Podcast 47 Transcript

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A transcript for MeFi Podcast 47: Creepypasta.

Pronoiac set up a Fanscribed page, and most of this transcript came from there.


(Podcast music)

C: I've been spending some time in Music the last couple of days just trying to get caught up and put together a holiday music podcast.

J: Well this raison debt song is actually probably a great lead-in, because it's "how to write a Christmas song". Maybe we shouldn't even put it on this podcast, and you can put it on yours?

C: We can just feature a little bit or something. I don't know. We'll figure it out. Actually, I think I'm going to do two, because I put together the raw materials I had, going back through the archives, and I came up with 90 minutes of music. So I'm breaking it out into a "naughty" and a "nice" podcast.

M: Whaaaaaaat?

J: How cool are you? That's great.

C: I'm pretty cool, I gotta say. The idea is that there's a real mix of stuff from relatively straightforward takes on Christmas music, and also stuff like "Buttfuck Baby Jesus". I figured it would be a shame if you wanted to put on some non-annoying Christmas music but couldn't because you might freak out your grandma when "Buttfuck Baby Jesus" comes on. So it's two different 45-minute sets, and one of them wouldn't make anyone blink, and the other one's got all the slightly more fun subversive stuff. I'll probably have at least one of those out before this ends up being out.

M: Yeah, so do one today, and one next Friday, and it'll still be before Christmas.

C: Yeah, that's what I'm saying.

J: And before Christmas parties, hopefully. Some of them, anyhow.

M: Anyone do a "Punch Santa in the Dick" song? Seems like no-brainer! Put a holiday spin on it and sell it to you.

Favorites "Experiment"

M: Let's see, this is episode 47 of the Metafilter podcast. What are we going to talk about today?

J: The last one was on November 5th, but we recorded it on the 27th.

M: So all of November is free game. A lot's happened. I guess we should talk about the stupid favorites thing.

C: Boy, was it a busy month.

J: I have nothing to say about it. I'm talked out.

M: Yeah. We're compiling data right now, so that was kind of cool.

J: We've got some sexy-looking charts that we'll show off at some point soon. Just have to be patient.

M: Yeah. I think everyone I talked to about it -- I talked to a couple of people about it using the open office hours, which we could mention later -- about favorites and I was like, I kind of feel like we had so much behind the scenes thought that we didn't take to the forefront when we launched it. Or maybe our messaging wasn't there. Because basically we took a feature away one day, with half a day's notice, and I could totally see where the revolt came from. Because I got the feeling from the initial survey results that 2/3 or 3/4 of the people hated it, and definitely that was the feeling in MetaTalk. We launched favorites three or four years ago, and I just want them as a discovery mechanism for good stuff. Over the years, other sites have been adding stuff like it, and it sort of turned into a quasi-comment-rating system, and I wasn't so happy.

J: Plus so many other sites have a voting option, and Metafilter really doesn't.

M: And we've always been more democratic. Like everyone's voice has some purpose and when you start having voting sites, it's like things with zero votes are to be ignored, and we heard specifically that people would load 200 comment threads, and ignore everything that didn't have a vote and just scroll down. And there were greasemonkey scripts that would blank out anything without votes. We just thought, oh man, we're turning into one of those horrible sites like digg or slashdot or whatever.

J: Well, to be fair, there were people in MetaTalk who were basically saying that every month for the last year or two, "favorites are killing the site", and it's really hard to tell from MetaTalk, because we don't have a survey mechanism or a voting mechanism, whether each one person represents one or two people who feel that, or whether they represent 100 people who feel that.

M: Yeah. So we thought that, we think they work fine for posts. We always know what really great questions or interesting posts are. On the comments...

J: It has some utility on Ask Metafilter, where they're never used as lol's reinforcement, because there are no lol's.

C: To put it another way, using them as lol reinforcement is kind of pointless, because those comments then get deleted. We certainly do delete one-liners that have favorites.

J: And in fact we seem them more quickly.

M: So we'll probably have to explain this more and show off some data. But the core thing is we weren't trying to remove a key feature from people, or pull the rug out from anyone. We just wanted to restore some civility to the site. Like a shitty joke gets 20 favorites in 30 seconds, and it's like "what?"

J: And that encourages more shitty jokes by people who view favorites as currency. One of the things that was the most interesting to me was how many people just did not trust that we were just going to try this out. How many people just get really twitchy about the word "experiment". Seriously, I never would have been able to. That surprised me.

C: I can see the specific argument. Like if someone was going out there aggressively representing something as a scientific experiment, that would piss me off too. I see enough bad science reporting out there that I can see people being twitchy about it. I was surprised as well that people put such a strong absolute reading of it as clearly meaning that, as if there isn't a fairly normal lay usage of the word just meaning "trying something out."

J: Even after we'd been very clear two hours in that wasn't what we were doing.

C: To be fair, two hours in had a tremendous number of comments on the day already. So I can understand also people not seeing everything that happened.

M: I think it was just the word "experiment." Like if YouTube suddenly said, "We're going to switch the order of comments so oldest were first as an experiment." You'd be like, "What? You're like the phone company! Don't experiment on me! You're a utility."

C: Yeah, and the aspect of the expected user experience, I think that was a reasonable point some people made throughout the process. Aside from whether there is some value in trying something out like that, it is going to have an impact on some people who are accustomed to things happening a certain way. That explains some of the overreaction that came, when people were just surprised.

J: In a community where a lot of the people have the "who moved my cheese" custom-ness concerns, you know what I mean? #1, you're right, but on the other hand, this community is specifically particular like that. Like if you're at work, and they're like, "We're moving your desk." I think people expect a certain amount of discombobulation in spaces they don't own, which is not true for MetaFilter. Which I feel is a success on the one hand, but maybe one we underestimated the importance of.

C: Yeah. Anyway, I felt the whole thing was very interesting. Obviously it was trying at time from our end, and trying for some of the folks who felt it was more disruptive than I think we expected a lot of people to feel it would be. But I guess it was an interesting process, and definitely we learned a couple of things about how we might handle it if we do some other sort of thing.

M: It's also intersting to share with people the stuff we've never talked about. Which is that behind-the-scenes, for the last two/three years, we get emails going, "Hey, I lost two favorites. Where'd they go?" or "Hey, someone unfavorited me. How can I figure out who that was and ban them?"

C: Or someone's doing this weird thing with favorites. It's the same thing as every once in a while we hear someone talking about how someone's doing this weird thing with contacts.

J: "Someone added me as a contact. That makes me uncomfortable." Right.

M: But as the creators of the favorite system, I was like, "What am I enabling? What? I need to protect people from themselves? Oh god, it's just a favorite, it's not your worth." And people were putting a little too much worth into it.

J: And we see more of that on the admin end because people email us privately and they don't come to MetaTalk. And as well, there's people in MetaTalk saying the same thing. And I have to say, I use the site with favorites off now.

M: Really? Cool.

J: I have a greasemonkey scripts that is "some favorites" / "lots of favorites" / "favoritest", so I can see what's gotten bundles of favorites.

M: Oh, I like that idea.

J: Yeah, Plutor wrote the original one, and then I amended it slightly and used my version of it. But man, I really like it. And sometimes I turn favorites on for Ask Metafilter to look at answers. But yeah, it's interesting. And it's been interesting seeing what people decided to use after the fact.

User 100000 raffle

M: Sweet. So on the positive side, switching gears, we had a goofy little idea, as we were hitting the hundred-thousandths user to do something big with the hundred-thousandths user. We were going to shut off sign-ups for a week to try to raise money for charities, and then sell that one with the charity as a winner-take-all, but then people came up with better ideas for us. Which was, why don't we just do raffles?

J: And then everybody can chip in.

M: Yeah. I seriously assumed we'd raise two or three grand, maybe. I was surprised when it came in as over $12,000. Almost everything to Doctors Without Borders. So we did the raffle, jamaro won, we have an awesome raffle video.

J: Cortex made an amazing video. I have outtakes of my video part that I made when I was in the bus station in Providence, RI.

M: That will be on the DVD extras.

J: Yes, yes, yes.

M: So I posted screenshots of my PayPal account showing when I finally did get -- Paypal was being a hoser about the whole thing -- and now I finally got rid of all the money and it went to all the places.

J: Extra huge thanks to Lutoslowski and anastasiav and a couple of other people who stepped in to really power through the parts when we were totally giving up on fighting with Paypal anymore. And Anil Dash...

M: Paypal were super dicks about the whole thing. It's obvious that this is problematic when someone says they are going to raise money for a charity. I could have kept the money. I could have taken 12 grand and blown town. But when they cleared me of that, they also locked it up with some weird reason, and it's hard to talk to humans there.

J: And does that mean that everyone else who signed up for an account, that their $5 got locked up in this whole SNAFU?

M: Yes!

J: So you had no PayPal for a week? Two weeks?

M: Two-and-a-half weeks I could not send a refund to anyone. I couldn't do anything. So people were buying t-shirts and I was sending out t-shirts, hoping that someday I would get the money for it. It was a drag.

J: You're a saint, mathowie, you're a saint.

M: I know. Ugh.

J: And don't forget, you were briefly in the hospital and we were all very worried.

M: Yeah, and I was super stressed-out from hospital crap, and then that happened at the exact same time. It was really sucky. And I didn't want to do that. Like the one time I had a Paypal person on the phone, I was like, "Should I play the tumor card? I don't know, that's the nuclear bomb of conversation."

C: "I don't want to say that you're being mean to a guy with a brain tumor, but..."

M: I just didn't want to sound like a Jerry Springer...

J: "My brain tumor is the most stressful of all time. Of all time!"

M: "And you're making it worse! You're killing me!" So we raised lots of money. I'm already getting thank-you's back from Donors Choose for all the classroom projects I funded.

J: You got to pick special projects, right, because you decided to go through that way?

M: I couldn't find the page on Donors Choose. I looked everywhere for like an hour. There used to be "just donate to use as a non-profit".

J: Like Kiva's gotten that down pretty easily.

M: And Kiva, I found it easy. But I couldn't find it at Donors Choose, so I just thought I'll pick cool shit. And it was just like, fully funding tricycles in Pennsylvania, and science labs in Maryland.

J: You're going to get envelopes full of happy pictures of kids too. It's going to be so great.

M: Oh! I actually declined that because I've been getting those for the last two years since Donors Choose launched.

J: And what do you do with them? I've got a drawer full of (?) from little kids, and on the one hand, "Aww, that's awesome", and on the other hand, "Do I have to keep these forever?"

M: It's like a birthday card. I leave them out and feel good about them for about two weeks, and then I just trash it.

J: I put one on my fridge.

M: So, that was cool.

J: So way to go Metafilter team! $12,000 for charity. You are awesome. Has jamaro picked yet?

C: I don't think she has yet.

M: Probably like summer, when there's a meetup in Germany and Paris every week, she can probably decide.

J: But she hasn't even chosen the username yet, right? Or has she?

M: I don't think so, no. Let me see what the hundred-thousandths user page looks like. (typing) Nope.

J: Nope. Exciting. Ok. Exciting times. Congraluations jamaro.

Time 15:00 - 18:00

Jobs etc.

M: So I guess we should just launch into Jobs, etc.

J: OK, Jobs was kind of the standard arrangement of ...

M: Crapload of web jobs.

J: A crapload of web jobs, a couple of weird, non-paying gigs, and a tenure-track faculty position in media and new technologies. All you have to do is move to Memphis. Which for some people, I think would be a plus, not a minus.

M: What university?

J: And this is discourse barker, who is terrific, Horace Rumpole's wife.

M: So memphis.edu. Sweet. How do you get a PhD in media or new media? There's no such thing as a PhD in new media, is there?

J: Sure there is. You go through communications.

M: Oh right. Mass comm. Got it.

J: Or infotech.

Time 18:00 - 21:00

Time 21:00 - 24:00

M: Was it a full color or black and white -

J: No, it was black and white.

M: Okay, that's cool.

J: Very nice-looking. I have not seen this.

M: Oh yeah, Bart's Blackboard.

C: Yeah, this Bart's Blackboard project. It's an understated little thing, but it's one of those obsessive archiving things that I just love to see. They went through and collected every single "thing that Bart is writing on the chalkboard at the beginning of an episode of Simpsons"-gag, ever.

M: Which is a process, right? You have to download about 300 .avi files and then go 36 seconds in and take a screenshot - that's pretty awesome.

J: I bet that's something computers could do.

M: Probably.

J: I'm curious. Maybe.

M: It has to be predictable, like at the same exact moment.

J: But I think it is, right? Time-wise?

M: It's true. They do have three different intros at different times but you could probably figure it out.

C: Yeah.

J: Mechanical Turk!

M: Exactly. Fresh. Okay.

J: Yes, I found this and I liked it very much. I also liked this sort of single-purpose site called Wallet Garden, where -

M: Yes!

J: - where all it does is just: you register and then you include the customer service numbers for every card that's in your wallet, so that, if it gets swiped, you have a handy place to make all these phone calls. Which is not even just for identity theft but also for when you move. Like, when I moved, I had to call every credit card company and everybody who sent me shit in the mail and tell them, "I have moved," and you have to take your cards out of your wallet, whatever. I thought it was handy.

M: What's awesome is - I've been sitting on the phone before and whenever you have to flip over a card and tell people the goofy three digit secret pass on the back -

J: Right.

M: - and you see the "If this is lost, call this number." Every six months I'd do that and I'd think, "Shit, I should fucking write this down."

C & J: laughs

M: Goddamn. How would I - what world do I live in where I would know this number when it's not in my hands? I've never thought, "Hey, make a web service!" So.

J: And this is also by Alt F4, who's also the guy who brought us Pearbudget, which is also totally awesome.

M: Charlie Park.

J: Yes. Hey, boo_radley!

C: Yeah, this is just a dumb little thing that I am pleased by. Team Fortress Two is a.k.a. a video game you may have heard of, but you probably haven't, 'cause you guys don't play games, 'cause you suck, but...

M: laughs

C: A lot of MetaFilter people -

J: Wait wait wait wait! What?!

M: Is this one of those things where I can shoot my friends in the face?

C: Yes.

M: Awesome.

C: And there's actually the -

J: Is this something I would need to have a TV to understand?

M: laughs

C: The MeFite Club has a couple of private dedicated servers and plays regularly, and I've just got a new gaming machine, so I joined a TF2 game yesterday, or the day before, for the first time in probably literally a year or two.

Time 24:00 - 27:00

C: and it was kind of fun to come back and have people say "Oh Hi, cortex!", but anyway, TF2 gets played a lot, and boo radley set up this thing that actually tweets about how he's doing in the game, so if he's getting some massive kill streak, or if he's being shot in the head by someone repeatedly, twitter will

M: Tweet it for him.

C: let you know, basically. So, I thought that was wonderfully dorky and sort of fish bowl of...

J: Except that nobody is following him and he's not following anybody.

C: Well, you know...

J: So, twitter's just tweeting into the wind, I think.

C: Yeah, I bet it's the sort of thing people will look at but not follow, because why would you really want that constantly littering your followers stream. But I'm still glad he did it - I'm almost more glad he did it specifically because there's no way anyone would pay attention to it in the long run because

M: laughs

C: it would be annoying but he did it anyway, and that's...

J: This is why people get touchy when you use the word experiment.

C & M: laugh

M: It's an interesting bit of tech. I'm impressed.

J: I agree. I agree.

M: Is that a PC game, or an XBox game, or ... What are the kids with the rap music that play this kind of game...?

C: The cool kids play it on the PC 'cos that's the

J: The baggy pants...

C: natural home of the first person shooter. You can play it on the XBox as well, but that's kind of the hoser way to go.

M: Do you have to have a hoodie on with the hood up for the game to function properly?

J: Shut up! I'm wearing a thing with the hood up.

C: No, no, no. For this, you actually need to have a bag of chips and some Mountain Dew.

J: It's cold here! Alright, I've got one more project which will segue us into MetaFilter, and I think it's something people will like. It's the QA site for cooking based on Stack Overflow.

M & C: Oh, yeah!

M: Q&A.

J: And filthy light thief posted it to MetaFilter, which is, I don't know, I think a good indicator that something is good, because filthy light thief is just gold on metafilter lately for whatever reason.

M: Wow. So there's no links - it's just like internal talking about recipes?

J: Yeah!

M: Huh. Cool.

J: But for people who are into food and there are a lot of people who are into food, this kind of question and answers for food is helpful and Stack Overflow is kind of predictable and usable, and people tend to like it, and... that's it.

M: Do you think we'll ever go crazy, like the Stack Overflow with the whole ratings points, and... Have you seen how...

J: Matt! Why are you asking this? This is one of those weird we're not going to go crazy with the...

C & M: laugh.

M: I'm just saying that Stack Overflow seems to be the only place where people really love it, and it doesn't have as many negative side effects as every other place.

Time 27:00 - 30:00

C: Well, they built it from scratch to do that, is part of the interesting thing. That's one thing they were looking at from the get go, is trying to build that super sort of almost gamish interface into it.

M: Yeah.

C: I think the fact that it's not sort of an aspect of the site, but really kind of the core functionality of how the site operates mechanically, I think makes a big difference there. It would be one thing if it was something they sort of tacked on after they'd build a tech Q&A forum.

M: How much are these... copies cost? They're like a hundred bucks a month or something. What's the... They have a site for it.

J: What?

C: Yeah, I don't know. I haven't looked into it.

M: Yeah, they're basically selling software now. Like, so, that you could sign up a Stack Overflow clone. I think you pay them a hundred bucks a month.

J: And it's hosted?

M: Yep. So you don't have to do anything.

J: Oh, that's kind of nice. Good for those guys.

M: Yeah, it's kind of cool. It's kind of like the reddit, but cooler.

C: sniggers

J: Indeed.

M: So, Metafilter!

J: Off to Metafilter, where I have spent less time this...

M: holiday season.

J: month, because I spent so much time in Ask Metafilter, and can I just say that the anonymous queue on Ask Metafilter has been going crazy?

M: It's that time of year.

C: Yeah! You mentioned the volume's been...

J: We've been getting fifteen to twenty questions a day, instead of six.

M: Yeah. Well...

J: So if anyone's curious, we're being a little more discerning, so that anonymous ask metafilter doesn't take over ask metafilter.

M: I think it's a combination of "I don't want my spouse to find out about the present I'm asking for", plus...

J: There's a lot of that.

M: "ohmigod, my parents are coming for the holidays, and I can't stand them, and what do I do", etc.

J: Right, "my mom is making me crazy blarrr", yeah.

M: Yeah.

J: Yep.

M: To be expected.

J: To be expected. But just in case people are wondering, yes, there have been a lot.

M: Metafilter's been pretty good for November - Decemberish, so far.

J: I think it's been super fascinating. I have enjoyed it.

C: I've been... the month was so busy in many ways that I've got a bunch of favourites on threads I haven't read yet. Like classic... I guess this is favouriting as bookmarks behaviour in action. There's three or four threads that I know I want to read, but I just haven't yet, like this thing from mighty god king, how to start reading comics, what else is there? But yeah, it's like I've got...

J: Mighty God king has a really fantastic site that I think we talk about on the podcast often.

C: I think someone might have actually started poking me to say hey, is it ok to do this just because he's come up before? It's like "Ehh? If it's awesome..." You know.

J: Right.

C: And there was also this post that I again, haven't explored it at all, but the pedigree of it, the notion that this is a spiritual successor to Rocky's Boots and Robot Odyssey, that's like "Oh my god!" Rocky's boots was this fantastic Apple IIe game when I was growing up, like that was the best thing that could happen on a school day.

Time 30:00 - 33:00

J: I'm a little "blah blah Ginger" at this point - can you do a bit of back up on this?

C: Rocky's Boots was an old educational game, that actually, as its activity, had logic as what you were doing - you know, the thing you were doing that you didn't realise you were doing because you were having fun? And Word Muncher was all about vocabulary, and Number Muncher was all about addition, Rocky's Boots was all about logic circuits. You were actually essentially creating logical circuits, you know, simple ones out of basic pieces, to accomplish puzzle based tasks.

J: OK.

C: As a kid, you don't know that you're doing formal logic, but that's what in fact it was. It was like, such a wonderful weird game because it felt different 'cos there was no twitch. You didn't necessarily know what you were doing except for thinking and making things happen, and i had forgotten about it for years after that and then came back to it - I think MetaFilter reminded me of the name of it after me only vaguely being able to remember it. So having a post come along and say "hey, here are some modern games that are like that old thing that was the most awesome thing in your childhood", I... yep.

J: You were like "YAAAY!"

C: Exactly.

M: There was this, er...

[keyboard clacking]

M: Whoops, why isn't it pasting? There we go. There was this just out of context completely weird flickr set of someone's photos from 1983 trip to Grand Canyon, and there's no explanation, and you're like "what"? And then you look at them, and the photos are awesome, totally fucking awesome. It's like that My Parents are Awesome site, like everyone's got great hair, very tiny shorts, and they're all driving Camaros. It's... and everyone has a moustache.

C: laughs These are great.

M: And it's... the photos are like, awesome. Super vivid. And then, if you go through, it just reminded me of like, it was as if I was transported to like, 1996 in that I followed this link, then I looked at the guy's other photo sets, and there's some trips on a motor cycle to the Grand Tetons, and like, I was lost for two hours in weird 1983 nostalgia, and it was so awesome and crazy, and like - with no context, no lead up, no build up, and just dropped on to Metafilter - it was just great. A very enjoyable hour or two. With, you know, plenty of hilarious captions contributed by people.

C: laughs

J: That is really sensational. I went to make a post on Metafilter this month, and found that somebody else had made the post that I wanted to make, which was the choose your own adventure data visualisations.

C & M: Oh, yeah!

J: Which basically takes the books, the choose your own adventure books, which have been the subject of many terrific (I think we talked about them last month, actually, if you want to talk about kid's stuff) and it basically breaks them all down. The different kinds of pages, is it a story page, is it a choice page, where does that page take you, and then makes these data visualisations of each book, or I think all the books, I mean there's a long essay that kind of talks about it.

Time 33:00 - 36:00

M: Oh, they look like a- it's not just visualisations, it's like a Tufte poster. I mean, they're beautiful.

J: Yes. They're completely beautiful, and there's beautiful colours, and it's really one of the most terrific kind of nerdy, geeky, good looking gamey post, so I was really happy, even though it didn't turn into- You know, it got a bunch of favourites, it got almost as- it got more favourites than comments.

M: Did you…

J: (unintelligible) this is awesome!

C: laughs

M: When you read them as a kid, did you use like pencil and paper to like note things that were happening, like…?

J: No, I just got really frustrated and started from the back.

M: Ah, cheater! From the get go!

C: laughs

J: I know, I know! I'm still bad at that, like with mysteries and stuff. I like the books, but the suspense part makes me tense.

M: What? Oh! I was like, "why are the tags doubled up?", but they did it in British spelling and American spelling.

J: Visualisation and visualization.

M: Yeah.

J: Oh! Can I just talk about my greasemonkey script that changes the word "favorite" to the word "favourite"?

M: Favourite.

C: Oh! laughs

J: For UK, Canadian and Australian users.

M: Sweet.

J: Yeah. You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

M: Umm... There are lots of great comments on Metafilter this month.

J: Oh, yeah! There was a ton of like, sidebarred stuff, actually.

M: Yeah, like, the sidebar's been a goldmine. Good work, Jessamyn!

J: Thanks, it's been totally fun. Oh, and there's the- we should talk about the holiday stuff, like the cookie exchange, and, god, what else has been going on? The metafilter shop!

C: Oh, yeah!

M: Oh, yeah! Oh, plus the like fundraising for various charities in New York, getting kids bikes, and clothing and stuff. There's a zillion…

J: Yeah, there's a whole bunch of fun stuff going on in the sidebar, which if you don't read the sidebar, you probably should, and… or the sideblog, or… I don't really know.

M: laughs

J: But basically, there's a couple of things like the cookie exchange, which is pretty neat, the metafilter shop, which is actually linked from sort of the regular t-shirt store, but metafilter people who are selling things, which can range from like, "I've got a cafepress shirt, or t-shirts" to "I wrote my own book" and etcetera. Some people are like, offering special discounts for mefites, and if you're still looking for holiday shopping, you should go there and check it out. I don't know what else (unintelligible) the sideblog.

M: Oh, cool!

J: What?

M: More etsy stores. I always love etsy stores.

J: Yeah! And I guess we didn't get it together to kind of do Team Etsy this year, but there's a whole bunch of people who make terrific things, which is really awesome. Oh, and we got our ass handed to us in the DARPA challenge, because MIT won it in like a minute and a half.

C: laughs. Yes. That was... but you know.

M: I figured as much.

C: It was nice that we ranked.

Time 36:00 - 39:00

C: You know…

J: Did we rank? What does that even mean?

C: Well, there were something like forty teams that submitted anything, and we were like number twenty six out of forty, or something like that.

J: [indistinct] Did we find a balloon? That was all, so happening behind the scenes, I had no idea what…

C: We found, I think, four? all together if I'm remembering correctly.

J: Are you serious? That's great!

M: And we had a

J: Have you looked where these stupid balloons were? Like, none of them were in like "Buttfuck Egypt, South Dakota" [indistinct]

C: Yeah, I was all let down. They were all totally there, and you know, it's like… I don't want to speculate at length - I was surprised it was as easy as it was in that respect,

J(?): [indistinct]

C: which shouldn't be totally shocking, because I mean it was a small prize for DARPA doing a challenge and so maybe you say $40,000 is a reasonable amount to motivate only so much searching but…

J: If all they wanted to to was figure out how people organized, and you can basically do that if you've got balloons in Memphis and San Francisco - you don't need to put one in Montana.

M: Yeah.

J: Plus then you'd have to have a DARPA guy in Montana, and they don't work there.

M & C: [laugh]

J: Because that was the deal, right? The balloon actually has a DARPA dude by it so you know it's the real balloon.

M: Yeah. I was unclear about how much that was supposed to be public and private - like you guys were supposed to be scheming somewhere.

C: Yeah, well,

J: [indistinct]

C: there was a private site that was like invite only for like discussion of the actual organisation, and, how it was gonna be accomplished, and what people would do, etc.

M: My biggest fear was that you organised on MetaTalk, and so like someone from an MIT team could just follow the instructions to get on to your private site, and then…

C: Well, and that's the thing. To get on to the private site, you had to basically say so in the thread to someone, or by via MeFi mail, and so hopefully the notion is anybody who decided to sign up to the site specifically to infiltrate, it'd be kind of obvious when someone who signed up after the whole competition started was like, "Oh, Hey! I Am Interested!", we'd might give that person the evil eye and just not invite them to the site. There's also the danger that someone who's a long timer might wanna join in specifically to fink out, but yeah, at a certain point, you can't assume that everyone is a spy.

J: As opposed to MIT, where basically anybody could join, I think? You know...

C: Well, yeah, MIT…

J: I was also on the MIT team, but I think I joined after they won. Just 'cause it was this whole referral - like, pyramid scheme system. That's how come

C: Yeah, which was… I mean, it's a good way to win. It's not the best way to maximise the amount of cash that goes to charity, but presupposing that anyone that does it is going to send it to charity is also kind of silly. I mean, that's sort of what we came to the conclusion from on our side - was that, you know, there's no good way to come up with a distribution of money other than to say hey you know, anything just goes to charity and keep it that simple. But, uh… yeah.

J: Right. It was interesting watching it - I was surprised it got uh, you know, handled that quickly.

Time 39:00 - 42:00

J: But it was neat! Fun project. Oh, and I included a link to the secret Quonsar gift exchange too, in case anybody's following any of the other holiday stuff.

M: Lots of holiday magic happening.

J: Yep. Anything else you…

M: Is that all of Metafilter?

J: Well, I enjoyed it because it's another right up the nerd alley, all new muppet video, which got a [distinctly?] wonderful number of favourites.

M: I always, like...

J: I didn't [think?] about it - I just saw the video and went "yep, it's terrific, it's Muppets."

M: I was like, "meh", about it. You know I love the Muppets, I love The Queen,

C: [snickers]

M: I love when they do stuff - I dunno. Maybe because five hundred people had already liked it everywhere I looked, but… ah, I was OK with it.

C: Yeah… you're dead inside. Sorry.

M: I know! I don't know why! Everything the Muppets do sends me over the Moon, but that one didn't do it for me. It seemed like they were - I dunno.

J: Hate it! Hate it!

M: I know, I know! "Is this something I need a hand up my ass working my mouth to understand?"

C: laughs

J: Ew! Oh! But yeah, I felt that in Metafilter a lot of stuff this month was kind of predictable. Like, awesome Muppets, awesome Stack Overflow, awesome [cheaty?] nerd stuff -

M: Awesome Legos.

J: you know, the TED talk with Mike Rowe was the other thing I really kinda liked. But once again -

M: Oh, I haven't watched it yet.

J: we love TED talks.

M: Yeah.

J: "I got it wrong about a lot of things, not just the testicles on my chin". And the video's not just interesting because Mike Rowe who does that Dirty Jobs thing is kind of interesting, but, you know, he has observations about what it's like to have a job and the world of work that I found more interesting

M: Oh, cool.

J: than just the, "yeah, It's another TED talk, blah blah blah my internet blah my device." So,

M: Cool.

J: people who aren't even that into TED might enjoy it.

M: Of all the awesome comments that came in, I love that Harrah's - someone - there's a thread about a guy who lost, what? one hundred and twenty seven million dollars.

C: Oh, yeah, the Watanabe thread.

M: Yeah. And then someone who worked in gaming at Harrah's and talked about everything, and how - oh, they were an employee of Harrah's during the Watanabe thing, and like how it works, how they deal with, how upper managment works, and pit bosses work, and how they don't really work together, and how - and it just reminded me all of, like, I've seen a talk from an anthropology researcher that, like, got embedded into the casino world and came out to talk about it. It's just, like, the saddest, craziest world in the world that basically


J: Oh, yeah! That…

M: For money reasons, they feed into, you know, people's addictions. They're just addiction enablers. And, like, there's how they do it.

J: And they have a total, like, hierarchy, of, like, what's feeding into an addiction, and what's not really addiction.

M: Yeah.

more music

Time 42:00 - 45:00

and more music

M: So, let's move on to Ask Metafilter, 'cause we have about ten minutes.

J: Great! Ask Metafilter. Lots and lots of Christmas "What The Hell" questions...

M: *laughs*

J: but I did enjoy the under $20, specifically because it was slightly more interesting than the "find some funky online stores" stuff.

M: Yeah, that's quite a limitation. ... Sweet.

J: Yeah, and it's just fun little stuff and everyone kind of gets to be "Oh, here's a really interesting blabablababla", um, and it was really popular. I would also like to pimp the gift ideas list on the Metafilter Wiki, which, ah, is actually really kind of terrific.

M: Wow, exhaustive!

J: Yes. Except it's not even exhaustive, 'cause it's like last year, and there's a whole, like, more year's worth of stuff.

M: Yeah. Wow.

J: But yeah: What $10-$20 item, ah, improved your life? It's a nice interesting thread full of interesting stuff you maybe didn't think about.

M: Sweet, it's perfect for stocking stuffers.

J: Exactly.

M: Everything's small. Sweet!

J: Exactly.

M: Sweet. My favorite was, ah, "You're playing Clue, and, ah, Clue is a detective game, and it says to protect your cards. If another player looks at your cards, is that being a good detective, or is that cheating at a game?

C & J: Laughter

J: I remember seeing that question, I didn't read the answers.

M: It was so great. It was a lot of

C: It was...

M: Most people, yeah, were calling the spouse a cheater for doing that.

C: And then...

M: But she shows up,

C: Yeah.

M: which is great.

C: Yeah, no, that was, man, that was good stuff.

M: It was just hilarious.

C: Turns out people have strong feelings about Clue conduct.

M: *laughs*

J: And Mrs. Skyler says "You know, I'm not cheating, because to me, this isn't cheating."

M: "This is being a good detective, this is clues!"

C: Following your nose. Ah, it's also funny 'cause Clue I think of as like a child's mystery game, but people, adults, can be very serious about it still. Cracks me up.

J: Apparently.

C: *laughs*

M: Well, there is, I mean, it is one of the few games out there that's sort of actively a deduction game, which is kind of cool. I'm not super in love with Clue at this point - I think it's not really an *awesome* game for a number of reasons...

J: It's like [indistinct] right?

M: You can basically play it to the point where you just play it like a math game and then it's no fun.

Time 45:00 - 48:00

M: Well, but, sighs I was... see, I would argue in the other direction, and say the nature of it as a boardgame, that you have to use dice to wander around sort of undercuts the robust mathy underpinnings of it. Like if you want to do it as a strict...

J: somewhat indistinct Perhaps you'd prefer Mastermind.

M: What?

J: Perhaps you'd prefer Mastermind, then.

M: Well, yeah, but I find Mastermind annoying too, so I'm probably looking for something magical and in between, I don't know.

J: Is it possible you're just irritable?

C: laughs

M: You know, maybe. I don't know. Well, it's just like, you know, if I deduct well, but I roll ones, I lose? That's... it's...

J: That's how adults can play with children, though.

M: Well, yes.

C: Yeah.

J: Isn't it supposed to be good, balance in a game? Like a little bit of chance, and a little bit of skill? No?

M: I, I... Yeah, I know, there's definitely some value in balancing the two. I mean, it's really obviously a long running and interesting question in game design, but for some reason Clue just doesn't hit the sweet spot for me.

J: I don't like it because the library is this weird fusty place that everybody [indistinct]

C & M: laugh

M: I can't play that game.

J: Although I have to say, one of the best library blogs out there is called "In The Library With The Lead Pipe".

M: Nice.

J: Yeah, so, you know, there's that.

M: You know, I loved the, where is it, the Ying and Yang of, Show me all the videos that make you cry for happy reasons on the web, I just want to have fifty of them. And this other one, which is show me all the most disgusting unsettling stuff in the world 'cause I actually...

J: Oh! That was my total favorite. That was my favorite post, actually, the WTF post.

M: Yeah.

J: It wasn't even just "Show me, like, two girls, one cup", it was show me weird Fortean Times strange crazy stuff. Like it wasn't just like, show me some dude got his head cut off in a train accident,

M: Yeah.

J: It was like weird wikipedia articles, wicker man stuff, and, uh, I read that over and over again. It was awesome.

C: Oh, man, that suddenly makes sense, I, I... because there was a metafilter thread about the slender man, the marble hornet stuff a while back.

J: Right.

C: I got a random favorite on a comment I made in that thread, and I had no idea who was reading about the slender man, but, uh, it got mentioned here, because it's a creepy thing.

J: Yeah, yeah, and all the stuff you read about like the women who's caught on camera secretly living in somebody's apartment, and of course some of this stuff, like if you just think it's like a lulzy internet prank, you're like, whatever, seen it. But then some of this stuff you're like either it's pre-internet, or it's just too weird, or it's based on... I think the new creep aspect is like this is something that was going on in Russia in the 50s, like that it has a setting that's weird so that's not just Blair Witch Project...

M: Yeah.

J: fake whatever.

Time 48:00 - 51:00

J: I very much, uh, enjoyed it. And I got to learn about creepypasta, that I knew nothing about.

M: Yeah, I saw that - that was like, stuff of nightmares. Uhhhh.

J: Yes. From the Dionaea House stuff. Very interesting. So that was my other favorite ask metafilter one too, is the, uh, the WTF one along with the sort of crying thing, and of course, the question that we would like everyone to answer for us - "What the hell is Google Wave for?"

M: Ugh.

J: Seriously.

M: I know.

J: Do you use it? Does anybody use it? Who uses it?

M: I think Google engineers use it to collaborate live at the Google campus.

C: laughs

M: and then

J: So it works for them.

M: And then they decided to release it and people were all "ooh, new Google thing! Shiny! It does something!", and it's fucking pointless for anyone...

C: And I wonder if there's actually some core group of people who actually do get it and are finding it useful right now, and two years from now, that will somehow expand. I mean, I...

M: Do you remember Neil? Like "wrong way, go back" Neily from uh, Neil with an e, from Australia? He is playing Magic: The Gathering with like two hundred and fifty people on Wave.

C: laughs

J: So, that's (useful?).

M: Apparently it's awesome. Like, they show up at 8pm with their cards, and it somehow works, virtually.

C: Interesting.

M: It's just a weird, I'm like "whatever!", but, wow. Yeah, I hate Wave. I thought, ugh.

J: Yeah, I logged in, hung around for a while, and was like, you know, my friends are somewhere else, and then, yeah, went there.

M: I just see like, thirteen waves going "Matt, where are you? What the hell?"

C: laughs

J: (indistinct) picture.

M: Which is like let's take the web and make it, like, synchronous, instead of asynchronous, how people are used to. ...Ah, that's funny. For an audio podcast, "Oh, that's funny."

C: The picture we're looking at, that you can't see, is awesome.

J: No, we have, you put in a link! You put in a link!

M: I know, I know! I'm just saying...

C: We can't make it like a (popup?)

M: There is a funny google wave illustration we're laughing at right now.

C: Please find the link in the post.

M: Yeah. While you're in your car.

C: When you hear the beep, turn the page.

CMJ: laughter

C: I was just going to say, I really have no way to gauge now if we're seeing the same thing that we saw like, with twitter when it first launched, because there was the early sort of "What is this useful for?" that everyone was saying, but at the same time it felt like people were kind coming up with answers? That were maybe a little bit more general than "I use it to play Magic: The Gathering". So, are we going to be two years from now in a place where everybody will have kind of figured out Wave and then there will be a bunch of people using it generally, or is this something that's not going to go down that path? That I guess is the question we'll have an answer to in a couple of years. But, yeah...

Time 51:00 - end

(via the Fanscribed page)

jessamyn: Right, well, yeah! Because I signed up with Twitter, I'm one of those early adopter nerds, and some sites like Flickr and Twitter I came into gradually, almost like, "Oh, this is totally great, it solves a problem," like, once it hit a tipping point of where my people were, and then other sites like FriendFeed or Pounce--remember Pounce?

mathowie: Oh, yeah.

jessamyn: Just never solved the problem and faded totally off my radar and didn't seem to catch on.

mathowie: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know what--I do stuff in audio, you know, if I have to have three people at once all over the world talking about something, like the nerd thing, I'm like, "Oh, let's give up and use a phone, like the old days."

jessamyn: Right. [laughs]

mathowie: But you know, I don't know. It's also an AJAX demo from 2002. There was talk of having eBay being all AJAX and having live chat with the seller and stuff.

jessamyn: Right. But eBay bought Skype, right?

mathowie: Yeah.

jessamyn: Whatever happened to that?

mathowie: Uhh. They're selling it.

jessamyn: You actually personally [???]

mathowie: No, I was just thinking, they're selling it right now, I think, is what's happening to Skype.

cortex and jessamyn: [laugh]

mathowie: Anything else on Ask Metafilter, Josh?

cortex: No, I think I'm becoming a broken record on the subject of not really spending all that much time reading Ask Metafilter, so.

jessamyn: Anything.

cortex: No, I guess I just really read a lot more of the blue than I do of the green, I don't know.

jessamyn: Yeah, and I'm pretty much the opposite. I'd like to give a very late podcast shout-out for wintertime, also. Terrapin Gardens, who, as you know, terrapin and turtlegirl who live up the street from me, did this one year time-lapse of getting their farm from basically being a huge rock pile with a whole bunch of trees to being a place that has sheep and llamas.

mathowie: Oh shit, wow.

jessamyn: And they did this adorable one-year time-lapse that is kind of great especially because it is now wintertime here again, and I don't know.

mathowie: Oh man, I got this on my phone or something, and I was like, "Oh shit, I gotta watch that when I get home," and I never did. So, it's sweet.

jessamyn: Yeah, I was watching the first ten minutes of it before I talked to you guys, and didn't realize it was 16 minutes long--sixteen, like one, six--but it's really great.

mathowie: Dude, that's so awesome. I've had a webcam.

jessamyn: We have a "shout-out to my homies".

mathowie: You just have your webcam, dump to a hard drive, and then put it together in iMovie, it's super easy.

jessamyn: Yeah.

cortex: I was telling Jessamyn, I kinda panicked the other day when I was looking through my video stuff, because I've been plowing through the video footage and making little day-by-day videos from my trip.

jessamyn: Oh, that's right! That's also what's been going on this month, is Josh has been making these really great "day in my month" videos. They're really good.

mathowie: Oh, sweet! I was stuck at Boston. I didn't know there was a new one.

cortex: Yeah no, I did Maine and was getting ready to do Vermont, and one of the things I had from there was an interview I did with terrapin.

jessamyn: Which was totally great, just during this blissful hot afternoon hanging out in their backyard drinking beer. It was great.

cortex: Yeah, it was really nice. And I can't find the video. And I had been having trouble getting data off of the camera and onto my MacBook early on in the trip, because it turns out there's some sort of bug in the image capture software on my MacBook where it can't correctly transfer a file larger than 2 gigs, and if I shot a full-length video on my camera it would cut off at 4 gigs or something. So the interview with Rick must have been longer than the 2-gig mark, and I think I may have ended up deleting it instead of managing to correctly split it up into pieces that I could then move off of the camera. So I've got the audio for it, but I've got no video of that interview anymore.

mathowie: Awww.

cortex: So maybe I'll co-opt some of this, you know, talk to him, see if he'd mind if I use some of that, and just try and create a whole video montage to put over the interview footage or interview recording I have with him.

mathowie: Mon-tage!

cortex: [laughs]

jessamyn: I think it sounds great! I think it sounds like a great idea.

mathowie: Anything else?

cortex: Not really. I don't have to go--

jessamyn: It's been a nice month. This'll probably be the last podcast before everybody's holiday season starts, so happy holidays to everybody.

cortex: Yep.

jessamyn: Whatever your holiday is, and we'll see you in 2010 after this.

cortex: [slightly sing-song] Twenty-ten, twenty-ten, we don't have to say the word two thousand.

jessamyn: [laughs]

cortex: Can't wait.

jessamyn: You didn't just say oh-nine in the past?

cortex: No, I always said two thousand and nine. What is that, three wasted syllables? Jesus.

jessamyn: [laughs]

kitty: [meows]

jessamyn: Oh-nine. Oh-nine!

cortex: Twenty-ten. Twenty-ten.

jessamyn: Hey, it's Smokestack!

cortex: Alright, cool! I will slap some music and call this a day.

sfx: [Music: Texas 89 by crapples]

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sfx: [Music: Texas 89 by crapples, continued]

sfx: [Music: Texas 89 by crapples, continued]

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sfx: [Music: Texas 89 by crapples, end]

Credits / Dibs

  • Minutes 0 to 3 - Smackfu
  • Minutes 3 to 6 - Smackfu
  • Minutes 6 to 9 - Smackfu
  • Minutes 9 to 12 - Smackfu
  • Minutes 12 to 15 - Smackfu
  • Minutes 15 to 18 - Smackfu
  • Minutes 18 to 21 - Smackfu
  • Minutes 21 to 24 - Cobwebberies
  • Minutes 24 to 27 - zamboni
  • Minutes 27 to 30 - zamboni
  • Minutes 30 to 33 - zamboni
  • Minutes 33 to 36 - zamboni
  • Minutes 36 to 39 - zamboni
  • Minutes 39 to 42 - zamboni
  • Minutes 42 to 45 - zamboni
  • Minutes 45 to 48 - zamboni
  • Minutes 48 to 51 - zamboni

Via Fanscribed:

  • Minutes 51 - end: beryllium, 20 segments