Around the Podosphere – October 2010

Here is some of the shows that have recently jumped out at me from my podcast listening. I’m about 6 weeks behind in my listening. I wrote a script to add up the running time of my queue and it currently is hovering around 9 days worth of listening. I’m in no danger of catching up.

I recently started listening to Rebooting the News with Dave Winer and Jay Rosen. The August 29th episode is particularly good. They had some interesting points to make about the business model of Consumer Reports but also about the then recent “ground zero mosque” controversy. I liked their analysis which paraphrased was “It’s not at Ground Zero, it’s not a mosque and if it was, who cares? Build houses of worship of all kinds at Ground Zero if you want to stick it to the religious intolerance of Al Qaida.”

I’m one of the original and longest duration fans of the Rock and Roll Geek Show. At this point I’ve been listening for six years. When Butler was burned out and in a bad mood he recorded  episode #415 which was all the music of Thin Lizzy. On his various programs, Thin Lizzy is his go-to bad mood music, particularly what he and Jasper call “tender jams” of which “Dancing in the Moonlight” is what Butler says is his favorite of all time. I’m inclined to agree.  

I’ve been listening to Marc Maron’s WTF Pod show since about episode 30 or so (and I went back and listened to all of them from episode #1). He had a three run tear of some of the best shows he’s done in the whole row. He did a two part episode with writer-director Judd Apatow for episodes 103 and 104 . Amazingly, the first part contains some of Apatow’s recordings of interviews he did with comedians in the 1980s as a teenaged comedy nerd. I’d put these at the top of the WTFPod list except for their immediate successor – episode 105 which was an interview with Thomas Lennon. I laughed harder at this than any episode in the series. Every 60 seconds, there was some kind of quotable wit. In a crazy digression about how Lennon finds Enya hot, the two mused on whether or not she is rich. Said Lennon, “She sang on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Of course she has money. She has that sweet hobbit money!” I found myself laughing at the phrase “sweet hobbit money” for hours afterwards. I highly recommend this series as a whole, but particularly these three episodes. Check them (and all of these show) out!

Continuing Coverage of the Death of Journalism

I find the current state of the news industry a fascinating thing to watch. In that way, it’s much like a 12 car pile-up or a dumpster fire.

Here are a few items on the subject that I have found highly interesting.

  • Dan Conover wrote a piece called The Newspaper Suicide Pact a few weeks ago, and it really seems to have gotten a lot of traction. It was even Boing Boinged a few weeks ago. I’ve wanted to talk to Dan about his experiences looking at the future of newspapers for the Charleston Post and Courier and then having all recommendations ignored. What I really like about this piece is that he points out a fact I think is really important. In all these pro-newspaper articles they are really arguing the positives for a newspaper industry that hasn’t existed for a long time. There are very few plucky rumpled beat reporters wearing out the shoe leather doing investigative reporting so if your argument for newspapers involves this sort of romantic self-image, it ain’t reality.
  • My AmigoFish recommendation feed dropped in this episode of the show Dave Winer and Jay Rosen do together called Rebooting the News. In it, Rosen discusses his “Church of the Savvy” analysis and I found it brilliant. I hope he writes it up soon so I can point to it. He points out that many current practitioners of journalism place their highest value on their own savviness, their own ability to be insiders and to understand the game. It really explains the mechanism for phenomena like the lousy process heavy horse race campaign reporting we get. The reporters don’t want to test the campaign claims against reality, they want to talk about “whether or not they will play with public” and whether they will “move the needle.” I thank Jay Rosen for giving me a cognitive framework for my disgust with the state of reporting. It doesn’t make it better, but it explains why it is this way.
  • Bruce Sterling blogs about this article in the New York TImes that covers the shocking news – shocking I say – that some blogs are started and then abandoned. The subtext is unmissable – “Look at these blogs that don’t even keep going! How can you even compare us to them?” When not giving itself a romanticized self-fluffing, the newspaper industry spends its time finding things to point to as being worse than it. Stay classy, New York Times! As much as people revere that paper, it means absolutely nothing to me in my life. I could care less if it stays afloat or sinks.

No Podcastercon After All

I’ve been thinking about this long and hard, and I’ve decided to not go to Podcastercon in Chapel Hill. It sucks because I’d like to but it just wouldn’t be prudent. I have a ton of work to do and have lost a lot of my discretionary time for personal projects over the last month. Three of the last four weekends have been pretty unproductive due to holidays, and I just can’t afford the hit. I wasn’t planning on staying the night, so if I stayed for dinners and the like it would have been a 18 hour day with a 6-7 hour round trip drive included in there.

On top of all that, another big part of this is unfortunate timing. Having been to (or near) three different sit-around-and-talk conferences since September (Duke, Converge South and PME) I feel like I’m talked out. Add to that the fact that I want to have the first organized hands-on Uplifter meeting in Conway in February, it just all reduces my urgency to go this weekend. I went to remove my name from the attendee wiki, and found the page locked so I can’t. Just so y’all know, I won’t be there.

I should point out that I am not at all troubled by the thing that made Dave Winer pull out. Sorry Dave, I know you think we don’t disagree on these sort of things but I do. It just doesn’t bother me if there is a box of free books sitting there, regardless of the promotional value. In fact, as the technical editor of a book competitive to the one being passed out, I probably have more direct reason to feel umbrage and I feel none. My problem is almost the opposite. I’m not wild about the “no vendors talking” rule. If I’m driving all the way up there and losing one of my personal working days, not being able to talk about AmigoFish really sucks. If I can’t work on it, then I want to have the option to talk about it. The idea that someone else could bring it up but I’d have to sit by silently — despite being the person who both uses it most and knows most about — is absurd.

When I was thinking about the Myrtle Beach blog shindig, I was not going to have the “no vendor” rule, replacing that with gladiator-arena style thumb voting if you felt pitched to and uncomfortable. That would give the session leader a good read on the zeitgeist of the room and allow them to cut someone off if they were violating the spirit of the proceedings. There are times it is appropriate hear from a vendor and so blanket condemnation of vendors speaking on their own stuff doesn’t serve my needs. Sure that privilege can be abused but I feel like I’m losing more from the silence than the risk of the pitch, particularly if everyone in the room has a mechanism to communicate when they’ve had enough.

So in summation, the combination of too much work; prohibition from talking about the stuff I am most excited about; timing; and conference burnout has led me to not go to Podcaster Con this Saturday.

Converge South, Heading Home

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 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.