On This Shifting Media Landscape in Which We Find Ourselves:
As both a Creator and a Consumer, you're going to get whacked by this future twice as hard as a guy who is merely trying to choose between buying Maxim and any of its competitors once a month. Your point about "profile" is well taken. I hope you don't mind if I apply it to ... you.From the same post, on MFA programs:
Bob Edwards (XM Radio, subscription model, "push" method of distributing content) . It was the first time I'd heard him, and I was blown away by the quality of his insight about what's happening right now in publishing. I set out to buy the interview, since apparently I can't hear it for free through Bob Edward's site. It looks like I'm going to pay $2.99 to own it through iTunes (internet, by the piece rather than by the pound, as it were, "pull" model of distributing content). But you mention here in your blog (internet, free, push/pull hybrid) that you interviewed Nash on your podcast (internet, free, push/pull).
First I heard of it, even though I already subscribe to Marketplace of Ideas. Why hadn't I heard your interview with Richard Nash? Part of it is the profile problem. I subscribe to 20 podcasts -- a few too many to listen to, so I filter. The way I filter is by reading the little description in the listing for each episode of the show. The description for your interview with Richard Nash reads as follows: "Part three of our ongoing series of conversations about the future of books and reading, t" That's it. That's all you get.
By now, I can't remember how I found you -- whether iTunes recommended Marketplace, and I then searched further and found the blog, or whether a blog linked to your blog and I then found Marketplace. These days, I'm almost entirely focused on finding good, efficient filters, though, and anything you can do to raise your profile will help the both of us. You have a lot of content that I'm sure I would love but that is completely inaccessible to me, and I'm more persistent than the average person. At various times you circle the issue of where you're going with your work, how you can support yourself doing it, and why so much of what you produce is met with silence. As such, you have a lot in common with the publishers at the AWWP book fair.
But as somebody with cash-in-fist looking for content, you have a lot in common with ME. My interest in Richard Nash is such that, at this point, I'd probably be willing to pay to listen to your interview with him. Help me help you. What other content of yours might I be interested in? If I was a writer who had been published by, say, Writer's Collective Two, and had read this post, I would have a number of reactions, chief among them FURY at my publisher.
But you are light years ahead of these stylish, hip, super-smart and sexy young entrepreneurs, because you are dialed directly into my network of filters. My next content purchase (through Amazon: internet, by the piece not the pound, incredibly effective push/pull model) is going to be Greg Whyte's "Fatal Traps for Helicopter Pilots," content that, I assure you, is not and never will be available for free. But I should be paying YOU for your Richard Nash interview (too late: it just finished downloading).
At their core, they are nothing more than containers for 10,000 hours of practice. Laboring for so long without the benefit of "success" can be a soul-deadening experience. The MFA degree is a trail of incentive-izing breadcrumbs -- hopefully, but probably not, with a better outcome than Grimm's, but so what?On squirreliness about feedback:
"It gets at the reason you won't find me in an MFA program, or indeed, in any other branch of academe: the academy talks to itself." But you are in the academe: you're taking a class in film-making. And the experience you're having there -- some people love your work, some people hate it, some people can't offer you anything beyond "I'm confused" -- is part of the value of these programs: you're learning stuff you might not otherwise -- certainly you're learning how problematic the idea of "audience" is to a creative person -- and you're getting to practice within a highly structured environment: assignment, execution, feedback, grade.
That's not the only way to practice, but it's not the worst way. [Question to self: is writing long comments to blog posts a good or bad way to practice one's art?]
These posts, in which you wonder why you get so few comments and what that might mean, always make me anxious. There's some fundamental, unspoken assumptions behind these posts, and I find myself reacting against those assumptions, even though they're unspoken and I'm probably even wrong about them.On the video art of my friend Keng:
For example, I've subscribed to podcasts you've reviewed on Podthoughts, although I've never commented. As you know, I'm not shy about commenting, but on the other hand, why bother? I post essays and what amount to blog posts on my Facebook page. Zero comments. But these are my friends, people I see frequently, and it inevitably turns out that everyone has read what I've written closely, has strong opinions about it, and they eventually will bring up some long-forgotten piece in conversation apropos of something related.
And, of course, I post this crap because I want them to know me and what I'm thinking. Commenting amounts to another art form -- I'm a poet, I'm a musician, I comment on people's blog posts. If your goal -- and you know, Colin, how cagey you are about discussing your "goals" -- is to generate comments, I'd be inclined to ask commenters why they comment, rather than asking people who don't comment what might motivate them to comment. Also, since I'm convinced that the number of comments is driven solely by the number of page views, I'd research high-comment blogs to look at that ratio.
[Ben] Casnocha must have an order of magnitude more page-views than you, but his comment count is, shall we say, modest at best. But, on a deeper level, if creating art in a vacuum is a problem for you, hoping for comments in a world of people who don't comment strikes me as an ineffective strategy. Hoping as a strategy: what are you, Cinderella? What's the problem here? Is there even a problem? This posts concludes, like most if not all of the others you do on this topic, with the artist's battle cry: I think I'll keep doing what I'm doing and see what happens.
I was in a Starbucks a few weeks ago and listened to a woman patiently breaking up with her boyfriend. It took a Frappucino and forty minutes. I suspect that management at the Bucks hates the seating area: why put tables and chairs there when they could fill it with t-shirt racks and greeting cards with YouTube screen caps of kittens? The only people I know who don't want their neighborhood Starbucks to be different than it is are the homeless people who sit in the arm chairs and repack their shopping bags.
I found the discontinuity between the audio content and the visual images jarring and gripping. The contrast between the happy, celebratory images and the fraught content of the audio was part of what made it gripping. These juxtapositions, which might have been merely ironic, become laden with portent, implication, tension. I'm amazed and impressed at how narrative can emerge from non-narrative elements.I don't have much concrete data about Dan except that he's from Maine, but I do know that he's got sound instincts, he's a fine reader, his insights have helped me think more clearly and he should really start bloggin' his own self. Aim to earn readers like Dan. Better yet, be a reader like him.
There is a story being told here, although part of it comes from my knowing that this is Skype conversation, which led me to believe this is a son calling his mother abroad. I only know this because you told me. I think this should be conveyed more explicitly in the piece itself. I like that the audio narrative "breaks down" -- at the end, part of what she says is not translated into sub-titles, leaving us mystified -- and I love that it circles back to her saying "Hello" (and that that is proceeded by her laughing, which alters the mood of the piece.)
There is a resonance here: an older woman talking over photos of her younger self -- the start of her adult life -- a conversation looping back onto itself -- the start of the conversation. I like the punctuation of sound at the end, and its abrupt "transmission ended" termination, since part of the narrative here is the mother arguing that the son can return. The sound punctuation says no, he can't, or won't.
The sampan background noise sounds like street noise, and I didn't know what to make of it. It adds texture, which I liked, and I liked that he introduced it well past the half-way point. Actually, as I try to articulate what he might have been doing with this sound (instead of just giving you my opinion about whether I liked it or not), I'm realizing that by introducing another layer on top of the photos and the language, he's making the world of Thailand -- and the possibility of a life there -- more real.
Then he cuts it off. But even if narrative didn't emerge, or if I have the narrative wrong, there's still tension and movement in this piece, and feelings emerge around a theme. They're drawn out of the viewer by these elements -- juxtaposition of elements, layering, texturing, pacing -- which have been carefully placed. There's intention here.
I'd hammer away pretty hard at your confused classmate. He needs to be made to articulate what he's confused about, and whether he's merely disappointed because an expectation he has about narrative structure was disappointed. Why is he unable to respond to the discreet elements at work here? Is he even able to see them? Can he deconstruct this piece into its parts and make some guesses about why it was assembled the way it was, what Keng's intention might have been and whether he legitimately met or failed to achieve those intentions? How did the instructor respond to this person's confusion?
Excellent work. You should collaborate with Keng. With regard to your piece, Marshall on Marshall, I liked it also, but I was only engaged on an intellectual level with it -- I liked the jokes, especially Marshall abruptly cutting off the interview with himself, and the interviewer addressing him by name -- that was an inspired touch. Your technical proficiency is impressive (was the scratchy sound intentional? I liked it -- it was an auditory reinforcement to the idea of the unreliable narrator, along with the black and white).
But what most struck me was your debt to Errol Morris. The graphics, the clear chapter headings and walled-off content of each segment, the emotional nudging by the soundtrack -- you've learned well. So much of the content of your work -- blog mostly, but even the radio show and now this video -- is ironic, self-deprecating, light and somewhat dismissive in tone. I like that, and I assume that's your natural voice, but if I were working with you I'd want to know whether you're hiding from failure by adopting a posture of dismissive, self-deprecating humor.
The problem with irony as an artistic strategy -- like sarcasm as a conversational strategy -- is that it's a one-trick pony. It can make one point well, but it can't go deeper, it can't explore an idea metastatic-ally, if you will (I just made that up, but you get the idea I hope). I know that in your 2 min piece you were working out a thinking exercise, but I'm struck by just how emotionally engaged I was by Keng's piece. For the long haul, that kind of engagement suits my taste better than witty observations, however incisive, articulate, and keenly perceptive, as yours always are. As always, I note zero comments. Merlin Mann has "Inbox Zero." Should you brand "Zero Comments"? I continue to think that as long as people are cowed into silence you're doing it right.