Thursday, October 08, 2015

Met Musicians: Tannhauser Survival Guide

In the run-up to last year's unfortunate labor dispute at the Met, its orchestral musicians started putting out a regular newsletter on the web. After everything settled, more or less, they've kept it up and really done a terrific job of it, providing lots of insight into how an opera orchestra works and what its members do. They had an article on the oldest living former orchestra member, they've had memorials to recently deceased members.

Now they've got a survival guide to the Met's upcoming Tannhauser production, done as a hangout this coming Saturday, October 10. Six orchestra members will tell you all about the opera, its orchestra, and how to survive a Wagnerian marathon.

For details, and to reserve a space in the hangout, read this web page.


kalimac said...

Apparently "hangout" means "podcast". I don't want to listen to a podcast, I want to read something written, but if there were any links to these articles you mention, I couldn't find them.

Lisa Hirsch said...

It is not a podcast. It's a live discussion, not something pre-recorded. "Hangout" almost certainly means they are using Google Hangouts, which is a videoconferencing system. The link above is only about the hangout.

For the Met Musicians articles I mentioned, go here and click Features in the menu bar.

kalimac said...

And there's a TV show widely referred to on the west coast as Saturday Night Pre-Recorded For This Time Zone. So? It's a podcast, live or otherwise. I realize that you live inside a Google bubble there, but for the rest of the world, some brandname has not yet devolved into the common noun "hangout". I've barely gotten used to "podcast".

Lisa Hirsch said...

I disagree with your use of "podcast," actually, which disagreement would predate my employment at Google.

This is going to be live; I consider podcasts to be pre-recorded equivalents of a radio show. You may disagree. The definitions I'm finding are all along these lines:

"A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically."

Not the Wikipedia definition, but similar.

I also don't really understand what you mean by "....but for the rest of the world, some brandname has not yet devolved into the common noun "hangout"".

I'd consider it possible that the Met Musicians aren't aware that if they're using the Google Hangout on Air system, it should be capitalized, etc.

kalimac said...

"A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading ..." That's what this is. The act of listening involves downloading, and you can record it as it plays. That it's only available live (if it is, i.e. if they won't archive it) is a trivial distinction next to the fact that it's sound and not written. It's closer to a podcast than anything else established and known.

You used the word "hangout" as a common noun with the assumption that your readers already know what it means, i.e. considering it a brandname that's devolved into a common noun. You didn't just quote the Met Musicians using it that way.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Live events are streamed - they are in your computer's RAM, not downloaded to a hard drive, then played. You may consider this downloading, but that is not the generally accepted use of the term.

I've sent email to the Met Musicians' press contact about the technology that they are using. Here's the wording in the initial email I got from them:

"We can’t wait to open Wagner’s epic masterpiece for the first time in 11 years. And because it’s going to be a marathon for the orchestra and the audience, we are hosting a live hangout. It’s on Saturday, October 10th, at 5:30pm Eastern Time."

I certainly don't think "hangout" is a brand name that has devolved into a common noun. It's a common noun adopted by Google as the name of a proprietary technology.

I did assume that my readers are aware of this, which may well be a bad assumption, and I assumed that the Met Musicians meant a Google Hangout, which may or may not be correct.

kalimac said...

(Actually, downloading onto RAM counts as downloading for legal purposes, or so many cases on copyright as applied to the internet have told me.)

Oh, for criminy's sake, Lisa. Yes, "hangout" was a common noun before Google adopted it as the name of its technology. But you weren't using the original common noun, which meant "A frequently visited place" (American Heritage Dictionary). You wrote, "done as a hangout," following the Musicians' "we are hosting a live hangout," in which the word means an event, and a singular rather than frequently visited one at that.

To pretend that the name of the technology and the original common noun are the same word is the same as to claim that there's no difference in the usage of the words in the case of the legendarily confused computer user who was told on the phone by the help desk to "open Windows" and who thereupon got up from the computer, walked over to the glass pane in the wall of his house commonly known as a "window", and opened it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Right, I followed the Musicians' use - which might be referring to the event itself, might be referring to the event's use of a particular technology, or might be referring to both.

"Let's hang out together."

"Let's go to the Sunset Bar. I hear it's a great hangout."

"Let's attend the Met Musicians' [hangout | Hangout]"

I understand these distinctions. I also understand that not everyone will. But I don't see any pretending, certainly no deliberate pretending.

Lisa Hirsch said...

By the way, what will you think if it turns out that the Musicians are using Google Hangouts and simply neglected to capitalize it? I'd think they either made a typo or they weren't thinking of the specific technology.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Forgot - thanks for the info on the legal information on downloading and streaming. I see why they are considered identical from a legal perspective, but from a technical perspective, they're not.

kalimac said...

"Let's hang out together" is a verb, not a noun at all.

I'm not blaming the Met Musicians' usage so much as yours, adopting theirs. They may be ignorant or addicted to jargon: I trust you to know better than that. Since you weren't sure what they meant, checking up on it (if possible) or a confession of uncertainty on your part as to what would happen would have been better than simply passing along their ambiguous jargonesque neologism.

What I called your "pretending" was not in your post, but in your comment saying, "I certainly don't think "hangout" is a brand name that has devolved into a common noun. It's a common noun adopted by Google as the name of a proprietary technology." That is pretending that the original common noun (meaning a place frequently visited) is the same as the derived-from-the-trademark neologism (apparently meaning an online event, attended only once).

Lisa Hirsch said...

You give me way too much credit. I'm often totally casual about what I post on this blog. I can be an investigative reporter about certain things, but when I'm linking to what amounts to live chat with a group of orchestral musicians, I figure what people want is a link and a short preview.

I have now sent my question to the Met Musicians, through two obvious channels, and am about to try the third.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I gave up in frustration and simply registered for the hangout. The URL indicates that they are using something called Webinar.

kalimac said...

That's why I wrote "if possible". Otherwise I'd say something including a phrase like "I'm not sure how this will work, but ..."

I couldn't write in publicity blurb style if I tried. It makes my teeth ache just to think about it.

When I posted yesterday a link to an article about invented languages, it was not clear to me from the article what the relationship was between the guy described there and the languages he's creating for Game of Thrones. So I looked it up in Wikipedia: that's what it's for. Took me only a minute. If that hadn't cleared it up, I was prepared to write, "I'm not sure whether Peterson is creating these languages or what ..."