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How to dispel gossip
May 21, 2012 8:59 AM   Subscribe

In five minutes, Dan Benjamin graciously and honestly recollects and signs off the 120-episode technology/Apple podcast The Talk Show. (can't listen? summary of remarks). Benjamin co-hosted TTS with writer John Gruber, who on Friday controversially announced he was taking the show to Mule Syndicate alone.
posted by michaelh (44 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's nice to hear Dan speak about this, and be classy about it.

I have to admit, I was a bit confused when I saw Gruber's post about a new ep of Talk Show, when I knew nothing had shown-up on the iTunes feed. Very weird and abrupt change. Dan had to be utterly blindsided by it, since it probably had been in the works for awhile before Gruber sprung it. Taking the name was a low move, I guess. Then again, I suppose it was his show, by association, with Dan simply being the facilitator.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:09 AM on May 21, 2012


But for people to lose their shit over this... unnecessary. Nobody got fucked over or betrayed.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:10 AM on May 21, 2012


Did anyone really lose their shit over it? I, honestly, didn't read anything about it anywhere. But, yeah, if someone did trip-out over this...unnecessary, as you say.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:14 AM on May 21, 2012


Mike Monteiro retweeted the incredibly angry and loud protests over this at the beginning of the weekend. It was... educational, to say the least.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:15 AM on May 21, 2012


Amusingly enough, a slightly later post on Daring Fireball is about "WWIC".
posted by chavenet at 9:15 AM on May 21, 2012


Yeah, I love that the most recent two DW links are "Why Wasn't I Consulted?" and Dan Harmon's response to getting unceremoniously fired.
posted by thejoshu at 9:16 AM on May 21, 2012


It was a bit of a tempest in a teapot but people were angry, especially ones who didn't like Mike Monteiro or John Gruber anyway.

Here are the awkward final seconds of the last episode. Gruber had not yet announced he was leaving, obviously.
posted by michaelh at 9:19 AM on May 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


I wasn't—and still am not—sure what to make of this. I've listened to The Talk Show since the beginning and have exactly the affection for its hosts that Benjamin talks about in this piece. Also Gruber is one of my Internet heroes—I own a DF shirt, for Christ's sake—and I'll probably follow him wherever he decides to go, podcast-wise.

And so while I'm not really interested in making broad proclamations about who's the asshole here (I remain unconvinced that there has to be an asshole at all) Gruber's lack of communicativity here is surprising. His aloof, cynical persona is certainly part of his schtick, but the reason I've always found him to be a compellingly honest writer and thinker goes back to when he first tried to make DF his full-time thing, when he wrote:
No stagecraft. No artifice. Just me, your humble author, hat in hand, heart in throat, asking for your support.
This, somehow, seems like the opposite of that guy. Now that he's such a success—and he is, deservedly so—he doesn't need to be humble. He doesn't need to ask permission or beg forgiveness.

But the test of a person is whether they remain humble and decent even when they don't have to.
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:20 AM on May 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


"We'll be back regular time next week, right?"

"...I guess so."

smooooooth.
posted by sixohsix at 9:21 AM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am torn about Dan Banjamin. On one hand he is sympathetic because it sounds like he got blind-sided, and Ihnatko seems to like having him around. But he always strikes me as very ed-mcmahon-you-are-correct-sir-heh-heh!

And Benjamin also has his own network of podcasts, some of whom I believe came over from other places. (E.g., isn't somebody from Mac Break Weekly jumping from TWiT to Benjamin's 5by5 -- Alex, perhaps?)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:44 AM on May 21, 2012


There's a mainly-speculative Quora post, which tries to make out there's a lot of politics going on.
posted by The River Ivel at 9:55 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


TRUE FACT: When you rearrange the letters in the name "Dan Benjamin," it spells out "Genuine class".
posted by jeffehobbs at 10:02 AM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


wenestvedt: MeFi's own Merlin Mann quit MacBrrak Weekly, but he didn't jump right into doing Back to Work on 5by5.
posted by SansPoint at 10:06 AM on May 21, 2012


It's obvious why Gruber wanted to keep this under the radar, a talk show named "The Talk Show" represents significant intellectual property just based on the name alone.

Benjamin should start a talk show named "A Talk Show".
posted by jeremias at 10:19 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And so while I'm not really interested in making broad proclamations about who's the asshole here

Don't know either of them or the podcast, but if you blindside your co-host with a move which he isn't part off, signs point to you being at least a bit of a douche.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:28 AM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I used to like Daring Fireball. Lately it's turned even more mean, and Gruber has been less correct. I stopped following it about 6 months ago and started following macrumors for my apple tech fix, which gives me precisely the same information, quicker, without the gratuitous snark[1].

Every once in a while, I'll take a look at the top story on DF, and it's kind of the same passive aggressive linking, backpeddling over past errors, Apple PR and disguised ads for iphone apps that aren't really worth the trouble.

And sometimes he's spot on -- but that's getting rarer and rarer -- possibly because Apple is getting more and more mundane as time passes.

All this is to say that this is shifting of deck chairs, and that while I can accept I'm not the mainstream, I think the only alternatives are for Gruber to fade away or for him to become a "personality" with all the success for him and drawbacks for the audience that implies.

[1] (I have no idea why I joined metafilter during that time -- if I was trying to avoid snark :-))
posted by smidgen at 10:43 AM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


SansPoint, thank you -- I think I conflated that change with the increased podcasts coming from Alex Lindsay's PixelCorps. Or something.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:58 AM on May 21, 2012


wenestvedt: No prob. And there's not much bad blood as Merlin was on a fairly recent TWiT, so he and Leo must be on good terms.
posted by SansPoint at 11:06 AM on May 21, 2012


I am torn about Dan Banjamin. On one hand he is sympathetic because it sounds like he got blind-sided, and Ihnatko seems to like having him around. But he always strikes me as very ed-mcmahon-you-are-correct-sir-heh-heh!

Yeah, I listen to the one with Marco from Instapaper (Build & Analyze), and it feels like Marco has interesting things to say, and Dan is just a listener analogue. Like he is sort of technical, but not enough to actually ever disagree with Marco or debate something. Just enough so that he can say "that didn't make sense". I guess it is a useful role but it seems like two Marcos would be a lot better.
posted by smackfu at 11:37 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've tried to listen to a bunch of 5b5 podcasts but I kind of dislike them.

They're underproduced; poorly edited, and overly long given the subject matter. I like Gruber, Siracusa, et al but honestly? Who the fuck has an hour to listen to inane rants on inane subjects with lots of awkward pauses and useless banter?

FURTHERMORE, I dislike how small the top level is at the apple-design-internet-community. Ever since Monteiro lost his shit when someone vaguely plagiarized one of his crappy paintings, I've stopped being able to care about most of what he says.
posted by pmv at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Merlin continued to appear periodically on MacBreak after starting back to work. I suspect he just got sick of talking about Apple rumors all the time. Maybe he'll show up again if they do a "this week in text editors."
posted by modernserf at 11:40 AM on May 21, 2012


Who the fuck has an hour to listen to inane rants on inane subjects with lots of awkward pauses and useless banter?

Oh, that too. A lot of their podcasts are more than an hour, like 90 or 120 minutes. It's interesting stuff, sometimes, but it's also like a 30 minute discussion of diapers. That should really be Dan's job, to get it back on topic, but he doesn't feel the need. One way around this is to include a show timeline in the podcast notes, but I don't think they do that either.
posted by smackfu at 11:42 AM on May 21, 2012


I dunno. I like the informality of the 5by5 shows, especially Back to Work. I'm actually losing interest in the more formal shows, like everything on TWiT, to the point where I've unsubcribed from Tech News Today. I dunno. 5by5 just works with my brain, and it's loose approach is something I aspire to with the show I do.
posted by SansPoint at 11:52 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I were king of the podcast universe I'd force John Siracusa to put all of his 'follow up' into a blog someplace where the people who want to argue about the finer details of game controller husbandry can do so in the blog's comments. Then maybe the podcast would come in under an hour.

"Back To Work" has about 20 minutes of good, solid, truly useful content. But it's sandwiched in between long, boring games of verbal grab-ass. So as King of the Podcast Universe, that shite gets edited out of the main podcast and put exclusively into a second (after dark) podcast for people who want just the lulz. (and don't get me wrong. lulz are important internet business)

And also! I'd like to point out that my free ice cream didn't come with any sprinkles and I really prefer waffle cones.

I like a lot of what 5by5 produces, and I've actually used the products of some of their sponsors.

I had the opportunity to meet Dan Benjamin once years ago. He taught me how to smoke a cigar properly. He's a good fine man and I wish him all the success in the world.
posted by device55 at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I used to like Daring Fireball. Lately it's turned even more mean, and Gruber has been less correct...
Every once in a while, I'll take a look at the top story on DF, and it's kind of the same passive aggressive linking, backpeddling over past errors, Apple PR and disguised ads for iphone apps that aren't really worth the trouble.


I'll submit that it's always been that way and that you only recently noticed.

The show that Dan Benjamin co-hosts with Horace Dediu, The Critical Path, is really good if you have an interest in Apple, the phenomena of disruption, or mobile computing.
posted by euphorb at 11:56 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dan Benjamin is a class act, and I am 100% sincere when I say that.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:02 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll submit that it's always been that way and that you only recently noticed.

I refuse your submission.
posted by Edison Carter at 12:05 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll submit that it's always been that way and that you only recently noticed.
That's true to a certain extent, I was going to add that to my missive. I still think most of it is that now, after the 6th iphone and the 3rd tablet and the 10th(?) generation of laptop, there is not as much to say anymore. It seems like Gruber is attempting to use his persona to branch out on to other topics, but I'm not sure he's likable enough to do so.
posted by smidgen at 12:13 PM on May 21, 2012


"this week in text editors."

I think you're onto something here.
posted by michaelh at 12:15 PM on May 21, 2012


Is there another blog that posts the 5% interesting stuff that Daring Fireball posts, but not the 95% junk?
posted by smackfu at 12:17 PM on May 21, 2012


The shows do tend to be way too long (at least the two I listen to, the Talk Show and Hypercritical), and I often wish Dan did more than just sit there for 20 minutes and then do a sponsor. He seems like such a nice dude, but when he is called upon to give an opinion, he usually just seems to paraphrase whatever his co-host just said (the Ed McMahon role, as wenestvedt said). With Siracusa I don't mind so much, because he's a one-man rant machine that has enough energy and humour to carry a show. But with Gruber, I get the feeling that he needs a solid co-host to bounce off of. Or something.

On preview: I think smidgen is on to something. Gruber seemed like he was bored with talking about the latest iPhone 5 rumour that some second-rate tech blog posted during a given week. I enjoyed their Bond segments, because Gruber actually seemed interested in that.
posted by good in a vacuum at 12:20 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or maybe it was just the personality mix. There was an episode of the Talk Show a few months back where Merlin Mann filled in for Dan, and it was great. Gruber really seemed like a different (more energetic, more engaged) person when talking with Merlin.
posted by good in a vacuum at 12:22 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or maybe it was just the personality mix

Dan and John had done like 120 of these shows - and they've been friends for years too. Maybe it was just time they saw recorded with other people.
posted by device55 at 12:25 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh I agree, device55. I've listened to 90 of those 120 shows, and you could tell they were friends, but there was some sort of spark missing. Maybe like a relationship that had run its course, as you suggest.
posted by good in a vacuum at 12:30 PM on May 21, 2012


There are other ways of handling things. Mature ways. We've all seen them as they happen from time to time at the grown-up level and as painful as they are, some times they're just meant to happen.

There are other ways of doing things without public embarrassing someone like that. Dan Benjamin didn't deserve that.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:19 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anyone who does business with Gruber should be warned by this entire episode. Gruber could have handled it very differently. That he didn't, and left a friend out to dry, speaks volumes.
posted by gen at 1:34 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


In my opinion the show had run its course AND John could have made a more graceful exit. Apple's product development cycle has settled into a great, profitable, predictable rut. There are few fireworks, just fantastic incremental changes. Dan and John haven't even been talking much about Apple over the past few shows. Maybe John felt like he needed to move from being the guest commentator about Apple into a role where he's host to commentators for other subjects. That's perfectly logical.

However, they did have a lot of loyal listeners, and Dan's right about "becoming friends with the voices on the radio/device." There's a talk show host on WGN in Chicago named John Williams and I'll be crushed if he ever leaves. But I know he'd break it to his audience and celebrate the fun he's had before he left. I wish Dan and John had been able to do that.

I also think things fell off when they finished the Bond discussions and couldn't come up with something to replace them with.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 1:50 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do we work this scenario out so that we can vilify Gruber? That's the key thing, here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:35 PM on May 21, 2012


Easy, BP. I'm an enormous admirer of Gruber's work, and if you got "vilification" out of what I wrote above, I must've phrased it less carefully than I tried to.

I think a lot of people have axes they want to—fairly or not—grind here. I just think this is kind of an unfortunate bump in the road in the careers of two talented and ambitious tech commentators. Pointing out that it's unfortunate and maybe could've been handled better does not constitute vilification.
posted by Sokka shot first at 3:10 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do we work this scenario out so that we can vilify Gruber? That's the key thing, here.

I think Gruber made the vilification easy by doing all of this so abruptly. Still, like Benjamin said in the statement, it was his right to do so if he wanted to.

I listen to several 5by5 shows, and the Talk Show used to be one of them, but I quit listening not long after they finished talking through the James Bond movies. I just kinda lost interest. Like MarvinTheCat said, it's not hard to imagine that Gruber did, too.
posted by epilnivek at 3:15 PM on May 21, 2012


It seems the standard pattern is someone asks you to do a podcast, you are flattered and say yes you'll do it for free as long as they handle all the hosting, editing, and other unfun technical nonsense, then time goes by and suddenly there are sponsors and revenue and people asked to do the show on a lark have to come to an agreement on how much and where the money goes and it seems like this has gone a bit bumpy several times in the past. I imagine that's where Gruber and Dan split ways.
posted by mathowie at 5:02 PM on May 21, 2012


I think I was introduced to 5by5 by someone linking to an episode of Hypercritical (perhaps after Siracusa's huge OSX Lion review). I found the few episodes I listened to interesting, but then there were like two or three episodes where John Siracusa spent the better part of an hour expounding at length on the minutia of various home video game system controllers.

Since those rambling episodes (even on my iPods double-speed setting) I now check the weekly podcast's summary to see if he's going to be talking about something that interests me—and yeah, it the podcast definitely needs a way to skip past the 30 minutes of "followup".

But, it was Hypercritical that introduced me to the now deceased The Talk Show. It was a great show... tech talk, funny reviews of the various James Bond films (with a funny cameo by Gruber's son). Sad to hear it's going away.

But there are a couple more I enjoy as well: Build and Analyze with Marco Arment, Back to Work with the hilarious Merlin Mann, and now Amplified with the gregarious and great laugher Jim Dalrymple.

Dan Benjamin seems like an incredibly nice guy and I wish him well. One thing I really like is at the end of every episode of Back to Work, he and Merlin Mann sign off saying they love each other—you really get the feeling that these two friends really, really care for each other and have a ball when they get to spend time together. That's something that's nice to hear and have in your ears on on a weekly basis.
posted by blueberry at 12:20 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Merlin's a very affectionate guy to begin with, so there's that.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:42 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


FURTHERMORE, I dislike how small the top level is at the apple-design-internet-community.

I find this really disappointing, too. There's a few voices that get retweeted/reblogged a lot, and people seem to jump at the chance to agree with them. I wish things were less predictable.
posted by ignignokt at 7:48 PM on May 22, 2012


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