ShellyBlog Shelly Brisbin's life consists of several long tails. She writes about them here.

January 26, 2009

Austin Social Media 100

Filed under: Announcements,New Media and Tech,Podcasting,Random Personal Nonsense — Shelly Brisbin @ 2:55 PM

I just learned that I’m listed in the Austin Social Media 100, in the tech category. I can’t say that I know much about this set of rankings, but I’m flattered to be included. I’m also mining the rest of the list for fun and interesting people to follow on Twitter or elsewhere.

January 25, 2009

The Business of Controversy

Filed under: Politics and Public Affairs — Shelly Brisbin @ 9:16 AM

Like any good progressive, I despise conservative talk radio. I don’t hate that it exists. I hate that most of it is so driven by anger, spite, and mean-spiritedness, and a fact-free appeal to the lesser natures of its audience.

I don’t like talk radio, but I understand it. And the thing I understand most clearly is that it is a business, whose goal is to attract listeners who will buy the products of its advertisers. Political power for the host, and persuading people to like or agree are way down the list of things a smart, profitable talker wants to accomplish, though, of course, that helps sell ED pills, gold, and weight loss schemes, too.

It is important to understand the business truth about talk radio when you consider Rush Limbaugh’s most recent appearance in the headlines of mainstream and progressive media. Limbaugh made news by saying that he hopes President Obama fails in his goals. Much outrage and ringing of hands, along with a sigh of relief from some of his conservative colleagues, have followed Limbaugh’s pronouncement. But even more than the reactions of the political class, Mr. Limbaugh wants a reaction from people who have not been listening to his show lately. The reaction he wants? For them to tune in, of course. It does not matter to Limbaugh who likes him or who listens. It only matters that they do, and that he can quantify this to advertisers. While I do not suspect Mr. Limbaugh is a closet Obama backer, I do feel certain that his provocation is completely calculated to generate publicity for his radio show; his bread and butter. In a time when even Republican voters, and some officeholders are taking a wait-and-see, or a cautiously positive approach to the new presidency, Limbaugh needs to remain relevant. After all, he won’t be chatting with the vice president on the radio anymore. His choice was either to antagonize his existing audience by hitching his car to the Obama train (not bloody likely), or to stir up press for himself by throwing bombs. He’s just exercising good business sense.

So how do Limbaugh’s words offer relief to other conservatives? You need look no further than the man’s often stated criticism of the Democratic election aparatus during the Bush years. He accused Dems of rooting for bad economic or war news, thus depriving Bush of the support of the American people. As he looks to his own business, Limbaugh has simply adopted what he believed to be his enemies’ mindset and approach. Root for bad times when the people who beat you are in power, so that your side can provide the blameless alternative.

At a deeper level, Limbaugh has done all of his fellow right wing pundit types a favor. By being the first to say something that is currently perceived to be outrageous, Limbaugh takes flak, and provides cover for all of those who were thinkin it, but didn’t yet dare to say it. The inevitable “yeah, me too!” columns will appear from the likes of Coulter, Hannity, Malkin, and other vermin of the right, and they will be cheered by “the base”, thus enhancing their own cred. Those on the other side will, however, have expended the full measure of outrage at LImbaugh, and his originally controversial statement will become conventional wisdom in the mean-eyed right. Really, that’s what’s gonna happen. I’ve seen it before. One person steps out on a limb, gets the credit and blame for having gone first, and provides the foundation for a treehouse in which all the blatherers may stand, safe in the knowledge that they have moved the line of acceptable discourse. And when people like me next criticize them, the answer will be, “but everyone thinks this already.”

January 21, 2009

I Know Strange Things

Filed under: Random Personal Nonsense — Shelly Brisbin @ 3:25 PM

Twice in the past 24 hours, I’ve “showed off” my presidential geekery on Twitter. One has to do with Grover Cleveland (the only president elected to non-consecutive terms) and the other recalls the fact that it’s ben 150 years since a Secretary of State went on to become president. I double-checked that one before posting.

It is an old habit, but not entirely my fault. You see, I became interested in history at a very early age when someone slipped a history book onto my elementary school reading list. From then on, I dug in, staying happily at the library next door to the grocery store while mom shopped, and reading everything they had about the presidency of the United States. I checked out books, and either took home or semi-memorized encyclopedia entries (I loved me some World Book) about each president. For my crowning single-digit age achievement, I learned to say the names of the presidents (middles included) non-stop, and all in order. It is this last part that calls up a memory of my dad. When he learned I could do this parlor trick, he began having me recite at family reunions. The impact was greatest because I would say my piece to one relative at a time, not to the assembled group. It meant dad could brag on me over and over again.

The thing is that while I appreciated the fuss dad made, it did get to be embarrassing after the first few times. And you see, that’s what the people want; a performer who can be a little humble in the face of her own achievements.

Oh, I can still recite the presidents, though a few have been added since I was eight. Perhaps I should have appended that to my eulogy for dad. I bet he would have liked it.

January 19, 2009

Tagged, Not Tethered

Filed under: New Media and Tech — Shelly Brisbin @ 10:26 AM

Over the weekend, I do something I rarely do: I got involved with a Facebook meme. It didn’t require an app install, nor did I receive “points” of any kind for inviting my friends. I simply played along when a friend tagged me in her LifePod post. Create a note, copy and paste, do some tagging, and you’re done. It was fun!

The fact that it seems very natural for those who enjoy social networks to tag one another, share links, or make things for other people to look at online, is one of the more central reasons social media and marketing are so often mentioned in the same breath. I can practically see the drool when Twitter people or bloggers get going on the possibilities these voluntary networks offer to marketers. And these days, the number of people like me who reject being marketed to in this way, is a shrinking demo.

I played along with LifePod precisely because I knew that no new apps would be installed, and that my friends would not be bombarded with requests to match their IQs or test their film knowledge or even throw sheep, with some Facebook gadget as an intermediary. Social networking with marketing and sponsored gadgets is like a government with a bloated bureaucracy. At some point, the structure created to organize a fun or useful activity tends to weigh it down, making people less willing to buy in.

January 15, 2009

Windel Brisbin

Filed under: Random Personal Nonsense — Shelly Brisbin @ 8:18 AM

My father passed away on Sunday, January 11, 2009. Here is his obituary.

Mom and Dad at my wedding

Emma and Windel Brisbin

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