Illegible Smile

I'm about to release the first half of the Bloggercon Gang, recorded at CNET during lunch of the first day, with Doc Searls, Dan Farber, and Jason Calaconis. Jason is a trip and a half, talking as he was then focused on the rollout of the new Netscape and the rest of the media wars.

I'm about to release the first half of the Bloggercon Gang, recorded at CNET during lunch of the first day, with Doc Searls, Dan Farber, and Jason Calaconis. Jason is a trip and a half, talking as he was then focused on the rollout of the new Netscape and the rest of the media wars. I knew this was a good show at the time, but reading Geoff Emerick's account of his days recording the key Beatle tracks from Revolver on encouraged me to let it age a little.

It was a good choice, and with just the faintest hindsight attached, the session sits nicely in the pocket almost from the first second. I've tried not to screenscrape the Gang in this context, much in the same way that the Beatles opened the Sgt. Pepper sessions by recording and releasing Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane as the single and only then beginning work on the LP. At the time they didn't think of the single as such, but the demands of the record company and the deepening of the group's embed in the studio after years on the road dictated the context of the material and even to some extent its final form.

For me, Bloggercon three weeks or so ago was an intense time of preparation, execution, and experimentation. Preparation for my keynote at Gnomedex, for that is what I saw it as: an opportunity to perform in a safe haven designed by Chris and Ponzi a corner-turn in the Attention fake paradigm shift, as one of my critics put it recently. I hadn't wanted to lead a discussion at Gnomedex for several reasons, the most important of which being that I didn't have anything particularly compelling to say. Actually, that's not quite accurate--I had plenty to say but didn't feel it was up to me to go public with some of it.

You can hear some of that dynamic in Jason's talk about AOL's Netscape strategy and the internal deliberations he felt comfortable talking about in response to a Doc Searls question about the logic--or lack of it--behind AOL's walled garden approach to the AIM client. It's not that he is afraid of talking about it; it's that you can hear him measuring the projected impact of talking about it. Similarly, I have no problem talking about my strategic observations about Attention and Gestures for my own purposes, but have to weigh the impact on my collaborators. One of the fascinating things about Emerick's view into the Beatles ecosystem is his initial and long-term analysis of George Harrison's skill as a lead guitarist, and the odd resonance between what the typical perception of Lennon/McCartney was and what, at least for the engineer, was the much more nuanced and fluid reality.

What ultimately comes through is that the Beatles existed because they wanted it to exist, and even when they ended they ended it with a bang not a whimper. They loved each other. Couldn't get much worse, as Lennon sang. But in doing so, he validated that it was Getting Better all the time. So at the end of several days of meetings and a month or two of posturing and positioning, I sat down with Seth Goldstein and said, let's stop proving this to each other over and over again, let's pool our resources (pun intentional) and nail it. Suddenly we had our single, the Attention Operating System, and I had something to talk about.

I don't pretend to have a thick skin about criticism, odd wouldn't you say for someone who (apparently) lives on the edge of acceptability in terms of irascibility or just plain rudeness, and a fundamental lack of generosity as the same critic contends in misunderstanding why links are dead. I could pretend that I can't help myself, but you don't buy that, now do you... Truth be told, I have a problem with anger, with a passive/aggressive streak that has worked all too well for me at the cost of forbearance and some credibility. Some days I do better than others. Three weeks ago I did well by mostly eating a sandwich for the first half hour of the Gang.

But now, three weeks later, I'm enjoying the execution part of the process: working on this blog and its effectiveness. The last three posts are fundamentally intended to help prepare the ground for this media reboot we're now in active participation in. When Dave Winer says he has a good idea why I said what I said about him in two of these columns, he's right. And I stand by them too. Proudly. As he should be proud of Bloggercon. Listen to what Doc says about the experience of being a human attention recorder for those two intense days. Marvel at people like Dan Farber, who gave Bloggercon the home to thrive in; Chris Pirillo and Jake Luddington and their partners, who gave Bloggercon the live webcast feed that expanded that room to a much larger, intensely influential, and powerful audience; the BlogHer women; even Mike Arrington with his easier-than-it-looks willingness to be made fun of in order to strengthen his brand. Mike doesn't show up on the show that week, too busy sleeping or whatever, but his presence is felt nonetheless.

Now, three weeks later, I'm reading the first volume of Dylan's Chronicles. What a [censored] revelation. And there at the start of Chapter 2, he describes a woman with an illegible smile. Rock on, Bob. Is it, just maybe, his Mona Lisa...


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