Silence

I had an odd experience yesterday evening. At about 6:30 pm, while on my way home, I stopped off briefly at a local pub, bought a half of lager (Moretti, if you really want to know), and sat out in its garden, alone on a trestle table, lost in thought, smoking in the watery sunlight.

And then, after 20 minutes, I continued my journey home, and took up my newly self-appointed role as the 7 pm bartender in the Smoky Drinky Bar. I didn’t know how long I’d spend in the Smoky Drinky Bar. In the event, I spent nearly 5 hours there.

So I had the experience of sitting at a table at a real pub side-by-side, or in close conjunction, with the experience of sitting at a table in a virtual pub. Which one was better?

Well, there wasn’t much sparkling conversation at the real pub. In fact there wasn’t any conversation at all – at least at my table. I doubt if I would have stayed on at the real pub for another 5 hours of being lost in thought. If nothing else, it would have become dark, and cold.

But it was wall-to-wall sparkling conversation in the Smoky Drinky Bar. And that’s what it always seems to be like there. And as a participant in very many conversations over the years, some of them absolutely scintillatingly sparkling, I’m a bit puzzled as to why there’s such a buzz to the Smoky Drinky Bar. I am myself certainly not the magic ingredient. Nor, so far as I can see, is anyone else.

I think it may be the sheer novelty of engaging in conversation with people who are scattered all over the world. And maybe also with people you don’t really know. Weren’t all the best parties the ones in which surprising new guests arrived? Aren’t the best things that happen always a bit unexpected? I really don’t know. Perhaps it’s simply that everyone is smoking.

Maybe one day at the Smoky Drinky Bar, nobody will have anything to say. And all present will fall silent and pull on their cigarettes, and take another long slow sip of whatever they happen to be drinking, as the seconds tick by. I was talking to Emily about this a few weeks ago, remarking that on the Smoking Section she was always quick to ensure that her interviews proceeded briskly, and no fatal silences were allowed to intrude. I was suggesting that, in our conversation, we should allow silences to develop. And I think we managed a few quite long silences.

Are there ever any such silences on talk shows? Are there ever occasions where all present fall silent? As for example, when asked some question, a guest is lost for words, and says, “I don’t know what to say,” and the host or compere replies, “Me too.” But I suppose the Michael Parkinsons and David Lettermans of the world are never lost for words. That’s how they got to the top. Even with sullen, silent guests, they could fill the airwaves. Some people are in their natural element while talking, it seems. They spread their wings and fly. I don’t know how they do it.

Anyway, I think it’s a good idea that there be a bartender present on the Smoky Drinky Bar. His job is not to serve drinks or take food orders, but to dispel silence. His job is to be someone to talk to. In this respect, Petej had an excellent suggestion in reply to something I wrote:

“It isn’t possible for me, as the landlord or patron, to spend my entire time in the bar”.

It seems to me that you should do what any landlord would do, have assistants.
You have said that people all over the world are visiting, from different time zones. Maybe a few volunteers who are around their computers could cover other shifts?

Why not? I have appointed myself to the 7 pm UK slot, largely because in the past that was the sort of time I used to meet up with friends on nights out. And if the same applies everywhere else in the world, then why not have a few people appoint themselves to the 7 pm slot in whatever time zone in which they happen to live?

Yesterday, more or less within seconds of my arrival for the 7 o’clock shift, there were three people present. I suspect that in Australia and New Zealand and the USA, the same thing would happen, once enough people knew about the Smoky Drinky Bar. When people know that somebody will be there, they will start coming.

And pretty soon the Smoky Drinky Bar may well be chock full. And then? Brigitte suggested:

I understand that Frank’s place can only harbour a set amount of guests and therefore once that number is reached, the doors will be closed to non-members.

We’ve yet to reach this point. The maximum number the Smoky Drinky Bar can hold is 12 people, and the most I’ve seen so far is 8 people. I don’t know what happens when the magic 12 is reached. Maybe the doors close themselves, banging shut, a bit like the ones in H.M. Slade prison? I think I’ll take things as they come.

The Smoky Drinky Bar is rather like the central bar in Cheers, only smaller. And it hasn’t got side tables like Cheers. It is, as it were, a square table or bartop with three stools on each side. A sort of largish dinner party. And only one person can speak at any one time. So with 12 people present, everyone needs to be on average 92% silent. In such circumstances, the ideal guests will be those who are naturally silent. Like Grandad, who was telling me a few days back that in pubs he was accustomed to sit in silence with his friends and acquaintances. For we will need not just ready talkers, but ready listeners as well. In fact, we will need rather more listeners than talkers.

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7 PM Happy Hour in the Smoky Drinky Bar

This morning I’ve been reviewing the events of the last few days, during which smokers have been meeting up in the Smoky Drinky Bar.

I’ve been reminded once again of one of the last occasions when smokers met up, at Stony Stratford, and comparing that occasion to this.  At Stony Stratford, Dick Puddlecote organised a protest against a proposed street smoking ban in the little town. Some 200 people arrived, mostly by car. I myself drove 150 miles to get there. We listened to speeches by Dick Puddlecote and Nigel Farage and maybe even the town mayor. And then, because we had met up in a pub, we all bought drinks and milled around chatting indoors and outdoors. And then after a few hours, little by little, all concerned climbed back into their cars and drove away. The town smoking ban was not enacted, and the councillor who had proposed it subsequently lost his seat.

As I saw it, smokers from all over Britain had come together briefly in a small army to fight a battle. Ever afterwards, I’ve dreamed of bringing together smokers from all over the world to build a huge (and invincible) army to defeat (and utterly annihilate) Tobacco Control.

Last Saturday, 17 June 2017, in the Smoky Drinky Bar, I took a small first step towards that goal. I managed to get 10 – 15 people from all over the world, in Britain, USA, Australia, and New Zealand, and elsewhere, to meet up and drink and smoke and talk just like we did in Stony Stratford, but in a virtual pub rather than a real one.

I think that it was technically a great success. We could all see and hear each other perfectly well. If there were any technical problems they were mostly due to people having old or slow or small computers or mobile phones. Sometimes people appeared upside down (although I never saw it myself).

It was also socially a great success. Just like at Stony Stratford, although complete strangers to one another, all concerned got along very amicably. They all had something in common with each other: they were all smokers, and they had all shared the experience of being exiled from their pubs and cafes and clubs to the outdoors. Americans and Brits and Ozzies and Kiwis all got along wonderfully well.

And politically it was also a tiny success. At Stony Stratford, the political goal had been to prevent a street smoking ban. It was only incidentally and secondarily a social occasion. But in the Smoky Drinky Bar there was no singular political goal: it existed purely to bring people together. And that it succeeded in doing in a very small way. As a result of the Smoky Drinky Bar, some 20 or so people now know each other a lot better than they did a week ago. They know what they look like, and sound like. They even know what they wear and what they smoke and even how the insides of their homes are decorated.

There was another small political success in the Smoky Drinky Bar, which was that it managed to subvert the smoking bans that had driven smokers out of their bars and cafes, by creating a virtual online bar in which they could smoke and drink just like they had before. Smokers may no longer be able to meet up in real bars, but they can now do so in virtual bars. And the experience is almost as good. And this marks a singular defeat for Tobacco Control: as smoking is being denormalised in real bars, it is now being renormalised in virtual bars.

One important difference between Stony Stratford and the Smoky Drinky Bar is that the former was a one-day, once-in-a-lifetime event, while the Smoky Drinky Bar is – just like a real bar – an enduring venue. It will continue to exist as long as I continue to pay $12/month for it to be hosted on appear.in.

And we are therefore now in uncharted territory. I don’t really know what happens next.

It’s possible that, with too few customers to chat to one another, people will slowly drift away from the bar, because nobody is ever there. It may not achieve “escape velocity”. Depending on how it’s calculated, I estimate that there needs to be a base of anything between 80 and 2,500 regular visitors if there are always to be a few people in it at the same time purely by chance. And at the moment we only have between 10 and 20 people. And some of these may have looked in just once, never to return.

It isn’t possible for me, as the landlord or patron, to spend my entire time in the bar. I have other things to do. And so I’m now thinking of making a regular appearance in the bar during a restricted period during the evenings (after 7 pm) in the UK: a sort of Happy Hour. This seems to have been the peak period for visitors over the past few days. This should allow Americans and Brits and Europeans to meet fairly easily, at least if they want to talk to me. It’s not so good for Kiwis or Ozzies, however.

It is of course possible for other people to arrange among themselves when and where they’d like to meet up. The singular merit of the Smoky Drinky Bar for meetings is that the premium site is supposed to be able  to accommodate 12 people at the same time, while the free sites can only accommodate 6 people (although only 3, in my experience).

And people may just pop in from time to time, just to see if there’s anyone there. But if they just look in, and immediately leave when they find no-one there, the chances of ever encountering anyone will be vanishingly small. My advice to such casual visitors is to stay in the bar a while and see whether someone else comes in.

One disadvantage of the bar is that it has, so to speak, only one table. Everyone who enters sits around one table together. And since, in my experience, most conversations work best with 2 – 6 people, it may all get rather difficult when there are 12 people sat around the single table, although it may be possible to arrange separate conversations by selectively muting other participants. But eight people is the most I’ve seen so far.

Anyway, the Smoky Drinky Bar has been quite successful so far. It is going to be around for the foreseeable future, and we may see it evolve in a variety of different ways.

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Fingerprint File

A worried email about the Smoky Drinky Bar this morning served to concentrate my thoughts on matters of privacy therein. The author, who will remain nameless, expressed a concern that if video recordings of the bar should be made public, their identity might become known to Tobacco Control in their country, and they might well suffer unpleasant consequences. He (or perhaps she) wanted an assurance that in no circumstances would his/her face ever appear in a YouTube video of it.

And I feel able to give that assurance. I have so far recorded very little of the Smoky Drinky Bar, for use primarily in advertising it. And I have now decided that I will not record any more. And should, for some reason, I feel it necessary to record, I will only do so with the participants prior permission (which is what I have anyway done).

For I now think that for the purposes of the quite separate Smoky Drinky Blog, on which I keep YouTube videos, I will only be wanting to record and publish one-to-one interviews with people who are fully aware that this is happening. And I won’t be doing any one-to-one interviews in the Smoky Drinky Bar: I’ll almost certainly do them all on Skype, which is more suitable for the purpose.

However, while I won’t be recording the Smoky Drinky Bar, other participants are perfectly able to do so. And so I wish to place the same embargo on them: please do not record or publish any of the transactions inside the Smoky Drinky Bar. It should remain a place where people feel able to speak freely (although of course the NSA and GCHQ and KGB will probably have recordings of the entire proceedings to date, and into the foreseeable future).

Personally, I’m completely indifferent to whether anything happens to me here in the UK. Maybe one day I’ll be bundled into a van, and taken somewhere for hours of excruciating interrogation, prior to being put up against a wall and shot. But my view is that, at the age of nearly 70, I’ve pretty much lived my life already, and I have very little to lose. So I don’t really care what the fuckers do.

But other people may not have the same outlook, and their wishes for privacy need to be respected.

The matter of privacy goes further than recording and publishing videos. A lot of people use nicknames or handles, and then quite often reveal their true identities in spoken conversation. But if someone’s name is subsequently made public, this provides an even easier way to identify them and find them.

The same applies with addresses and occupations and other personal information.

So I would ask participants in the Smoky Drinky Bar to not ask too many questions of each other, and be understanding when some people show a certain reticence in answering certain kinds of questions.

And if some participants wish to keep their faces darkened or concealed, that also should be accepted.

I think that I personally will adopt the practice of always referring to people by whatever name they originally used for themselves, before they gave their real name. Thus although I believe I know the true name of Nisakiman, I will not use it. Same with Legiron and several others.

All this might seem a little bit cloak-and-dagger. But we all recognise, I hope, that we are living in extraordinary times, and that our enemies in Tobacco Control are a very, very nasty bunch of people indeed. They demonstrate this almost daily. If nothing else, they wish to control us. And controlling people may easily extend to imprisoning or murdering them.

These people have a lot to lose. At the moment they may well be in control (as they want to be), but one day I think they’re going to lose control. And when that happens, we are likely to find out just how nasty they are.

And here’s the Rolling Stones’ entirely apposite Fingerprint File. I’m not generally much of a fan of the later post-Brian-Jones Stones’ music. But this one is an exception.

 

P.S. It’s been pointed out to me that I have been myself guilty of several of the improprieties which I’m now condemning. In my defence, I can only plead that it has only been today that I have given these matters any serious thought. I rather suspect that I shall have to give it more thought in the future.

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Smoky Drinky World

Regardless of exactly how it’s done technically, the effect of going to the Smoky Drinky Bar webpage is to bring a few smokers together inside a room where they can see and talk to each other, while smoking and drinking. The smokers can be anywhere in the world.

And to me, as a smoker who’s been “exiled to the outdoors” for the past 10 years, appear.in offered a way for smokers to come in from the cold, and get together to smoke and drink and chat like they used to do before Tobacco Control exiled them to the outdoors.

And so for the past few days I’ve been meeting a few of my regular readers and commenters face to face, and talking to them, sometimes for hours.

And so last night I met Legiron for the first time in about 10 years of reading his underdogsbiteupwards blog, and talked with him and Roobeedoo and Cade Apollyon about writing and blogging for an hour or so.

A bit earlier in the evening I’d been talking to Gary, TwentyRothmans, Apollyon, and Brigitte about A&E (ER) and later aircraft and air crashes. In the short clip below, I forgot to say anything:

And sometime later today Dick Puddlecote plans to show up in the bar, while sat on some boat of Forest’s on the Thames.

At the moment the impression I get is that people look in to the bar to see whether anyone’s in, and depart if nobody’s there. I’ve been thinking that it’s probably better if people visit the bar, and stay a while even if nobody’s there. After all, there are other things you can do on a computer, even if you’re sitting alone in a bar.

I was also reminded that, back when we could actually meet up with friends for a drink and a smoke and a chat in a real bar, we usually would arrange beforehand by phone or email. Like “See you at the Dog & Duck, 7:30 pm-ish.” People could do that too with the Smoky Drinky Bar.

I’m also wondering if you can have semi-private conversations inside the Smoky Drinky Bar, rather than talking to everybody in it. I think that might be possible simply by muting all the people who you can’t or don’t want to talk to. For example, last night Apollyon and Roobeedoo (who’re old chums, it seems) could have had a semi-private conversation with each other by muting me and Legiron, leaving Legiron and me to talk to each other. After all, in real pubs, there used to be separate semi-private tables, rather than one big table everyone sat around. But it might seem a bit rude to mute other people, unless they’re Japanese tourists who’ve just wandered in.

Or some people might show up at regular times. Perhaps those are what “regulars” really are.

Whichever way, there are lots of possibilities. The Smoky Drinky Bar may be a sociable space, but it’s also a very useful space. Back when I was a software engineer, people used to meet up in bars to talk business, and discuss coding problems. Some people even made bars into offices, with their laptops on the table, and mobile phones beside them.

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The Continuing Smoky Drinky Bar Saga

Continuing the Smoky Drinky Bar saga:

I was rather exhausted yesterday, and spent a lot less time at the Smoky Drinky Bar than I had the day before. I left at about 8 pm. Apologies to all concerned for unanswered emails, etc. But I at least managed to get a 4-minute video of the proceedings yesterday afternoon around 5 pm (with my microphone muted, for some reason). It shows, from top left clockwise, me, Emily, Kin_free, and John Buck. At one point John Buck presses some button to show a pink Cadillac(?), and towards the end Twenty Rothmans enters the bar.

Brigitte, who arrived at about 6:30 pm, left a comment here at 10:30 pm:

“I only dropped into the online pub for a minute – that was at about 18:30 hours tonight. Just got off for letting my phone charge for a bit – gonna dive right back in. It’s been wonderful to chatting to quite a lot of people tonight!! Great pub! Not going home yet!!!! It’s the good old times back with loads of laughter!!! Thoroughly enjoying it.”

It’s helpful getting such feedback. Brigitte had spent 4 hours in the bar, and was going back!

And Emily emailed me later to say she’d spent 8 hours in the bar, and sent a bunch of screenshots, including one with her, Brigitte, Junican, Gary, and someone (tobacco-chewing Apollyon?) on audio only, sometime around midnight:

There are now something like 10 – 15 members of the Smoky Drinky Bar. Where possible I’ve added people as members more or less as soon as they walked in.

I’ve been wondering how this is likely to develop. I had the thought last night that something like this needs to achieve “escape velocity” if it isn’t going lapse back into being empty all the time. Membership needs to be built up so that, at any one time, there are always at least one or two people in the bar. I think a membership of 100 or so may be required.

But for people to keep coming back, they need to have had a good time. And people do seem to be having a good time. Comment yesterday from Joe L:

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief visit to Smoky Drinky yesterday, Frank! It was a pleasure to finally (virtually) meet you, Nisakiman, GaryK, Kin_Free and Ross.

And GaryK:

The video chat room is a great concept and gives new depth to the idea of ‘social media’. As for me, I found it very pleasant to be associated with such fine folks.

In fact, people have been getting along amazingly well. Maybe that’s because smokers are usually friendly, outgoing people. Or maybe it’s because of the sheer novelty of Americans and Brits and New Zealanders chatting to each other across the planet. Or maybe it’s because us smokers are all outcasts, and so all in the same boat. I’ve been astonished at the ease with which complete strangers have been chatting to each other within seconds of meeting.

I suspect that “regulars” (if we ever get them) will tend to arrive in the bar in their free time. So that’ll mostly mean the evenings, whatever time zone they are in.

And I’m an unlikely pub landlord. I’m the kind of guy who goes to pubs in their quiet times, to drink a beer and smoke a few cigarettes, while just sitting gazing out of the window, or writing equations in a notebook – as I try to figure out: how many regular pub-goers, each of whom visits a pub for half and hour each day, are needed to ensure that there are always a couple of them in there?

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Yesterday at the Smoky Drinky Bar

Yesterday I created the Smoky Drinky Bar as a premium account on appear.in, and then wrote a blog post to announce it, and at 2 pm took up residence in the bar, and waited.

I then spent the rest of the day having my mind thoroughly and comprehensively blown.

I’d expected to have a trickle of visitors, most of whom would be the usual suspects of the video experiments of recent weeks. And the first arrival in the bar, about half an hour after I’d opened it, was one of the usual suspects: Gary K in Chicago , with whom I’d already chatted to several times.

But the second visitor, not long afterward, was a surprise: Torquaymada. He was a regular reader of my blog, but an almost-never-commenter. He said he liked Idle Theory. He didn’t stay very long. He said he was just dropping in for “a quick half”, and fairly soon left Gary and me to our conversation.

The third visitor to the Smoky Drinky Bar was a far outsider: Liza from Melbourne, Australia, who’d just come back from a night out, and had idly clicked on the link to the Smoky Drinky Bar she saw in the feed in the margin of  Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, and to her astonishment found herself inside it with Gary and me. She was a vaper, and said she was a regular VGIF reader. She’d emailed me a few weeks back to try and join in a Skype session. She called over her husband, Rory. And pretty soon he was sat next to her chatting with Gary and me, and showing us the Australian version of “Plain” Packaging. We now had four visitors – customers? – in the Smoky Drinky Bar.

Shortly after that we were joined by regular reader Kin_Free from Durham, sitting under a parasol under a brilliant blue sky. And then RdM in New Zealand (for whom the time was 2 or 3 in the morning), and Nisakiman in Greece.

Gary dropped out at some point, and so did RdM. I managed to do a screen capture, showing (in clockwise order from top left), me, Liza and Rory, Kin_free, and Nisakiman:

june18

We’d had 6 video feeds running simultaneously at one point. But since it was past midnight in Australia, Liza and Rory fairly soon had to retire, and the numbers present gradually dwindled away until I was left back on my own like I started two or three hours earlier.

But then Brigitte in Liverpool arrived in the bar, to tell me about all the plumbing repairs she’d been doing. And the numbers began to rise again. By late evening the numbers had risen back to 4 or 5 people in the bar. At “closing time” there was (clockwise) me, John Buck, Kin_free, and Gary K, earnestly discussing F2C and UKIP and politics:

june18a

By the time I went to bed not long after midnight, there’d been some 10-12 visitors in total throughout the day, with some of them returning repeatedly. They included Junican in Bolton, and Joe L in the USA (Seattle?). All were either smoking or vaping.

It wasn’t entirely problem-free. The most successful session was the one with Liza and Rory and RdM, after Nisakiman had shifted to another computer. All six people could see and hear each other clearly. But in the afternoon and evening, Brigitte found that her audio was breaking up, and so did Barry Homan in Denmark, and GaryK was freezing up and appearing upside down for some people.

By the end of the day I was left with the impression that the premium version of appear.in worked a lot better than the free version, but only if the participants had a fairly good broadband connection, and a fairly newish computer or ipad or mobile phone. My own broadband speeds were about 10 Gbps download, 0.8 Gbps upload, in Herefordshire, England, and I never experienced any problems.

And more or less all concerned were delighted by the experience. Liza said she was going to tell all her Australian friends about appear.in. GaryK had already set up an appear.in room for his family

And everyone got along amazingly well, for being people who had mostly never met each other before. “It’s like being in a pub,” John Buck declared at one point. And it was. But it was a pub in which the “customers” were actually sitting in England and the USA and Australia and New Zealand and Greece. And I felt I’d made a whole new bunch of friends.

Emily sent me an email today with a link to an article in the Boston Globe about video conferencing:

…the notion of committing to a group video chat, for no other reason than to hang out, seems a little extra. After all, the labor and stress of the average conference call seems, as the kids might say, totes inapropes when applied to an adult hangout. If there’s no agenda, what are we meeting about? Can I go back to my desk/bed?

“Most adults” may not have a reason to meet up for video chats, but smokers have much more reason than most. They have, after all, been “exiled to the outdoors” nearly everywhere, and in many cases had their social lives shattered. If smokers want to meet up and smoke and drink and chat with other smokers, using something like appear.in is for many of them the only way to do it. They have a whole bunch of good reasons to meet up, and they have a white-hot burning agenda too. I think there will soon be a whole army of Smoky Drinky Bars opening all over the world. And there’ll probably be moves by Tobacco Control to ban them: they’ll probably claim that “Virtual smoke is just as lethal as real smoke,” or something.

And as broadband speeds gradually climb (Grandad near Dublin has speeds about 10 times mine), and computers get more powerful, and service providers like appear.in provide better services, it’ll probably be possible to hold entire parties online, with hundreds of guests, smoking and drinking to their hearts’ content.

I’ll return to the Smoky Drinky Bar today – but I’m not going to spend 10 hours there like I did yesterday. I’ll pop in at 1 pm BST, and again at 5 pm BST, and then 9 pm BST.

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Launching the Smoky Drinky Bar

New development: I’ve created a premium Smoky Drinky Bar on appear.in (just click on the link to go there). This will cost me $12/month. I can cancel it any time I like. It’s supposed to be able to allow 12 people in the room at the same time.

The difference between the free version and the premium version is that in the free version the video streams are sent between people, while in the premium version the video streams come from a central host server, as described here.

For background I’m currently using a snapshot of Foxy’s Tamarind Bar in the British Virgin Islands. My current snapshot, taken earlier today, has the stools up on the bar before it has opened. If someone can get a full screen snapshot of it later today, I’d be glad to have one, because I can’t get one myself.

Anyone can visit the Smoky Drinky Bar, although antismokers aren’t welcome, of course. All regular readers and commenters of mine are welcome, of course. Eating, drinking, and smoking are permitted/required. At present I’m planning to leave the room open until I have enough members, after which I’ll probably lock it and only members will be allowed in. I’m not sure how to add members, but I think that if someone shows up while I’m in the bar, I can make them members – if I like the cut of their jib. And I can kick people out if I don’t like the look of them.

The only thing anyone needs is a computer with a webcam and microphone and a fairly good broadband internet connection. Most notebook computers have both a webcam and microphone built in. So do many smartphones. Earphones or headphones should generally be used instead of loudspeakers, in order to prevent feedback in the audio streams.

Assuming the premium Smoky Drinky Bar is better than free bars (more people, stable audio and video), I’m hoping it will become the meeting place of choice for people who want an online smoke and drink and chat.

Since Emily started the first of these bars last week, they’ve fairly rapidly attracted interest. Myself, Emily, GaryK, Nisakiman, Grandad, and RdM have all been chatting to each other in one venue or other, more or less successfully.

There’s no particular reason why the Smoky Drinky Bar should be restricted to the Anglosphere. Maybe sometimes it’ll be full of Germans or Spaniards or Russians. I think it might be possible to mute people you don’t want to listen to. If so, and you walk in one day and find it’s full of Japanese, it may be possible to mute all the Japanese speakers, and enjoy a conversation in your native Urdu. By the same token, it may be possible for two people to have a private conversation in a crowded room by muting everyone else in it. But I’m not sure, because I haven’t yet tried.

All this has been something that has been developing in several directions ever since Emily invited me to appear on the Smoking Section in Cambridge, Massachusetts back in March. What I liked about that show was that it had smokers talking to other smokers, which is something that I strongly believe should happen much more than it currently does. It led to me and Emily having frequent Skype chats, and me and her recording some of these chats as YouTube videos, some of which are included in the SmokyDrinky blog I started last week. The discovery of appear.in (by Nisakiman earlier this week), which allows people to meet up online for video conferences (or pub chats) has brought a brand new dimension to it all.

I’m planning to stick around today in the Smoky Drinky Bar. If I’m not in view, you could try calling out, in hope that I’ve left the loudspeakers connected. Leave a comment below or email me if there’s any difficulty.

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