When webmaster Zee first suggested this feedback forum, we hoped it would become the place where listeners asked and answered questions relating directly to items they had heard on one of my two weekly radio shows, questions that normally came to me as emails and sank without trace having been answered. In a feedback forum, they could lead to further investigations.
While it has fulfilled that function in a very satisfactory way, the Forum has also evolved into an interesting and sophisticated arena for discussions on various topics, and among the regular contributors Howard Male has introduced so many provocative themes that it feels as if he is a sort of columnist in this informal website magazine.
So I have suggested, and he has agreed, that he should have his own section where he can sound off about whatever occurs to him, and where you can continue to fire pot shots in response. Be ready to duck when he fires back.
Six years ago I started listening to Charlie's show on a regular basis and I also became self-employed for the first time. When I became self-employed it was required of me for tax purposes to come up with a job title. As about half my income was coming from a weekly word game I had devised, I reluctantly and with some embarrassment scribbled down 'Writer'. At the time I still felt more like a songwriter/musician but as I'd failed spectacularly to make any money from that, writer it had to be.
I often joked to people at the time that I was probably one of the best paid writers in the country - that is, in a pay-per-word sense. The problem was my word game only required me to write between four and ten words a week.
So I'd stopped being a musician (for my own sanity I had to make a clean break from it) and Charlie's show in many ways filled the silence. Listening avidly to all this new and exciting music became a necessary substitute for writing my own music.
So like other listeners I would occasionally e-mail him about what had impressed me that week or to ask where I could get a particular record. Other people's music was gripping me again in a way it hadn't done since my teens.
Charlie would often reply with short encouraging comments or record company e-mail addresses.
As time went on my Emails got longer and more involved. I knew Charlie would only reply if he felt like it and that was fine with me. I was simply enjoying myself trying to articulate thoughts and feelings on this most intangible of all art forms - music. I eventually realised that writing about music had become my necessary substitute for writing music.
Then along came this website. It hadn't even crossed my mind to contribute until Charlie asked me to post an e-mail I'd sent to him on folk music. Straight away I became hooked - one could tap out some new half-formed theory or sweeping statement and within a few hours some stranger would have told you how wrong you were! And believe it or not, there's nothing I enjoy more than being told how wrong I am, as long as it's by another intelligent sensitive individual.
Since that first posting I've been well aware that I've posted far more than anyone one else on this site. I feel slightly embarrassed and self-conscious whenever I dwell on this fact. But this writing thing is fun! And I'm now writing a lot more than ten words a week.
And now Charlie has asked me if I'd like to have my own little corner of the website to do my pontificating and topic raising from. My initial reaction was - great! But then my more insecure self began to feel like I'd been sent out of The Feedback Classroom for being too noisy and disruptive.
" Howard Male. Get out of this forum NOW. And take all your books with you!"
"Yes Mr Gillett sir."
But as long as readers know I'm not just putting up all this stuff because I like the sound of my own voice ( I'm still trying to develop the sound of my own voice), but because I want to get dialogues going, I want to be contradicted, I want to be informed and I want to eventually justify my tax return job title.
One of the astonishing things about online bulletin boards is that some think they have to read everything and that they sound clever when they wade through treacle, characterize it as such, and then complain about it. If you don't like it, don't read it. If you read it, say something more insightful than a complaint about its treacle-y qualities. This is not a test. No one's going to quiz you on whether you read it or not. But having read it â€” or waded through it, some demonstration of your comprehension might be in order.
.....and when some reader makes a comment about what you have written, why is there a need to answer with a rather bristly defence? Feedback can be worth more than gold; if it's not complimentary, reflect on it, evaluate the comments, and then act on it or let it go. It's not gonna kill you. (Patronising advice like this would normally cost you Â£25 a half-hour, so you can justifiably call my comment cheap.)
Like I said before, on-line needle matches can lose their charm very quickly. It starts off as laptops at dawn and usually finishes with the protagonists apologising for what they've said by blaming it on tiredness, blaming it on alcohol, or blaming it on the bossa nova.
So now i'll just STFU (as the stage sign in The Jazz Cafe says).
Funny, pertinent and extremely very well put Norman. I hope that doesn't sound patronising - it isn't meant to. When is someone going to invent other changes of typeface - like italics - which indicate changes of tone so that we can clearly indicate whether we are being sarcastic, annoyed, mischievous teasing etc? It would save so many misunderstandings occurring with the written word.
I have no doubt your comments are directed at me as well as those involved in the minor scuffle that has just taken place above - and they are deserved. I know I do have a weakness for the knee-jerk reaction and I will endeavour to try to keep it more under control in future.
I totally agree that such exchanges do become tedious and it's quite sad that a group of human beings who ostensibly have so much in common should still be able to find stuff to bicker about.
<i>When is someone going to invent other changes of typeface - like italics - which indicate changes of tone so that we can clearly indicate whether we are being sarcastic, annoyed, mischievous teasing etc? </i>
You can use smileys :-) to indicate that you are joking, or alternatives such as >-( to show you are angry (tilt your head left - or the screen to the right :-) - to see how they work). Might be a bit too txtish for some, but they are worth employing to express moods, IMO.
I was actually thinking about you and your use of the ':-)' when I wrote the above comments Con. It definitely serves a purpose, but by the same token it's usually apparent when you are making a joke so...
The trouble is I'm a bit of an old fart who tries to resist such things - I don't even own a mobile phone, even though a friend offered me his old one for free because he got so exasperated by my lack of one.
I did once respond to one of your old postings with a :-), but felt so unclean afterwards that I've resisted doing it since :-) - damn, did it again!
It's part of that fear of the devolution of our wonderful language. Texting has to be the worst culprit.
Normanâ€¦could ><((((Âº> be a red herring or are you a Christian with a design diploma?
Sometimes I fear that some of the chavs using this forum are so much up their own a..es that they are immune to being used as clockwork marionettes.
Has anyone dropped in on Afrodicia.com.? This site will direct one to Radio Afrodicia which broadcasts from southern California. Its two hour prog. is honest and unpretentious and has never disappointed. Give it a try.
I canâ€™t help but wonder if Jayne is a member of that famous family of letter writers, the Disgusteds of Tunbridge Wells. Her postings seem every bit as intelligent and open-minded and informative as the frequent letters to the Daily Telegraph.
In the past twenty-four hours, I have had time to analyze my irritation (no point in denying it) with her remarks more fully and to expand upon my regrettably brief and hurried posting, which was, I admit, a little one-dimensional. At least that simplicity may have aided Jayne in understanding my point for a change. At the risk, or certainty, of sounding bristly defensive, anal, transatlantic, post ironic, treacly, deprived of smileys or emoticons (which I abhor), foolish, tedious, or any of the other one thousand and one undesirable things I undoubtedly am on occasion, I will pedantically, onerously, offensively, patronisingly, hopefully (take your pick of adverb) explain my position.
A devoted practitioner of non-attachment would have ignored Jayneâ€™s gratuitous and semi-moronic slurs. But obviously thatâ€™s not me. Not all the time, anyway. Due to casual reading (and sloppy writing), online communication is well-known for being fraught with hazard and misinterpreted intent â€” so I suppose I must admit that I might have her all wrong because she may not be able to express herself any better than I apparently can. It also caters to remarkably short attention spans. It is usually best to just ignore irrelevant remarks as responding to them only leads to the useless slaughter of electrons. It is a waste of time and energy for both participants and any lurkers who are out there for other than blood.
Some subjects, especially cultural and political ones, are inherently complex and intelligent discussion requires comprehending differing viewpoints, which may in themselves be complex, and is usually time consuming. I choose not to simplify because I believe that one of the advantages of online communication is that at least youâ€™re not using paper and that it does a disservice to serious subjects to reduce them down to the level of frivolous cocktail-party chatter. Those with short attention spans have difficulty dealing with this. I know itâ€™s not everybodyâ€™s style. I operate within my own parameters. Others operate within their own parameters. However, itâ€™s worth noting that comprehension of differing viewpoints and Bushâ€™s short attention span are two of the differences between Bush and Kerry, perhaps the most important ones because they profoundly influence all the other more material differences. So, who would you prefer wins this coming election?
My posts represent me and Jayneâ€™s do the same for her. If youâ€™re interested in the substance of whatâ€™s at issue here, go ahead and compare. Click on the Profile button and then follow the See All Posts link. Of course, there are opinions in my posts â€” and, yes, they tend to be long. You may or may not like them according to your tastes. As anyone whoâ€™s spent much time with music knows, opinions are a huge part of the conversation. Complaining about them is like complaining about the weather or the landscape â€” not going to change anything. My opinions are based on thirty-odd years of involvement with music as a DJ, a journalist, a manager and producer, a booking agent, a concert promoter, a record store clerk â€” and most importantly as a fan with voracious and somewhat omnivorous, certainly expansive, tastes. Theyâ€™re not based on exploiting scrappy little differences with other members of this forum. In addition, my posts contain plenty of plain factual information, much of it hard to find or otherwise obscure, about the putative subject of this forum, the music of the world.
What are Jayneâ€™s posts? A series of chirpy little snips that might aspire to the status of opinion, but are closer to knee-jerk reflexes, conveying little more than the boring statement, â€œI am here.â€
<i>I did once respond to one of your old postings with a :-), but felt so unclean afterwards that I've resisted doing it since :-) - damn, did it again!
It's part of that fear of the devolution of our wonderful language. Texting has to be the worst culprit.</i>
I disagree, but I guess any elaboration as to why would be somewhat off-topic so we ought to leave it there. Suffice it to say that if people post regularly enough we should start to recognise each others' virtual tone a bit better and the sniping will diminish. Here's hoping....