I guess I should have felt like a true fan, that my interest in them was “pure” and that he and I shared some sort of special musical connection. But mostly I wished the Apples in Stereo had more teenage girl fans so they could have played a better venue with decent sound.

Brad Sucks

 

Dave Rogers is reading a book called Heresies Against Progress and Other Illusions and writes The externally directed "knowing," the discovery and gathering of information, while empowering in other ways, does not make us more free. With that I think I agree. I agree, but I think this ignores an important point: knowledge does not make us free, but it enables freedom. Conversely, ignorance constrains us.

The problem is that knowledge has, for many of us, become the end rather than the means. When someone criticizes Wikipedia, too often the response is not an explanation of the benefits Wikipedia brings to real people, but instead a faith-based proposition that Wikipedia is inherently good by virtue of it being a large and growing collection of knowledge.

When knowledge is treated as a self-justifying goal, it can easily take precedence over more important things. When Wikipedia slanders someone, that’s hurting real people. That’s a problem that will only be recognized by those of us who maintain that people are more important than knowledge. Those who worship the all-knowing hive-mind as an eternal source of good are unable to see the problem of people getting hurt.

But I think disregarding the enabling aspect of knowledge is sort of like halting our consumption of water after someone drowns. Water doesn’t make us healthy, but it’s awfully hard to be healthy without water. On MakeDataMakeSense, I have a little diagram under the logo on every page, which looks like this:

DATA > INFORMATION > KNOWLEDGE > WISDOM

Knowledge and wisdom are greyed out because they’re outside the scope of the site. I’d probably go further and say they’re outside the scope of any programming project, because knowledge and wisdom are best handled by people, not machines. But they’re still there because they’re important.

I think "wisdom" to me is pretty much the same as Dave’s "interior knowledge." And I don’t think that can exist without "external knowledge." I think we get to know ourselves within our context. Some of us understand pain when we hit our finger with a hammer. Some of us understand pain when we lose a loved one. But we need to first understand a hammer, or understand death. No one understands pain without first understanding something else, some external knowledge that could most likely be found on Wikipedia.

 

Last night went reasonably well. I was mostly wrong about people paying attention. Other than people who knew me, only a few were actually listening. After I plugged in my guitar and the mic, I told someone who worked there that I was ready to start and she said “don’t you want to do a sound check?” and I said “well, I can hear myself play, and it’s just a guitar” and she said “but everyone does a sound check.” So it was obvious from the get-go that I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t sure what else a sound check would involve, so I just started playing, and it seemed to work out okay.

I didn’t play exactly what I expected to. Earlier last night I remembered that I had intended to include Norah Jone’s “Don’t Know Why” in the list, so I sang that instead of Brad Sucks’ “You’re not Going Anywhere,” which stretches my vocal range when sung in two octaves, and is less interesting when sung in just one. Then I noticed I had “Carry Me Home” in my first set twice. I probably should have noticed that when practicing, but I blame you, the readers of my weblog, for not noticing that when I posted it.

Then at the end of the second set, as I was walking to sit down by Jessica, someone said “Scott?” And I said “yes” while thinking “how does this guy know my name?” Turns out he was a bass player I’ve been communicating with via email about possibly playing together. He seemed to like what he heard, but I wasn’t entirely sure what I had just played, so when I went back for the third set, I went straight to the songs that I thought were more representative of the type of music I’d like to play with a full band.

But then I got all confused about which songs I’d played and which I hadn’t. Luckily, I had too many songs in my set list anyway, so it all worked out. I ended on “With God on Our Side,” which has a final verse about leaving, so that worked out. I don’t suppose anyone really had any idea what words I was singing in the final verse (it didn’t arouse the spontaneous renunciation of war one might hope it would), but it seemed a good way to end the night.

I got paid what I was promised on the spot (which doesn’t always happen in my previous experience), and they even put out a tip jar for me, which was filled with five or six dollars from people who know me. The manager who paid me, Terra, told me that she liked my songs, but it’s more “Tuesday night” music. Then she said “we were saying ‘someone needs to get that guy a Red Bull’.” So I gather it was a bit too slow and depressing, but that’s sort of what I do, so maybe I just shouldn’t play on Friday nights.

She said the guy who arranges musicians was out of town for the week, but when he comes back, she’ll tell him I was good and should go into “the rotation.” I’m not sure how often that would be, but it sounds good. I might get together with the bass player next week and “see if we mesh,” as he put it. I’m not sure how to measure meshiness, but I guess I’ll find out.

Jessica’s friend Libby also picked up a business card from the woman who handles musicians at the local farmers’ market every Saturday morning, so I’m going to look into that. I would have gone this morning, but I’m surprisingly tired this morning. I guess singing was more work than it seemed at the time. I believe the farmers’ market is all tips, so it would require “crowd pleasers” to make any money. I’ve never been especially interested in pleasing crowds (I prefer to make them cry), but it would be good experience. As I wrote several years ago, and sang last night to the eager applause of an apparently drunk man, I heard stories are better than money.