Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday May 25 2006

Last night, i.e. Tuesday night (i.e. back to the regular night) Antoine Clarke and I did another of our mp3s, listenable to here.

The hosting problem is sorted.  All my recently created mp3s (except this one, which for the time being is still also at the old place) have now been switched to a different host, owned and operated by Mark Roussell.  (Which means that if you have already buried links in your blog postings directly to earlier mp3s, they won’t work any more.  Sorry about that, but I sincerely believe that very few will be thus inconvenienced, and that most of the links to here have been to the relevant blog postings, where I have made the necessary alterations.

I had hoped to post the conversation that Antoine and I had last night immediately after doing it, but we made an after-performance visit to a nearby pub, so that didn’t happened.  Which was just as well, because today there was a further coincidental glitch, when the motherboard on the computer doing the hosting stopped working, and by the time that was fixed I had to go out for the evening, which means that only now, over 24 hours later, is this going up.  Never mind.  All is now well.  All the mp3s are up and there for your delectation.

And now that the hosting is rearranged, if I and/or Antoine say something which, as the saying goes, captures the imagination of the world - i.e. gets linked to by a major media outlet like Instapundit or Guido Fawkes - and hence demands gigablodges of bandwidth, whatever bandwidth may be exactly, Mark will be on my side and will be ready to deal with this without sending me a bill for gigathousands of pounds.  That’s the idea anyway.  Antoine tells me that Blogger also works like this.  Blogger has had a dodgy bistory, hence the reluctance of many bloggers, me included, to use it.  But Blogger does apparently have the property that you need not fear success.  Just, if the past is anything to go, the occasional random cock-up.  So if its new owner, Google, corrects the cock-ups? . . .  Me? - I don’t know.

I’m very happy with how things have gone so far, up to and including the problems last week, and even today.  The thing is, I knew there would be problems.

There are two ways of dealing with problems, the German way, and the English way, and I of course am doing it my way, the English way.  Which is: just start.  Don’t expect to know everything.  Learn about the problems as you get to them.  Then, when things appear to be running smoothly, start beating the drum a bit, and speeding up, and reaching out and swinging from the chandeliers a little.  Load, fire, take aim.

The German way is to learn everything there is to know about the activity and work everything out beforehand, and then unleash the master plan and get everything right first time.  Which is brilliant, if you really can learn everything beforehand, and really do get everything right first time.  Otherwise, disaster.  For examples of both, most spectacularly the latter, see: German history.

Me, I never can learn things unless I get a constant reward in the form of actual, real show-offy things that I can immediately flaunt, in a small way.  Then, when the bugs are mostly chased away, the creases mostly ironed out, the cobwebs mostly hoovered up, I can switch to flaunting in a bigger way.  Which hopefully I won’t need to do, because word will get around that this latest series of Brian creations is (a) not going to go away just because most people are ignoring it and (b) not that completely crap, so maybe worth attending to.

I still have lots to learn and to get fixed, before I start banging the podcasting drum on Samizdata, for instance.  The whole iTunes/Podcasting things has still to get sorted.  But I am nearly there, “there” being the point where I will start branching out and doing other podcasts/mp3s, with others besides Antoine, and for other blogs and sites besides this one.  Meanwhile, Antoine and I are content to carry on with our weekly waffles.

Last night’s conversation was of a sort that is less susceptible to being organised as time1 to time2: intro, time2 to time3: Timbuktoo, time3 to time4: Greenland, time4 to time5: Mars, and so on.  It wasn’t really that sort of conversation.  It started like this:

0 mins 0 secs – 0 mins 40 secs: intro
0 mins 40 secs – 2 mins 25 secs: Peru correction and update (Garcia hasn’t won yet as was wrongly stated last time around)
2 mins 25 secs – 2 mins 55 secs: more intro
2 mins 55 secs – 6 mins 35 secs: Czech Republic and the EU constitution (Prodi’s election in Italy puts that back on the agenda)

And then the big one: 6 mins 35 secs until pretty much the end: Barcelona Football Club, and from that point I gave up trying to carve the conversation up into slices.

From about 21 mins 45 secs we switched more definitely to the funding of political parties, most particularly the British Conservative Party and the USA Republicans (25 mins 20 secs), and also mentioned think tank (e.g. Cato) funding (21 mins 45 secs), the point being that the best way to fund a think tank or a political party is the way that Barca is funded, with lots of smallish contributions from lots of members.  That way you aren’t beholden to any big corporate donors.  Oddly, we never mentioned the current fund-raising travails of the British Labour Party, now being splashed all over the headlines in Britain.  We did indulge in general ruminations about football as a substitute for and alternative focus for political passions and quasi-political instincts.  (Glasgow, Liverpool, and fights in China between Man U and AC Milan supporters.)

Another theme that wove in and out of everything was television.  Television has transformed the financing of football by creating a whole new, non-local customer base for big football clubs.  And television was wrecked mass membership political parties like the old British Conservatives, by providing alternative and better entertainment (including football of course) at home.

Some good news is that this time I managed to cut us short at only a tiny few seconds over half an hour (30 mins 11 secs).  Several people have said that they don’t mind these things going on longer than that.  But I do.  I want people to know that they only need a fixed time set aside for these mp3s of mine, and half an hour now feels like that right sort of round-number time.

The more I ponder the connections between podcasting/mp3ing and trad blogging, the more I think that a big blog posting after each of these things makes sense, as an advert for it, and, for those who want this, as an alternative to it.  What if, like me, you like to read with music in the background?  What if there is no time in your day set aside for iPodding?  Podcasting just may not be for you.  Fine.  Nevertheless, this recorded chit-chatting still serves my purposes, and informs what I write and think about.  The clinching reason why I am happy with progress so far is that I feel that I am learning a lot, about politics and about a lot of other things, as a result of doing it.  I very much hope that the same applies to Antoine.