The newest videoblog is up. This one is more serious, the closest to journalism I’ve done yet in video. It is a short, about 6 minute interview I did with artist and writer Marjane Satrapi while she was in town to speak at the college.
I think I have a good cut at the term for the DIY/no debt/anti-consumerist/creative maker mindset. I’m in the HQ in Research Triangle at the moment and lacking in time to post the whole magilla right now, but I’ll write it up as soon as I can. There is a story, slogan and term that all arrived together. The interesting thing will be if the term stands alone without the story and slogan.
Finally, Cameron Reilly sports some classy threads. Thanks Mike Dunn for the photo (and the threads).
Garrick van Buren ordered a stuff package during the charity drive last month. Being the analytical guy he is, he posted his more or less song by song analysis of the Hi Honey album. I say over and over that this is really a fantastic album, and if the music business were driven by justice and merit that would have been a huge hit. A lot of these songs really hit me deeper than the intellectual, they go straight to my lizard brain. I feel a lot of melancholy and loss and happiness when I hear them, like they have a jack plugged straight into my emotions. Thanks to Garrick for writing this up.
I talk about being mentioned on Rocketboom; I discuss the “talk radio voice” and why that just turns me off nowadays; I play a prerelease song by Michelle Malone; I talk about feeling emotional and expressing love and learning to put that dude machismo behind you; I talk about meeting Marjane Satrapi; I play a song by Jonathan Coulton; shirts are in; bye.
This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.
Links mentioned in this episode:
This is a call for help for those of you tooled up to do video. If you have the stuff to do a digital deshaking of a video and would be willing to do that for a ~6 minute MP4 I have, I would credit you in the final thing and give you my undying gratitude. Steve Garfield gave me some recommendations but they were all plugins to programs I don’t have. If you actually have those programs and the plugins and would perform this task for me, you’ll be doing your part for world peace. Really.
If you ordered a stuff package during the big September charity drive and had been waiting for a restock, the shirts are in and all pending orders have been sent. All domestic orders should be received by Monday at the latest, international ones by the Monday after that or so. If you don’t see it on this time scale, let me know. Thanks very much for your patience on this, the response was enough to be shocking and to be beyond my expectations. I appreciate all of your support, and I’m glad we were able to be able to raise this much for the Red Cross.
I forgot to blog this, but I’m on the most recent episode of G’Day World. It was stand up of Cam to invite me on to, basically, criticize his network. He in turn criticized my efforts at speaking the titular phrase, but all in all it is fun. It was kind of an uncomfortable premise for a show (I asked him, are you booking me in the “Barnako chair”) but it came out alright I think. Interestingly at least one of their buddies found the conversation useful.
I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal as if I’m somehow the moral compass for this medium, but I do think it is important to understand your own values and act according to them. I’ve been taking money through multiple channels with my show for almost a year, yet my show isn’t about bringing in that money, that’s just a thing that happens. In fact, I’ve never realized a cent of that back in my pockets, all of it has gone to expenses or equipment or to charity which is why I don’t consider my show incompatible with the noncommercial creative commons license. I don’t begrudge anyone the ability to make money off this, but I do think we should strive to make it in different ways and to keep the economic pressures away from the content of our shows as much as possible. I try to do that with a little judo, by making my sponsorship announcements actually part of the show. I won’t take one from someone that won’t, for example, allow me to make fun of them or swear in the spot.
Until now, the advertisers supporting podcasting have been minor-league advertisers… software companies, hosting companies, perhaps a beverage company, etc. Motorola is a major-league player and hopefully their entrance into podcast advertising signals the beginning of the big guys taking an interest in reaching out to the podcast-listening audience. Hardcore nutters that you are. 🙂
Personally, I find a lot of the value of what I do in the fact that I can keep this show afloat without “major league” advertisers. It’s hard to imagine one of them allowing me to do the ridiculous things I do in my announcements but which I think overall actually increases the affinity of my listeners for the sponsors. IE, by not being such tightasses they get a better karma bounce, that’s my operating theory. While I’m happy for the TPN boys getting money in, I don’t know if this is an unambiguous good. If the “major league” advertisers treat this medium as just another one to do their same old thing on, then at best the whole thing has been lateral move, a Vizardian “pointless exercise.” Is it a good thing that the “big guys are taking an interest?” Is the sense of community going to continue when you know that helping someone else get a show started might actually cost you money in the long run? Are the big guys going to put pressure on the shows themselves? Don’t stop thinking about these core values and how you can keep the influx of money from altering them.
Today I was mentioned on Rocketboom! That rocks, for sure. The interview with them was the specific thing they mentioned but Amanda also said nice things about this show as a whole. They were excited about being mentioned in Jobs’ video iPod rollout and I’m excited about being mentioned on their show. So it rolls. Thanks guys!
The author of Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi will be in Conway today. I have to say that living in this little college town appeals to me, but when they require all entering freshman to read a graphic novel as part of the entrance ceremonies, that knocks my socks off. I’d like to think Will Eisner is smiling down on us from his exquisitely rendered corner of heaven.
Now that it’s a few days in the past I can look back on the weekend with a little more perspective. While you are there and a part of the excitement everything seems so powerful and profound. Sometimes a dispassionate reflection confirms that, and sometimes you realize you were just caught up in a moment.
Things that went right:
- NC A&T was an inspired choice for a host. I enjoyed both the facilities and the people quite a bit.
- Almost all the sessions I attended were great and there was a lot of energy in all the rooms. You could feel them buzzing, and I loved that.
- The structured nightlife was a great democratizing force. Often in these things, the cool kids know where to go and most people don’t. If you are a weasel like me, you tend to find these things out but it is a great disparity in information. By having the BBQ and distinct clubs that people convened at, the pockets of cool were not there and it makes the whole thing better.
- On top of that, all the music I saw rocked my world. Way to go, Jay Ovittore.
- The food was great, and at least the breakout dinner I was at was fantastic.
- The mix of people at most places from beginning to end was great. I had a good time talking to everyone, those I knew or knew of and those I was just meeting and just finding out about.
- The BBQ was great, and I actually enjoyed the rain. I had an umbrella with me, I just never used it. I treated it like a Woodstock situation where getting our asses rained on together was a bonding experience.
- Even though my thing is egalitarian and I think we are all in this together, I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t get a big kick out of hanging out with Amanda and Mario from Rocketboom.
- The guy driving the shuttle van was a trip!
Things that went wrong:
- The podcasting session. Now we know this has to be split up into sub-sessions. I like the idea of making a main session about the higher level stuff of interest to the listeners, and then maybe smaller hands-on sessions for the gear heads (like me).
- The network access at both the Biltmore and the school was hit or miss. The Biltmore was operational for me, but just barely. It was usable at the school, but a huge pain in the ass and required a big hurdle to connect the first time. I understand what the guy was saying about being compelled to protect the network by state law. Frankly, it might have been easier to bring in a temporary connection like you do for conventions than try to use what was already there, if that meant we could just connect to the damn thing.
- Maps to the clubs would be helpful in the conference literature. I got lost, I saw other people wandering 2 blocks from where they wanted to be. I walked to the Flatiron in about the longest path you could take without turning your back to the joint. Thank you, random strangers that pointed me in the right direction.
- I came home from Bloggercon full of the holy fire, and wanting to do a conference in Myrtle Beach. However, this was much better than anything I could have slapped together and in reasonable driving distance as well. Instead, I think the better thing to do is to organize smaller meetups with an emphasis on “how do I get going on this?” Maybe a group that meets once a month at locations that move throughout the state – Myrtle Beach, Florence, Charleston, Columbia, etc. If we meet at a place with free wifi, those who know can help those who are learning. Bring your laptops and whatever audio equipment you have and we’ll make something work if you want to podcast. Bring your videocamera and teach me what you know. That sort of thing – rather than talk let’s do. Meeting in a big group with like minded people was fun, but I think taking this on the road will rise the tide better in the larger world.
- For most of my youth and young adulthood, I was a self-proclaimed misanthrope. If pressed I’d say that I generally hated people, with just a few exceptions. I can’t claim that anymore, I have to admit that I love people. I felt verklempt most of the weekend with the power of people giving up a beautiful day to spend it talking to each other and me. Multiple times I teared up while talking to people about the power of empowering the audience. There was an energy that I don’t think anyone could deny and I’m extremely grateful that I was allowed to be part of it.
- I’ve been hearing about how great Greensboro is for years, and I never quite bought it. I was slap wrong, it is indeed a great town!
- To demonstrate the power of citizen media, I give the example of my meeting Jinni Hoggard for the first time. Even though I didn’t talk to her nearly enough, I felt like I knew her the second I shook her hand, following her struggles from a distance as I had. I hear a lot of academic blah blah blah on the subject, but knowing her story and that I could have missed her presence on the planet just brought out the power of citizen media and why it is important. All this talk of “bloggers in pajamas” vs reporters is pure horseshit. It’s about people and connection and thank God I got a chance to connect to her. Next time I’m going to monopolize some of her time.
- More than anything similar I’ve ever attended, the end of the conference felt like a beginning of something much bigger.
That’s the end. Come talk to me, y’all.
The site was down for an hour or two this morning, sorry for any inconvenience. The guys at the hosting service did a reverse transplant – keep the heart and the brain and replace the whole rest of the body. It seems to be working now. I have determined that I am a complete spazmo and that having my server box offline makes me unbearably agitated.
Last post – whew.
Sunday morning, I got up around 7 AM or so, got ready and packed it up. I checked out of the hotel and called Dave Winer. We had intended to get together at some point the previous night, but we lost each other’s cell numbers. Via late night emails, we had agreed to hook up for breakfast. I woke him out of bed (to my chagrin), but we agreed to meet at his hotel at 8:30 AM which gave me time to drive by the Hoggard’s house and pick up one of those leftover pork butts. Mmmmmm! After a few minutes of chat Dave left Dave to go meet Dave.
The conversation over breakfast was fascinating and very enjoyable (Dave enjoyed it too). We talked about a lot of technical things, some stuff from the world of business and new media and life. Somewhere in there we traded a few personal stories of the things that helped shape us into who we are. I’ve been around Dave before but never one on one in a substantial way so I found that a very different experience from talking to him as one person in a cluster around a table. I got a little video clip of him with a plate of grits that will be put to good use somewhere.
After eating until there was no more eating to be had and drinking coffee until I was on the edge of jittery, it was time to go. I grabbed the check over Dave’s objections. I told Dave that I liked the irony in buying him breakfast right after his sale of weblogs.com became public news. He agreed that was a worthy effort, to get this story in the narrative of our lives, and thus it was. I said my goodbyes, reunited with my frozen pork butt and got on the road.
I got slightly turned around on my way out of town. I was looking for the wrong street and ended up on Spring south and got nervous when it turned into access controlled highway. As it turns out, Spring was actually the correct street and I was in exactly the right place for the wrong reason. While turning myself back around, I saw a stop sign that had under the big word STOP, the graffiti “collaborate and listen.” That seemed too fitting, so the CVS camera was employed once again to capture that. When I edit the video together, I expect that to be the last shot and the one I hold to roll credits over.
The drive home was OK, except for (again) getting confused about which roads met where in Darlington. Because I was looking so hard for signs, I happened to notice a historical marker in Hamlet, SC for the birthplace of John Coltrane. I pulled over and snapped the photo of that because again, it seemed too fitting to not do. As I drove, I listened to my CDs of Alana Davis and the Murray Street Band over and over. Good stuff, good driving music. With the later start and the navigational miscues I got home a good 4 hours later than I said I would.
Final thoughts a little later, and then I’m done with the recap.
Wow, this is taking a long time. I need to wrap this up before I forget all the details.
After the last session, I went back to the hotel. I had intended to take a nap but I ended up in IM conversations and phone calls and then eventually I had missed the nap window. I went down and hung out with Dan and Janet in the hotel lobby consuming the free wine and cheese for a while, and then everyone went to their respective hosted dinners. I went to the one hosted by Amanda and Mario of Rocketboom at the Minj Grill. My new buddy Mark was there, as were a number of cool folks. Jimmy Wales and his wife and daughter were also at this one. The conversation was good, as was the food. Before leaving the hotel, Ed said if he wasn’t hosting a dinner he’d be going just for the food there and that I should get the wings. I never get wings but I did and they were indeed fantastic. The only downside is that in a situation like this where you are talking to lots of folks and sitting across the table from people of whom you are a fan, wings may not be the best logistical choice. Still, it was pulled off, I think without disgusting anyone. The liberal application of wet naps mitigated against the faux pas.
We talked a lot about (obviously) new media, videoblogging and IP TV, podcasting, Wikipedia and the new power structures of information. Don Moore at the table has worked a lot in television so we got a lot of stories about how things work inside the building and I got the sense from him that as someone in the know about the present day of big media, he has a lot of faith and anticipation from where the new media are heading. It was a good mix of people and the knowledge coverage was really good – we all had enough in common to have subjects to talk about but we also all had different areas of expertise such that a lot of knowledge came out. I enjoyed it a lot and would be glad to eat at Minj again.
After this, everyone broke up and went their respective ways. Amanda and Mario and I went back to the hotel and did the interview in the lobby sitting around a table. I don’t remember why I felt so confident but I did it zero note style. Usually I have at least a scrap of paper to keep me on track but this was as free as it wheels. I think having talked to them earlier in the day when they agreed to do the interview and having seen the presentation, I just felt it would all take care of itself once the conversation got rolling. Lo and behold it did. The mobile rig did splendidly in its first trip out of the house except for being too noisy when moving the mike from person to person. We talked for about 15 minutes on the mike, a few minutes afterwards, a few more minutes when Ed stepped out of his dinner he was hosting in the Biltmore dining room to talk to us, and then we broke up to get ready for the evening.
I ditched my stuff, made a phone call home, and headed out to Solaris. Amanda and Mario had left first, but by the time a group of us including the usual suspects as well as Antonella Napolitano got down the street, we caught back up with them as they weren’t quite sure where they were heading. We walked there and then a few members of the party realized they didn’t have the ID to get in (and look really young, so there was no wiggle room.) We trekked back and back again, and then we were inside. Even after all that, the show hadn’t yet started. During the walk, I got to talk a lot with Mario who blew my mind with some of the stuff he wants to do. Since some of that includes making independent film, I told him my idea that formed from my talks with John Rogers about forming collectives or cooperatives around the production and how to make your crew working for free actually participants in the process.
The musician was Alana Davis, a performer lots of people seemed hyped about but with whom I was unfamiliar. I really enjoyed the show, even though I moved to the bar area for a while to converse with people. I liked the music but I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to all these people while I was in the same room with them. I ended up showing several people the CVS camera and talking about the cable hack several more times. Eventually, I ended up having a long and emotional conversation with Mario and Amanda about the fun and opportunities and pressures of what is happening right now with media, new and old. We all sort of mutually agreed that we feel that something special is on the cusp of happening, that there is a window to create a new world with new access to more people, more engagement and less passivity and that a smarter public could emerge from it. Obviously, this includes getting tech out to more people and connectivity out to more people who are presently unconnected, which is a big issue. We also know that if it gets screwed up now, the existing media and power structures will build up antibodies to this and perhaps entrench deeper in a way that immunizes them against changing. That’s the responsibility part. Can a few minutes of dada video daily change the world? I think so, but don’t take my word for it. You can watch it happen.
Unlike the previous night, I took it a little easy on the brews so I was coherent enough for conversation all the way through the evening. In another of the many surreal moments, I found myself in a cluster of folks including Mark, Chris Daniel and Duncan “Atrios” Black in a conversation that ultimately turned to the technology of how GWAR does what they do and the democratizing power of Monty Python. I got my Alana Davis CD signed, got her permission in person to use her music in the podcasts and as the soundtrack to the video of the conference. She really seemed tickled when I told here that at first I got the permissions in order not to get sued, and eventually I realized that anyone that would sue me is someone whose music I don’t give a shit about. It was a good time all around, but eventually I ran out of steam and left. I said my goodbyes and hugged everyone and back to the hotel.
On the way, I got into a conversation about Greensboro nightlife with some random guy and pointed him to various options. Bad luck for him that I was his tour guide, hope he found something fun. I saw a spot right in front of the hotel so I went to move my rental car closer. The band unloading at the pub I was parked in front of had me almost blocked in, but they and the taxi driver behind me guided me out. Now parked right by the front door, all set up for loading up the car and heading out, I went to bed and slept the sleep of the spiritually satisfied but physically exhausted.
To be concluded
Note to Rocketboom fans – If you can possibly download the bittorrent, please do. There’s a whole lot of you, and all the bandwidth you save helps. When you download a legal torrent, you stick it to the man!
This is the special Converge South episode! I talk a little about my very positive experience there; I play a song by Alana Davis; I tell the story of the barbecue at the Hoggard household; I play a song by Bruce Piephoff; I play the interview with Amanda Congdon and Mario Librandi of Rocketboom; I play a song by the Murray Street Band; I welcome a new sponsor and fade out like an exhausted guy might.
This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.
Links mentioned in this episode:
I got a chance to talk some with Kevin Howarth at the conference and I agree completely with what he says about Converge South. I enjoyed being in the city and felt like something special was happening. It’s not just that the people were great at the conference, they were great in the city. The A&T students that explained how the shuttle works to me were great, the city workers who told me about the renovation plans for Woolworth’s were great, the random people who talked to me on Elm Street between leaving Solaris and getting to the hotel were great. The guys who helped me back my car out of where I was blocked in were great, the guy who I kept giving spare change to was great. I felt not just comfortable but at home at every point from arriving in the city limits until I left.
Well, except for the asshole who was honking at me while I was trying to figure out which street turned into Highway 220 south. It’s a big street, just go around me, tiny hateful impatient man. That guy can kiss my ass, but everyone else was great.
I meant to post all these yesterday, but the built up fatigue finally wore me down.
Lunch involved talking to a number of folks, and then seeing Mark from Mount Airy wearing an EGC t-shirt! That was on oddly cool moment. I actually went outside with him and we filmed a video interview about his experience with new media, as a listener to podcasts. Really nice guy. After that, I sat in a circle with Dave, Dan and Janet, Ed and many others whom my weary mind is blanking on. It was brought up at that time something I had been thinking, how nice it was to actually have black people at a tech conference. I can’t remember if there were more than five or so black people at the entirety of the Stanford Bloggercon. The A&T students I talked to were smart and interested and really raring to engage. I hope to see them really knocking socks off soon. I subscribed to my first new blog by an A&T student yesterday. Cobb (who I met while riding in the shuttle van) discusses that he didn’t see any Asian people but that wasn’t such a problem in Stanford, for example. Even if it wasn’t as diverse as the Billy Jack movies told us our future would be, it still felt like a great step to me. My only thing was that not enough students started conversations with me. I did talk to some, but I almost always had to approach them. Was I intimidating or something? I’m a chubby gregarious teddy bear, come chat with me! Chat with everybody, pick our brains for what we already know and tell us what you think we should know. It’s why we all came to you.
After lunch was the Dave Winer led session about tools. There was some interesting discussion. I threw out how much I liked WordPress as an ongoing tool even if the setup isn’t necessarily something a novice can do. Some people said the hosted WordPress solution wasn’t even as good as a default WordPress install on your own system. Some fascinating talk was raised about having a wizard-like interrogation process as the setup on whatever blog system as a new blog is being created, which would do a lot of automatic configuring based on the needs of the blog. Is it multiperson, do you want comments/trackbacks, do you need sidebars, etc? One of the professors of a nearby school (I talked to her but have forgotten her details, my brain was full by then) wants to write grant proposals and get some of this stuff built to lower barriers to entry. I’m all for that, and I’d love to see NC colleges take the lead in those projects. She’s got my card, I hope she writes. Key moment of that panel was the 20-ish young lady student that says she runs three blogs, two on WordPress and one with a tool she wrote herself. I don’t remember if she was an A&T student or a different school but that was so cool to hear.
After that was the podcasting session, led by Herb Everett. I met and talked to Herb a little (and had even listened to episodes of the Beat on the way up) and he is a great guy. However, this session was probably the biggest disappointment of the weekend. Here’s one where you could feel the culture clash of the collaborative and interactive style of the rest of the conference clashing with a centralized college lecture style. The room was buzzing at the beginning and there seemed to be a lot of energy there but it just dissipated quickly. In retrospect, part of the problem was that there were too many constituencies to please them all – introduction of the concepts for interested beginners, discussion of the concepts and issues for current podcasters, details of how to do it across a dizzying variety of platforms and systems. Mostly though, the audience spoke too little and it was funneled into the lecture model, where people would throw out a question and Herb would answer it. Personally, I would have liked it better if Herb had done his 15 minute intro and then mostly served as a traffic cop to allow the audience to talk to each other. There was a lot of knowledge in the room and a lot of interest in the room, and most of that never got out. Next year, we’ll have a better idea how to do it. I suggest having a workshop, much like the hands on thing in the computer lab where they had folks setting up their first blogs. Have a room where people bring their stuff and we make it work, and then remove all that talk from the actual session because there are too many details that aren’t portable to be of interest to more than a handful of the 200 people there. Sorry Herb. If you do it again next year, give me a call and I’d be happy to talk about these ideas.
To be continued
I’ve decided to break this up into several chunks because the post was getting so long that I fear people would skip over it and miss good stuff.
First up was the “Policing the Media” session with Duncan Black, ie Atrios. While there was nothing wrong with the session, which was quite good and on a subject I’m usually all over, I had a hard time getting into this one. Chalk it up to being sleepy and still having an unfavorable blood/water/Rolling Rock mix.
Next came the “Videoblogging” presentation with Rocketboom’s own Amanda Congdon and Mario Librandi . This was my favorite of the weekend. The inside stuff on Rocketboom was fascinating, especially how nothing is universally loved and the pieces that prompt strong reaction from some often provoke bafflement from others. As Ed notes, many people seemed to be put off at the notion of the relatively high threshold to get into videoblogging, in equipment costs and software costs and time to do it. Around then I got to throw out my piece about the CVS camera cable hack, which prompted more reaction the rest of the weekend than my nickle and dime podcast. As a convenience link to all y’all that I handed my card and told to come here, the video is here and the documentation on making the cable is here. The point I wish I had emphasized better is that you hack the cable, not the camera. If you do it once, any of these cameras will work with it (unless/until they change the firmware to make it stop working.)
For once, I may have helped rather than hurt a session by speaking up, because by pointing out that one can do this cheap the conversation then became about what you could do rather than if you could do it. Lots of people I talked to cited this as a standout session. Amanda was completely unfamiliar with this format and walked in expecting to do a more standard show-and-tell lecture type presentation but immediately adapted to the unconference thing and did a stellar job at it. My only criticism – make Mario talk more! One day he will no longer be able to avoid the spotlight so he might as well get used to it under friendly circumstances, no? One odd quirk – some people seem disappointed at the realization that the whole Rocketboom thing has a staff of several people and that it isn’t just batted out by Amanda filming herself with a tripod. That shouldn’t dissuade anyone. Do what you can with your resources and push the medium. Kids, do try this at home!
Last link on this subject, I swear: here is the infamous lizard video I mentioned and at least one person derided sight unseen as uninteresting. Is it really uninteresting? I report lizards, you decide!
More on next rock.
Ken Nelson took a good cut at a term for this DIY thing – “cynonomics.” That was derived from “economics” and “cynicism is a positive value” from the Zappa quote I played. It’s probably not catchy enough for what it needs to be, but I like this thought process.