Monday, February 06, 2006

Scoops of vanilla perception

The latest Gillmor Gang podcast features Gabe Rivera from Memeorandum as its guest. I've listened to more than half a dozen of these Gang editions now, and several things are clear:

  • There are some very intelligent people on it with fascinating things to say (e.g. Doc Searls saying "Memeorandum is what Google News should have been", or Dan Farber talking about "scoops of perception");
  • Steve Gillmor is the least interesting of these people;
  • That would not matter, in fact it would be a plus, if Steve acted as a professional moderator who kept things on-topic and snappy;
  • It should be at least half an hour shorter, which would be accomplished if Steve refrained from banging on about his personal bugbears.

I'm only saying what listeners are thinking. I mean, you've got Gabe Rivera right there, yet you spend half an hour rabbiting on about something Sun did! Richard McManus says the same thing but pussyfoots around criticising Steve directly. The lengthy silences from other participants in the podcast as Steve craps on about irrelevancies speak to the same issue.

It's not as if there are a wealth of perfect Parkinsonian podcast interviewers, though, especially in the tech space. John Furrier at Podtech doesn't go hard enough, and as a result many of his interviews are glorified PR releases. Robert X. Cringely at NerdTV tends to allow his guests way too much latitude to sink into nostalgia about the good old days when computing was simple and Cringely was relevant. Even our beloved Aussie podcast guru Cameron Reilly has a tendency not to listen to his interviewees' answers, and go off on tangents relating to his own experiences instead of sticking to what the interviewee is all about.

Part of the problem isn't Steve's fault, it's the medium: conference calls don't work nearly as well as having a bunch of people in the same place. This is why I have encouraged Mike Arrington to start his own regular podcast featuring the stream of people who apparently go through his house in Atherton looking for deals. Imagine Mike hosting a show featuring the latest hotshot entrepreneurs giving elevator pitches for their new ventures at the hippest location in Web 2.0, followed by discussion between all these fresh minds about the memes of the day. Now that would be required listening.


Blogger SKI said...

i thought it was just me...

not really, but i do try to be
kind on occassion!

come on steve, watch a few of
charlie rose's interviews, like
the recent one with friedman...

figure out how to make it work
for you! and tell folks BEFORE
the program: turn off ALL the
other phones, email alerts and
anything else that ruins it for
the audience.


11:53 pm, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be kind of boring if they all sounded/acted like Charlie Rose though.

12:28 am, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Toby Getsch said...

Thanks for saying this. I agree. The last show had me saying, "Steve, shutup!" on at least two occasions.

However, I really like your point about the medium. It does make a big difference to compare to "watching" something. A conference call is different.

But, I do think that Steve could let his great guests have more of the floor - even though it is his show, as he'll be sure to point out quite often - which I also think is really Jr. High. (ouch!)

Thanks again for saying it.

~Toby Getsch

3:02 am, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous mike said...

As far as podcast interview styles go, I'm a big fan of Greg Galant on Venture Voice. He's prepared, asks good questions, and focuses on the interviewee and doesn't inject himself too much into conversation.

3:22 am, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Steve Gillmor said...

Tin -

It's been my experience that a large percentage of those bugbears turn out to be important in the long run. Sorry for wasting your time, though. It's right up there with wasting mine. I agree with your Arrington suggestion. Then you can switch over; I certainly will.


5:10 am, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Steve Borsch said...

It's not the substance of the's the quality with which I have issues.

I really enjoy listening to these guys shoot the bull about stuff that's going on in the tech sector. Steve pushes back to get a rise out of people and create friction. I learn a lot from listening...which is the whole point of them doing it and the reason I listen.

What I find really difficult and annoying is that the audio quality of their podcasts is worse than most conference calls I get on (where some idiot's dog is barking in the background, somebody puts the conf call on hold with their background music playing, and stuff like that). The difference is that ALL these guys are technologists and should know better. They have to know that it sounds like crap. Why don't they talk with their good buddy Doug Kaye and get a crash course in "Audio 101"? Or get a couple of bucks from Podshow for some gear and/or some guidance?

It's unfortunate that the quality actually pushes away people like me...their target audience. Often engineers, coders and technologists simply cannot understand the need for design or presentation (which includes 'presenting' audio in a presentable way). Why a web site needs design. Why white space on a printed page is necessary (why not fill it all up?). That even a non-professional podcast requires *basic* quality or it pushes away listeners.

Case in point: this week's "Randum Gang" has audio hum, crackles and pops that makes listening to the podcast quite difficult. The result is that the ideas that are the point of their podcast become masked. 16 minutes in to this week's show I gave was simply too disconcerting and too hard to listen.

Steve...your audio quality is losing my attention.

5:44 am, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Greg Galant of Venture Voice is the creme of the crop in terms of creating substantitive discussions these days. He does do a good job of "getting out of the way" and letting the guest talk.

I actually just listened to Gillmor Gang for the first time, and ended up turning it off and unsubscribing at the 1 hour mark. I found all the confrontational comments by Steve Gillmour, erm... obnoxious? Unnecessary?

I would think Michael Arrington could find a better person to partner up with if he is going to get into the podcast game instead of working with this blowhard.

7:29 am, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I both enjoy and am frustrated by Gillmor Gang. I think that Steve can be a bully at times and his pets (attention and gesture)get roundly ignored by his guests (I have felt embarrassed for him). I find him like the dinner guest who makes puzzling comments and the others humor him. It happens often on the show. With that said I still enjoy his frankness and the fact that he gets smart people on his call. A touch of humility would do you well Steve.

9:27 am, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg Galant from Venture Voice is excellent.

The Gillmor Gang is pretty bad. Fix the audio problems, and geeze - sometime they sure arnt' up with the technology, are they? (OTOH Jon Udell is usually worth listening too)

Cam Reily needs to learn to edit (and yes, to listen).

I've only listened to one John Furrier podcast. He spent way too much time talking about himself. Boring!

10:19 am, February 07, 2006  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

Those bugbears may turn out to be important, Steve, but they are unrelated to the guest you have on your program who has to sit there patiently while you get things off your chest. It's a waste of the guest's time on the show, which is the most important thing.

I agree with the anon who said Jon Udell is worth listening to.

12:39 pm, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous dharh said...

Eh. I've been listening to the gillmor gang for a couple months now and still find it one of my favorite podcasts. Perhaps I'm just not listening to the right podcasts but despite Steve's occasional lengthy tangents or floggings I find he is a good moderator and digs out conversation fairly well.

7:14 pm, February 07, 2006  
Anonymous Phillip Molly Malone said...

I am glad that I am not the only one that finds Steve the least interesting. But you know what, it almost makes the show interesting to hear the different personalities.

Couldn't agree more with you on Cam Reilly ;-) (no he is a good interview).

Off topic (and Paul might be the only one who agrees on this), but doesn't "ski" look a bit like our Priemer, Steve Bracks?


4:32 pm, February 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PodTech's interview on Gabe was actually very in depth. Furrier has by far the best content and some are marketing oriented but in general all are very good. He is clearly pushing out a ton of content.

3:14 am, February 09, 2006  
Anonymous Cameron Reilly said...

jeebus Paul... I finally get you on the show for a chat (after you begged for months), you blow it, then you slag off my interviewing technique? You crack me up sir...

12:09 am, February 10, 2006  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

You know I love you Cameron, and that I respect your work. You're far more attractive than Andrew Denton.

12:20 am, February 10, 2006  
Blogger Chris said...

I'm about 50% with you on this. I think Steve has lots of interesting ideas, and I think he marshalls the group sometimes when they go off into the weeds. I *like* that it's got the feel of a bunch of real live personalities discussing something.

My only gripe is the use of the "it's my show!" comment, as it sounds like threatening to take one's ball and go home.

Otherwise, big fan.

4:53 pm, February 10, 2006  
Anonymous Dave Burke said...

This is well-said, Tinman. I'm wrestling with whether or not to write my own rant post about Steve's mis-handling of the Earthlink ad. I want to slap him when he says, "Thanks, Dave! [Slusher]" while setting up the Earthlink ad. Slusher was classy enough to drop the subject after he realized he was being played by Gillmor. Still, Gillmor continues to mention him again. No class.

Part of Gillmor's charm is found in his crustiness, but there's nothing endearing about his shilling for EarthLink, ignoring "the attention" of those who care enough to make an honest assessment of the affect of such a lamo ad on Gillmor's credibility.

6:40 am, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Raftery said...

Horses for courses, I guess.

When I'm interviewing the guests on my show, I'm doing so 'cos they are experts in their area so as much as possible I try to get out of their way. People don't tune in to to hear me, they tune in to hear my guests!

5:03 am, February 21, 2006  

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