Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for Aug 30 2015 – The Correct Decision

In this celebratory 400th episode, I play a song from Michelle Malone; I discuss the notion of worry vs concern and accepting of situations; I talk about Derek Colanduno thinking Eat to Live is woo; I reminisce about my days in the ebook startup world and wonder if I am an Amazon apologist and talk a little about life in a world drowning in content.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, Aug 30 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.

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Two Months on Eat To Live

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I’ve now been on the Eat to Live plan for two months and a day. Total tally: I have lost 33 pounds so far. I started at 211 pounds in late June, I weighed 178 pounds this morning. At the 5 week mark when the plan loosened up and allowed me to eat some meat and other things prohibited in the first part, I weighed 185 pounds. So, I lost 26 pounds the first five weeks, and 7 the next three weeks. I can live with that. One of the questions for me would be whether I would continue to lose weight, stall out or even gain weight when the plan changed. That I am still losing is plenty good for me, whatever rate it is at.

If you look at the chart, it is pretty easy to identify my birthday. For one whole day I allowed myself a bacchanalia. The next morning I weighed 7 pounds more than the previous. That isn’t to say I put on 7 pounds of fat. I pigged out but didn’t eat 20,000 calories that day (nor could my body actually store that much in a single day.) I’m pretty sure most of that weight is the result of allowing myself lots of salty foods that I would normally avoid or eat in moderation. The Crafty Rooster trip with lots of bacon-cheese chips and french fries, beers and burger is not a meal I eat as often as I used to but once in a while is fine.

Right before my birthday, I went in for a routine checkup which included the standard blood work panel for a guy of my age. For every panel of my life, my total cholesterol has been low (usually low outside the normal range.) However, my HDL cholesterol is usually even lower than that, and my ratio is always too high. This time, for the first time ever my ratio was in range. This seems like a wild success to me. My blood pressure is lower than when I started, my weight is back in the range of a 24 year low for me. By all the empirical data I have, everything about this plan has been a rousing success.

Just this week Derek Colanduno of Skepticality posted a link to a blog article refuting Eat to Live. Derek himself called the diet “woo”, and the article by Adele Hite seems to want to “blow the lid” off this plan. In paragraph one she makes a big point that she’s never read the book. Then she rejects the claim that 100 calories of broccoli has more protein than 100 calories of steak. She points out that he cited older sources so using the more up to date references means that broccoli only has 75% as much, not more. OK, fair enough. However, the main point he was making is that eating less meat (no meat for six weeks, modest amounts after) will not mean that you consume catastrophically low amounts of protein.

From there, she goes on about how you can’t get all the amino acids you need just from broccoli. This is a valiant slaying of a straw man, refuting a point exactly no one makes. In the book (the one she has never read) Fuhrman does not advocate eating solely broccoli. He advocates eating a variety of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, beans, raw unsalted nuts, avocados and other foods. This is specifically to make sure you get all the nutrients that your body needs – amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. I think if the skeptic community wants to take on this eating regimen as “woo” based on a misunderstanding of the recommendation by people who haven’t read the book, that’s a bad idea. When I watch people I respect with a knee-jerk condemnation of something on a really shaky basis, it weakens the brand and means I am going to be slower to believe the next alarm.

If you think that recommending eating mostly salad and vegetables while limiting the amount of sweets, dairy, grains and meat that you eat is a bizarre fad diet, I don’t know what to tell you. Is there anyone who finds this a controversial weight loss plan? I don’t have a wealth of data points on this, but I don’t know yet of anyone who has bounced off of this plan or had bad results. I know that I am now 7 pounds under what I considered my best case outcome and still losing. I couldn’t be happier.

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Happy Anniversary Skepticality

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I am currently listening to an episode of Skepticality from March and on the show, Derek mentioned that as of that recording, it was almost the 10th anniversary of the show which would be on … May 7th. So congratulations to Derek and Swoopy for ten solid years of putting out the show. They have survived and thrived through some incredible, near-death setbacks (talking literally here, not metaphorically.)

I’m glad the show is still going on, that Swoopy still makes the occasional appearance that always leaves me wanting more. I’m glad they are my friends and that there is a framework that allowed us all to meet each other.

Now to start on the next 10 years!

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“There Are Too Many Skeptic Podcasts”

I’m catching up on blogging things from the past. A few months ago I heard the episode of Skepticality that was the audio of Tim Farley’s presentation from Skepticamp 2011 in Atlanta. It was entitled “Please Don’t Start Another Blog or Podcast!” I like Tim Farley’s stuff on Skepticality, but I’m going to say right up front, I think the entirety of the sentiment and content of his presentation was pure assholery.

The basic gist of his talk was that there are already lots of online skeptical venues, many blogs and podcasts and websites so you, newly minted skeptic with enthusiasm, you should not start another one. Because there are too many. Bullshit. I’ve been hearing this kind of sentiment for as long as I’ve been involved in the blogosphere. When I went to Bloggercon in Palo Alto in 2004, people were making that kind of statement, that there were “too many blogs.”

There is a cruelty inherent in this kind of statement. It says that there is a time period that one can join the party and after than that, you are shut out. Sorry kid, you should have been involved in 2005 and then you could have a skeptic podcast but because you missed it we don’t need you. Sorry, person who wants to blog but we filled all those positions in 2002.

These stances are clearly nonsense on the face of it and driven by the fallacy of full consumption. That is to say – any amount of production more than I personally can consume is excess. This is a selfish and solipsistic view and is inconsistently applied. People will say there are too many podcasts on topic X because there are more than they can listen to, but they never say “There are too many television shows being produced” or “Too many books being published.” These rules only apply to the hoi polloi and their citizen media, not the serious professionals doing serious work.

I’m on record as saying there are never too many of any of these things. There are not too many blogs, not too many podcasts, not too many skeptic podcasts, not too many comic book podcasts, not too many stand up comedian podcasts or any sort of category you can come up with. Back at Bloggercon 2004, I made the statement that “I don’t think there are too many blogs if there are ten billion in the world, one for every single person and some people having a few. I’m not required to read any more than the ones I care about, which is all anyone is asked.”

I’m sure Tim Farley has good intentions with his presentation and has the goal of making the skeptical community a more efficient entity. However, the methodology he is using to state that is downright harmful. Telling people you can’t get involved in the way that excites you because other people are already excited and doing that is not an effective motivational message. Creating a class system where the early adopters get to do whatever they please and the late comers are relegated to helper roles is not cool, and is the opposite of everything I believe about citizen media.

If you care, create. If your creation isn’t that good, it will find it’s own level. More importantly, as you log the flight time it will get better. Telling people not to start is telling them not to log that flight time, not improve, not develop skill sets. It is stunting tomorrow’s superstar creators because today has superstars. It is short-sighted, not fun, not cool and a terrible message for any kind of community.

More Lost Ebook Sales

Here’s yet another story of a lost sale. These are starting to pile up. Book publishers take note. I heard an interview with Gary Taubes on episode #153 of Skepticality and I was interested in his new book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. I went to see if it was available for the Kindle and what the price was and guess what, it’s yet another one where the Kindle version is priced higher than the paper edition. I know some of my friends say that when that happens, they just buy the paper edition. Not so for me. It makes me angry enough that I buy neither one.

Let me reiterate that Gary Taubes did this podcast interview, I heard it and got interested in his product which is part of why he would spend his time doing the interview. I got all the way to the purchase page and I have a surplus of credit in my Amazon account. The only thing that stood between me and the “Buy it Now” button was Knopf’s pricing policy, and they fucked it up. As always, I’m not jonesing for things to read. I have over 100 unread books on my Kindle. I didn’t buy this book and really, I’ll never miss it. Instead I’ll read something else, and in all likelihood, I will never think about this book again.

Publishers need to understand how tenuous this window is where they have my attention, they have my willingness to buy, they have me where they need me. If you don’t convert at that point, you won’t forever. In some cases, you’ll do worse than not convert – you’ll begin to build up brand contempt. Knopf didn’t just not get my money, they twigged on my radar as a vendor to be avoided. Think of the last few books you read. How many of them could you even name what publisher put it out? The only recognition individual publishers are getting from me lately is as bad actors. That’s not what you want.

Also, to head off the highly predictable asshole comments (like, 100% of the time I’ve made these lost sale posts) this book is not available from anywhere in my county’s library system. People always reply with “just check it out of the library” which I find dickish and aggressive when you don’t have any idea whether a book is actually available for any individual. If you have a well stocked library system with all of these books, good for you. Horry County, South Carolina isn’t as well stocked as you.

Ebook Pricing vs Revenue

Konrath Data Ebook Sales Curve

It’s amazing how often I see some variant of the phrase “We can’t afford to price our ebooks lower because we have costs to recoup.” 10 minutes ago I saw that in the current Locus magazine interview with John Picacio. He in general seems like someone who gets it, both here and in the Sidebar podcast interview with him that coincidentally I listened to last week. This is not to single him out, he is maybe the 10,000th person I’ve seen say this, only the most recent before I type this up. In his interview he says:

If pricepoints for e-books are forced down, do publishers simply slash budgets to achieve their margins? Does that inevitably mean a dramatic slash in quality of experience for the reading audience in terms of things like cover art, copyediting, and other services that readers take for granted?

This reflects a point of view so common in the publishing world that is received wisdom. No one questions whether or not lowering the prices of ebooks will make them more money in the end. They all know it makes less money.

I’m attaching to this post some graphs I generated. I did this early in 2010, based on then recent data that J. A. Konrath had posted to his blog. He’s a decent test bed for these numbers, as he had a number of ebooks out, some self-published and some published by a major publisher. These were priced all over the board. At the time, he was pricing his self-published books at $1.99, and the major publisher books were as high as the $8 vicinity. The commonality here is that none of them were getting much of a promotional push. There was no book tour, no advertising campaign so these numbers should be a realistic look at how price affects unit sales. It must be noted that I dropped two data points. He had two self-published books at $1.99 that sold so anamolously well that they blew out the chart. I dropped data to make the curve fit but the data I dropped would have biased this even farther to the low end of the curve. At the time, even Joe had no real explanation for why those books sold so well. He has since raised his price to $2.99 which is the same conclusion my data would lead you to. He’s a savvy cat, I’m guessing that sometime between then and now he also ran these numbers and raised his prices accordingly. (Update: yes, he did raise prices based on his observation of data.)

Konrath Data Ebook Revenue Curve

Let me disclaim my analysis by saying I am not an MBA or a business guy. I am however a scientist, once a chemist and now a computer scientist. I know a little bit about numbers. If you think I have a flaw in my analysis, please tell me where you think I’m wrong in comments. Civilly. Don’t bother flaming for I have a hard heart and admin rights.

Every single time I’ve heard anyone defend higher ebook prices, they cite the fact that “just because the publication is electronic, that doesn’t eliminate costs.” This fact is what I like to call “true but useless.” Yes there are costs associated, but all costs in ebooks are fixed. The publisher does whatever they need to do editorially, formatting wise, etc. When that is done, they push a file to Amazon/B&N/Smashwords et al and that is that. Whether there is 1 sale or 1,000,000 unit sales, the costs are identical. I’m treating promotion as a fixed cost although I can be argued on that. Regardless, the costs of promotion do not rise as a function of sales. They may drive sales, but if you sell 10x what you estimate, your promotion costs don’t expand ten-fold.

Since all costs that go into creating the publication ready file are fixed and there are no variable costs associated with providing copies to the market (from the publisher – Amazon et al are paying them) by my understanding the only factor that should be important is total revenue. If you lower the price of the book, you run the risk of pricing lower than a purchaser might have been willing to pay. That is an opportunity cost but not a hard cost. It’s not like in the paper world when publishers sell the remaindered book at less than the hard costs associated with the manufacture and shipping costs of those copies. That’s not possible in the digital world. Instead what is important is pricing the books so that the total revenue is maximized.

I took the Konrath data and did a logarithmic regression. You’ll see that the R^2 = 0.96, which is a pretty darned good fit. Then I used that equation to plot out the line that predicts the sales at any price point interpolated or extrapolated across the range and a little higher. I then made a second graph of the price multiplied by the unit sales (aka gross revenue) against the price. What you’ll see from the graph is that just a little over $3 per copy is where revenue maximizes. When you get under that, the per unit sales rise exponentially, but the price is low enough that the revenue drops. Around $3 is the sweet spot, again which I stress is for the data set that I have.

Now, I acknowledge the limits of the data I used for this analysis. Even better would be if I could get all of Konrath’s data for his history but a publisher or e-retailer could do much much better. Let’s suppose the standard price for a given Kindle book is $9.99. Have Amazon show 55% of the users that look at that page the $9.99 price. Randomly assigned, 5% of users each would see a price from $0.99 to $8.99 in $1 increments. Analyze that data for the conversion rate to sales at each price and you could generate much better statistics than I have because all of those numbers will be for the same book at the same time. This is ultimately my larger point – in digital sales, this kind of experiment is possible. If the major publishers haven’t done this and don’t understand what this curve looks like for their books then they really have no excuse for stating definitively why they can’t lower prices.

The assumption under all those statements is that the demand for these books is inelastic. If you price it at $14.99 you’ll get about the same sales figures at $9.99 or $6.99 or $2.99 so pricing it high maximizes revenue. For certain well known marquee writers this might be true but my suspicion is that the market is far more elastic than any publisher would like to think. I think that’s the root of this mindset. Publishers and authors ultimately have a worldview that is the opposite of this analysis. They don’t want to believe that they have a commodity product that is price sensitive. No one sits down to spend a few months or years writing a novel thinking “wow, if this book is priced too high the Kindle readers will just move on to another book priced more reasonably with which they’ll be just as happy.” I feel for them as a person who has tried to write fiction and will do it again. That’s a hard fact to face but I think accepting it would make everyone more money.

Let me state this one more time: I don’t think lowering ebook prices costs anyone money unless and until they drop under that magic point. I think authors and publishers would make more money if they’d understand these principles, experiment to determine the revenue maximizing points and then price accordingly.

Here’s a real world example from my life on how this principle worked for me and how I hypothesize it works for more of my fellow Kindle and Nook readers. I am interested in Greg Graffin’s book Anarchy Evolution. I heard the interview on Skepticality and went to buy it for my Kindle. At the time I looked, it was priced at $14.99. I came, looked at that and said “Well, screw this. That’s more than the book is worth to me. Pass.” I closed the tab in my browser and never thought about it again until today. When I needed a book I had previously passed on for high price for this anecdote, I thought of this one. Until assembling this post, I hadn’t even realized the price has been lowered to $9.99 for the Kindle version. HarperCollins had my attention months ago, got me to the page to purchase it but an excessively high price kept me from buying it. Iif the average book is priced above my impulse buy threshold, the purchase ain’t happening. If it were not for writing this post right now, I wouldn’t have ever thought about the book again so the one and only chance to flip me to a paying customer would have passed without conversion.

Publishers seem to fail to understand the low friction digital marketplace for ebooks. This is an impulse-buy driven mode. I am a reader of books and a lover of books but my wife has threatened physical violence if I bring in any more paper books without getting rid of some of the thousands that fill every available bookshelf in a house too big for two people. You will not sell me paper books except for those very few novels by special writers I must have in paper. On the Kindle, though, it’s fair game. The sad truth is that for my whole life, in any given time period I have always purchased more books than I read. Even though my physical capacity is exhausted, I still want to buy them. Even though I have every single Anthony Trollope novel you can get from Project Gutenberg on my Kindle, I still want more books. I’m a hoarder. Publishers have a chance to get my money even though I have more paper books and ebooks than I can reasonably expect to read in this lifetime. They have one and only one way to blow this, when I come to look at the page and there is a price above my impulse buy threshold for that item.

Publishers and authors continue to try to make this a moral argument. “What, you cheap bastard ebook readers don’t think we should get paid for our work?” I think if they suppress the ego driven umbrage reaction and instead get down to the realities of the market they are in, everyone can make more money and be more happy. The artistic goodness of the work isn’t tied to the price point, so don’t be offended if you make more money at $2.99 than $9.99. Instead, shut up and cash the check, friend.

I listened back to the first few minutes of a panel I moderated at Balticon 2010, and in my introduction I used the phrase “I’m done begging people to get in the lifeboats. If they don’t want in, that’s on them.” I’m not beating my head trying to evangelize to publishers why they should price appropriately. Some are and some aren’t; some will and some won’t. I have enough faith in the marketplace that in the long term it will all shake out. The question is, how much money are you leaving on the table while you get your shit together?

There are people who understand the dynamic of this marketplace, J.A. Konrath being one of many. He periodically posts about some of the other self-published authors who are following the same path, pricing reasonably and moving thousands of units per month. (Side note: the Nathan Lowell mentioned in that Konrath post was also on that Baltcon panel with me. He’s a talented, hard working guy.) That translates to thousands of dollars per month in the pockets of these writers, since they are keeping the full 70% of the retail price by self-publishing. These people are out there, they are filling niches in the marketplace. Established writers, you could be doing this. Existing publishers, you can be pricing to fulfill this demand and bringing in more money. There will be a day in the future where I will be one of those self-published authors. Will my book be as good and successful as Joe’s and Nate’s novels? I hope so. I’m willing to fill that niche at that end of the pricing scale. Are you?

Updates: Paul Biba at Teleread asked for permission to reprint this post, which I happily granted and that is online here.

It’s a failure of clarity in my original article, but I’m not advocated for $2.99 as the perfect One True Price for all ebooks forever. That was true for this data set, which is already a year old. This might well change over time, differ from author to author, genre to genre or publisher to publisher. What I do want injected into the thinking is that these numbers are calculable and measurable. No one needs to say – as did Lou Anders later in the Locus Magazine I reference above – “We can’t lower prices because we still have costs.” How do you know you don’t gross more money if you lower prices?

The other big point is that unless your price is so low as to be left of the curve, you lower your total revenue by raising prices. J.A. Konrath was to the left of that curve at $1.99. I highly doubt HarperCollins is left of that curve with any $11.99 books.

Evolution Rx

Today I listened to Skepticality #116 which was an episode featuring Dr. William Meller talking about his book Evolution Rx. I thought the conversation was interesting enough that I impulse bought a copy of his book for the Kindle. I don’t have any profound insights, but I liked what he said and was willing to hear more.

Around the Podosphere 9/9/09

Here are some podcasts I’ve listened to recently and found interesting. A lot this got listened to either going to or coming from Dragon*Con.

There are a pair of shows done by webcomic artist Scott Kurtz. The first is a format breaking episode of the podcast Webcomics Weekly. Usually it is a round table with the four cartoonists but this one was just a conversation between Scott and Merlin Mann. In general I’ve burned out on Merlin and his shtick but this conversation with a very specific scope was just right. It’s one of the very very rare podcast episodes that I went back and listened to again. It covered creativity, community, the inner critic and the outer critics and a lot of the issues that are specific to those living a creative life. In a later blog post I’ll cover an idea that they gave me from a stray comment about how to handle hateful commentors.

The second Kurtz episode is his kickoff off a new show he’s doing with Brad Guigar called Surviving Creativity. This first episode is a continuation of an argument the two were having at Webcomics.com about whether or not writers block actually exists. I liked this episode very much and am looking forward to more in the series.

Skepticality #109 had a really good interview with Dave Cullen about his book Columbine and how many of the facts that people generally think they know not only aren’t true but were actually reported correctly shortly after the shooting and eventually replaced by received wisdom. I’d like to read the book now.

One of the last shows I listened to as I was pulling into Dragon*Con was this episode of The Treatment with Elivs Mitchell interviewing Bobcat Goldthwait. Bobcat reduced me to hysterics by referring to a Grover muppet lying on the ground “with its legs akimbo – it looked like a Weegee photo.” Funny stuff.

What Do I Do Next?

This morning I listened to episode #98 of Skepticality which was a follow-on discussion to the whole “Where Do We Go From Here?” talk of a few years ago. They referenced a PDF document with 100 points of action that people can take as a skeptic. I don’t really identify as a skeptic even though my sentiments are pretty much aligned with theirs. I took the PDF of “What Do I Do Next?” and ran it through the converter and put it on my Kindle. I’ll give it a read and see how I feel after that. I may yet tick over to the skeptic (TM) camp in full force one day.

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for September 14, 2008 – “Dragon*Con Wrap Up”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for Septemer 14, 2008. I play a song from Abney Park; I talk about my Dragon*Con experience; I play a song from Doctor Horrible and then boogie my nerd self into the con suite. This is a long show, so be forewarned citizens of the podosphere.

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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Dragon*Con Wrapup Part 1

Here’s my wrapup of this year’s trip to Dragon*Con. This is probably about the latest I can do it and have my friend brain cells intact enough to remember things. It might should go without saying that there is a looooong post warning, but I’ll try to spice it up with enough pictures to keep some visual interest. [On second thought, it’s out of control and I’m still on Friday so let’s break this down into parts.]

I left work shortly after lunchtime on Thursday. I needed to get going before 4 PM if I wanted to make it to the registration that night and avoid it on Friday. Although I had mostly packed the night before, there were just enough little details to handle that I kept failing to finish packing. It got to be around 3:45 PM and I was still fiddling around gathering minor things. I finally hit the point that I was willing to leave whether or not I had everything, just as long as the car was moving towards Atlanta.

Registration Line Around the Hyatt

I drove pretty solidly through from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta, other than a gas stop in Florence that inexplicably took freaking forever. I got to Atlanta around 9:30 PM, checked in to the Days Inn so that I could park there, and trotted directly over to the Hyatt for registration. Because there was a mixup with my guest status, I ended up buying a registration. That was less painful than you might expect, as the pre-registration was really the zoo.

After getting my badge, I went over the Hilton to see Derek and Swoopy setting up the podcasting and skeptic tracks room. I was willing to help but there really wasn’t much for me to do. Anything beyond one person trying to cable mixers is a complete mess. I did help Derek sound check a little and fix some feedback by walking around the skeptic room on the handheld mike while reprising the Casey Kasem routine.

I needed to find a Kinko’s to run off and cut some flyers, and both the Hilton and Marriott are supposed to have ones that are open until 11 PM. At 10 PM both were closed. Thanks FedEx, for buying Kinkos and screwing it all up. I went back to the hotel room, unloaded the car and found that there was a Kinkos at 100 Peachtree so I drove over there. Now, I used to drive an ice truck in Atlanta and I thought I knew the Five Points area acceptably. I had the hardest time getting to this damn joint because of all the one way streets. I ended up on Peachtree going south past it at one point, which ain’t the best part of ATL to be driving your Honda Civic around at midnight. At least I knew I was doing it wrong, and eventually got back to the Kinkos. Everyone was grumpy and it was much slower than I thought it should be, but thank you Kinkos lady for fixing the cuts of my flyers. I thought they were perfectly lined up so that a single cut down the center would be perfect, but they were a full 1/4″ off. WTF, Dave? She made extra cuts to make them perfect and didn’t even charge me, so that was very kind.

I walked across the street to the Landmark Diner and got a burger after that, mainly because it was right there and open. I had thought about heading to other better late night restaurants but the proximity and ease sold me. It was OK. The dude sitting across from my table appeared to be a big time rapper or music mogul. He was highly blinged up with rings and medallions, and at least a dozen dudes came by to give him their obeisance. I didn’t recognize him but then I wouldn’t. In retrospect I should have snapped a phone cam picture of him just to identify who he was. He must have been somebody. After this, bed.

Friday morning, I got up and read some books for a while. Sad to admit, although I had two book interviews to conduct I didn’t have either of them significantly read. It was a lot like cramming for finals. I read a big chunk of Playing For Keeps, got ready and headed over to the convention. I made the executive call to leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign all weekend because I didn’t want maids farting with my equipment. That turns out to have been the right call, although by Monday morning it was a disaster area.

I’ve spent 14 years of my life in Georgia, the bulk of that in Atlanta and that whole time I’ve been active in science fiction and comic book fandom. Despite that, the very first person I ran into was Ryan Karetas – my coworker and the guy who sat the next desk over from me at the office in Myrtle Beach for a long time. For all of the weekend, I spent a fair bit of time fiddling around with leaving flyers on tables, putting out stickers and such. Anytime you have an agenda of doing this, there is a lot of jockeying at the table. I try to be ethical about it, but when some guy has 17 stacks of the same flyer at 8 inch intervals, I tend to combine them and using the extra space for myself. By the last day, it’s a free for all of Lord of the Flies proportions.

I attended the first two sessions of the podcasting track and shot a little video of each with my very first camcorder. The second one was on shooting video, which I was obviously newly interested in. I asked a question about using some of this info towards indie documentaries. After the panel, Rhett Aultman caught up to me and was interested in talking to me more about what I want to do. He was meeting friends at the Marriott anyway, so I and his wife (parter?) Amy and him all went an hung out for a long time talking about the ins and outs of making documentaries. It was highly useful and I was very glad of it. The con was off to a great and roaring start.

I forget what I did for the rest of the afternoon. Surely it involved fliers of some sort, and back to the hotel room for reading and probably some basic scoping out of dealers rooms and such. At 10 PM I had a session on the podcasting track at the Hilton where I’d do a live interview of Mur Lafferty. However, Evo Terra was throwing a podcaster party in their suite in the Hyatt at the same time. Mur and I decided to go over to the party before, hang out for a while and then come back. There were several potentials for mishaps here, involving pre-interview cocktails and elevator rides. We actually got to the party relatively easily, partly through the efforts of one of Mur’s hometown friends who completely big balled his way onto a service elevator with us trailing behind. We hung out for a while and I left to go back to the Hilton around 9:20 PM since I had a camcorder to set up, equipment to check out and such. I walked into the elevator area as the bell rung. I hopped on a half-empty car with zero wait, and there were no stops between us and the ground floor lobby. In 20+ years of Atlanta SF conventions, I’ve never had a ride like that at 9 PM during a con night.

Me and Mur Share A Laugh

I went over to the Hilton, set up and got everything ready. It got to be close to time, and maybe 5 minutes until 10 PM I got a text message from Mur that said only “Elevator hell”. Uh oh. I had everything ready to go and we had a small audience – about as small as you can get and still have an audience – but I told a few stories and basically vamped for a few minutes until Mur got there. We took a minute for composure as we had a whole hour to get a 30-45 minute interview done. Then we turned on the machines and the magic happened. The interview was great and I have it on both audio and video. It will be posted to the Reality Break Podcast feed this weekend.

After the interview, I schlepped all of my stuff back to the Days Inn and unloaded it all, called home and then went back to the podcaster party. Because I had no function booked on Saturday but an interview at 10:30 AM on Sunday, I had already prepared for Friday as a party night and Saturday as a relatively well behaved quiet evening. With that in mind, I settled in for an evening of revelry. I ended up running into Jason and Randy from Beatnik Turtle on the balcony of the party. They are also the authors of the The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual for the Do-It-Yourself Musician, a book about which I had been getting emails from their publicist anyway. I had been planning on replying after the convention when I was less busy, and now here were the dudes right in front of me! We set up an interview for Sunday at noon right after the other one I had scheduled in the same spot, so I was able to knock out two without moving my equipment. Sweet luck!

As we hung out and had a few drinks, a hilarious incident occurred. I’m not going to talk about it here in specifics, because it led to me writing a song that Beatnik Turtle will record and that Ewan Spence kindly sanity checked for Scotsman correctness. Keep watching the skies, maybe we’ll have a podosphere premiere of the song on an upcoming episode of the podcast. The evening was fun and I talked to a number of people that I already knew and people that were new to me. I kept drinking and hanging out and chatting with people so long that I literally closed down the party. I helped Evo and Sheila clean up a little and then it was off to my little room for sleep.

Part 2 coming soon …

Around the Podosphere Part 3

I’ve heard so much stuff of note I keep forgetting things I wanted to mention. One of those is the recent Skepticality episode that had Philip Zimbardo as the guest. I saw him on the Daily Show recently, and also on some random documentary on Sundance about the psychology of the abuse of power. In that documentary, he said that Stanley Milgram (of the infamous shocking quiz experiment) thanked him for doing the Stanford prison experiment because “now I won’t be known as the man who did the least ethical experiment in the history of psychology.” I want to read the Zimbardo book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. It was quite nice being able to hear him at an hour length, as opposed to the 6 minutes with Jon Stewart. I do highly recommend this episode.

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I’m doing full coverage of the SXSW session podcasts in a different post, but the ones I’d recommend listening to if you are only going to listen to a few are the Bruce Sterling keynote, Phil Torrone and Limor Fried keynote, Joi Ito and Justin Hall’s MMORPG panel (if you swing that way), and the Four Hour Work Week. Note that these are not individually linked because they don’t have permalinks per session, and if I linked to the MP3s, they’d all show up in my RSS feed which I don’t want.

More on Podcastercon

I am listening to Skepticality and they are going to PodcasterCon. Damn it! I enjoyed meeting Swoopie last year and it would be nice to meet Derek. However, the giant pile of work is still there and in fact is higher now than it was a few days ago. The day job has a big deadline soon, and I am behind on everything I could possibly be behind on. I wake up tired every morning lately and spend a lot of my day trying not to stress out at the enormity of it all. As much as I’d like to go, I would pay for it dearly and with heavy interest. Usually I’m not one to deny myself something I want simply because it is a bad idea, but this time I am.

I’ll miss y’all. Hope it is a good time.

PME Talk Audio is Posted

My talk at Portable Media Expo has been posted, and you can download it from the page of all Saturday sessions. I gave it a cursory listen and the sound is pretty good. The downside is that the best moment of the whole thing is lost because there was no microphone available for Swoopy’s comment for the audience. Some of the audience questions were recorded, when I could get my lavalier mike up to them, but Swoopy was way in the back of the room. Oh well, believe me it was powerful.

If you listen, let me know what you think, please please please.

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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