EGC Clambake for October 29, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for October 29, 2006.

I play a song from Michelle Malone; I talk about Ze Frank, Andrew Baron and the Nerdfight; I talk about Halloween; I play a song from Tom Waits and try to get out gracefully.

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Ze Frank vs. Rocketboom

Andrew Baron posted his end of an odd vidcast argument that Ze Frank started here. Chris Brogan comments on that episode as David Berlind does as well, although Berlind is not addressing the Rocketboom diss but the TV networks diss.

Having watched the show, I think his attack is milder than I was expecting from Drew’s post and given the whole Ze Frank schtick but is nonetheless bullshit. He points to Alexa statistics as supporting his contention that Rocketboom isn’t really serving 300,000 downloads an episode. Uhh, right. I went to the Rocketboom website about once for every 50 episodes I watched. I’m on a Mac, so Alexa wouldn’t count me anyway. Propping up his argument with Alexa is not a winning strategy because those numbers are far from definitive. And besides, what kind of foolio complains about having 30,000 downloads in such a show? Waaaah. There is no crying in baseball and there is no crying in vlogging. Ze (or Frank or however you shorten your name), don’t be such a baby.

I used to subscribe to Ze Frank’s show, but I don’t anymore. Here’s my list of issues with his whole setup.

1. His feed system sucks but hard. I don’t know whether it’s his problem or Revver or what, but its just lousy. I couldn’t use Juice to subscribe, because every single file came down named “” and if I had more than one day getting downloaded, I had to catch it by hand or every subsequent file would overwrite the previous one. That’s just stupid level stuff. At that point, someone has paid the bandwidth for serving me multiple files, and I have one sitting on my computer to watch. Not smart. If I throw that in a directory with 20 gigabytes of other vlogs on an external drive, I had to rename every single file or they would all overwrite each other. After a while, I got so sick off hand renaming files that that I just unsubscribed. Some days, the enclosure just isn’t there in the feed. It sucks and is the most ridiculous failure of a simple task I have ever seen in podcasting in two years. The people who hand code their XML do a better job. I liked the show, but not so much for it to be worth all this trouble. I doubt I’m the only person with this experience.

2. He has no usable show notes or links of any kind. In fact, if you follow the links to his site you’ll get a bland page with no description. [It took me multiple looks to realize that “vb #2” is a description. It’s just such a bad one you can’t tell it is.] Just like you can’t tell one day from another via the filename of the download, you can’t tell shit about it from looking at the page. Is this the day he went off on Rocketboom or was that the day before? Have to watch the video to find out. Maybe that’s part of the master plan (requiring extra views to even know what the subjects are) but it is a lousy strategery. No google juice, no return links, no trackbacks, etc. The basics of this world are the more you give the more you get, and Ze Frank don’t give anything.

3. His show has a lousy and non-distinctive name, “The Show”. Rocketboom has no other uses in the compound form than the show so if you see it as one word, you know what it is. “The Show” ain’t got that property. On its AmigoFish page (a name created by a similar process as Rocketboom, btw), “The Show by ze frank” has less than 1/20th the ratings of Rocketboom. That’s skewed by the fact that AmigoFish has been mentioned on Rocketboom, but if you subtracted out the number of people that joined in the two weeks after that mention, the margin would still be greater than the 10 to 1 disparity in downloads. Some of that might be that you can’t search on it easily and find it by its title, only searching “Ze Frank” will turn it up. Despite the perceived injustice by Ze, he has less traction by the only statistics I have access to. I think a big chunk of that is his own fault.

So there you go. Even though “The Show with Ze Frank” has a certain belligerent and insane charm, I don’t bother with it anymore because it is more trouble than its worth. Despite Ze’s insinuation, Drew Baron has worked hard to make his show useful, available via many channels and play a part in the vlog and blogosphere ecology. Ze has apparently not put a goddamn second into that end — the “making it useful”, good user experience sissy stuff. I guess when your gig is being an aggressively ironic, post-modern and bat shit crazy … whatever he is, you can’t be bothered trying to be useful.

Update: More conversation by Jeneane Sessum on likeability. I thought she was going another way until the very end because Ze Frank has a lot of positives but likeability isn’t one I’d ascribe – more like “manic creepy charisma.” Perhaps she means the show as a whole is likeable. I think it is offputting by design rather than likeable but however you want to score it. Scoble suggests engagement as a metric which is not unlike what I’ve been saying for the last two years.

To clarify my position, I did indeed like the show (or “The Show”) but not enough to jump the hurdles put in my way to watch it in my desired manner. I can’t set it and forget it via RSS because the feed is so screwy. There is no video website that I am willing to go to every single day. I’m an outlier in that case. I don’t generally want to watch them synchronously and wait for them to download, and I’m never going to remember to go back every day. That’s, like, why I subscrbe to the damn RSS. I hear about how popular YouTube videos are and I see them embedded in blog posts all the time and I never click them because when I’m reading stuff I don’t want to watch videos. I’d rather watch a batch of them when I’m in the mood for it, much like I watch TV.

Update 2: According to the people in the Ze Frank Fanboy Forum I’m an idiot because his feed doesn’t work right with my podcatching clent. That’s home field advantage for you, kids. I’m beginning to get the sinking feeling I have once again gotten involved in a food fight with fanatics. This is the true power of the blogosphere – reducing the time between entering a conversation and regretting getting involved to all-time lows. Here is the knee-slapper of the thread so far:

Nah, just the accountability of established media from an experimental form. Philistine.

That’s right, Ze fans, you drive by a blog you never heard of before today and you know everything about it. What I really want from Ze is to be more “old media”. I think reading more than a single post would point what a truly frigging stupid observation that is.

Update 3: Jon wins the award for my favorite Ze Frank fan so far. He actually is conversing, as opposed to driving by, leaving a bag of burning poop and peeling out. That makes this whole thing much more fun and alleviates a little of the dread I was getting.

If you are coming from Ze’s forum, please do me the favor of reading all the comments so far before leaving one so you can get an accurate assessment of the back and forth to this point. Thanks.

BTW, for the dudes you think I’m an old media guy, you might be wrong. I’ve, like, done this podcast for over two years, done a show for IT Conversations for over two years, etc. I’m just saying.

Update 4: The Ze-slide appears to be winding down. They sure are tetchy on the forum, aren’t they? In the final analysis, probably no one on there said anything harsher than what I usually hear over the XMas dinner table. I like the people that point out that my post “wasn’t really about the content of his show.” Uhhhh, yeah. Ze tacitly accused Drew Baron of lying about stats. I pointed out a lot of ways that Drew makes Rocketboom work for maximal audience that Ze falls down on. So yes, friends, that’s not about the content. From a sheer artistic standpoint, Ze is better – no argument on that point. I found his delivery systems to be such a failure that the effort to get it exceeded its value to me. If he wants to get all numerical and get his up, that might be a fine place to focus some effort. If not, he can just toss around accusations until everyone gets tired of him. Either way the numbers take care of themselves, sports racers.

Update 5: Heather Green and Rob Walch look at the logs and find that Rocketboom is not getting 300,000 downloads a day, only 211,000.

Update 6: Something occurred to me today. In the forum, a number of people laid into me as being anywhere from a lazy turd to immoral for knowing Ze’s RSS enclosure feed is boned but merely unsubscribing rather than pushing back and trying to get it fixed. I’d argue that it’s not the responsibility of those who can take or leave a show to verify its technical correctness, but whatever. But – they are rabid Ze truefans, and although apparently not a single one of them was able to figure this out on their own they all know now. As of today the feed is still screwed up. I’m subscribing via NetNewswire just to see if/when the videos ever come down with a different filename. If it doesn’t ever get fixed, then either they are just as lazy as me or it would always have been useless to let him know. We’ll start the count at Day 2 of Ze Feed Watch.

Update 7: On November 16th, Asi from Revver left a comment that they had changed their architecture in a way that allows you to subscribe without overwriting your files again and again. From original post to that, 21 days. I think it was fixed a few days before that, so under 3 weeks from the start of the count to things being changed. Better than I would have thought.

In the final analysis, even though the feed has been made more subscription friendly I’m not planning on subscribing again. Having a bunch of rabid Ze fans yelling at me for being stupid because I can live without his show definitely sucked out any remaining warm feelings I might have once had. Nice work. I haven’t watched it in many months and I haven’t missed it at all. If you love it, great for you. I don’t, the end. From me, this topic closed. Amen.