Audio Attitude Exploring situational influence on attitude and behavior.

June 3, 2007

Driving Podshow’s Limo

Filed under: General — Brian @ 7:39 pm

My goal in podcasting has been the fun of doing it.  Each time I create something, I accomplish my goal.  It is a hobby for me.  And while I did not offer my resignation at work, I would certainly welcome a salary to tinker. 

Last fall downloads of my podcast increased.  Because bandwidth costs money I decided to let PodShow distribute my podcasts.  They charge nothing for bandwidth, but they naturally ask podcasters to agree to a few terms. One of the terms is their right to insert messages at the beginning and end of every podcast.  Usually these messages, or “tags,” are short promotional blurbs for PodShow, which seems fair to me.

Many of my podcaster friends also chose PodShow to distribute their shows.  Many of them last week started to complain about PodShow’s most recent tags. The sixty-second message to listeners was a rather odd appeal begging everyone to help PodShow “suck less.”   The longer-than-usual tag repeats on every show from every producer on every download.  The tag was creative and cute the first time. But after hearing it several times, most of us were more than a bit tired of it.  Some got hostile. 

In his blog, Christopher Penn of the Financial Aid Podcast, a talented and energetic new media enthusiast decided that PodShow needed some directions.  PodShow obviously did not know what it was doing so it must be lost.  Chris is a smart guy.  His directions made sense.  His blog generated several comments and more directions for PodShow.  Directions came from, well, many directions.  PodShow directions popped up on new media blogs and Twitter which I started reading early Friday evening after work. 

I like telling people what I think they ought to do.  It’s never been a good idea. NOT directing people’s choices is a required skill in my profession.  It is hard work remembering, but when I’m in work mode I usually do better.  Fortunately I was still in work mode when I started seeing all this PodShow directing. 

My first impulse was to pile on.  But I stopped myself and shut down the browser – barely visiting the web since Friday.  I tell you this because I have no idea if what I am about to say has already been stated by others, or if the entire issue is over.   My comments here stem from me thinking about my own role in new media.  Note, I said “MY” role.  I do not intend this as directing anyone but myself.   If you benefit somehow from this, I will be very pleased. 

What came to my mind this weekend was an adventure as a kid.  When I was fifteen years old I knew way more than I do now – or so it feels to me.  I was adventurous and free and strong.  I rode my bicycle nearly every day (at least in the summer), but rarely more than few miles.  I remember how free I felt with that bike, to come and go as I pleased.

That summer, a group of about a dozen of my friends were planning to bicycle around Lake Superior.  Half the trip would be in Canada – making this an international event, which sounded pretty cool at the time so I decided to join the expedition.  The trip would cover more than 1000 miles of narrow highway, hills going up, and hills going down.   We planned to camp along the way and bring food.  I felt exuberant as I pictured the entire trip in my mind.  I’d explore, and be with my friends, and see Canada.  It will be the best time I’ve ever had in my entire life!

The only adult with us was one of the dads who happened to be a doctor.  Cautious parents felt a little better letting their teenage boys go on this bike trip.  Doc would drive a van that would carry our food and camping gear.  He would be responsible to make sure we ate, stayed out of trouble, and cross the borders to Canada and the U.S. without any international incidents.

Most of the boys started conditioning themselves for the tour the previous month.  I didn’t feel I needed endurance training.  I was healthy and young and had my extra-light aluminum-frame Schwinn Continental touring ten-speed bike with big skinny wheels.   It had everything anyone could want in a touring bike.  I could lift it with my little finger, which never impressed my friends whose bikes were made of heavy steel.  

With supplies packed, the bikes ready, and breakfast finished we started our adventure. The first day was about 40 miles.  No problem.  I could feel a little aching in my legs the next morning, but not too much.  Day two included 90 miles of hard peddling over hilly terrain.  I thought we would never reach our camping destination.  I barely finished my food and set my tent before falling to sleep.

The next day was rough.  I was aching badly, and I was still tired from the day before.  I was not used to this much exercise.  I breathed heavily.  I got light-headed.  My friends kept going full speed with no problems so I figured I needed to push myself harder to keep up.  I was so tired by the third day that I fell behind the group.  When I reached the van, the others had eaten and disappeared. 

The doc suggested I ride in the van for a while and rest my body.  I was getting cramps and had very little choice if I wanted to keep going.  On the one hand, I wanted to keep riding and keep up with my friends.  On the other hand, I wanted to pace myself and enjoy the ride – or at least until the cramps went away.  To keep going meant collapse and possible death by one of those big trucks or busses that zoomed past me at 60 miles per hour at arm’s reach.  I couldn’t speak.  Instead I walked the bike to the back of the van, indicating my interest in the doc’s ride offer.  While the doc put the bike in the back of the van, I crawled into the back seat and stared at the highway out the window.  I was embarrassed and felt defeated. 

Riding in the van felt like cheating.  I was irritated because I was not as strong as I thought, or as prepared as my friends.  I was mad because my bike helped me express freedom.  Riding felt like work now.

Teenagers normally don’t like to think about their limitations.  It took me no time to think of reasons – all beyond my control of course – that the trip sucked.  I thought the doc was pushing us too far each day.  We should stop more frequently and explore.  Doc kept us going too fast.  My friends acted like this was a race.  This was never supposed to be a race.  And the food.  Why did everyone like peanut butter so much?  Why must it be part of every meal?  Why did the doc drive so far ahead of us.  What if we got hurt or thirsty?  Why didn’t he drive behind us to discourage other drivers from almost killing us when they sped by?  Why doesn’t he prepare our camp for us so we don’t have to do it ourselves at the end of a hard day?  After all, he had nothing better to do with his time.  Driving a van was easy for him.  Pedal 100 miles a day up hills and see how it feels.  On and on and on I faulted while I rode in the back seat of the van and stared at the passing stripe traced by wheels of my friends’ bikes an hour earlier.

The next day when I got back on my bike to ride some more, I felt pretty good.  The group rested for a day twice, which helped.  I rode the van a few times after some rough pedaling, but it was never as bad as the first time.  It was too late to claim I pedaled the entire distance, so another ride made no difference.  Some of my friends rode the van for a while.  One got sick and rode the van for two or three days.  Eventually, I kept up with them — even leading the group a few times. 

By the time we finished the circle around the lake eleven days later, I was glad to get home.  The next day I sold my bike and never bought another one.  I started driving a car — permanently ending bike riding for me.

Many of the directions aimed at correcting PodShow may seem reasonable.  But, I think how easy it was for me to blame doc or my friends for the way my adventure unfolded.  And I think of how easy it was to ignore my preconceived ideas of the adventure, my decision not to train, overestimating my endurance, and selfishly thinking I had a better plan if only the driver would listen.

In the thirty years since that trip I have experienced a lot of driving – sometimes with a passenger in the back seat.  Sometimes they tell me how to drive.  I don’t like it.  Once in a while they are right.  I don’t like that, either.  I know where I’m going when I’m driving – most of the time, anyway.  From my driver’s seat I can see the road better than my passenger in the back.

PodShow is like the doc driving the van.  Without my friends and the doc, I never would have done the trip.  And, I forgot to mention it was a lot of fun.  PodShow is big and strong, and it gives rides in its big limo to anyone who wants to come along. 

Picture yourself walking along a road and the PodShow limo approaches from behind.  You’re tired and the limo looks so comfortable.  Adam Curry is driving and he asks if you need a ride.  You decide to ride a while and they are going your direction.  So, when it turns down a road you do not want to go, or if it stops someplace you do not wish to be, or if it goes to fast or to slow, or if the heat is too high, or the air conditioning too cold, or if you don’t like the brand of beverage in the back or the cut of crystal it’s served in, what directions will help get you where you want to go?

Before directing the driver, ask yourself the following:

Why are you on this adventure? 

Who’s plan are you following? 

What makes the adventure worth it for you?  Is it companionship?  Independence?  Competition?  Approval? 

Where do you want to go? 

What will you do to make it happen?

Happy trails! 


  1. fantastic

    Comment by jersey todd — June 4, 2007 @ 10:55 am

  2. I am really digging this conversation.

    Comment by Daniel Johnson, Jr. — June 4, 2007 @ 11:26 am

  3. Well written and well said !!!

    Comment by Elpelso — June 4, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

  4. Hear hear! Well spoken and to the point!

    Comment by Dwight from Ottawa — June 4, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

  5. Great story dude. At some point, we all have to decide if we want to be “on the bus”.

    Comment by Jack Elias — June 5, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  6. I\’ve had a seat in the limo for a couple of years now. I couldn\’t be happier.

    Comment by P-Dub — June 5, 2007 @ 4:30 pm

  7. […] Driving Podshow’s Limo « Audio Attitude […]

    Pingback by Christopher S. Penn » Blog Archive » The Mother of All Pingbacks — July 29, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

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