In September 2005 I had an idea. I’d heard about podcasts, and, after a little research, they sounded fun and easy to make. I mentioned this to my mate André, and after a visit to a local audio gear shop, we started a podcast. We wanted the freedom to be as rude and stupid as we felt on any particular day, so we recorded anonymously. Since last night, that’s all over.
We’re now Matt Balara and André Schuster. You’re probably thinking “big deal”, but it’s something we thought long and hard about.
Who Are You Now?
All of us have different ways of treating different people. I talk differently with my clients than I do with my best friend, my father or my landlord. It’s a normal and smooth change of gears which I never even think about. On the net, you’re potentially talking to everyone, everywhere, right now and all the time. Whoever you are anywhere on the net is simply who you are on the net.
Meet Mr. Nice Guy…
If you’re an active netizen (yeah, yeah, stupid word) who has either clients who aren’t your best friends, sensitive parents, or ex-girlfriends looking to defame you, the only sensible approach is to put your best you forward and be civilized, polite and intelligent on your blog, Flickr comments, forum entries, etc.
…and His Evil Cousin Fred
Of course you can be as rude and stupid as you want, and no one ever needs to know. On the net noone knows you’re a Rhodes Scholar, right? You just need to develop a persona, and stick to it, which sounds simpler than it is. For our podcast we were both maintaining two Flickr accounts, two MySpace accounts, two email addresses, two of almost everything which makes up our lives online. Anonymity is stress. Another disturbing side-effect was that I found myself often being someone in my podcast that I didn’t always like very much. Anonymity makes bad boys.
Producing a weekly podcast with a meager but loyal fan base of 500 people, where you can’t say your full name, can’t talk about work, family, basically anything personal, is also stress. I can’t even remember how many times we cut out “Balara” or “Schuster” from our recordings. And blogging about the same subjects from the podcast, but not being able to mention the podcast itself… well, it just starts to feel too complicated, not to mention schizophrenic.
So we’ve decided to finally be ourselves. The old episodes have been deleted (I know, I know, the internet never forgets so they’re floating around out there somewhere) and two new ones are online. From now on we’ll be the people we are, and produce a podcast we wouldn’t mind clients, parents or landlords listening to.
So, if you’ve got space in your iTunes for a weekly podcast of around 30 to 60 minutes length, in German and English (two episodes a week, one in each language) which a fan described as “something like eavesdropping on two friends chatting in a bar”, have a listen to Podcastra.