Well, there’s always two sides to every story, aren’t there.
I explained what happened between me and Radio Open Source here. So now I have a rather lengthy addendum.
Brendan, blogger-in-chief at Radio Open Source, was the fellow who made the offending comment, and it was Brendan who got in touch with me tonight to clear it up. He got on AIM and just called me up. That’s bravery: just grab an angry Canadian by the horns, that’s how you do it.
We talked around the issues about nationality, essentially agreeing that while Americans often don’t care about what’s going on outside their own borders, that’s not too much of an excuse for a pithy program like theirs, but yes, the world is wide, and yes, Americans are not very excited about their northern neighbour at the best of times. Sad, but true. He admited that the “us” in “a country none of us care about anyway” was meant to be a wry remark about Americans in general, not Radio Open Source staff in particular. We also discussed the very real issue that media can only talk about media so many times before someone calls them on the navel-gazing, and this is something I can see and do indeed accept.
Brendan, charming man that he is1, understood that in the end the issue was not about a show topic, but about communication. Oh yes, the medium is (as always) the message. Rule #1 in creating an online community/audience: if you want feedback, you’ll get feedback, and dammit you’d better respond to it in some way or the hoards will get prickly and upset.
Throughout this exchange (with Brendan tonight, but primarily prior to it), I’ve been thinking about the advice and guidance provided by Creating Passionate Users. I follow this blog because these folks think so totally differently than I do, and I find their insights interesting. I thought about Radio Open Source as trying to create passionate users, and I saw myself as the passionate user. And I was very much falling into the model. What I learned from CPU is that it’s good if some users (or, in a library context, patrons) love you, and some users hate you, but if there’s too many in the “meh” category, that spells trouble. This to me seems like a valuable lesson and it keeps coming back to me.
And I knew, even as I wrote this frustrated and unhappy post about what had happened, that I was jumping right over that sea of “meh”. I was still a passionate user. Even I as I tried to do the “turn your back” thing, being upset as I was still labeled me a force for…well, something.
I guess the idea is: if you get passionate users of your service, your product, your community, or your library, you should grab them and make use of them. Sometimes they’re going to get upset. Sometimes they’re going to throw themselves a great big tantrum. But you’ve got to listen to them and use them, because passionate users can be your greatest asset.
I have a feeling Radio Open Source may find a use for me yet.
I’m always going on about the power of the internet, the power of blogs, how internet communication can lead to great things, and at times Radio Open Source was being the exception. Until this. All I did was post my Canadian outrage on my own blog. The technology did the rest. My wordpress pinged his wordpress; he got trackback about my post. My post came up as a comment on the post in question on the Radio Open Source blog. My friends and neighbours saw my post and commented; Brendan got to see not just my reaction, but the reactions of those around me. And he in turn edited his blog, as I’m now editing mine. Private discussions become public, and real change comes through it.
Radio Open Source wanted to move at the speed of the blogosophere, and I think for the first time Radio Open Source is participating in a classic blog debate as a blog itself. There were hurt feelings, vague flames, humour that didn’t translate, and finally, reproachment, through the magical joy that is instant messaging.
1 See, Brendan? I did remark on your charming nature. Just like you asked me to. 😛