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The Other Side of Everything

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Written on January 28, 2007, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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Finally managed to make another podcast… although frankly, I very nearly gave up on the entire business. I’m glad I didn’t; not everything given is easy.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

Getting into unsocial media seemed perfectly natural extension of what I was already doing, and what I had always done. I started performing 40 years ago, recording audio 35 years ago, recording video 24 years ago, started putting audio and video online 12 years ago, started blogging two and a half years ago June 2004, podcasting in 2005. It just seemed perfectly logical.

I can honestly say that the last two years have been the best in terms of being in direct contact with an audience, or readership. In fact, my concept of who they/you/we are has completely changed, and all because of blogging and podcasting.

I’ve always done stuff that appealed to me – the same applies to writing, to art, to making music, to business. I’m sure that is one of the reasons that I’ve done well, in general. However, being the grandson of Fred, a first generation socialist, I got involved n community-based work, and worthwhile and rewarding though this has been, it has indirectly led me to question what I am doing. I’d be inhuman not to, after the last few months.

Having kept pretty much out of forums ever since they were invented, I popped up last March, pointing out that we were about to be legislated and suggesting self-organisation. I was immediately accused of making things up to scare people and dividing the community. Months later, I’m still attracting slaggings on a regular basis – ironically, by the many of the same people, who are now either supporting or working for a business which denies the existence of a UK podcast community, whilst profiting from it.

But the weirdest thing was that the biggest self-publicist in podcasting, with an audience of many thousands and the backing of millions of dollars of venture capital, singled me out for personal abuse whilst I was rather conveniently out of the country. I was truly astonished that tiny me (in the grand scheme of things) could possibly wind this huge ego up quite that much that he’d resort to playground-style name-calling.

It’s bizarre. I’ve experienced something of this kind of behaviour before, during the early days of the internet, when I was far less savvy and had less understanding of human nature. What I didn’t expect though was to get such a rough ride this time round, or perhaps, not so soon in the process.

I didn’t really know that much or care about Pope Curry before this blew up, except that he had a podcasting business that was employing people I knew. I was vaguely aware that he goes down in history as the first ever domain squatter (MTV.COM). I listened once to his podcast and was turned off by the sound of his voice and his degenerate old media style. I met him only once. So why me? There’s an element of the emperor’s new clothes about podcasting at the moment, someone had to blow the dust off the truth, and I did it. That and the fact I’ve formed a non-business group which might just empower podcasters.

A sympathetic podcaster explained it to me very well: it could have been anyone, it just happened to be me, and I think that is correct, and the reason why I was supported to the extent that I was. In the middle of it, I looked around and realised that the people who were supporting me were all reasonable, decent, hard-working, honest and orginal minded, so I knew I was on the right side, if I was on any side.

The next thing that happened was in a way worse. I did the right thing and didn’t respond until the fuss had died down, but because I held back and didn’t indulge in a slanging match, people – podcasters, grown adults – seemed to think it was now open season. While I was in Palestine, people were using fake IDs to post inflammatory material on forums, writing (I was assured) “just like me”. To continue the process of debasement, someone even ‘stole’ one of my alter-egos – they actually pretended to be one of my fictional creations! I’ve even found this blog quoted in forums by people who think they understand my psychology from the odd article they have read here.

Yet, my problem has not been these twists and turns of podcasting, or the various barbs and occasional calumny, it’s been in the fact that I now represent the interests of many good people. I don’t think it’s too self-aggrandising to say that the podcasting community, whether I like it or not, now looks for some kind of responsibility from me, and frankly, I am not entirely easy with that. It’s not the best job description for a situationist.

It’s not what I am doing this for, to become embroiled in such nonsense, and it’s really not good for me having to shut up too much either. I’ve been struggling to write this blog in as honest and forthright a way as I have been doing so since I started writing it. My fluency just to be myself in this space and say whatever mattered to me, straight forwardly and from the heart, started to suffer; and this cannot be.

The podcasting community bundles along at a brisk, creative pace despite this recent fracas… but it really pissed me off that petty, small-town politics got between me and the freedom of expression that I am busy standing up for on behalf of everyone else. It’s enough that I pay the mortgage and amuse a few people. Between community service and my own creative expression, there is no contest. The community coalesces as it chooses, whether those choices are conscious or unconscious, but I need self-expression to survive, to thrive, and this is why I am on the funky path I tread.

I re-read Candide over the holiday. I must cultivate my garden. Hence, Pod of Funk #17. Enjoy it – I did.

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