The Talk Show

217: ‘Our Name Is Our Address’ With Jason Kottke


00:00:00   Finally. That's what you say, right?

00:00:04   That's what I say. I'm the master. I'm the licensee of "finally." One of the

00:00:11   reasons that you're here now is that your website, kotke.org, has hit the 20-year marker,

00:00:18   which now that I say it, this is the first time I've actually spoken it aloud, and

00:00:22   it just put like a dagger of old age down my heart.

00:00:26   No, it's, I mean, it's crazy. It's crazy.

00:00:30   But one of the things that I wanted to talk about with you is over the years, I've noticed

00:00:35   many times, often commemorating anniversaries like the 20th or the 15th or whatever, you'll

00:00:41   say or you'll write that you don't consider yourself a writer, which I think is a very

00:00:47   strange thing to say for somebody who's written so much, but I know what you mean, I think.

00:00:52   I consider you to be an absolutely perfect writer. You write what you want to write. And I feel like

00:00:59   to me, you're conveying exactly what you want to convey perfectly.

00:01:03   Yeah. I mean, I guess I would consider myself a blogger first. Someone who uses writing in

00:01:15   the goal. I don't know, maybe there's a different goal. Like a novelist is a novelist,

00:01:21   and they use writing to pursue that, the goal of doing all the things that a novelist does.

00:01:28   But I feel like my primary interest is, "I want to share this thing with you or this

00:01:38   other thing that this real writer wrote about something. I want to share that with you."

00:01:51   I talk, like I, you know, and the site is very much, you know, the voice of the site

00:01:58   is very much me writing an email to a friend about this cool thing that I saw.

00:02:03   Well, it's the weird thing is that there is no one way to be a writer. And, you know,

00:02:08   and I guess the idealized form, and maybe kids today don't feel it anymore, but at least when

00:02:13   I was growing up, a novelist would be like the top rung of the ladder, like, you know,

00:02:19   the Hemingways and Fitzgeralds and just name of—either historical or even current day. That is

00:02:26   the pinnacle of—indisputably, you are a writer if you have written and published novels and moved

00:02:34   down from there. And as I've gotten older, I kind of think that's a little BS. And I think most

00:02:42   novelists would probably agree, you know, that it's, you know, that they might feel that they

00:02:48   couldn't do what, like, their favorite newspaper columnist does, right? That, you know, like,

00:02:54   there might be novelists who can't imagine being Paul Krugman and having two times a week making

00:03:00   a point in exactly 750 words, two times a week, every week for 15 years. Which I'm personally in

00:03:09   off because to me one of the great breakthroughs of blogging as a medium is that your post can be

00:03:16   exactly as long as it needs to be whether that's extra long or in most cases you know very short

00:03:21   compared to a like a newspaper column that people just have different people just have writers just

00:03:27   have different natural lengths right or like you you know you get used to a certain length like i

00:03:34   you know, like I, I've thought about writing a book of some sort, you know, over the years,

00:03:39   but I cannot imagine just how that would happen for me, you know, because everything I post is

00:03:46   so short and so chunked up and like, you know, how can I, how can I write more than five paragraphs

00:03:51   about something, you know, much less like 13 chapters or something, you know?

00:03:55   Trenton Larkin Yeah. Yeah. I, I've, you know,

00:03:58   it's like a frequently asked question for me, if I ever thought about writing a book and

00:04:02   And I've thought about it in the abstract,

00:04:06   but I've never had like an idea.

00:04:08   In the early, early days of "Daring Fireball"

00:04:12   and trying to go independent,

00:04:13   I had an idea that maybe I would write

00:04:15   like an advanced nerds book on how to use BB edit.

00:04:20   And I could have, I think I had like book length,

00:04:26   but sort of like even there though,

00:04:30   like in the heyday of O'Reilly books,

00:04:33   it's like each chapter is really just an article, right?

00:04:36   It would still just be sort of like

00:04:37   stringing together 10 articles about BB Edit

00:04:40   and calling it a book and selling it.

00:04:42   - Right.

00:04:43   - It's not--

00:04:44   - There's no grand narrative you have to worry about.

00:04:46   - Right, not one big 200-page or longer idea

00:04:50   that I'm filling in the details on.

00:04:53   It's just never happened to me.

00:04:54   I don't know.

00:04:56   - Yeah, I mean, I feel like it's that kind of thing

00:04:59   it's like, you know, like people who are into books, they could, you know, they probably,

00:05:04   they probably look at a site like yours or a site like mine and they're like, oh my God,

00:05:08   like this person could totally write a book and they can see it in their mind. But I can't

00:05:14   see that, you know, I can't see that. I don't, you know, I can't look at it that way. I don't

00:05:20   have the experience of, of, of, you know, like picking out books like that. You know, maybe it's

00:05:27   Maybe it's like a forest for the trees type of thing.

00:05:29   Like I'm sowing the weeds that I can't even see it.

00:05:33   I don't know.

00:05:34   - One of the things that to me was a breakthrough,

00:05:37   and 1998 when kotge.org started,

00:05:42   well, let's start with this.

00:05:43   The fact that it's never been quite comfortable to me

00:05:47   speaking about your website,

00:05:48   because the name of the site,

00:05:50   it doesn't really have a name, right?

00:05:53   (laughing)

00:05:55   - Right, yeah, it's never really,

00:05:57   - You know, kotke.org is the name.

00:06:00   Most people call it Kotke, which is also my last name,

00:06:03   which is a little weird.

00:06:04   And so when I talk about it, I always say kotke.org

00:06:07   because if I say Kotke, then I'm talking about myself

00:06:10   in the royal sense, which is stupid.

00:06:14   You know, I'm not Ricky Henderson.

00:06:15   - But it is, it does make it sometimes grammatically weird,

00:06:22   but somehow feels exactly right.

00:06:25   'cause I can't imagine it any other way.

00:06:27   - Yeah, I mean, I've often thought about,

00:06:31   I mean, not so much anymore,

00:06:32   but in the early days I thought about changing it.

00:06:34   Like, oh, I should actually give it a name,

00:06:36   so it's not my name.

00:06:40   - Kotke's daily links.

00:06:42   - Yeah, to make it more serious, I don't know, something.

00:06:44   - Right, but it actually says,

00:06:46   like you go there right now and the banner says kotke.org,

00:06:51   and then there's a little heart,

00:06:52   20 years of hypertext products.

00:06:55   It always reminds me of here in Philadelphia,

00:06:57   there was, they're gone now.

00:06:59   I think they still exist, but they're like in Delaware.

00:07:02   But there was a jewelry store

00:07:04   that ran commercials all the time.

00:07:08   Any kid of our age who grew up like in the '80s

00:07:12   is gonna know who I'm talking about

00:07:13   'cause they had like, they used to advertise

00:07:15   on like the after school, I don't know why,

00:07:17   like the after school rerun type shows.

00:07:21   You know, like when you'd watch old Gilligan's Island

00:07:23   the Brady Bunch and stuff and the name of the store was Robin's eighth and Walnut.

00:07:28   And that was their actual name of the store and their location was eighth and Walnut.

00:07:34   And they even had a jingle. I'm not going to sing it. Maybe we can dig it up on YouTube and insert it here.

00:07:49   "Robin's 8th and Walnut, our name is our address."

00:07:52   (laughing)

00:07:54   - And I often have thought about it

00:07:56   when I've thought at the meta level of kotki.org

00:07:59   being the name of the site,

00:08:01   it always inevitably pops into my head

00:08:04   that the jingle from "Robin's 8th and Walnut,

00:08:06   our name is our address."

00:08:08   - The jingle is also self-referential.

00:08:11   It's perfect, I love it.

00:08:13   - It is in fact, and I will also say this,

00:08:17   in fact, where I got my wedding band that I'm wearing right now.

00:08:21   No, there you go.

00:08:22   Now they're now it's a good it's a coffee shop.

00:08:25   You got to get him in as a sponsor. Oh, they're no longer there.

00:08:28   Well, I do believe that they still exist. I don't want to get it. I don't want to get into it. But

00:08:33   there was some kind of thing. Let's talk about the Jewish. There was some kind of family dispute,

00:08:38   I believe, like where the the patriarch of the family died and the next generation squabbled

00:08:45   over it and I don't know some kind of messy thing like that. But I believe they still

00:08:50   have locations in Delaware. And that's the strip strategy there is that Delaware has no sales tax.

00:08:58   So you could save money. I don't know. There's a lot of jewelry stores in Delaware.

00:09:03   Right. They should put that whole story in their name now.

00:09:07   Like the part about like, we had a disagreement in the family. No, we're only in Delaware with

00:09:13   with no sales tax. It's right in the name.

00:09:15   That's the name of the store. Robbins, we had a family disagreement and now we're

00:09:22   only in Delaware where there is no sales tax.

00:09:26   Exactly.

00:09:29   So, one of the things from the early days and going back to 1998, the format of a blog

00:09:40   was not, it seems self-evident now,

00:09:43   but it was not self-evident then.

00:09:47   Meaning that you have this thing and you type a new post

00:09:51   and then on your homepage of your site,

00:09:54   the most recently thing that you posted is at the top

00:09:57   and the next time you post something, it gets pushed down

00:10:00   and that's it.

00:10:03   Like it sounds so simple, but I struggled for years.

00:10:07   Like one of the reasons during Fireball

00:10:09   was four and a half years after Kotke,

00:10:12   wasn't that in 1998 that I wasn't thinking about

00:10:15   having a website, it was 'cause I didn't know

00:10:19   how to make it, I didn't know what format.

00:10:22   I was stuck for years thinking about issues,

00:10:25   but that there would be like, I'd do this thing

00:10:27   and there'd be like, every Monday there'd be a new issue,

00:10:30   'cause I came out of the student newspaper world.

00:10:33   I couldn't get past it.

00:10:34   - Right.

00:10:38   the early days you started with what was the site oscillate right yeah oscillate yeah which is sadly

00:10:44   no longer online it's on my hard drive somewhere and i i you know it's one of those things like

00:10:48   i should put it back up but i still have the domain i do yeah well that's good

00:10:55   well tell me about oscillate what was the oscillate because oscillate wasn't a blog

00:11:01   but i remember it but it's a lot harder to describe yeah it wasn't a blog so it was it was

00:11:07   there were a series of episodes and so like the when you come to the front page

00:11:11   of the site it was it was basically you know like in the olden days back in the

00:11:16   olden days you know splash pages were kind of a thing you know particularly

00:11:25   with flash and stuff but this was like even you know I think flash was around

00:11:29   but basically the front page of the site was a splash page and if you

00:11:35   clicked it, it launched a pop-up and it had that, you know, weeks or months or, you know,

00:11:41   the current episode. It was episodic and every, you know, every two, three, four weeks, you know,

00:11:48   and then it was a couple months and then six months. But every once in a while, I would come

00:11:53   out with a new episode and there would be a completely new splash page and completely new

00:11:57   design for whatever that episode was. And it was, you know, writing was a component, photography,

00:12:04   You know, I was a 20. I mean, I started Oscillate in 1996, I think. So I was like 22 years old and

00:12:15   trying to figure out what to do with this new medium along with everyone else.

00:12:21   And, you know, Oscillate was a way to do that, you know, and, you know, it was also a way to

00:12:28   try and get a job doing this stuff, you know? Yeah, I think the thinking back then, and,

00:12:34   you know, I had other some little things I played around with with friends, nothing really solo, but

00:12:39   the idea was like for some sites, it always seemed like a splash page was instantly even at the

00:12:46   beginning. It was like this is stupid. Like if I'm going to an online bookstore, you should not show

00:12:50   me a splash page. You should just take me to where I want to go. But people wanted them. And I

00:12:57   remember a friend and I built the first website for Drexel's College of Design Arts after we

00:13:03   graduated. And we didn't want there to be a splash page. Our idea was that when you'd go there,

00:13:09   the main page would be sort of an overview of the College of Design Arts. And, you know, you could

00:13:16   go from there, like, you know, like, on one side, here's resources for existing students in the

00:13:20   college. On the other side, here's resources for students thinking about it, blah, blah, blah. And

00:13:24   when they were like, No, no, we need like a splash page, something that, you know, we're like, all

00:13:29   All right.

00:13:30   But then there were other sites

00:13:32   where the homepage was the whole site.

00:13:34   Like that was, so it's not really a splash page.

00:13:36   It's just that it wasn't a site

00:13:38   consisting of multiple pages that needed an index.

00:13:40   It was just like you'd go there

00:13:42   and whatever it was would be on the homepage.

00:13:45   And then when they'd come up with something new,

00:13:46   they would just replace the homepage.

00:13:49   - Right.

00:13:50   Yeah, I mean, you know, like Drudge Report

00:13:54   is a good example of that.

00:13:57   That's, you know, even probably,

00:13:58   I don't know when Drudge started, but it's gotta be, you know.

00:14:03   - Oh man, it has to be.

00:14:04   - It's gotta be 20-ish years old.

00:14:05   - Yeah, or more, right?

00:14:07   Because Drudge was so instrumental

00:14:10   in the whole Lewinsky thing.

00:14:12   - Yep.

00:14:13   - And so that was like '97, '98,

00:14:17   and it was already a thing.

00:14:18   It wasn't like a new website.

00:14:19   So I'm gonna guess Drudge started around '95 or '96.

00:14:22   - Yeah, yeah, I think that's probably right.

00:14:27   - Yeah, but you know, oscillate was like,

00:14:29   it was like, I'm not gonna call it art

00:14:34   because it wasn't that, but it was like design experiments.

00:14:39   So like the splash page idea sort of felt like it was good,

00:14:44   you know, particularly in that era.

00:14:47   And like, you know, it was my thing.

00:14:49   So like, I really liked designing those splash pages

00:14:52   because it was like this chance to use,

00:14:56   you know, sort of these things that were not,

00:15:01   that you couldn't use on like a site for a client.

00:15:04   You know, you couldn't put these massive images up

00:15:07   and I mean, massive for that time,

00:15:09   but you know, they probably look tiny now,

00:15:11   but you know, just to do stuff you couldn't do elsewhere

00:15:16   and just like, what about this?

00:15:18   What about this?

00:15:19   What about this?

00:15:20   You know, it was a constant sort of like,

00:15:22   can it do this?

00:15:23   Okay.

00:15:24   - Yeah, just to sort of scratch that itch of,

00:15:28   I have these very strong opinions

00:15:30   of how a website should be or could be,

00:15:33   and if I don't just do it myself

00:15:36   and do it with whatever silly ideas are in my head,

00:15:38   I'm never gonna get to do it,

00:15:39   because I can see the way it goes with client work.

00:15:42   It always devolves into give us this thing

00:15:45   that's just like what everybody else is doing.

00:15:48   - Yeah. - At a certain level.

00:15:51   - Here's a news break here from talk show headquarters.

00:15:54   The Drudge Report started in 1995 as an email newsletter

00:16:00   that he was charging, I think, $10 a month for,

00:16:02   and then he started the website in 1997

00:16:05   as a supplement to his $10 per year email newsletter.

00:16:10   Talk about ideas that come around and go around,

00:16:13   email newsletters. - Yeah, exactly.

00:16:15   - So there's the vintage on that.

00:16:17   He's a year before kotki.org.

00:16:20   - All right.

00:16:20   - So how do you get from Oscillate to kotki.org?

00:16:27   And at some point they were both

00:16:29   still actively maintained, right?

00:16:31   You didn't really think of it as like,

00:16:33   I'm gonna put Oscillate on ice and switch to this.

00:16:36   It was sort of like, here's a new thing.

00:16:38   - Yeah, so what became kotki.org started out

00:16:44   as an episode of Oscillate.

00:16:46   It was sort of like, okay, there is these, you know, online journal things that have

00:16:52   been around for quite a while.

00:16:53   And, you know, there are these sort of new things called blog, you know, well, they

00:17:00   weren't called blogs at the time, but web logs.

00:17:02   And, you know, I was like, you know, I think part of it was just that I wanted

00:17:08   to design a site or an interface or, you know, a reading interface that was, that

00:17:14   it was four regularly updated content in this way.

00:17:19   Not just sort of like, oh, I have to think

00:17:21   of some completely different thing every time.

00:17:24   It's like, I wanted to design a container

00:17:26   where I could just write more regularly.

00:17:31   I think that, and that was definitely part of it.

00:17:36   And then I did that for a while,

00:17:39   And it lived on oscillate in this pop-up window,

00:17:44   which was a very unwieldy way to use it.

00:17:48   And I think, probably in a few months,

00:17:51   I moved it over to its own thing.

00:17:55   - What were you using as a CMS spec then?

00:17:59   'Cause that predates movable type.

00:18:00   Removable type, I think, came out either in early 2002

00:18:05   or late 2001, but it was right around the time

00:18:09   when I was planning "Daring Fireball."

00:18:10   And I was like, "Oh, this will be better

00:18:13   than the whatever crazy thing I was gonna make myself."

00:18:16   - Right, I mean, I was hand coding everything.

00:18:19   (laughing)

00:18:20   So I would update the front page

00:18:23   and then I would copy and paste that update

00:18:25   to whatever archive file

00:18:29   and then I would FTP them to my server.

00:18:31   I know.

00:18:33   - So Zeldman hand-edited, Zeldman, the daily report,

00:18:38   for years after like movable type and other things like he he did it not because he wasn't aware of

00:18:44   the advantages of using you know movable type or back then was the gray matter and

00:18:51   Eventually WordPress it was because he thought it was good and maybe he's right, but he thought it was good

00:18:57   Like hygiene to keep his like HTML editing

00:19:02   You know, this is keep us keep those muscles working

00:19:07   And I remember telling him the one he told me that it was like years after you know, like, you know

00:19:12   Like 2004 or five six and I was like you're not you're absolutely crazy

00:19:17   yeah, I was like this like I

00:19:20   It's like breaking down your door every time you come into your house and then immediately rebuilding a door

00:19:27   Yeah, I mean I I

00:19:31   Didn't switch to you know, like everyone

00:19:34   I mean everyone in late '99, 2000, switched to Blogger.

00:19:39   And Blogger at the time,

00:19:41   there was no blog spot or anything like that.

00:19:44   Blogger was an interface.

00:19:45   You could write these posts,

00:19:48   and then it basically,

00:19:50   you gave it the FTP information for your server,

00:19:54   and it would FTP the files.

00:19:56   - Right, I remember that.

00:19:58   - And so I was like,

00:20:02   I have always been very particular about the design of my site and sort of, you know, for

00:20:07   various reasons, perhaps related to my personality. But, you know, and Blogger really didn't,

00:20:17   Blogger didn't have, couldn't do it exactly the way that I wanted to do it. And so I was

00:20:23   one of the few, I think, that didn't switch and, you know, sort of held out until movable

00:20:29   type was kind of robust enough to be able to do everything and then I made the jump. But later

00:20:36   than a lot of people, I was still, you know, into the 2000s, I was still, you know, coding it by

00:20:42   hand and FTPing like a caveman. And then did you backport all the old posts from that hand editing

00:20:51   era into movable type? I did. I did. Did you do that manually or did you figure out a way to do it?

00:20:58   You know, I probably slightly automated it, but it was probably mostly manual, I would say.

00:21:03   So the entirety of katky.org, like from the beginning onward, is still there. Like,

00:21:12   it's all... Do you ever... You must know about this because it just breaks my heart on a regular

00:21:20   basis. But like, have you ever like, gone looking at like the... I don't even know what year to call

00:21:25   it off at, but let's just say the early 2000s. But you go back and look at posts in early 2000s

00:21:30   and see how many of the things you link to are now 404s. Yeah, I mean, there's so much stuff.

00:21:35   It's a majority of it. Yeah. It's even from two years ago. It's shocking how much stuff from just

00:21:42   a few years ago is now 404. But it's absolutely horrifying when I go back to the early years of

00:21:48   Daring Fireball and start looking at it. And so like, I've had this long simmering project in my

00:21:53   ahead to, I guess, you know, to be honest, pay someone. But create a tool that hunts

00:22:03   down all the 404s and then just pay someone to go through and replace them as best they

00:22:08   can with links to the Internet Archive.

00:22:10   Right, exactly. Yes, I mean, same. We should, we should find, we should pay the same person

00:22:16   to do this for both of us.

00:22:18   Right. And then I think, my God, that would be so much better. And then I get terrified

00:22:22   and thinking about how the Internet Archive is this single thread holding the entire history

00:22:29   of the Internet together, then it's just, you know, I think that it's well funded. And I think

00:22:36   that they have a very, you know, good plan to stay going for the future. But it just seems crazy to

00:22:41   me that there's a single point of failure. And it's just an independent organization. It's not

00:22:47   like the Library of Congress or something like that, which I'd have a little bit more. I'd feel

00:22:51   better if there was somebody else, if there were like a arch rival to the internet archive.

00:22:56   Yeah. I mean, God bless Brewster Kahle that he, you know, that he had,

00:23:01   yeah, I don't know, like he had the vision to do this and like the, the, you know,

00:23:07   the resources to do it as well. But what are the, you know, like one of them talking about like

00:23:15   old links and stuff. Like one of the reasons, you know, like Amazon, I think

00:23:20   is, you know, a increasingly problematic company for a lot of people.

00:23:26   Uh, you know, but I linked to Amazon regularly, uh, you know, just books,

00:23:33   movies, music, that sort of thing.

00:23:35   And one of the things that I really like about them and one of the, one of the

00:23:38   reasons why I still do link to them is that if you look at the earliest links

00:23:43   to Amazon on kotk.org back in like 1999, they all still work. Yeah. Like, you know, one

00:23:52   of the first things I linked to was like a DVD of office space. And if you go and click

00:23:59   that link, it takes you to the DVD page for office space on Amazon, even if it even if

00:24:04   it needs to redirect, you know, like it may exactly right, but they've every time they

00:24:08   change their system in a way that the old URL is no longer the canonical URL.

00:24:14   They have redirects in place. I've noticed that for years that Amazon is

00:24:19   truly a believer in cool URL. What's the slogan? Cool URLs never change, never

00:24:27   die. Exactly. Something like that. Yeah. Yeah. No, I mean, I think it's

00:24:34   probably a business thing for them because like, you know, if let's say 10% of their links break,

00:24:40   then like, you know, how many how many percentage points on their total business revenue for the

00:24:47   years that probably significant. Yeah. When you look at, you know, what their profit margins are.

00:24:52   One of the things I remember still, I, you know, in hindsight, it at the time, it didn't seem like

00:25:01   it was new because I'd been reading Kottke for years at this point. But in 2001,

00:25:05   I very much remember—and this was a time when I was—that's about a year before I started

00:25:12   Daring Fireball. And Daring Fireball started August 2002. But when 9/11 happened, and I—you

00:25:26   were in New York at the time, right? Or were you not?

00:25:29   No, San Francisco. You're still in San Francisco, but it obviously affected everybody profoundly but and everything

00:25:35   I know everybody was rightly obsessed with it whether you're talking about television or newspapers or any other medium

00:25:42   But I just remember at the time I'd already had like this huge, you know

00:25:46   Huge and growing collection of bloggers or journalists or you know, meaning journalers

00:25:51   I suppose would be what I'm saying whatever you wanted to call it and everybody was writing about it and I just it I

00:25:58   at one point I in one way I felt like I wish I now I really wish I had already started something like this so that

00:26:04   I could express myself and then in another part of me was like I don't know how I would but I remember that you're writing

00:26:09   on 9/11 was

00:26:11   Because it was so different and much more personal than what you had typically done at cocky, but it was so like

00:26:20   Cathartic to read like not hyperbolic not hysterical. You're not freaking out, but it was just

00:26:27   everybody was so emotional at the time. Yeah. And it was such a weird and it took a while.

00:26:35   It wasn't, you know, it was the sort of thing that wasn't, you know, like, oh, a couple of days and

00:26:41   then, you know, back to normal. I mean, this was, you know, that was, it's kind of, I can't think

00:26:46   of another thing that's happened since that even compares in terms of how, how the entire nation,

00:26:51   and maybe the Western world was obsessed with it

00:26:55   for months, months and months.

00:26:57   - I mean, it's still reverberates.

00:27:01   In a lot of ways, like we're still living in a world

00:27:06   that was created that day.

00:27:07   I'm not sure anybody at the time quite knew

00:27:13   how extensive the impact was gonna be.

00:27:17   - Yeah.

00:27:20   think about that too. And you and I are almost the same age. I think you're one year younger than me,

00:27:25   but like, I feel like growing up in a, we grew up in a very particular era of the U S foreign affairs

00:27:36   where we're post Vietnam. And by the time I sort of got any kind of, you know, seven, eight,

00:27:44   nine years old when I had any kind of vague notion of, you know, what the Vietnam war was like and

00:27:50   and what it meant.

00:27:50   It just seemed to me, and then growing up in the '80s,

00:27:56   it just seemed to me that the US was a place

00:27:59   that used to get into wars all the time,

00:28:01   but now doesn't really get into wars.

00:28:03   I had one of my best friends in high school,

00:28:10   we haven't really stayed in touch

00:28:11   'cause I don't really stay in touch with anybody,

00:28:13   but one of my best friends in high school

00:28:17   went to Penn State on an ROTC and then joined the army. And he's still in the army. And my mom just

00:28:24   said, we can get into Facebook later because I'm not on Facebook. I don't hear about things,

00:28:28   but my mom said that he's just been promoted to a lieutenant colonel or colonel. I don't know.

00:28:34   He's like a career army guy, apparently very successful. And I'm not surprised because he was

00:28:42   very smart and driven type individual. But I remember when he decided to go that way,

00:28:49   I just remember thinking like, good for him, I wouldn't really like the structure of military

00:28:53   life, but it never occurred to me that he would be in wars for 20 years. And he's been to,

00:29:00   I mean, I can't even imagine it. I just thought that he'd be a civilian, or not a civilian,

00:29:08   but a peacetime army officer, as opposed to spending 20 years as a wartime officer.

00:29:15   Like that's, it was just inconceivable to me at the time. And that's one of the ways that 9/11

00:29:19   to me has truly changed. Like we just sort of accept it now. And I don't think we should,

00:29:24   that the US is always at war in multiple campaigns.

00:29:29   Yeah, I mean, you know, the thing that I remember most as a kid is, you know, the Cold War.

00:29:36   And you know, the 80s.

00:29:44   Vietnam wasn't, you know, for a kid who was, you know, I was, let's see, in 1984, I was

00:29:50   10 years old.

00:29:52   And the Cold War was this thing that was, people don't really understand it.

00:30:00   You get little inklings of it here and there whenever the recent saber rattling with North

00:30:05   Korea happens.

00:30:06   But it was this pervasive thing where it's like, "Holy shit, we are literally moments

00:30:13   away from being annihilated all of the time."

00:30:18   lot of ways like you know when you're like when you're a little kid like that's kind of terrifying

00:30:22   I mean as terrifying as an adult but at the same time you know we weren't you know like you said

00:30:30   like we weren't at war we weren't you know Vietnam was in the past and and it didn't you know there

00:30:36   were little things here and there like Panama and and things like that but yeah you're right like

00:30:41   you know, the US wasn't really at war. And, you know, 9/11 did, you know, did change that in a,

00:30:48   in a big way. I mean, there's, you know, there's a lot, a lot we can say about it, but,

00:30:55   I mean, I remember at the time, you know, I woke up that morning and, you know, the, I think the,

00:31:02   you know, I was on the West coast. So the, you know, the first tower, I think had already fallen

00:31:08   And there were already, you know, there were these aim chat rooms that were going with all

00:31:15   of these people, like freaking, you know, kind of freaking out, but also sharing information.

00:31:20   And, you know, there were the blogs at the time, like people were posting and things like that.

00:31:26   And it was halfway between like, Oh my God, I need to turn this off. I can't deal with this right

00:31:33   now, like this isn't, it's almost not appropriate to kind of say anything, but at the same time,

00:31:50   something needs to be said.

00:31:51   Yeah, I almost felt compelled to do it. Like, you know, if I'm going to be a blogger,

00:31:58   like I'm going to, you know, you kind of, at a certain point, you kind of have to embrace

00:32:01   it and charge into the fold.

00:32:04   So I just started sharing all these links and information and people posting pictures

00:32:08   and what was going on and tiny little videos, which at the time were melting people's

00:32:19   servers.

00:32:20   Because posting these six megabyte QuickTime videos and servers were getting melted because

00:32:25   CNN would pick it up and point at it and it would melt.

00:32:29   CNN was down half of the day and CNN.com.

00:32:32   - I remember that.

00:32:33   - Yeah, and--

00:32:35   - What I remember, I'll tell you my 9/11 morning story.

00:32:38   I think I've mentioned this before,

00:32:40   but not for a long time, but at the time I used to go,

00:32:44   I was working at Barebone Software in Massachusetts

00:32:46   and they had flex time.

00:32:49   So instead of going at rush hour,

00:32:52   I would usually come in around 10.30 in the morning or so,

00:32:55   or arrive around 10.30.

00:32:57   So I was still at home and Amy,

00:32:58   we only had one car and Amy wasn't working

00:33:01   and she would go to the gym early in the morning

00:33:03   and then she'd come back and then I'd leave for work.

00:33:05   And so she was at the gym and called me

00:33:08   and she was out of breath

00:33:09   because she had been doing cardio and she was panicking,

00:33:12   but they had, all the TVs in the gym switched to,

00:33:15   like when the first plane hit and she said,

00:33:18   she woke me up and said, "We're under attack."

00:33:20   And I said, "What?"

00:33:21   And she goes, "New York City is under attack."

00:33:24   And I said, "By who?"

00:33:25   And she goes, "I don't know, but go turn the TV on."

00:33:28   I remember turning the TV on and it just sitting there.

00:33:30   But the moment that really gets me,

00:33:33   I just can't believe I was watching ABC

00:33:35   and Peter Jennings was on

00:33:37   and they have footage of the two towers,

00:33:39   both had been hit and they were smoking.

00:33:41   And then when the first tower fell,

00:33:45   they like didn't know what to say.

00:33:47   And there was so much smoke,

00:33:50   like you couldn't quite tell that the tower was gone

00:33:53   because it was replaced with smoke

00:33:55   and I guess ash and dust.

00:33:58   But it was obvious to me what had happened,

00:34:01   that the tower had collapsed.

00:34:03   But nobody was saying it because it was so,

00:34:06   nobody said, "Oh my God, that tower just collapsed."

00:34:09   They were like, "We're not sure what's happening here,"

00:34:12   because you couldn't see the tower anymore.

00:34:14   And it was minutes before they acknowledged verbally,

00:34:18   like literally minutes, at least it seemed like it to me,

00:34:21   before they acknowledged that it seemed,

00:34:23   but they wouldn't even say that it collapsed.

00:34:25   like it might have. You couldn't see. And that was so horrible that they couldn't. And then the thing

00:34:34   that really got me and the thing that the first time I burst into tears was that when they finally

00:34:40   acknowledged that that tower had fallen was, and they wouldn't say it, but they were talking around

00:34:48   it was that if the first tower fell because a jet hit it and the same type of jet hit the second

00:34:54   tower 18 minutes later or however long it was, then the second tower is going to fall too. And

00:35:00   we just have to sit here and wait for it. And I just like that realization, but just, I just

00:35:07   burst into tears. I think by that time, Amy was home and we were together, but it's sort of a

00:35:12   blur, but I'll just never forget that feeling. I don't know how we got sidetracked by this, but

00:35:17   Yeah. To me though, the point is that to me, when I think of 9/11, katki.org is primarily mixed into

00:35:32   that. I remember Letterman going back on the air, but I just remember never more needing to check

00:35:41   your website every day just to see what you were saying. Dave

00:35:47   Weiner too.

00:35:47   Yeah, Dave Weiner. Dave Weiner was definitely like, he, you

00:35:53   know, I think a lot of people were definitely, you know,

00:35:56   following him and refreshing and that stuff. You know, and, you

00:36:03   know, 911 was one of those sort of, you know, pivotal moments, I

00:36:09   moments I think in the site like it it I mean it it it

00:36:13   basically increased my traffic by 50% within like 3 days and

00:36:16   it and it stayed.

00:36:19   And you know it was just it. You know it's just one of those

00:36:25   things like it was like it kind of I think in hindsight, I

00:36:30   don't know I've never really thought about this, but I think

00:36:32   I I do think in hindsight like it was one of those things

00:36:34   It was like, "Oh, this is a thing that is important to me and I think at least somewhat

00:36:43   important to other people."

00:36:44   Yeah.

00:36:45   Well, and in addition to the fact that you were expressing thoughts that I think a lot

00:36:49   of people shared and maybe were themselves having trouble articulating, the format of

00:36:54   a blog was actually perfect in those days and weeks afterwards where there was so much

00:37:02   else on the internet worth, you know, like linking to and the nature of a blog where

00:37:11   you could just link to it, right? Like if there's this, somebody had a video about something

00:37:15   and you could just link to the video and it, you don't have to write a whole 700 word article

00:37:19   about it just to link to it. It was a perfect format, right? It's it, you know, it's great

00:37:24   for a lot of things, but it's really great when you're trying to make sense out of a

00:37:28   sprawling saga.

00:37:30   Yep. Yeah, exactly. And in the weeks and months after 9/11, there were the so-called war blogs

00:37:42   that sprang up. This is sort of like the... I mean, it was really the genesis of blogging

00:37:49   about politics, 9/11 sort of like kicked it off a little bit.

00:37:56   And people were really like, holy shit,

00:37:59   like this blogging is perfect for talking about this stuff.

00:38:03   Because like you said, you can synthesize

00:38:05   a lot of different types of information

00:38:07   from all over the place.

00:38:09   Like, oh, CNN's saying this, but the New York Times

00:38:11   is writing about this.

00:38:13   And then InstaPundit said this, and Dave Weiner said this.

00:38:18   and you know, like hypertext and in particular, like the bloggy sort of, you know, extension

00:38:26   of that is, is really great for, for doing that sort of thing. And it still is, you know,

00:38:31   in a way that, yeah, you know, in a way that something like Facebook maybe isn't, but Twitter

00:38:38   is maybe even better. I don't know. Yeah. Twitter's better in some ways and, but worse

00:38:45   and others because the one thing that you could do that was easier or it still is easier

00:38:49   with the blog is if I've got other, you know, I have a real life to run and a job and a

00:38:56   family and et cetera. And I just want to catch up on what did kotk. You say today I can just

00:39:02   go to the browser, hit command and, and just type K and it's already auto complete. You

00:39:08   You know, I'm like two keystrokes away, command N, K, return, and there I am.

00:39:15   And there's your thoughts on the day.

00:39:16   Whereas Twitter, it's all over the place.

00:39:18   It's because it's interspersed with everybody else.

00:39:21   Right?

00:39:22   We can talk about Twitter later.

00:39:23   Anyway, let me take a break here and thank our first sponsor.

00:39:26   It's a brand new sponsor.

00:39:27   I'm very excited about this because I think it is a perfect use of podcast sponsorships.

00:39:32   It's a new podcast themselves.

00:39:34   It's called Tech Meme Ride Home.

00:39:37   you can just go whatever your podcast app is just go there the easiest way to find out more just use your podcast app and

00:39:43   search for tech meme ride home t8 t e ch m e m e

00:39:48   So tech meme comm is a fantastic site. I've talked about it many times over the years. It's one of my very very favorite

00:39:56   It's one of the websites. I check every day just to see what the heck is new in

00:39:59   the sort of things that I tend to read and link to and care about

00:40:05   But it's effectively a sort of ranked by order of importance daily tech news site of things around the web

00:40:13   and

00:40:16   It's not entirely algorithmic. I think they do have some algorithms behind it, but they use human editors to sort of

00:40:22   Put things in order and decide where to link to and when there's a story with a bunch of other people

00:40:28   Linking to the same thing they they aggregate all of those links into topics

00:40:34   It's really a great site if you've never checked it out. But anyway, what they've done with

00:40:38   this podcast is they're taking what Techmeme is good at and distilling it into podcast

00:40:42   form. And they call it the ride home because they're doing it every weekday, Monday to

00:40:47   Friday, posting around 5 p.m. Eastern each afternoon. And each episode is only 15 to

00:40:53   20 minutes long. It's a great format. It is hosted by Brian McCullough, who also hosts

00:41:01   a great podcast called the Internet History Podcast. Internet History Podcast has been

00:41:05   around for about four years now. And they've had great episodes. I'll put them in the show

00:41:11   notes, but they have one with Don Melton, who was, you guys should probably know, is

00:41:15   one of the originators at Apple of the Safari project. Oh, Malik had a great episode. But

00:41:23   anyway, Brian is a terrific podcast host, and he does a fantastic job. Think of tech

00:41:29   me ride home as sort of like NPR for technical nerds for tech nerd news. It's really, really

00:41:37   good. So my thanks to them for sponsoring the show. And rather than give you a URL,

00:41:43   although the internet history podcast is at internet history podcast.com. But for tech

00:41:49   meme ride home, really, instead of a URL, the best thing to do is just search for tech

00:41:53   meme ride home in your podcast app and subscribe, give it a listen. I really like it. It's really

00:41:59   good. And again, only 15, 20 minutes long, so it's not like you're signing up for two hours or

00:42:05   something like that. Really, really a great show. I really like it. All right, what were we talking

00:42:12   about? Early days, 9/11. The early days. While we're talking about downers, like 9/11, I think,

00:42:21   you know, why don't we get it out of the way and talk about Dean Allen and textism in terms of

00:42:28   So Dean, a little bit like you, for those of you who don't know, Dean Allen wrote a

00:42:34   website called Textism. I don't forget when it's, he sort of hung up, but it started before

00:42:41   Daring Fireball. I believe it was around 2001 when Textism started. And I think he stopped

00:42:47   around 2006 or 2007. And then he came back briefly, but then sort of disappeared mostly

00:42:54   from the web, and then sadly took his own life a few months ago. Man, was textism great. That's

00:43:07   the thing that came out of Dean's passing and those of us who knew him, either personally or

00:43:13   even if you just knew him through the website, was how many people, how many discussions I had

00:43:17   uh just with and they just all revolved around holy **** was

00:43:23   text is the **** or not. Yeah. Do you remember when you first

00:43:28   saw this? I don't remember when I first saw it but I remember

00:43:32   how I felt every time I you know like saw a new post and it

00:43:38   was like this sort of like and I was like damn it like my I

00:43:46   I can't write that well.

00:43:48   Like I can't do it.

00:43:49   I can try, but I'm not gonna be able to do it.

00:43:53   Like I think Paul Ford,

00:43:57   like whenever Paul Ford writes something,

00:43:59   I'm just like, Jesus Christ.

00:44:01   How does he, ah, damn it.

00:44:05   I'm never gonna be able to do that.

00:44:07   And Dean was like, every post it was like, ah.

00:44:12   And it didn't have to be long.

00:44:14   And it was always so simple and straightforward

00:44:17   and just sort of, you know,

00:44:18   like talking about like nothing basically.

00:44:22   And it was just, you know,

00:44:23   they were just like these perfect little

00:44:25   chunks of wonderfulness.

00:44:29   - What was your one that you,

00:44:30   I remember talking with you about it,

00:44:32   your favorite one was,

00:44:33   was it like how to cook a chicken or?

00:44:35   - Yeah, it was like how to cook soup.

00:44:38   - Oh yeah, how to make soup.

00:44:41   - Yeah, and you know, he starts off with like,

00:44:43   you need hydrogen and oxygen to make the water,

00:44:48   it sort of starts from there.

00:44:49   And that actually, I don't think that was on Textism.

00:44:55   I think he ran another site called Cardigan Industries.

00:44:58   And I was never clear on what the difference was

00:45:02   between that and Textism.

00:45:03   But the soup thing was on there.

00:45:09   - Yeah, I've got a link to the archive.org thing.

00:45:12   I'll put it in the show notes.

00:45:14   Yeah, it was Cardigan Industries.

00:45:19   I'm not sure what the difference was either.

00:45:20   And I even got to know Dean personally for a while,

00:45:23   but he was, you could ask him questions like that

00:45:27   and he would evade them.

00:45:30   - He was like Tom Bombadil, you know?

00:45:33   - Yeah, he was.

00:45:34   - It was just like you ask him a question

00:45:36   and he starts singing a song about something,

00:45:38   it's like he wouldn't sing,

00:45:39   but it's the same sort of thing.

00:45:41   It was like, you know, just, I'm not going to talk about that.

00:45:43   Yeah. But he had, it was, it was,

00:45:45   it was sort of like meeting a street magician too,

00:45:50   where you don't even realize what's happened until it's happened.

00:45:53   It wasn't like you'd ask him like,

00:45:54   what the hell is the difference between cardigan and textism?

00:45:57   And he wouldn't just give you like no answer and be rude about it.

00:46:00   He would make you feel as though he, you know,

00:46:04   it wasn't the least bit rude at all.

00:46:09   But you'd realize at the end of it that he hadn't said it,

00:46:12   he hadn't explained it in the least bit. Yeah.

00:46:16   There's a funny gag. I'm,

00:46:20   I'm looking at the Cardigan industries and I still enjoy it, but, uh,

00:46:24   the way he formatted the dates is he has in text January 10,

00:46:29   uh, and then the year,

00:46:33   the first two digits of the year are rendered as an image, the two O,

00:46:37   and then just the O-1 is text.

00:46:39   And that's such a Dean Allen gag.

00:46:43   - Yeah.

00:46:46   - It's like a throwback to like,

00:46:47   I don't know, like mechanical devices

00:46:53   that would tell you what the day is or something like that.

00:46:55   But they would, like growing up,

00:46:58   they would have like the 19 was pre-rendered

00:47:00   or something like that.

00:47:01   - Exactly, exactly.

00:47:02   Yeah.

00:47:03   And then that, you know, that was the other thing

00:47:05   that his sights were beautifully designed. It was sort of like, again, that feeling for me of like,

00:47:14   "Damn it, that's so good. I can't quite get there."

00:47:19   Pete: Right. "Fuse two hydrogen with one oxygen and repeat until you have enough."

00:47:28   Exactly. What a beautiful sentence. While the water is heating, raise some cattle.

00:47:33   Pay a man with grim eyes to do the slaughtering, preferably while you are away.

00:47:39   It's so good. It really is. So good.

00:47:46   He, you know, it's easy to get maudlin about somebody after he's passed. But I,

00:47:56   and I would have said it while he was alive. He was just the best at it, of having a site that's

00:48:03   like your site and you post these little things either on a daily basis or somewhat regularly.

00:48:10   He was just the best at it. He really was.

00:48:14   Jon Moffitt I totally agree. I totally agree.

00:48:17   Uh, huge inspiration for me and you know, and you too, absolutely. You know, cocky was absolutely

00:48:25   huge inspiring me and sort of figuring out a format that I could do it. Um,

00:48:31   but it's an inner like you and Dean, like as dual influences, it was like, and I think, I don't

00:48:40   think you'll take this the wrong way. It's not cause I certainly don't mean it as an insult in

00:48:44   in the least, but it was like, I totally got what you were doing. And with Dean, I, I didn't

00:48:50   even get it. I just knew that I loved it. Like, I don't even know what you did there.

00:48:54   It's like, I loved, I'd read a post from him and I'd, I would think I'm not even sure what

00:48:59   he did there, but I loved it. Yeah. I would like to try to do something like that. Yeah.

00:49:07   There was, yeah, there was clearly something else going on behind the curtain that you

00:49:11   know about. Whereas, you know, like I can't help being just straightforward. So like it,

00:49:19   you know, it's pretty much what you see is what you get. But it's always nice discovering those

00:49:24   sites, you know, like Dean's site where you don't quite understand where they're coming from, but

00:49:32   God, it's wonderful to read, you know? All right. Yeah. It always felt like there was a backstory

00:49:40   and in joke, in very, you know, like a whole bunch of people who know exactly,

00:49:45   it was written as though everybody knew what was going on. And then I remember at one point,

00:49:50   like saying, like, well, the hell with this, I'm going back to the beginning and reading this whole

00:49:54   thing, you know, going to his archive, I'm going to read the whole thing, and then it'll all make

00:49:57   sense to me. And it didn't, it was, it just started like the first post, the first few posts

00:50:02   started from the idea that everybody knew what was going on here. But it, it wasn't.

00:50:10   I don't know. And we can parlay from our remembrances of Dean to just sort of talking about that era

00:50:20   as a whole. And I don't want to make it seem as though you and I are like the last two

00:50:31   gunslinger standing from an era because there's all sorts of people who wrote back then who are

00:50:36   are still around. And there's people like Dave Weiner who were doing it, you know, effectively

00:50:43   started, you know, blogging like at Hotwired in like '94, '95.

00:50:48   Yeah, yeah.

00:50:50   You know, who's, as far as I know, has published on a regular basis, daily basis probably, other

00:50:58   than when he was like, you know, dealing with like, you know, family issues or something

00:51:02   like that, you know. I mean, these guys never stop.

00:51:05   Yeah

00:51:07   but there was like a a

00:51:10   Community and and you know and it sort of ties together with like the early years of South by Southwest where at least that's where we'd all

00:51:18   get together

00:51:20   And there's so many people who were writing back then who just over the years

00:51:24   Stopped or moved on to other things at the very least and there aren't many sites from that group of people

00:51:32   Who what did we used to call it? Even you when I can the sidebar of your site?

00:51:36   You'd have like a list of other recommended sites. We had like a name for a blog role blog role. That's it. Yeah

00:51:42   There just aren't many sites from that era that are still around

00:51:47   Yeah, and there's something sad about that and I don't know if you you know

00:51:52   What is it about about doing this that that you think has kept you going on a regular basis?

00:52:00   - Ugh. God, I don't even know. I mean, I think that, you know, I mean, it became my job several

00:52:15   years ago. So that's one thing. - Well, when did that happen? When did you go full time?

00:52:19   - So 2005. So like February 2005. - Right.

00:52:23   And, you know, I did it, I basically had a, you know, like a PBS NPR-style pledge drive

00:52:31   where I said, "Hey, I just quit my job. Like, I want to do kotka.org full-time. Like,

00:52:36   will you support me? You know, please sign up for, you know, please give me, you know,

00:52:43   20 bucks or something." And I had all sorts of prizes. Like, I had books signed by Malcolm

00:52:48   Glidewell and, you know, memberships in various things and free software and all that sort of

00:52:56   stuff. And, you know, I was able to get enough to do it to, you know, sort of bootstrap it for the

00:53:06   first year. And what were you doing before that to support yourself? I was a web designer. Just

00:53:12   like freelance, right? No. So I worked at a financial services organization in New York

00:53:19   called the Bond Market Association. And yeah, so it was basically all these big companies that

00:53:28   traded bonds in 2004, 2005. They were all the companies that blew up the country,

00:53:36   or almost blew up the country two, three years later. We were at work and we're like, "Hey,

00:53:44   there are these new things called CDOs. Maybe we should make a site that explains what they are

00:53:52   and collects information about their pricing and all that sort of stuff."

00:53:58   And we presented that idea to these bond companies and they were like, "Nope."

00:54:06   We don't want any transparency about this.

00:54:08   I had no idea that you know.

00:54:12   Yeah, yeah.

00:54:13   We don't want people to know what's going on.

00:54:14   No, they didn't.

00:54:16   You know, with good reason. There was nothing good going on.

00:54:22   We do not want people looking behind this curtain.

00:54:27   No, no.

00:54:29   We're sort of, you know, and they're like, you know, they're basically, you know,

00:54:33   all these companies are like basically paying the dues, paying their dues, paying for this

00:54:40   bond market association to exist. So we were like, yeah, okay, I guess we're not going to do that.

00:54:44   There was, so going pro and being able to do it full time, I think you're saying is one of the

00:54:55   reasons you've been able to keep doing it. And I think that that's probably true for me as well.

00:55:00   I think if I hadn't been able to do it full time, I don't know that I would have stopped

00:55:06   writing during Fireball, but I think it might have gotten very sporadic because I, I doing it as a

00:55:12   side thing was exhausting. I was exhilarated by it, but the thing that, the only thing that kept

00:55:19   me going, uh, like in the first four years before I went full time in 2006 was the notion that there

00:55:26   I'd figure out some way to do it full time. And if that had never happened, eventually that would

00:55:33   have given enough years. It's like, "Oh, this is not going to happen." I think without that carrot

00:55:42   in front of me, it would have been too hard to keep going. And I don't blame people. That's the

00:55:48   other thing is I get it that there were lots of people with very popular web blogs back then who

00:55:53   who had no desire to do it full-time. But I also see how it wasn't sustainable to

00:55:58   write as regularly as they were without that.

00:56:02   Well, I mean, once people start stopping, then your impetus to keep going, to keep sort

00:56:10   of writing within this group of similar-minded people, a little bit of that goes away every

00:56:16   time someone stops. And people were getting married, having kids, starting companies,

00:56:25   and just plain had other responsibilities.

00:56:28   I don't think after my son was born, if I wasn't doing the site full time, I think

00:56:34   it would have just stopped completely because I would have had a job and a new son and that

00:56:43   would have been the thing that had to go, you know?

00:56:46   - That's interesting.

00:56:47   See, for me, it was the opposite.

00:56:48   Jonas was born in 2004, so that was two years

00:56:51   before I went full-time.

00:56:53   And I found it to be one of the most remarkably

00:56:58   productive periods of my life.

00:57:00   Now, part of it was that what I was doing to support myself

00:57:03   was like mostly freelance web design

00:57:05   and other consulting type stuff.

00:57:08   So I was doing it from home, so I didn't have to go

00:57:10   somewhere at nine in the morning.

00:57:12   But like, I literally,

00:57:16   I think the original version of Markdown came out

00:57:20   right after Jonas was born and all of the stuff,

00:57:23   you know, like that whole first year,

00:57:25   in addition to writing during Fireball

00:57:26   was when Markdown went from like a public beta to a 1.0.

00:57:31   All while I had like an infant son.

00:57:35   But I just have this vivid,

00:57:37   I remember where my desk was in our old house

00:57:39   when he was born. And I would just be the one who, if he was up late at night, that

00:57:44   I would get him and take him out of the bedroom. And I remember doing so much work on Markdown

00:57:52   with Jonas literally on my lap. Like I'd put my one leg on top of my knee and just

00:57:57   sort of use it as a—my lap as a cradle, and I'd be sitting there typing "Pearl

00:58:03   Code." And I just, I also remember writing a lot of daring Fireball articles at like

00:58:08   three or four in the morning with him on my lap. So I totally get it that if you have a day job,

00:58:15   it is incompatible. If you have to actually, you know, and then I would just sleep till noon or

00:58:18   whatever. But I get it. I do get how, you know, the group of people I'm talking about, we were

00:58:28   largely about the same age and certainly the older we get, it's effectively the same age. You know,

00:58:33   like back then, you know, it felt like, you know, if I was 29 and somebody else was 33,

00:58:40   it'd be like, "Oh, you're a couple years older than me." Now it's like, "Yeah, we're exactly

00:58:45   the same age." Yeah. And I think starting companies too, like so many of the people we know from back

00:58:53   then started their own companies and it was, you know, with actual products and stuff like that.

00:58:57   in it. So yeah, super, super time consuming. So I can I get it. Yeah, I mean, you know,

00:59:05   Stuart Butterfield, who, you know, is now the CEO of Slack, and, you know, co founded Flickr and

00:59:11   all that stuff. Like he, his blog was one of my favorites. Yeah, I actually had Stuart in the back

00:59:16   of my head for this. And it's like, well, I kind of get why he, he stopped blogging. Of course. Yeah,

00:59:23   Of course. It's kind of fascinating watching, just as a side note, watching,

00:59:32   like I kind of love good 2.0s. And it's kind of fascinating watching Slack and seeing it as

00:59:43   Flickr 2.0. And like, you know, because I think in hindsight, he clearly, I think he and Katarina

00:59:50   sold Flickr to Yahoo way too soon for way too little. And then they regretted eventually,

00:59:57   you know, quickly regretted all the loss of control that they had. And now with Slack,

01:00:02   it's sort of the opposite. And he's sort of built it up as this thing that he's, he's not going to

01:00:07   have, you know, if he ever, if Slack ever does sell or whatever, it'll be on his terms. It's

01:00:13   It's so interesting to me to watch it.

01:00:15   - Yeah.

01:00:17   - And yet there's still certain aspects of it

01:00:20   that are still so stewardy, you know?

01:00:22   In a way that the original version of Flickr was very,

01:00:26   you know, you could see the DNA.

01:00:28   - Exactly, yeah.

01:00:31   You know, and I feel like, you know,

01:00:35   Ev is trying to do a similar thing with Medium.

01:00:37   Like, you know, he keeps bashing away at the same problem.

01:00:42   - Right, right.

01:00:43   - And Medium's like a 3.0.

01:00:44   - Right.

01:00:45   - It's like Vlogger and then Twitter and then Medium

01:00:49   for him.

01:00:49   And maybe Odeo is like a 0.5 in there somewhere.

01:00:54   Which is, you know, Odeo's super interesting

01:00:58   because it's like, you know, talk about being too early.

01:01:00   - Right.

01:01:01   - You know, it was like riding like the second wave

01:01:03   of podcasting and now we're in like the eighth wave

01:01:05   of podcasting or something and it's like really going now.

01:01:08   - Yeah, now it's really become a thing and you know,

01:01:11   Everybody mainstream, like CBS News has podcasts.

01:01:16   It's like you couldn't get more mainstream.

01:01:19   And Odeo, they clearly, Ev,

01:01:21   he's always been so good at seeing

01:01:25   where internet-based publishing in general is going

01:01:30   and what would be the next big thing.

01:01:31   And he was so clearly right that podcasting

01:01:34   had a big, bright future ahead of it.

01:01:35   It was just the wrong time.

01:01:38   - Yeah.

01:01:40   - Yeah, Ev is like one of the best,

01:01:42   I think product people like ever.

01:01:45   - Yeah, totally.

01:01:46   I totally agree.

01:01:47   Because he has that Steve Jobsian thing

01:01:51   of being able to see where it's going way long in advance.

01:01:56   That this is, we're not gonna,

01:01:59   literally like one of Jobs's famous quotes

01:02:02   was something to the effect of,

01:02:04   we don't build what people ask us to build.

01:02:07   We figure out what they want

01:02:09   and then build it for them.

01:02:11   - Right, right.

01:02:13   Yeah, and going back to the early days of blogging

01:02:16   and Blogger and stuff like that, I remember,

01:02:19   Blogger at the time was still this thing that FTP'd files

01:02:27   to people's shell account.

01:02:31   They were talking about it when they were thinking

01:02:38   about doing blogspot like a hosted blogger thing,

01:02:41   they were talking about like, this is gonna,

01:02:44   Chinese people blogging is gonna like revolutionize

01:02:51   politics in the world.

01:02:53   And like they knew, like Matt and Ev,

01:02:58   Matt Howey and Ev and Meg and Paul Bausch,

01:03:06   like the discussions they were having are still like these same discussions that were like,

01:03:11   like it, you know, it happened, you know, all of that stuff came to pass.

01:03:15   I always felt a bit guilty because I could see that they were doing that and I could tell that

01:03:20   they were right. And I found it terribly exciting. And I really didn't have a desire to contribute

01:03:27   to building that sort of thing. I just wanted to use it myself. Like, like, I think it's,

01:03:34   you know, I honestly feel it's, you know, not to get corny about it, but I honestly feel that with

01:03:40   Daring Fireball, I feel like I've always felt that I was born at the right time. Like, I've always

01:03:45   felt very, very comfortable with like being a child of the 80s and, you know, going through

01:03:51   the 90s as a young adult. But I just, in my bones, I feel like Daring Fireball is what I was meant to

01:03:59   to do, you know, like rather than, I guess I contributed in some ways by inventing Markdown,

01:04:04   you know, to helping other people publish, but for the most part, I just wanted to use

01:04:10   it. Like what keeps me going is that I never, there's never been like a week I've been doing

01:04:16   this for 15 and a half years, something like that. I never finish a week and think that

01:04:21   I wrote about everything I wish I had written about for the last week. Like there's never,

01:04:26   You know, like I've never felt like the ideas are dry.

01:04:31   That's like the opposite.

01:04:33   I have the opposite problem of what I think about

01:04:36   when it comes to like, "Mm, should I write a book?"

01:04:39   Ideas. - Right.

01:04:40   - None. - Right.

01:04:41   - It's just a box, like a very dusty box

01:04:45   that is completely empty.

01:04:46   Whereas ideas for things to write about

01:04:49   or link to on "Daring Fireball," I never catch up.

01:04:52   It's like I've, it's like the Lucy at the chocolate factory.

01:04:57   - Exactly.

01:04:58   Yeah, I mean, and I feel like it's been getting worse for me

01:05:03   like now it kind of bothers me like at the end of the week,

01:05:07   I'm like, God damn it, I did not get enough done.

01:05:10   Like I need to hire some more people

01:05:12   or I don't know, something.

01:05:14   Have you ever wanted to hire anybody to like grow the site?

01:05:19   - Let's hold that thought.

01:05:21   - Let's hold that thought. - Okay, okay.

01:05:23   - I'm gonna thank another one of our friends

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01:08:01   So have I ever thought about hiring somebody? To me, it's one of the big differences between

01:08:06   Kaki and Daring Fireball. There's never been anything on Daring Fireball not by me. Have

01:08:14   I thought about it? Yeah. But it's this point, it feels like Cal Ripken's streak. Like I,

01:08:22   like, and part of it too, is that I feel like you're, you're more like Johnny Carson,

01:08:31   like the, you don't, there's your natural and Johnny had, you know, guest hosts,

01:08:36   you know, who went on to bigger and better things, including Letterman and Leno and,

01:08:42   you know, all sorts of Gary Shandling, all sorts of people who went on to great things,

01:08:46   guest hosted The Tonight Show so that Johnny could take it easy and work, as Letterman once said,

01:08:52   backbreaking three nights a week for 40 weeks a year. I also feel like I'm more like Letterman

01:09:02   though. Like I'm neurotic and like I'm not comfortable with that. Like Johnny had no

01:09:07   reason to be worried about it because he was Johnny Carson. It didn't matter if David Letterman

01:09:11   guest hosted on Monday. It didn't matter how good he did. Johnny is still Johnny. And I feel like

01:09:17   you've had guest hosts. I forget. I mean, I've lost track of how many guest hosts there have been at

01:09:22   Kotke over the years. Yeah. I mean, more than a dozen, I would say, at least. I mean, it started,

01:09:29   I mean, the first time was when I went to South by Southwest in, was it 2000, maybe 2001?

01:09:39   And I don't know why I felt the need to keep the site updated while I was there or to have

01:09:47   the site be updated while I was there. But I asked my friend Greg Nous to fill in. And

01:09:56   I don't know, it just seemed like a, I don't know. I can't even remember why I did it.

01:10:02   I guess it must have seemed like I needed to. I don't know.

01:10:06   Aaron Swartz guest host once or no, no, no, no.

01:10:12   I remember Greg doing it. Greg remains one of the world's best experts on movable type.

01:10:20   I don't know how relevant that skill is, but it's still,

01:10:28   if whenever I need serious help with movable type, I still go to Greg.

01:10:32   Yeah. He's also a wonderful writer. Like I love his writing. He's, he's really good.

01:10:38   I wish, I wish he would do more of it. If he's listening, Greg, write more.

01:10:44   Yeah. For me, I don't know. It's irrational. And at this point it is, you know, I'm not gonna say

01:10:52   it's trouble, but it means that like, even when I go on vacation, I'm still posting at least

01:10:58   something to "Daring Fireball" almost every day.

01:11:01   And I don't mind it, but I wonder at this point,

01:11:07   like Andy Baio's talking about people from that era,

01:11:11   Andy asked me a few years ago,

01:11:14   what's the longest period of time

01:11:16   between post to "Daring Fireball" since it started?

01:11:19   And in the early days, it might be,

01:11:21   it's easily a couple of days because like from 2002 to 2004,

01:11:25   I didn't have the short articles,

01:11:28   the ones that I call linked list entries.

01:11:30   I only had like full big headline articles.

01:11:34   But I don't think I ever went a week

01:11:37   without an article in that era.

01:11:39   And then from 2004 onward,

01:11:44   my guess would be I've never gone more than 72 hours

01:11:49   without posting something.

01:11:50   And if I'm wrong, it wouldn't be much longer than that.

01:11:54   - Yeah, I love, you know, like I love doing the site

01:11:59   and like it, I mean, it's obviously like the thing

01:12:05   that I do that gives me the most,

01:12:07   that makes me the happiest sort of overall,

01:12:11   like intellectually, emotionally, whatever,

01:12:14   but I really love getting away from it and like not,

01:12:18   you know, like I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago

01:12:22   And a friend of mine, Chris Anthony,

01:12:27   took over the site for the week

01:12:29   and I didn't read it until I got back.

01:12:32   I just didn't read it.

01:12:34   I stayed off Twitter.

01:12:37   I still use Instagram because I feel like Instagram

01:12:40   is more of a personal sort of thing.

01:12:43   It's not work.

01:12:44   But I just, I love, I don't know,

01:12:47   I love getting away from it.

01:12:48   And then I come back and I feel like I'm like,

01:12:50   okay, let's do this thing again.

01:12:52   You know, it's really, I don't know,

01:12:53   it's really nice to recharge.

01:12:55   - Yeah, I don't know, I don't know.

01:12:59   - I don't know what that feels like.

01:13:02   - I don't know what that would feel like, I really don't.

01:13:05   - Maybe you should give it a try sometime.

01:13:07   - I don't know.

01:13:10   - Does Amy, like, does Amy give you shit about that?

01:13:14   Like, or does she just sort of like, this is the deal.

01:13:17   This is who I married.

01:13:20   - No, I would say a little bit of column A

01:13:23   and a little bit of column B.

01:13:24   And I feel like I've gotten good at,

01:13:27   Twitter has made it much easier, in my opinion,

01:13:33   because we can go on vacation

01:13:36   and just by checking Twitter every once in a while,

01:13:39   I can queue up things that are good to link to

01:13:43   instead of doing it right there and pecking it out.

01:13:46   I have a way, I have the movable type iPhone plugin thing,

01:13:51   which is a fairly reasonable interface

01:13:54   to posting on the phone.

01:13:55   But usually what I do is I use,

01:13:57   and I wanted to ask you some questions

01:14:01   about how you do what you do,

01:14:03   but for the most part, if I'm on vacation

01:14:06   or just traveling in general,

01:14:08   I'll find things that I think are worth linking to,

01:14:11   and I'll send those links to Pinboard,

01:14:15   the successor, Delicious.

01:14:17   And for the most part, everything in my Pinboard

01:14:21   is just sort of a waiting queue

01:14:24   for things I might post to during Fireball.

01:14:26   Even when I'm not on vacation,

01:14:27   I use Pinboard for this exact purpose.

01:14:29   Like in the morning when I wake up,

01:14:30   if I read the, you know,

01:14:31   I'm not really ready to post stuff to during Fireball,

01:14:34   or if I'm just on the phone in general,

01:14:36   I just send it to Pinboard.

01:14:38   And I find it useful because when I come back to Pinboard

01:14:42   and I have time, like let's say I'm on vacation,

01:14:44   but I've, you know, here I'll take 30 minutes here.

01:14:46   And sometimes you can, like the best way to tell

01:14:48   if I'm on vacation is if I've got, you know,

01:14:52   if you look like an RSS where the times are actually there,

01:14:55   and I have four posts on a Wednesday,

01:14:57   but they're all within 30 minutes, you know,

01:14:59   like three to 3.30 in the afternoon.

01:15:02   But it's because I've cued them up,

01:15:04   and I may not have them written,

01:15:05   but I know what I wanna say.

01:15:06   But I'll look at like maybe the 10 most recent things

01:15:09   that I've cued up, and like six of them,

01:15:11   I'm now like, eh, and I'm, nah, that's not worth it.

01:15:15   And it's good to have that cooling off period,

01:15:19   for me at least, in terms of what's actually

01:15:22   worth linking to.

01:15:23   - Yeah, I mean, that's exactly how I approach it.

01:15:29   I don't use pinboard, I use Instapaper,

01:15:31   but that's exactly how I do it.

01:15:33   And the thing about the cooling off period

01:15:35   is totally a thing.

01:15:37   Like I'll find something and then I'll go back to it

01:15:40   a few hours later and I'm like, yeah, no,

01:15:42   not feeling it anymore.

01:15:44   - Yeah, so Amy might have a different answer

01:15:46   as to how annoying it is when we're ostensibly on vacation

01:15:50   and how much of my day I still spend

01:15:53   doing that sort of thing.

01:15:55   But I don't think it takes that much time.

01:15:57   And for me, the things that take so much time

01:15:59   are when I write real articles.

01:16:01   And that's something I don't do when I'm on vacation

01:16:04   and do take breaks from

01:16:06   and do come back sometimes feeling refreshed.

01:16:09   Like it's interesting when you look at the

01:16:11   Daring Fireball archives,

01:16:13   if you just go to daringfireball.net/archive,

01:16:17   it only lists my quote unquote full articles,

01:16:22   but they're organized by month

01:16:24   going all the way back to 2002.

01:16:27   And you can see, and it's not purposeful,

01:16:29   I don't do it on purpose,

01:16:30   but you can see that there are stretches

01:16:33   where it's very, very dry,

01:16:35   like two or three month period,

01:16:37   three, four month period,

01:16:38   where I've only had like two or three per month.

01:16:40   And then other times where there's seven, eight, nine,

01:16:44   a month for months at a time.

01:16:46   So there's something to that.

01:16:49   But to me, the actual just linking to a few things a day

01:16:53   part, it's so easy to me.

01:16:56   And I'm so, even when I'm on vacation,

01:16:59   I'm still like a news junkie.

01:17:00   Like I can't turn that off.

01:17:02   - Yeah, I don't know.

01:17:06   I am not a news junkie, which is a little bit of a weird thing to say about myself,

01:17:12   I guess.

01:17:13   Well, that's one of the most interesting things about Khaki over, khaki.org over the

01:17:18   years is that it's not really, it's never really been, maybe the nine 11 stretch was

01:17:23   an obvious exception. But for the most part, it's absolutely never been about news. Never.

01:17:32   I mean, the closest thing to news that I regularly count on

01:17:37   is when, you know, it's off, kakia.org is off

01:17:40   in the first place where I see the trailer to a movie

01:17:43   that, oh yeah, I wanna see that.

01:17:45   - Right, right.

01:17:46   - So if you call, you know, new movie trailers news,

01:17:49   you know, maybe that's the closest you get to it.

01:17:52   - Right.

01:17:54   Yeah, you know, it's, I feel like,

01:17:59   I don't know. I don't read, I don't read the news a whole lot. Like I,

01:18:04   I don't keep up with the news, you know, quote unquote the news. Um,

01:18:08   I think a lot of it is kind of unnecessary and

01:18:14   just sort of, I don't know,

01:18:17   there are very few things in my life that I need that much information about.

01:18:22   Um, you know, like, like the,

01:18:27   there are entire channels devoted to how the stock market does minute by minute. Like that seems

01:18:33   insane to me. Like you normal people don't need that information. You know, but there are plenty

01:18:40   of sort of normal people that that that do like watch that stuff sort of meticulously.

01:18:46   And I don't know, I just don't find I'm just not that way about it. I don't know.

01:18:55   No, I get it. I don't think it's healthy. I admit to doing it myself, but I don't think it's healthy.

01:19:04   And I think that people who don't pay that much attention to the news are probably much happier

01:19:09   than people who do. Right. I mean, I guess maybe it's just a matter of like what you pay meticulous

01:19:16   attention to because you know I'm on Twitter all day and you know obviously

01:19:24   like I do see the news I'm aware of news happening right but I'm not interested

01:19:31   in sort of drilling down into you know a lot of a lot of things you know I guess

01:19:37   I'm more interested in I don't know like longer rain you know longer themes and

01:19:44   ideas and and and things like that. Um you know in in the you

01:19:52   know in the in the sites more expansive moments in the sites

01:19:55   you know sort of like at at its best. Um but there are

01:20:02   obviously like you know silly videos and stuff too because

01:20:05   silly people love silly videos. Do you think I think that

01:20:10   that's one of the ways that kaki.org is the most different now from the early days is that it's

01:20:17   large, you know, on a regular, almost daily basis, there's videos that are posted. Whereas like you

01:20:24   even said, like back in, you know, 2000, 2001, 2002, even for a couple of years after that,

01:20:30   it was it's so inordinately expensive to host video. That video was just it, you just couldn't

01:20:39   post it. It was too expensive. And the way we would post it back then is you'd have to

01:20:46   put it on your own server because there was nothing like YouTube, nothing to even compare

01:20:52   it to. And then everybody's hosting account had a monthly bandwidth limit and you would

01:20:58   just multiply how many page views you had by how big the video was and you easily got

01:21:03   to that limit within like 20 minutes. And then people would get like, forget what the error

01:21:09   message was, but you know, there's like an error code, like temporarily suspended. Right. Yeah. I

01:21:16   mean, YouTube and Vimeo, like they changed, changed that whole thing where, you know,

01:21:21   just made embedding videos on sites easy. You know, and I think, you know, I mean, I was a

01:21:29   designer and I, you know, the, like Oscillate was very visual.

01:21:35   And, you know, I think it was just sort of this thing where it

01:21:39   was like, you know, I, the site, you know, katky.org was on like a

01:21:44   friend's server and I wasn't really paying that much for it.

01:21:47   And so I couldn't really embed images or, you know, certainly

01:21:53   not videos and things like that.

01:21:55   And so it was sort of out of necessity that it was very text

01:21:57   text heavy. And sort of as things evolved and moved to my own server and all that sort

01:22:04   of stuff and bandwidth has just gotten cheaper and cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Now it's

01:22:10   like I want the site to be as visual as possible because that's... I love text and I think

01:22:20   Tim Carmody has written on my site that if you bet against text, you will lose.

01:22:25   Text will always be around and it will always be a contender for the thing that people are always

01:22:35   using. But I think that a lot of what I watch and consume is visual, whether that's good photography

01:22:48   or movie trailers like you said, or some weird thing on Vimeo.

01:22:56   Did you see, I'm sure you saw, because I know you're a Spike Jonze fan, he did the

01:23:01   recent music video for Apple with the HomePod and then today Ad Age I think has it exclusively

01:23:06   the behind the scenes.

01:23:08   Oh, I didn't see that behind the scenes.

01:23:11   Oh, well you're going to love it. I thought this was obvious. I thought it was obvious

01:23:15   is both knowing Spike Jonze and having seen the video,

01:23:18   that almost everything they did was a practical effect,

01:23:21   like all the stretching stuff going on

01:23:23   while she danced in her apartment.

01:23:25   I could tell that that was all practical.

01:23:27   It didn't look like CGI to me.

01:23:29   But a lot of people are obviously,

01:23:32   I think just so basically assume anything

01:23:35   that's a special effect is computer generated now,

01:23:37   were blown away at the behind the scenes

01:23:40   of how they actually did this.

01:23:41   And it's just like they just had two guys behind the wall

01:23:43   just pulling it backwards.

01:23:45   Yeah, but it's to me effects still rule but to me it's just like a six or seven minute

01:23:52   video. It's arguably more interesting than the video itself and I you know, but they're

01:23:57   both lovely. But it's the sort of thing that pre YouTube you would have to like I remember

01:24:05   I forget the name of it but there were like a series of DVDs that came out in the late

01:24:09   90s of like great music videos. Yeah. And I've got it down here in my little podcast cave in

01:24:19   the basement. It's in a box somewhere down here on DVD. But it was so fantastic. I remember watching

01:24:24   it over and over and over again, because you could then watch the great music videos, but then they

01:24:28   had like behind the scenes stuff. But it was the sort of thing that like pre YouTube, you'd hear

01:24:33   that there was this great behind the scenes video of, you know, a Spike Jones video, but you'd have

01:24:38   to figure out a way to hunt it down on, you know, it was like trying to find bootleg tape

01:24:43   tapes back in the 80s. You had to know a guy and you'd hear it was more of like a rumor or a legend

01:24:51   than something that you would just click a button and now you can watch it at any point you want.

01:24:55   Yeah, I mean, everything, I mean, that's the thing now, like everything has DVD extras.

01:25:03   Right.

01:25:03   you know? I find, and it is weird, like now that cocky is so video heavy, I do find that

01:25:10   it takes me longer to read your site than it used to because you can't, I can read so much

01:25:19   faster than a video goes that, but that's largely what I do is I, at the end of the day, I still,

01:25:26   to me, one of the sites where I just go to and read, like I don't even bother with RSS

01:25:34   for your site. I just, you know, I just have this habit of just going there in a new window

01:25:39   so that all the tabs are from this. But I'm just braced now that I'm not just going

01:25:45   to open up a bunch of tabs that I'm going to spend at least 15 minutes watching video.

01:25:49   - Right, right.

01:25:51   - And that's definitely a difference.

01:25:53   - Oh, definitely, yeah, it definitely is.

01:25:55   And you, like you, I think, you know,

01:25:58   maybe have embedded two or three videos all time, maybe?

01:26:03   - Maybe, I don't like embeds, I really,

01:26:05   I've done my live talk shows videos as embeds from Vimeo.

01:26:13   - Right, I remember when I saw, like, I think,

01:26:19   like the first embed you had, like even an image,

01:26:24   like I was shocked.

01:26:27   And I think it was probably like a photo of your son.

01:26:31   - Yeah, I think that might've been the first image

01:26:33   on "Daring Fireball" other than a graph maybe.

01:26:37   - Right, right.

01:26:38   It was shocking.

01:26:39   It was like, oh my God.

01:26:40   - I still get that.

01:26:43   I even have like a list here of posts on "Daring Fireball"

01:26:48   with photos/images and it's, I don't know,

01:26:53   somewhere around 20.

01:26:55   - Yeah, it can't be many.

01:26:56   - But I know that, I don't think it's complete yet.

01:26:59   I think that there might be some older ones that I've missed

01:27:01   but every time I encounter one, I do that.

01:27:03   Because what happens is I'll post something

01:27:06   and I'll put a photo in it and I'll get like on Twitter,

01:27:10   like holy shit, is this the first time

01:27:12   there's ever been an image on Daring Fireball?

01:27:14   And I'm like, no, it's happened like 20 times

01:27:17   the last 16 years, you know. And I'm usually not, I'm usually not the sort of person who,

01:27:25   I just assume that there's almost nobody who reads everything I post, right? I don't expect anybody

01:27:31   to be a completionist. I'm sure there's a handful of people who are, and I know I thank them. I'm

01:27:36   glad. There's way more than a handful based upon like the feedback that I've gotten in my inbox.

01:27:42   There are people that pay meticulous attention and there are a lot of them.

01:27:46   Well, I think it's healthier though for us to pretend that there aren't, right?

01:27:51   Now don't assume that somebody is a complete, you know what I mean? Like it's, it's,

01:27:55   yes. But with the images thing, I sometimes get a little, I get a little sour about it. It's like,

01:28:01   it's not that rare. When are you going to update your design so it's like nice and responsive?

01:28:07   Oh, it's like, whatever. I was, let's open that can of worms. A year ago, a year ago,

01:28:13   I started promising people that it would happen by the end of summer because I thought if I publicly

01:28:18   I mean if I publicly you told me about it. Yeah, if I publicly promised on twitter that would make

01:28:24   me do it, you know and then it turned out summer was not I thought well summer will be a good time

01:28:31   because there's not a lot of news and stuff and I can I can have time and then it like summer came

01:28:36   and went and it didn't happen so I don't know soon I would like it to be so I don't really I'm not

01:28:41   you know, there's no, there is something, it is age-related, there's no doubt about it, where if

01:28:48   the, if I were my 30-year-old self, it would be done already. It's, there is some part of me

01:28:55   that is, that I can tell is different and is more resistant to change. Like, I wish that it were so,

01:29:06   I really don't, and the worst thing that ever happened in my opinion to it is that I've,

01:29:11   when the iPhone first came out,

01:29:13   I forget what the meta tag is,

01:29:16   but there was something that I,

01:29:17   it was a very easy bit of meta tag

01:29:20   that I could add to HTML

01:29:21   that made it so that if you double tap on the text column,

01:29:25   it pretty much looks like what it should look like

01:29:28   by default when you load it.

01:29:29   So you're really just one double tap away

01:29:31   from it looking pretty good on an iPhone.

01:29:35   And I think that's the worst thing

01:29:36   that ever happened to it.

01:29:37   I think it would have been better if my existing design

01:29:40   just could not be made to look good on a phone

01:29:43   'cause then I would have to do it.

01:29:46   It is bizarre though, and you're right to call me out on it,

01:29:49   and I really don't have a good excuse

01:29:51   other than laziness, I guess.

01:29:55   I don't know, it just never seems like,

01:29:58   it's the same reason my office is a mess,

01:30:00   even though we just moved,

01:30:01   is it never feels like today is the day

01:30:03   where I should spend all day decluttering my office.

01:30:07   I could just, you know, there's real work to be done,

01:30:10   which is dicking around on the internet and posting links.

01:30:12   It's like putting a healthy meal

01:30:19   and some candy in front of a child.

01:30:21   The candy to me is posting stuff to Daring Fireball.

01:30:25   And I can't resist it.

01:30:28   But I have no excuse for it.

01:30:32   I don't know about you, but the iOS,

01:30:35   or an iPhone in particular,

01:30:36   is the majority of my traffic these days.

01:30:38   If anything, I would, by the number of people

01:30:41   and how much traffic I serve,

01:30:43   I would be better off with an iPhone-only design

01:30:46   and showing the iPhone design to people on desktop browsers

01:30:49   than the other way around, just in terms of the numbers.

01:30:53   - Yeah, I mean, you know, that was,

01:30:55   you know, my most recent design wasn't quite mobile first,

01:31:01   but it was, you know, mobile in a tie for first,

01:31:05   you know, with desktop.

01:31:07   as far as like how I thought about the design.

01:31:09   'Cause you know, like, I don't think,

01:31:13   I don't think the majority of my traffic is on mobile,

01:31:17   but you know, it's trending,

01:31:19   it's trending that way, certainly.

01:31:21   - Yeah.

01:31:22   Yeah, I don't have a good excuse.

01:31:24   - Does Jonas know HTML?

01:31:27   Like can you get him on the--

01:31:28   - No, he's not, he's not interested.

01:31:31   He's on a computer all the time, but he's really not,

01:31:37   And I don't think I'm a poor father.

01:31:39   It's not like I haven't tried introducing him to it.

01:31:41   He just doesn't really have an interest in coding.

01:31:44   And I don't know, you know,

01:31:46   it seems like the sort of thing that could suddenly ignite,

01:31:52   but I don't know.

01:31:52   I know that by the time I was his age,

01:31:54   I would have been all over it.

01:31:56   It's just, you know, I don't know.

01:31:59   I don't know what to do as a parent sometimes

01:32:01   in terms of how much to encourage him to do things

01:32:03   that I think he should be doing

01:32:04   and how much I should let him follow his own interests.

01:32:08   - Totally.

01:32:08   Yeah, I just, like last week, I just sat down with Ollie.

01:32:13   He's 10 now, and we installed Swift Playgrounds

01:32:18   on his iPad, and so he played around with that.

01:32:22   And you know, he's done stuff like code.org

01:32:25   and a little bit of Scratch, and what's the other one?

01:32:29   I can't remember the name of the other one.

01:32:32   But you know, he's done some programming stuff,

01:32:34   So he's aware of loops and variables and functions

01:32:39   and all that sort of stuff.

01:32:40   And he's done it in several different types of programs.

01:32:43   But he was like, "Daddy, I think Swift is the best one."

01:32:50   (laughs)

01:32:52   I was like, "Oh, interesting."

01:32:53   And I think one of the things that's really exciting to him

01:32:56   is that I told him, I was like,

01:32:58   "Okay, so once you do code here,

01:33:00   you can put it into Xcode,

01:33:02   which is this program that you can use

01:33:04   to write actual iOS apps.

01:33:06   And he was like, "Oh."

01:33:08   You know, that was the thing.

01:33:09   He was just like, "Oh, geez."

01:33:12   - I tried, I didn't force Jonas to do the Swift playgrounds.

01:33:17   You know, you're talking about the thing where you,

01:33:20   like the learning to code playgrounds,

01:33:21   where there's like, it's like you're guiding

01:33:23   a little video game character around a 3D landscape

01:33:26   with turn left, turn right, go forward.

01:33:29   - Exactly.

01:33:31   - I had Jonas do it, I think last summer on his iPad

01:33:35   as like, well, in addition to like your summer reading,

01:33:37   here's something you can do

01:33:39   that's actually not just watching friends reruns on Netflix.

01:33:44   And he did it, but he was sour about it

01:33:50   and purposefully did it stupidly.

01:33:54   When he got to the lesson about learning loops,

01:33:58   instead of doing it in a loop,

01:33:59   he'd just copied and paste four times

01:34:02   and was sort of like doing them the worst way possible.

01:34:07   And I was like, you know, that's not the right,

01:34:11   that wasn't the right way to do it.

01:34:12   It was like, I would say like, hey,

01:34:13   did you get through three or four playgrounds,

01:34:17   steps in the thing?

01:34:17   And he was like, yeah, yeah, I'm done.

01:34:19   And then I looked at his solutions and they were awful.

01:34:21   And it was like, he was just doing it as fast as he could

01:34:25   to get to watching friends reruns on Netflix.

01:34:29   - Right.

01:34:30   - And I was like, well, I'm not gonna force it

01:34:32   down his throat.

01:34:33   'Cause I feel like that it would have the opposite reaction.

01:34:36   I gotta wait for him to come to me.

01:34:38   I'm also dreadfully fearful at this point

01:34:44   that when I go to modernize the Daring Fireball layout,

01:34:47   that it'll be so much less work

01:34:50   than I'd been anticipating for years,

01:34:52   that it'll make me feel bad.

01:34:55   - I mean, everything is,

01:34:57   like you have everything templated on the backend, right?

01:34:59   - Yeah.

01:35:00   - So you can just change like headers and footers

01:35:02   and you know, this and that.

01:35:04   Yeah, and yeah, that's probably true.

01:35:08   That's probably true.

01:35:09   - The other part, if I have a good excuse,

01:35:11   the other part is that I would like to,

01:35:13   like I'm happy with the longevity of the current design

01:35:17   and I would like to, with the next redesign,

01:35:21   I would like to have it be like,

01:35:25   this is the one for the rest of my career.

01:35:27   Like just one more and measure twice,

01:35:31   but at this point it's more like measure 40 times, cut once.

01:35:35   - Yeah, yeah, that's a huge burden to put on yourself.

01:35:40   - Right, and yeah, and as evidenced by the--

01:35:43   - I can see why you're stuck in the mud

01:35:44   spinning your wheels on this.

01:35:46   - Right, I get in the back of my head,

01:35:48   I've had this idea of, you mentioned this

01:35:50   in your 20-year anniversary post

01:35:52   that you think you could go another 20 years,

01:35:54   And I feel like I could easily go another,

01:35:57   I would love to be doing this for another 20 years,

01:36:00   but thinking like, how do I make a design

01:36:01   that'll last 20 or 25 years,

01:36:04   is it can be a little paralyzing.

01:36:07   Like I really probably, it's not helpful at all

01:36:10   to have that in the back of my head.

01:36:11   (laughing)

01:36:13   - Okay, so take, number one, take a vacation

01:36:16   and leave your phone in the safe in the hotel.

01:36:20   And number two, like, you know, think simple about, about the redesign thing. That's my advice to you.

01:36:27   All right. You're probably right. How many times have you redesigned kotke.org over the years?

01:36:36   And your redesigns have been truly significant. Like the redesign that I have envisioned for

01:36:43   Daring Fireball is the least exciting. Like the colors aren't changing. It would just be

01:36:49   update the fonts and update the sizes of the fonts and make it responsive, more or less.

01:36:54   Right. I mean, your task would be to make the Daring Fireball design more of itself.

01:37:02   Yes.

01:37:03   And also, you know, of the present era, let's say.

01:37:09   Right.

01:37:10   Charitably. No, I mean, I love the design of Daring Fireball.

01:37:18   It's like this constant in sort of this ever-changing world

01:37:23   of the web that changes all the time.

01:37:29   But yeah, I don't know how many times I've redesigned,

01:37:37   probably eight, six or eight, like major ones.

01:37:42   - I still think of the canonical kotki.org design

01:37:46   as the one that had the,

01:37:49   that ever so slightly greenish yellow banner at the top

01:37:53   where the khaki.org part was in Din.

01:37:57   I don't know what era that is.

01:38:01   It's probably somewhere around 2003, 2004,

01:38:04   something like that.

01:38:05   - Yeah, somewhere in there.

01:38:07   Maybe even a little bit earlier.

01:38:09   - Yeah, maybe.

01:38:10   - I always think of the concentric,

01:38:15   the concentric yellow.

01:38:16   - Yeah, yeah.

01:38:17   - Yellow one, I think that's my,

01:38:20   like when I look at that, I was like,

01:38:22   I fucking knocked that out of the park.

01:38:24   (laughing)

01:38:25   - It was good, it was very good.

01:38:26   - And you know what, I'm not that kind of guy

01:38:28   where I'm like, yeah, I did a good job.

01:38:30   Mostly it's like that sucked, but it's done.

01:38:34   - That was a good trick.

01:38:36   It's also a sort of thing that sounds like a terrible idea

01:38:40   that you're gonna have concentric color gradients

01:38:43   around the entire four sides of the page.

01:38:46   That sounds terrible to me, but the way--

01:38:49   - It's horribly distracting.

01:38:50   - Right, but the way it actually turned out

01:38:52   was actually, it was like perfect, just right.

01:38:55   All right, let me take one more break here

01:39:01   and thank our third and final sponsor of the show.

01:39:03   It's our good friends at Fracture.

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01:40:30   so great and it is so fun and it's so great to get your pictures off a little four-inch

01:40:37   piece of glass in your pocket and actually see them really big. Like everybody, you know,

01:40:43   like the megapixel wars in cameras are sort of over. Nobody really brags about megapixels

01:40:49   anymore, but it turns out that like the 12 megapixel camera on your phone can take pictures

01:40:54   that look really big, really good at an incredibly big size. Like you'd think, no way would

01:41:00   an iPhone picture look good at like a 20-inch picture. Turns out it looks great. You've

01:41:06   got plenty of pixels to spare. And looking at your pictures really big is so, it's

01:41:12   just, I don't know, it's just very different than looking at them on a little tiny thing

01:41:16   that fits in your pocket. Cannot recommend it highly enough. And I always say this when

01:41:21   and Fracture sponsors the site.

01:41:23   They are, this is like the single greatest gift idea

01:41:26   for family in the history of mankind.

01:41:29   So like with Mother's Day coming up,

01:41:31   Father's Day after that,

01:41:33   getting fracture prints of your pets or your kids

01:41:36   or just you and sending them to your family,

01:41:39   your parents and stuff like that,

01:41:40   it's just absolutely amazing in terms of how easy it is

01:41:44   to take care of the nagging idea in the back of your head

01:41:47   that you have to get a gift for your mom or whoever else.

01:41:51   cost effectiveness. And then just how happy they make the people you give them to really is a great

01:41:55   idea. So here's where you go to find out more. Just go to fracture.me. And when you go to buy,

01:42:02   you can say 15% on your first order with this exclusive code, talk ta lk 15, the digits one,

01:42:11   five, talk 15. And you'll save 15%. And then don't forget to mention this podcast in there.

01:42:17   one question, where did you hear about Fracture Survey?

01:42:21   It helps support the show and helps them know

01:42:24   where their ad money is well spent.

01:42:26   So my thanks to Fracture.

01:42:27   What were we talking about?

01:42:31   I always forget.

01:42:32   - I can't remember.

01:42:36   I was listening to the Fracture thing.

01:42:40   I don't have any fracture in my house

01:42:43   and I think I probably need some now.

01:42:45   - You really should.

01:42:46   It's amazing.

01:42:47   I always think I have enough.

01:42:48   And then I was at Marco's house a while back.

01:42:51   And they literally, I know he says it

01:42:53   when on the Accidental Tech podcast

01:42:55   that their house is filled with fractures.

01:42:56   But it really is.

01:42:57   And it's kind of amazing.

01:42:59   I mean, it helps that Tiff Arment

01:43:02   is actually a professional photographer.

01:43:05   The pictures are actually a lot better

01:43:07   than my ham-fisted pro-sumer level of photography.

01:43:12   But it's one of those things

01:43:15   that you really can't get enough of.

01:43:17   no home that has too many photos of family members or places that you've gone, et cetera.

01:43:22   Well, we could talk business. I mean, like, one of the things that's challenging doing this,

01:43:35   and I think that so—I'm a little disappointed at how few people do what we do. Like,

01:43:42   when I first went pro you went you know started doing cocky full-time in 2005 was a huge

01:43:47   inspiration for me I started in 2006 was the last time I had like a job job and I thought at the

01:43:57   time that that we were ahead of the pack because we had the background that you know the technical

01:44:07   background in that era to know about things like HTML and CSS and even just getting movable

01:44:14   type installed, you know, you needed to be somewhat of a nerd. And I thought, you know,

01:44:19   it's no surprise that a lot of the early popular bloggers were people who had some level of

01:44:25   technical acumen. I mean, Dean Allen wrote his own CMS textile or no, textile was the format.

01:44:33   what was it called? Text pattern. Mark Pilgrim was a good programmer, or is it still a good

01:44:41   programmer? It's no surprise that the people who were nerdy enough to know what FTP is and HTML

01:44:49   were the early ones. And I thought, well, now that it's getting easier and easier to publish,

01:44:56   and you can just go to WordPress.org and sign up, and you don't have to know anything about

01:45:01   web hosting and you don't have to know HTML and CSS that there will be more people who

01:45:05   do this independent publishing thing as their occupation and it turns out no that didn't

01:45:13   happen at all and if anything there's fewer people now doing it than before.

01:45:20   Yeah, I mean, you know, pro blogs were a thing before, you know, before I went, you know,

01:45:28   before I went independent. You know, Gawker, well, Gizmodo was the first site, and then

01:45:35   Gawker was the second site, and that was in 2002. So I, you know, I think there was an,

01:45:44   there was already an sort of an established thing where you could, you could do, you could

01:45:48   do blogging professionally, but you were hired to do it.

01:45:56   Like it was a media site, and so you

01:45:57   were hired to be a blogger for someone else.

01:46:00   And that was sort of this established thing.

01:46:02   And doing it by yourself was not-- you're right.

01:46:06   It was not really a thing, and surprisingly few people

01:46:10   picked it up afterwards.

01:46:13   But I do think it's interesting now, especially

01:46:18   with YouTube and Instagram, there are tons of people who are doing what we do just, you

01:46:25   know, in sort of, you know, different media, like, you know, you, you know, there are plenty

01:46:29   of YouTubers making, you know, a living, yes, doing, doing videos and, and, you know, there's

01:46:36   people on Instagram that, that, that make money doing, you know, sponsored posts and

01:46:40   all that sort of stuff if they, you know, if you have enough followers. And so, I mean,

01:46:46   It's interesting. It's like, I don't know why blogs didn't take off in that way. Like

01:46:53   independent pro blogs.

01:46:56   Yeah, I don't know either, but YouTube is a fantastic counter example where there's

01:47:01   probably an uncountable number of people, individuals who are supporting themselves,

01:47:08   in some cases very, very well just doing their own YouTube channel. That's a great example.

01:47:15   And I don't know why it's different.

01:47:16   I don't know.

01:47:17   There's something different about it.

01:47:20   But one of the--

01:47:21   - And now with, sorry, and now with sites like Patreon, like you've got people who,

01:47:27   you know, that's, you know, you can, so you can have a YouTube channel and you can run

01:47:32   ads and, you know, Google will pay you what they think is right.

01:47:38   But you know, you can also appeal directly to your viewers and, you know, stick a page

01:47:42   on Patreon and say, "Hey, if you like this, you should support it." And people are using

01:47:47   Patreon for stuff like... And also Kickstarter has a new thing called Drip, I think. And

01:47:56   people who write newsletters, people who write blogs, people who do all of those sorts of

01:48:01   things or who are freelance journalists, they're using that as a way to support their independent

01:48:08   And so it's it's interesting to see this kind of like boomerang back around again, you know

01:48:12   yeah, and that's exactly where I'm going with this where like

01:48:16   Just referencing back to the Drudge Report starting as a $10 a year email newsletter like email

01:48:23   Newsletters are back in a big way and that's one of the way people are you know, supporting themselves individually Ben Thompson?

01:48:30   Who's often on this show at Stratechery?

01:48:32   and a whole bunch of other similar sites where

01:48:36   where the basic formula that Ben kind of carved out is one time a week he posts a thing that's

01:48:46   up publicly for everybody to look at, but then the other days of the week it's a members-only

01:48:52   email newsletter. And the only way to see it is to pay, and people—because it's

01:48:58   people are willing to pay. But what an old-school idea, right? I mean, that literally, you know,

01:49:05   Drudge was doing it in 1995 before the web was really even a thing. Anyway, you wanted the things—and

01:49:16   I think you started this last year, where you rebooted the idea of a membership system at

01:49:21   kaki.org. Was it last year? Yeah, it was in 2016. All right, I forgot what year it was.

01:49:29   I knew it was 2016 and I'd already forgotten that it's already 2018.

01:49:33   So two years ago or a year and a half ago or something like that. Yeah, a year and a half ago.

01:49:38   And like you said, you'd tried a membership type thing in 2005 and I'd tried a membership

01:49:46   type thing in 2006 that was really ultimately just about selling t-shirts. But I did really well

01:49:53   selling t-shirts. I literally could not have gotten Daring Fireball off the ground as a full-time

01:49:58   job without that initial batch of t-shirts. I made like 30 grand from—or at least revenue was

01:50:05   like 30 grand. Because every single dollar counted, instead of outsourcing any of it,

01:50:13   I did the whole thing locally. And Amy, like every single person who bought, like from the first two

01:50:22   years of me selling t-shirts, your shirt was hand-packed by my wife. And I had hundreds,

01:50:30   thousands maybe of t-shirts that I had to both ship, get to my house from the local print shop

01:50:37   here in Philly and then get to the post office with postage and for all the over out of the

01:50:43   country ones with the custom slips filled out by hand. Wow. And all I had was a little Subaru

01:50:50   Impreza, not a hatchback, like just like the smallest, the smallest four-door sedan that

01:50:57   Subaru made. Like it was absolutely not designed for boxes and boxes. And it was just, I'm sure

01:51:05   I'm sure there might have been a better way,

01:51:06   but I just remember I'd get to the post office

01:51:09   and I couldn't do it like all in one trip.

01:51:11   I would just be as much as I could possibly stuff

01:51:13   in the car at a time.

01:51:15   But then I was like, with no one else to help me,

01:51:18   it was like I would have to park the car

01:51:20   as close to the post office as I could get,

01:51:22   which in the city is often not that close,

01:51:25   and then carry as many boxes of T-shirts

01:51:27   as I could into the post office

01:51:29   and hope, you know, trust that nobody was going

01:51:32   to steal them while I went back to the car

01:51:34   get the rest of the boxes of shirts and then get in line and push like eight boxes of t-shirts up

01:51:40   with me until I got to the counter. And then one by one, they would start taking and scanning these

01:51:47   shirts. And it was like, I was like the guy you did not want to get behind at the post office.

01:51:51   Right. Yeah. I was just imagining like the people coming in behind you and saying, "Oh my,

01:51:55   well, who's this fucking asshole?"

01:51:57   It was funny because I got to know there were three women who worked at the post office I went

01:52:03   to. And there was two of them obviously did not want to deal with me. And the third was

01:52:08   very nice and very sympathetic. And so, you know, it's sort of like, like when you go

01:52:13   to a barbershop, but you know, like, instead of just going next, if you've got, you know,

01:52:17   like Tony is your guy, you'll wait until Tony's free. Like I would wait until she was the

01:52:22   next of it. I would let people go ahead of me until I got the one who I knew was going

01:52:26   to be nice to me. But that was those initial rounds of t-shirt sales with me admitting

01:52:35   publicly that, "Hey, this is how I'm hoping to get this off the ground. We're instrumental

01:52:40   to it."

01:52:41   Yeah, no, I remember that. And it's still a very unique approach.

01:52:51   But I never really did anything with memberships. The only thing I did for members was that

01:52:55   that at the time, for like a year,

01:52:59   it was the only way to get the full content RSS feed

01:53:02   that the regular free RSS only had the headlines

01:53:05   and the first few words of a post.

01:53:07   And if you wanted everything,

01:53:08   you'd have to be a subscriber.

01:53:10   I won't go into it,

01:53:12   'cause I talked about this at XOXO a couple of years ago,

01:53:15   but how I accidentally stumbled

01:53:17   upon the best business idea I've ever had,

01:53:20   which is long story short,

01:53:21   that the password protected RSS feeds

01:53:25   never worked with Google Reader.

01:53:27   And I always thought, I thought for a long time,

01:53:30   well, eventually they will, because of course it's,

01:53:32   you know, it's a good, and then I realized

01:53:34   it suddenly dawned on me, no, they're never gonna support

01:53:36   password protected feeds because the whole point

01:53:40   of doing anything at Google is to be able to do it at scale.

01:53:43   And there's absolutely no way that they wanna hit

01:53:46   my RSS feed a couple thousand times

01:53:50   for a couple thousand paid subscribers,

01:53:52   they wanna hit it once and give it to everybody.

01:53:54   And so they're never gonna support

01:53:56   password protected feeds.

01:53:58   And I, everybody, I kept getting email on a daily basis,

01:54:02   you know, like very nice, but like, hey, I use,

01:54:04   I've switched from whatever to Google Reader.

01:54:06   How can I get my full content feed to work?

01:54:09   And the emails were always of, how do I get this to work?

01:54:13   'Cause surely there must be a way to get it to work.

01:54:15   And I feel bad asking you, but I couldn't figure it out.

01:54:17   And then I have to explain, no, it actually doesn't work.

01:54:19   And I thought, well, how can I still make money

01:54:23   and make everybody happy?

01:54:24   And I thought, well, maybe I could sell a weekly sponsorship

01:54:27   for the RSS feed.

01:54:28   And it turned out to be way more lucrative

01:54:31   than the membership thing that it replaced.

01:54:34   - Yeah, yeah.

01:54:35   - So I completely stumbled into it accidentally.

01:54:39   And thanks to Google Reader,

01:54:40   which still is something of a sore spot for me at least

01:54:44   in terms of when it went away, you know.

01:54:48   we talked about this before too, right?

01:54:50   Like when Google readers shut down traffic to during fireball dropped by a

01:54:54   third and never recovered. Hmm.

01:54:57   I don't think I lost readers, but I lost, I lost regular,

01:55:02   like Mo, you know, I don't think people dropped off,

01:55:05   but I think the number of times a day they hit the site dropped off.

01:55:08   Right. Right. I, you know, I didn't see that,

01:55:13   that sharp decline like that. I, mine has been

01:55:16   it's been more steady and you know I think definitely Google, Google Reader is a you

01:55:24   know was a was a factor but more I think it's you know like mobile and you know Facebook.

01:55:31   Yeah consuming more and more people more and more people's attention. Yeah I still get a ton of

01:55:38   traffic to the Daring Fireball homepage. Surely you get a ton of homepage traffic like it doesn't make

01:55:45   sense to me when I look at newer sites and I get it, like sites that have evolved or

01:55:51   were created in the social media era where their homepage isn't even really a thing.

01:55:56   It's just, you know…

01:55:57   Right. Everything is the homepage.

01:56:00   Right. Whereas, you know, I still feel it works very well that your site and my site,

01:56:07   all you have to do is go to the homepage and you can just scroll down for a while and then

01:56:11   when you see the last post that you read before,

01:56:14   then you know you're done and you're caught up.

01:56:15   - Right, yep.

01:56:17   - Like one page view every couple days is all I ask.

01:56:21   Just come to my homepage once or twice a week

01:56:24   and you can get everything.

01:56:25   Like two page views a week, that's great.

01:56:28   - Yeah.

01:56:30   - Well, anyway, you've relaunched two years ago,

01:56:32   you relaunched the idea of memberships.

01:56:34   And I think, I mean,

01:56:37   it seems like it's actually pretty successful.

01:56:40   - Yeah, I mean, it's been great.

01:56:44   The first time I did it in 2005, I did it,

01:56:49   and after a few months I started feeling,

01:56:52   you know, and this was just sort of my own internal thing.

01:56:57   It didn't have anything to do with anyone else.

01:57:00   It was, I started feeling like I had

01:57:03   over a thousand people who are my boss now.

01:57:08   know, the sort of paying, paying patrons, micropatrons, I called

01:57:12   them, who, you know, had some more say in what I should be

01:57:20   posting, then, you know, the the usual reader. You know, and

01:57:27   again, like this was completely in my head, like, nobody was

01:57:30   saying this. You know, I, my inbox wasn't full of email

01:57:34   saying like, well, you said you were going to do this, and

01:57:36   and you're not doing it, what the hell's going on?

01:57:38   Like none of that was happening.

01:57:39   It was just all in my brain.

01:57:41   And I, you know, I didn't like that sensation.

01:57:46   I didn't feel like I was sort of free to do

01:57:49   what I wanted to do anymore,

01:57:51   which is sort of ridiculous because of course I was.

01:57:56   But, you know, I sort of talked myself into, you know,

01:57:59   feeling that way about it.

01:58:01   And, you know, so after a year,

01:58:03   like I discontinued the membership thing

01:58:06   And I think it was a couple months later

01:58:08   where I put the deck ad on the site.

01:58:12   It was sort of this like, oh shit, this isn't gonna work.

01:58:14   And then the deck came along and I was like, oh, cool.

01:58:17   Let's do this.

01:58:18   But increasingly,

01:58:24   probably like three or four years ago,

01:58:28   I started thinking, I'm just like, well, what if I,

01:58:31   I'm a different person now.

01:58:32   Like what if I went back and like did this membership thing?

01:58:35   And there's this, I think Patreon was just sort of becoming a thing.

01:58:40   And it seemed like there was this idea that content online was worth paying for, which

01:58:55   back in 2005 was not really a concept that made sense to anyone.

01:59:00   Online things were free.

01:59:03   Wall Street Journal had a paywall, but that was about it. The New York Times experimented with

01:59:08   paywalls periodically, and other sites, other news sites did too. But I think, especially three,

01:59:19   four, five years ago, people started coming around to this idea that, huh, advertising is

01:59:30   problematic, to put it gently. And, you know, in some cases, in most cases, I would say.

01:59:40   And, you know, but so if advertising doesn't work, like, how are we, you know, how am I going to

01:59:48   read this thing? Like, maybe I should support this thing. You know, and I think, once that started

01:59:55   happening, I started thinking, I was like, you know, I bet, you know, I bet I could,

02:00:01   I could do a membership thing again and feel okay with it. And, you know, I would get probably like

02:00:08   once every two weeks, I would get an email from somebody saying like, can I pay you for this? Like,

02:00:14   what the hell? Like, why, why can't I pay you for this? You know, and I think the, that feeling of,

02:00:22   of it being a more acceptable thing

02:00:26   or something that was in the air of like,

02:00:29   oh, we need to pay directly for content

02:00:33   that we love online.

02:00:36   And people wanting it was just sort of hard to ignore

02:00:40   after a while for me.

02:00:42   - Yeah, and so now you've got three levels,

02:00:46   patron for 30 bucks a year, right?

02:00:49   Superstar, 60 bucks a year,

02:00:51   and then the crazy one, 600 bucks a year. And then what members get is A, that the good feeling of

02:00:59   paying you for the work that you're doing, but then they also get a good old-fashioned email

02:01:05   newsletter, which is out of, you know, the same type of thing that you post on khaki.org, but

02:01:12   different and, you know, more written longer and sort of a slightly different tone, in my opinion.

02:01:21   Dr. Jonathon Leach Right. Well, there's,

02:01:22   there's, so there's, so there's the members newsletter, which I think I've only sent out,

02:01:27   probably like six or seven of maybe eight. It's not spammed. It's not spam. It's not spam.

02:01:39   And then there's a separate newsletter that I started with Tim Carmody in December,

02:01:45   I think, called Noticing. And that is obviously member supported, but you don't have to be a

02:01:51   member to read it. I mean, my thing is that I didn't want to have any sort of members only

02:02:04   stuff or very little members-only stuff. I wanted people to know upfront that they were

02:02:10   supporting the work that was already going on and that part of their contribution was

02:02:15   going to make sure that that stuff stayed open and free and available. It's part of

02:02:23   the whole deal. It's purposefully not a paywall.

02:02:28   Yeah. Yeah. I'm personally, I think you've, I think what you said is exactly how I feel.

02:02:33   Like I, I think like what Ben Thompson does at Stratechery is, you know, fantastic. I love getting

02:02:39   his emails. And I think he's built a very successful business at it, but it would drive me

02:02:47   nuts writing, because the better the piece was that was behind the paywall, the more I would wish it

02:02:55   weren't behind a paywall. Like, there's a part of me that I—if I write something,

02:03:01   it's again, like, me feeling like I was born at the right time. I love that everything I write and

02:03:08   post it during Fireball is there for anybody in the world to see. Like, it's—I can't explain it,

02:03:17   but it's just a part of my personality that I'm just not cut out to write behind a paywall.

02:03:23   like it would just drive me crazy. It would, it would bother me like knowing that I've

02:03:27   lost my keys. Like I can't stop thinking about where they might be. Like if I had a post behind

02:03:32   a paywall, I would never be able to stop thinking, boy, I wish that weren't behind a paywall.

02:03:36   Yeah. I mean, that's, that's exactly my, my feeling on it too. And, you know,

02:03:44   there's something, I think there's something about,

02:03:49   I don't know, one of the, you know, the web brought with it all of these new possibilities

02:03:56   in thinking about how people do things and things like that. And one of those things was,

02:04:06   you know, you can write something and put it online and anybody who wants to stop by

02:04:15   to read it, can read it and share it with others. And, you know, at a certain point, like, I mean,

02:04:22   I loved, I loved that about the web and it's just, I think doing, you know, something like

02:04:30   putting something behind a paywall is just not, it just doesn't feel like the right thing to do

02:04:35   with the web for me. And I do think you're right that like in 2005, it was an idea ahead of its

02:04:45   time and I think fundamentally based on the fact that in 2005, 2006, it still felt like

02:04:53   everybody agreed that everything on the web should be quote unquote free. And something

02:04:58   changed in the decade after that. And I think part of it is just that in the ensuing decade,

02:05:04   people have seen things that sites that they loved before either go away completely or

02:05:12   mostly dry up and I think it gave people like the

02:05:16   See having had sites that they loved go away, you know

02:05:21   I think and made made people more willing to say I would like to keep this going and and if I can help by giving

02:05:29   30 bucks a year or whatever

02:05:31   I'm happy to do it. I

02:05:33   Think that's what I mean

02:05:35   The difference is whether they're happy doing it or not

02:05:38   And I think in 2005, there weren't very many people who were happy about paying for anything online. Whereas today there are

02:05:44   Yeah, I mean, you know you like you look at the last five years in online media and you know, it's it's like

02:05:52   just the

02:05:55   the consequence of not paying directly for things and sort of relying on advertising and you know VC money is

02:06:03   You know, like there are a lot of advantages to both of those things

02:06:06   But the disadvantage is that when those things dry up for one reason or another like that thing that you loved is gone

02:06:13   You know, yeah

02:06:16   Whereas like I feel now

02:06:20   with you know sort of this, you know, the the membership is is

02:06:25   you know more than 50% of my revenue now and I feel like in a lot of ways like

02:06:33   It that is way steadier than

02:06:35   Advertising ever felt. Yeah, like I feel like a large chunk of that is going to be there for

02:06:42   Ever a long time. I mean, yeah, it just feels so solid to me and it's like it's so

02:06:51   It's such a base, you know that I can that I can count on yeah, it just feels amazing

02:07:00   talking about early era bloggers

02:07:02   I think he started sometime after you but it was before daring fireball would be josh marshall at talking points memo and

02:07:11   He's evolved TPM in a way. That's you know

02:07:15   Very, you know certainly different than what I've done where he's built it out into a real news organization with a staff of I think

02:07:21   somewhere around like

02:07:24   20 people

02:07:26   You know, it's a real publication, but it's also very small by the historical standards of a news publication

02:07:34   It's still like if you're a regular reader of talking points memo you you kind of you know

02:07:39   You can just see by how few bylines there are that it's you know, it's a small group. It is still in a way personal

02:07:45   and

02:07:48   You know, they've done the same thing where they call it TPM Prime

02:07:52   But they you know get the they're there thousand true fans or you know

02:07:57   Several thousand biggest fans to sign up for TPM prime and they do have some paywall stuff

02:08:02   but their news articles the you know, the heart of their reporting they do aren't behind and a

02:08:06   paywall, it's sort of like you get to see like the reporters notebooks if you're

02:08:12   Effectively if you're a member, but I think for the most part

02:08:16   It's driven by people who really just are happy to pay it to keep TPM

02:08:21   a float and or not even a float not like they were in trouble but and josh has written about it

02:08:26   but that it just makes him feel better about their business if 50 of the money isn't from

02:08:32   advertising if it's direct support from readers it just like you said it just feels like this is

02:08:37   something that they can bank on as they try to hire more reporters and stuff and they don't have

02:08:42   to worry about the ebb and flow of the ad industry that if they've got these readers who subscribe

02:08:48   for an annual thing that they can count on, you know, as long as they're doing the good work that

02:08:52   they were doing to get them to sign up in the first place, they're going to be able to count

02:08:55   on it going forward. Right. Yeah. And I mean, it's interesting, like, I didn't anticipate

02:09:02   that it would feel differently like that. And it also feels differently from a, from the perspective

02:09:10   of like, what I write about and how I write about it. Like, I feel, I feel way more free to just

02:09:16   sort of write about, I mean, I've always written about anything and everything, but I feel,

02:09:21   you know, there, there was never the sense that I was writing for page views, but it was always

02:09:26   like a little bit in the back of my mind and now I don't worry about it at all. And I also don't

02:09:34   worry about, I'm worrying less about if things are on the site or not. Like if, if I wanted to

02:09:45   I don't know, like if I wanted to increase my, you know, Twitter activity a lot, I could

02:09:56   do that because, you know, the people who are paying for the site are paying sort of

02:10:01   for my activity in general. And so like, you know, it's hard to talk about it. It's, it's

02:10:10   really, I feel like it's really freed me up to do different stuff, to think about it in a different

02:10:16   way. I don't know. It's hard to talk about. Well, from the outside, I mean, we're friends,

02:10:23   but we don't talk often because I'm bad at being friend. So I can't say, it's not like we don't

02:10:32   know each other personally. But from my, you know, primarily, though, my interaction with you is

02:10:38   reading your website and vice versa. And I've noticed, it seems to me that since you launched

02:10:46   this, that and you indicated that, hey, this was even more successful than I thought it would be.

02:10:53   Thank you, everybody who's on board. I've noticed that it seems like you're in a better mood,

02:11:00   just judging you from the post on khaki.org. You know, and, you know, that could just be me.

02:11:07   I don't know. And, and also that it seemed like it freed you up to change things a little bit more,

02:11:12   I think. Yeah, I mean, you know, the like, launching the newsletters is, I think, a good,

02:11:18   a good example of something that I don't know, I'm not sure I would have thought about it because

02:11:27   because it was like, oh shit, I got to figure out how to fund this thing. Like, okay, I

02:11:32   need to get sponsors for it. So like, we need to get it up to a certain level. You know,

02:11:36   and I'm still thinking about those things because, you know, I think one of the, one

02:11:40   of the things I've learned is that you need to have multiple sources of income in case,

02:11:44   you know, one goes flat and all this other stuff. You know, it's always good to diversify.

02:11:50   But you know, the newsletter is definitely one of those things. And, you know, I think,

02:11:56   you know, going to, you know, what you said about me being happier. I definitely, you

02:12:02   know, I definitely feel more energized. You know, I think the membership thing has really

02:12:08   energized me. And really,

02:12:14   Maybe that's what's more, maybe that's a better word to them. I detect on the site energized.

02:12:20   Yeah, that I mean, that's how I've sort of been thinking about it as as I've, you know,

02:12:24   didn't notice it right away, but I've definitely in the last few months particularly. Maybe there

02:12:30   was this thing of me taking the site for granted a little bit for a while. And I think that's kind

02:12:37   of in the rearview mirror a little bit. And I really, I don't know, I'm just really back into

02:12:43   it in a way that I wasn't maybe three, four years ago. And there was some personal life shit going

02:12:49   on to that really like drove my life into the ditch for a couple years but um you know and and

02:12:56   you know katie.org was this thing that was you know sort of the through line that that

02:13:03   i could depend on even when the rest of my life isn't you know shit like this is the thing that

02:13:11   i know how to do and i can sit down and do this and you're in control of yeah exactly i feel that

02:13:17   way about—I absolutely feel that way about daring fireball when real life is not that great. I

02:13:25   always, I do, in some ways when real life isn't that great, sometimes that's when

02:13:30   I'm more productive at daring fireball, just because it's something I can hide away from

02:13:37   everything else. I can't help but feel a little personally slighted by this, though. On your

02:13:43   membership members page, the first level of the patron, it's here's the description for pennies

02:13:48   a day. This is a $30 a year membership. For pennies a day, you can become one of khaki.org's

02:13:53   1000 true fans. Please don't make me have to start a rambling two hour podcast.

02:13:57   Yeah, yeah, we're at like the 215 mark. Yeah. So

02:14:10   You should feel a little slighted by that, but at the same time, it's funny. I'm not a big podcast

02:14:19   guy. I'm not a big podcast listener. And my sweet spot for podcasts is 20 to 30 minutes as a

02:14:30   listener. So yeah, sorry. I have found I could be wrong. I have found that I think it, I think

02:14:42   the worst length for a podcast is about an hour. Because when the talk show episodes were shorter,

02:14:52   I'd get a lot of complaints about the length from people who thought it was too long because there's

02:14:58   There's an awful lot of people who they like you said 15, 20 minutes is the sweet spot.

02:15:03   And you know, remember our sponsor, the tech meme, uh, ride home show, which is 15, 20

02:15:11   minutes.

02:15:12   If people want it one way or the other, and it's like the, nobody wants the middle bowl

02:15:17   of porridge.

02:15:18   They either want it cold or they want it hot.

02:15:20   And uh, there's other people who can't get enough, you know, who, you know, when I talk,

02:15:26   an episode and talk about length of the show. They're like, make them longer. They're, you

02:15:29   know, I have a really terrible commute, so please make them longer and come out with

02:15:34   them more frequently.

02:15:35   Well, it's interesting as a, as a guest. So I, I've done, I've probably done like three

02:15:44   or four podcasts in the last like month just because I kind of made a concerted effort

02:15:48   to reach out to people and people have been reaching out to me because of the, you know,

02:15:52   anniversary thing. And I did one with Craig Maud. He does this podcast called On Margins,

02:16:02   I can't remember which it is, which he hasn't posted yet because he's like me,

02:16:06   he's like this meticulous, like he meticulously edits these episodes to within an inch of their

02:16:14   life. But it was interesting. I talked to him, I think for about an hour and I felt like we

02:16:22   were just kind of getting going. We were just in a good place where it's like, "Oh, okay,

02:16:25   we can really have a conversation now." And then he was like, "Okay, we're done."

02:16:30   And we talked for 20 minutes after that. And we should have hit record again, probably.

02:16:37   But it was interesting that that hour wasn't enough as a guest. All of the other ones that

02:16:48   I've done I think have been around, you know, 40 minutes to an hour. And it was just sort of like,

02:16:52   oh, we were just we were just getting somewhere. Well, you don't have that problem with me.

02:16:56   No. I what's interesting about this is that, I mean, this is, I don't know, it like,

02:17:05   we talked a little bit, like I texted you yesterday, and I was like, Okay,

02:17:10   can I do anything to prepare? And you're Nope, you're like, Nope. Okay.

02:17:17   And then like 10 minutes before the show, you're like, okay, here's my Skype. I was like, oh,

02:17:22   we're doing this on Skype. All right. And then you call me on Skype and you're like, hey,

02:17:27   how's it going? Good. Okay. Can you record this? Yep. Hit record. Okay. And then it was,

02:17:33   and then boom, we're in. And I was like, okay. I didn't want to make you nervous. I, and it is

02:17:39   weird because I tend to rotate between regular guests who know how it goes. And I liked it,

02:17:44   have more, like one of my things I'd like to do this year is have more fresh voices on this show.

02:17:51   And I realized as I was doing it, I was like, "Oh, I bet Jason's freaking out a little bit,

02:17:59   just because I know you don't do this a lot." But I was completely confident because I've done this.

02:18:04   I knew exactly how it would go. And I knew it would be pretty good. I think it has been.

02:18:12   but I still can't help but feel that a rambling two-hour podcast is…

02:18:15   Yeah, that was maybe a shot across the bow.

02:18:18   This has been great, but we have gone long enough. I think it's enough rambling.

02:18:26   All right.

02:18:27   But I will promise that you will have to come back at some point and not let 200 episodes go by.

02:18:38   So for anybody who wants more, if you don't know kotke.org, I don't know how that's possibly the

02:18:43   case. But that's Jason's website. On Twitter, there are two Twitter accounts that I know of.

02:18:51   There's @Kotke, which is sort of like the official links, you know, like the Twitter

02:18:59   account for the site. And then there's JKotke, which is your personal Twitter.

02:19:03   Right.

02:19:04   Everything's Kotke branded. It's sort of like Trump.

02:19:07   Yeah, ugh, Jesus, did we have to end on that note?