Seeing and Hearing

Here’s some stuff lately that has interested me, bothered me or amused me in citizen media.

Today’s episode of Rocketboom mostly reruns this thing some guys in Berlin did where they stuck a projector outside a train and showed movies on the subway walls. Although the project is kind of cool, I think the actual execution was grotesquely irresponsible. A train pulls up, this guy sticks a metal case to the outside of a car and then it takes off. I would like to think that had I seen him do this, I’d have at least called 911, tried to keep the train from leaving and/or knocked the mother fucker down and held him for the cops. I can’t believe the crowds of people who just watched him do it. I’m all for dadaist street art, but now is not the time to be affixing suspicious looking gear to commuter trains. These guys could have caused the transit system to get shut down or possibly taken a bullet to the head, depending on whether they ran into sufficiently twitchy cops. The stupidity and creation of pointless risk made me too angry to enjoy the art of it.

I watched the first episode of Robert X. Cringely’s new video thingie, Nerd TV. The interview was with Andy Hertzfeld and was pretty interesting. Is it just me, or does Andy look like he could easily be Bruce Sterling’s brother? It’s licensed under Creative Commons, so I suppose if you wanted to take all these shows and edit them into your own non-commercial documentary you could. Pick one topic and just take out the interviews on that point, for example, and create a 30 minute show out of the whole season. That could be quite interesting. It should be pointed out that Cringely now lives about 90 miles south of me in Charleston SC and that they really really need an enclosure feed for the video. They’ve got them for podcasts of the audio, but not for the video. Why not? Am I going to have to scrape my own?

I’ll mention three shows from IT Conversations, two I loved and one I hated. The two I loved:

One was Jason Fried of 37signals giving a talk about the lessons learned building Basecamp. I agree with a lot of the philosophy about doing things cheap, avoiding the pressures of VC money, iterating often, etc. It sounds like all the good stuff of agile development without the woowoo bits of extreme programming that make me itchy.

The other was Doc Searls who talked to Sig Solares, the guy who kept his data center in New Orleans going through the hurricane and flood. It was fascinating on a technical level and horrifying on a human one.

The one I hated was the Larry Magid interview with George Gilder. I’ve heard multiple podcasts with Gilder recently and he strikes me as one of those pundits that people pay attention to but I’m not exactly sure why. Even though I overlap with his opinions on many points (citizen media being a big one), I find listening to him highly annoying. Mostly, his depth of criticism seems to consist of making up goofily insulting nicknames for the things he doesn’t agree with, like “fool cells.” Thank you, Deep Thought. His shallow dismissals for spurious reasons some technologies makes me nervous when I hear him high on technologies I am also high on. It makes me think that maybe I’m actually wrong, if I’m on the same side as him on that point. I heard him on the Gillmor Gang a few weeks ago and had a similar reaction to that.

Both Benjamen Walker and Bazooka Joe had interviews with Dr. Ben Marble, the infamous “Mr. Cheney, go fuck yourself” guy, on Theory of Everything and Small World (no permalink for that episode that I can find) respectively. Usually I fill with disdain at people who do everything to milk a buck out of their 15 seconds of fame, but the guy just lost everything as hurricane Katrina flattened his home and recording studio in Gulfport MS so I guess I’ll give the poor bastard a break.