My Balticon 44 (2010) Wrapup, Part 2

Part two of Balticon by strobe light.

Saturday evening: I was on a panel at 5 PM with Phil Rossi, Norm Sherman, Dan Tabor and Thomas Gideon. It was called “Art, Music and Literature in an Age of Technological Reproducibility.” We talked about creative commons licensing and the ethics of piracy and how not to freak out when people lift your creative work. It was a fine panel and I think we all acquitted ourselves just fine. Afterwards I had dinner with Gideon, Mistress Jett, Dan Tabor and MA in the PA (who knitted my bad ass Jayne hats), and Kevin Crosby. Kevin gave me an enormous amount of legal advice that I can use for my movie, not really specific answers but ways that I should be asking the questions. It was all great.

After coming back from dinner, we ran into Phil Rossi in front of the hotel. I asked if he needed any help loading in, and he said no, “… But. I could use a guitar tech to help keep these guitars in tune.” This is where it got a little weird. I found out later that Phil was under the impression I was a guitar player, which I am not. I played bass when I was younger but stopped 22 years ago. I asked if he had a tuner, and offered to do it if he couldn’t find anyone else more qualified.

I went and did some other stuff and then went back to the room a little before the show and we committed that I would do the job. It sort of became like a waking version of one of those anxiety dreams, where I’m on “stage” (really the front of a hotel ballroom) with only minimal ideas of what I’m doing. As Phil traded guitars between his acoustic and electric, I’d take them off to the side, plug them into the electronic tuner and go. I said before that I’m not a guitar player but I’m not color blind and I can read the difference between red and green LEDs. The first time I tuned Phil’s acoustic I had a true bit of stress because I could not get the B string right. I wasn’t sure how much song remained, whether this guitar was going to be used the next song or later, and how much longer it would take or even if I could ever get the damn thing right. Finally, I turned loose of it about 45 seconds before Phil was looking for it. Bullet ducked.

Overall, the whole thing was kind of like those anxiety dreams I still have to this day. Usually in them, I’m in a test that I am not prepared for or realize it is the end of a semester and I forgot to drop a class I long since stopped attending. Standing just offstage tuning guitars that I’m not exactly sure how to work is pretty similar to that. It was a good experience though. I really dig Phil’s music and was glad to be a minor part of it. Check out Phil’s stuff, for Dobbs’ sake!

My Balticon 44 (2010) Wrapup, Part 1

I have a bad habit of starting chronological convention wrapups, being too detailed and burning out before I finish. Instead, I’m going to recap this year’s Balticon anecdote by anecdote. I will feel no compunction to do it in any particular order or in any number of posts. I’ll write until I feel done and hit publish, then lather rinse and repeat.

Overview: This year definitelly felt smaller and less crowded overall. There seemed to be fewer big literary guests and a lot of groups that had hallway tables in previous years weren’t there this year. I saw a few tweets from people that seemed bummed by this year. However, from my experience of mostly participating on the new media track with some forays into broader fandom at times, I thought it was even more fun than last year. I did a few things differently. I ended up not even deploying my promotional stuff. I didn’t stress about keeping stickers and flyers stocked around the con. Instead I focused on really rocking the three panels I was on, seeing friends and having fun.

One of the rules I set for myself was to not repeat meal partners anytime during the weekend. If I were invited to dinner and I had already dined with anyone in that group, I had to pass. It worked quite well and I avoided the comfort zone of locking in with a few people and socializing only with that small group. I like it so much I think that will become my standard con MO from here on out. I also made a point of trying to talk to as many people as possible and being open to as broad a set of shenanigans as possible. That worked out pretty well for me and I’ll get to some of those anecdotes later.

Saturday night: Viv Schubert organized a “nerd prom” that was held in one of the programming rooms. I helped set up some of it after being a spontaneous guitar tech (that will be its own anecdote later.) Kevin Crosby and I ran cables and secured bits of Tee Morris‘ DJ setup at the head of the room. When things were in hand there, I went up to my room and changed in to my costume. Anyone familiar with me or this blog knows I have one and only costume to wear at SF conventions. It was my “SeƱor Muerte” costume consisting of the luchadore mask I bought in Portland OR and the tights and wrestling boots bought for me by my wife, ring ready gear mind you. When the voting came time, all the participants in the nerd prom costume contest lined up into a gauntlet or catwalk where we all walked down and back to show off our costumes. Mine was the very last name called (only the character, I didn’t know we were supposed to put real names on there.) As I walked to the head of the room, about one second before I got there I hatched a plan to do my catwalk in a combination of a stomp and a monkey walk. I did a jump at each end and returned to my place.

In one of the odder moments of an odd night, a guy who was already wearing a wrestler costume that included a kid’s prop WWE belt. This guy, who I didn’t know and never got his name, gave me that belt to become part of my costume. “I’ve got 9 more at home, you should have this.” Thank you, dude who I don’t know. I heard later he was trying to hand it to me during my walk but I hope I’m giving away no secrets if I tell you “Mexican wrestler masks are the mortal enemy of peripheral vision.” This prop belt had no fastening hardware but I remembered from setting up the room where the duct tape was, and Phillipa Ballantine was kind enough to tape it to me. I am pretty sure that I’m the only person in that room whose costume became more ornate and more complete as I attended the party.

After about 10 minutes, they announced the winners in a few categories. I had a joke about the voting being rigged ready to go when they announced “Prom King” and it was me. At that point, I knew for a fact it had to be corrupt but it was in my favor so I kept my mouth shut. I joined the Prom Queen, Helen “Cynical Woman” Madden at the front of the room. We put on our sashes, tried to put on the crown and tiara but both were already wearing headgear that precluded it so we had to do the best we could. It was a completely insane amount of fun. I wore my “Prom King” sash all the rest of that night, and all day the next day. In order to make it the maximally Andy Kaufman-esque street theater I refused to explain the origin of the sash to anyone that needed to ask. The rest of that night involved having many conversations with many people, which was a complete blast. I also got kicked out of the hotel bar, in a full luchadore outfit, for carrying in a cup to talk to people. In retrospect, I should have taken the bar manager and put him into the atomic piledriver.

That’s all I can take for tonight. Many more tales of shenanigans later.

Flickrphallophobia

An incident from my past was brought up at Balticon, in a story that Evo Terra regaled a group with one evening. I’ll give the Reader’s Digest condensed version.

Podcast Expo 2006, it was year two of the Ontario California conference. We were reprising our “spontaneous poolside barbecue feast” of the first year with a less spontaneous version of the same thing paid for by Dave Hamilton of Backbeat Media. Tee Morris gets some sort of spirit of Elvis in him and decides to shed his clothes and jump into the hotel pool naked as a grape. He invites me to jump in, in the most platonic and masculine way one straight guy can ask another straight guy to join him in public nudity. I decline, and my excuse is that I have a condition called flickrphallophobia, which I defined as “fear of seeing pictures of your dick posted to Flickr.” Evo Terra refused to believe that I made up that term on the spot, and I believe we placed a bet on whether Google would find it and he lost it (the second bet he lost in 30 seconds.)

I have told Tee this many many times, but my biggest regret in my 5.5 year history with the podcast medium is that I didn’t just take off my clothes and jump in. It wouldn’t have been that big a deal and I really don’t know what my problem was. Given the opportunity again, I’m opting for shenanigans. However, as the story came up again this weekend we realized that this term still isn’t in the googlosphere and Paul Fischer really wants it so. It was also suggested that the better term is “autoflickrphallophobia”, which would be the difference between fearing any wee wee photos on Flickr vs. pictures of ones own. I coined a term for that person: “redonkulopedantic.”

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for May 30, 2010 – “Prose and Cons, 2010”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for May 30, 2010. I play (most of) a song by Phil Rossi; I do a recap of my time as an impromptu guitar tech; I recap CREATE South 2010; I play a song by Mudhoney; I talk about my experiences so far with Baltion 2010; I play a song by Jonathan Coulton as a belated birthday gift to spring. This episode was actually recorded onsite at Balticon 2010.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

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The Movie Is Happening

Tomorrow is a big day for me. The indie documentary idea I’ve been talking about for years is going to have it’s first shoot. I’m excited, slightly nervous but mostly ready to get some actual footage captured. I’m not an experienced filmmaker so I’ve been cramming like a college kid the night before a final exam, much of that from Anthony Artis’ The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production. This afternoon I set up my equipment and tested it out, and I was surprised what a good, professional image I was able to capture with my prosumer camcorder and some cheap lights from World Market and Lowes.

I can’t remember when I first spoke aloud to another person that I wanted to do this film. It might have been as long ago as 4 years. Last year at Balticon I talked with Earl Newton about it quite a bit and got some seriously good advice from him. I had a conversation with the Ukrainian girl that was the lifeguard at the hotel pool about it too. I have a shoot lined up for next week and beyond that, I don’t know. My plan is to take the footage from tomorrows shoot, edit out a 2-3 minute piece and put it up on the movie’s website. This is partly for myself as a test that the workflow will produce something watchable out the other end, but also to give prospective interviewees something to look at so that they can understand what it is I’m talking about when I give them my crazy pitch for this film. Beyond that, it’s a loose ball that I need to grab.

This is way outside my comfort zone but that’s a very large part of what I like about it. I have an inflated enough ego and sense of self-confidence that I don’t doubt I can pull it off despite my inexperience. After all, pre-2008 Andre and I had no experience in running a conference and yet CREATE South is continuing to provide value to our town every year. Something will happen from this. My goal is to produce a feature length documentary film, one that is of a quality that could be shown theatrically. Whether it ever is will be a business decision for a later day, but artistically I want to make something in that ballpark. If I can’t pull that off, I want to get an hour long cut that would potentially be shown on the South Carolina PBS network ETV or other PBS systems. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll make the highest quality short film I can get out of it. I’m a pragmatist so I’m OK with having tiers of success and doing whatever I can on the highest tier I can pull off.

I’d say wish me luck, that that isn’t much of a factor. Wish me preparation and determination. Those I can use.

Social Media Vacation, Week 2

Not only am I not finding it hard to stay away from social media, I’m thinking about staying away nearly permanently. In my previous fit of pique where I dynamited my entire Twitter network I only used Twitter when I was at science fiction conventions. That was predominantly to find out which room parties and hotel bars my friends were at. Frankly, I think I could go back to that sort of thing easily.

More and more, I’m thinking that I don’t care at all about social media for its own sake. It only really has value to me in the context of the logistics of a real world meeting. I’ve said over and over again that most of the value of Twitter to me is syncing up with other Myrtle Beach people where we are having lunch. I can envision a world where my Twitter usage is confined to a few days before any event (CREATE South, BarCampCHS, Balticon, Dragon*Con, etc) and between 11 AM and 1 PM on the weekdays. In fact, I could see value in building a customer Twitter API app that specfically didn’t check for new messages except in certain pre-defined time windows and possibly based on certain hash-tags. If that could be hacked in to HootSuite, that would be great. In all likelihood, I’ll do it the old fashioned way by just shutting the thing down except for the times I care about it.

My Projects and Action Items from Balticon

I walked away from Balticon in May with a list of things to do. I had three primary ideas/ action items. I’ll lay them out as ideas. Anyone that wants to take these ideas and run with them, go for it. I’d much rather see them exist in the world than be a Dave ™ branded project that never happens.

1) Push the Creative Commons licensing of science fiction conventions events.

I’d like to see every discussion panel at the least be Creative Commons licensed , something like BY/NC/SA type. At Balticon, there were sessions getting recorded but it wasn’t every single one. It was pretty ad hoc. Thomas Gideon recorded and published one session we were on, but that wasn’t universal. There are panels I missed that I’d like to be able to hear. If the con can’t do it, I’d love to have an audience recording at the very least.

The discussions surrounding these are just stultifying. I went through it in 2006 when I recorded panels I was on at Orycon and I really got sick of negotiating with the panelists and crowd every single time. It’s a public event on the record in front of an audience. Make it CC licensed and let anyone do anything they want up to the limits of that license. Maybe authors doing readings would push back, as would filkers doing concerts and such. Let’s start somewhere and make every panel CC, please and we can work out the details of other forms of events later. Science Fiction cons with a heavy nerd liberty focus should take the lead on this and go for it.

2) Create an outreach program from podcasters to working published writers

This is actually happening now, taking the form of a panel at Dragon*Con. I hope it goes further and maybe becomes more formalized into things like workshops at the Nebula weekend or bigger SF cons, etc. Balticon had a big new media track and a big SF/fantasy literature track with a tiny amount of overlap between the two. It’s my belief that the two groups have an enormous amount to offer each other. The fiction podcasters have a tookit and new modes of interaction with ones work and ones audience to bear. Published working writers have access to the ways one can actually make money by writing. I’m sure that both groups would be stronger for interacting more and teaching each other what they know. I’d love to see higher professional standards in podcast fiction and more empowerment and ownership of the relationship with ones fans from the published writers.

For those who want to participate and shop up at this panel, I’ve created a Facebook event and am trying to turn the wall for that event into a psudeo-community to discuss the panel and the ideas behind it. Feel free to spread it around, particularly into communities of writers who might be attending Dragon*Con. I’m trying my damnedest to be of service to the writing community, so having writers participate is pretty much the minimum to make this work.

3) Digital Divide Bridging Widget

This came out of a conversation with Emil Volchek and is the one I cannot possibly do myself. I want to create a device that one can put in urban areas to bridge the digitial divide. The idea is that you have a box with an ethernet port, a wifi card and a low power FM transmitter. There would exist a basic web service that would allow one to configure and manage this device, which would have a unique account and periodically check in with the service. On the box would be a minimal podcatcher and a minimal MP3 player. The box would get files down, and play them out via the low power FM transmitter.

You can get fancier with this, like allowing for certain shows played at certain times, restreaming of other feeds when there isn’t already a scheduled show playing, playing the X newest files in a rotation, etc. In essence, this would be taking the power of podcasting and putting it back out in a low tech manner accessible to those without computers, without internet and without MP3 players. Practically everyone has access to an AM/FM radio of some form or another.

Imagine downtown in some city with municipal wifi. With a power source and a little height, you are done. With a little bit of management, you have a neighborhood FM station. Assuming that you have at least one person connected enough to manage the device, they could also do a local interest podcast and subscribe to their own show and rebroadcast it over the FM. It takes a lot of the power we talk about for the infotopia and puts it where it matters, to the people whose lives might be affected by this. It also allows for a counterbalance to the Clear Channelization of radio. As stations were bought up and homogenized, the amount of local relevance on the radio diminished. By doing this, you can create hyperlocal radio and push it out to your neighborhood. Rock on!

I don’t know what such a beast would cost, but I’d think with an Arduino and some off the shelf components, it could be in the low hundreds. Assume that the transmitter doesn’t need to reach more than say a 1 mile radius or even smaller and it might be feasible to do. Any hardware hackers out there who want to tackle this project?

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for July 26, 2009 – “The Alan Bean of Podcasting”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 26, 2009. I play a song by Wolf Parade; I play a sponsorship announcement from Bob’s Institute of Time Control; I talk about vacationing in the North Carolina mountains and trying to refocus on what is important; about enthusiasm for and history of new media as it waxes and wanes; I talk about conventions I have and will attend; once again I take a dump on podcasting awards and then play some angry lo-fi punk from Pissed Jeans to seal the deal. Take that!

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast Extra: Balticon 43 Panel, “Peer Media vs Broadcast Media”

I’ve been having a hard time getting the show produced lately. I had planned to do an episode this weekend but my MacBook is fighting me every step of the way lately. Because of all these problems, I’m filling in the gaps with the audio of a panel I was on at Balticon 43 a few months ago. The panel was conceived of and moderated by Thomas Gideon, and my co-panelists were Patrick McLean and Earl Newton. If I recall correctly, this was the morning after I had met Earl for the first time and hung out with him for a few hours late into the previous evening.

I enjoyed being on this panel and I’d like to thank the other three guys and all the attendees for making it a good one. Here is the audio for your enjoyment.

Balticon 2009 in Strobe Flashes

Dave Slusher

I’m really bad at doing thorough con wrap-ups, as evidenced by the fact that I usually don’t actually finish them. I though about presenting my Balticon 2009 wrapup as a compressed novel in honor of the recently late but always great JG Ballard but that turned out to be really difficult. Imagine that. That is now a scratched idea.

I’ll present a series of snapshots of my weekend. It won’t be as exhaustive as I was exhausted. I met a whole lot of great people that were new to me and basically had a blast the whole time. As always, I missed a few names here and there and will forget to mention people and things. This cannot and will not be a complete document of the event, just a quick strobe light version of quick shots.

  • Paul Fischer invited me something like five times before I could accept this year and I’m glad I did. I met him for the first time, along with people I was either meeting for for the first time really talking to such as Phil Rossi, Earl Newton and Annie Turner, A Kovacs aka A Real Girl, Ross Scott, Tom Vincent, Matt Wallace, John Cmar, Jim Van Verth, Erk and many many others. You note that this list is mostly dudes, that’s because I’ve already met most of the ladies at previous events. I prioritize, you see.
  • The biggest downer of the way it was set up was that there was not a lot of mixing of new media track people and science fiction people. I randomly saw Keith R.A. Decandido in the bar on Sunday afternoon which led me into chatting and then attending a concert he was doing that night. If not for fortuitously seeing him, I wouldn’t have otherwise known he was there. There are multiple other stories like that. I made a specific point of going and talking to some of the SF people but it took work. I’d love to see more mixing, and I suggested an explicit mixer: something like a “SF folks and Podcast folks party” .
  • I saw from her blog late Sunday night that Kathryn Cramer and her family were at the con. I’ve been reading her blog for years and wanted to at least just say hello to her and tell her that I am a fan. As it happened, I got up Monday morning and went for a swim in the hotel pool. A few laps in she and her family also got in! It was slightly awkward to introduce myself wrapped in a wet towel, but I did it anyway because I Am That Guy.
  • Monday in the dealer’s room, late in the con, I was specifically looking for some John Brunner books. I wanted non-collectible cheap copies I can take to the beach without worry, and specifically I wanted books that were the transition from his 50’s schlockier style into what we know from the The Shockwave Rider and Stand on Zanzibar style books. As I was shopping, Kathryn’s husband David Hartwell was walking by. I don’t know the man, but I stopped him and introduced myself to him. He gamely helped me and browsed the shelf with me. He suggested Squares of the City as the closest available to what I was looking for. Bearing in mind I’m a complete stranger, I thought that was just a cool moment. He suggested I try Darrell Schweitzer, who also thought over the question and suggested The Whole Man as a good one but didn’t have a copy with him. I’m not sure what those guys were thinking about the whole deal, but I can’t imagine that old guard SF people have a problem with youngish (relatively) fans trying to broaden their understanding of the field.
  • Panelist Eye View

    The panels I was on were all fun. My talk Friday night was lightly attended but still worth doing and quite edifying. Thomas Gideon posts on the “broadcast vs peer media” panel in his con wrapup here. Before this weekend I didn’t already know Chris Lester and Phil Rossi, but I had a good time with them on the music in podcasting panel. The final one was the “Social Media Triage” panel with Evo Terra, which is the sole reason I created my Facebook account. Previous to this, I had resisted for years. In 50 minutes he walked through my mostly default, newly created shell account and pointed out to me and the audience things that could be one to make the account more effective for the goals I want to achieve. Really good stuff.

  • I was a little shocked at how early things shut down and Sunday night and how dead they were Monday, but in retrospect both were probably for the best. The bar closed down at 1 AM Sunday and I was still in the market for shenanigans but going to bed was better advised than what I would have done if the contrary was available.
  • I had a lot of fun walking the social graph (literally, like, walking). At one point I sat down at Mur Lafferty’s table and as people came and went I ended up talking with David Moldawer for a long time. The conversation ranged a lot of places and he asked if I was familiar with Hugh Macleod. I said that not only was I but that I explicitly referenced his “Sex and Cash Theory” about keeping your day job in my Friday night talk. David reached in his bag and pulled out a copy of Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity and gave it to me. It’s not published for a few weeks, but I have it in my car as I type. Right on! Thank you, David, you kind kind man.

There is undoubtedly more, but I’ll publish now and make other posts later. Publish early, publish often, don’t sit on it waiting for perfection. That is what I preach, no? I had a great time. Thanks to everyone who invited me, made the con possible, talked to me, and so on. It was a great weekend, well worth the 9 hour drive each way.

Balticon Hangover

I’ll attempt a writeup of my Balticon experience later today. This is no promise, considering that I never actually finished my Orcycon 2006 or Dragon*Con 2009 wrapups. Yesterday I had a panel from noon to 1 PM. I drove straight from my panel to Baja Fresh for lunch (second time that weekend eating there!) and from there got directly on the road home. It took right at 9 clock hours to get home, although I had a fairly long dinner break thanks to the fine citizens of southern Virginia, the tourists driving through and their very weird and complicated Subway sandwich orders.

One of the observations from the con really came home to roost in my last minute there. Tom Vincent was reminding me that “I have until Dragon*Con to get that thing we talked about done.” It was a few seconds into this conversation that I realized we weren’t talking about one big idea that will require some thought leadership and effort to make happen, it was an entirely second one from later in a conversation and one that I had forgotten about. At that moment I realized exactly how idea-rich and time-poor my existence is.

I have no grasp on how most people’s lives feel to them, but I have enough important, fun, needs-to-be-done things on my plate to consume at least the next few years and probably much longer. Some of these are personal projects, some are commercial, some are altruistic and communitarian but all need to be done (This is all on top of a pretty full day job with responsibility for building infrastructure for a fast growing company.). Rather than sit on these ideas, I’ll make an effort to throw some of them out into the world and see if they can perhaps get traction without my direct involvement. I’m not possessive and wanting to take credit necessarily, I just want the kind of world that exists after they’ve been implemented. Keep watching the skies!

Thanks to everyone that invited me to Balticon and spent a little of their preciously finite convention time hanging out with me. Huge blast, I should have done it years ago.

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for May 22, 2009 – “CREATE South and Balticon, 2009 Style”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for May 22, 2009. This is my first ever episode recorded in a car. I give a wrapup to our 2009 CREATE South conference; I play my goto song for this kind of topic by Alana Davis; I then talk about Balticon and why from here on out I will be attending science fiction conferences with a podcast track and probably not any pure tech-centric or commercially organized new media conferences.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Balticon Rocks

I’m having a great time at Balticon. I’m shocked that it is early evening Sunday. I’ve been doing stuff practically non-stop since I got here and yet there are many many things I have yet to do, people I have yet to talk to and so forth. I’ve seen Brenda Clough and Keith DeCandido in the halls but not had a chance to talk to them. I briefly talked to Charlie Stross. If there is one flaw in how this has worked, I’ve spent lots of time with the podcast and new media people but not nearly enough with the SF people. That I bridge both worlds is great and I like it but it does make it hard to get everything in. I wish there were more events and activities that crossed over between two populations. I’m holding out hope for the hotel bar this evening.

Thanks to Paul Fischer for inviting me. It’s a blast and I feel even more the schmuck for not getting up here sooner. Y’all rock this house!

Off to Balticon

I’m heading out the door for Baltimore. I’m ahead of schedule, let’s hope that’s a good omen. I’m doing a Reality Break interview at 7 PM and then I’m giving my talk at 10 PM tonight. There is some talk that all programming in the room its in will be live streamed. If that’s the case, I’ll post the information about the stream to the blog with as much warning as I can.

I’ll have stuff packages in Baltimore. It might be an exercise in useless optimism but I’m bringing them anyway. If you always wanted one but didn’t get one and will be at Balticon, now is the time, citizens! See you there.

Balticon – T Minus 24 Hours

Very close to exactly 24 hours from now, I’ll be getting in my car and pointing it north up I-95 for my trip to Balticon. I’m excited about this trip. I have wanted to attend this convention for many years and am delighted to be able to do it. My talk “Amateur Means You Do It For Love” is pretty much prepared as my talks ever are. A page of loose notes is right on par for me talking an hour. The way I do these talks is to prepare a basic framework and then riff inside of it. I have no idea how most people do this, but this is what works for me.

I’m looking forward to this con, mainly because I like being able to attend a new media conference and also a science fiction convention simultaneously. Part of my talk has always included the fact that the history of SF culture is full of the same impulse that we in new media think we created. SF fans have been publishing their own fanzines for 75 years now.

If you are coming to the con, come see my talk Friday night at 10 PM in the Chesapeake Suite. There is some talk about this being live streamed, and I’ll post the information on that as soon as I get it. I assume it is being recorded and I’m going to try to videotape it myself. It should be a good time so come enjoy it with me!

Balticon Is Nearly Here

Next weekend, I’ll be a guest at Balticon in Hunt Valley, Maryland. I’ve never actually been to Maryland so this will be a big adventure to me. If you are wondering what to expect from the con, this promo should give you some idea.

I’ve got my first science fiction interview for Reality Break lined up and I hope to get a few more. I’m gearing up for my Friday night talk “Amateur Means You Do It For Love” (10 PM Friday night in the Chesapeake Suite). It’s kind of a reworking of the talk I gave at the Podcast Expo/New Media Expo in 2006. Back then, we were in the thick of the new media gold rush. I was trying to play Cassandra to warn that hitching your financial wagons to the podcast horse was not only a bad idea financially, it was a bad idea artistically. I tried to provide a framework for people to do their work without the “get rich quick” mentality that so pervaded the medium at that time.

Nowadays, the persuasive part of that talk is no longer necessary. History has born out what I was saying, so now the talk shifts to the idea of how we can do our work and find it valuable even if we know for certain we will never ever make a nickel off of it. This is why I like to focus inside out in this talks. The whole idea is to find a way that you are have succeeded in what you want to do by sitting at the microphone, and you’ve succeeded even better when you publish. Listeners and feedback and enthusiasm after the fact is great, but it is possible to consider yourself the victor before you get there. Take out the “have one million listeners and make a plush living at this” from the equation because if that’s what it takes to make you happy, you are pretty much doomed to sadness. There is no reason we can’t do what we do in podcasting, in videoblogging entirely for the fun of it and my talk is a celebration of that. Come celebrate with me!

Balticon

Over Memorial day I will be a guest at this year’s Balticon. Paul Fischer has been inviting me for years and for once I was able to accept. I’ve never been to Baltimore in my life, so that should be interesting. From here forward, I’m probably not traveling that far to any solely new media conventions. I much prefer models like Balticon and Dragon*Con where they are science fiction conventions with a new media/podcasting track. The SF people are my tribe anyway, I get to record Reality Break interviews, and I have a better time.

I will be reprising my talk from the last Podcast Expo I went to, “Amateur Means You Do It For Love” which will be Friday at 10 PM in the Chesapeake Suite. I’m planning on this one being a barn burner. I first gave the talk in Ontario CA in 2006 and with three more years of the podcast world under our belts I’ve got a lot more to say on the topic. Here’s the super-short abstract of the talk: “Control your own definition of success and don’t ever let anyone else try to alter that for you. Make yourself happy and let everything else bubble out from there.”

I’ll have swag and am on several panels throughout the weekend. I’ll be doing some interviewing, some being a fan and just hanging out. I’m looking forward to it. If you’re coming, look me up and we’ll pass a good time.

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for April 6, 2009 – “Starting is Easy, Finishing is Hard”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for April 6, 2009. I play a song from Glass Eye; I talk about CREATE South and Balticon and Dragon*Con, about organizing a conference and what we are trying to do with CREATE South in Myrtle Beach; I play a solo song by Kathy McCarty, talk about my Kindle and my social media timeout; I close out with another Glass Eye song.

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Pros and Cons

I’ve had to decline a heartbreaking number of invitations to come to conventions and/or conferences this year. In several cases, I was invited to speak or lead sessions and I just couldn’t do it. Being in a job situation without vacation contributed a lot, where I would have to not only pay my way plus lose several days pay. Being exhausted for a big chunk of the early part of the year also didn’t help, which led to me skipping some things that I could have driven to. Here’s a tally of things I have said no to, every one of which I wanted to attend:

That’s the downside. Here’s the upside: in the latter half of the year with a new lease on life, a new work situation, vacation days and a little more breathing room I’ll be attending more events.

Podcast Expo y’all know about. Converge South was a big blast last time. It’s where I met Amanda Congdon and Mario Librandi, first met Dan Conover and Janet Edens in person, got to hang with Ed Cone and buy Dave Winer breakfast right after he sold Weblogs.com. My video of the event is still out there. I expect to have a good time and will try to make a point to meet and say hi to Elizabeth Edwards, renew acquantances with the Greensboro blogging contingent, eat my body weight in BBQ at Hoggard’s house and generally pass a good time.

I’m also looking very forward to going to Orycon and participating in the programming. I hope to carry the Marantz with me and interview writers and other people there like a banshee the whole time I’m out there. I went to almost every Orycon when I lived out there, and I’ve returned for a few since. When I was telecommuting to Portland, I made it a point to schedule a work trip that coincided with the con (free flight for me). I’ve been back for one on my own dime, but this is the first in a few years. I’m happy to see that they’ve moved the con from Jantzen Beach to downtown. Jantzen Beach is nice and all, but it was a huge drag to try to do anything in downtown like go to Powell’s – particularly if you didn’t have a car. Since they have this great bustling and walkable downtown, it sucked to not be able to take advantage of it. Now you get it both – hang out at the con at the riverfront and also walk across the Morrison Street bridge to Montage (if it is still open), and so forth. I might even try to renew my favorite lunch jaunt – a bus ride down Burnside to Future Fantasy and gyros at Foti’s (again, if they are still open.) I used to do that every week or two and I miss it. Best of all, with any luck I get to see old friends like Jonny X, Mark Bourne, Mary Rosenblum and the whole PDX crowd.

So, all in all I’m looking forward to working a little more enjoyment and travel back in the mix. Doing nothing but working in your home office 70 hours a week is fun and all, but getting out and about and spending time with my friends and internet acquantiances is good. If you see me out and about, come talk to me!

Update: Added dates. Let’s hang out, PDX folks!

EGC Clambake for January 20, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for January 20, 2006.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have the return of an old friend! I interview John Mark King and we premiere a new Rocket City Riot song; I play a promo for the Balticon Podcast; I talk about Kevin Smith and the Clerks 2 videoblog; I play a song from Neon Christ and talk about my younger days in Atlanta; I play a quote from Tiffany Schlain on Tech Nation; I play a quote from Monty Roberts via the Authors on Tour podcast; I play a new Michelle Malone song; I entreat people to join my Frappr map and we head on out.

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This episode is sponsored in part by GoDaddy. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media.

Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. For the time being, $25 of your purchase goes to the Mercy Corps.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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