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Author Topic: EP133: Other People’s Money  (Read 23930 times)

Russell Nash

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on: November 23, 2007, 10:53:32 AM
EP133: Other People’s Money

By Cory Doctorow.
Read by Amanda Fitzwater
First appeared in Forbes Magazine, October 2007.

Which is why she was hoping that the venture capitalist would just leave her alone. He wasn’t a paying customer, he wasn’t a fellow artist — he wanted to buy her, and he was thirty years too late.

“You know, I pitched you guys in 1999. On Sand Hill Road. One of the founding partners. Kleiner, I think. The guy ate a salad all through my slide-deck. When I was done, he wiped his mouth, looked over my shoulder, and told me he didn’t think I’d scale. That was it. He didn’t even pick up my business card. When I looked back as I was going out the door, I saw his sweep it into the trash with the wrapper from his sandwich.”

The VC — young, with the waxy, sweaty look of someone who ate a lot of GM yogurt to try to patch his biochemistry — shook his head. “That wasn’t us. We’re a franchise — based here in LA. I just opened up the Inglewood branch. But I can see how that would have soured you on us. Did you ever get your VC?”


Rated G. Contains Byzantine finance and potentially disturbing art.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: November 23, 2007, 05:45:00 PM by Russell Nash »



darth_schmoo

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Reply #1 on: November 23, 2007, 11:25:32 AM
Great story selection.  I always love Doctorow's stuff.  But I found the reader too difficult to understand.  Half way through, I gave up and found the story at (that venerable science fiction publication) Forbes.com.

http://www.forbes.com/2007/10/13/cory-doctorow-fiction-tech-future07-cx_cd_1015money.html, if anyone is interested.

What do we call this, the DIYpocalypse?



Russell Nash

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Reply #2 on: November 23, 2007, 11:39:48 AM
Half way through, I gave up and found the story at (that venerable science fiction publication) Forbes.com.

http://www.forbes.com/2007/10/13/cory-doctorow-fiction-tech-future07-cx_cd_1015money.html, if anyone is interested.

Or you can just click on the link in the Episode post.  If the story is available at the website of the original publisher, we include it in the post that begins each episode thread.



DeGem

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Reply #3 on: November 23, 2007, 01:28:34 PM
I rather liiked the reader.  there was a lot of charater in her voice.

it had that feel to it that suggested that "yep, been there done that, so what.  Life is what you make of it.  And you know she was going to make life do what she wanted it to do."

btw I am not a Kiwi, just a crazy Canuck

As was pointed out at the end of the podcast by Mr E.  there were a lot of complex thoughts going on in the story.  I suspect I will have to listen to it again to get all the detail that was laid out in it.



TechNoir

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Reply #4 on: November 23, 2007, 02:41:59 PM
I am torn on whether I liked the story or not. Cory Doctorow likes to do the idea piece. This is an idea piece. He expounds upon it and brings it to light eloquently. The problem is as a story it lacks. The characters are just mouth pieces and seem to not have much more than that. I certainly could not find anything in them to make me have an interest in the characters themselves. They seemed to exist to present the idea alone. Kind of like a commercial.

Never be so enamored with your own cleverness so as to stop and watch it.


Darwinist

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Reply #5 on: November 23, 2007, 04:05:52 PM

I thought the story was just OK.  I'll probably give the text version a read because I felt like I missed some things and I didn't go back and re-listen.  I liked the reader's accent. 

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan


sirana

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Reply #6 on: November 23, 2007, 04:06:33 PM
The reader made me skip it three minutes into the story. Accents are good and fine, but not only was this an extremly anoying one, I understood only about every third word.
Fortunally I've read this story when it was posted on the Forbe's website.
I agree with TechNoir that this was a story where ideas trump plot (in other words a typical Doctorow ;-)

I don't mind that when the ideas are strong enough to hold story on their own, but in this one I found them too weak to make me forget the missing plot. One of Doctorow's weaker pieces (especially when you compare it with jewels like  Power Punctuation part 1 <a href="http://craphound.com/?p=1715" > part 2 [/url] <a href="http://craphound.com/?p=1721" > part 3 [/url] )



Grahamimal

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Reply #7 on: November 23, 2007, 04:10:02 PM
But I found the reader too difficult to understand. 

Yep.



Biscuit

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Reply #8 on: November 23, 2007, 06:59:09 PM
But I found the reader too difficult to understand. 

Yep.

Hmm. Is this like with "Cinderella Suicide"? The High Concept mixed with a non-American accent made things challenging?


dakiwiboid

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Reply #9 on: November 23, 2007, 07:23:20 PM
But I found the reader too difficult to understand. 

Yep.

Hmm. Is this like with "Cinderella Suicide"? The High Concept mixed with a non-American accent made things challenging?

My screen name may be a bit of a handicap here, since many people assume I'm a New Zealander myself.  I'm not.  I've simply been called "Kiwi" for more than 15 years because of a domestic joke, and have always used it as a screen name.

Back to the actual topic.  I usually have no problem with non-American accents, however Ms. Fitzwater's is so thick and heavy that I found it hard to follow the story with any enjoyment. I don't want to have to DECODE what I'm listening to. I've seen a lot of movies and plays and listened to a lot of radio dramas where some of the characters had very heavy non-American accents, and I've talked to a lot of people with heavy accents in real life, however it's very disconcerting to listen to unalloyed for 20 minutes.



dakiwiboid

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Reply #10 on: November 23, 2007, 07:25:34 PM
Let me add that I have no problem whatsoever with "BBC English".  I can listen to the BBC World Service for hours without feeling like a cryptographer.



bolddeceiver

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Reply #11 on: November 24, 2007, 02:35:03 AM
I didn't mind the reading, but the story didn't seem to have anything going for it but onanistic futurism.  I do find it interesting to extrapolate current trends to the future, but I like stories that have a little more, well, story.  Also, the exposition was a little heavy handed.  It seems unlikely that the characters would say (in the dialogue) or think (in the narration) so many things which are taken for granted.  It felt like a contemporary story going on a tangent into the invention of the automobile when one drives by.  It's tough in a story that has to carry so much "historical" content in such short length, but I wonder if it could have been more naturally absorbed into the story.



goatkeeper

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Reply #12 on: November 24, 2007, 03:27:00 AM
I also had a hard time with the accent



eytanz

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Reply #13 on: November 24, 2007, 04:46:10 AM
Let me add myself to the list of people who had trouble with the reading - I don't know if it was just the accent (I just moved to the North of England from the USA, after all, and I have no trouble with either the media or people on the street), but I think there was some issue with the quality of the recording. The voice felt like it was filtered or otherwise somewhat unnatural - for the first few sentences I thought I was listening to the synthetic voice that reads out the episode titles.

In any case, I just couldn't make out the words, and gave up on the episode after about a minute.



Grayven

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Reply #14 on: November 24, 2007, 05:40:55 AM
Craphound was great. What the hell was this...just more garbage lovin'? Except for a possible walking ipod monster (which would be sweet), this was a very dull story.

I also had a lot of trouble with the accent. Accents are nice when the material is not challenging.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2007, 05:43:17 AM by Grayven »



Biscuit

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Reply #15 on: November 25, 2007, 08:55:15 PM
Alright, I'm going to come out from under the rug and proclaim that yes, it is I, the perpertrator of this week's read :)

Let me state that the conversation has not been damaging to my ego - more, it has been very interesting, and quite what I expected, knowing the high standards EP listeners hold.

Problem: Technical quality. I apologize. In my rush, excitement and nervousness (I'm reading for Escape Pod, wheee!) I set the compression wrong. It wiped all the bass from my voice, made me sound metallic and topsy. I'm usually not such a dunce when recording for work. My apologies to the greatness and high standards that is Steve Ely.

Problem: My accent. Ok, kiwis tend to talk a little fast and slur words (we have a terrible dark L, which makes us sound like we swallow words like Mall). Apologies if my regional ambiguities came through. Again, I was excited and nervous. However, I'd like to clarify I am a professional - I have a degree in broadcasting, I work for an advertising production company, I'm a freelance voice locally, and I do a lot of voice acting. I guess even Shakespeare had his off days ;) If you guys can see past a Virigin Hiccup, I'd love to have another go at entertaining you.

I'd like to quote "Stan!" from the comments on the EP site: "I think the problem was exacerbated by the fact that the prose was tight to the point of being terse, and it contained lots of quick, almost throw-away references that were meant to give meaning to the top level conversation, context to the world, and nod & wink to today’s global economic shenanigans. That’s A LOT to parse all at once, and even more so when the pronunciation is so regional."

When I got the story, I knew it was going to be a challenge. My first thought was "Wow, this scans like Cinderalla Suicide. The listeners are going to rip me apart." However, I am not one to back down from a challenge.

I wanted to see if a Kiwi accent was acceptable on the market. There is being professional, and then there is changing the essence of who you are. I know there are some technical issues I could change in a read, but I'd hate to change who I am/my accent.

To that regard, I think I understand what Steve was trying to imply by matching a non-American accent to an allegory about globalization - we shouldn't let the normalization of a capitalistic society overwhelm the character of other cultures.

Thanks all
Amanda


mjn9

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Reply #16 on: November 25, 2007, 09:12:22 PM
I would like to hear a variety of accents in these stories.



eytanz

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Reply #17 on: November 25, 2007, 11:59:52 PM
First, I should point out that the compression issue was a far bigger problem for me than the accent itself. Overall, a combination of factors led to my not being able to understand this story - the metalic nature of the voice being the major one, but the accent and difficulty of the text didn't help. Nor did the fact that my hearing was never particularly good for a person of my age.

But one thing I'd like to throw into consideration here is listeners for whom English is not a native language. Growing up in a non-English speaking country, I have many friends for whom understanding English does not come naturally. They can follow English dialogue if it's in a familiar accent - either NE or SW america, or BBC British. Even I, having grown up in an English speaking household and having lived in English speaking countries for over five years now, find it harder to understand some accents than people who grew up in an English speaking environment.

So as far as globalization goes, using a New Zealand (or Australian, Welsh, South African, Minnesotan or anything else that it not heavily represented in international media) accent means more representation for different dialects of English, at the cost of adding a complication for non-English speakers.

Anyway, my point isn't that Biscuit should change her accent (certainly not, I'd never change mine if I were reading a story, and it probably would be a lot harder for people to understand). Nor am I arguing against using narrators with non-American accents. I just want people to remember that the mainstream isn't just about excluding those who don't conform, but that it also can be used as a tool to facilitiate inclusion of others. So there's a balance here that's worth thinking of.

As for the story itself, I guess I'll just find the text on Doctorow's site and read it someday. I have tried re-listening to the podcast, and have found that I can understand the words, but only if I spend enough active attention on making individual out that I'm not also able to actually follow the sentences.



Biscuit

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Reply #18 on: November 26, 2007, 01:14:07 AM
I just want people to remember that the mainstream isn't just about excluding those who don't conform, but that it also can be used as a tool to facilitiate inclusion of others.

Understood. As I said there ARE technical issues I could have changed, and that includes the pacing and pronunciation.


eytanz

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Reply #19 on: November 26, 2007, 01:48:50 AM
I just want people to remember that the mainstream isn't just about excluding those who don't conform, but that it also can be used as a tool to facilitiate inclusion of others.

Understood. As I said there ARE technical issues I could have changed, and that includes the pacing and pronunciation.

The comment you're quoting wasn't really directed at you or Steve nor was it a response to the particular choices (and arguable missteps) made with this episode - though some of the rest of my post is - but it was more directed at the sentiment expressed by mjn9. Not that there is anything wrong with mjn9's post - far from it - but I figured it's worth chiming in with my take on the general issue.



Ocicat

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Reply #20 on: November 26, 2007, 08:24:58 PM
The story left me cold.  Didn't like it, didn't hate it.  And yes, I had problems with the reading too... somewhat the accent, but mostly the recording problems and the sheer speed.  Since the story threw so many ideas out there, it was easy to just get lost.  And I didn't find most the ideas interesting, really.  Of course, I work in the internet market, and so the past history stuff was all well known to me.  And then it got into future history, and really that was just as boring.  None of the ideas really grabbed me, and there was no story to make up for it.  By the end the narrator's personality started to come through, but I was long past caring.



darusha

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Reply #21 on: November 26, 2007, 09:31:30 PM
I had already read this story on the Forbes site, and thought it was merely okay.  My impression didn't change after listening to the audio.

I did think that people would have a hard time with the reader's accent - my maternal family is from NZ, so I'm really familiar with the accent & I had trouble.  I think it was mostly the speed in this case, but I've found that NZ accents are particularly impenetrable to the North American ear.

That being said, I thought the voice went with the character really well.  Ah, the trade offs.



Roney

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Reply #22 on: November 26, 2007, 11:19:02 PM
I liked the reading.  I thought it brought out the character in a very dry, dense story.  It took a couple of minutes to get my ear in for the accent, but it was no more difficult to follow than some of the American readings on previous Escape Pod episodes.  I actually quite like having to concentrate on the words -- my mind has a tendency to pick up on an interesting idea and start exploring it instead of keeping up with the story, and it helps to be forced to pay attention.

As to the story itself, I liked the fact that it didn't try to tack on a standard plot just for the sake of having a plot.  It had a few ideas about alternative business models, it played with them a bit, then it stopped.  On the other hand, the characters and setting themselves seemed tacked onto something that could just as easily have been a blog post.  Turning it into a story could have illustrated the ideas more vividly... if the characters had been demonstrating them instead of mostly just talking about them.

So, nice ideas, some nice images, a good reading, but not much of a story.



FrodosDad

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Reply #23 on: November 27, 2007, 12:13:47 AM
I'm with the crew who had a hard time with the accent.  I think I could have dealt with it if it wasn't read so fast.  I didn't have time to care about the story because I felt like I was always trying to catch up.



Chodon

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Reply #24 on: November 27, 2007, 05:06:04 PM
I found the first minute or two a little difficult to understand, but I stuck with the story and found it easier to understand as it went on.  I don't know if it was because I was getting used to the accent or if I just got my headphone seated properly at that point.  The reading was very good, Biscuit.  I think you put some good personality into the character.  Don't change a thing (except the sound quality...that was rough).

The story itself was a little weak.  I enjoy following the market and financial information, but this story just didn't get me going.  First of all, it was confusing to me because of some of the terminology used.  It wasn't clearly defined and acronyms were thrown all over.  Also, I think this story fell flat because finance and economics are dull as hell, but people study them because there is a lot of money to be made.  When it's all speculation and fiction what's the point?

Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither.