Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: Honesty about podcast fiction  (Read 4391 times)

Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
on: April 17, 2010, 04:41:21 AM
I'm sure many of us have some awareness about podcast novels, and authors who've gained some notoriety for their publishing thereforth.

But.

Some of the authors who've gained popularity in such a manner, to my mind, well.. the writing is actually pretty poor.

There's.. something of a stigma about saying anything naysaying these works. It's.. "anti-community." Or something. But still. No. If the writing is poor, IMHO, you've got to call people on it.. should'nt you?

Anyone who's spent much time bouncing from message board to message board as I have would know what I mean. There's a lot of, hmm whats the word, self-love amongst the podcast fiction community, and to a degree, its really detrimental.

You need a little objectivity or it all just seems self-serving.

I guess I'm just curious if anyone else has noticed this trend, and what they think about it.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #1 on: April 17, 2010, 10:10:14 AM
In general, I find most online communities tend towards the extremes - either the discourse is overwhelmingly negative or overwhelmingly positive. That's one of the things that make me appreciate these forums so much, because it's possible to have a real critical discussion here.

But yes, I agree. The podcast novel community, at least last time I paid any attention to it, felt like a mutual admiration club, and the level of the writing not only fails to justify some of the praise it gets, but actually seemed to be getting worse, as people seemed to realize they don't need to put a lot of effort into quality in order to get readers and cross-promotion.

I've just given up completely on podcast novels/serials (Decoder Ring Theater being the exception, but they're not really part of the same community).
« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 10:14:21 AM by eytanz »



Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #2 on: April 17, 2010, 05:44:56 PM
Well, there are a few of the authors active in the scene who's stuff is genuinely really, really good and I happily support. When they turn around and give shout outs/pats on the back to other authors who, while having made something of a name for themselves, are producing measurably poorer work, it kinda.. turns me off. I try and ignore it, but it does make me a little sad.. I think people feel there's this obligation to continually root for each other, even if so-and-so's latest book is really pretty awful.

Now to be fair, supporting each other is great, and I realize that even the not-so-good tomes are labors of love that each author put a lot of time and effort into. I do. I wouldn't want these people to stop writing, that's how you improve, by writing, putting it out there, getting feedback, and writing again, etc. Its just that people saying "oh, this is a great book, check it out" when, well, no it's not, feels dishonest.

This is kind of a tricky subject as it seems to involve, um, not sure what the term would be, but podcast novel author etiquette?, and discussing such things is always awkward, its just that I've gotten a little sick of everything that remains unspoken. :p I am glad to hear I'm not the only one who feels this way.


Annd, um, because I'm not sure who all comes by here, and I'm paranoid, if any reader happens to be such an author, just assume I'm not talking about you. I'm probably not.



davedoty

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 106
Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 09:13:46 PM
Reading this thread this morning, I couldn't quite put my thoughts into words, so I set it aside.  Oddly enough, just hours later I read an obituary that focused my thoughts quite clearly.

I used to hang out on the fringes of the interactive fiction community, and there was one guy who just always annoyed the hell out of me (and almost everyone else who chimed in.)  He made absolutely terrible games, made no effort to improve them, and relentlessly self-promoted in every forum he could find, often finding himself in flamewars in which he wound up showing very little connection to reality.  (Anyone who has been involved in the interactive fiction community has a good chance of guessing who I'm talking about.)

I just saw a page about his death (it was almost a year ago, but I only learned about it today.)  I read the thoughts of people who knew him in RL, or in online communities where, despite being seen as odd, he met with less hostility than he did in the if groups.  Reading about his depression, his fears about hearing things that weren't there, his bizarre ideas about recovering lost data from damaged disks by sleeping with them under his pillow, and the obituary with an undisclosed cause of death for a 32 year old, it became painfully obvious that the guy had more and deeper problems than any of us realized, and his lifelong love of interactive fiction, and his mistaken belief that he was creating something worthy in that field, was one of the few bright spots in his life.

Moving away from the maudlin, when I cast around for interactive fiction recommendations, I want people to recommend games I would enjoy playing, not recommend games to make the author feel good about himself.  And removing the death-goggles for a moment, he really, really was annoying with the incessant self-promotion.  And the making tiny changes to old games so that he could promote a "new" edition of the same old games again.

Trying to assimilate all of that into a stance, I'd say no, I have no problem with circles of people who want to sit around and give each other undeserved praise, if it gives them all some kind of happiness.  But I definitely don't think there's anything wrong with seeking out communities that look at things with a critical eye, give reliable recommendations, and work to improve.  I just think it's important to keep the two groups separate.

What to do with genuinely good authors who take part in the circle-jerk is a different question.  You have to just enjoy their fiction while ignoring their suggestions and staying away from their circle of writers, I suppose.

Sorry for the tl;dr.



Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #4 on: April 17, 2010, 10:09:29 PM
I'm sure many of us have some awareness about podcast novels, and authors who've gained some notoriety for their publishing thereforth.

But.

Some of the authors who've gained popularity in such a manner, to my mind, well.. the writing is actually pretty poor.

There's.. something of a stigma about saying anything naysaying these works. It's.. "anti-community." Or something. But still. No. If the writing is poor, IMHO, you've got to call people on it.. should'nt you?

Anyone who's spent much time bouncing from message board to message board as I have would know what I mean. There's a lot of, hmm whats the word, self-love amongst the podcast fiction community, and to a degree, its really detrimental.

You need a little objectivity or it all just seems self-serving.

I guess I'm just curious if anyone else has noticed this trend, and what they think about it.

This is a very interesting point and one I've been chewing over since I read the start of the thread a couple of days ago.  It's a really odd one because personal taste is the living definition of Your Mileage May Vary and that simple fact, that differentiation, the fact that different people see different thing sin the same piece of culture fascinates me.

Give you an example, I've watched Criminal Minds since it started.  It's a good show, fiercely talented central cast, interestingly grim world view, deals with it's female characters pretty well.  I like it.  I don't like it to the same level I like Supernatural, Northern Exposure, Due South, Doctor Who, Ashes to Ashes etc but I like it a fair bit.

Go talk to Elizabeth Bear about Criminal Minds and it opens like a flower.  She sees countless piece of character background shown through implication, fascinating echoes back to previous episodes, constant parity between the character and the serial killers they chase and a constant, unflinching exploration of why these five people are uniquely broken and uniquely suited to work with exactly no one but them.

Same show, different eyes.  I think the same thing could be applied to any media including podcasting.  There are podcasts I've turned off halfway through the first episode (And of course out there, someone will read this and go 'Yeah and some of them featured you, BUDDY!'), there are podcast novels I've skipped sections of, groaned at sections of or just given up on.  For me, they didn't work.  For other people they will and do.

Which is pretty awesome actually:)  I love that almost any piece of pop culture is a lament configuration of meaning, that you can constantly find new things in it.  But of course, that's only really half the point.  As to why everything gets, or got, recommended to everyone all the time?  I think there's a reason and a solution to that:

This is a new medium, a new way to communicate any and everything from your own fiction to the news.  It's the wild west, a frontier that that four years ago was still full of sand and dust and endless horizons.  Now it's a lot more settled but the culture of the first people through the gate, the willingness to look after the people around them, to build them up simply for being brave enough or positioned enough to try it, is still there.  It's fading now (I seem to remember a while back someone complained that every podcast I mentioned in the pseudopod intros was fantastic.  I now moderate my language a bit more) but it's still evident.

As to how to deal with it?  I'm tending more and more to stick to the rule I used when I ran the comic store; be positive about stuff you're positive about.  There are so many podcasts, so many voices out there that it's actually beholden on anyone sitting in front of a mic to point out the stuff they like rather than down the stuff they don't.  Like I say there's plenty of stuff I really don't get on with but in the end, there's more that I do.

So that was massively rambly.  Sorry about that:)



Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #5 on: April 17, 2010, 10:36:36 PM
Heh, yeah. I can't believe it didn't occur to me till just now how egotistical my intial post was (doh).

Like my opinion is the only one that counts and everyone who disagrees with me is automatically wrong and/or has bad taste. *eyeroll*

{Brief pause while the cat knocks over a bottle of soda and the Sodapocalypse occurs}

Quote
This is a new medium, a new way to communicate any and everything from your own fiction to the news.  It's the wild west, a frontier that that four years ago was still full of sand and dust and endless horizons.  Now it's a lot more settled but the culture of the first people through the gate, the willingness to look after the people around them, to build them up simply for being brave enough or positioned enough to try it, is still there.

Interesting point, one I hadn't considered.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #6 on: April 17, 2010, 10:42:14 PM
The thing about "your mileage may vary", though, is that is only helpful if we can see the variation. I think there's a sense, by a lot of people - not just in the podcasting community, but in many creative communities where there's a significant overlap between audience and creators - that one should express positive opinions but not negative opinions. To give one unaffiliated example, I tend to play flash games in Kongregate, a flash game aggregator that allows members to rate the games. Inevitably, every game that is rated low will get people commenting who say "if you don't like the game, just don't play it - stop rating it low".

This misses the point entirely, of course. A rating system is only valuable if peopel actually use the entire range. But rating systems aren't really valuable anyway, as they only let you see a picture of the groupthink. This is fine for a flash game where I usually am just looking for a way to clear my head and kill 5-10 minutes before getting back to work - it's not appropriate for fiction where I want to actually engage. So, I want to hear opinions, not numbers. But I want to hear both sides. Hearing only the positive doesn't help me decide whether it's worth my time.

And indeed, positive feedback is often less useful in making my mind than (genuine) negative feedback. That is because while destructive negativism, such as flaming, ad-hominem attacks, and just saying "this is crap! don't waste your time on it!" is frowned upon almost everywhere, vacuous positivism like saying "this is great! I loved it!" is welcomed (this is true in these forums too - one word reviews of "meh!" have been discouraged explicitly, two word reviews of "loved it!" have not been). The problem with this sort of positive feedback is that, unless I know the person who wrote it well, it doesn't actually tell me anything more than a point rating would. But, in civil forums where intelligent discussion is the norm, anyone writing negative feedback takes the time to make it constructive, which also means making it informative.

So, yeah, I like to see negative criticism. Because my mileage may vary, and I'm not looking for someone to tell me what to think, I want to hear what other people genuinely think. I've found some stuff I really love by reading well-thought out critiques by people who hated it, but recommendations are a dime a dozen and I ignore them more often than not.



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4880
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #7 on: April 18, 2010, 06:32:14 AM
I don't really hang out in podcast-qua-podcast areas.  I like the EA podcasts more for the stories than for the podcastiness of them, and the only reason I came to the forums was because they stopped letting me comment on the blogs directly.  >:-(  :-D  From here I branched out and have listened to a half-dozen or so other genre-oriented podcasts.

I will say that all of the podcast novels I've heard touted and advertised via those oh-so-delightful-sounding trailers have ended up as huge disappointments thus far.  I haven't finished most of them because I just lost interest.  I'd actually been feeling like there was somewhat of a lack of... rigor, I suppose, in terms of quality stories.  Like, "Here's an okay story WHICH HAS BECOME AWESOME BECAUSE IT'S PODCASTEDED exclamation point(s)!"  The stories themselves weren't all that impressive, and it felt to me - as a complete outsider - as if they somehow got bonus points or byes just for being in audio form and (sometimes) free.  I was interested to see someone who has more of a finger on the pulse of the community remark on the same sort of thing...

(And what room do you hang out in, eytanz?  I tend to live in Seamonkeys, mostly out of habit and because I hate trying to integrate into a new environment.)

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book


Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #8 on: April 18, 2010, 07:33:52 AM

{Brief pause while the cat knocks over a bottle of soda and the Sodapocalypse occurs}
Oh no!  Hope the sodapocalypse was averted.

Quote
This is a new medium, a new way to communicate any and everything from your own fiction to the news.  It's the wild west, a frontier that that four years ago was still full of sand and dust and endless horizons.  Now it's a lot more settled but the culture of the first people through the gate, the willingness to look after the people around them, to build them up simply for being brave enough or positioned enough to try it, is still there.

Interesting point, one I hadn't considered.
[/quote]

   It's a strange one isn't it?  Especially as it's only really becoming apparent that that kind of frontier spirit is present as the second and third generation settlers turn up and the place starts getting proper roads and satellite TV.  Which, may, have taken the metaphor a little far:) 



gelee

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 521
  • It's a missile, boy.
Reply #9 on: April 20, 2010, 02:37:39 AM
Well, I certainly feel better. I was wondering if I was the only person seeng it. There does seem to be a lot of back-slapping in the "new media" circles. Honestly, it does feel kind of anti-community to say that the hot, legendary podcast novel just didn't seem to be well written. Also, the community is surprisingly small. If you leave strong negative feedback about something, the owner of that work has a pretty good chance of hearing abou it. These things really are labors of love, so I find myself hesitant to drop negative feedback, even if I think it's warranted.  I've also found that the tiny peeks behind the scenes I've gotten have revealed that the work that goes into a top-shelf show, like DC, or the EA shows, is just staggering.
As a result, I won't normally say "this story just didn't grab me," even if that's the case. On the other hand, I don't really care to leave "loved it!" comments, and I try not to
rehash the comments of others, so I just don't leave as much feedback as I used to. I guess that's unfortunate, but it's tough to be honest, insightful, and kind at the same time.



Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #10 on: April 20, 2010, 02:38:37 PM
I will say that all of the podcast novels I've heard touted and advertised via those oh-so-delightful-sounding trailers have ended up as huge disappointments thus far.  I haven't finished most of them because I just lost interest.  I'd actually been feeling like there was somewhat of a lack of... rigor, I suppose, in terms of quality stories.  Like, "Here's an okay story WHICH HAS BECOME AWESOME BECAUSE IT'S PODCASTEDED exclamation point(s)!" 

Yeah, I kind of feel that. I've only ever finished one podcast novel -- "Scouts" (by Nobilis) -- although I did read "Infected" in hardback (library sale FTW). I've tried a few others, but it just doesn't hold me. The closest I've gotten is "When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth" (by Cory Doctorow). I was going to try to listen to his other longer podcasted works but I kept looking at all the episodes in iTunes and I was like "oh, jeez, this is going to take forever".

Plus... I like to read. I like to make the pictures in my head. 95% of the fiction podcasts I listen to are just readings, or occasional multi-cast table reads. (The other 5% is the Dunesteef.) Those are okay. And I really need them to be shorter because I lose interest after a while. I can't carry all those stories in my head. I can watch episodic television because everything is given to me except interpretation, as Alasdair mentioned regarding "Criminal Minds" (which I also watch... not really enthused about the spinoff, though, and that episode itself was written VERY clunkily IMO... waste of a great unsub/story at the expense of introducing the new cast).

Even podcast novels by authors I like tend to get left behind by me. If they're really good stories, they'll be published (small press is fine) and I can read them on paper.

There does seem to be a lot of back-slapping in the "new media" circles.

I work in the new media circles. It only gets worse. Read Gannett Blog's post about the USA Today iPad app. Or, really, any article about any iPad app.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42