All Along the Watchtower

Where to begin...First, I'm chatting with Dan Farber about what's going on this coming week.

Where to begin...

First, I'm chatting with Dan Farber about what's going on this coming week. He mentions Mashup Camp on Wednesday and Thursday, which I'm registered for, and a Sun announcement on Tuesday, which I'm not. Sun continues to befuddle me: its CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, lists this blog on his blogroll, yet his PR guy, Noel Hartzel, persists in not fixing the problem of making sure I'm kept up to speed with Sun announcements. I wish they'd make up their mind: either fix the stupid PR problem, or drop me from the blogroll. Everytime I see Jonathan, I try and embarass Noel by complaining, but as Dan Farber says, he probably could care less. Maybe this will solve the problem. I doubt it.

Then Dave Winer, who I consider a friend, raises questions about Podshow's roll-out of its new website. We all know about Dave's feelings about Podshow and its principals, and I've been given a reasonably wide berth in spite of Dave's antipathy, considering the fact that I have a production deal with Podshow for The Gillmor Gang, Gillmor Daily, and Attention Tech podcasts. This goes both ways, I might add, since I've had Dave on the Gang and on the debut show of Gillmor Daily, among many other times. Indeed, Dave manned one of the two participant mikes with Scoble at the Gangcast at Gnomedex a few weeks ago.

I figured that the problems he outlined with the Podshow site rollout were most likely attributable to a mistake in coding or haste in deployment. As a subscriber to Adam Curry's feed, I subsequently saw something either there or somewhere else that indicated that surmise was correct, and went back to waiting for the fix to come. As a subscriber to Dave's Wordpress comment feed, I watched a succession of comments attribute the situation largely to characterizations of theft and other nefarious misdeeds. Still, I figured it was par for the course. Surely Dave has every right to lend his voice to concerns about copyright and other blogosphere issues of openness, transparency, and other concerns. Indeed, my support for Dave's concerns at Blake Ross's Gnomedex talk put me squarely in the line of fire from Blake and others both in the room and subsequently online. Luckily, the session was podcast, and I stand by my comments.

But I'm not supportive of Dave's continued attack on Podshow's motives. In a series of comments on a Gnomedex discussion list that I evidently am subscribed to as a result of attending either this year's, last year's, or the previous year's conference, Dave has called for an apology from Adam, decried the podcast Adam linked to by way of response as not an apology, and insisted Adam remove his (Dave's) MP3's from the site. Finally, Dave reiterates the use of the word "abortion" as a fair characterization of Podshow's actions.

Certainly I trust the request to remove Dave's 'casts will be (maybe has been?) honored, but I consider the rest of this inflammatory and not worthy of Dave's justified position as the prime progenitor of RSS and its offspring the podosphere and the blogosphere. I particularly would note that Dave's enclosure format allows inclusion of a URL regardless of its server location, a feature that Dave has used numerous times to point at and therefore "include" in his enclosure feed podcasts from other sources, mine included, going back to the earliest days of podcasting leading up to the 2004 primary campaign. This, in my view, is a feature, not a bug, as it allows us (the users in charge) to create micro-community networks based on our interests and perspectives. If this is wrong, so are links, by the way. I think not. Dead, but not wrong.

Dave has also weighed in on the Rocketboom controversy, and I think he's wise to suggest we listen to both sides of the story. I think the play this story has gotten, as with Scoble's move, demonstrates the deeply personal concern we all have for how we transition into viable careers in this new framework. I remember a night in the late 70's when I walked into the Joyous Lake in Woodstock, a bar-cum-nightclub where local musicians jammed. As I pushed my way in past some bikers on their way out, I made some snarky comment under my breath to a friend. One of the bikers pulled up short, whirled on his boots, said to me quietly "You're not fu@king invisible, asshole," and moved on. It was good advice then, and now.

I've been reading books for the first time in years, two in particular--a Jimi Hendrix biography heavy on the music, less so on the drugs and sex, and Geoff Emerick's book on engineering the later Beatle records. Both books detail the transition from live performing to recording studio, and the subsequent struggle with collaboration, serendipity, controlled chaos, and friendship. As we go through a strikingly similar period today, history seems to be repeating itself, or at the very least resonating with our "new" network. As I read the books, I wonder: who is the new George Martin, the Chas Chandler, the Buddy Miles, the Miles Davis, the young or older George Harrison, any of the Bob Dylans, the Jason Calacanis, the Mike Arrington, the Dave Winer, the Nick Douglas, you get the point.

The interesting thing about the Emerick book is that he gives a nuanced portrait of the Fab Four, the slowly dawning realization of Lennon & McCartney that Harrison has grown into the role, or as Lennon put it, "He suddenly became aware of who he was." And at the same time, the myopia of each of our individual perspectives, the way our path skews the resulting slice of the timeline to our innate manias/desires/delusions. Emerick was there for most but not all of the Big Bang--he quit during the White Album, sat out the Let It Be "abortion" and missed the earliest parts of Abbey Road when the group slowly reformed.

The true architect of Abbey Road turns out to be Billy Preston, whom Harrison brought into the Let It Be sessions to embarass the group into behaving themselves. It worked on Get Back, and precipitated the last rooftop concert. Once they got clear of the conceit of the back to basics project, they inevitably drifted into the Abbey Road sessions, albeit with some careful baffling around the rough edges of the dynamics, like Yoko in a bed in the corner of the studio for the first month.

So here's good luck to Andrew and Amanda Rocketboom, and Dave and Adam Podosphere, and Miki Arrington and ValleySmack and The Mighty Om and all the good boys and girls that make up this big family we find ourselves born into. If we're going to take everything personally--I know I will--let's try and have some fun doing it.