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Podcasting Live

It’s now been three and a half months since I took Pragmatic Indie and I’ve been gradually adding features to the site as I’ve been going. One of the features I’m adding as of today (trialled two weeks ago when recording Tangential Episode 3) is podcasting live.

In addition I’ve set up an IRC chatroom with a web-embed that you can join in discussion during the show. I’ve done live recording of Pragmatic in the past (Eps 10-14) where Ben Alexander used MixLr which for Ep 15 proved problematic and live streaming was originally shelved as a result. I’ve gone with a self-hosted solution using Nicecast to broadcast a stream to Icecast 2 hosted on a Digital Ocean VPS. It’s much better quality and seems to be more stable.

I have an IRC Bot that keeps an eye on the IRC channel however I’m still working through the ShowBot. I’m forking the newer and well-known 5by5 ShotBot and learning a bit of Ruby and Rails while I’m at it. Also considering trying Casey Liss’ ATP ShowBot as well to see how it works out in comparison. Ultimately the ShowBot will be added as I have spare time in coming weeks.

The next episode will be live streamed just after 2pm US EDT this Friday the 22nd of August.

AEST US EDT US PDT GMT
Sat 4:00am Fri 2:00pm Fri 11:00am Fri 7:00pm

For the next few weeks times will be announced each week as they will vary each week depending upon guest-host availability.

As always please join in live in the chat room and chime in with whatever you like for Tangential however note that for Pragmatic the following:

  • I’ll be reading the chat room from time to time during the show but will only comment on items that relate to the topic under discussion.
  • Title suggestions are welcomed but until the ShowBot is ready to go there won’t be any voting on titles.
  • I’m considering sticking around after the show has wrapped for a Q&A style format that I may release as a separate episode a la the Follow-up episodes.

Thanks as always for listening and I appreciate your patience as I pull all of this together.




     

Starting A Conversation

In the past few years I’ve been engaging with more people whose work I respect and admire from afar and it’s been an interesting experience. Prior to that people I admired I generally COULDN’T interact with except on very rare occasions when I was in the same room as they were, and given my tendancy toward social shyness I’d just hold back and say nothing. With Twitter and Skype in particular it’s easier than ever to get into a conversation with people you admire but otherwise could never speak to. I’m sure this has been written about before somewhere but what follows is my take on the reality of interacting with those you admire and starting a conversation.

Admiration isn’t a 2-Way Street

If you love what I do and I don’t know you or what you do, then how can you expect any admiration to be a two-way street. Be realistic. It’s usually just in one direction from you towards them. That said mutual admiration is a wonderful thing just don’t expect it out of the blocks: if ever. Be realistic.

They’re Different That What I Thought They’d Be

No kidding. You don’t say? Everyone acts and reacts differently based on who they’re talking to. If they’ve never spoken to you before then why would you expect them to talk to you like they have to other people that they’ve known for years. Is that obvious? Apparently not because I’ve heard that sentiment a lot. Any conversation you’ve had in your head with them (admit it, you have haven’t you?) isn’t going to play out that way in reality. Relationships take time to build and interacting back and forth on Twitter a few times or listening to them on a podcast has practically zero additive impact towards an actual relationship with that person. The image you build of that person in your mind is always going to be different to what that person is really like when you finally interact with them.

Zaphod just this guy…ya know

I don’t care who it is: your friend, the Prime Minister/President, the Queen, a stranger on the train/bus, we’re all just people. The problem with admiration is that human nature tends to elevate that person to a higher level of being, whereby they could be considered to be greater-than-human: so-called putting someone “up on a pedestal.” The sad truth is that when you talk to people they turn out to be, well, just ordinary people that did something you respect. When you’re caught up in the excitement of talking with someone you’ve admired from afar your excitement blinds you to that obvious truth.

The strangest thing that I’ve been dealing with in the last few months is the shift in people wanting to talk to me. For the first time really in my life, strangers have approached me and nervously struck up a conversation either on Twitter, on Skype or in person, and been gushing about being able to speak to me and that has been because of the popularity of Pragmatic. To me, this is extremely weird. Historically I’ve never really been anybody of any importance or interest (beyond my close family and friends). The attention feels awkward coming from strangers but it’s been an educational experience from the point of view that now I have my head around what I must have looked like when I previously sought a conversation with someone I admired. It’s flattering but it’s a bit creepy if you’re not careful about how you approach it.

If you are going to engage with someone you respect then try your best to talk to them like a person and keep any gushing to a minimum. Remember that Zaphod Beeblebrox is just this guy…ya know

You Can’t Always Invite Yourself

“If you don’t ask you’ll never know,” and “What’s the worst they can say? No?” are expressions I’ve heard time and again. Honestly don’t be angry, upset or annoyed if your attempts to strike up a conversation with someone don’t end the way you wanted them to. The people you admire have their own lives, their own stresses, probably including but not limited to their jobs, debts, spouses, children, in-laws and alligator swamps they need to contend with every, single, day. You are merely a tiny blip on a distant corner of their lifes radar. Remember that.

If someone respects what you do it’s always easier to strike up a conversation. Several of the guest-hosts that have appeared on Pragmatic did so because they listened to a few episodes and enjoyed the show. If not for that, they would never have agreed to talk to an otherwise complete stranger. Perhaps they would have agreed to chat given time and a lot of interaction back and forth. Perhaps not. There’s no point getting upset if they don’t respond or can’t respond. The best you can do is put yourself out there, be nice, be polite and courteous, oh yes, and be yourself. (hopefully there’s some alignment amongst those pre-requisites)

Ultimately though if you want to chat with them, you can’t always just invite yourself into their lives and expect to be welcomed. Send them an @mention on Twitter, an EMail or a message through their site feedback form (if they have any of those) but don’t expect a reply. Why shouldn’t you expect one? Imagine if someone like John Gruber typed a 140 character response on Twitter to each of his followers at 85wpm, 6 characters per word (23 words/tweet, 3.7 tweets/minute), 300k followers would take about 56 days, 7 hours, 21 minutes assuming no toilet breaks, no network delays and no fail whales. That’s not really a committment ANYONE can give. Ask yourself this question instead: Why should they respond?

What’s The Point?

People want to have their voices heard. The more voices there are in the crowd the harder it is to hear any one voice. Just because no-one is answering or responding to you today, or reading what you write today, or listening to your podcast today, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow. If you’re intent on being heard and you have something to say then stick with it. It took 4 years of blogging, 2 years of podcasting both of them on again and off again before any volume of people started listening to me. Even now my listenership/readership is relatively small compared to some in the tech-space-bubble-whatever-you-call-it and that’s perfectly okay.

The reason I’ve chosen to write this down (type this in? I guess) is I came across some people I admire (with small followings) on Twitter that expressed their anger and frustration with creating their own content and not being noticed. They wanted to be part of a conversation with others they respected on the internet but it wasn’t happening. That triggered my memory of how frustrated I used to feel years ago when no one was really listening to me. My recent interactions with people I’ve admired from afar got me thinking about what changed. I haven’t been annoyed or upset about it for years now - since well before Pragmatic and hence well before many people really paid attention to me. So what changed?

Do Good Work And You’ll Get Noticed?

This is where I lose people and we get the “privilege” accusation or maybe even an eye roll or ten. Why that happens is that I’ve lost track just how many times I’ve read and heard that sentiment. The problem is that the superficial interpretation of that sentiment is easily derided and the actual point is lost on a lot of people - myself included until the past year or two.

Of course if you’re not a narcissist perhaps it just doesn’t matter. I tend to think though that all people want is to be heard by somebody else and that alone does not qualify you as a narcissist1. How much energy you devote to starting a conversation with others is your own personal choice. All judgement aside, assuming you’ve made it this far, what’s the best approach?

If we assume that the people you want to notice your work have one minute each day to notice something new, and there are thousands of other people creating content just like yours, the moment when their eyes and your work align has to be some of your most impressive work or that moment will pass and you’ll be overlooked. The best approach is to simply keep at it and in time, eventually, people will notice. Maybe even the people you want to notice.

Perhaps then the expression should be: only put out your best work, tweets, blog posts, podcasts, software, graphical designs so that when your moment comes, the people you want to notice your work will see the best you have to offer. There’s still the possibility that the best you have to offer isn’t going to be good enough, but that’s really just a function of who you’re trying to impress. But once that moment happens, planets align, your work gets noticed, then the conversation can begin.


  1. Sorry Jordan. 




     

Authority

BEGIN META

I’m not a big fan of Meta posts, blogs and podcasts. That is to say, I’m not a fan of content that is about creating said content. Every now and then something snaps inside me and I just have to get it out. Thankfully this doesn’t happen often. I’ve decided to preamble such posts with “BEGIN META” and “END META” to assist those that wish to skip the Meta-meta preamble and get to the meat of it. Feel free to do that: I don’t mind.

Anyone involved with journalism will immediately understand what follows as choosing your sources carefully is critical to success when reporting news. I’m not a journalist but as I’ve put myself out there more and more in recent years it has helped me to get my head around this. I’m still learning and there’s a long way to go so bear with me for a moment. What follows isn’t directed at anyone specifically and nothing really specific set this off - it’s just been bubbling away in the back of my head for a few years and it’s finally boiled over.

END META

BEGIN ACTUAL POST

There are two key components (IMHO) that go into creating engrossing content:

  • Personality
  • Authority

Personality is somewhat intangible. Verbal and physical quirks, opinions and confidence will appeal to different demographics of people. Add multiple people into the mix and sometimes you get chemistry and other times not. In short: it’s hard to nail down and it’s not an exact science. At best one can tweak their qwerks or try and keep them in check but beyond that there’s little else to be done. We are who we are. That applies equally to writing as it does to speaking, but if you’re podcasting then choose your co-host(s) wisely. Chemistry matters and what brings fireworks with one co-host will completely bomb with another. The other thing about personality is it tends to grow on people over time. Then other times it just makes others hate you more over time…

The far more easily examined is authority and hence I want to focus on that for the moment. Excluding personality for whatever topic you want to talk about, for other people to find it interesting, engrossing and valuable there needs to be some level of authority. So many people have opinions about so many things but so few of them actually come with any kind of authority on the subject in question. It’s irritated me for years and occasionally there’s debate about what people should/shouldn’t talk/blog about given their relative authority on the subject under discussion.

I’m not saying that people can’t talk about whatever they want: go right ahead since it’s a free world (sort of, in some spots), just don’t expect to be taken very seriously. If you don’t care about whether or not you’re taken seriously, then “jog on” and enjoy yourself and none of this matters. If you do care however, then please consider.

To best explain what Authority means to me I’ve decided to roughly rank key elements of experience to illustrate. What follows I’d like to call Chidgey’s Heirarchy of Blogger Authority (CHOBA) which lists how much Authority I think you have to talk about any given subject from most to least:

  1. You have poured a significant amount of time into building, modifying, repairing this product/device/system in recent months/years.
  2. You have poured a significant amount of time into building, modifying, repairing this product/device/system years ago but not recently.
  3. You have poured a significant amount of time into using this product/device/system in recent months/years.
  4. You have poured a significant amount of time into using this product/device/system years ago but not recently.
  5. You have obtained formal qualifications regarding this product/device/system in recent months/years.
  6. You have obtained formal qualifications regarding this product/device/system years ago but not recently.
  7. You have used this product/device/system in recent weeks/months.
  8. You have used this product/device/system months/years ago but not recently.
  9. Someone wrote about this product/device/system in recent weeks/months and you have an opinion about what they said.
  10. You’ve never touched/used this product/device/system but someone you know said something and you have an opinion about their opinion.

As I’ve said previously I don’t believe that opinions about opinions are worth reading or writing, so let’s extend that to talking about opinions about opinions as well. Note the position of formal qualification in the list and also note that whilst some tech-bloggers that review products might be offended the truth is that the role of the reviewer is to guide users which way to go with products and services and this requires a wide-spread knowledge of many products and services. Specific authoritative knowledge takes time and needs depth that few reviewers can actually provide by virtue of the fact they must test so many different things in order to effectively review any specific one of them well.

Since there’s only so much time in the day it’s not possible therefore to be an expert and authortative about everything. I’ve had so many requests to talk about subjects and with specific guests on Pragmatic in the last few months and many of them I simply won’t tackle because I don’t feel like I’m any kind of authority on those subjects. (That said there have been a lot of great suggestions I’ve added to the list too!) If I don’t ever talk about your suggested subject please don’t be offended! It’s probably just not a good fit.

If you’re going to live in the bottom of the heirarchy (which is fine both for and to a lot of people) please understand that unless you bring personality to the table you’re never going to be taken seriously. I’m pretty harsh about my own personality: I have verbal ticks and expressions that I get feedback about and understand that my personality alone isn’t that interesting, so I’m sticking with the content I cover and focussing on what I can talk more authoritatively about. Sometimes I’ve gone off topic but so far I think I’m doing okay despite the occasional miss.

Ultimately this approach will limit the total potential life of Pragmatic and even this blog. But I would rather that than just ramble on about random stuff I have no stake in, have spent no real time trying to understand and filling the internet with yet more dribble.




     

As A Guest Everywhere

Last month was crazy when I appeared on four separate podcasts as a guest - three of these are now up for those that are interested.

Note: All of these are listed on the Podcasts, As A Guest page.

On the 16th of July, 2014 Ronnie Lutes and Scott Wilsey invited me on their Pocket Sized Podcast: “Episode 160: Pages of Productivity” where we talked a lot about Markdown and raw text advantages and disadvantages.

On the 21st of July, 2014 Jordan Cooper invited me on Tech Douchebags: “Episode 17: The Prying Parent” on 5by5 where we explored parents choices with how much to pry into the technology their children use in the name of keeping them safe.

On the 6th of August, 2014 Anze Tomic invited me on Storming Mortal: “Episode 17: Nutella and Voting in Australia” aka Apparatus (the Slovene version) “Apparatus Ep 082: John Chidgey” where we talked about compulsory voting, the Lime overdose incident, my baby-grand piano that I miss dearly and naturally, Nutella.




     

Pragmatic Episode 29 After-show

I don’t want “after-shows” in the Pragmatic podcast (you could argue that’s why I’m messing about with Tangential) but in this case I’ll make an exception. For those that follow Myke Hurley you will be aware that his beautiful MacBook Pro had soft-drink (aka soda/pop/soda-pop) spilt all over it recently. What many don’t realise is that he was on Skype with me following the recording of Episode 29 of Pragmatic when he did it. Myke had stopped recording. I hadn’t.

This is how it went down. It has been censored for younger audiences and was posted with permission.


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