Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for March 3 2016 – Rating the Unrateable

In this episode, I play a song from John Howie Jr and the Rosewood Bluff; I talk about the various sorts of things I mess up; how do people keep up with the various digital goods they have purchased? I wonder if I am clinically manic depressive; I talk about an ugly Facebook fight; why don’t I rate books I don’t like when I know the author?

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, March 3 2016.

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.

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for August 5, 2013 – “DDOP Day 6: Star Ratings”

This time out, I talk about star ratings and trying to be reasonable with them; the weird differences in cultures across rating sites; and the dilemma of rating books written by people you know.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, August 5, 2014

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.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for March 15, 2014 – “Microcast: Tiny Money”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, March 15, 2014.

In this microcast I talk about Kickstarter, Patreon and Flattr. You can do one of the three for me.

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.

Links mentioned in this episode:

My Balticon 44 (2010) Wrapup, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Social Media Vacation, Week 3

I’m well into my social media vacation. I’m so far in I’m starting to approach the far end of it. My original “30 days away” plan would put me at 9 more days. I’ll be honest with you, people. I’m not sure I’m ever coming back. At least, I am never returning to the level of use of Twitter I previously engaged in. There is a calmness and peace to my days that was sorely lacking in the previous few months.

I’m about to briefly break my vacation to post the news that the CREATE South conference is now under the umbrella of the Horry County Arts and Cultural Council. This means that future contributions are tax deductible! It should be good news for us and I’d like to get that in the Twitterverse today as opposed to two weeks from today. However, I’ve been dreading even opening up HootSuite again. I did look at it for about 45 seconds the other day just to see what was happening on the #createsouth hash tag. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see that Mr. Tee Morris is still whaling away on the official CREATE South Twitter account. It’s a pretty open secret that he’s our ghost writer (tweeter?) and has done 1000X better job than I did when I controlled that account. So there is value being created by all this, but my point remains: what is the personal cost of creating this value and am I willing to pay it?

I’m gearing up big time on the production of my documentary. Later this week I should have the first shoot of the film. This is an exciting point to be at, since I’ve been thinking about this for at least two years and probably longer. There might well be some value in creating and maintaining a Twitter account for the movie but I just don’t really feel like doing it. My hiatus has reinforced my feeling that Twitter interaction is junk interaction, and I’d do better making phone calls or visiting the subset of people I care about personally and letting the larger Twitterverse go. In reality, I’ll probably arrive at some sort of equilibrium where I hold my nose and use Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed and whatever horrific future monstrosities become the next geek toy fad.

However, from here on forward I for sure will be adjusting the dial so that the time and energy I put into social media matches the value I get out of it. No more imbalance for me. The days of twitchily checking for new tweets all day long is over. Just like I try to never turn on the TV when there is nothing in particular I want to watch, I’m done with social media when there is nothing in particular I want to say or hear.

If Creativity is an Avalanche, Twitter is Regular Cannon Fire

Ski resorts sometimes use cannon fire to prevent large scale avalanches. They do this by triggering very small avalanches at regular intervals, firing howitzers or air cannons into the higher snow banks to shake loose the chunks that are shake-loosable. The more I think about it, I think regular use of Twitter has done a similar thing to my blogging and podcasting output. Because I have access to a fairly constant ability to broadcast small chunks of whatever is on my mind, I have less urgency to gather my thoughts and write up longer bits.

I’ve discussed elsewhere how I feel like posting to Twitter is sharecropping. You don’t own it, it disappears down a Twitter driven memory hole, and whatever value you build is accruing to the account of Twitter.com, not you. I don’t make a killing on this blog, but whatever trickle of cash I earn from the Google ads and the Amazon affiliate links on here is more than I get from Twitter. When I blog, I make some pin money and I own all my stuff. When I Tweet, nothing much happens for me other than reducing my incentive and motivation to create anything else. That seems like an obviously pretty bad deal in every way you slice it.

This evening I did the data entry for every survey form turned in at CREATE South 2010. A lot of what was discussed this year involved social media. It was an article of faith that the energy put into social media is a necessity and has a positive payoff. I’m not so sure I buy that. I think the graph of involvement to value created has a steep climb from nothing to a small bit, and then caps out quickly. I know that puts me opposite of folks like my friend Tee Morris and Chris Brogan, who believe this is a necessity for anyone that wants to be involved in any form of internet culture. I’ve avoided drinking that Flavor Aid and it seems ever less tasty.

I supported my compatriots at CREATE South that wanted to teach and learn more about social media but less and less do I have any desire to be a part of it. What value it provides to the user comes at a high price, one that practically never gets factored in to the equation. I’m trying hard to account for those terms in my personal calculus.

Update: I forgot to link to Garrick Van Buren’s examination of the same topic as he examines what changed in his life when he dropped Twitter.

My Social Media Vacation Begins Today

Last night when I went to bed, I shut down Twitter (HootSuite, really) and Facebook and FriendFeed. I’m not going to look at or log in to any of those things for the next 30 days. There might be slight exceptions if I get a Facebook invite to something timely I want to accept but even if I have to sneak back in, I’m not reading and digging through status updates.

This is a mental health strategy for me. I have found that the always-on constant update of social media has worn on me more and more over the last year. When I turned it off for a weekend or to go do things around my town, it actually felt like a relief to me to be able to step back from that. Bear in mind, without any sort of smart phone I’m only a fraction as connected as most of my friends and still it wore on me over time. I understand the ways it can be useful but we need to think about what it does to us long term to be connected so much of our lives to these fast twitch update systems. You ignore the long term consequences of your productivity tools at your own peril. Even crystal meth is an effective productivity tool if you only consider the short term.

I still need to do my writeup on this year’s CREATE South conference (now one week in the past.) The only reason I didn’t start this vacation earlier was because of that conference. A certain bit of coordination and promotion was aided by Twitter and Facebook so I bit the bullet and stayed connected until the mopping up was mostly done. It made me feel like a bit of a fraud during the conference itself because a number of our sessions were about strategies for using social media to add value to your life or business while I was just counting the days until I could get social media out of my life for a month. This year the official CREATE South Twitter account was completely run by Tee Morris and that was a fabulous success. Not only did he do a job wildly better than I could have, it meant I didn’t have to stay locked in on that account. The result was better and I was happier.

I have a goal (not a death pact, just a goal) to blog at least once per day over this period. As I put more energy into the ephemera of social media, I put less into the more durable work on this blog and podcast. As I’ve said before, blogging for yourself in your own domain is like farming, posting your witticism into Twitter is like sharecropping. The work is the same, it’s just someone else cashing out most of the value. I hope to move my mix into things of lasting value to myself.

On top of that, my goal is to spend less time in front of the computer altogether. If there is one take-away lesson from CREATE South, it is that you get a lot of bang for your buck engaging with the people and the world around you and we geeks do too little of that. I want to attend the next Rivertown Social in downtown Conway. I want to start kayaking up the Waccamaw River. I can walk to the river landing, for pete’s sake. As I put it yesterday, “I want to spend less time with Facebook and more time with faces and books.” It’s shut down until May 23rd. We’ll see where it goes after that, but for now I am taking a well deserved break and it feels great.

Today is Boom Effect Day

Today is the day for the Boom Effect auction. Earlier this year, my friend Tee Morris lost his wife Natalie suddenly. The Boom Effect is a fundraiser to help with the future of his five year old daughter (known by the internet psuedonym of ‘Sonic Boom’). You can still make an outright donation to the fund via Chipin or you can bid on the various stuff in the auction. There will be a telethon style live telecast to go along with the auction and I’m embedding all this stuff into the post.

Tee has been a great friend to me, to CREATE South, to the podcasting world at large. Please do what you can to help him and his daughter in a very difficult time.

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for January 10, 2009 – “Ringing in a New Year”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for January 10, 2010. I take a moment of silence for the loss of Natalie Morris; I play the promo George Hrab did for the JREF; I play a song by Retribution Gospel Choir; I talk about what I hope for 2010 and what I did wrong and right in 2009; I play a song by Fleet Foxes; I talk about using Calibre with my Kindle and also how I both succeeded and failed simultaneously in NaNoWriMo; I play a song by AFCGT and get on with my year.

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

Links mentioned in this episode: