CBC President and Ouimet on Search Engine

Not together, unfortunately. We were interviewed separately. And my part was an IM chat with Jesse Brown, which they are going to run through a Speak & Spell so you can hear my “voice” on the radio.

They wanted to talk about the Tea Makers, about posting anonymously, and about the President’s recent comments on this blog.

To be frank, I don’t think I explained myself very well. I’ve been interviewed a few times now, and I’m never satisfied with the results. It has nothing to do with the journalists. It’s the medium. And it’s me. I’m not used to intellectualizing this web site and What It’s All About. I think others are better at that. The process also feels self-serving.

So unless there’s a compelling reason, I don’t think I’m going to do media interviews any more.

Search Engine is on CBC Radio at 11:30am on Thursday.

Feb. 14 2007 10:17pm addendum:
This turned out weirder and more wonderful than I could have hoped. The radio show and the transcript of the IM chat are here.


  1. Hugh
    Posted February 18, 2008 at 7:55 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    @joeclark: what is feminized boredom?

  2. Anonymous
    Posted February 16, 2008 at 10:41 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Yay joeclark! If we could rate comments I would give yours a 5 out of 5. Excellent critique of those 2 shows…

  3. Anonymous
    Posted February 16, 2008 at 2:39 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Put aside that old producer’s entreaty to talk slower … he possessed higher standards in radio than we hear these days. And a gay porn collection? Who cares.

  4. joeclark
    Posted February 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Look, if you want to talk about those two shows, then let’™s.

    We’™ll put aside for a moment the analogue-modem sound effects on Spark, an anachronism comparable to a typewriter bell; the overwrought readings by Spark hostess Nora Young, who still hasn’™t unlearned the stultifying, feminized, middlebrow boredom of DNTO; and, contrastingly, the complete evisceration of ’śhumorist’ť Jesse Brown’™s actual personality as manifested in his wooden, too-slow readings. (It’™s as though he were coached to slow down by that batshit-crazy veteran CBC producer with the shock of grey hair and the vast gay-porn collection. His advice to everybody is to slow down.)

    Put aside also the grating whimsy of that mincing recurring reporter on Spark, also recently heard on And Sometimes Y. Also put aside Spark’™s calling up a former Canadian journalist to act like an expert on an unrelated topic. (Surely he and the producers are not close personal friends?)

    When you tell us that avoiding ’śgee-whiz nerdy talk’ť is a strength, Ouimet, what you’™re saying is that neither show ever manages to impart expertise. (Of course they don’™t. There’™s no expertise behind the shows!) The assumption, at all times and forever, is that every single fact has to be explained. Perhaps CBC Radio’™s classic audience of retirees and shut-ins needs to be spoon-fed like that (Cf. Eleanor Wachtel’™s constantly interrupting her guests), but does the other classic audience, the media elite, need it? (Who the hell else is home listening to CBC Radio in the daytime?)

    Does the expected audience of the shows, people who already use and understand technology, require this kind of simplification? Aren’™t they already listening by RSS podcast? Do the wall-to-wall classical-music programs on Radio Two explain what scherzos and movements are?

    I’™m gonna ride my hobby horse for a minute here. Can’™t we expect something like genuine factual accuracy from Search Engine? They’™ve got the biggest Creative Commons apologist in the world, Cory Doctorow, reading out loud his columns for a print newspaper on the show. But two episodes ago, Search Engine managed to mangle a long discussion about unauthorized reuse of photographs by never mentioning the way that ambiguous Creative Commons licensing contributed to one such unauthorized reuse. And twice Jesse Brown stated outright that the photographers did not copyright their work (’śforgot’ť was one of the terms used). That’™s one of the few facts of copyright that is easy to understand and cut-and-dried: Your original creative work is copyrighted upon creation. Contrary to the show’™s insinuation, ’ścopyrighting’ťÂ a work isn’™t some separate action you have to take, which, if neglected, makes any infringement partly your own fault.

    (Actually, a critique of Creative Commons is the sort of thing the show would never put on the air, because it would be like asking Michael Coren to write a defence of communism ’“ it’™s just inconceivable from the outset.)

    Search Engine airs fun little corrections of its host’™s grammar, but hasn’™t bothered to correct this howler. And that’™s just a topic I know about. Were there serious factual errors in the show’™s endless segments on China, for example?

    Search Engine is reminiscent that other Jesse Brown venture, Nonfiction (Teamakers passim): A haven for half-assed wannabes. As with the other radio show, they were given a timeslot by aging managers who can’™t even spot the semi-incompetence. These managers are afraid of computers, after all ’“ though, given the platform and applications CBC is stuck with, that may be understandable.

    It would be trite to classify the two shows as examples of Canadian mediocrity. Trite but accurate.

    Contrary to your suggestion, Ouimet, if there isn’™t room at CBC for a really accurate technology show that assumes its listeners have the same high competence as its creators, there isn’™t room for a show like that anywhere.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted February 15, 2008 at 7:09 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Great Search Engine piece – wow, we listeners are fascinated by the politics; we remember the friggin’ strike – yet, had no idea two years later there was still the animosity. Deal with the cancer Hubert, you sound like you care.
    I wish people in private orgs had the balls – and backed up with facts – to tell it like it is. Where is this investigative report into the BC sale…?

  6. Bernie May
    Posted February 15, 2008 at 11:51 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I heard the Spark interview, and thought you did just fine. Keep it up.

  7. Matt
    Posted February 15, 2008 at 10:26 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I found this blog because of the Search Engine piece. As an simple listener, I just wanted to say that everything about this has given me hope. The fact that this blog exists gives me enormous hope. The fact that the head cheese himself reads and responds in real words (not vetted exec-speak) gives me hope. The fact that whole thing was aired for all the world to learn about, in and of itself, is a Big Deal.

    Thanks, everyone.


  8. Allan
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 7:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It was only … amazing.

  9. Hugh
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 2:32 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    well done. you and hubert both came off well. we’ll see if the CBC does in the next 5 yrs.

    as for spark & search engine: lotsa people like them. those shows, along with cbcr3 made me think: oh, maybe the cbc has a chance, maybe it won’t die a slow death of total irrelevance.

    and no, they are not even similar in subject matter. search engine deals exclusively with the web & society; spark deals with a much wider range of technologies.

    on pov, i do think search engine has done a better job of finding a voice, but the subject matter on spark tends to be more complex.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 10:46 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I thought you did a fine job of the interview. Regardless of anybody’s view of the enterprise, or of anonymous posts, it is impossible to deny that this blog has stimulated discussion, even, according to Hubie, in the executive suite. Given the perilous state in which the pubcaster finds itself, that is a good thing.

  11. Kempton
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 10:39 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Good show and I quite enjoy it. The full transcript of the IM chat is up already,

    I just hope Mr. Lacroix keeps up. And it will be nice to see him starts a blog and take comments (moderated).

  12. Anonymous
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 10:11 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I just heard the interview, I thought it went well. I had never heard of this site before, so I thought I would check this out. This blog is wonderful, given all of the ridiculous things that happen in the public service/corporate world.

    I think you clearly articulated your concerns, Ouimet and I enjoyed the interview.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 6:34 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Surely though there isn’t a need for both Spark and Search Engine. Do they not cover much the same ground?

  14. Ouimet
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 6:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Now I reckon these 2 Anonymouses are trying to wind me up, but I’m going to defend both Spark and Search Engine anyways.

    And the main reason for that is that every time I listen to either show, I learn something new. Every time. And sometimes they make me angry or frustrated, and I’ve said as much on the Search Engine blog, but when that happens, that means it’s great radio, no?

    Also, I enjoy how each show discusses technology without getting into the gee-whiz nerdy talk. It’s mostly the social impact of technology, which is much more interesting to me. They bring up a lot of issues that I’ve never heard of before.

    No point? Trying to hard?

    I’m not going to take the bait on those. Come on, now.

    And yes, I will publish a link when the show comes online. I also think they will publish the entire transcript of our IM chat. I must have typed straight for a full hour, my goddamn wrists were killing me by the time I was done. Will Search Engine pay my disability if I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

    I’m not sure I made any sense at all, but you can be the judge.

    And Jesse Brown is a slow typer. Slow but deliberate. Like a drill.

  15. Allan
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 5:41 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    What then would satisfy you?
    By even doing this story (and certainly using the Speak & Spell) the producers are obviously trying their best, and seem reasonably tuned in to what makes for news that could be insightful if explored further.
    What puzzles me is why Jesse Hirsh isn’t a part of this programming.
    The other night I watched a “podcast” of the TVO program with Steve Paiken, arguably the best thing that TVO has to offer and nothing on the CBC comes even close. A panel was discussing “the cloud”, a term I resent, and find inappropriate.
    Hirsh’s comments were by far the most interesting and it reminded me how much talent goes under-utilized in media.

    Hey, Ouimet, could you please publish a link for the show? because I’m too spoiled to look it up myself, and I’ll be pre-occupied when this airs.
    I look forward to demeaning and taking apart everything you said.

  16. Anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 5:30 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Neither show has a point of view. New technology exists … and? It was ever thus. Yawn.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted February 13, 2008 at 2:09 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    That show is lame. They try too hard. Same with that spark shite.

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