Yesterday, I went to a party at which I knew almost nobody. (Well, I knew some folks, but they mostly showed up at about the time I had to leave.) What's an introvert to when faced with a crowd like this? Try to read the conversation, seek out the most grognard-oid conversation in the room, and try to learn something. And I was bound to learn something—this was a CD release party, and most of the attendees were musicians. I don't know from music, so it was a good chance to learn. (Since the 2-Tone Game is based on the logo of an old record label, you might think I was a big music expert, but I'm just another computer geek. I'm going to learn something from muscians, even if they think they're just talking about the same-old same-old.) I butted into a conversation between Ernie Mansfield and some dude named Otto. Most of what they talked about was over my head, but occasionally they talked about engineer-y stuff.
Mansfield likes the Fake Book index over at Seventh String. It's a search engine for finding pieces of music in Fake Books. Maybe you have 10 Fake Books and you need one song and you don't want to search the TOCs of all those books, you can just search in this one place. I work at a place that has a lot of indexing computer stuff, and my tinkering brain leapt into engineering a replacement for this service... which would have few customers... so we probably wouldn't be motivated to maintain our replacement... so maybe we'd drive Seventh String's index out of business, only to stop providing the replacement service a couple of years later. It was one of those times when you need to throttle down the nerd-brain and remind yourself that you don't need to build your own everything.
At first I thought that Otto might be a Luddite. He doesn't like CDs more than vinyl. But it turns out that he's just got a nose for snake-oil. Yes, it's embarrassing that CDs can "go bad." And there's plenty of other new technologies that come along with plenty of hype and then turn out to not actually make your life any better. But there is a new computer-internetty thing that Otto does like: YouTube. Otto's a guitarist. He watches musicians' videos on YouTube. Not exactly music videos; I like to watch the occasional music video, but I'm not a musician. Musicians take videos of themselves performing, and then share those videos on YouTube. And they're 90% crappy musicians of course, but there's 10% who are good. And Otto watches some darned good musicians who have recorded themselves up close so that you can see the fingering. He learns from that.
So that was kind of inspiring: Remembering the power of cheap personal video, enabling experts to reach and educate each other.