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I have been very fortunate the last few years to be able to meet and work with amazing people.   It’s safe to say, Liana K qualifies as one of those amazing people who does great things.

I really didn’t know what to expect with Liana when she agreed to be interviewed by me.  Truthfully, I was a touch intimidated.  Her credentials speak for themselves.   Liana has worked with Ed The Sock as a producer, writer, and co host on Ed’s various shows such as Ed and Red’s Night Party and I Hate Hollywood.  She is a talented performer with a keen vision and sense of humor that tickles the funny bone.   Her stuff makes you think and laugh often at the same time. 

But perhaps today, more importantly, she’s a writer, and a great one.  A columnist on metaleater.com, she recently posted an article in the National Post about video games and empathy here.    I think she’d be a hell of a novelist if she ever decided to write a book.   She knows how to be engaging and deliver a vision to an audience.  She’s done it for years across many mediums, some of which I just barely touch on here.  

Today, Edge is releasing the Anthology Wrestling with Gods, and Liana is one of the editors of the project.  I personally can’t wait to read the selections that she and Jerome Stueart included in the anthology.  

So yeah, I kind of felt a little nervous about this.  It turns out, I really had nothing to worry about.  Liana is an amazing human being.  I think both of us talked a lot longer than either of us planned to.  And to be honest, what’s presented here doesn’t do Liana justice.  This conversation took place over the course of hours and many many pots of tea.  It was truly a thrill to have this opportunity to spend the afternoon shooting the breeze. 

Wrestling with Gods

Joshua Pantalleresco: I really love your Podcast.

Liana K: Thank you!

JP: My only criticism about the whole thing is that you and Ed should have more guests on it.

LK: Yeah. We tried that. We had a guest on one of our earlier shows. In theory, we get people interested, but once we try to get them on real life, things seem to happen.

JP: It’s too bad

LK: Yeah…

JP: I talked to my friend about what Rogers is doing.

LK : You mean Shomi? It’s one part steam and one part netflix. It’s interesting, but I’m curious what kind of response they get for it.

JP: I was talking to one of the architects escorting my friend to work. They said they were working on something else, but I’m definitely curious.

LK: They need original content. Netflix is focusing on that primarily right now. I’m really curious what exactly Rogers has planned, if anything on that.

JP: It will be interesting to see. Personally, I’m not sure if I’d be interested in working for cable companies at this point. All our media at this point is coming through our phones. It almost seems like that I’d be more interested in working with Bell over the cable. They are the future.

LK: Media is driven by advertising. With the way the economy is, advertisers are spending less money and people aren’t buying. It’s a vicious cycle to watch and be a part of right now.

Ed and RedJP: I think this is leading to media splintering off and finding new niches. Watching publishing for example, seeing how amazon is destroying the big four publishing houses in chunks.

LK: Amazon has been a game changer for sure.

JP: I think by the time that the publishing houses catch up, there will be maybe one or two houses standing.

LK: That sounds about right.

JP: It’ll be interesting to see what new ideas come up in the next few years.

LK: We’re in this weird place right now. Ninety Nine percent of the population has learned how to make due with less, while the remaining one percent has driven up the whole luxury quotient of society to a new level. It’s absurd, and at some point it has to come down.

JP: I think it’s part of one of the bigger issues today. All that wealth concentrated in one spot is due to the wealth being concentrated in one place. It’s one of the real issues today. I see it as the rise of corporatism, and how it’s attacking individuality.

LK: One of the most absurd things that ever was bought by people was this whole idea that corporations are people!

JP: It’s true, but you’d think that would make for an easy solution. Either we treat corporations as people, and subject them to the same laws we have. Or we don’t, and they have no rights at all.

LK: I see what you’re saying, but there was really no way that companies should even be like people at all.

JP: Yet, in spite of that, I really think that there is hope. We have new ideas on how to do things all the time. There are people looking at doing alternative power all over. There are these magnetic machines that are supposed to heal, not to mention that there are things like 3d printers and the like changing how we’re doing things.

LK: I think technology is going to bring us closer together. We live in an age where people know more about each other than ever before. The walls are thin again with people. You can find out what they said and did ten years ago if you wanted to with a google search. I think we’re going to eventually get back to the point that were everyone is going to know more about each other, and kind of develop their own tribes and cultures again, kind of like how it was a long time ago.

JP: That’s a neat way of looking at it. I just got caught up with the Jian Giameshi story. CBC just doesn’t look good with this.

LK: No! They don’t! It’s horrible on a lot of levels. Some of the powers that be had to know just what kind of person he was. They didn’t know he punched out girls, but he would play head games and petty politics with people.

JP: Wouldn’t someone do something about this?

LK: Back in the day when executives were on the same floor, absolutely. Today many television studios are shaped like hourglasses in hierarchy. What happens there is that certain producers are choke points on the whole industry. He was one of those guys positioned in those choke points.

JP: That’s horrible. I’m not condoning it, but I can kind of understand the double edged sword here. On the one hand, he’s a dick. On the other, he makes money. CBC is like any other corporation. They are trying to make money. He may have been responsible for shows like North of 60 for example, getting money. I’m not condoning it, but I do understand the reluctance to do anything.

LK: This kind of stuff shouldn’t happen anywhere, especially a crown corporation!

I think what really kills me on this is that CBC just went through a regime change just this last July. Heather Conway has an open door policy with any member of the staff to come through with any problem. The minute this came up they fired him for what he did. But at the end of the day, Conway and the new regime will be tarred and blackmarked with this unfairly. It was the people prior to them that allowed this.

JP: That sucks, but who do you really blame there? People just don’t investigate anything anymore. They take the presentation at face value. I remembered you were talking about how the whole expert thing online? I think that is how we are conditioned. Television would just ramrod you with information at about two thousand miles an hour, and just when you had an inkling of a question, an expert would pop up and shut everything down.

When you have an original thought and question people scoff at it.

LK: It’s like experience doesn’t matter anymore. Ability doesn’t matter anymore. Perception matters.

I looked into a teaching job for new media at a post secondary school, and was passed over because I had no teaching experience. It wasn’t true. I was a dance teacher for years, as well as fifteen years experience working in the media. I was never asked about my teaching experience. So something was weird there.

The original prof bailed three weeks in and I got asked to take over. But the promised learning outcomes were, I felt, impossible in a twelve week course. Tech, the internet, social media… proficiency comes with practice. You can’t teach proficiency in multiple social networks in twelve weeks because they’re all different beasts.

JP: I’m not really sure what to tell someone about school anymore. I’ve said this a few times in past interviews, but from the perspective of money and time, I don’t know what to tell someone about college and university. My uncle was able to become a lawyer for three thousand dollars.

LK: Wow. Today you could add a zero in front of that decimal.

JP: More.

Liana KLK: Probably close to two to one. It’s worrying. My least favorite social animal is the second year gender studies student at these schools. They have all the rage and outrage that gender studies can bring, but none of the knowledge or discipline that is supposed to come with it.

JP: It’s how they are taught.

LK: I know, and it bothers me. We’ve hired some students for our media projects, and we often have to do the teaching some of these institutions didn’t know. For example, colour theory. We had to crash course it super fast to more than one student that walked in. They didn’t have a clue.

More often than not, when we were told to evaluate students, I evaluate the systems. If one student didn’t come in with this knowledge, I’d blame the student. But when EVERY single one of them doesn’t , I often end up asking these institutions just what the heck you’re doing with those students?

JP: It’s sad when that’s what they are taught.

LK: The worst thing is that in post-secondary courses, mistakes are discouraged, despite mistakes being how you learn. One mistake is like a death knell in those environments. Kids are not given the opportunity to have flaws and it’s not fair.

JP: Not to mention that it teaches them to cover their butts and throw others under the bus.

LK: It’s just not healthy. Schools are supposed to be places where people can make their mistakes in a safe environment. How else are you going to really learn unless you screw up? We need as many qualified people with skills as possible. We do need colleges and university for those things. But the post-secondary schools too often expect you to come in already knowing the core concepts. It’s a messed up system. Like, why do you need a fashion school if you already have a fashion portfolio? You’re paying to show what you already know. That’s such a privileged system: spots go to the people who already have an edge at the age of eighteen. That has nothing to do with their achievements and everything to do with what their parents provided.

That’ll do for part 1.  Part 2 will be out next week.  Liana’s book, Wrestling with Gods is out right now.  It is available at bookstores or on amazon right here: http://tinyurl.com/mhngwv9.   Check it out.   Liana is available on twitter @redlianak.   Feel free to say hi to her.  Once again, I want to thank her very much for doing this.