Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for January 9 2016 – The Hopes of Machines

In this episode, I play a song from Steve Conte; I talk about being a guest on the Kindle Chronicles; I discuss my new writing in public output goals; I talk about lining up your incentives and values; I discuss my current Kindle reading, the JFK assassination book Ultimate Sacrifice by Lamar Waldron; I talk about upgrading my stuff, my Macbook and my phone and my car.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, January 9 2016

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Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for May 10 2015 – The Option To Be Happy

In this episode, I play a song from 3Canal; I talk about how Batman Vs Superman has already lost me; kidney stones!; I defend the “selfie generation”; I discuss Liz Miele on Comedian’s Comedian podcast; decide to be happy!; an abrupt end with a weird sound effect as I fill up my CF card.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, May 10 2015

Links mentioned in this episode:

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 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Social Media Vacation Wrapping Up

Theoretically, if I hold to my original setup today would be the last day of my social media vacation. This is the 28th day since I queued up a bunch of “send later” tweets and Facebook status and then shut all that crap down. I did violate the embargo last week to announce the news about CREATE South becoming sponsored by the Horry County Arts and Cultural Council, and then shut it all down again.

Here’s the deal. While I acknowledge that Twitter has upsides, I believe they come at too high a price for it to be a tool to draw my attention all day every day. I don’t anticipate ever returning to my previous levels of usage. A lot of the Twitter critics from big media, the same people that criticized bloggers 5 years ago, focus on the unseemliness of the hoi polloi enjoying the same ability to communicate as them. Screw those people, they can bite my ass. My criticism is the opposite. I see value in ordinary people having the channel to communicate, however I find the act of following it closely all day every day to be detrimental to peace of mind. Operative word: peace.

To use Twitter anywhere like the intended pattern involves a twitchiness and jangliness, like the shakes you get after your 7th cup of coffee. Either you are scanning it over and over manually, or you have something that notifies and interrupts you when messages occur. Either way involves Twitter taking your attention at frequent intervals, and usually for ephemera.

I stand by my original statement that there are only really three use cases for when I need information from Twitter right now: 1) when traffic is backed up between where I am and where I am going; 2) when I’m looking for someone with whom to have lunch; and 3) when I’m at a science fiction convention and I’m trying to find the room party that my friends are at. Everything else can wait, and it is detrimental to my life to be notified frequently. The act of getting notified reduces my life enjoyment more than the information increases it.

So, even though I’m coming off of Twitter/Facebook prohibition, I’m retreating from ongoing usage. I’m not sure if that means I only look at them at certain relatively infrequent times, only on specific days, or if I just say screw it and shut it down most of the time until I just feel like participating in them. For years I’ve been arguing with Steve Gillmor (I’d link to him, but links are dead) about the value of real time data streams. He finds them amongst the most important and salient bits of digital life. I’m finding them amongst the worst aspects of my modern life. Most people, myself at the head of the list, flatter themselves by feeling the need to be this connected. Most things in the world don’t need you, you don’t need most things in the world. I now choose to sacrifice connection for peace of mind and the satisfaction of being present in my daily life.

I’m choosing to live at a slower pace. I haven’t looked at a 24 hour news channel in 6 years. I’m clamping down my social media usage. Somewhere between Cory Doctorow and Ted Kaczynski is a happy medium, and for better or worse I’m falling on the latter end of that compromise.

Cory Doctorow on Macropayments

In his column at Locus Magazine, Cory Doctorow has a piece on “macropayments.” It lays out a lot of his thinking in giving away his books for free, but also refutes the whole philosophical basis of micropayments at the same time. I like this bit:

Taking someone’s money is expensive. It incurs transaction and bookkeeping costs and it incurs emotional and social costs. Micropayments have historically focused on eliminating the cash overheads while ignoring the intangible costs. For a writer whose career might span decades and involve hundreds of thousands of readers, these costs cannot be ignored.

At various points in my career I’ve been involved in micropayment type startups. I’ve believed in the idea and it always made sense to me in the abstract and theoretical. When Scott McCloud wrote his defense of micropayments, I agreed and cheered along with him. However in the feet on the street sense, it’s impossible to note the relative lack of success of micropayments (remember Bitpass) versus the kinds of projects Cory lays out in his essay. It emphasizes to me the technocratic divide – geeks are always trying to solve people problems with technological solutions, and that seldom if ever works.

I’m working behind the scenes as an advisor to a new media/old media hybrid that is in a bit of a funding crunch. I’m almost wondering if the ideas Cory raises aren’t perhaps the way to go. Rather than looking to get $10 from thousands of people, what about getting $1000 from a few hundred people? When you look at the distribution of people who gave money to fund Jill Sobule’s next record, $70K of the $86k raised came from donations of $100 or more.

Maybe there is something to that, focusing on a few larger donors. In a way, that’s a shame because my leanings are to be communitarian and get lots of people involved. It may be that in terms of generating dough quickly, it is actually more effective to go big or go home.

In a slightly related topic, this is why I priced my stuff packages the way I did. I could have done it more cheaply but then I’m doing all the same work for less profit. That profit has bought most of my equipment and kept my podcast running at close to break even for four years. After a period of inactivity, I actually sold some more stuff packages recently which helps out. If you’d like to pull on that rope, you certainly may. Not only do you help the show, you get to be a styling fool with some great tunes. Win/win, citizens!

Giving it Away

My Orycon panelmate Cory Doctorow has an essay in Forbes Magazine of all places, talking about his role as an author in the post-scarcity world. I am far from universally agreeing with everything Cory says, but I’m right with him down the line with his thinking on literature, the role of free works in the entertainment ecosystem and such. I and other lovers of literature owe Cory a lot for actually putting his nuts on the line and living according to his beliefs. Without his example, we’d have a lot of theory with no case studies, and for being that case study I thank him.

I especially like his dig at Forbes, pointing out that giving his books away for free is one of the things that led to him getting the high-paying and fairly cush gig writing that essay for them. Self-referential meta-smack talk! I love it.

Panel Rundown: The Great Writers Blog

Place: Orycon 2006
Sunday, 12 PM
Panelists: Cory Doctorow, Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal
Moderator: Me

Jay and Mary were both people that I met as we sat down at the table and people that I liked quite a bit. I had a chance to talk to both in hallways later on and carry on the conversation a little further. At the absolute last minutes, as I was leaving the con Mary and I chatted about her growing up in North Carolina. I suggested she try to make Converge South next year, but she lives in Iceland so that’s a big issue for her. She’s got the same difficulties as I do in going to lots of cross-country cons, except hers is far longer international flights.

To be perfectly honest, this is the panel I feared the most as a moderator. That Cory is a blogger of repute and reach that swamps out the other three of us I thought might be an issue. To his enormous credit, he did not pull rank or in any way condescend to the other panelists or anyone in the room. I found that highly classy and egalitarian, treating us all as equal peers and partners in the blogosphere and the present conversation.

I did some audience calibration to begin this panel. I asked for shows of hands for a number of questions: who wants to blog but doesn’t know how; who blogs; who writes or wants to write professionally; who writes and blogs; who uses their writing as a topic in or as snippets of their blog. There were only three people out of maybe 40 or 50 that were in the “need to learn” camp so I asked them to reraise their hands for someone knowledgeable near them to volunteer to buddy up with them and talk to them after the panel to help them out. Then we began.

Because I’m not a working writer I laid back for several swatches of time in the discussion, doing traffic control but not really adding much. The one thing I really wanted to throw out there was the story of my work blogging rules of the road and how I had the discussion up front before I blogged the first thing about my present company. Because people can and do get fired over this, I felt that dominating the conversation for a few minutes might be a necessary evil. I contended that getting fired over blogging is stupid, and your first responsibilities are to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Keeping you and your children fed is a higher priority than your post. As much as I love it and don’t want it removed from my life, I could live without blogging in a way that I couldn’t without food or shelter. Cory took exception to that and thinks I’m giving the act of self-expression short shrift but we have to agree to disagree on this. I think it’s the very definition of a higher level Maslowian act.

Mary had some fascinating stories about how she has used her blog for her artistic endeavors and also how she deals with the blog/work membrane. Cory talked about a common theme of the weekend – the collapse of multi-faceted identities to a single point and the problems that can cause when your home life is public and it make cause friction with your work life and how blogging can be the mechanism for that collapse. Jay and Cory both talked about using their blogs as repositories for their work in progress and the materials thereof. There was discussion of the “personal brand” and lots of talk about whether to have separate blogs for different topics, whether to be pseudonymous or use one’s real name. We talked about the blog as a tool for engagement with ones audience and the Neil Gaiman approach of chatty blogging vs the Neal Stephenson opproach of conspicuous absence from the web and blogosphere.

At the end, Cory tried to teach me something about moderation that I was just too slow on the uptake to do effectively this time but that I’ll be doing every panel I ever moderate from here on out. When we ran low on time, we got all the people with pending questions to just all ask them one at a time. Then we went down the row and each panelist answered one of the questions on the floor. It worked like gangbusters once I finally understood what we were trying to do. I thought that each question would get a volunteer to answer it, which was upside down from the real thing. At the panel he moderated he did this (much more smoothly) and it worked very very well.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed this panel a lot, learned a lot, was enlightened with a dose of reinvigoration for the value of what we do, and hope my moderation was as good as the topic, panel and audience deserved.

Clambake Episode for July 9, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 9, 2005.

I send out what cold comfort I can to our friends in London; I play a song by Nathan Sheppard; I play my interview with Rocket City Riot drummer Mark Reiter and this week’s song; I play a promo from Skepticality.com; I talk about Rob Greenlee’s interview with Mark Ramsey; I mention my IT Conversations interview with Cory Doctorow and the art of persuasion; I wonder if I am stuck in a comfort zone with my music and play two songs from Two Zombies Later and then pull the plg.

Note that I forget to finish my thought about Rob Greenlee, that in this interview I agree down the line with Rob and disagree down the line with Mark Ramsey.

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-ShareAlike 1.0.

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