Since we're going back to the old school let's talk about podcasting.
I listened to a bunch of Word podcasts the other night and they were excellent. Reminded me how good podcasts can be when they're done well, both more intimate and roomier than ordinary radio. Here's a little moment from no 107 (the College Ents special) which features discussion of East Midlands legends Black Widow and the best laugh ever.
Once you start blogging, you just can't stop, I'd forgotten about this.
A bit self-promotional this time, but hey! it's a blog!
Two kind people have invited me to be a panelist at a couple of things at SXSW, both on similar topics, but they're NOT THE SAME.
I've got a Wired deadline coming up and there's a thing I've been meaning to write about ever since I started doing them, and every month it doesn't quite come together. And, it's just occurred to me, it's one of those that might well date very quickly. So I thought I'd try and bash out some of the ideas involved on here and see if it adds up.
At the moment it's a collection of small thoughts that seem like they're in the same area, but I can't work out how to connect them. This is straying into less whimsical territory than my normal stuff and it's making me uncomfortable. So in the Spirit of The New Age of Blogging - let's Over Share!
1. Unremarkable Times
There was a spate of articles and posts a while ago, when the banks crashed and the recession arrived, about how nothing would be the same again. We'd stop trusting banks, we'd re-invent capitalism, we'd fundamentally question our values. Now, as people start to talk about green shoots, we look around us and none of that has happened.
Just as the MP's expenses crisis was bound to cause a root and branch overhaul of constitutional democracy. And seems likely only to result in the non-election of Esther Rantzen.
Now it's possible that these reinventions will happen, that it's still early days. But I doubt it.
I suspect what's actually happen is that many of us are really, really keen to be living though dramatic and important times. We want to believe that now is a watershed, that this is An Age Of Something, that we live in Interesting Times. So we leap on extremely common occurrences (recessions, scandals) and pronounce them epoch-making. I guess this has always happened. But for some reason, of late, the collapsists seem to have been particularly vigorous and gleeful. They seem desperate for the collapse of some banks and some industries to equal the end of civilisation. Now, maybe there are still large systemic things happening under the surface that will create fundamental change but I bet, in 5 or 10 years time, I'll still be keeping money in a bank, bankers will still be getting large bonuses and people in America will still be making cars.
2. Gradual improvement
And this collapsism must be contrasted with fairly clear evidence that in the long term, in the round, for most people, life is getting better. Human history seems to be a long tale of slow, steady improvement. Life gets longer, easier, better. So, statistically, if we had to bet what we're currently living in an age of right now it's likely to be 'gradual improvement'.
3. Obscuring misery
And what's particularly annoying about this gleeful emo collapsism is that it obscures the real misery that recessions and set-backs do actually cause. So we don't focus on finding actual jobs for people or practically reforming things that actually need reforming - we wibble on about the end of capitalism or what not.
4. Obscuring actual danger
And, in a boy-that-cried-collapse scenario, all this end of days, woe-is-us-ism means we seem to be inured to the actual, huge, coming-round-the-corner-to-get-us disaster, namely the eco-crisis, or whatever we should call it. That's an actual physical thing that's happening, not some crisis of confidence or values or whatever, if we're going to be worrying about something, let's worry about that.
5. Like the internet?
All of which makes me wonder if I/we've been over-egging this internet revolution pudding quite a bit. Is it that much of a revolution? It certainly has been for me, but not so much for my Mum and Dad, or my son. Or for most people outside the West. Is it that epochal or is it just part of 'gradual improvement'?
I sometimes suspect we're living though a media and communications revolution because the people chiefly effected by it are the people who get to decide if we're living through a revolution or not - the opionistas, the commenters, the thinkers and talkers.
And that's it.
Hmm. Now I've written it down I'm not sure there's anything there. Dunno. Maybe all that needs to be said is this
I read Say Everything on holiday (or, as it's knowingly capitalised 'say everything'). I really enjoyed it. Reminded me of the truths of blogging - the various stages of discovery, the joy of sharing, finding a community and/or an audience, disillusionment, despair etc etc. And particularly, how whenever you think you've had an epiphany about it, someone's had it before. Normally Anil Dash.
At one point Mr Rosenberg quotes Cory Doctorow's My Blog, My Outboard Brain at length and it really reminded me that this thing still has huge value for me, but it's value that needs to be fed.
It's such a part of what I do that sometimes I forget that I actually have to write it. That's why I made a really conscious effort to write something every day in June, and I managed it, and I got my habit back and it was fun. Then I got busy with work, went on holiday and it dried up again.
And I notice that other people are discovering/rediscovering/reinventing the value of their blogs. Like Mr Winer and Mr Kane. There's something powerful about the slow accretion of thinking, writing and conversation on a blog, something that's different and distinct from 'social networking'. I'm going to try and do more. Get the habit back. I think it's good for me. It may not be good for you, it may bore you senseless, but hey, it's not for you, it's for me.
And, in other Interesting news, Interesting South is on again, on the 20th. I was going to big them up to promote tickets, but I think they're all sold out.
Hurrah and congratulations all round.
NB: Picture shows a list of speakers from a previous year. Do not confuse this with the list of speakers from this year.
I thought I should tell you who's actually speaking at Interesting, since that's the point of the thing. So here's an incomplete list.
It's incomplete because there are a few people still to be confirmed. And, because I have this nagging feeling that I've asked some people to speak and then forgotten about them. Argh. So if I've asked you to talk and not emailed you recently, please will you get in touch and remind me.
I'm particularly excited because I've not actually ever met many of these people, so it'll be a voyage of discovery for us all.
Anyway, here, in no particular order are who we're got coming so far:
Tom Loosemore will be talking about "the race to be the first craft to sail faster than 50 knots. I will cover brilliant British boffins, chippy-but-dogged Aussies & fat cheating Frenchmen. There will be science." (I hope he meant me to quote that.)
Cait Hurley is going to talk about Stan Laurel's Dad. Simple as that. Brilliant.
Naomi Alderman tells us that she will "probably talk about 'how to make cheese', but possibly something else so you can leave me vague if you like."
Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is going to do "5 minutes of paper." Elliptical yet fascinating.
Andy Huntington : "It's probably going to be the design of musical instruments and more likely than that is going to be a brief history of the piano."
Katy Lindemann is going to talk about robots. You cannot argue with that.
I think Jess Greenwood is going to talk about sport. Perhaps "what's interesting about certain sports if you hate the actual game play."
Robert Brook is going to do "Honourable Gentlemen: practices and roles in history and today. What a gentleman was, what being a gentleman might be today, rules of gentlemanly conduct and so on."
Emma Marsland's talk will be entitled "Ponies I Have Loved; Both Real and Imagined." Genius.
Alice Taylor has said she's up for talking. Don't know what about yet. It'll be good though. And I think she might be the third member of her WoW guild to talk at Interesting. (UPDATE: Alice is, in fact, the fifth member of said guild. I don't know why that pleases me, but it does.)
Matt Ward said this: "I'm thinking about calling it "August was an Interesting Month", it'll chart my journey towards the event and the production and discovery of interesting things - an odyssey of interestingness. It'll help me define what i think is interesting, but it'll also force me to do new things, trying new things out, search for meaning. What do you think?" I quote it all because I think that sounds excellent.
Denise Wilton also hasn't decided what to do yet. But it's bound to be good.
Jessica Bigarel's talk is going to be called "Meta meta data data."
Craig Smith is going to talk about his Dad: "He's an interesting bloke. He renovates waterwheels. He's Vice-president of Huddersfield Rucksack Club. He Scottish Dances."
Meg Pickard's going to do something about "the social rituals of drinking".
Alby Reid's talk will be called "Everything You Know About Nuclear Power is Wrong". And he knows what he's talking about because he's a physics teacher.
Dominic Tinley says he's going to talk "about colour, the exact topics and contents to be worked out over the next few week." I like the way he's nailed that down. Bound to be good though isn't it? You can't go wrong with colour.
Tom Fishburne's going to do "Everything I needed to know about innovation, I learned by drawing cartoons."
Jon Gisby's going to "teach people how to conduct a symphony orchestra. I'll also try and cram in a complete history of classical music into the same time slot."
Dan Germain says "Don’t know what I’ll talk about yet, but it will not reference the world of delicious fruit drinks in any way."
Hopefully Tuur Van Balen is going to do some bio-hacking of some sort. Precisely what will depend on the limits of science and responsibility.
MIke Migurski has not revealed what he's going to talk about yet, but it better not be maps. (I'm joking, I'm joking.)
Asi Sharabi's talk is going to be called Interesting Children. Intriguing.
David Smith is going to talk about teaching; what it's like to teach teenagers these days. I'm looking forward to that.
Matthew Curtis has not thought of what he's going to talk about yet.
Paul Hammond has said he might do something about Personal Metrics, but he might not. Fair enough.
Josie Fraser will give us "1970s UK girls comics, particularly the hilarious role psychological violence played in the genre."
That all seems good doesn't it? Many thanks to everyone for agreeing to talk. I hope you like the sound of it. I hadn't looked at all these names in one place before, I think it's rather exciting.
More names and topics to follow.
I mentioned back here the idea of selling an extra 50 tickets for Interesting in order to support the Do lectures. And we've done that. But I then realised that there's no way of doing a proper raffle-type draw and making it exciting via the medium of enbloggenication. So I've been putting it off.
But then it's also dawned on me that I should do it soon because Do is less than a month away and the lucky winner might need to prepare themselves.
So, here's the plan.
I will devise a fair way of selecting the winner - probably using Arthur to shout 'now' at some random point as I scroll though all the order confirmation emails from eventbrite. It seems pointlessly wasteful to print them all out and put them in a hat or something. You'll just have to trust be that I'm being fair.
I'll email the lucky winner and make sure they can go / want to go etc. It's a pretty special prize, but it's also not for everyone, so if you win but don't get the sense you'd enjoy it perhaps you'd be good enough to let me know and we'll move to the next person.
When we have a confirmed winner, and if they're happy for their name to be announced, we'll announce it.
Hope that makes sense. We'll do the draw this evening. Watch your inbox!
(See, that's just not exciting is it? Ah well)
We don't provide a lot of fanciness at Interesting. No lunch. No small food on sticks. But we do have a tea urn and some tea, milk etc. And, in the past, kind sponsors have been kind enough to provide paper cups for us. However, by the end of the day, we always end up with a soggy pile of dirty and decaying paper cups, which is bad for a number of reasons. This year, therefore, could we suggest, if you'd like a cuppa while you're there, you bring your own mug along. Or perhaps a flask and cocktail glasses.
If you don't have a mug you can acquire excellent ones (as above) here.