All week, (when I wasn't sick as a dog), I've been telling people at Macworld Expo that if the universe was sucked into a vortex on Saturday about 1:30, well, it would be my fault, sorry about that.
It appears that didn't happen.
No one was shot, no stab wounds, no real yelling. Well sort of.
I know I rag on him about how it sounds like braying in the middle of his interviews, but it is impossible to really appreciate the...aural qualities of Robert's laugh unless you've experienced it in person. It is...it's really almost a separate entity. It's loud. I mean, when Scoble laughs, you know it. It takes over his entire face, and the room. It's not as...obnoxious as it sounds on camera either. It's an honest laugh, in that it doesn't have any of the tags of a faked or forced laugh. For better or worse folks, that is really how Scoble laughs. But damn, the boy just dominates the room when he laughs. It's really quite incredible.
In a lot of ways, Robert and Maryam are the most fascinating study in opposites. Where Robert, (one thing to say here...both had just been on the CES whirlwind and they both looked tired, especially Robert, who was looking real ragged around the edges, so take my descriptions with that grain of salt) is just a dominating personality, (not a bad thing in his line of work mind you), Maryam is...
In every conceivable way, she is cute. Look in the dictionary, and in the definition of the word "cute", you should see her picture. Robert's a fairly big guy, she's rather tiny. His laugh explodes across a room like fresh nitro, hers (literally) bubbles up. She giggles really, rather a lot. Makes you want to buy her candy. He bulls his way through things, she simply smiles and every heart in a 20' sphere breaks, women want to adopt her, and men will do anything the pretty lil' darlin' wants. Robert has this...well, almost buffoonish cast to his voice, she has this delicate pitch with the barest trace of an accent.
They are also quite smart. It may be easy to, at first glance, assume they're kind of well...not that sharp. That would be kinda dumb. They're both really sharp. I think where Robert comes across as being a bit thick is that he's spent a lot of time in a specific kind of lifestyle, and it's kind of warped his thinking. (The smarter readers will realize this describes everyone. We're all warped by life in our own ways. I think that the Podtech thing and maybe talking to more people outside the technobubble will be good for him.) But he is very much into his world, and he sometimes doesn't do well when faced with points of view that are either completely contrary to that, or even stranger, don't care. Him and Buzz trying to convince me that HDTV will change my life was funny. I don't think I can correctly explain to him why it doesn't really matter to me. Maybe when there's better content for HD that non-HD simply can't show, I'll care. But for now, it's just better TV. (
"Buzz" would be Buzz Bruggeman of Activeword Systems. Interesting guy. Very into HDTV. Yeah, it's not a lot, gimme a break, my experience with him is a couple of hours, maybe. However, he is from International Falls, MN, so that's neat.)
Maryam can catch you off guard because she comes across as tiny and delicate. There's a lot of iron behind that, and an active brain. She's really quite good at letting Robert be the Scobelizer, and then watching everyone else while he is the center of attention. I'll hazard it's one of the reasons she's so good with people. She's able to observe them for a good long while while they're all watching him. It's not just Robert, she's really good at picking things up about people anyway, but when you have such a great distraction, well, booyah. In any event, anyone thinking Maryam is just "Scoble's Wife" is not seeing things correctly.
The two of them are also stupidly in love. They are rarely out of touching range. They sit down, and if they aren't shoulder to shoulder, one of them, usually Robert, will find a way to re-establish contact. It's really quite sweet to see. It's also really quite funny to watch her when he starts Scobelizing a bit too much. "Robert, you're going to be cranky in the morning" to which he just starts grumping back. I almost wish I owned a video camera for it. But, for all the opposites you see in them, you see the love, and the affection, and the complete lack of hesitation in showing that love to each other.
We (obviously) talked about tech stuff. However, here's the cool parts. Robert talking about the places to go on cheap/free dates in San Francisco. The fact that he used to race sailboats in the bay. That was really neat, because that takes more than just a little physical skill, and it's something I wouldn't have thought of him. (He's really quite tall, and not nearly as dumpy as he looks in pictures. Dude, really, get a better pic on your site. It's doing you no favors.) He talked about why he likes tablets, (he tracks people in meetings in a way that works really well for a tablet, and it's one that while it wouldn't work for me, would make a tablet quite useful to him. I told him that instead of trying to come up with reasons why others would/should use a tablet, that he should talk more about why he does. When he talks about his workflow, his love for a tablet makes FAR more sense than when he's on about why everyone else should.) He was, once he started talking about the Bay area, and other "softer" topics, a hell of a lot more interesting, because he became a person, not an image.
We met at the Pickwick, and wandered over to Union Square, and the Cheesecake Factory. Maryam gave Melissa some solid wedding advice, which was basically, "It won't go the way you want, so don't sweat it. It's only going to happen once, so don't worry about the flowers, don't waste time with a big ceremony. Have a big, fun party, because that's the part everyone will remember anyway." Robert mentioned at one point how I was being quiet, and not like I am in his blog. It was funny, because it brings up something I said once about such things:
You only see, at best, a slice of someone on a blog, or in a comment, and it's a pretty damned thin slice at that. There's no way you really know someone based on some text.
I replied back with something to the effect of "Well, you haven't said anything stupid yet. Say something stupid and I'll let you know". I mean, really, if the conversation is pleasant, why would I attack someone? That'd be silly. I did rag on him about his issues with accuracy. He'll never change, but the Ferris Beuhler sourcing is annoying. The other reason would be that I was observing them, and to observe, you have to be a tad more quiet. I'm usually a lot more quiet on a first meeting, because I'm picking up on body language/kinesics, and other nuances of their personalities. It's what I do so that I know how to better deal with people, and admittedly, a bit of a defensive tactic. But that's a lot of why I was perhaps quieter than I would normally be.
After lunch, we wandered over to the bar at the top of the Marriot, where Melissa got to see San Francisco in a truly glorious sunset. The sky was unusually clear, so she got some great pics and views. She also took a very scary pic of me and Robert, which I'm sure will make it up on to one of our four sites at some point.
So, all in all, it was really quite fun.
Am I going to stop ragging on Robert? Well, if he stops catching The Dumb, then sure. Other than that, nah, Imagonna rag on his ass.
Am I more impressed with him as a person?
I got to talk to him about things that aren't of tech, or by tech, or tech anything. He told me about racing sailboats, I told him about watching hyrdroplane races in Miami from the middle of the course. He was, for the first time, far more of a person, and that will always make someone more interesting than any image can ever manage.
In the end, Robert is much more interesting and fun than the Scobelizer, and I hope he perhaps thinks about being Robert more, even on-line.
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