want to see any of my friends out of work or experiencing any hardships. I don’t blame any of the Pod* companies for changing their names. When I was naming AmigoFish, the one rule I had is that there would be no “pod” anywhere in the name so I was maybe ahead of that curve. Other than this post, I’m resuming my general apathy towards Mevio. I listen to very few of their shows, and those that I do listen to will continue whether or not the company does. I do think if you are a Podshow podcaster you should pay attention to this. The company doesn’t believe in you, so maybe you should reciprocate by failing to believe in them and acting accordingly.

As someone who was doing a show when you could count the other podcasters on your fingers and listen to every other one produced every day, I can make one definitive statement about the medium. It was all a lot more fun when no one was making any money and only worried about putting out fun shows that mattered to them.

Subgenius School

For those of you interested in such things, my personal clergyman Rev. Ivan Stang will again be teaching his online course on the history of the Church of Subgenius. This allows the students to download huge amounts of Subgenius media, audio and video and text. Even better, you are given the opportunity to create your own cult for fun and profit. What’s the Church of the Subgenius without a little schism action? At $135 course isn’t so much more expensive than a continuing education course at a college. I think I paid a similar amount for my Spanish course in Evanston IL, and unlike Spanish the Church is something that no matter how hard you work will never be decipherable.

I’m thinking about taking the course. If I create my cult, it will be quite something I’m sure.

Life Kicks My Butt, Wins

You might think that having CREATE South behind us means that things get calmer. “HA” is the response. Not only is this a very big week at my day job (which included having a server melt down right before we were going to upgrade it), but simultaneously we are getting our kitchen floor worked on. Every evening and several mornings, I’ve been sawing off the bottom portion of a pocket door and running a band saw over the edges of plywood to level it out. It’s been exhausting and yesterday was the biggest of the big days.

The guys came to install the tile, found that even with the cutting of the pocket door it wasn’t high enough so we had to come up with a workaround. Then, they found rotten wood under the washer which needed to be fixed before they can finish, so I had to work up a second set of repairs. It was a big day of arranging stuff I hate to arrange. Then, around 5 PM I went in to work for our big upgrade and ended up getting home around 4 AM. It was grueling and then today wasn’t much easier. Now it’s late Friday evening with me and the dog in an empty house with ourselves. I thought about doing a podcast tonight while there is free time but I just don’t feel like it. I’m too fried for that.

It’s been an awful week and now I’m just glad it is over.

Rudy Rucker on Evangelism of Ideas

I read Rudy Rucker’s blog, listen to his podcast when it is published and have read his fiction for the last 20 odd years. One day I’d like to interview him as he is quite and interesting dude. As I get into really old Google Reader posts, I ran across this one from him a few weeks ago. He talks about how is odd ideas of how things might work are distressing to some but that he no longer cares much.

But at this point in my life, I no longer care very much if I can convince anyone or not. It’s like, at this point, my increasingly far-fetched ideas are art objects I’ve crafted, and it’s pointless to ask if they’re true. I’m fond of them, and I draw some comfort from them, and I like dramatizing them in SF novels — but I don’t want to put emotional energy into the task (which by now I know to be fruitless) of converting people.

As odd as it seems for having spent my weekend trying to convert people into using new media, I wasn’t really converting anyone. It was more a matter of putting specifics to desires that already existed. If people aren’t interested in podcasting or Twitter or blogging, I don’t really care anymore. I’m not interested in flipping anyone that doesn’t agree with me. I’ll just do what I do and if the value isn’t obvious enough to convince people it is worthwhile, I’ll press on without them.

That’s the power of new media. I don’t need anyone’s permission or sign-off or money to do my work. If it interests me and I want to do it, onwards. If you think it is stupid, don’t listen/watch/read. The world is a hard and cold place, and I’m done with those people who want to deny others moments of joy. Andrew Keens of the world, you are invited to kiss me ass. I need you even less than you need me. I’m here to do my work, to make myself happy. Anyone that wants to can come along.

GTD For Me: Still Broken

This weekend at the conference or the pre-dinner someone asked me how I was doing with GTD. The sad truth is, not at all. My original attempt atrophied and failed, my reboot atrophied and failed and now I am in a state without any functioning part of it. Had I been working on the conference with a functioning GTD implementation, life would have been much easier for me. As it was, I was in a constant state of almost screwing things up. Things got done but more things would have gotten done better with less effort if I could have been better organized.

Here’s where the truth starts to hurt. I’ve tried things a couple different ways and the one thing all the failed attempts have in common is me. It’s not that I’m not capable of it because obviously I am. I failed to fully commit or stay disciplined or something.

What I wonder now is that despite bouncing off of a couple of attempts, I still believe in GTD as a system and I believe that it would make my life better if I had it working. Why do I believe in GTD in a way I never believed in the XP programming methodology? I bounced off of attempts at both, but the latter I derided because whenever implementations failed the response was always “You weren’t doing it right.” I didn’t like that mindset of non-falsifiability. There appeared to be no way to fail at XP without the proponents pinning the blame on you. Surely it can’t be universally perfect for everyone in all situations so there has to be some way of determining it isn’t right for you.

Is it possible that GTD isn’t for some people, or that it isn’t for me? Is something in my makeup or my character (or lack thereof) that keeps me from succeeding at this? Do I say I want it and think I want it and then subconsciously sabotage myself when I try? I have lived my whole life as a disorganized and messy packrat and maybe deep down I don’t really want to change that.

I don’t know that I have it in my to try that reboot in the next week. I’m just too exhausted and beat down and will be that way for at least the next week as both work is hard and home repairs happen – all this in the aftermath of CREATE South and the deep down tired it left. A good tired, but a tired nonetheless. Maybe I need to read the book one more time to get refilled with the holy fire and try it again. I’m not defeated, but my faith on this topic is wavering. I need to get a win under my belt.

CREATE South is In the Can

The CREATE South conference is now behind us. Big swatches of the day went not like I hoped they would but like I dreamed they would. The day wasn’t perfect by any stretch but the flaws were forgivable and survivable and the strengths powerful and heart-warming. I’d write more, but now I’m driving down to Surfside Beach to see newly minted blogger Roger Yale and his band Sick Stooges play. More later, after I have had my socks rocked.

Create South – T minus 9 hours

Tonight a group of us met at the Liberty Steakhouse for dinner and drinks as a pre-conference shindig. I met a few people that I knew online but had never met in person. This includes Heather who has been helping organize and calling in to the conference calls but who I didn’t previously know. I’m more excited than ever and more terrified than ever.

We’re now at that point where things are what they are. There are still a few details, but pretty much everything is in hand. I’m still sweating those, but I think all is taken care of. I’m so happy to be in this deal with Andre who has been a true monster of rock. Lots of people have helped in lots of ways, but having things such as all the food cooked by him and his wife Heidi and printing all the banners himself. I went by his office tonight to get a wifi router and he was punching grommets in the banners.

The complete list of people that have contributed is long and maybe Sunday I’ll take a minute and try to catalog it. Really a lot of what we’re doing tomorrow is cooking a big pot of stone soup. Everyone is bringing a little something with them, literally and metaphorically. I predict will have something tasty and interesting and it will be because of everyone there. To quote Steve Gillmor, “Thanks to everyone that showed up and especially those that didn’t.” See you there!

Missing News Story

We got all the way to the end of the local news last night before I noticed that a story was missing. There was no coverage of last minute taxes! For the last 20 years, I have hated the April 15th news when they send some junior reporter out to a post office to cover people mailing their taxes late on the last day. Not only is it not news but it is invariant. I’ve said that you could use the same story from year to year and just digitally change the hairstyles and no one would ever notice. News flash: bonerods wait until the last minute to file taxes!

Thank you, WBTW, for not running that story last night! Right on, some sound news judgement.

Do What You Imagine

Dan Conover writes about shooting his short film over the last few weeks.

Dan talks about the power of cheap technology when it intersects the desire to be creative. That’s the spirit that drives our Create South conference this weekend. Not coincidentally, Dan and his wife Janet will be presenting at the conference about ways to wire up cheap web services to create something more powerful than the components standing alone. I can’t wait to see this, I can’t wait to see Dan and Janet, I can’t wait for the conference. Come join us, register now!

Update: It gets better. In response to a sniffy comment about how they used this energy and cooperation not to “end hunger but make a zombie film” Dan responds:

We have a local blogosphere because dozens of people have been working to knit that community together since April 2006. It didn’t suddenly emerge because I posted a casting call for zombies. And would everyone have come running if I’d proclaimed “Hey, I’ve got this idea to end hunger. Y’all come help me?” I doubt it.

But I believe that every time we work together to make a “not so good by the looks of it” video, we learn a few things. We adjust our horizons. We start to look at ourselves and our possibilities differently.

I spent a long time being a Very Serious Person. But I get more joy from being silly.

In the end, I think spreading joy is a better strategy.

Generic Joke

Here’s something I believe everyone can enjoy.

Q: How many of a group does it take to perform a task?

A: N. One to do the primary activity and N-1 to do something loosely related.

Oh, those stupid people in group.

Myrtle Beach’s Comic Shop is Back!

There used to be one comic shop in my area, which was in Surfside Beach at Highway 544 and Kings Highway. We’d drive by it if we were going to Myrtle Beach State Park or the dog park. That shop closed a while ago, which left me with no local comic options. I have periodically been buying comics at the store in Goldsboro NC when we visit my father-in-law. I was pleasantly surprised today to find out that the store is back in business!

Even better, the new location is not far from my day job office so I can easily make a run there at lunch time. Because it is only a few doors down from Sun City Cafe I might make this a periodic package deal – funny books and fish tacos. Back when I was working in downtown Portland OR I had a lunch routine I did every so often. I would take the bus down Burnside to the east side and to go Future Dreams to shop for comics and science fiction books and then get a gyro platter at Foti’s next door. That definitely is a fun way to wile away the lunch hour and melt away the stress of the work day. I might just give this a shake tomorrow.

Myrtle Beach Zombie Walk


I just randomly happened across this poster while I was looking at something else. Apparently there will be a Zombie Walk this weekend in Myrtle Beach. I’m not 100% certain at this point if I’m going to be in town or not on this Saturday. If I am, I’m definitely going to this and shooting some video. Pete Proedehl did his video years ago of the zombie outbreak in Madison. I’d be happy to make a similar video.

For those of you around the Grand Strand, you might think about coming out for this. Who can pass up a chance to act crazy like this? I’m not sure how it raises money but they say on a different poster that all the proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society. Perhaps they are having a brain sale. Do the undead carry cash?

ConvergeSouth 2008 Is Online

The site for the 2008 ConvergeSouth conference is online. This is a great conference and shindig they throw up there in Greensboro NC. I’ve been to two of the first three and it is in most ways the spiritual sibling of our CREATE South conference, down to both having Ed Cone. I really dig what they do so if you are in range I’d suggest you think hard about going to it.