Tomorrow afternoon Leo, Jeff, and I will record the 100th episode of This Week in Google. 100 episodes! When we started the show almost two years ago, I had no idea it would be such an education in conversation, critical thinking, and performance.
I always try to play up, or work with people who are more skilled and experienced than I am. Leo and Jeff have not only been great co-hosts, friends, and heroes, they’ve been incredible mentors and teachers to me. Here are three lessons I’ve learned in the past 99 episodes of TWiG.
A live show is a better show.
When Leo says the words “It’s time for TWiG!” into that big microphone, it’s on. We’re live. There are no rehearsals, do-overs, or edits. It doesn’t matter if you accidentally say “blowjob”, have whooping cough, or blurt out the phrase “Facebook condom” without thinking. You laugh, go with it, and hopefully enjoy a few LOLs going by in IRC.
As a writer I rely heavily on editing, so I really had to learn to loosen up and surrender to the live format. Now that I’m comfortable with Jeff and Leo and the TWiT community, I see that a live show with a live audience is a better show. The audience eggs me on, makes me more willing to speak up, be goofy, make a strong point, float a half-baked idea, and react to comments in chat as they happen. That interaction makes the show more fun and better all around.
Say exactly what you have to say—no less, and no more. Don’t overthink it.
The first dozen episodes or so of the show I held back a lot. Intimidated by the format and my august co-hosts, I was worried about not having something interesting or clever enough to say. I didn’t join the chat room during showtime for fear it’d be a distraction and I’d lose track of what was going on. I’d spend the show reading and re-reading the news items we were discussing to make sure I knew every detail of every story. I was overthinking it.
Friends who listened to the show said they wish I spoke more. At a conference, I saw Jeff in person and I asked him how he thought the show was going.
“Speak up,” he told me. “We don’t hear from you enough.”
That’s when I made a conscious decision to stop being timid and go for it. Now, I’m in the chat room every episode. I’ve gotten a whole lot more comfortable and vocal. At times, I’ve overcompensated, and rambled about something because I thought I should, not because I had something to say. I’ve gotten better in the past 99 weeks, but I’m still learning when to speak up and when to shut up.
The most interesting thing about tech isn’t tips and tricks.
I’m the “tips” person on TWiG, charged with sharing a bit of advanced functionality or a cool new feature at the end of every episode. That’s fun and familiar ground, something I’ve done at Lifehacker and beyond for years now. But it’s the rest of the conversations that stretch my brain and make me think and grow—discussions about things like the cultural impact of the web and government/international policy around the internet. This is such a crucial time in history, and the topics we cover on TWiG are some of the most important conversations to have now. Jeff in particular has made me examine and re-examine my own views on privacy and publicness, and see where and how often the media and even my own community of technologists get the story wrong. (You gotta respect a guy who walks the talk by being so public about his own private parts.)
Every Wednesday afternoon, a couple thousand people show up at live.twit.tv to watch Leo, Jeff, me, and our guests discuss news about Google and the web in general. We in turn watch them chat in IRC as we go. Then, another 65,000 people download the audio and video recordings after the fact. A surprising number of those listeners send us passionate email agreeing, disagreeing, questioning, and correcting points made in those conversations, sometimes days and weeks later.
All of these conversations have been an incredible privilege to have.
I learn by doing, and TWiG has been the best media training anyone could ever hope to get. Thanks to Leo and Jeff and all our listeners and viewers and chatters for a fantastic first 99 episodes. Here’s to our next 100.
Great post, Gina. I miss you on Lifehacker. But this is exactly why I listen to TWIG. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s show – I disagree with you on the GOOG Father’s Day blooper, hope it is discussed.
I love TWiG! I never really thought about things like cultural impacts before, but it came into my radar while watching you, Leo, and Jeff. I haven’t had as much chance to watch ever since college started, but it used to be my weekly routine to make macaroni and cheese in the middle of the night and watch TWiG live (I was in Thailand back then, GMT+7). Hope you have a great 100th episode!
Having ready you before I saw you, it was your presence that initially attracted me to TWIG. That and my Google-intrigue.
It’s been just as rewarding consuming episodes of TWiG as it has to make them. It surpasses every show on TWIT, quite possibly because of the larger, philosophical debates that take place on the show. There’s room for everything on the network, but TWIG debates morality, politics and all that’s wrapped up in that.
To me, the online world will govern the future. And, companies like Google are setting the policies which the world will abide by. Having Jeff discuss privacy issues and the like, makes it the only place to find these meaningful discussions taking place.
Here’s hoping the quality continues at a high level for many years to come.
Congrats and thanks.
TWiG is my must-listen podcast. (Because of scheduling conflicts, I’m rarely able to watch the live show.)
My biggest challenge is that I often listen to the podcast while driving. I need to make notes of the quips and great insights from you, Jeff, Leo, and guests. Let’s just say that driving a standard while writing notes is a task best left to a Massachusetts driver.
Your recent comment about geeks needing to understand the kind of power they have and to own up to the responsibility that comes with it puts a whole new light on the “Is X-company evil?” discussions. Is it worse to have power and wield it intentionally for bad purposes or to have power and naively believe that you don’t have that power?
Thanks for the reminder! I haven’t been watching it all the last couple of weeks, but now I’m going to have to try very hard to actually tune in live today!
Love you guys! Watching TWiG, I know there is going to be an interesting discussion.
Indeed, more so than “tips and tricks,” it’s the critical thinking part for which I enjoy TWiG the most.
Hi Gina, I’ve been a listener since the beginning of the show (only an occasional live viewer – I consume most of my podcasts in the car). I’ve always appreciated your input on the show. Thanks for this post too – I particularly like the idea of “playing up” as self-improvement.
Thank you for making the time to be part of TWiG.
Thank you for being a part of TWIG. I was hired at my current job in the 90s to work on print ads. Over the last 10 years many things have changed and I am now the web/social media guy. TWIG has been a very valuable tool to help educate me on what is new with Google and the cloud and your Tips have been very helpful since our company now uses Google Apps. Thank You!
Also I may be a Tea Party Conservative but I love hearing yours, Leo’s, and Jeff’s political views. Very thought provoking and very respectful. Thanks again. 🙂
One of my 4 favorite shows on TWIT. Listened to and seen every episode at least once. Such a great dynamic between the three of them. Looking forward to a crap ton more episodes.
I love you Gina.
Great post Gina and congratulations on reaching the 100 episode mark. I’ve been watching every episode since I discovered TWiG late last year. It’s geeky but you have a laugh at the same time and I think that’s what makes it such a great show.
Keep up the great work.
I have probably listened to every episode of TWIG. You need to be more self-confident; you are a valued and valuable part of the show, because you are the only true technologist:-) And the only woman. My advice to you, just among us girls, is to think more highly of yourself. That’s what holds women back; we always think we’re chopped liver next to men:-) Keep going; I love TWIG
You do a great job Gina. I kind of like you not speaking up as much as the other hosts because when you do it makes it all the more exciting 🙂 Seriously, you are an amazing technologist and conversationalist. It’s been great reading your posts and listing to your show. Here’s to the next two years!