Affirmations

This week I have had two very conflicting experiences on the net. One was a Twitter exchange which devolved rapidly into aggressive one-upmanship. That wasn’t fun and so I am off Twitter (again!) – I just don’t have the time to get good at Twitter.

Another was an invitation by a reader of my blog to answer some questions on music and audio. It was really enjoyable and I see it as a privilege to be asked to write about something I love so much. Rafael’s blog can be found here. I presume my questions and answers will show up soon enough.

On a more personal level, it is really satisfying to get an ad hoc request for writing about audio. That is exactly the sort of thing I want to do more of. So, two affirmations – one with regards to my poor Twitter skills. One encouraging my writing and my love of audio.

On reflection, this has been an excellent and productive week so far 🙂

Tomorrow’s podcast

Tomorrow I’ll be publishing the first of my series of 4 weekly podcasts!

I’m excited and I want to introduce the guest properly today so that you’re all ready with ears wide open tomorrow.

Carlos Amato (https://www.carlosamato.work/) is a cartoonist, illustrator and writer here in South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, Carlos is one of the foremost commentators on South African sport, politics and the zeitgeist for our times. He also chased his passion in cartoons from a very young age and recently landed a dream job at the Mail & Guardian, taking over from a local legend Jonathan Shapiro as the political cartoonist at the paper.

We talk about a lot, but you’ll get a feel for how he has managed to be true to himself and succeed in a challenging art form and an industry under strain.

I hope you enjoy it.

Guests

In my early adventures in podcasting, I’ve learned something important: Guests need to be considered.

Guests are very important (obviously), but they don’t automatically know what you want from them. Already I have had guests who thought there would be videos of the chat posted on the internet (only audio btw), and who felt very uncomfortable with the whole idea of being recorded, right up to the point that I bullied them into a room to sit in front of a mic. I was oblivious to this. I thought they all wanted what I wanted and intrinsically knew my intentions – but why would they?

If you are going to interview people, you also need to work hard to line up a roster of interesting people. I have decided to start with a series of 4 interviews – one a week for a month. As a little teaser, let’s play have you ever.

Have you ever:

  • Devoted your life to art and wildlife?
  • Moved from Africa to Scandinavia?
  • Built a cabin in the wilderness?
  • Drawn cartoons for a living?

4 guests, 4 stories. Coming up on chimpwithcans.com

Specifications

Specs can dominate your life if you let them. What chip is in your smartphone? What resolution is the song you are listening to? How big is your car’s engine? Newer, smarter, better. It’s a game that can drag you down a rabbit hole.

The biggest problems of chasing the specs as I see it:

  1. There is always a newer gadget coming up around the corner. This means your claims and feelings of superiority are always going to leave you empty when the new gadget is released.
  2. The FUNCTION of the gadget often gets totally lost in the spec wars. I was describing the problem of being an audiophile to a grounded friend of mine. I told him how the marketing leads us to believe that the newer amplifiers and DACs and speakers can reflect a truer sound than the old. He dismissed the whole thing in one simple question: “What is the point of listening to music? It’s to enjoy the music, right? You don’t sound like you’re enjoying the music much when you talk about the specs”. Music players are there to serve us music, not to make us feel like we are lacking something.
  3. Specs are corrupting in the most real sense. If two different specs matter, but they are contradictory – it can corrupt the human spirit. Take VW emissions standards as an example (link). The tension between on the one hand, environmental responsibility and the customers’ perception of the company doing the right thing, and on the other hand, customers need a high performance vehicle that is zippy and meeting speed and power specs – this dichotomy led to false information being manufactured and published. Possibly 20 years in jail??! Hectic punishment all to meet a specs expectation.

As someone prone to chasing specs, I am learning that making do with something that is GOOD ENOUGH for the job it is intended – this is the secret to a lot of contentment and productivity.

Embedding a track

Continuing with the podcast preparations, I am going to try and embed a Soundcloud track on this blog post.

This blog will be the primary place to go to hear my podcast. Therefore I want to be able to embed tracks so that they are playable without having to leave this site. This involves getting HTML code and pasting it into WordPress. I’ve never done this before, so here it goes with an old track I digitised from an LP a while ago:

Cute song. Radical embedding of audio!

One step closer to my podcast.

Types of podcast

Free form conversations. Structured research pieces. Reviews of products. Scientific discussions. Interviews. Creative stories. I want to create a podcast, but what sort of podcast should it be? I thought about this yesterday – I came up with a quick list of desirable characteristics:

  • I want it to be a long form conversation rather than a formal interview
  • I want it to be a weekly show if possible
  • I want to discuss in depth some ideas and stories that guests can bring with them
  • Topics of interest are as follows:
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Stories and narratives that affect our lives

After thinking about it for another day – I would stick with what i said, and I would focus on the stories as much as possible. Everyone has a story to tell, and humans relate to each other primarily through stories. Narratives. Archetypes.

I am going pretty well in lining up some guests. There are a few stories to tell already so we’re looking good. It’s an interesting exercise trying to find people to join you in a creative project like this. It forces you to look at your network of people around you, and to think of who might be interesting to listen to. It is the work that you have to go through to produce a series of podcasts. It is more intensive than i thought it would be.

I am already buzzing with my creative pursuit. It is happening alongside my office job career which is going just fine too. But the creativity is food for the soul.

Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire.