I’ve been a fan of Christopher Lydon’s for years, ever since 1999 when I moved to Boston. So needless to day I was delighted when I discovered that he was doing a podcast radio show called Radio Open Source.
The spirit of Open Source will be open source â€” open as to subject matter, open as to views and voices. Our favorite oft-times caller on the original Connection, the famous Amber, once remarked to me: â€œChris, you treat your callers like guests and your guests like callers.â€ We will try to extend the same open manners to the new show, and to the new website that comes with it. We chose Open Source as a name to live up to. [via]
I’ve been an avid listener. I’ve told all my friends about the show and send them links to ones I think they will particularly enjoy. I talk about it at work. So you imagine my joy when they announced three things at once; an open call for feedback on the site, and a live webcast the following week about what more they could do to live up to their name and engage their listeners, and a renewed call for show suggestions. I was so excited! I composed a long comment about web interactivity and some things they could do to help create community through the web. This is something I’ve done a lot of thinking (and writing) about. I was thrilled to be able to participate. I also added a show suggestion: the CBC lockout. If anything changed labour relations through a new means of production, it would be that. I thought someone should do a thoughtful review of those events, but I’m not sure it can happen in Canada (at least, not yet.) I felt like a “source”, just like Chris said. I was thrilled to just be able to make a suggestion, whether or not it was taken.
But then the webcast happened. What happened to the interactivity? There was none. I could hear the webcast, but I couldn’t be heard. There was no forum for users to react and respond; only an email address. A friend of mine, also listening in on the webcast, and I were getting increasingly frustrated as the folks on the webcast talking about how on earth to engage listeners while they devoutly ignored us. The feedback comnents? Didn’t get addressed at all. And the worst of it all was when someone during the webcast joked about how everyone in the room was “backchannelling” on IRC. Ha ha! How funny! What a nice little in circle they have, these folks who asked for our feedback, hanging out together on IRC without extending an invitation to the rest of us! My friend nearly choked with shock; I just felt sad and uninvited. Why did they ask us for suggestions and feedback if they weren’t serious about listening to it?
I was frustrated but was prepared to blame technology. These things happen, right? Maybe they didn’t know how to cope with hundreds of listeners banging on the door. Maybe they didn’t think through what it would mean to webcast something like that; dangling a carrot before us and then never letting us gett a bite.
But add insult to frustration today. Because today they responded to my little show idea with this:
So: not only were my comments barely noted and responded to, now I come from a country they just don’t care about. This, apparently is the best way to increase your interactivity with an audience; ignore them, tease them with the opportunity to “be a source”, and then kick them in the teeth and tell them that you just don’t care.
I’m sad and baffled by this turn of events. I really felt good about these people. I was prepared to do anything I could to help them with this neat radio idea. I was so behind them. And yeah, that phrase is kind of echoing through my head right now. I can’t think of too many things that would have made me turn away from something I enjoyed so much, on a medium I love.
I’m sure they won’t miss one listener from a country none of them cares about.
Edited to add: The resolution of this matter (the dramatic tension! the suspense! Will they resolve their differences? Will it come down to a match of steely wills, broadcaster vs. librarian? Will it be a deathmatch, and if so, will it be in the mud?) can be found here.