Gen X at 40

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Marian -

The Star says:
"This is particularly critical to capture the imagination and attention of young people, who have turned away from traditional media. "Reaching that younger demographic is going to be difficult, no matter what you do," said Geist. "It's a crowd that has grown up in a different media environment than their parents, so bringing them back into the fold will be a challenge." Podcasting is "certainly one way to try to do that."

Getting the attention of young people is like getting the attention of any people. Most like cleverness and humour. Intelligence is sexy. Lowest common denominator is boring.

Personally, I think we should be more like the Europeans, less concerned with age, and more concerned with ability relative to age. That doesn't mean that we should ignore young people because doing so would be suicide for a culture, but maybe putting bright (emphasis on bright or innovative) younger people in charge of various non-essential things would help, then gradually move some of them into more important positions.

Alan says: "Passion is often these days a shroud for "do as I say" or "think as I think" in that the passion gets defined in terms of an agenda and, so, it you are not with us you are against us - all softened, of course, in the bloggy world by a little 80s hackisack or whatever the current version of the same is. But you see the same in politics, absolutism and the package of packaged ideas above all. All new little boxes made of tickytack for each to covet and join."

I think these podcasting guys are just enthusiastic. They don't really strike me as dogmatic. They strike me as hopeful. Of course, there are many schools of thought on what makes a zealot. But, they don't all agree with each other and they're talking about concrete things, which makes it hard for them to be zealots.

Alan -

You are right that podcasting users are enthusiasts (aka Gate's 70s slander "hobbyist") but those are not the people I describe. Ruk has a very useful newbie guide to the autonomous hobbyist enthusiast, that paragon to which we all need to aspire. I, in fact, hope to use that newbie guide to create some ambient noise based files for your downloading pleasure if I can figure it out, the sound of a cheese grater backed by a beat machine.<p>No, I fear the the guru wannabees, salivating embryonic consultants, past Y2Kers needing another hit of easy revenue. I can't believe that it is two years since I wrote this on this modern plague.

Marian -

Auto Mobile! Auto Mobile! Is the term "horseless carriage" not good enough for them? What a load of rubbish all this talk of Auto Mobiles is. They say it moves itself, but how can that be? What good is an Auto Mobile when a horse needs only grass and no fuel at all to bring you where you need to go?

I think some of these people you're saying mean things about (and using Bill Gates of all people to beat them with) are not gurus or hobbyists, but just really bright guys who are doing a lot to change the way we live. Some of these people write the technology they share with others which means they're quietly keeping the price of some products down by increasing the level of competition. Many are very creative people who are used to being poo pooed. I think the proof is in the pudding. Anyway, we can afford to take a few risks for the sake of innovation. If left to the naysayers nothing new would ever see the light of day.

Alan -

I rather have a sense that they are the people who make sure their names are in the media while others do the actual work reorganized or rebranded under the other guruistic right name.

Alan -

But I am more interested in the idea of the banality of the new.

Marian -

Say what you like. I'm not buying it. I know Peter Rukavina and have a good sense of what he can do. He ain't no damn snake oil salesman I'll tell you that.

Alan -

You utterly miss the point. Ruk is not selling anything, is not a guru of anything or a consultant. He is the good enthusiast. He is not suggesting that there has been a "paradigm shift" which he can explain to you for $25,000. It is the commentator, the consultant and the praise-taker who are the hallmarks of something being wrong.

Marian -

I agree. Ruk is not. Though Ruk does create things. And Nils Ling calls him a guru. He's merely an interesting and talented guy. The "something being wrong" was already there before the invention of the radio, before the debate between Marconi and Fessenden (sp?)over who invented it. The puff meisters are always there, but to me that's irrelevant to the technology which is actually quite good and quite novel that is being invented and tried out as we squabble. Indeed, it is the technology we are using to squabble.

Alan -

That is quite right and a circumstance perhaps of deep and abiding irony - yet how to describe my critical (if facile) analysis of the technology except within it. <p>I find it interesting that there is all the song and dance when these techological toys arrive, such as blogs and web radio, but no one notices when they have departed or when they are making their way unavoidably to the whirlpool above the drain. It is also odd that, also with blogs and web radio - both coming into the world around ten years ago - that an unclimatic addition of a facet and the renaming of the toy by the facet giver issues in a celebration of the new, even though nothing has vitally changed. The critical thing new with podcasts is the physical portability but even that is an echo of twenty years ago with the walkman and forty years ago with the transistor radio.

Marian -

"the facet giver issues in a celebration of the new, even though nothing has vitally changed."

Okay, but the difference is in how people choose things and in access. With a radio transmitter you receive programmes which are set or pre-packaged. With this new technology, you have more choice. It's also accessible technology. You don't have to go to broadcast school and you don't have to audition. I could do it from my house. My husband who does paid commercial voice work, could produce a funny radio show from here about Hungary that you'd probably like. He had a very popular and esoteric show on campus radio when he was in Canada.

The TV was around for a long time before it was used. Many thought it was a waste of time. Frankly I think it hasn't live up to its potential. Other technologies were a long time in the making such as the "Auto Mobile" which took four hundred years (or maybe only three hundred). In the meantime people scoffed and snorted and told everyone it was hogwash. Ditto the airplane. So the spiralling the drain you talk about may be true or it may just be a natural part of the way technologies develop. I don't know. I like my washing machine and my computer. I wouldn't want to have to wash my clothes in the river or boil them. I'm very grateful for the tools. The most we can do give it a try and attempt to use them for good not evil. Saying that the internet or podcasting or web radio is junk now, is silly. It's too early to tell. Anyway. I'm going to assume you are incorrible in this anti-techno bent. I must go to bed since it is getting late here. This message brought to you through the miracle of internet technology.

Alan -

I think "could" is the key word. You won't and many will not so, like the "citizen journalist" bloggers, it will be a bit of a bust but for the enthusiastic amateur that does not matter as it is really about fun.<p>BTW, I am not saying any of it is junk - it has been ten years and it has yet to perform as promised. As portland might say "I want my jetpack!!!" It is interesting in my job as a part of a procurer of big things (including IT) who I focus on the performance specs as a means to hold prospective vendors accountable: tell us what you are going to do and then do it. Similar with things internet, I like to look past what is promised to what actually happens. There is a lot of belief and faith larded over promises in tech. It is hard actually sometimes to find out what it will do, what it does and even sometimes what it did. This has little to do with the widgets, much to do with people.<p>Go to bed.

Marian -

I won't, you say. But the fact is, I do blog. You've even got me writing about beer and I don't know you or beer. I also did do campus radio and professional voice overs, so it's not at all a stretch to say that I will. I won't be doing it right now though. And my husband is a far more likely candidate for podcasting anyway.

As for the rest of it, no one knows the future. A few weeks ago, many at the Globe and Mail were crowing that Paul Martin was finished. Now, people are reviewing Harper's leadership. A few weeks ago I thought the EU was a done deal, now with the recent French referendum, the Chinese and others are acting as though they think it won't happen. It's all a crap shoot. But there's no need to despair in advance. I mean, we all have to die, but I'm not planning to die now. No pre-emptive nursing homes for me. That was a metaphor, by the way...

Alan -

I have and may make audio files but my initial playing with the tools makes it clear that there is a massive quality to effort difference with blogs and web radio. It will likely take a week or two to figure out how to do it badly to my satisfaction but, having listened to some voice audio, it is clear that most people sound awful, me too having done the college radio thing back in the 80s. I can be banal on twenty or thiry topics a week in text and photos.<p>If there is a success about blogs, it mimics your actual work effort in terms of what you physically have to do and millions were trained to do that since the introduction of computers in the workplace in the late 80s early 90s. It taps into pre-existing personal talent.<p>What really pushes amateur web radio (after the speechifying consultants eager to get their name in paper for future conference presentation fees) is the exclusivity or perhaps the dream of exclusivity. Blogs promise an audience in the low hundreds if you are average very lucky. Like the internet, they are badly organized and, though not organized by topic, can be associated by topic as opposed to author. Audio is much more expressive of the individual - but that is in fact a problem for 99% of people who might do it. People do not sound like radio and we are used to radio heads sounding a certain way. Those that sound interesting - as opposed to actually being interesting from an intellegence point of view - will gain listenership. Which is fine. It is a new form of ham radio in that sense. How many people stick with ham radio? How many people listen to ham radio? I am a radio nerd and I would never listen to ham radio operators.

Marian -

You and I were probably both dullards on the air. And there are many who are as dull. My husband, on the other hand, could host MorningSide. He's that quick on his feet and that able to converse even live. He's also that up on everything: literature, current events etc.. It's actually very annoying in certain contexts. Of course it would be a very irreverant and wonky Hungarian morningside, with a dark side. So there is pre-existing talent. I'm assuming there are others like him and some of them probably even have some level of motivation.

Alan -

Hah! We were great. We had fans. We two of <i>Bob the Dog</i> on CKDU actually had fans who came up to me years later...well, three times. Very odd actually being introduced to <i>The Girl From Planet Yay!</i><SUP><SMALL>TM</SMALL></SUP> to be told "I know who you are. You are Bob the Dog." Ahh, the glory of youth...<p>Anyway [Ed.: <i>bringing him back to life by a firm blow to the back of the head</i>] I was into trying stuff and being funny. It worked. That is how I know it would not likely work on the web but I will still play with the devices...they are all devices, you know...to see.

Marian -

irreverent. MorningSide.

Everyone is great in his or her own way. Very few are great in that other way that immortalizes.

Alan -

Very few are immortalized without benefit to the immortalizing.

Marian -

Um not sure what you mean there. Do you mean that one must do good to be immortalized? If so, Eichmann springs to mind as a counter-argument. And we all remember Attila the Hun, Jack the Ripper etc.

Alan -

I mean that Morningside was not all it is recalled to have been. I would avoid all references to Huns around here, given the clientele.

Marian -

I don't understand the relevance of Morningide to greatness. Also, I don't understand the comment about clientele.

Alan -

You compared me to someone who could host Morningside. Not having heard me you can be exused but having heard Morningside, your use of it as a example of the other, better route for what is possible with web radio is not compelling to me.<p>And the less you know about "the whole Hun thing" the better for you.

Alan -

As an illustration of good amateur web radio, consider the North Queensland Craftbrewers Radio Show, which has existed for almost twice the claimed history of the poxy concept of "podcasting". Fun, easy and informative. And not one three person panel on the role of New Brunswick weavers in social politics of the day.

Marian -

Yes. I compared you to someone whose skills at communicating were very good. I used the example of MorningSide to illustrate. I did not say that he is great. Though maybe he would be. Nor did I say that MorningSide was great. I then made a general statement about greatness, partly to rescue it from the relativism that overuse causes: as in, "that sandwich was great," "My grandma is great" blah blah blah. Maybe you are great on radio. It's possible. When you and Portland get together you have moments of greatness right here on this blog. It's just that I've heard a lot of radio and very little of it was actually great, though some of it was very very good. I guess I'm a bit of a jerk for saying so.

Tell me the Hun thing.

Alan -

OK - there is no Hun thing. I was trying to pretend there was a constituency of disaffected Huns reading this blog which I had to placate by not...mentioning.. the...Hun...thing.<p>What are you having for supper.

Marian -

We're eating fried trolls. What are you eating?

Alan -

Cambodian green curry. I prefer it to the trolls, if only for the sake of the Huns.

Dave -

What also is not new is your line of argument here. Back in January I wrote this:

"A weblogger that dismisses podcasting as inflicting tripe on the world is like someone dressed as Mr. Spock giving Dr. Who fans shit for being dorks."

So, if novelty of expression is so important to you perhaps you should find an original line of thought with which to be dismissive.

Alan -

No. <p>You forgot to mail the package that had you blog idea notices in it before the Christmas rush. Plus you point is mere self satisfaction and we cannot allow that around here. Please tremble the strings of the banjo the next time you intercede so we will know to remove our headgear.