Those of you who follow me (if there is anything left to follow) know I can be difficult, poetic and totally abstract. It is part of who I am and part of how I communicate. Even my closest friends have to pay attention to the tangents and side tracks to decipher my arcane moments. I have spent most of my adolescent and adult life trying to communicate feelings and ideas through music, poetry, photographs, writing in various formats and conversations in print, recording and real time face-to-face. Due to a severe detour in my teens and 20’s my social skills and ability to clearly convey what is crashing through the dense thickets of my brain have been slow to mature. This might be a bit of an understatement as some of the hard wiring installed early on focused on abstract/diplomatic/read-between-the-lines style that I have. As coarse as I can be, I am not often direct.

This post is being instigated again by my attention to Steve Gillmor and the various gangs he convenes. Due to the passion and intelligence of his collected groups, I find myself again stimulated to write when other things like work, travel and the day-to-day mundane moments have left me feeling flat and without anything to add to the conversation (or the noise…). As usual, in my creative writing I find myself with things that interest me crashing around in my head like hooky songs or shopping carts filled with soaking wet clothing mixed with plaster and broken glass. It often takes 2 or 3 items to appear to cause me to see a connection either in the network or the collective unconscious sense (is there a difference?)

I was listening to the Gillmor Gang from 5/31 with the guys from FriendFeed and began to realize that the participants had very clear (and different) priorities in what they were looking for in a Twitter or Twitter-like experience. Track, RealTime, Aggregation, OpenID, Conversation… all these issues/features had their reps and seemed to me that this combination of people was perfect for this conversation. The FriendFeed guys were great, clear as to what they were doing and open to the ideas presented to them. There was a moment or two when an idea was shared when you could sense that they really didn’t get it at first; not because it wasn’t made clear or they couldn’t understand, but I propose because of the fact that their focus becomes so tight on what they are trying to accomplish that it’s somewhat outside of where their heads have been at.

I know these are smart people; often the smartest people I’ve met are capable of focusing in on a problem or a goal and everything else falls away. So much brain power is used up in trying to accomplish it that everyday or common sense things just don’t find a place in their RAM. It doesn’t matter if it is a developer trying to solve a coding issue, a writer trying to get a point across to someone else or a musician trying to get what he hears in his head to become what he wants his audience gets to hear; you often have to remind them to eat or put their pants on before they leave the house.

The passion and focus of people can be remarkable in tech, the arts or business. Many partnerships happen when an idea person works with someone who has the ability to put the nuts and bolts of a project together, often having to explain to the idea person that the limitations of current technology (or money) haven’t reached the level of their idea yet. When adding business to the equation, scaling becomes an issue. If you have more clients, more chapters, more trucks, more guitars, you have to have a plan that considers the practical execution of the idea. I’ve often said that my job in touring is more of being a reality liaison than technician. You never want to limit what your client wants to accomplish but sometimes you have to find a workaround in order to pull it off until you can find the best way to give them what they want…or allow them to realize what they asked for is not currently available in this reality.

I respond better to poets than to orators; I respond better to comedians than to newscasters. Other smart, cultured, successful people are just baffled when things are presented to them in ways other than what they are used to. As much as I’ve been told that my poetry is conversational, I’ve even had parts of my own family tell me they don’t “get it”. This being told to me by the person who introduced me to abstract art, jazz, classical Indian music and the Firesign Theatre, you realize it’s a matter of focus and vocabulary. Often the response can be angry and blunt, defying all of the subtlety they may have in a boardroom or a concert hall.

I mention this because of the response to Steve Gillmor’s post at TechCrunch, “Plan B”. Hell, to any of his posts since he moved over there… here is someone who is using the same language and the same words that most of us do to transmit his ideas to others. Is it the syntax, the construction, the rhythm of how he writes that creates so much ire from the commenter’s? Is it because it isn’t just sound bites, flow charts and a beat you can dance to? According to the Feedburner badge on the site there are over 3/4’s of a million subscriptions to Techcrunch (and considering how many people STILL don’t use RSS and aggregators , the number must be higher), people who choose to go there because of an interest in what they share. The head Crunch has his style, his minions theirs and Steve has one that causes some to storm out of the room while I smile and continue to expand my thoughts on a given issue.

(A slight disclaimer for me as I am a fan of his work, before the Gang and after Techcrunch and I am one of THOSE people who call into Newgang Live, love Twitter, miss the IM/gTalk bridge and think that what he says is extremely valuable, whether he’s right or not….)

I love to hear people who are both idea people and have a concept of practical solutions discuss things with one another. I called in today for Newsgang Live and it started off as a political conversation and then shifted over to tech. I started bringing up the points I’m making here and got a little pushback from Steve for possibly painting him into an abstract distressionist corner. I think I was a little misunderstood in how I worded my statements, not that things are abstracted or pixellated to confuse the issue (though getting into the syntax conversation with Steve, a new interesting way to use words to filter the stream becomes apparent, see the podcast, Newsgang Live 6/2/08) but often you have to pull back to get the resolution to see what it going on. You can be too close to something to see the big picture clearly.

It angers me to see commenter’s swipe at him for his style (or worse, his person) but they have put their eggs in another basket of vocabulary, currency, material or gadget. Want to see want Mike says mean about a startup? Read his post. Want to know when that shiny new phone is coming out? Click on that one. Don’t get it? Skip it, unfollow. At the end of the day, some people like to watch Charlie Rose and others like to watch Friends. They don’t want to be challenged or asked to think after a hard says work. I totally understand.

These two things have a lot to do with one another in that people want what they want and discard the rest. If Twitter can figure out how to get the IM/Track/Syntax gate reopened and stable, they are in a remarkable position to shape how business and individuals can receive and transmit focused information. The experience of having this service for a time on multiple platforms in real time was both fascinating and useful. I sense that the ability for a person’s content to be shared in different formats on different platforms in both real time and an aggregated history will give artists, writers, businessmen and just plain folks a way to be connected in a way that will hopefully be more nourishing and productive, the community that has been lost perhaps reconnecting again and bringing our voice to the conversation within our own areas and across the world. We need to let the vendors know what is important to us, allow our creativity to shape how these tools can help us accomplish what need and give them the input they require to figure it out.

Or, I’ll see you in the dog pile, where nothing changes.