I’ve been listening to Steve Gillmor and his many incarnations of roundtable discussions for a few years now. Actually, I’ve grown up listening to things he created, as my DNA has been altered by things such as the Martian Space Party and TV or Not TV. There is a strange bond between the current discussions and these arcane recordings from the 70’s in that they both look forward (into the past?) and make the leaps in logic that stimulate and make total sense… even when it’s nonsense.

The group of people he chooses to surround himself with are all rather brilliant or driven or both. The strange amalgam of mufflers (nuts, bolts and enterprise) and Ferraris (web 2.0, mobile tech, gestures) creates a verbal and brain stretching stew that entertains and challenges me. It’s not for everyone; it also takes chances with its loose format that allows it to either find the high ground of extrapolation or fracture into dead horse flogging.

This is where I first heard Doc Searls, Hugh Macleod and others take these seemingly unrelated pieces of tech news and fit them together into something I’d never even thought of before. In a community and workspace where thinking is frowned upon, here were guys who took an hour a week to brainstorm and let us listen in.

I’ve always found that playing music, creating art and working with people who are at a higher level than you often brings your game up to a new level. We are so often scared to look like an idiot or be told we’re wrong, that our ideas are not valid and someone challenging your comments was not a learning experience but shaming in some way. Yeah, just be a big fish in a little pond and be Mr. Know-it-all.

When Steve’s last incarnation, the Gillmor Gang just stopped, I wasn’t surprised but I was disappointed. I sensed these people would keep talking to one another, keep the conversation going. It was only a matter of whether we would get to hear it again out in the general population.

And back they came. Through one of their conversations a variation occurred. Steve opened up the conference call to the listeners and a second daily show was born. His Newsgang application became the paper I browse (and strangely, contribute to). I was a little apprehensive about calling into Newsgang Live the first time and wondered if I would be drummed out as a faker or no-nothing. It turns out that my voice and thoughts were enough. I shared my opinion and joined the conversation, for better or worse.

Today I decided to call in again and it was a combo of the Gang regulars and the listeners. The conversation started in one place and followed the path it was meant to take. I at one point began to feel a little bullied when Arrington proclaimed that anyone who didn’t own an iPhone shouldn’t be on the call. I don’t and have my reasons for now. A strange thing happened. I felt as if I belonged in the moment if nothing else, a voice, an opinion, not needing to agree with anyone. Being a chronic people pleaser, it was a refreshing experience. I may not know as much as some of the callers about software development and business enterprise, but I certainly am a user, have my own unique experiences and can add something to the conversation.

A link to today’s podcast is here…

And the feeds for Steve’s current projects can be found here…

Look through the Newsgang site and get a sense of what a different experience it is. I honestly don’t know how much of a mook I come off as when I do this, but as of right now as I’m writing this, I don’t care. You can only lurk so long.