The Talk Show

370: ‘Fine Hypertext Products’, With Jason Kottke


00:00:00   - Jason, how you doing?

00:00:01   - I'm doing all right, John.

00:00:02   Thanks for having me on the show.

00:00:03   - How's the weather up there?

00:00:04   - Well, it's cold 'cause it's winter.

00:00:07   It's getting lighter though, which is great.

00:00:10   Late December, January here in Vermont is kind of bleak,

00:00:13   to be honest.

00:00:14   So I'm glad the light is getting more towards spring.

00:00:17   - I hate winters, I do.

00:00:19   And my wife and I, we've been talking about it.

00:00:21   Like why the hell do we live here?

00:00:22   And I live in the tropics compared to you.

00:00:25   - Yeah, darkness is the worst thing up here

00:00:27   because it's significantly darker for longer here

00:00:31   in December and January than it is in New York

00:00:34   or down in Philly.

00:00:36   - And I've also found as I've gotten old,

00:00:40   I was gonna say older, but let's face it, old,

00:00:42   you would think it would go the other way,

00:00:45   that the older you get, the more you just get used to it.

00:00:49   And I find the opposite.

00:00:51   When I was a kid, I knew that it got dark earlier

00:00:56   in the winter.

00:00:57   I mean, just open your eyes.

00:00:58   And I knew I had to come home from playing outside,

00:01:03   because we're so old that, fairly, we would just

00:01:06   come home from school, and we'd be set loose to go run around

00:01:11   with no parental supervision.

00:01:13   It wasn't just my parents.

00:01:14   It was like the neighborhood rule for all the parents.

00:01:16   You have to come home when the street lights come on.

00:01:19   We didn't wear watches.

00:01:21   That was the rule.

00:01:22   If the street lights are on, it's time to come home.

00:01:24   and I knew that, boy, this kinda sucks in December.

00:01:28   We don't really get much time after school.

00:01:30   But on the other hand, even like college,

00:01:33   I don't really remember being like bummed out

00:01:35   that it's dark early or anything,

00:01:37   I guess because also in college,

00:01:39   you kinda just live and sleep on whatever cycle you want

00:01:43   as long as you can submit your homework.

00:01:46   I was gonna say go to class, but I skipped a lot of classes.

00:01:49   But now that I'm an adult,

00:01:52   I really get bummed in December, even November, I do.

00:01:56   And I know they call it seasonal affect disorder or whatever.

00:01:59   I don't know if I have any disorder, I just get bummed.

00:02:03   - Yeah, yeah, I mean, me too.

00:02:05   I mean, so I grew up in Wisconsin

00:02:08   and was fine with it as a kid.

00:02:11   I never remember being bummed out.

00:02:12   And even when I lived in New York from,

00:02:16   when was it, 2002 to 2016, I guess,

00:02:21   It didn't really bother me a whole lot there either.

00:02:23   And then when I moved up here,

00:02:25   like the first winter was okay

00:02:27   and the second one just totally just kicked my ass.

00:02:30   I was just like, what the hell happened?

00:02:32   I feel like I got hit by a freight train.

00:02:34   - I also do notice though, the flip side of it

00:02:37   is I do notice the expanding daylight hours more.

00:02:42   So it's like, I get more bummed.

00:02:44   I do, I really get more bummed in November and December.

00:02:48   I find January and February,

00:02:50   or at least early February to be dreary,

00:02:52   but right around now, late February,

00:02:54   or recording on March 3rd, it's like looking up.

00:02:58   And I also find that when daylight savings time

00:03:02   finally kicks back in, it is,

00:03:04   it's like the best gift of the year to me.

00:03:08   I mean, no offense to my family

00:03:10   and all the actual gifts they give to me,

00:03:13   but the day where I look at my watch

00:03:16   and it's six o'clock, seven o'clock,

00:03:18   and it's still plenty of light outside, I'm like, woo!

00:03:21   - Yeah, it's amazing.

00:03:24   Here in Vermont, I've noticed the last few winters,

00:03:29   the first day where it's sunny

00:03:33   and the thermometer's pushing like 65, 70,

00:03:36   it feels like nothing else.

00:03:38   I will go outside in shirt sleeves and shorts,

00:03:43   and I work outside and I'm just like, this is awesome,

00:03:46   And I can't believe I was this depressed for the last three months.

00:03:50   Right, you mean like just--

00:03:51   Yeah, you feel like a million bucks.

00:03:52   Right, you're sitting there working on cocky, the laptop, you know,

00:03:55   outside and breathing that fresh air.

00:03:59   Exactly.

00:04:00   Yep, and there's like literally like still probably like three feet of snow

00:04:04   out in the yard or whatever, but it's because we have global warming now,

00:04:08   every once in a while in March, you know, like mid-March or whatever,

00:04:10   it's oh, it's gonna be 70 degrees for a little bit.

00:04:12   And then it goes back to, you know,

00:04:14   we're gonna have an ice storm three days later.

00:04:16   - Yeah. - So.

00:04:17   - Yeah, we had that a few weeks ago

00:04:19   where there was a stretch here in February,

00:04:21   which is always the worst month from New York.

00:04:24   It's way worse than January, in my opinion.

00:04:26   We had a couple days in the '60s.

00:04:28   I've lived my whole life either outside Philadelphia

00:04:31   growing up or in Philadelphia

00:04:33   other than two years up in Massachusetts,

00:04:35   but I'm super familiar at this point

00:04:39   with the annual temperature.

00:04:41   What's a nice day?

00:04:42   what's a bad day for any day of the year.

00:04:45   And it's like even if I didn't know logically,

00:04:50   if I had never read the news

00:04:52   and had never heard of climate change,

00:04:54   I would know something is up.

00:04:56   You know what I mean?

00:04:57   It's like you could literally be a hermit,

00:05:01   like a Ted Kaczynski living in a shack with no internet,

00:05:04   no newspapers, and you'd be like,

00:05:05   "Hey, what's up with the weather?

00:05:06   "Am I wrong about what date it is?"

00:05:09   - I've been coming up here to Vermont since,

00:05:11   I don't know, 2003, something like that.

00:05:14   And you can tell by the ski areas,

00:05:17   and you can tell by how much snow there is at the ski areas,

00:05:20   and how much they're able to be open,

00:05:22   and when they can open for the season initially,

00:05:25   and when they close at the end of the season,

00:05:28   and it's that season is just getting shorter.

00:05:30   And you get these weird warmups in the middle of January,

00:05:33   in the middle of February,

00:05:34   where it rains and it's 55 degrees,

00:05:38   and you just get fewer days,

00:05:40   you get fewer people, you know, coming up and doing things and spending their money

00:05:45   here and stuff like that. And it's just, yeah, you would totally be able to tell, even if

00:05:50   you had never, you know, never heard of climate change or whatever. It's just different.

00:05:54   I should know this as a long time, as we're about to get to, very long time,

00:05:59   reader of your website. Are you at, I feel like I should definitely know this because I'm,

00:06:04   it seems like total katky fodder, but are you at daylight savings time year-round man or not?

00:06:11   I mean, I don't think they should switch back and forth.

00:06:13   So which one do you think? I mean, obviously, if they're only going to have one, it's going

00:06:17   to be daylight savings time, because we're already at eight months, four months.

00:06:20   And the legal proposals are only for... nobody's proposing we go standard time year-round,

00:06:27   I don't think.

00:06:29   Right, no, I mean, yeah, I mean, I would choose that, yeah.

00:06:34   It's awkward for me, or at least unexpected, because I forget who it is who's sponsoring

00:06:38   the bill. It's either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, but it doesn't matter which one. It doesn't matter.

00:06:44   - Yeah. - The point is,

00:06:46   I can't believe I'm here on the side of legislation being proposed by whoever it is. But yeah,

00:06:51   the switch sucks. But also, it's like, "F you morning people." And it's the morning people who

00:06:59   bitch and moan about, "Well, but if we switch to daylight savings time, it'll be so dark until like

00:07:05   830 or 9 in the morning, you know, in the middle of winter." And they always bring up the kids at

00:07:11   the freaking bus stop, right? What about the kids going to school? But that circles back to my point

00:07:17   about the way we raise children today. Kids aren't unsupervised at bus stops anymore, right? Like,

00:07:23   when we were kids, your mom wouldn't even get dressed in the morning. Your mom would still be,

00:07:27   you know, in her whatever she slept in and just get you out the door and, you know, whether you

00:07:32   were going to a bus stop or walking to school or whatever, you were on your own. Nobody does that

00:07:37   anymore. It's not a good excuse. The switchover is insane. The thing about early school times anyway,

00:07:44   like, we should just move the school time. Yes. Not futz around with actual time. Just like,

00:07:49   school should start later because, like, it's better for kids. Yeah, absolutely.

00:07:55   There is actual research. This is not just me spouting off with my personal opinion

00:07:59   and my vivid memories. My vivid memories from high school of being a total zombie.

00:08:05   Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

00:08:06   My best friend and I in high school, we both mastered the technique of sleeping in class

00:08:11   with your head not on your desk, but like a certain pose where you could like get your chin

00:08:19   in on your palm and we would choose seats in the back, not just, I always say I like

00:08:25   to sit in the back for most of my classes just so I could screw around, but you had

00:08:29   to go back corner and then you could like kind of turn your head away from the teacher.

00:08:33   I got solid sleep in classes my whole like probably junior and senior years, but it's

00:08:40   because it's terrible. I mean we used to have to, I think it was like 8 a.m. and it's like

00:08:44   the real world doesn't start at 8 a.m. The adult world.

00:08:48   Yeah, exactly.

00:08:49   Anyway.

00:08:50   Well, as I hinted, we are here to talk about the fact that you've been writing your website

00:08:56   for, well, let's just say it, 25 fucking years.

00:09:00   Yes, 25 fucking years.

00:09:04   When is the official anniversary?

00:09:05   Do you know the date?

00:09:07   Yeah, so it's March 14th.

00:09:09   All right, so we'll be out before.

00:09:12   We're a little ahead of your anniversary, but...

00:09:16   I'll just start by saying congrats.

00:09:18   I mean, I don't know what more to say.

00:09:21   I mean, I'm glad you're at it.

00:09:22   I was looking as research.

00:09:24   I actually did some actual homework for this show

00:09:27   on every other episode of this.

00:09:29   All 369 preceding episodes.

00:09:34   - Right, this is the first one.

00:09:36   - I found your 10th anniversary post.

00:09:39   Well, I found, like it's hard to find.

00:09:41   But you said see you in 2008, or no, 2018.

00:09:45   So let me start by saying this, let me ask this.

00:09:48   In the early years, when you first started kaki.org,

00:09:55   did you have a sense that even then that you'd be doing,

00:10:00   if all things go well, knock on wood, health stays up,

00:10:05   nuclear war doesn't happen, the internet stays open,

00:10:09   that you'd still be doing this now?

00:10:11   - I would say no.

00:10:13   There's rarely been a plan.

00:10:14   I think the whole thing has just happened really organically.

00:10:17   I started it because, like, oh, you know, I wanted to have a place to write things down.

00:10:22   And so at the time I was doing this other website called Oscillate, and that was more

00:10:27   sort of visual and it was, like, episodic.

00:10:30   Like every one, you know, every few weeks I would release a new, like, episode.

00:10:33   But people had started blogging and, you know, there were online diaries and all this sort

00:10:37   of stuff.

00:10:38   And, you know, I decided, oh, I want to try this out.

00:10:42   And people read it and liked it, and so I kept writing, and it became slowly sort of

00:10:48   like more and more of kind of my online life.

00:10:52   And even the decision to like, you know, I went full-time like as a job in 2005, and

00:10:57   even that wasn't, you know, like that was like a few months before I had lunch with

00:11:02   Anil Dash.

00:11:04   And we were just talking about this and that, and he sort of like, I can't remember what

00:11:08   we were talking about exactly, but he was kind of like, "You know, I bet if you really

00:11:12   wanted to do it, you could do your website as a full-time job.

00:11:15   You could find advertising or get people to pay or whatever."

00:11:19   He's like, "I bet you could do it."

00:11:20   And I was like, "Huh."

00:11:22   And then I was thinking about it after that, and I was like, "Wait a minute.

00:11:26   That might be cool."

00:11:27   So yeah, so there was never any drive to be sort of long-lasting or anything like that.

00:11:35   It's just sort of what's happened.

00:11:37   That's interesting because I wouldn't say immediately when I started during

00:11:46   Fireball, but maybe very close.

00:11:48   I at least had the hope when I started that maybe I could eventually figure out

00:11:56   immediately figure out a way that I could do this as a living and had a sense that

00:12:01   I think I could do this forever.

00:12:05   And by the time I went full-time in 2006, largely inspired, you know, well, I mean,

00:12:13   it was my plan before, but sort of— I don't know that I would have taken the jump, though, in 2006

00:12:20   if you hadn't already done it. Like, you made me—you doing it full-time made me so insanely jealous

00:12:25   that it—it did! It really did, but in a good way, where it broke through my natural procrastination.

00:12:35   Like the reason, Daring Fireball's 20 as of last August,

00:12:39   so five years behind you.

00:12:41   But it's funny because, let me put it this way,

00:12:44   for a very long time, I felt like I was a newcomer

00:12:48   and you were established

00:12:50   because I started five years after you, right?

00:12:53   So when you're five or six, seven years old into katki.org

00:12:57   and I'm one or two years into Daring Fireball,

00:13:00   it feels like I'm the newcomer.

00:13:02   And when you start comparing 20 to 25,

00:13:06   it feels like, what's the difference?

00:13:09   We're both like last people standing

00:13:12   and old men and stalwarts.

00:13:15   But I, when I started, I was hoping

00:13:19   this is like a thing that would stick.

00:13:21   And I remember I had like a list of 10 or 12 articles

00:13:25   that I felt like, here's 10 or 12 things

00:13:28   I knew I wanted to write.

00:13:29   'Cause I didn't have my short form links at the time.

00:13:31   All I had were full posts, more.

00:13:34   Every post is an article sort of blogging,

00:13:39   which was more typical.

00:13:41   Well, you know, there's a mix back then.

00:13:42   But I had 10 or 12, and I felt like I could keep this going.

00:13:47   And I forget where I kept the list.

00:13:50   It was probably already, well, I'm not sure

00:13:53   which app I had it in.

00:13:54   But the list kept growing faster

00:13:58   than I was writing articles.

00:14:00   There have always been more ideas for posts,

00:14:03   or even things I want to link to,

00:14:04   than things I actually link to, right?

00:14:06   It's, you know, and it's so weeks into it,

00:14:11   I realized, you know, at least in terms of having things

00:14:15   I want to write about, this seems 100% sustainable,

00:14:18   because that's, you know, I'm always coming up

00:14:21   with more things that I could or would write about

00:14:23   than I actually have time to or actually get to.

00:14:26   And it really did not take me long to realize

00:14:31   that I would like this to be my life's work.

00:14:33   So I'm-- - Yeah.

00:14:33   - You know, and I, you know, at least,

00:14:37   I've always subscribed to the strong ideas,

00:14:39   loosely held mantra for everything in life.

00:14:43   So I mean, I've all, you know,

00:14:45   it wasn't like I would've bet the house on it,

00:14:48   even though, of course, I didn't own a house back then.

00:14:50   But figuratively, wouldn't have bet the house on it

00:14:53   because I would've been open to new ideas and wonder.

00:14:56   but I had that sense though,

00:14:57   that this is what I was meant to do.

00:14:59   And in hindsight, I find it interesting

00:15:04   that you didn't have that sense early on

00:15:05   because it seems to me very clearly

00:15:08   that what you're doing is what you were meant to do.

00:15:10   - Yeah, I mean, at the time,

00:15:14   like I was still doing web design stuff

00:15:16   like back in the early 2000s.

00:15:18   And that was the thing that was really

00:15:23   capturing my sort of imagination back then.

00:15:26   And like that, you know, that started to change.

00:15:27   I feel like, you know, I had this,

00:15:29   I had this very corporate web design job in, in 2000,

00:15:33   like right after I moved to New York actually,

00:15:35   like 2003, 2004.

00:15:36   And you know, and that was during a time where, you know,

00:15:40   like not everybody that I knew had a job then

00:15:43   because of the whole dot-com bust,

00:15:45   the sort of the hangover from that, you know,

00:15:48   but it was this really corporate job.

00:15:49   And I was just sort of like, you know,

00:15:51   would go to work and I would-- the work was fairly easy. I'd spend a couple hours a day blogging,

00:15:58   just at work. And I'm sure that this is something that will resonate with early bloggers too. They

00:16:04   just stole time here and there from their day jobs to write on their sites. And at a certain point,

00:16:11   I was just like, "Oh, this is the thing that I'm actually interested in. Why don't I try and do

00:16:16   this for a while, you know, and it just, you know, it was, and after a while it was so,

00:16:22   it just worked really well, I think, and it worked really well for a number of different reasons,

00:16:28   you know, it's, you know, the most flexible job in the world. You just move your time around almost,

00:16:33   you know, infinitely, which is like fantastic, you know, when you've got a lot going on,

00:16:38   or you want to do different stuff in your life, or you've got little kids and you want to be home for

00:16:43   for dinner every night and all that sort of stuff.

00:16:45   And it just fit really well.

00:16:47   And like it had momentum and I just let it go.

00:16:50   It dragged me along almost instead of the other way around.

00:16:55   - Well, and I feel that I've always been naturally suited

00:16:58   to that aspect of it.

00:16:59   I've never been a nine to five person at all.

00:17:02   Infamously bad with deadlines.

00:17:04   Even now, I mean, my iPhone reviews are always hours

00:17:08   after everybody else has come out.

00:17:10   If not end of day.

00:17:13   And like and it's come full circle where

00:17:17   there's a flourishing independent publishing

00:17:22   of the last few years, a resurgence,

00:17:27   but it's all or at least mostly in the newsletter space.

00:17:32   And my friend and dithering colleague cohost Ben Thompson

00:17:37   is coming up on 10 years at Stratechery,

00:17:41   which blows my mind because I also think of his right.

00:17:44   Stratecheries being new, but I love his work.

00:17:50   He loves doing it, but I couldn't do what he does because he's

00:17:55   he's effectively got a deadline for like 8 AM Eastern every day,

00:17:59   even though he's writing from Taiwan,

00:18:01   he's got a deadline where his subscribers on the East Coast

00:18:06   expect today's issue of Stratechery in the morning,

00:18:11   you know, as they have their coffee and breakfast and before they get to work.

00:18:15   And I say couldn't all the time for all sorts of things in my life,

00:18:21   which means wouldn't, but I wouldn't enjoy it.

00:18:25   And then I would grow resentful.

00:18:29   That's one thing that's never happened to me is I've never grown resentful of the work

00:18:35   and my obligations, the pressure,

00:18:37   whatever pressure I feel to keep going, publishing,

00:18:40   and do this or that.

00:18:42   Whereas if I had that,

00:18:43   everybody expects a newsletter at blank time.

00:18:46   Doesn't matter what time of day it is, right?

00:18:48   Even if I send them out at midnight or whatever,

00:18:51   eventually I would be like, well, this is irritating

00:18:53   because I wanna go out with friends tonight.

00:18:56   And I'm not finished yet, but I have to sit here

00:18:59   and finish, you know.

00:19:01   All right, let's go back to oscillate.

00:19:02   It was spelled with a zero,

00:19:06   S-I-L and then the digit eight, which I'm not mocking,

00:19:10   but just for people Googling it and looking for it.

00:19:13   But that sort of trickery was very, feels a little 90s.

00:19:18   - Oh yeah, very 90s, very 90s.

00:19:23   - Right, and so when did Oscillate start?

00:19:27   And now that the website is defunct, right?

00:19:29   It's like, I looked it up, it's the domain's gone, right?

00:19:35   Well, I so I still own the domain, but it went on. I can't even remember when it went offline. It was. I mean, it was years and years ago, like more than probably more than 15 years ago already.

00:19:45   Right, but it went offline again. I should have done more research is are there old episodes still in the like the way back machine?

00:19:52   On the Internet. Actually, no, I've I don't know. I don't know that I've actually looked well. We might be. We'll leave that as a surprise for the show notes.

00:20:02   sounds good. All right, but you mentioned that it was episodic, and literally the URLs were like

00:20:09   oscillate, was it dot com? I forget what the domain was. Yeah, oscillate.com/episodes/...

00:20:15   and then it was the date, and then it was like whatever the name of the episode is.

00:20:20   Right, and the idea in the late 90s that was very common on the "I'm just a person with a

00:20:29   personal website and I love the web and this isn't this cool that I can just edit HTML which

00:20:37   requires very little technical acumen for a technical thing, right? I mean, it's, you know,

00:20:43   and I realize not there's still a slew of people who get confused even by the simple HTML of the

00:20:49   late 90s where almost everything was hand edited. But for the most part, a non-technical person

00:20:55   could just look at the source code. I mean, it was the genius of the mid-90s web was that browsers

00:21:01   were built with the view source command, and you could look at it and honestly figure out the basic

00:21:09   gist of HTML just by looking at it, right? You know, I aimed for that with Markdown, right?

00:21:15   Where you could get the basic gist of Markdown just by reading existing things written in

00:21:24   markdown. Oh, I get it. The asterisks mean, I don't know, italics or bold or something,

00:21:29   and then look at the output and say, "Oh, I see single asterisks or italics and double asterisks

00:21:35   or bold." You know, you could figure it out by looking at it. I hope with markdown even more so,

00:21:42   because it's simpler, but HTML was very close to that in the 90s and you'd hand-edit it.

00:21:46   And what a lot of people did was this sort of, you know, you calling them episodes is very clever,

00:21:53   because it's exactly what people did. They'd just occasionally make like a new toy and it would be

00:21:59   like a page or a thing and then they would, you know, put it out there and start spreading the

00:22:05   word, you know, however it was and people would have like bookmarks of their favorite sites and

00:22:10   they'd come back once in a while and oh here's a new thing from so-and-so, here's a new thing from,

00:22:15   yeah, yeah, you know, oh here's a new thing from Kotke at Oscillate, it's an episode, you know,

00:22:20   right and you might have one one week and another the next week and then maybe it's a month before

00:22:26   you come up with another one yeah exactly there was no like publishing schedule there's no rss

00:22:32   that you have to keep there was no sense really that you had to kind of keep feeding the beast

00:22:37   right in addition to the episodes that i did i also almost every time not every time but almost

00:22:42   every time i redesigned like the interface to get into the past episodes and stuff so there was a

00:22:48   new sort of like UX or UI with every episode. And that's the thing that I love doing. We're using all

00:22:59   these new tools, and there was new stuff coming out all the time. It's, "Oh, you can do JavaScript

00:23:03   now and rollovers, and you can change one image to the other image." I remember when that came out,

00:23:08   and that was a huge thing. And so I had to go experiment with that. And so it's all these

00:23:12   technologies and everybody, it just felt like this huge bubbling cauldron of creativity.

00:23:20   And everyone was trying to like, "What about this cool thing? What about this cool thing?"

00:23:24   And just trying to demonstrate through this HTML and through design and stuff like that,

00:23:29   what you could actually do, and also what the web could actually do. Because in 1996,

00:23:35   1997, we didn't really know what the web was capable of completely.

00:23:40   All right, when did oscillate start?

00:23:42   And everyone was trying to figure it out.

00:23:44   When did oscillate start?

00:23:45   Like 90, I think early 96.

00:23:47   And I'd had a couple of personal sites before that, but oscillate I think started properly in early 96.

00:23:56   Yeah, see that?

00:23:57   That's what I mean though about you being meant to do this, because that's so early.

00:24:04   I don't think you even realize what a sense for the web you have that was innate.

00:24:10   because I didn't have a website anywhere close to then. I learned how to make websites and then when

00:24:15   I graduated college in 1996, was doing freelance, you know, so-and-so needs a website and make

00:24:22   a website for them, but wasn't self-publishing or, you know, and wasn't thinking about that.

00:24:30   I guess I was sort of thinking about it, but

00:24:34   I was too obsessed with form,

00:24:36   but not the form of an individual page,

00:24:42   but the form of the publication,

00:24:45   which to me is what that episodic nature of Oscillate

00:24:49   was sort of, you know, that was the form.

00:24:51   It was just periodic episodes.

00:24:53   And coming from my only true public publishing

00:24:57   The only true public publishing background

00:25:01   was the student newspaper at Drexel,

00:25:03   and it was a weekly, and I've always been

00:25:06   a media junkie of all kinds.

00:25:10   I know you are, too.

00:25:12   But that concept of issues was so deeply ingrained

00:25:16   in my brain that it took me a long time.

00:25:20   I couldn't get around it, because it didn't seem

00:25:23   like issues were right for the web,

00:25:26   I couldn't figure out what was right for the web and it paralyzed me from doing anything

00:25:35   for years.

00:25:36   And then when would you say blogs started?

00:25:40   I know this is history I could theoretically look up, but...

00:25:44   Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, Robot Wisdom, like he called it a web blog in 1998, maybe

00:25:53   probably '97, I would say. But people had diary-ish sort of things, like online diaries,

00:26:00   going back to Justin Hall, Justin's Links from the Underground. He started that in 1994,

00:26:06   and it was basically like a stream of consciousness diary of his life and what he was up to. And

00:26:12   I think that people experimented with all sorts of different forms. There were definitely

00:26:16   web publications that had issues. And I think that later it became like, "We're not going

00:26:23   to worry about an issue. We're just going to publish whatever we want as we go along."

00:26:28   And then blogs came along and just supercharged that, and everybody was sort of off to the races.

00:26:34   JS Does anything that you did, any of the episodes that oscillate, stand out to you as a favorite?

00:26:40   it.

00:26:41   Oh, man.

00:26:42   I mean, honestly, it's been a long time since I've even looked at or, you know, I have all

00:26:47   the files or whatever, like, sitting on my hard drive.

00:26:50   And it's just been, like, a long time since I've looked at those.

00:26:53   I remember there was one where I wanted to do this, you know, this was, like, right in

00:27:02   the age of sort of the early JavaScript experiments.

00:27:05   And like, I had these conceptual ideas that I wanted to do.

00:27:08   I was like, this should be possible,

00:27:10   but I don't have quite the technical ability

00:27:13   to figure out how to do it.

00:27:15   And so I worked with a friend of mine.

00:27:17   We constructed a page of frames.

00:27:21   Remember frames?

00:27:22   - Of course.

00:27:23   I never actually used them.

00:27:25   I never built a website with them

00:27:26   because I hated them from the start.

00:27:29   But I do remember-

00:27:29   - Yeah, no, I couldn't stand them.

00:27:31   I couldn't stand them.

00:27:32   But for this, it was like,

00:27:33   I'm gonna make this thing out of frame.

00:27:35   So it was out of frames where the scroll bars spelled out oscillate, and then the scroll

00:27:42   bars moved randomly up and down, so the whole thing was kind of like this pulsing scroll

00:27:47   bar logo thing.

00:27:49   And that was, yeah, that's one of my--yeah, I like that one a lot.

00:27:53   Because it was one of those things where it was like, "I haven't seen this done, and

00:27:58   people are gonna lose their shit a little bit when they see this."

00:28:01   - Right.

00:28:02   It's a total abuse of the purpose,

00:28:04   but it's extremely clever.

00:28:05   And that's a perfect example for you to recall,

00:28:09   'cause that's the sort of thing that I'm calling a toy,

00:28:12   that that's what we did back then, right?

00:28:14   And you would figure out something like this,

00:28:17   and then if it was clever like that,

00:28:18   I vaguely remember that.

00:28:20   I don't know if that's a false memory or not,

00:28:22   but I know I read "Ossolate,"

00:28:24   and I kinda think I remember it.

00:28:27   I remember thinking, yeah,

00:28:28   that's finally a good use of frames.

00:28:30   (laughing)

00:28:32   Yeah, all right.

00:28:34   - I mean, the whole atmosphere back then

00:28:35   was like it was so playful.

00:28:38   It was so playful.

00:28:39   - Oh, hold that thought.

00:28:40   Let's hold that thought.

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00:31:37   One difference between podcasting and blogging, Jason,

00:31:43   is that you gotta repeat the URL multiple times

00:31:46   when you're podcasting.

00:31:47   (laughing)

00:31:49   - Yes, very important.

00:31:51   And I think about that every time I do a sponsor read,

00:31:54   which is, I don't know, nine, 10 times a month.

00:31:57   Every single time, I think, "Goddamn it, if I were writing,

00:32:00   "I wouldn't have to do this."

00:32:01   'Cause I'll tell you, the one thing,

00:32:03   I enjoy doing this show,

00:32:04   and I especially enjoy doing special episodes like this.

00:32:06   I'm already having a lot of fun.

00:32:08   So I'm not trying to bitch and moan

00:32:10   about my second job as a podcaster,

00:32:12   but I will never, ever, ever, no matter how long I do this,

00:32:15   and again, this is episode 370,

00:32:18   and there was a whole slew of shows

00:32:20   with Dan Benjamin before that that don't even count

00:32:22   in the numbering.

00:32:24   I will never ever not think of myself

00:32:26   as a writer/blogger, whatever you wanna call

00:32:30   what I do at Daring Fireball, who podcasts on the side.

00:32:33   That's how I view myself.

00:32:35   It doesn't matter how long I do.

00:32:37   So we were talking about those early, the mid-90s

00:32:41   and this sort of episodic and this sort of

00:32:43   coalescence around the idea of blogging.

00:32:47   And I know it has nothing to do with either of us.

00:32:50   We didn't contribute.

00:32:51   But for people who are either too young

00:32:54   or just don't remember or weren't paying attention to it,

00:32:58   it's impossible, I think, to overstate

00:33:01   the influence of suck.com.

00:33:03   - Oh yeah. - Right?

00:33:06   Suck.com was the first thing

00:33:10   that I looked at and

00:33:15   Like, I'd look at things like the web toys people were making and other independent websites,

00:33:22   and all I would think is, "That's fun," or "I wonder how they did it," and "View

00:33:26   Source," or "Oh, I'd love to learn that trick so I could do it," you know.

00:33:31   Oh, you just hover over a picture, and as soon as you hover, it substitutes a different

00:33:35   picture.

00:33:36   You think of all the things we could do with that, you know.

00:33:38   How do you do that?

00:33:39   Oh, that's how you do it.

00:33:40   suck.com was the first website where I got like jealous and I thought, ah shit, I wish I was,

00:33:46   I wish I were doing something like that. Yeah, I mean suck suck was a huge, like a huge influence

00:33:53   on me. And you know, it was this thing where it was like, oh, this is, I don't think you could do

00:34:02   this offline, what they're doing. And it was just so interesting and just so like, not only

00:34:11   like the writing, but like how they were writing and how it was designed, and just like the whole

00:34:18   package. It was just like, I can't believe like there are people who are like doing this like just

00:34:23   in their spare time, you know, at Wired magazine or whatever, or Hotwired, I guess it was.

00:34:28   Right for people who don't remember suck.com number one it

00:34:32   also to me the name itself captured the

00:34:36   The gestalt of our generation to gen x generation at in that mid in the 90s

00:34:45   Right. It was totally

00:34:47   And it wasn't

00:34:52   Even though suck.com doesn't sound like a serious effort it was

00:34:58   right? Like the writing was top-notch, right? Like my favorite suck.com writer

00:35:02   was Heather Havrileski, who's still writing independently. Now she's, you know,

00:35:07   she's floated around, she's written books, and she was at New York Magazine

00:35:12   or one of the sub brands, and now she's got a subset. Still going strong as an

00:35:16   independent writer, but man, when I saw her byline at suck.com, I knew it

00:35:21   was gonna be good. I just loved her style. But exactly what you said, too, where

00:35:26   she just instantly got a style and form of writing that had no real analog in print,

00:35:34   right? Like, the hyperlinks were part of the style.

00:35:38   Yeah, exactly, exactly. There was information to be gotten from not only what they linked to,

00:35:48   but how they linked to it, which word they decided to make the hyperlink. It was fascinating.

00:35:54   It was fascinating.

00:35:55   Right. Imagine if you lived on an island where all you had were manual typewriters,

00:36:03   and the only form of writing that anybody had was with a typewriter, and then somebody comes up with

00:36:13   a way to do italics. Well, then you can put in flat--I use italics liberally, as in--I've always

00:36:21   done it in my writing as to emphasize, you know, inflect words that I hear in my head as I'm

00:36:31   writing. If I were speaking them, I would raise my voice or do something with my voice to add

00:36:36   inflection to that word. And I would feel hamstrung without italics. I would feel like my writing was

00:36:46   missing something. Hyperlinks are like italics on steroids, on superpowers,

00:36:54   because, right, but like you're saying, like mid-sentence and something

00:36:58   something suspiciously blank and if you just the word suspiciously at suck

00:37:02   they might link to something and it would just be a link to who knows I

00:37:08   don't know what the example is but you know you know some random thing but it

00:37:12   would add context and it might not even be directly related to the subject that

00:37:16   was being written about, but it would be interesting and it adds context to what they meant by

00:37:20   the word suspiciously, way more than just mere italicizing it or bolding it would. And

00:37:28   it adds a dimension to writing that not only didn't exist before but couldn't exist in

00:37:35   print.

00:37:36   Yeah, exactly. And what's interesting is that I took so much influence from that is that

00:37:43   When I write my posts still, I use a text editor to write my posts, and then I paste

00:37:47   them into my CMS.

00:37:49   Very old school.

00:37:51   And when I'm writing the posts, I insert hyperlinks as I go.

00:37:55   I don't do them at the end.

00:37:57   I can't do them at the end, actually.

00:37:59   I have to do them while I'm thinking about how I want whatever paragraph or sentence

00:38:07   or whatever to communicate.

00:38:10   hyperlink is part of the communication. It is doing like part of the work of the writing,

00:38:17   part of the work of the communication to the audience. And I just, I have to do it.

00:38:22   Yeah, I don't know what it would be like to read Jason Kotke without hyperlinks mid-sentence.

00:38:29   Yeah, I really don't. The difference though is that, or the difference between Suck and a blog,

00:38:37   was that it would be like, I think Suck was, as I recall, a three—it was like Monday,

00:38:41   Wednesday, Friday, I think. It was like three times a week.

00:38:45   Tim Cynova Yeah, something like that.

00:38:46   Michael Gentry And you would just go to the homepage,

00:38:49   and if it was Wednesday, it was the Wednesday issue, episode, just, you know, but it was like

00:38:56   just@suck.com. Like, you didn't really go to suck.com/—I mean, maybe they had—I guess they

00:39:03   They did have archives and you could go back

00:39:05   and look at the old ones, but the point was really,

00:39:08   you would just go to, you'd just type suck.com

00:39:11   in your browser and read the homepage,

00:39:13   and the homepage only had that episode.

00:39:15   You could click a link to get to the archive,

00:39:18   but it wasn't a scrolling list of,

00:39:20   oh, just keep scrolling down and you get to Monday

00:39:23   and then you scroll down and you get to last Friday

00:39:25   and you scroll down.

00:39:26   And it was the nature of Suck.

00:39:30   I can't even imagine if Suck were that way.

00:39:33   you know it had a very like I said I was I've always been obsessed with form in in media

00:39:40   so that gave suck a form it was like you'd go to the home page and there'd be a new article

00:39:46   three times a week and that's where you read it on the home page and then you'd close it and

00:39:51   you know go to the next bookmark in your favorite sites and see what else was there and until you

00:39:56   were done dicking around on the web for the session you know or until somebody yeah until

00:40:02   somebody picked up the telephone in another room and kicked you off line.

00:40:05   There you go.

00:40:07   Yeah.

00:40:08   But the revolution and the coalescence is in

00:40:13   blogging and it seems so obvious now it's, you know, here we are a quarter century later

00:40:18   and it's, you know, it's hard to imagine that it had to be invented.

00:40:24   But it is like that, that Justin Hall, the robot wisdom

00:40:29   style, new stuff at the top, old stuff at the bottom, and it just scrolls down.

00:40:36   And I remember when it first started becoming a thing, kind of objecting to it because it seemed

00:40:49   like it, or if not objecting to it, being confused or wondering whether it should go top down or

00:40:58   bottom up, right? Because a newspaper, which is a better example than a magazine, because a magazine

00:41:04   you page, but a newspaper, a broadsheet is tall and goes down and the important articles are at

00:41:12   the top and the less important articles are at the bottom, you know, by the editors or whoever

00:41:17   did the layout judgment. And it seemed counterintuitive to me, like, that it's just,

00:41:26   if you're gonna go chronological, should it go top down or bottom up?

00:41:29   And then it also seemed counterintuitive to me that it's always just newest at the top,

00:41:35   whether it was more or less important. It had no—it was simply chronological. And it took me a long

00:41:43   time—it took me a long time to accept that, no, this fits the web. It just chronological fits the

00:41:51   web. And I'm wondering when you noticed that, and if that's when you shifted from oscillate to,

00:41:59   "Hey, I should make a new thing."

00:42:01   >> Yeah, I think that mirrors a lot of what I was thinking at the time. Because in retrospect,

00:42:08   yeah, like chronologically is the way to do it, because blogs got people in the habit of checking

00:42:15   sites more frequently. And then, of course, RSS came along and it became just sort of another

00:42:22   kind of inbox, I guess, that people would check. And you could check it dozens of times a day if

00:42:28   you wanted to. Just flick over to your RSS reader and, "Oh, John's got something new."

00:42:33   So it kind of developed and also developed its habits in the audience as it went along.

00:42:40   So chronological became the natural way to do it because you'd already read the important stuff

00:42:47   down the page earlier in the day, and you just want to catch up on whatever's the newest.

00:42:52   You know, it's not an ideal thing. And I think that when you see templates on Ghost and things

00:42:58   like that and WordPress and things like that, you see less purely chronological ordering.

00:43:05   you can call out featured posts and things like that. It looks more like an online magazine or

00:43:11   an online newspaper where, like you said earlier, it's like the important stuff is at the top

00:43:17   and the less important stuff is further down. But that chronological thing was like,

00:43:21   or the reverse crown was the thing that really made it take off in a way because it trained

00:43:33   the audience to basically come by more often. And I count myself in that part of the audience. It's

00:43:37   not like I'm pulling any master strings here. It's just like we all did it at the same time

00:43:42   as we went along. And eventually it's like when sites like Gizmodo and Gawker and Engadget came

00:43:52   out, they were doing 30, 40, 50 items a day. And people were like, "Okay, more. Let's go."

00:44:00   Oh, well, but I'm just curious what made you think, though, to switch from you doing it under

00:44:08   oscillating to striking a new brand at kotkey.org. Right, so what became kotkey.org started at

00:44:18   oscillate as an episode. It was like, oh, I'm going to keep a blog and do this. And it wasn't until

00:44:23   maybe a year and a half later where I shifted those sort of archives over to sort of over to

00:44:28   its own domain. And, you know, I think it just, you know, from the perspective of it was just

00:44:35   way easier to update, you know, like making episodes it was like, okay, I gotta sit down,

00:44:40   I gotta have an idea, and then I've gotta do this whole thing. It was just so easy to like,

00:44:44   oh, I'm just gonna pull up a, you know, a new, you know, back in the old days it was like I had a

00:44:49   file, like I had an HTML file that I would just, I would directly edit it on the server. At the end,

00:44:54   when it was done, like, I would save it, you know, and that was it.

00:44:58   Did you edit directly on the server, or did you edit locally, double-check, and then upload?

00:45:03   Jim Kudall.

00:45:04   No, no, it was on the server, I think, for longer than it should have been.

00:45:09   Jim Kudall and I have talked about this, and we both felt that in that era, we did better writing

00:45:18   when we were writing directly on the server, because it raised your—it, like,

00:45:23   straightened your back and squared your shoulders. Right? Because it's—

00:45:27   That raises the stakes, right?

00:45:28   Right. I always think about the way that in the entire Star Wars universe,

00:45:32   all the architecture is skyscraper-y or chasmy, and there are walkways on every planet,

00:45:40   and there's never a railing. Right? You know what I mean?

00:45:48   And that was blogging directly from production, right?

00:45:51   Exactly. It's blogging directly from production is walking on any of those catwalks on Bespin

00:45:58   or the place where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn fought the Darth Maul and the prequel.

00:46:06   It's just any one of those things. All the TV shows, they all keep it up. To me,

00:46:13   it's one of my favorite traditions in science fiction is anywhere where there's a walkway in

00:46:17   Star Wars. No railings. It's like, where are the regulators? Are there any regulators in the Star

00:46:25   Wars universe? No, none! Right, it's like a—there's a fantastic essay in there about the libertarian

00:46:32   nature of safety regulations in the Star Wars universe, but that's what it felt like. And,

00:46:38   you know, it keeps you careful, you know what I mean? You're more likely to trip and fall

00:46:44   on a nice safe catwalk with nice safe railings than you are on a catwalk without railings,

00:46:49   and that was saving websites directly to production. I still edit things,

00:46:54   some things on Daring Fireball directly on the website, and it keeps you sharp.

00:46:59   Yep. You know, it's interesting though, because I still feel like,

00:47:03   I don't know, I've been doing this for almost 25 years now, with Oscillate even before that,

00:47:09   Like, I still feel like when I publish something sometimes I was like, "Why am I allowed to do this?

00:47:15   I just push a button and it's out there, and, you know, hundreds of people read it in, like,

00:47:20   the next three minutes or whatever, you know, because everyone's on RSS."

00:47:24   And it just seems insane to me sometimes, like, when you actually, like, you know,

00:47:27   it's one of those things where if you actually think about how things work in the world,

00:47:32   like, you're like, "Oh my god, I can't believe how this works!"

00:47:34   And this is, like, one of those things. It seems insane to me that, like, I can push a button and

00:47:39   and all of a sudden around the world,

00:47:41   everyone can read this instantly.

00:47:42   - I totally agree.

00:47:45   Who else was an inspiration for you?

00:47:47   Dave Weiner is obvious, you know,

00:47:50   and helped formulate the top-down chronological nature

00:47:55   of blogging in the mid-90s.

00:47:59   He's been doing scripting.com for at least,

00:48:02   I think, as long as, or longer than you.

00:48:05   - Yeah, longer, I think, yeah.

00:48:07   - Yeah, and no surprise that he invented RSS,

00:48:11   which is a chronic, by nature,

00:48:14   I think best suited to be consumed chronologically.

00:48:18   I mean, you cannot, I mean, part of the beauty of RSS

00:48:21   is if you wanted to, you could somehow do something

00:48:23   with it that's not, but it, you know, RSS in a sense

00:48:26   is just a chronological, it's the blogging format

00:48:31   in a more, in a structured--

00:48:34   - Yeah, exactly.

00:48:36   non-visual data stream format. And so it's no surprise that he invented that. You mentioned

00:48:42   robot wisdom. Well, what were you saying? Sorry, I was just going to say, like on Dave,

00:48:47   I'm not a regular scripting news reader anymore. But I went, I don't know, a few weeks ago,

00:48:52   and he has still got a great blogging voice. It's kind of that combination between he can write,

00:49:00   And it's also very casual. I mean, all writing is casual now, or most writing is casual.

00:49:06   Twitter has sort of trained everybody to be this sort of very casual, but his voice is still great.

00:49:13   JS You can hear it. I can hear it.

00:49:16   JS Yeah, and it's funny because he came to it, he used to write—what I should do is get him on the

00:49:20   show, and I've long been thinking about it—but much like Oscillate, he had written before

00:49:27   scripting dot com and sort of overlapping with it these columns called Dave net for hot wire

00:49:33   and they were more like traditional columns like a Dave net was like a whole article and

00:49:40   it wasn't a blog but he was full of hyperlinks and it was super exuberant about the open web and full

00:49:51   of ideas. But it's like he went on that same path where it's like he intuitively knew that writing

00:49:59   like a once or twice a week column wasn't for him and it wasn't what he was meant to do.

00:50:07   The scripting.com, also nobody else has ever blogged like Dave Weiner except

00:50:19   the people who've used his blogging engine tools or CMSs, which were always meant to

00:50:26   publish a Dave Weiner-style blog, but nobody else has his unique sense of timing and length

00:50:35   of items. In a way, Scripting.com remains the oldest school of old-school blogs because

00:50:43   his entries are mostly still just paragraphs. They're not, there's not, not headline plus

00:50:51   paragraph. And it's, you know, he rants, he's ranted about it on and off for years, and he's

00:50:57   right because he invented RSS, but he, you know, huge frustration for him are RSS readers that

00:51:05   assume every entry has a title or a headline or whatever you want to call it. And he invented RSS

00:51:12   knowing his own style and knowing that whatever the element—I forget if it's—I think it's title.

00:51:20   It's like inside the entry item or it's inside a thing called item is a thing called title. And

00:51:26   it's marked optional very, very, very obviously in this spec. But it's a very old-school style,

00:51:33   which you used to have too, right? Like in the early days of Kottke, posts were paragraphs,

00:51:39   not headline, you know, not articles or items or whatever you want to call them.

00:51:44   Yeah, the reason why I started doing headlines is because of RSS. Otherwise, I

00:51:50   don't necessarily think I would have. And, you know, I mean, I side with Dave on

00:51:55   this. If it were better for RSS and that sort of stuff, like, I would use a

00:51:59   lot fewer titles. And, you know, with the Quick Links now,

00:52:03   like, that's what that is again. It's sort of a return to this titleless,

00:52:08   you know, these titleless posts. Well, and you know, the reason I started doing those is because

00:52:13   it works well on Twitter and Mastodon and Facebook and stuff. It's a little nugget with one link that

00:52:20   you can send across social media sort of the same way, you know. I was about to say that the odd

00:52:27   thing about it in the way that like, I think it's a truism for all of humanity. I mean, not just

00:52:35   them our modern age but go back as far in history as we can, that good ideas resurface.

00:52:43   And sometimes good ideas don't strike, right? It's somehow the matchbook got wet and it

00:52:51   could have, but something happened, the match just isn't going to strike. It's going to

00:52:57   resurface. And titleless blog posts never really stuck. Dave has stuck with them, but

00:53:04   for the most part, almost nobody else does it anymore. But what what are tweets other

00:53:12   than short titleist blog posts, right? That the idea resurface and it's become

00:53:19   another one of those media or forms, whatever you want to call it, that's now

00:53:27   so established that people forget it had to be invented. But that's all the

00:53:32   tweets are. And with Mastodon and its variable character length limits, right? I think

00:53:38   the standard out-of-the-box limit is 500 characters. It might be something else.

00:53:46   CB Something like that.

00:53:47   JS But because it's open source software and it's part of the,

00:53:50   some instances of Mastodon have different character limits, but that's only enforced on

00:54:00   the post from that server. But, you know, let's just say, but for the sake of argument and putting

00:54:07   the pedantry aside, 500 characters, no title, right? It's just a 500-character blob of text

00:54:15   that could be and generally often is—I would bet the average Mastodon post is still,

00:54:22   or at least the people I follow, is within Twitter's 280 characters, right? It's just,

00:54:28   you know? A thought. It's like the length of one thought, no title. You could do a whole,

00:54:37   I think you could do a whole like 40-minute presentation at a conference on the

00:54:44   psychology of not having to create a title for a post. Because it seems you would think at first,

00:54:53   and most people and maybe people who don't tweet a lot or aren't writers and are just readers and

00:54:59   consumers would think well that doesn't seem difficult and you know most of the things you

00:55:04   read have maybe seemingly obvious titles that are just sort of descriptive and maybe you know

00:55:10   certain you know written to help you understand it so isn't that obvious but I it is it is like an

00:55:17   I don't know how to describe it but it is psychologically as a someone who writes such

00:55:22   things. It is huge. If I had to have titles for tweets, I would have tweeted and I would continue

00:55:29   Mastodon posting one tenth, one fiftieth. I don't know. I don't know that I would have ever even--I

00:55:36   don't think the thing ever would have taken off. I don't think it ever would have gotten off the

00:55:40   ground. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it's interesting, the titles thing, because--so you've got what you've

00:55:47   So the way that I do it is I've got what I've written,

00:55:51   and then you somehow in the title also have to say what you've written,

00:55:56   but you don't want to necessarily say it again in the same way as you did in the text of the thing.

00:56:03   And then I also have to, so each of my main posts also has some tweet text,

00:56:10   and that's the text that goes out on social media.

00:56:13   So, I have to rewrite what I wrote in the title and in the piece.

00:56:19   I also have to do it in less than 250 characters or whatever it is with the link.

00:56:24   So it's like I'm trying to write the same thing three times with three different content

00:56:30   links, and sometimes it is the last thing that I want to do.

00:56:35   I'm like, "Fuck this.

00:56:36   I just want to write the thing that I want to write and then move on."

00:56:40   and I don't want to have to think of the stupid title.

00:56:42   (laughing)

00:56:44   - There's, it's possible we might be heading towards,

00:56:47   by the time you and I finish up this racket,

00:56:50   we might be heading towards a time

00:56:51   where you could just do that and, you know,

00:56:54   some kind of open AI type thing

00:56:55   could do the summary for you, the tweet length summary.

00:56:59   - Oh, there you go.

00:56:59   - I mean, 'cause that's the sort of thing

00:57:01   that these goddamn bots are good at, right?

00:57:04   Doing, using them to produce summaries is shocking.

00:57:08   I don't want to go on a side rant about what's impressive

00:57:11   and surprising about these open AIs,

00:57:14   but their ability to summarize is incredible.

00:57:17   - Have you looked at any of these AI things

00:57:19   and put your stuff in there and see what it makes of it?

00:57:21   Hey, I'm gonna give you this post, can you summarize it?

00:57:24   - No, I haven't really, 'cause I'm a little--

00:57:26   - Yeah, I haven't done it either.

00:57:28   - No, I've asked them what they think of me.

00:57:30   - What did they--

00:57:34   - Oh, it's super boring.

00:57:36   They just steal from Wikipedia and say that I'm a writer, blogger.

00:57:40   Actually, they're a little better.

00:57:41   Actually, I think that the Bing chatbot has a better, in my opinion,

00:57:45   a better brief two, three sentence bio of me than Wikipedia does.

00:57:52   I forget the difference,

00:57:53   but it seems to me to fit more my mental model of what I should be known for.

00:57:59   But I miss the boat on the thing where the Bing one could be

00:58:04   tricked into revealing the Sidney character

00:58:07   behind the scenes.

00:58:08   I really am so mad that I missed the boat.

00:58:11   It was like, there was like this two day window

00:58:13   and Kevin Roos of the New York Times,

00:58:16   he's the guy who, Sidney said he should leave his wife

00:58:21   and start a relationship with her.

00:58:24   Ben Thompson got into an argument with Sidney

00:58:28   and she told him he was a bad researcher

00:58:32   and that she was gonna report him to her developers

00:58:35   and get him kicked off the service.

00:58:37   Wow, right.

00:58:38   - Hard truth there.

00:58:39   - I missed the boat on that, but no, with my tweets,

00:58:43   I have to rewrite, and it's overdue,

00:58:45   and again, I'm a chronic procrastinator.

00:58:47   I mean, just take a look at Daring Fireball.

00:58:49   I hand wrote my own Tweetbot, not Tweetbot the app,

00:58:52   but my bot that tweets my articles.

00:58:55   It runs on a crontask on my server,

00:58:58   reads my RSS feed, and waits.

00:59:00   This is part of the cleverness,

00:59:02   I hand wrote it. It waits until they're at least five minutes old before it will auto tweet them.

00:59:08   So if it happens, if the cron task happens to be up, the five-minute interval is up right after

00:59:15   I publish, it won't tweet it because it gives me five minutes to quick fix any obvious typos,

00:59:24   or if I accidentally publish before I actually meant to, or something like that. So it runs

00:59:30   every five minutes, but all mine does is tweet the headline and then the URL. And the other reason

00:59:40   that I wrote my own, and it's way less important now that Twitter has 280 characters, but some of

00:59:47   my headlines, it's like a shtick, as I'm sure you've noticed. It's like once or twice a year,

00:59:54   I will write a multi 100 character headline and you know along the lines inspired by our mutual

01:00:04   hero David Foster Wallace and that sort of you know I don't know what you would even call it

01:00:09   a shtick it for lack of a better word I'm sure he'd have a better word for it but I you know it

01:00:15   there are many new not many but numerous posts in Daring Fireballs history that the combination

01:00:22   of headline plus URL, even a shortened URL would not fit in 140 characters,

01:00:27   and I wanted to write my own algorithm to truncate the headline. So of course I wrote my own thing.

01:00:33   I have to update it from Astadon. I've been putting that off. That won't take much longer,

01:00:36   but all I do is the headline. But I have noticed that you, yours are like handcrafted summaries,

01:00:44   and I was curious. I actually was curious about it. So that's like, what is that, another field

01:00:49   in movable type or?

01:00:51   - Yeah, exactly.

01:00:52   So I just use another field and then, you know,

01:00:54   I have a custom, you know, tweet thing that I wrote

01:00:57   that pushes it out to Twitter.

01:01:00   And then actually I have a Zapier,

01:01:03   I have a Zap like a Zapier or Zapier that reads the tweet

01:01:07   and then posts it to Facebook.

01:01:09   'Cause the Facebook API stuff is a little bit like,

01:01:12   I don't know, I just didn't want to go there.

01:01:14   And then I recently updated it for Mastodon.

01:01:16   So it's doing the same thing there.

01:01:18   So did you--

01:01:19   - And the reason I did it is that

01:01:21   I just didn't wanna use the title

01:01:24   because I felt like the titles really didn't do that well

01:01:29   on Twitter.

01:01:29   It wasn't enticing people to click through.

01:01:33   I wanted a little bit more explanation

01:01:35   and I wanted to show a little bit more

01:01:36   of what you're actually getting yourself into

01:01:38   if you wanna click on the link.

01:01:41   And I don't know, I just think they work a little bit better

01:01:44   than just titles.

01:01:45   It's worth sort of the extra effort.

01:01:46   they come across as the way someone would hand tweet a link

01:01:51   or that you would hand tweet a link to the thing.

01:01:56   - Yep.

01:01:57   - All right, I'm gonna keep going on this front about Kraft,

01:02:01   but let me take another break here

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01:03:22   All right, I broke the seal on movable type.

01:03:26   My joke for this episode was that I've collected

01:03:29   and we've got here in a group chat

01:03:32   the entire world user base of the movable type CMS

01:03:36   all on one podcast.

01:03:40   - Yeah, we're all here.

01:03:41   - I'm not sure that that's entirely true.

01:03:45   Off the top of my head, I can't think of any friends

01:03:48   who are still using it.

01:03:50   I think kudal.com still runs it,

01:03:52   but they don't really update the blog part

01:03:55   of kudal.com anymore.

01:03:56   They're really more focused.

01:03:58   - Yeah, they don't.

01:03:59   - They're more focused on field notes,

01:04:01   and I don't think the field notes stuff,

01:04:03   I don't think that runs on movable type.

01:04:05   I could check with Jim, but just about everybody--

01:04:08   what, six colors used to, but not anymore?

01:04:11   - You know, I actually, I should,

01:04:13   I always, this comes up with Jason Snell.

01:04:15   Six colors definitely moved to WordPress,

01:04:17   but I believe that Jason's, the incomparable podcast empire

01:04:22   might still run on movable type.

01:04:26   And in fact, I'm almost certain, I think so.

01:04:31   Anyway, so he's got something still going with it.

01:04:34   Our mutual friend, Greg Kanouse, is that how you,

01:04:37   I honest to God don't know how to pronounce his fucking certain.

01:04:40   I think it's Greg Nouse.

01:04:41   Nouse.

01:04:42   Just Nouse.

01:04:42   Well, it's Canouse when you spell it.

01:04:44   It is.

01:04:45   But he is actually a friend and I don't know how to pronounce his goddamn surname.

01:04:50   I guess I continually forget.

01:04:52   I always say this,

01:04:56   my problem is when I became a voracious reader as a youth,

01:04:59   I didn't want to ask my parents how to pronounce words.

01:05:02   So when I'd encounter a new word,

01:05:03   I'd pronounce it in my head,

01:05:05   And my brain was jelly back then, but my brain is now cement and all of those,

01:05:10   how I guessed as a child to pronounce certain words are cemented in my head.

01:05:15   And B, I also, for anything I need to learn how to spell,

01:05:22   I somehow in my mind memorize a phonetic spelling.

01:05:25   And that's why I, of course,

01:05:27   of course his name isn't pronounced Kanous, of course not, right?

01:05:30   Although Gary Gnu was Gary Gnu.

01:05:32   no good news is good good news with yeah gary i love the i love that we're talking about

01:05:40   what is it the great space coaster yeah the great space the name of the show gary

01:05:44   new that's great yeah a prototypical carry the yeah prototypical gary ganou with the ganous

01:05:50   yeah prototypical youtuber pretty much oh it was sort of like weekend update for kids really i

01:05:59   I guess is a better way to say it.

01:06:00   But yeah, in my head,

01:06:02   and of course his name isn't pronounced Canals,

01:06:04   but in my head it's Canals

01:06:06   'cause that way I know how to spell it.

01:06:07   But anyway, he's still a movable type expert.

01:06:09   Or I'll just ask why,

01:06:12   'cause people ask me all the time.

01:06:14   - I mean, at this point,

01:06:17   I've kind of bolted so many things onto it

01:06:20   that changing would not only mean changing

01:06:22   sort of like regular CMS things,

01:06:24   but also all sorts of different other things.

01:06:27   I took, you know, earlier, actually last year,

01:06:30   I took a couple of really hard looks at Ghost

01:06:34   to figure out if I could make that thing

01:06:37   do what I wanted it to.

01:06:40   And it's there in a lot of ways.

01:06:43   And I think in some ways it's just, you know,

01:06:45   it's Ghost is something, you know,

01:06:47   like Substack or whatever, it's built around, you know,

01:06:51   it's sort of built around like longer articles with titles.

01:06:55   That seems to be the direction that we're heading in.

01:06:57   Like we're, it's, it's almost come full circle in that, you know, before blogs,

01:07:01   like everyone wrote things with articles with titles or whatever.

01:07:05   And now it's like, we're back there with the newsletter thing.

01:07:08   You have, you know, three articles that come out every week and, and that's,

01:07:12   that's the deal, but like, that's not where I want to move to.

01:07:15   Like I want to move, if anything, I want to move back more towards, you know,

01:07:20   more of a Twitter vibe than a sub stack vibe, you know what I mean?

01:07:24   just like on my personal end.

01:07:27   And I just don't think Ghost,

01:07:30   I think you can probably do it because it's extensible

01:07:34   and open source and all that sort of stuff.

01:07:36   And you can write all of this stuff around it,

01:07:38   but a lot of my stuff is in Perl and PHP still,

01:07:42   'cause I'm stuck in the amber of the early 2000s,

01:07:46   technologically speaking.

01:07:48   - A lot of your stuff or all of your stuff?

01:07:52   I would say probably all of it.

01:07:54   There's some JavaScript stuff going on,

01:07:57   but not a ton of it.

01:07:58   - Yeah.

01:07:59   The only thing I have that's not written in PHP or Perl,

01:08:02   and I'm in the exact same situation with you,

01:08:04   and I've often described my movable type setup as,

01:08:07   my analogy is Han Solo's description

01:08:09   of the Millennium Falcon that I've made.

01:08:11   She may not look like much,

01:08:15   but she's got it where it counts.

01:08:16   I forget the exact quote, but I may--

01:08:17   - Yeah, yeah, exactly.

01:08:18   - But the key part is,

01:08:20   I've made a lot of special modifications myself.

01:08:23   - Exactly.

01:08:25   - And combining with the fact that Han Solo

01:08:28   doesn't seem exactly like the sharpest mechanic

01:08:32   in the galaxy.

01:08:33   And this shit keeps breaking down.

01:08:37   And it isn't exactly a bulletproof architecture,

01:08:41   but it's really cool shit, right?

01:08:44   Like the stupid little gun that can come out

01:08:46   and shoot some stormtroopers if they come out

01:08:48   before you take off.

01:08:49   that's my movable type.

01:08:50   My movable type and my publishing system

01:08:53   doesn't resemble the out of the box movable, and never did.

01:08:57   I mean, from day one, didn't really resemble

01:09:01   out of the box movable type.

01:09:03   It's, to me, it's a static website.

01:09:06   It's not a publisher,

01:09:07   and the public never touches movable type.

01:09:10   It was a static web generator before that was even a term.

01:09:16   And there's a, if it's not broke,

01:09:19   don't fix it part. There's the I know Pearl and Pearl. I wouldn't recommend it. I've never

01:09:26   been a Pearl evangelist, but the way my brain works as a programmer, it's the language that

01:09:31   best suits the wavelengths of my brain. And PHP is just stupid Pearl, in my opinion. You

01:09:42   know what? Let me take that back. Well, let me put that back. Let me take that back because

01:09:46   Because I know that PHP has continued to evolve and there's modern PHP with all of this object-oriented

01:09:52   stuff and the language has evolved, but the original PHP was even advertised as stupid

01:10:02   Perl.

01:10:03   And that's why there's dollar signs in front of the variables and stuff like that.

01:10:06   So the way I write PHP is just I write it almost like Perl and then just keep banging

01:10:12   head against the way that of it this would be easy in pearl but you know to put a regular expression

01:10:17   in php it has to be in a string and so i've got a backslash escape on blah blah blah the only thing

01:10:21   i've done that's not php or pearl is way back when custom link shorteners were a thing i i didn't want

01:10:28   to use bitly because of course i wanted to do it myself and i wrote and i wrote my own link

01:10:35   shortener and I had I even had a fancy domain name with the star in it it was

01:10:41   DF and then the Unicode symbol for a star dot us which I don't remember that

01:10:47   and I thought that was the fucking shit I just like damn that is sweet DF and

01:10:54   then a Unicode star dot us well guess what it broke in just about everybody

01:11:02   else's CMS's you know it was all over the place and a oh and the other thing

01:11:07   it really broke were this I remember why I changed the biggest reason it broke

01:11:13   wasn't CMS's it was link detectors so in other words you know anything that where

01:11:19   you paste a URL into plain text and it automatically link affies the link you

01:11:25   know and most URLs are easy to determine all of the almost all of them broke

01:11:30   because that star character didn't look like a character and they were using

01:11:35   everybody was using regular expressions and irregular expressions broke yeah and

01:11:39   I would go to people because I'm so my weird bizarre super talent and

01:11:44   programming is creating regular expressions I have a gist that is like

01:11:48   one of the most popular just out there of a liberal it just a regular

01:11:54   expression but it's like this huge crazy long regular expression to match URLs

01:11:58   And it's pretty good. There's better ways now

01:12:00   And in fact mine has some bugs where you can put a bad URL at it and it'll get caught in an infinite loop in

01:12:06   Some like in Python or something like that

01:12:08   But anyway, hmm, I would send people a better URL that would help match the star

01:12:13   But it didn't help and I was like, alright

01:12:15   I give up and I but I couldn't find a good to some I my the one I the long-term domain I settled on was

01:12:22   for dot us because I couldn't get something better or no my my ones with the fancy Unicode weren't dot us they were dot

01:12:30   ws which I don't even know what that stands for but it was one of the few top it was but the reason I went with

01:12:36   Ws was a it was two characters and B

01:12:39   It was one of the few top-level domains that would accept a Unicode character in

01:12:44   The string of the domain itself most wouldn't like you couldn't register

01:12:49   DF star.com you just the.com wouldn't accept it for the good reason that it doesn't really work. So I

01:12:57   but anyway, I wrote my custom link unshortener in Sinatra, which is Ruby and it's it. Oh,

01:13:06   it's and I taught myself Ruby just because I at the time and I guess I don't know what was this

01:13:11   like 2008, 2009. My brain was just quite not cement enough that I could—I felt like I could

01:13:19   learn a new language. And so I wrote the whole thing myself in Sinatra with Ruby, and I was like,

01:13:24   "Hey, I could tell that this is joyful. I can see why people love this Ruby language. This is a lot

01:13:29   of fun." And then I wrote it, and then I fixed the bugs, and then I've left it running. I literally—I

01:13:35   haven't restarted or touched that. It runs on a different server, of course, because it has to

01:13:40   answer the DF for that us domain Sinatra is awesome because it just runs and

01:13:45   runs and runs and you never have to kick it kick the tires or do anything but

01:13:50   I've completely forgotten everything about how it works I don't even know I

01:13:54   don't know the line oh I've completely forgotten everything about Ruby I've

01:13:57   completely forgotten how you actually make Sinatra work so if it ever does

01:14:01   break I don't even know if I know how to restart yeah and in hindsight do you

01:14:05   even though like the login.

01:14:06   - Oh, I do, I should check.

01:14:09   I'm actually, one thing I'm good at pack ratting

01:14:12   are passwords, so I'm pretty sure I've got the login,

01:14:14   but it's not gonna work.

01:14:15   But anyway, I'm in the same boat.

01:14:18   I've looked at other things, Matt Mullenweg,

01:14:21   you know Matt, right?

01:14:22   I mean, you've got to.

01:14:23   One of the great mentions of the entire world,

01:14:28   one of the best people I've ever met,

01:14:30   creator of WordPress, which he forked from something else,

01:14:34   He'd be the first person to admit but and and CEO of the whole WordPress tumbler slash whatever else they've got under their umbrella

01:14:41   I'm sure I bet they still have it going. I don't know like

01:14:44   six seven eight years ago he and me and um, oh Malek went to a Yankees playoff game and

01:14:52   Matt told me at this game

01:14:55   It's just the three of us that he'd he'd had a team build a clone of daring fireball at WordPress in

01:15:02   WordPress that looks just you know just just like daring fire home and just uses

01:15:07   the RSS feed to keep it populated and he's anytime you want to switch over

01:15:11   just to say the word and I'm like that's you know that's very nice of you but my

01:15:16   problem with that is I don't know I would never I don't like it's not that I

01:15:19   don't like WordPress it's just that I know that I would never figure out how

01:15:22   it works under the hood it's very very complex I've looked at it I and I it

01:15:27   wouldn't therefore I wouldn't be able to do my own weird things my special modifications yeah exactly

01:15:33   yeah and the other way I always describe my site is you know it's held together by bailing wire but

01:15:40   it's it it's so like the the fact that it's like a flat file generator and you can generate any

01:15:46   type of flat file you want including like php so you can generate files that are gonna then

01:15:52   do other things. It's just it's so it's so flexible and so once you get your brain around it,

01:16:00   which is, you know, my brain has been around it for for years and years now, it is just it's so

01:16:06   powerful. That's exactly how daring fireball works. It is it. I go through movable type,

01:16:12   which is written in pearl and I publish and it spits out PHP files and those PHP files based

01:16:20   on a template have I mostly use PHP as like a fancy server side include and

01:16:26   they just include things like the sidebar and the thing at the top and so

01:16:32   if I want to make a change like I want to add which I will do soon once I get

01:16:38   my bot updated a mastodon link in my sidebar in addition to or perhaps

01:16:43   replacing the Twitter link I'll just update one file which is my sidebar and

01:16:48   and it'll instantly appear on all my pages.

01:16:51   I don't have to do the movable type republish thing,

01:16:54   which is like the was back in the day,

01:16:57   the big knock against it.

01:16:58   'Cause everything that could be a server side include

01:17:00   is just a server side include that I do in PHP.

01:17:03   And then I have a little bit of other stuff

01:17:05   that I do in PHP to make things dynamic

01:17:08   or something like that.

01:17:09   But yeah, and the whole world's moved on

01:17:12   in I don't know what web's,

01:17:14   the Node.js thing does, I don't understand it.

01:17:17   really don't. I don't understand how it works. I don't. I don't get it. I don't understand the

01:17:21   concept. Whereas Apache, I totally understand. I think that's what Ghost is written in, right?

01:17:29   Yeah, I think so, yeah.

01:17:30   So when I was looking at Ghost, I was like, okay, so I'm going to have to learn Node.js,

01:17:33   it works in the browser, but it's also on the backend. And I was just like, okay,

01:17:39   this is a lot for me, I think. Brain stuck in cement.

01:17:43   Right. So as a thing that just spits out flat text files, right, and movable type therefore,

01:17:50   and you can have it emit as many for a post, as many flat text files behind the scenes as you

01:17:57   want. So I've always had this trick where it spits out a .php file, but nobody ever sees those .php

01:18:05   URLs. I use Apache Turkareach so that it looks like that's not there.

01:18:10   Yep.

01:18:11   but you can add .txt, .txt, to any Daring Fireball URL, and you can see it in Markdown format,

01:18:20   which is plain text. That's not done dynamically. So every time I publish any article, it spits out

01:18:26   whatever the slug .php and whatever the slug .txt. The .php files get served without any extension,

01:18:37   and if you try using the extension it'll just redirect you to to the URL without that dot PHP

01:18:43   and the dot text just gets served as text slash plain or is it plain dot text I think it's text

01:18:49   text slash plane as the content type and right you know and it is a template though so it you know

01:18:57   it's not just the dump of the markdown format there's you know a little bit of formatting and

01:19:04   I've got my name in there and the headline has the exact right number of equal signs underlining it

01:19:11   to make a markdown h1, you know, which of course I did with a fancy regular expression. But, you

01:19:20   know, but basically I just use movable type as a front end to spitting out text files. And it's,

01:19:27   it remains, that's my, my, when people are like, how can you still be using this ancient technology?

01:19:34   it works perfectly for for my needs. Yep. So there there so ends the movable type

01:19:39   user group meetup. Yeah, the meetup of every single person. You know it's bad when Anil

01:19:47   stopped using it, right? Or not bad, but yeah, because again, I don't think it's bad. I'm not

01:19:51   I'm not in the least bit embarrassed that I use it because like I said, it fits and it's so funny

01:19:55   that you and I use it the same way. But you know, we're the last one standing or nearly so when Anil

01:20:01   switched. Yeah, because yeah, exactly. Guy used to be an executive. It's six apart.

01:20:06   It's six apart. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think he's on ghost now. Maybe. I don't know. I think so. I

01:20:11   think he is actually. So here we are 25 years in. I'm trying to think what else there is in there.

01:20:16   So the one difference, one difference between over the decade, can you believe it's decades

01:20:22   between decades between me and you is you've changed your design from time to time.

01:20:29   and I not so much, but it does seem like you change it less frequently. I mean, I think that's pretty

01:20:38   clear. I think, you know, and I looked back when you I mentioned previously on the show, your 10th

01:20:44   anniversary post and your 10th anniversary post, I swear to God, I've got it noted here, it's going

01:20:49   to be in the show notes, is great both to hear your thoughts a mere 10 years in and because what

01:20:58   you did in that 10-year anniversary post was collect screenshot or—and post—screenshots of

01:21:04   all of the designs of kottke.org theretofore. And there, you know, and there were all over the

01:21:11   place, right? It's not, you know—so I'm curious to hear your thoughts about that. And, you know,

01:21:15   the fact that you did change it so wildly in the early years and the fact that it's seemingly

01:21:22   slowed down to some degree.

01:21:23   >> Yeah, I think sort of the experimentation in the early days was sort of a leftover from

01:21:31   Oscillate. And one of the reasons I started blogging was that I wanted something, like I

01:21:41   wanted content to design around. Like the designing bit was the thing that I was kind of excited about.

01:21:49   And it was fun to come up with different ways to present, you know, the...

01:21:55   like different ways to design blogs. And I think as time has gone on, the actual blogging

01:22:03   piece has gotten to be more important. This is the thing that I'm interested in doing,

01:22:08   this is the thing that people are here for. You know, I'm sure the same thing with your site.

01:22:13   A lot of people don't even go to the site, they just read it through RSS. You know,

01:22:18   I'll hear a comment every once in a while,

01:22:20   it's, "Oh, I haven't been to your site

01:22:21   in a couple of years."

01:22:22   I'm like, "Really?

01:22:24   Never clicked through?"

01:22:25   And now it's just part of the flip side, I think,

01:22:28   of having sort of a bailing wire situation

01:22:31   on the backend with movable type

01:22:32   is that it becomes more and more difficult

01:22:34   as you bolt more and more things onto it

01:22:37   to redesign or rework how things function.

01:22:40   And that's kind of where I am right now.

01:22:42   I came back, I took a sabbatical last year

01:22:45   from May until, what was it, October, November?

01:22:49   No, December, actually.

01:22:50   - You tell me, you're the one who took the sabbatical.

01:22:53   - Yeah, exactly, I can't even remember.

01:22:55   It's like eternal sunshine of the spotless mind here.

01:22:58   It's like I've just,

01:22:58   it's completely, completely gone from my brain.

01:23:01   But when I came back, one of the things was this like,

01:23:03   oh, like this thing, how this,

01:23:07   not so much how it looks, but like how it functions,

01:23:10   how it works is a little,

01:23:11   getting to be a little bit long in the tooth.

01:23:14   And I've been a little frustrated with it since I came back.

01:23:17   But at the same time, it's, you know,

01:23:20   I don't have a lot of time outside writing the site

01:23:23   and like curating stuff and doing that stuff.

01:23:25   And it's hard to, you know, it's hard to find the time,

01:23:28   especially like long stretches of time

01:23:31   to really dig in and knuckle down and say,

01:23:33   okay, I'm gonna make these changes and do it in this way.

01:23:36   And it's gonna require some HP

01:23:38   and it's gonna require some design,

01:23:39   which I'm so far removed from being a web designer

01:23:42   that those skills are very atrophied at this point.

01:23:45   And it just takes a long time to get going

01:23:47   and get into that sort of groove.

01:23:51   And it's hard to do that at the same time

01:23:53   where you're trying to like,

01:23:54   oh, I gotta find some interesting stuff today

01:23:57   and I read this thing and I'm gonna write this thing

01:23:59   and all that stuff.

01:24:00   So I would very much to switch up more or less wholesale

01:24:04   how the site looks and works,

01:24:06   but limited time and limited energy.

01:24:09   And I spent a lot of time on the site

01:24:11   and that's where a lot of my energy goes.

01:24:13   And so it's looked the same for a while,

01:24:15   but I don't know, hopefully in the next,

01:24:18   I'm not even gonna say it.

01:24:19   I'm not even gonna say it.

01:24:20   - Right, right, yeah, don't say it.

01:24:21   Don't, I've made that problem with,

01:24:23   I've made that promise with the mobile optimized layout

01:24:28   of Daring Fireball too many times to do it again.

01:24:31   I know that I have terrible podcast amnesia.

01:24:35   I always say this.

01:24:36   I will literally forget most of this conversation

01:24:39   within an hour of us clicking stop

01:24:41   thanking each other. I forget what I say on a podcast as soon as I'm done recording it,

01:24:47   but I suspect—so it's even worse for long-ago episodes. I forget how long ago your last

01:24:54   appearance on this show was, but I'm pretty sure I asked some of these questions before.

01:24:57   But I'll say it again, because that's, you know, why not? I think that's what podcasting is for.

01:25:03   I've noticed—I listened to—

01:25:04   Exactly.

01:25:04   I listened to Keith Olbermann's Countdown, which is now a weekday—week daily podcast version of

01:25:11   his old show, and I love his podcast. I mean, I just love his take on politics, and it's just the

01:25:17   right length for me running errands when I'm out and about. But he's got certain recurring things,

01:25:23   like he's got a thing at the end called Stories I Promise Not to Tell, where he gossips about his

01:25:27   media life, and he's had a tumultuous career where he's been fired and come back and

01:25:34   left ESPN and Fox Sports and MSNBC. He did two stints and he just tells these amazing

01:25:41   inside stories about like the executives of MSNBC. But even though his podcast is only

01:25:47   like six months old or something like that, he's already repeated some of them multiple

01:25:51   times. And it's like, ah, you know, you know, you can do that with a podcast. So I'll just

01:25:55   repeat myself. To me, still, I'm not saying you should go back. But the kotke.org of my

01:26:01   mind is the two or three layouts that had the yellow at the top. I call it

01:26:07   yellow, I don't know, is it chartreuse? It was a very... but to me it's sort of like,

01:26:12   it was similar to Daring Fireball's 4A, 5A, 2A, slate blue, slate gray, bluish gray,

01:26:19   whatever you want, it's a hard color to describe. And the katge.org of my

01:26:24   mind is of that era. And I'm not saying you should go back, and I know that at

01:26:28   this head no but i know that at this point the current layout has is has lasted longer right if

01:26:35   there's a if you go by length of time the current sort of and again it's hard to describe this sort

01:26:41   of gradient what would you call those colors they're not quite pastel they're yeah they're not

01:26:49   they're not like traditional rainbow colors but they're not quite pastel they're kind of like

01:26:53   something in between right but it's that's that layouts lasted longer but the katky.org of my mind

01:26:58   is has yellow at the top and I'm not even sure which one because I have genuine deep affection

01:27:04   for all of them and rereading that post and looking at them all I'm like oh I remember when

01:27:09   he switched to make it more compact at the top and I remember and every time every one of those

01:27:14   switches you made I loved and when you abandoned the yellow is the only time I I was like oh

01:27:20   and I remember thinking and I here's where I remember thinking is he'll come back to that

01:27:26   He'll come back

01:27:27   It'll be it'll be yellow again

01:27:29   And of course it is right the other thing and I know I mentioned this the last time too, but I'll mention it again is

01:27:34   that

01:27:35   The site technically doesn't have a name. It's cocky.org. Our name is our address

01:27:41   Right. Yep. I used I know it's true and I think I'm repeating myself one more time

01:27:48   But I because I can't help but think my brain would go there. There was a

01:27:53   famous Philadelphia jeweler who advertised on TV all the time when I was a kid, like,

01:27:58   and the sort of local TV ad that—because I lived in the Philly TV market, and they would be the—they

01:28:05   wouldn't be like in prime time, they would advertise on those four in the afternoon shows,

01:28:10   or The Price is Right, like on a snow day or whatever, you know, whenever we could,

01:28:14   you know, we're home and could watch The Price is Right at 11 a.m. And their jingles were famous.

01:28:20   the two brothers who owned it would sing songs and stuff, but the name of the jeweler was

01:28:25   "Robbins, Eighth, and Walnut." That was the name of their thing. And the jingle was "Robbins,

01:28:32   Eighth, and Walnut, our name is our address." And, you know, it goes on from there. But that was it,

01:28:37   over and over again. "Robbins, Eighth, and Walnut, our name is our address. Robins,

01:28:41   Eighth, and Walnut, our name is our address." And every time I think of this aspect of kottke.org,

01:28:47   I instantly think Robbins, 8th and Walnut. Now, Robbins, 8th and Walnut is now a French bakery.

01:28:52   And I think they might still be in business, but they're only in Delaware for sales tax purposes,

01:29:02   but it's just Robbins now, you know, because their name can't be addressed. They can't be,

01:29:07   you know, Robbins, 8th and Walnut has a bit of a ring to it. Robbins, 1444, whatever, the highway,

01:29:14   you know, obviously doesn't sound like a good address, but maybe they're out of business.

01:29:17   It doesn't matter. I wonder about the name of the site because it is just katte.org. I wonder

01:29:23   if it's been like, if that's a good thing or if it's been a liability in some ways. I feel like

01:29:29   in my mind, maybe it's made it harder to thinking about like, well, you know, maybe I should expand

01:29:37   the site, expand what I'm doing and bring other people on. And, you know, I have guest editors

01:29:41   and stuff like that, but it's always sort of temporary. I mean, I had my friend Tim Carmody,

01:29:45   he was writing a newsletter for me for a while, and that was, you know, it was under sort of the

01:29:51   same general umbrella, but it had its own sort of identity and brand and stuff like that. You know,

01:29:56   but it's hard to, I don't know, it's hard to bring someone else on when it's like the name on the

01:30:00   masthead is mine. I've thought about changing the name, like, through the years. I've thought about

01:30:06   it. Maybe I should just get an actual name for the website instead of just kottke.org.

01:30:11   Maybe it would change the vibe a little bit in a way that would be more...

01:30:18   I don't even know. I guess this is why I didn't get that far in pursuing it. I don't know what

01:30:25   the benefit would be necessarily.

01:30:28   Now, and I think people just think of it as "Kotki," right? In a way, it, you know, it's so—

01:30:33   saying it doesn't have a name isn't quite right. It's effectively "Kotki." But you do say, you

01:30:39   know, in the actual, you know, when you look down, it says "Kotki.org heart emoji home of fine

01:30:46   hypertext products." I mean, it does say "Kotki.org." So I think technically the title is

01:30:51   "Kotki.org," but I think in most people's minds they would say, "Oh, I read it on Kotki," right?

01:30:56   They're not going to say I read it on kaki.org. Home of Hypertext Products has, that's the one

01:31:02   consistent thing, right? I don't know that it's ever not been there. Has that been the slogan

01:31:06   since day one? Or it's certainly been the slogan for 20-some years, I think.

01:31:11   Yeah, it's been the slogan for quite a while. It was back and forth for a while. It was not on the

01:31:17   site for, I don't know, for stretches of months and maybe even years here and there. But most of

01:31:24   of the history of the site it's said home of fine hypertext products and I

01:31:28   can't remember I don't know how early on that was but I kind of I just kind of

01:31:33   liked it when I picked it because it sounded kind of old-timey but also like

01:31:37   new as well because it's got the word hypertext in it but it's you know it's

01:31:41   like it's like I'm a dry goods store but you know online I I often are in fact

01:31:46   generally I altered up sometimes but usually when I post links to the show on

01:31:51   on Daring Fireball, I mean, I link to the sponsors,

01:31:54   I say brought to you by these fine sponsors,

01:31:56   which is, I both mean, I both mean genuinely,

01:32:00   I'm very proud of the sponsors that we have

01:32:02   for the podcast and for the site, and I'm picky,

01:32:04   and I really, you know, it doesn't happen often,

01:32:06   but we really do reject some sponsors.

01:32:09   And also, I like the old-timey feel of it.

01:32:12   - Yeah.

01:32:13   Do you remember the dearly departed Dean Allen?

01:32:17   One of his sites was Cardigan Industries.

01:32:20   - Yes.

01:32:21   And I always really liked that.

01:32:23   And it had sort of a, like an industrial letterhead

01:32:27   sort of aesthetic to go with it as well.

01:32:29   And I always just really liked, I liked that whole vibe.

01:32:34   - Dean, I don't wanna go on a side rant,

01:32:38   which I could do and maybe should someday.

01:32:40   Dean's influence on what I do at Daring Fireball

01:32:45   cannot be overstated because textism,

01:32:48   textism came out first.

01:32:50   I mean, honestly, if you look at Textism circa August 2002,

01:32:55   when I launched, if you go back to the Wayback Machine

01:33:01   and look at, Daring Fireballs layout actually has changed.

01:33:06   I forget, it was about two years in.

01:33:10   There was an actual redesign.

01:33:12   It wasn't drastic, but it was redesigned once,

01:33:17   or tweaked, you know, call it a 1.5 instead of a 2.0.

01:33:21   But the 1.0 version was so, to me,

01:33:25   still looks so clearly inspired by textism, you know,

01:33:28   like that in my mind it bordered on a ripoff.

01:33:31   And then when I, and that was one of my biggest concerns

01:33:34   when I first went public and started my first post,

01:33:38   I, here it comes, people are gonna say

01:33:39   it's a textism ripoff, and nobody ever said that.

01:33:42   And then I, a couple of months in,

01:33:44   got a really nice note from Dean about my writing and I was just like and then you know we became

01:33:53   friends he wrote to me and said that he'd noticed that after a few months I'd zeroed in on my voice

01:34:00   and that it's really good and I was like oh thank god he's not mad.

01:34:05   And you know I guess most other people I think when you're a designer and you've got

01:34:13   something that really inspires you, you the design, and if you're worried, if you're an

01:34:18   honest designer who doesn't want to rip anybody off, you see a ripoff that other people don't see.

01:34:24   But yeah, Dean's Cardigan Industries, again, was more, as I recall, a little bit more episodic,

01:34:31   too. You know, it was—

01:34:32   Tom: Yeah, I think so.

01:34:33   Michael O'Brien I mean, textism was a blog block,

01:34:36   just exactly what we've been talking about. Chronological posts, top to bottom, period,

01:34:41   you know, once a day, every other day, something like that. But Cardigan Industries was in that,

01:34:46   I don't know what we would call it, Neolithic period. I don't know if that's the right word,

01:34:50   but that gestational period of self-publishing where nobody knew what the form was supposed to be.

01:34:58   Right.

01:34:59   But yeah, I totally agree about the aesthetic at the time. And I always loved his aesthetic.

01:35:03   Yeah.

01:35:04   Even when he went minimal, when he relaunched text-ism towards the end and it didn't really

01:35:09   last long. He totally changed. Although I don't love that last textism, that super minimal one.

01:35:14   I don't love it. But I got it, and I do think he foresaw where things were going. Like, it was

01:35:23   super prescient about where graphic design was going at the time and ahead of his time. And of

01:35:31   course he noticed that trend, but I don't have the affection for it that I did for his ornate

01:35:37   earlier style. I mean, God, that text-ism thing with the guy at the top sweating and the little

01:35:43   sort of copper plate—I know it wasn't copper plate, but copper plate style all cap slogan,

01:35:48   "Make haste slowly." Which again, I was like, "God damn it, that should be my slogan,

01:35:56   "Make haste slowly." Fuck! I was like, "God damn it!" And again, you and I are not exactly alike,

01:36:05   you know, nobody's going to confuse me for you or you for me, but we share a lot of similarities.

01:36:11   And in the same way, nobody was going to mistake me for Dean or Dean for me, but there are, you know,

01:36:16   the large Venn diagram overlaps, and "Make haste slowly"? God damn, that was a good slogan.

01:36:23   Yep. Dean was one of those people along with, I don't know, I would say like him and Paul Ford,

01:36:31   Like, they had really good design sense, they had a great voice, they could write just so well,

01:36:40   so beautifully, so it just made me so angry. It's just like so angry. I was like, you know,

01:36:46   if these guys, if they wanted to, for whatever reason, become like the best bloggers in the

01:36:51   universe, like, they totally could. And there was nothing I could do about it. They would just be

01:36:55   be like, "boop, you're done."

01:36:57   - Dean's biography page, his about page,

01:37:00   whatever he called it, is one of the great pieces

01:37:02   of writing of all time.

01:37:04   I mean, it was just unbelievable.

01:37:07   While we're throwing it out, I should go back.

01:37:09   I actually, and I just saw him a few months ago.

01:37:12   I actually don't remember if I asked him this.

01:37:14   I should mention Andy Baio and waxy.org as, again,

01:37:19   came out before "Daring Fireball."

01:37:22   He's still going, and I wonder,

01:37:24   I don't know if he's still on movable type or not.

01:37:26   - Maybe.

01:37:28   Oh, that's a good question, I don't know.

01:37:30   - I'm gonna have to find out.

01:37:31   I'm gonna have to ask Andy and find out.

01:37:33   He might be the missing member

01:37:35   of the movable type users group, or maybe not.

01:37:37   His format hasn't changed.

01:37:39   Andy, he posts full articles far less frequently,

01:37:44   but when he does, they're gold,

01:37:46   and they're more pulled straight from Andy's id

01:37:51   than ever before.

01:37:53   I'm looking at his site right now,

01:37:54   and his last one was from the end of January.

01:37:57   Lost media finding Bill Clinton's

01:37:59   Boxers or Briefs MTV moment.

01:38:01   Tell me that's not, right there,

01:38:05   it just happens to be the most recent article.

01:38:07   Tell me that's not Andy Baio.

01:38:09   Finding Bill Clinton's 1991 or '92 appearance on MTV

01:38:14   where somebody in the audience asked him

01:38:17   where he wears Boxers or Briefs

01:38:19   and finding the video from the pre-web era.

01:38:22   But his format hasn't really changed

01:38:24   where he's stuck with the two column layout

01:38:27   of big articles on the left

01:38:31   and then a sidebar with his links.

01:38:33   He's re-CSSed it, the type is all new,

01:38:38   but that fundamental layout structure is the same,

01:38:41   which I now think of as the Andy Baio layout.

01:38:45   I believe you have one time, at one point though,

01:38:47   did you have your short links in a sidebar or no?

01:38:51   did yeah i did but yeah and i think the first place i remember seeing it was probably in anneal doing

01:38:57   it like he had the links in the sidebar and then he had the the regular stuff on the left yeah yeah

01:39:03   i had it that way for quite a while i don't know and i've been thinking like maybe i need to go

01:39:07   back to that oh i i was oh let me steer you the other way i i think no i think andy i think it

01:39:13   works for andy no i think it works for andy though but it works for andy because to me even though

01:39:18   it's width-wise his sidebar, it's his main blog to me. And his left column is periodic.

01:39:28   It works for him. I don't think it would work for you because you post too frequently. I think the

01:39:33   single stream is the way to go, which I've always had because I puttered around before I'd started

01:39:40   adding link items. And by that time, I think you'd gone to single column and I just ripped it off

01:39:45   from you. Yeah, shamelessly, but he might everything is remix before we keep going.

01:39:50   I wanted to bring up stellar S T E L L A R. That was your what you described stellar.

01:39:57   So stellar was a site that you could pull. When did when did you start your.

01:40:04   Oh Jesus. Just to put it in our timeline. 2000. Hmm.

01:40:12   hold a bit like 2007 2008 somewhere in that arena somewhere in that area maybe later than that no

01:40:18   you're wrong i don't even remember you know what i've got a bookmark in my notes here at the

01:40:21   atlantic jason cockey launches stellar a new social bookmarking site 2011 oh 2011 okay there you go

01:40:28   well um so much for our memory yeah and i was inspired by that site that dean allen had called

01:40:35   favored or farved or however you're pronounced it do you have that site yeah of course we talked we

01:40:41   or some friends and I were just talking about it. Favord? Favord?

01:40:44   Yeah.

01:40:45   F-A-V-R-D?

01:40:46   Yeah, I don't know. Yes, exactly. And so that was, it collected like what the most sort of

01:40:53   favorited posts on Twitter were, the most favorited tweets on Twitter within sort of

01:40:58   a certain like universe.

01:41:00   Right. Right. Dean kept a hard-coded list of Twitter accounts that he thought were in the

01:41:07   universe and of the tweets from those accounts it was a popularity list of favorites by the day or

01:41:16   the last rolling 36 hours or something like that right right and it was gold it was gold yeah yeah

01:41:27   it was it was really good it was really good but you know at some point he i can't remember if he

01:41:31   shut it down before i started seller or after i launched or or what but at some point he shut it

01:41:37   down and, but you know, I, I thought, I thought with the favorites thing, like he

01:41:43   was kind of onto something and so I was like, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do.

01:41:48   I'm gonna do a site where you can sign up and sort of authenticate

01:41:52   with different services.

01:41:53   And I think I launched with Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo.

01:41:58   And so you could collect your favorites, you know, all in one place, and then you

01:42:03   could follow other people's favorites and that sort of became your main so it

01:42:08   was like a you know it was like a instead of Dean just having a hard-coded

01:42:12   list you could have your own list of people that you wanted to follow follow

01:42:15   in their favorites and then I did some stuff I pulled out okay what are the

01:42:19   like within the community within the stellar community like what are the

01:42:23   trending links and what are the trending like videos and and things like that so

01:42:27   I did some stuff like that too and yeah and I think it lasted for two three

01:42:32   years, four years. I don't know how long as I recall though you you always

01:42:36   described it as an experiment. Like it was never I don't know if you said beta

01:42:40   I don't know if you said experiment but it seemingly never really officially

01:42:46   went out. Not not that it wasn't public. Yeah I mean secret but

01:42:50   yeah it was it was public but basically like I think I let the first like

01:42:56   few 1000 people in like there was a waiting list of I think 15,000 people or

01:43:00   something. And I let the first few thousand in, and at that point, like, my

01:43:05   technical ability ran into problems with trying to figure out how to scale this

01:43:10   damn thing, because it was like, you know, like, tens of thousands of new items a

01:43:14   day streaming into the database, and it's like, oh crap, like, I don't really

01:43:18   know anything about how to design a database for this. And at some point it

01:43:23   became too much for me, and also, like, the writing was on the wall for, like, open

01:43:28   APIs. Instagram had come out and it was obvious that Instagram was

01:43:33   never really going to have an open API in the way that Twitter did.

01:43:38   And I think that, you know, TikTok maybe--no, it wasn't TikTok, it was Snapchat.

01:43:42   And like Snapchat, there was no API in sight, and I was like, "Oh, okay, so this is

01:43:47   where things are going, and I can't have a whole service that relies on these

01:43:53   open APIs when there aren't going to be any open APIs going forward, perhaps."

01:43:58   And now we're seeing that with Twitter.

01:44:00   I mean, Twitter's always been back and forth with their API, right?

01:44:03   It's, "Come on in, you can do anything."

01:44:05   And it's like, "No, go away, we hate you."

01:44:07   And then it's like, "Oh no, come on in."

01:44:08   And then it's like, after a while, it's like, "Fuck you, I'm gonna do something else."

01:44:13   So.

01:44:14   Yeah, it's funny.

01:44:16   And everything starts small, right?

01:44:19   Apple famously, but it's true.

01:44:21   It's absolutely true that Apple started with two Steves in a garage, an actual garage,

01:44:27   and it was two guys who were both, happened to be historic level geniuses in their own

01:44:35   very different ways and got along. But it was two guys putting boards together and then selling them

01:44:42   at hobbyist meetups. You know, Facebook famously started as one kid in a dorm at Harvard, right?

01:44:52   So at some point Facebook was the size of Daring Fireball or kottke.org, right? It's a guy typing

01:45:00   PHP and publishing stuff by himself. And Twitter never was one person. It wasn't an indie thing.

01:45:09   But when Twitter debuted and spun out of audio, it was tiny, right? I just was telling this story

01:45:18   to Ben Thompson, I think on dithering the other day, that in 2007, I believe, I think

01:45:25   Twitter started in 2006, and I got on it right away, because I just got it right away, and

01:45:31   I was like, "Oh, this is awesome." And in 2007, I was in San Francisco for WWDC, and

01:45:36   somebody invited me to Twitter headquarters, which was right down the street from WWDC,

01:45:40   for lunch one of the days with the whole staff. And they wanted to talk to a semi-popular

01:45:47   Twitter user, which tells you how early it was that I counted as semi-popular on Twitter.

01:45:54   But the whole company, we all had lunch together, and it wasn't like I needed a microphone or

01:45:59   it was about, I don't know, I'd say about 20 people. I mean, I don't know if there was

01:46:02   somebody who knocked off that day, but as far as I could tell, the whole company was

01:46:06   20 people. So the scale was, that's still like the same ballpark, right? Like, I can

01:46:11   comprehend 20-person staff. And there was one guy, I think it was Blaine Cook, I think

01:46:18   Craig Hockenberry has been writing about it in the RIP Twitter Clients thing, where it was like one

01:46:26   guy who was doing the APIs for Twitter, and he was just taught at a personal level. It wasn't like

01:46:32   you're interacting with the Twitter developer connection board and posting tickets and stuff.

01:46:39   Craig wanting to write the Mac app instead of interacting with the website, and then the iPhone

01:46:43   gets announced and he's, "Oh, I could take this thing I've been writing for the Mac and put it on

01:46:48   the iPhone." But like when he was making Twitterrific for the Mac, which was before the iPhone was

01:46:52   announced, he just talked to Blaine Cook and Blaine would be like, "Well, what do you need?" And he'd

01:46:56   be like, "Oh." You know, because Blaine was thinking, "Oh, we never really thought about

01:47:01   somebody doing like a Mac or a Windows client for this, but that's an awesome idea. Wow." Instantly

01:47:07   got it and was like, "Oh, that would be an awesome idea." He was like, "Well, what

01:47:11   would you need?" Because you never thought of it as something that someone would make

01:47:14   an app for, this is what's missing from the API. And the next day, Blaine is like,

01:47:20   "Here, how about this? Does that work for you?" And it's there, and he could use

01:47:24   it. And so it was like that level of indie spirit in the early days. And then it's

01:47:30   Lane Bennis's famous words yada yada yada then and then it's a multi-billion

01:47:37   dollar public corporation you know and it's yes it's an orifice in terms of

01:47:42   interacting with them but it was a slow boil though and it's hurt what you and I

01:47:49   do terribly in my opinion because most of what we used to I think it's true I

01:47:55   I know most of what I used to link to in the early days

01:47:59   or what I was happier linking to

01:48:01   was other people's blog posts.

01:48:04   And it felt more social in a way, right?

01:48:09   'Cause it's of somebody else's voice.

01:48:13   And it just, I don't wanna call anybody,

01:48:15   but it could be Andy, it could be you,

01:48:17   it could be Mark Pilgrim who stopped,

01:48:19   and just dozens and dozens and dozens of people,

01:48:22   including people who weren't blogging to become popular bloggers, but maybe only posted

01:48:29   once a month, but they did post once a month, but they had their own blog.

01:48:35   And if it was just a clever solution to a CSS problem, and then you'd publish it,

01:48:42   and then I'd link to it.

01:48:44   And it really is just the slowest boiling of slow-boiling frogs in a pot of water problem

01:48:53   that I just kind of saw it happening, but in hindsight it's so crystal clear that the

01:49:00   Pied Piper song of the ease of tweeting and in the universe of people I would have linked

01:49:06   to back in the blogging days, pre-Twitter, it's Twitter that took all of their posting,

01:49:15   not Facebook. I've never even been on Facebook, and I've never—I can count literally all—maybe

01:49:21   on one hand, certainly on both hands, the number of times that there's been something

01:49:27   on Facebook that I'd wished I could link to from Daring Fireball but can't because

01:49:32   behind the Facebook sign-in thing. Literally only a handful of times. It's Twitter that took up the

01:49:38   gas there, but all of them – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all of them aren't on the open web.

01:49:46   They're not the web, and they just sucked up so many other people – the people who aren't trying

01:49:53   to do it as a living or a vocation because it's so much easier, right? There's no blame whatsoever

01:50:00   for people who faded away from blogging and put all of their public posting onto Twitter,

01:50:05   because I see how much easier it is, and I know that's how human psychology works. It's exactly

01:50:11   like what we were talking about earlier about not having titles, right? Which is also exactly why—they

01:50:17   don't call it a title, it's called a subject—but it's exactly why it's so much easier to text

01:50:22   someone than to email them, even if it's the same text, right? Like, you and I setting up this

01:50:28   podcast. We did it entirely through messages. We didn't send a single email to each other.

01:50:32   I never send email to friends for things like that anymore. And part of it is email is worse,

01:50:38   and email, my inbox is noisy and my messages app isn't noisy at all. But part of it is the

01:50:45   lack of a subject, right? It's just less effort for something that I don't really care about.

01:50:49   It's my professional, you know, my text messages through messages aren't my work, right? So they're

01:50:56   dashed off and casual and it's a huge decrease in cognitive load. So I don't blame them. But my god,

01:51:03   it's made all of these things so much harder to link to. I mean, and I dread it now. I dread,

01:51:09   I think it's inevitable at this point, the coming disappearance of Twitter's archives,

01:51:15   because there's an awful lot over the last 10 years where people, you know, and people,

01:51:22   it's a misappropriation of the form posting a tweet thread instead of a blog post. But again,

01:51:28   if you don't already have a blog, posting a tweet thread is way easier than setting up a blog just

01:51:36   to post this one thing. But I don't—untold number of tweets that I've linked to and tweet threads

01:51:42   that I've linked to I think are—now I have no faith that they're going to persist into perpetuity.

01:51:48   Yeah. It's not only sort of the ease of use, but it's the network, right? So you, like,

01:51:54   when you tweet, you have a built-in sort of, people have a built-in way to read, people have

01:51:58   a built-in way to respond. And when you're talking about sort of the threads instead of blog posts,

01:52:03   sure, you could post it on your blog, but, you know, and some, you know, through RSS and stuff

01:52:08   like that, like, we've sort of cobbled together the network stuff. And when Google Reader was a

01:52:14   There was a sort of a built-in network effect there.

01:52:17   But, you know, the thing about Twitter is that you post a tweetstorm or a thread.

01:52:21   People can respond immediately and individually to every single sort of point that you make along the way.

01:52:28   That's the case with Facebook as well.

01:52:30   You can comment, you can like, you see things that other people have liked in your feed.

01:52:36   There's discovery mechanisms as well.

01:52:38   The world of blogs, they had that cobbled together a little bit with things like RSS

01:52:43   and with things like Technorati and like web log search engines and all that sort of stuff.

01:52:49   But Facebook and Twitter just came along and were like, "Hey, we're going to do this all

01:52:53   in one basket. It's going to be super easy. Here you go." And it's kind of no wonder that

01:52:59   it took off the way it did for both of them. Theoretically, Facebook is the biggest blogging

01:53:03   company in the world. They were the ones who really figured out how to monetize blogging

01:53:09   and it made them a $500 billion company for a while.

01:53:13   They figured out two things, and again,

01:53:16   I've never even had a Facebook account,

01:53:18   but I do recognize the genius of it in some ways.

01:53:22   They figured out the monetization there.

01:53:24   I mean, they're one of the five biggest companies

01:53:25   in the world.

01:53:26   And the other thing that they did,

01:53:29   and this is the part where I give them full credit

01:53:32   and actually admire it, is they're the first

01:53:35   and perhaps still only company that cracked the nut

01:53:39   of getting regular people to blog,

01:53:43   whether they think of it as blogging or not, right?

01:53:46   Just regular people and they're posting things

01:53:49   like their kids' graduation pictures

01:53:51   and just an update about somebody's health

01:53:55   or something like that.

01:53:56   And again, saying positive things about Facebook

01:54:00   and privacy seems counterintuitive

01:54:02   'cause I rant and rail about the negative aspects

01:54:06   of their regard for privacy in other regards.

01:54:10   But from the perspective of users,

01:54:13   the literally multiple billions of users that they have,

01:54:17   they solve the nut of people feeling comfortable

01:54:21   and understanding the circle of who things are going out to

01:54:25   so that they could do things like if somebody's mother

01:54:30   is ill and posting it in a way that they know

01:54:34   is only going out to the people who they want it

01:54:36   to go out to with updates.

01:54:38   And I have all the admiration in the world for that

01:54:41   because it's useful, right?

01:54:42   they turned literally almost everybody in the world

01:54:45   into a blogger, which was the original dream, right?

01:54:48   That's the Dave Weiner dream, except for the fact

01:54:51   that they were doing it in this locked ecosystem

01:54:55   that's not on the open web.

01:54:57   But I admire that greatly.

01:54:58   But it's for us wanting to link to things, it's terrible.

01:55:02   The average thing I link to now is a post

01:55:04   at a professional publication.

01:55:06   - Yep, that is probably behind some sort of soft paywall.

01:55:12   Right and that's the other thing that's risen and I was it's on my list again part of my homework

01:55:17   I've actually got an agenda here. I want to talk about paywalls

01:55:20   The other day and again bringing up Dave Weiner Dave Weiner mentioned this as a use for the chat

01:55:27   Gpt that the chat.open ai thing. Um

01:55:31   He said that he asked the chat gpt the question

01:55:36   What are the best non-paywalled news sites?

01:55:41   and got, said he got a great list. And so I tried the same query and it's astonishing. It's like

01:55:48   number one BBC, number two Reuters, number three, I forget. I might be CNN, I forget, but it was a

01:55:55   good one. Number four, number four or number five was the New York Times. And the chat thing,

01:56:02   after New York Times, it was like, it gave it an ordered list, one through 10. And after the New

01:56:08   New York Times in parentheses said, "The New York Times does have a paywall, but with

01:56:12   a very generous allotment of monthly open views." And so it effectively wrote a footnote,

01:56:20   right? And I think, and I honestly think that's a fair description of the New York Times.

01:56:26   I think that the New York Times, the way where they put their paywall is genius and generous

01:56:33   and good enough with the understanding that they needed and continued to need a subscriber base

01:56:39   that wants to burst through that and is willing to pay rather than stick around with deleting

01:56:45   their cookies every two days or whatever. But it was an astonishingly good answer.

01:56:49   But the fact that it's even a question, like, how do you get to non-pay, you know,

01:56:56   what are the best non-paywall news, is so antithetical to the concept, the original

01:57:02   concept of the World Wide Web that it's flabbergasting and downright from the perspective of 1996,

01:57:12   I would say it's dystopic. It's a dystopia to think that the—I don't know that the

01:57:21   idea that a paywall on the web would have been laughed at, I think, in 1996. It's

01:57:26   what are you talking about? You don't get it. You're like somebody who wants to use

01:57:31   QuarkXPress to publish their website. You know, like, QuarkXPress, I loved and it's a wonderful

01:57:37   tool, but it's not for publishing to the web. So the idea that you want to make people pay to see

01:57:42   the stuff, but here we are, right? And what is it, how frustrated are you by that trend?

01:57:47   Tom: I mean, purely as someone who wants to point people to things that they can actually read

01:57:54   without paying money, it's very frustrating. But at the same time, if you look at the New York

01:57:59   times or you look at the Atlantic or any of these other publications, it's like,

01:58:03   that's where those paywalls or those, you know,

01:58:07   membership programs or however you want to put it,

01:58:10   like they're paying for a lot of good writing and a lot of good journalism.

01:58:15   It's also paying for a lot of garbage,

01:58:17   but I'm interested in linking to the good stuff and you know,

01:58:20   and I get email all the time from people who are like, this stuff is paywall.

01:58:24   What are you doing? And it's like, well, like I would love it if it weren't,

01:58:28   But this is where this particular piece of writing was.

01:58:31   And I think it's worth your attention.

01:58:33   If somehow you happen to have a subscription or if you can somehow

01:58:37   get around it with incognito window or deleting your cookies or right.

01:58:42   But it's, it's really frustrating from my standpoint as a blogger who likes

01:58:46   to, you know, link to a lot of different things, I think that there's

01:58:49   a couple of things going on here.

01:58:51   It's like there's consolidation and then there's paywalls and

01:58:54   increasingly that consolidation is happening behind paywalls.

01:58:57   And so you get this double whammy where people aren't writing for a lot of different crazy things,

01:59:03   although now, you know, with sub stack is, is I think trying to push back on that.

01:59:07   But, you know, sub stack is itself paywalled for the most part.

01:59:11   And medium is that way too.

01:59:14   And you know, it's, it's, so you're, you're, you're getting kind of this double whammy squeeze from both ends.

01:59:19   I at least admire more when a paywalled site, and I don't want to, I don't want to speak poorly of sub stack

01:59:25   substack because overall I think substack has been a force for good and is pushing in the right

01:59:34   direction. It is pushing back, pushing the web and independent solo or like two people or three

01:59:41   people teams or whatever back towards where I think it should be and where I think we lost this

01:59:47   opportunity. So overall I'm two thumbs up on substack. But one thing that irritates me about

01:59:52   substack is when a post is paywalled it's usually below the fold and it so I'm like oh this was a

01:59:59   free post great I can link to it and then I then I hit the spacebar to scroll down and it's uh

02:00:05   so in some ways I admire a paywalled site that at least covers up my whole browser window right away

02:00:14   like the Financial Times like I hate it right but at least the Financial Times tells me right away

02:00:21   this whole thing is paywalled. Huge frustration. And the FT in particular has also been very

02:00:26   consistent. Like they've had a paywall for I think a long time. And Wall Street Journal too,

02:00:31   right? Wall Street Journal famously kind of broke the nut of it with $100 subscriptions,

02:00:39   like a lot of money. And everybody was like, well easy for them because the people who want to read

02:00:44   the Wall Street Journal are business people who can write it off to work. Which is true,

02:00:49   but still just knowing your audience isn't a fault, right? But they've had that paywall from

02:00:54   the beginning. They never yanked it out. The Wall Street Journal was always like, "Fuck you, you're

02:00:58   gonna pay." But I get around it with the Wall Street Journal and I don't know what. I should

02:01:02   probably someday, I've still never done a reader poll. I should because there are many questions

02:01:08   I have about my audience that I don't know. I think I know my audience, but one thing I suspect

02:01:13   is that a lot of them subscribe to the Apple One,

02:01:18   just give us $30 a month and we give you everything,

02:01:21   more iCloud storage, and Apple Music, which is the big one,

02:01:25   and you get it, your Apple TV,

02:01:27   so you can watch all the Apple TV shows,

02:01:29   you get the Apple Fitness, and you get Apple News.

02:01:32   I don't like Apple News, 'cause it's too many ads,

02:01:36   but the Apple News includes the Wall Street Journal,

02:01:40   so when I link to the journal,

02:01:42   I almost always include an Apple News link,

02:01:44   thinking at least some decent chunk of my readers,

02:01:47   being Apple nut jobs, probably have,

02:01:51   if they don't subscribe to the journal,

02:01:52   they have an Apple News link and can click that and read it.

02:01:55   But the journal still has so much original reporting,

02:01:59   especially in my, the areas I'm hyper-focused on,

02:02:03   and I wanna give credit to original reporting

02:02:07   rather than link to somebody's regurgitation of it,

02:02:09   which annoys me, but on the other hand,

02:02:12   I know that most people don't subscribe

02:02:14   to the Wall Street Journal, so it's frustrating.

02:02:17   The other thing about that that I think the trend is

02:02:21   subscriptions and memberships

02:02:25   and whatever you wanna call it work,

02:02:29   and people like them because once you're in,

02:02:34   you get this premium experience.

02:02:36   I have this theory, and I would,

02:02:40   I think I'm exactly right that the resurgence in email newsletters, which is absolutely a resurgence,

02:02:48   right? It was like, because like email newsletters were a big thing before the web or when the web

02:02:52   was like a thing that people didn't know what to do or it was so friggin slow, but people got email

02:02:58   in the early 90s and then like somebody figured out, well, we could write like a publication and

02:03:03   just email it to people and it was awesome, right? There was like the longest standing independent

02:03:08   publisher I can think of is Tidbits, tidbits.com, which started as both an email newsletter

02:03:15   and a weekly hypercard stack.

02:03:17   [laughter]

02:03:18   >> TARADINO Wow.

02:03:20   >> BRIAN KARDE Right?

02:03:21   It was like once a week they'd put out an issue and you could go to the InfoMac archives

02:03:26   and there's like an FTP address and they'd post it to Usenet and you would download the

02:03:31   hypercard stack.

02:03:33   And I think the way it worked, it was very clever.

02:03:35   You didn't have like a folder full of stacks.

02:03:37   It's like whatever you downloaded,

02:03:39   it would add to your tidbits hypercard stack, right?

02:03:42   So you just get the new issue,

02:03:44   and it didn't clutter up your drive.

02:03:45   But they were a plain text email newsletter

02:03:48   in the early '90s, I think literally before

02:03:51   Tim Berners-Lee invented the web,

02:03:53   or at least before he made it public.

02:03:57   And now it's a big thing again.

02:03:58   But my theory is very simple.

02:04:00   People like email newsletters because the email,

02:04:03   it's not because it shows up automatically

02:04:06   in their inbox, which is, you know, it's a factor.

02:04:09   But it's that once it's there,

02:04:11   you just start reading and you scroll down

02:04:14   and then you get to the end and you're done.

02:04:16   And there's no ads in the middle, nothing ever, ever,

02:04:21   it technically can't even happen.

02:04:22   Nothing ever pops up while you're reading

02:04:25   and says, "Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?

02:04:28   "Here's an X," you know,

02:04:30   because you're already on their newsletter, right?

02:04:32   It sounds like the dumbest thing in the world,

02:04:34   But it turns out in today's web, it's so corrupt with ad tech

02:04:39   that just being able to read from the beginning to the end

02:04:43   without any interruption in the stream of the text

02:04:46   is actually a premium reading experience.

02:04:49   And for the most part,

02:04:50   you can only get it now in email newsletters.

02:04:52   You can't get it on the web, which is bananas.

02:04:55   Like the fact that you and I don't interrupt our stuff

02:05:00   with ads in the middle, it makes us unique.

02:05:03   I mean, which is crazy.

02:05:05   - Yeah, no, it does.

02:05:07   It does.

02:05:07   Yeah, I mean, there's a blog that I read regularly

02:05:10   that started adding an email pop-up,

02:05:12   and I'm just like, "Dude, come on, seriously?"

02:05:16   Like, I know it juices your numbers, but--

02:05:17   - Don't.

02:05:18   I think the New York Times has always been forward-thinking.

02:05:22   They've always had a pretty good website

02:05:24   for a newspaper, always,

02:05:26   and I think it's why they're thriving

02:05:28   when other newspapers, or at least succeeding,

02:05:31   not thriving, while other newspapers haven't. But even them still, to this day in March 2023,

02:05:39   clearly value their print edition more than they do the web edition in terms of design and in terms

02:05:50   of what they're willing to do. They never put an ad in the middle of an article, in the middle of

02:05:55   of a column in the print edition. They never have and they never will, but they do it on

02:06:01   the web. Every article has, as you scroll down on your phone, there are ads in the middle.

02:06:06   And even if you're using an ad blocker that blocks the ads, it puts gaps in the article.

02:06:12   And they also add stupid things that aren't ads and don't get blocked elsewhere on the

02:06:17   web or elsewhere on this topic, or here's a carousel or something that isn't part

02:06:22   the article, right? They're like, "Why in the world are you trying to keep me from reading to

02:06:28   the end of this article by making me click to a different article in the middle of the article?

02:06:32   Why are you doing this to me? Thank God I've got a strong enough attention span to do this."

02:06:37   And it would infuriate me if I'm the one who wrote the article. And I write this article,

02:06:43   and I want people to read it from the beginning to the end, and my own publisher is trying to

02:06:49   steer people away from it halfway through. And the New York Times does it, and they're one of the

02:06:54   best. It's—do you want to get really angry? Here's also on my topic list, 404s. 404s.

02:07:03   Okay, good about 'em.

02:07:06   How many do you think you have in the kakidat org archive?

02:07:10   Links to—

02:07:11   Oh, you mean the entire—oh, geez.

02:07:13   Dead links. In other words, dead links.

02:07:15   Oh my god. Yeah, I mean, thousands?

02:07:19   Most of what? Probably over 50% I would say, the majority.

02:07:25   I could probably do it and maybe it's the sort of thing Andy would probably want to do,

02:07:29   Andy Baio would probably want to do. I bet if we exported our sites, I bet there's a very smooth

02:07:37   curve that is very consistent and has never changed that there's about a four to five year

02:07:45   year horizon where links start going 404 or dead, whether the whole website's defunct or just they

02:07:53   change their CMS or their URL structure and don't add redirects that from the beginning, so like

02:08:01   starting around 2006, 2007 for me, but probably starting around 2002, 2003 for you, four or five

02:08:08   year old links start going bad and then by the time you get to 10 years it's a majority of them

02:08:14   And the longer you know, the early years of Daring Fireball almost every it really is sickening to me

02:08:20   how much of it is dead. So I built this thing, I don't know, a few years ago. It's not

02:08:24   active anymore, but it was called like the what did I call it? Oh, the accidental bookshop.

02:08:29   And basically I went through and I crawled all of my archives for every single book that I've

02:08:34   ever linked to at Amazon and then compiled, you know, basically most popular links and

02:08:40   all that sort of stuff. And the very first links I ever posted to Amazon, they still all work.

02:08:46   Back in 2000, I think 1999 was probably the first time I linked to Amazon. Those links all still

02:08:53   work. If you click on a link to the Matrix DVD, it goes to the page for the Matrix DVD.

02:08:59   JS It might be out of stock, but it's still there.

02:09:02   Exactly. Exactly. But even stuff like I will go back, I'll be writing a post or whatever,

02:09:11   and I'll have to go look at a tag page of mine to figure out what I've written previously about it,

02:09:16   and I'll see YouTube embeds from six months ago. They're already dead.

02:09:20   Yeah. Yeah.

02:09:22   Because the channel goes private or the thing gets deleted or just like whatever. But yeah,

02:09:28   it's a problem.

02:09:31   Yeah, well like with youtube and I know you link to a lot more youtube than I do, but I do

02:09:36   But with youtube, I think what happens is a lot of times archived and again

02:09:41   Archived meaning like six seven months ago stuff then gets hit with a copyright challenge or something

02:09:48   And gets pulled and whether it was a legit challenge or not the channel creator

02:09:53   Isn't doesn't really care because the youtube game is so much about

02:10:00   your latest post is, your latest video is the only one that really matters and is the only one

02:10:05   getting any traffic. And it's much more like surfing, right? It's just you're in the moment

02:10:12   and all they're trying to do is keep from the wave knocking them off, you know? It's, you know,

02:10:17   it seems very nerve-wracking to me, honestly, and I don't think I would do it, you know,

02:10:22   even if I were younger. But they're just, they don't care, you know, not that they don't care,

02:10:27   You know, and some obviously some channels do care, but yeah, even YouTube links go bad sometimes

02:10:33   surprisingly quickly. Yeah, I've long had and again, you know, I'm running out of time here

02:10:38   and for all these ideas I've had, but I've long had an idea to automate somehow finding dead links

02:10:45   in my archive and then trying to find if there's a archive.org archive that I can then rewrite the

02:10:53   link or add, you know, append at the bottom of all those posts, this link is dead, but here's

02:10:59   an active link to archive.org, which I, you know, at this point, it would be—I would never,

02:11:07   I could never do it, even in my wildest dreams of productivity and un-procrastination,

02:11:13   I could never do it by hand. I could either—

02:11:16   AO: Yeah, no.

02:11:16   I could either automate it or I could hire somebody to do it by hand, but it would be

02:11:22   a month. It would surely be a months-long project even if I hired someone who was very productive

02:11:29   for eight hours a day. It's that many links. And the other part that makes me so queasy

02:11:38   and ill and angry is that even that pipe dream of rectifying those dead links from literally

02:11:48   sometimes just five years ago or less, but certainly the ones from 10 years ago and the

02:11:53   15 and 20 year old ones are mostly dead. Even that pipe dream of doing it is all hanging by the

02:12:01   single thread of archive.org and the internet archive. One thing that's a nonprofit foundation,

02:12:11   volunteer, or not volunteer, I know Jason Scott is paid, and volunteer's not right, but funded by

02:12:18   volunteer contributions. They don't have ads, they don't seem to have a huge benefactor or

02:12:25   something. I don't know. I have no—zero idea why somebody like Google doesn't just give them

02:12:31   more money to make it faster, you know, because Google could give them a literal couch change,

02:12:41   and it would probably make a huge difference to them. But if not, if something ever happened to

02:12:46   the—you know, the Internet Archive is literally our modern library of Alexander in terms of its

02:12:53   singular nature as an archive of all that stuff on the web. Even Wikipedia, which is awesome,

02:13:01   because of its open nature, there's copies of that database, right? So if something happened

02:13:07   to the Wikipedia Foundation, at least a copy of where it stands would be all over the place.

02:13:14   It wouldn't be lost. I don't know if the culture of it and the—you know, somebody could pick up

02:13:23   where they left off culturally and internal culture-wise in terms of the way that they

02:13:29   somehow have made it work with their rules on editing and style and stuff like that.

02:13:35   I had an idea and, you know, I'll blurb it out here. I might have blurbed it on a previous

02:13:41   podcast. So I used to be more precious about my—I would like to write an article about X,

02:13:45   so I'm therefore not going to talk about it because I don't want anybody to steal it.

02:13:49   But as I've got, you know, I told you my list of "I would like to write about X and never get to it,"

02:13:57   you know, is an entire second copy of Daring Fireball of original content, never written

02:14:03   content. But I have an idea for an article that Wikipedia in a way as a standalone entity is the

02:14:11   original vision for the web because it's easy to read, the articles link to each other where it

02:14:23   makes sense. It's not quite because I do think Tim Berners-Lee's original vision for the web

02:14:31   included things like your site and my site where we have a personal voice, right? Like,

02:14:36   It could be a personal voice. It could be an institutional voice. And one thing lacking from

02:14:42   my analogy of Wikipedia is the web as it was originally envisioned is nothing has a personal

02:14:48   voice. It's all written in the institutional voice of Wikipedia as it should be, right? But in spirit

02:14:54   it is. But the rest of the web is absolutely antithetical to the original spirit of the web.

02:15:02   including the fact that, I mean, 'cause one of the,

02:15:06   I think Tim Berners-Lee himself wrote it,

02:15:08   the famous cool URLs don't change mantra.

02:15:12   All right, let me take one more break here.

02:15:14   Thank our third and final sponsor of the episode.

02:15:18   It's one more fine sponsor,

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02:17:53   Monetize your passion with membership. You can get a free trial, no credit card required.

02:17:59   Just go check them out. Speaking of memberships, I had a membership system in 2006.

02:18:06   And it really helped me. It helped me get Daring Fireball off the ground as a full-time

02:18:13   proposition. And then Google Reader, my shtick was, or not shtick, but my, the deal was, well,

02:18:20   what do you get as a member of Full Other than the good feelings of supporting me was you got

02:18:25   full content RSS feeds instead of truncated RSS feeds that required you to click through to go

02:18:31   to my website to read it. And then originally, I even ginned it up again with one of those special

02:18:37   modifications to my publishing system. My linked list items went out in that member RSS feed

02:18:46   as soon as I hit publish, but only hit the website 24 hours later.

02:18:52   Darrell Bock Oh, interesting. I don't think I knew that.

02:18:55   John Green Well, it didn't last long,

02:18:57   because I think it was a good idea to get people to pay, but it drove me nuts because I would post

02:19:04   to some things that were timely and how could I post to like what if what if it came out I don't

02:19:09   know what if I wanted to post to something that was about something that was going to be on tv

02:19:13   tonight you know I mean that doesn't happen often but the one thing I never wanted to do and I still

02:19:17   never want to do is write behind a paywall because and again it I value like an idiot I guess I I'm

02:19:26   selfishly more interested in having everybody freely able to read what I write than make money

02:19:32   So even though I almost certainly could make more money by having some kind of membership system

02:19:39   and putting some of what I write every week behind it so that you can only read it there,

02:19:43   I just can't bring myself to do it. But I thought that the 24-hour delay

02:19:47   wasn't really a paywall. It was just a delay wall, and I could live with that. And when I tried it,

02:19:56   I couldn't live with it. I was like, "No, I want everybody to see this right away."

02:19:59   And then I just made it the full feeds and I did a whole talk at Andy's XOXO about how I got here.

02:20:06   But the basic gist was Google Reader killed that because Google Reader became the biggest RSS

02:20:13   reader by far. And even if you weren't using Google Reader to read your feeds,

02:20:17   it became the sync engine that you'd use with that news wire. And you'd hook it up with your

02:20:22   Google Reader to sync. And Google Reader didn't work with password authenticated feeds or

02:20:28   what I did instead of passwords at the HTTP level was just give everybody a

02:20:34   unique URL that and tell them not to share it but Google Reader was only

02:20:40   built for sharing and it wasn't built from who if you know if I had 10,000

02:20:45   members it wasn't meant for hitting my feed 10,000 times for each person it you

02:20:50   know Google is a crawler they want to hit it once and then deliver that one one

02:20:55   read to 10,000 readers and what would happen is everybody would go to Google

02:20:59   Reader and search for daring fireball and it would show up a it was just

02:21:03   confusing because it would show up hundreds and hundreds of feeds right and

02:21:07   B they all had ugly URLs because they had these unique tokens in them and C

02:21:14   they had the full contents so then all these people who weren't paying members

02:21:18   and they I did you know if I'm sure some of them did it actually did do it

02:21:22   deliberately to pirate my feed, so to speak, or whatever bootleg. I always like to use bootleg as

02:21:28   a pirate bootleg without paying, but most of them were completely innocent, right? It's they're just

02:21:34   looking to subscribe to Daring Fireball. Here's a URL. It has the full content of the site. So yeah,

02:21:39   that's the one I want and they were subscribed. And I was like, oh, that's not going to work.

02:21:43   Huh? How about I try selling a weekly ad and I'll put that in the RSS feed. Well, that

02:21:50   worked great and here I am today still effectively doing it and monetizing that way. But then at that

02:21:57   point I sort of silently sunsetted the membership thing. Lo and behold, a decade later, it, you know,

02:22:03   I looked pretty dumb that I didn't figure out some way to keep it going. What about you? What about

02:22:09   you with memberships? What's your history there? So I had a membership thing back in 2005 when I

02:22:16   first started doing katky.org as a full-time thing, and I did it sort of

02:22:21   like a PBS-style thing where it was like a whole like pledge drive kind of thing.

02:22:27   I had a bunch of things to give away for people who decided to support the site. I

02:22:32   had books and I had a lot of books. I can't really... I don't know, it's been

02:22:37   a long time so I can't remember the other stuff that I had, but I had a bunch

02:22:40   of like swag to sort of give away. Some of the books were like, you know, like I

02:22:44   I just like cold emailed Malcolm Gladwell's publisher and said, "Hey, can I get some signed

02:22:52   books to give away for this thing?" And they were like, "Okay." I did that for about a

02:22:55   year. And after about a year, I was like, "Okay, I'm not sure I'm going to do this again

02:23:02   this way," because I felt like at the time that it was this weird pressure that I had

02:23:07   put on myself. I felt like I had about, I think it was about 1,500 members I had, maybe

02:23:13   a thousand. I can't really remember, but I feel like I had 1500 bosses and it was stressing me out

02:23:20   and I just, you know, and I think it by that time, like the deck was, was a thing or was soon to be

02:23:28   a thing that you and Jim and was it Jason freed to come up with like, no, the original three were

02:23:37   Crudall, Fried, and Zeldman. I was fourth. Oh, okay. Oh, okay, I see.

02:23:43   But I remember it very vividly because they were the original three,

02:23:48   and I thought, "Oh, I wish they would let me in."

02:23:50   Yeah. I think for me it was like, "I wonder if they'd let me in." But of course, Lee,

02:23:57   you were like, "Come on." Were you at the dinner at the Vietnamese place in Austin

02:24:03   at South by Southwest the one year because it was sort of there used to be a deck dinner.

02:24:09   That sounds familiar.

02:24:10   There used to be an annual deck dinner at South by Southwest and I was fourth and then Jim told me,

02:24:17   "Yeah, we always thought if it worked, we'd ask you next." The three of them got together,

02:24:21   I think it was Jason's spitball. They thought, "Let's see if it worked." Jim said, "I'll take

02:24:27   care of the selling. I know lots of advertisers," and Jim was very, very good at it.

02:24:32   And Jim then told me, "Yeah, but we figured, well, let's see if it works before we ask

02:24:38   Gruber." And then they got me in, and then there was a dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant,

02:24:43   and it was really good. Somewhere in Austin, I don't know what year it was, but I think Andy

02:24:49   got in then, and you, you know, but it was sort of like, "Let's let this, you know, let's expand

02:24:55   to all the other obvious people who we should have in this thing." Yeah. Yeah, it was around then.

02:25:01   Because if you went full time in 2005 and tried memberships, felt like you had bosses,

02:25:07   it was probably either 2006 or 2007 in Austin where you were added to the deck.

02:25:13   Yeah, exactly. And the deck was like, for what I wanted to do, the deck just seemed a lot easier

02:25:22   because it was like... I think it worked this way for other people, maybe it didn't, I don't know.

02:25:29   It was basically like a guaranteed amount of money every month.

02:25:32   And like the ad it was just a little bit of JavaScript and I put it in my sidebar.

02:25:37   And that was it.

02:25:38   That was the extent of thinking about the economic and

02:25:41   financial aspect of my site.

02:25:42   And for me, like at the time, like that was fantastic.

02:25:47   I could just write and focus on that and not have to worry about anything else.

02:25:53   And there was no ad tech.

02:25:55   like the little bit of JavaScript was literally just to insert a like a div tag with the image

02:26:02   and a tag and there was never any tracking. I remember the one the closest we ever got to

02:26:07   tracking was Adobe wanted to put an invisible pixel gif in and I think we let them it was like

02:26:15   we put it up to a vote and we voted okay that's fine but that's all it was was a pixel like a

02:26:21   It was no JavaScript, it wasn't setting a cookie. All they wanted to do was see how many times,

02:26:26   instead of the image that was served from the deck.com or whatever the

02:26:31   decknetwork.com or whatever the URL was, they just wanted to put their own image in with the text

02:26:37   and just to see how many times they were loaded. That's the closest we ever got to tracking.

02:26:41   - I mean, it sounds too good to be true. - It was great. I mean, it was great for

02:26:49   publishers and I think it was good for readers too because like I think Jim worked really hard

02:26:55   to keep those ads relevant and it was as unobtrusive as you can get without actually not

02:27:02   having an ad. I would honestly say I still feel that way about my own ads but of course I would

02:27:07   say that myself but my own ads are clearly just copied from the deck blatantly but I would say it

02:27:12   actually came as close as ads could possibly come to being content that contributes that they were

02:27:17   that good sometimes, right? I remember, oh crap, what was the stock footage place that was a

02:27:22   frequent deck advertiser? Oh, like iStockPhoto maybe? Oh, it was something else. It was better.

02:27:28   Veer? Yeah, Veer, right? Veer.

02:27:31   Yeah. Veer, which was made by, like,

02:27:34   people who had worked at one of the earlier stock photo places from, like, the graphic design era,

02:27:42   and got, I don't know if they had stock and then it vested and they were like, okay, let's leave

02:27:51   this place because it's gone to hell and let's do stock photography and illustration right and made

02:27:57   Veer. But their ads, they were just beautiful. I was like, this makes my website look better,

02:28:02   having this ad here. Yeah. So the membership thing, so you don't really have anything either

02:28:09   right now, right? Yeah, no, no, no, of course not. Well, not of course not. Yeah, so...

02:28:16   You can't say that! We just had Memberful as the sponsor.

02:28:19   No! No, no, but it's not, it's not, it's not untoward though. No, it's just because we don't

02:28:26   want anything behind, you know, like Jason Snell's Six Colors. It's not like Memberful has made his

02:28:31   site any less. If you have no idea about the membership part, it's just that you get extra,

02:28:35   You get like an extra newsletter at the end of the week and there's a members-only podcast that's

02:28:40   different than the free and open podcast that he has. It's just gating some of the material.

02:28:46   Like Jason and Ben Thompson are sort of at opposite ends, right? Where most of what

02:28:51   Jason and Dan Morin do at Six Colors is all free and open and unobtrusive and uninterrupted.

02:28:56   And then there's a little bit of stuff that you get if you're a member. And Ben does the opposite,

02:29:01   where there's one weekly article that's free for everybody to read and the other four updates a week

02:29:06   are for the paying subscribers and both work but both involve putting at least something behind a

02:29:12   paywall which I feel like is that this is where you and I are like complete overlaps on the Venn

02:29:18   diagram. We can't stand having a boss. We can't stand having 1500 bosses and we kind of don't want

02:29:24   to put anything behind a paywall. Whereby kind of, whereby kind of, I mean I'd rather pull my

02:29:29   fingernails out. Yeah, so several years ago I relaunched a membership program with Memberful,

02:29:41   and I will echo everybody that you seem to know that has Memberful. It's great, I really like it.

02:29:47   I like how it's lightweight and unobtrusive, but behind the scenes there's a lot of different

02:29:53   things you can do to slice and dice things and move stuff around and administrate and all that

02:29:58   sort of stuff. But so I relaunched the membership and the deal was that people would become members

02:30:04   and they wouldn't get anything different than anybody else. And so it was the pitch was

02:30:12   basically like katki.org is the tote bag, so what you're paying for is the site and if you

02:30:18   if the collective readership does not feel like this is something worth paying for then the site

02:30:24   will probably either cease to exist or it will exist in a vastly different format or form,

02:30:31   probably like going back to being an occasional thing that I do while I have other work that I'm

02:30:38   pursuing. And I didn't really know if that pitch was gonna land or not, and it did. Like,

02:30:46   it really kind of resonated with the readership. And so this is like year six or I think this is

02:30:52   year six of it, maybe seven where I've got a paying membership that is basically like

02:30:57   supporting at this point, it's probably 70 or 80% of my revenue. I would say is the membership

02:31:04   and everything that I write is in the open. So there's, there's nothing that I publish

02:31:08   behind the paywall, right? It's sort of like a one, one man Wikipedia model. Yeah. Kind of,

02:31:15   yeah. And which is great. There's there's different. No. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I really

02:31:19   like it. It's sort of that old feeling that I had about 1,500 bosses. I don't feel like that at all

02:31:24   now. I feel like I have thousands of supporters, people who are like, "They really want this to

02:31:32   exist." And it's like, I have a really good feeling about that because it makes me feel good that

02:31:36   people want to read my stuff. But it's also, I feel a genuine responsibility to keep going on

02:31:43   on that basis to, I don't know, to like prove that this works. Like, you can

02:31:48   publish things to the web without having paywalls, and like, people will support

02:31:53   that. People want to support other people doing this stuff. They want to support

02:31:57   people keeping things open. So I mean, for me it's been great. I think if I

02:32:02   probably had a more traditional like membership thing, like a substack or

02:32:06   something like that, where it's like I have a few things a week that are open

02:32:09   and most everything else is behind the paywall.

02:32:12   I think I would probably be making more money,

02:32:14   but I don't want to,

02:32:17   like I just don't, I want it to be open.

02:32:22   - I'm right there with you.

02:32:23   All right, so let's talk about the sabbatical.

02:32:26   - Okay.

02:32:27   - I missed you.

02:32:29   I really missed-- - That's good to hear.

02:32:31   - I missed, I missed, I would, and I,

02:32:35   you know, you and I are friends.

02:32:37   We're not in frequent communication.

02:32:39   Maybe we should be, maybe we should be frequent.

02:32:41   We should be, we should be frequent texters.

02:32:43   - All right.

02:32:44   - But I didn't wanna ask you,

02:32:46   I wasn't quite sure why you were taking the sabbatical,

02:32:49   but every week, at some point during the week,

02:32:51   I would wonder, is Jason back?

02:32:55   And I would type the K,

02:32:56   and it never stopped autofilling to kotke.org,

02:33:00   and then I'd look, and it hadn't been updated,

02:33:02   and I'd say, okay, maybe next week,

02:33:04   and then I'd close the tab.

02:33:05   Do you wanna talk?

02:33:06   I mean, you've still, you promised, your readers,

02:33:08   promised on khaki that you'd write extensively about your sabbatical, but you still haven't?

02:33:13   Are you still planning to? Is this—are you John Gruber-ing this with something you wanted to write

02:33:18   and it's never going to come out?

02:33:20   JS I don't know. I have a lot of notes for this

02:33:24   mythical long post about the sabbatical, and there's like some stuff that's sort of half-written.

02:33:29   It seemed really urgent to me when I got back that I wanted to get it all down and

02:33:33   write about it and stuff. I was having a really hard time with it because there was a lot of it

02:33:40   that just required some distance from it. I had just come back, and I think in some ways there's

02:33:48   some of the stuff that happened or didn't happen or whatever during the sabbatical that just,

02:33:52   you know, I just need some time to think about it and process it. I'm still doing that.

02:33:57   It ended up being seven months. I thought maybe it was going to be four to six and it ended up

02:34:02   being seven and yeah. So the answer is, you know, I don't know if I'm going to write it or not.

02:34:11   I think part of being on the podcast was, you know, getting a chance to like

02:34:15   talk about it a little bit and maybe that will kickstart some interest and things like that.

02:34:21   So. Well, I'm here for that. I did not have the exact date written down because I didn't want to,

02:34:27   But I had a spidey sense of when six months rolled around

02:34:30   And when you didn't come back at six months, I got a little worried. I never really I never really I would have still

02:34:37   To reuse the analogy. I would have bet the house you'd come back

02:34:42   But I maybe maybe after six months I would have started maybe betting the spare bedroom

02:34:48   Because I got a little I got a little worried yeah, so would you want to talk about why you took a sabbatical?

02:34:55   cool. Yeah, I mean, yeah, just a lot of a lot of years without a break and you know,

02:35:08   I'm sure you can empathize with that. I've never even had, I've never even had a guest

02:35:12   writer. Right? Yeah. So I understand you're you're you're hardcore. You're hardcore. I

02:35:19   think for me it was like I just felt burned out and I had felt burned out for quite a

02:35:24   while. And there were things in my life that just really felt like I was neglecting in a big way

02:35:30   and really letting slip. My kids are both teenagers now, and before I know it, they're

02:35:35   going to be gone, out of the house, although who knows, maybe they'll be right back.

02:35:40   So...

02:35:42   JS I know the feeling. Jonas is a freshman in college and he's in Boston.

02:35:47   Yeah. Oh, wow. Yeah. So there was an opportunity there to spend a little bit more time on some

02:35:55   other things in my life. And, you know, being very online for 20, 25 years is it's, um,

02:36:03   maybe it's a thing that people shouldn't be doing and reading the news and reading Twitter

02:36:11   and being really online and being really on social media. I don't know if it's good for

02:36:16   people. And I was finding that it just wasn't good for me. Like it didn't feel good. It

02:36:23   didn't. Yeah, I just needed to like, I think I needed to get away from it. Yeah. So I mean,

02:36:31   so long story short, burnout. Yeah, I suspect. And it's one of those things as I've gotten

02:36:38   older and I hopefully have kept as open a mind as I could hope for. And you know, like

02:36:44   Like I told you before, strong ideas loosely help.

02:36:49   And I've changed my stance on all sorts of things

02:36:53   over the years, social stances, almost all or maybe all,

02:36:58   to become even more liberal, more empathetic

02:37:03   to other people and certainly to more groups of people.

02:37:08   But one thing I've learned, especially I think

02:37:13   In the last 10 years, from 40 to 50, part of the wisdom of age is that there's an

02:37:23   awful lot of things that I rolled my eyes out in my youth and thought, "Ah, what kind

02:37:30   of—that's weak," that you just have to experience it to understand it.

02:37:36   And then when you do experience it, every single thing you say about it, or I would

02:37:42   say about it, for aspects of my personal life or, you know, whatever. All are using the same canards

02:37:51   and things that sound trite and obvious and a billion people have said before about the same

02:37:57   thing, but that's because they're true, right? And that you just, sometimes you just have to

02:38:02   experience it and then use the things you say about it are the things everybody else has always

02:38:07   said about it, but those are the things that in my youth I rolled my eyes out. And the concept

02:38:12   of burnout is one of them. And when there now there's certain examples like when NFL coaching

02:38:18   is notoriously a long hours job there's the he just I think he just got entered in the Hall of

02:38:26   Fame actually when I was a little kid the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles was a guy named

02:38:30   Dick Vermeil and he went on and he disappeared he wasn't coaching for a while he was like announcing

02:38:37   games and then he came back and coached the St. Louis I think they were still in St. Louis

02:38:41   yeah, St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl when Kurt Warner was—and he finally won a Super Bowl.

02:38:46   But when he was the coach of the Eagles in 1980, they went to the Super Bowl and lost to the

02:38:51   Raiders in 1980. And I think he coached another year or two for the Eagles and then resigned. He

02:38:56   wasn't fired. He resigned in "burnout." And he was in his late 30s? He was like a prodigy, you know,

02:39:03   sort of like a Sean McVeigh, like a super young coach. He looked young. You look at the pictures,

02:39:09   I can't but you know, he's might have been younger than the punter. You know what I mean?

02:39:12   It's what do you mean he burned out?

02:39:13   How the hell do you burn out as a coach and then I'd you read and he was only sleeping three or four hours a night

02:39:18   And wasn't leaving the stadium seven days a week

02:39:21   he just had a cot in his office and was sleeping three to four hours a day and

02:39:26   just

02:39:28   Making game plans and watching film of his own team and film of his opposing teams the whole season, you know

02:39:35   And then in the offseason doing it, you know, and it's like okay

02:39:38   I could you know then even as somebody was skeptical of the concept of burnout I was like, okay

02:39:43   I get that, you know three or four hours of sleep a night and the other 18 hours all

02:39:49   Focused on the work in a high-pressure public job. Okay, I get it. I get how that's not sustainable

02:39:55   I'm kind of surprised he lasted as long, you know, five years or four years or whatever it was. I

02:40:02   It would have been in my youth. I would have been very very skeptical of Jason Kottke's need for sabbatical

02:40:09   No, I would have I I was just being honest and I will say I I don't feel like what I do at daring fireball

02:40:17   I don't feel like I'm close or any closer to the to a burnout than I was 10 years ago or 15 years ago

02:40:23   I also at this point in my life

02:40:26   life, don't doubt that it could happen.

02:40:29   Because the one thing I do know from the similarity

02:40:31   of what you and I do is the relentlessness of it, right?

02:40:35   And there are some times where my sight goes quiet

02:40:39   for three or four days and that's,

02:40:40   maybe it's like a mini sabbatical, right?

02:40:42   There are times where I just, I do feel that.

02:40:45   'Cause it is, it's relentless.

02:40:46   It never stops, there's always more,

02:40:49   the fact like it's good in the broad terms

02:40:52   that there's always more stuff I wanna write about

02:40:54   and more stuff I want to link to,

02:40:56   then I will get around to writing about or linking to.

02:40:59   It's better than the other way around.

02:41:01   But on the other hand, it makes it relentless

02:41:04   because there's never a constant sense

02:41:07   in the back of my head that I didn't write enough today,

02:41:09   I didn't get to that thing I wanted to link to,

02:41:12   or by the time I get to it, it's too late, it's stale.

02:41:16   I delent into a thing just yesterday

02:41:18   about this fantastic investigation Reuters did

02:41:21   over in Singapore and Indonesia,

02:41:24   where there was this scam run by Dow,

02:41:27   did you see me link to it?

02:41:28   It's Dow Chemical said that they were gonna

02:41:30   take used sneakers in Singapore,

02:41:34   which is like a first-- - Yep, I did see that.

02:41:36   - A first nation world,

02:41:37   and they're gonna take these used sneakers

02:41:39   and turn them into running tracks

02:41:41   and playground soft material for kids.

02:41:44   And then Reuters had the wisdom to say,

02:41:48   "Hmm, Dow Chemical, not sure I trust them,

02:41:50   put a bunch of air tags into 11 pairs of sneakers, and lo and behold, they're shipped over

02:41:56   to Indonesia, which is more of a third-world country. So it's literally just publicly

02:42:03   greenwashing. It's Dow saying, "Hey, plastics and rubbers are great because we take them

02:42:08   and reuse them and turn them into things like soft mats for playgrounds." And in truth,

02:42:13   all they were doing was taking garbage from a rich country, Singapore, and dumping it

02:42:17   into a poor country, Indonesia, against, explicitly against the laws of Indonesia,

02:42:23   which set up laws for health and safety about the import of

02:42:27   unexpected or unclean used clothing, exactly to prevent this.

02:42:31   Dow Chemical, you know what I mean? It's, but it came out seven days ago, and I, somebody sent it

02:42:37   to me and I was like, "Oh, that is perfect fodder for Daring Fireball." I'd be interested in it

02:42:41   without the air tags angle, but combine it with the air tags and, you know, I sometimes write

02:42:45   about Apple stuff. I was like, "This is perfect!" It took me six days to link to it, and I was

02:42:50   kind of bummed when I linked to it yesterday, because I was like, "It's kind of stale."

02:42:54   But that's nonstop. That's one example from one post. Nonstop, seven days a week, 52 weeks

02:43:02   a year, 365 days a year. You know, maybe not 365, right? I got to feel so bad when I go

02:43:08   quiet on Christmas Day. But it's certainly 52 weeks a year every year for 20 years. It

02:43:15   is relentless. And I could, you know, maybe, you know, maybe it's the fact that you're

02:43:18   five years ahead of me, my sabbatical's coming up in five years.

02:43:21   [laughter]

02:43:21   Tom: Yeah, it could be. It could be.

02:43:24   David: Well, let me tell you. So—

02:43:25   Tom; Yeah, I mean, for me, for me, like, the—there's a couple different things that I sort of

02:43:33   identified, like, as problems, and one of them is that relentlessness that you mentioned,

02:43:40   where I, especially for my stuff, which is sort of more sort of general, like you, you know,

02:43:46   you have your, your sort of Apple wheelhouse and that sort of stuff. And, but like my site is more

02:43:53   like just anything interesting. I mean, your, your site's a little bit like that actually,

02:43:57   but like my site, it's like anything that's interesting. So it's like, I am always sort

02:44:01   of working because like I am always sort of moving through the world. And so that's an interesting

02:44:06   observation, or this is an interesting little fact thing that I, you know, I'm talking about

02:44:10   with a friend or something like that. So there's this sense of, "I am never off work."

02:44:14   And then the other thing is, what was the other thing I was going to say?

02:44:19   JS Well, I'll just say that before you think about it, but I describe my site as being the

02:44:25   guy at the gym who only works his arms. So it's, yeah, I do my legs a little, but it's lopsided.

02:44:33   It's severely lopsided in the interest of Apple stuff. But then during the Trump years,

02:44:39   it semi-evolved into the semi-political site that I thought about writing back in 2002 instead of

02:44:46   writing about tech and design. Yeah, so the other thing that I remembered is that it's the constant

02:44:54   feedback that you get on, like, every single thing that I write there is some little bit of feedback.

02:44:59   Like, it's, you know, likes on Twitter or Mastodon, it's people replying, it's emails that I get,

02:45:04   And it's sort of this constant judgment coming at you that for me kind of got to be a problem,

02:45:11   I think. You know, I think over the years, like, you develop a thick skin and it becomes something

02:45:17   that you're just like, "Oh, yeah, like, people are going to be angry about this thing and, like,

02:45:20   I can judge. Like, if I write something, like, I know what the feedback is already going to be.

02:45:26   And I'm sure you have this too. Oh, people are going to try and argue this or argue that or

02:45:32   whatever. And I know what the feedback is, but somewhere in the last four, five, six years,

02:45:38   that skin got a lot thinner and it started affecting me a lot more. And I think that part

02:45:46   of the burnout there was just sort of this subjection of my psyche or soul to all of this

02:45:53   feedback. Negative or positive, it doesn't really matter, it's just feedback. I don't think it's

02:45:58   natural for people to get that much feedback during a day, day after day after day. And I

02:46:04   think after a while it just really kind of ground me down, you know?

02:46:07   JS That's really interesting because I do think, and I've thought about this, it's something that

02:46:14   wasn't obvious to me at the start. Like when I started, all I wanted to do is I wanted to be

02:46:19   a writer, I wanted to write, and I didn't want to answer to anybody or work my way up any ladder.

02:46:23   And I already knew web technology and I was already so excited about people like you and

02:46:28   Dave Weiner and all the people we mentioned earlier and Dean Allen. And I knew that I knew

02:46:32   that I could do it. And I could do it technically. And I knew that it was, I think, where I wanted my

02:46:37   writing to be. And I just wanted to get it out there. And it's that ego part of, you know,

02:46:42   wanting to do stuff in public. There's, you know, it, there's no work around it. You have to have

02:46:47   an ego, right? Nobody runs, nobody runs for political office without some sort of ego and

02:46:53   self-centered. And I've always had that drive to create little things. I used to, you know,

02:46:57   as a little kid draw little comic strips and write stories and just slip them under my mom's door at

02:47:01   night. I just have always had a need to make things for other people to see. And that's all

02:47:06   I really thought about. And I didn't think about the thick skin nature that's required. But as I've

02:47:14   gone over the years, especially in the Twitter years, and especially in the late Twitter years

02:47:20   where Twitter got angry, culturally. And I don't see how anybody could deny that. And that's pre

02:47:26   Musk. I realized that, oh, this is the reason, one of the reasons I've been able to keep going

02:47:34   and so, you know, as you and I, me and you, Jason, look around and we're like, where the

02:47:39   hell is everybody else? You know, I mean, I really anticipate that I've said this numerous times,

02:47:45   probably the last time you were on, I thought in the early days that this was the future and every,

02:47:51   this is what everybody would be doing, you know. I thought there'd be more, more people doing what

02:47:56   we do because I thought the tools are only going to get easier and the fact that me and you and

02:48:00   Heather Armstrong know how to write HTML code and we know how to design our own stuff and we

02:48:08   know how to set up something as, you know, not that setting up movable type was all that hard,

02:48:13   but it's certainly beyond the ken of most people. There's many, many reasons that you,

02:48:16   you and I are among the last people standing doing this as a full-time job, but the thick skin part

02:48:23   I didn't anticipate, but I realize in hindsight that somehow came and comes very naturally to me.

02:48:31   And mine hasn't worn thinner, and I don't know why. And I think that might explain the sort of

02:48:39   difference there. But I can imagine there are times where my thick skinned—something

02:48:47   starts sanding down on it. And I—yeah, you know, it can get to you. You know, the one—

02:48:55   Yeah, and like I was saying, it's not even necessarily negative feedback. Like,

02:49:00   you can get positive feedback and that warps your deal in a whole different way.

02:49:07   Right, no, that's true because then it steers you towards writing for what people want to read,

02:49:14   which isn't necessarily what you should be writing. I mean, certainly in my racket, in

02:49:19   Apple-focused, hyper-focused part of Daring Fireball, the trap to fall into is only writing

02:49:27   positive things about Apple because there are so many people, so many people out there who do their

02:49:36   fandom of Apple is sort of dogmatic, religious, I don't know how to describe it, but they only

02:49:43   want to hear good things about Apple. And you can see it on sites that have comments. I think Mac

02:49:51   Rumors is a great sort of id of the Apple universe in their comment section, where if you read,

02:50:00   if you ever look on Mac Rumors when there's a story that, you know, is more or less,

02:50:04   or obviously negative about Apple. So take, for example, last week there, Joanna Stern and

02:50:09   Nicole Nguyen at the Wall Street Journal had a blockbuster story, truly blockbuster story. I

02:50:14   won't get into it. Marco Arman and I talked about it for over an hour on my last episode of my show.

02:50:18   But the basic gist is if somebody has your iPhone and the passcode to the iPhone, they not only can

02:50:25   access everything on the iPhone, but they can just go right into settings and change your iCloud

02:50:30   password without knowing your existing iCloud password, and then they own your iCloud password,

02:50:34   too. And this is by design. It's not a bug. It's there because so many people forget their

02:50:39   iCloud passwords that it's built in as a feature. And Google does the same thing with Android,

02:50:44   and I proved it with my Android phone. But that's obviously a negative story about Apple.

02:50:49   And thieves have picked—the Joanna Stern and Nicole story was about the fact that

02:50:55   thieves have picked this up, and they're snooping people's passcodes in bars,

02:50:59   and then when they steal their phone, they've already got their passcode, and then they

02:51:02   they steal this and they use it and take money out of their venmos and their bank accounts and

02:51:07   they open up apple cards and quick charge things and people don't even know and the worst part is

02:51:12   the victims don't even know what the hell goes on all they know is they lost their phone they lost

02:51:15   their phone and they next thing you know they're they can't even get into iCloud when they get home

02:51:21   on their MacBook what the hell I can't get why can't I get into iCloud and next thing you know

02:51:25   they're getting emails from their bank saying that, you know, they lost $10,000, blah, blah, blah.

02:51:30   You read, like, the MAC rumors story that linked to and summarized that story, you'll find people

02:51:36   in the comments who will defend Apple. And again, there is a defensible angle here on the customer

02:51:40   support, but you'll find these people who are angry that this article was posted in the first

02:51:44   place, right? And an awful lot of Apple sites, not ones I've read, but—and especially Apple sites

02:51:51   that have come and gone because also I think that catering to that crowd makes it unsustainable,

02:51:57   right? You're not going to last if you're trying to do that, although I guess Fox News has made

02:52:02   it work, but you know, that's a perfect example, right? You don't want to be the Fox News—nobody

02:52:07   should be the Fox News of anything, right? Fox News shouldn't be the Fox News of conservative

02:52:12   U.S. politics, but there have been an awful lot of Apple-oriented sites over the years

02:52:17   that are certainly not detrimental to democracy. But it's not a healthy way to do things, right?

02:52:27   And you know, in that feedback cycle, even if you don't have a central theme or topic other

02:52:34   than the general interest of modern life and art and whatever you want to say, you're right though,

02:52:40   I could see it. It's not healthy to be getting the sort of ding ding ding, you know, there is

02:52:45   is like a sort of gamification and slot machine, you know, "Oh, they make these dings really

02:52:51   pleasant and they're all at a pitch that has been studied to be pleasant to the human."

02:52:56   Every single little thing about a slot machine is designed to keep you doing it, right?

02:53:02   Yep, yep. All right, so tell me about during the sabbatical. See, here's the thing I don't

02:53:08   understand is you knew you were going to take three or four months, but didn't I, as I thought

02:53:14   about it, I was like, well, what happens like one month in when you're, you are reading

02:53:18   something, right? You still read some stuff on the web or did you, you didn't like, no,

02:53:22   you didn't read anything? You, you, Ted Kaczynski did? I basically, basically for seven months,

02:53:28   I probably read no more than 10 articles on the web.

02:53:33   - Huh, well then that answers my question,

02:53:36   which is how could you possibly resist linking

02:53:38   to something that you read

02:53:39   that you felt like you had to link to?

02:53:41   You just didn't read it.

02:53:43   - No, I just didn't read it.

02:53:45   John, the extent to which I dropped doing the website

02:53:50   like a hot potato would just astound you.

02:53:54   Like it was gone.

02:53:56   It was just gone.

02:53:58   And I, because I knew that that's the way it had to be. Like I,

02:54:02   I knew I just needed to completely set it down. I read books instead.

02:54:06   I kept up with Instagram.

02:54:08   I completely dropped Twitter and actually I haven't really picked Twitter back

02:54:11   up again. Even, even since then I.

02:54:14   Are you mastadonning though? You're mastadonning.

02:54:17   I am. I am mastadonning. Yeah. Mastadonning is interesting. I like it. It's,

02:54:21   it's, you know, it reminds me a little bit of Twitter in the earlier days,

02:54:24   but also of a sort of a different thing.

02:54:27   Yeah.

02:54:29   - That's fascinating.

02:54:31   And it really, seriously, it was my single biggest,

02:54:35   I mean, here we are three hours, 20 minutes into this.

02:54:38   And it's honestly, the whole reason I wanted to have you

02:54:41   on the show is how did you not link to,

02:54:43   how did you not break the sabbatical to link to something?

02:54:45   'Cause I don't think, that's the thing

02:54:47   I don't think I could do.

02:54:49   But I guess I could do it if I completely unplugged, right?

02:54:53   - Yeah, I mean, I think there were a handful of things

02:54:57   that I did, there were a few quick links,

02:55:00   like maybe three, four that I linked to.

02:55:03   I can't even remember what they were now,

02:55:04   but it seemed like the type of thing,

02:55:05   it was like, oh, okay, I'm just gonna post this one thing

02:55:08   and then put it back down.

02:55:10   And then I made a post in October,

02:55:13   because like you, people were getting a little bit antsy

02:55:16   about, hey, are you coming back, what's going on?

02:55:19   So I just kind of made a post, I'm like, I'm not back yet,

02:55:21   I will be back at some point.

02:55:23   And, and, you know, I think your guess was correct.

02:55:26   I don't think there was any, I don't think I ever seriously entertained not coming back.

02:55:30   I was always going to come back, but it was just a matter of like, I just, I really just need to decompress completely from this so that I can start with.

02:55:39   Not quite a blank slate, but somewhere in the ballpark of that.

02:55:43   Do you feel rejuvenated?

02:55:45   I did when I came back.

02:55:47   It's a couple, let's see, it's three months, three months into it.

02:55:50   because I think I started at the beginning of November.

02:55:53   The winter has been like we started at three hours ago,

02:55:57   three and a half hours ago, whenever the hell it was.

02:55:59   - Yesterday.

02:56:00   - Like winters are hard.

02:56:01   Yeah, exactly, yesterday.

02:56:02   Winters are tough for me.

02:56:03   And like this winter has been more tough than usual

02:56:07   just because of there's a lot of family

02:56:09   sort of stuff going on

02:56:11   that I don't really care to talk about,

02:56:13   but there's a lot of going on,

02:56:16   and I did not really get the opportunity

02:56:20   to sort of come back and really think about like how I want to do this differently going forward.

02:56:27   I kind of fell back into old kind of ruts and old kind of habits.

02:56:31   So, you know, three, three months down the road here, I'm, I'm, I am not burned out by any stretch of the imagination, but I am like, crap, I see that stuff coming in the rear view mirror, like sooner than I thought I would.

02:56:43   And hopefully things are starting to even out and level out in, in my life right now

02:56:49   so that I can spend some more time focusing on that stuff.

02:56:53   It's focusing on work.

02:56:55   Focusing on the site.

02:56:56   What not only like writing the site, but like how I might want to go about it

02:57:00   differently in order to make it more sustainable because at this point, I want

02:57:05   to hit 30, I want to hit 35, 40, who knows, but like, I want to keep it going.

02:57:11   And I want to keep myself going.

02:57:13   I don't want to be 55, 60 years old

02:57:16   and I am a husk of a human being.

02:57:19   But God, he had a great website.

02:57:20   I don't think that's a very good trade off for me

02:57:25   or for the world or for anybody.

02:57:27   So I gotta try and figure it out.

02:57:30   - Before I forget, I did,

02:57:32   I don't wanna let your homework go to waste.

02:57:34   I asked you, it's minimal homework for the show,

02:57:38   how many posts you've posted to kotke.org over the years?

02:57:42   and the answer is about 40,000.

02:57:44   - All right, so 40,000.

02:57:45   And again, this speaks to the relentlessness

02:57:49   and the sort of body of work.

02:57:52   So my count is 32,000-ish,

02:57:56   and that's not counting like the sponsor ads,

02:57:58   which I technically go through movable type,

02:58:00   but I'm subtracting, which is fascinating

02:58:03   because you're at 25 years and I'm at 20,

02:58:06   and that 32 to 40 is pretty much exactly the same ratio.

02:58:11   It's kind of freaky.

02:58:13   It's a lot, you know.

02:58:15   Five years ago, I did a word count.

02:58:19   It is not, that's not easy to do,

02:58:21   or it's not hard, but there's no automatic feature

02:58:24   in movable type to do it.

02:58:26   I like did an export to like a single file,

02:58:30   or I forget how movable, I think that's how it works,

02:58:32   which is crazy, it's like, but you know,

02:58:34   computers are very, you know.

02:58:36   It's one of those things that you,

02:58:38   my broken grew up in the 80s and 90s mind thinks well you can't export all of that to one text

02:58:45   file but of course you can and it's not even fit yeah it'll fit and it doesn't take that long but

02:58:51   i i wrote like a script and it omitted my block quotes which are extensive at times and so it was

02:58:58   only counting original words i forget if i counted my headlines or not i think i didn't because a lot

02:59:04   of the times I lazy out and just use the other site's headline as my headline, you know,

02:59:09   Wall Street Journal colon, just publish their headline. So just counting my words,

02:59:14   I forget where I was at, but it was either a million or two million words of original writing.

02:59:20   My word count might be higher, probably is higher than yours on average, but yeah, maybe not by,

02:59:25   maybe not as far ahead as you think though, but it's the post though that counts, like, okay,

02:59:32   I'm going to send this to all the people who read my site, and there's a certain responsibility

02:59:37   for that. And it's uncanny how similar the pace we're on is. That's weird, it's weird.

02:59:43   I noticed--

02:59:44   It's also weird that you-- that like, both of us write like, several books a year worth of like,

02:59:50   words, like every year, but yeah, that's--

02:59:55   I-- but I don't--

02:59:56   I feel like I couldn't sit down and write a book.

02:59:58   I don't think so either. I could, I guess, you know, I've often said, in theory, I could do a

03:00:05   collection, although I would probably pay someone else to pick the ones to choose, because I don't

03:00:10   know that I'm the right person to choose them. But that's not writing a book, a collection of

03:00:14   the greatest hits of Daring Fireball with commentary. I mean, it's a book, it is a book,

03:00:19   but it's not writing a book, right? I mean, it honestly feels to me like, I don't know,

03:00:26   telling me to put together an airplane, you know, or fix an airplane, you know, this airplane

03:00:30   doesn't start. What do you do? I don't know. I mean, I write every day and like you said,

03:00:36   we write books, lengths of words every year, but to sit down and write one 60,000 word plus

03:00:44   narrative, it's not the way my brain works. It's, I feel like I found the medium for my writing

03:00:51   brain. I often wonder, here's a question for you, I wonder what I would do if I had been born a

03:00:58   generation earlier, you know, pre-web. Because I absolutely, I can't help but think I have had the

03:01:05   itch to write. And I probably still would have gone to the student newspaper at whatever college

03:01:12   I would have gone to, born 25 or 30 years earlier. But I don't know what I would have done afterwards.

03:01:18   I really don't. I think I would have wanted to be a writer. I don't know though. I may not,

03:01:25   I don't know. It might be that I'd be doing something else and in the back of my head,

03:01:29   gone to my grave with a regret. Boy, you know, maybe next year I'll try writing a book or

03:01:35   writing something or something and never doing it. I don't know. I don't know what I, honest to

03:01:39   God, don't know what I would do other than this. Nothing else I don't think would have stuck.

03:01:45   Yeah, I'm I'm not sure that I would be a writer because for me the the the attraction of it

03:01:54   initially certainly and I think still to some extent is like that it's writing on the web

03:01:59   and it's and it's not only writing but there's this curating part of it too that I really

03:02:05   focus on. I was going to be a scientist before I decided to pivot to trying to figure out

03:02:12   how to make a living on the web. I went to grad school, I was gonna get a PhD in ceramic

03:02:17   engineering. Yeah. I don't know why, I'm not laughing. Like making gorilla glass, maybe.

03:02:25   Right. I don't know. I'm not laughing at the field, I actually think it's fascinating and I

03:02:29   just was bitching on Mastodon yesterday because I cracked the back of my iPhone for the second year

03:02:34   of a row that I cannot believe we make these things out of glass, which is the dumbest material

03:02:40   Did you go boss? We make them out of and so I hope there's some ceramic engineer out there

03:02:44   Literally a ceramic engineer who's who's got an idea for a ceramic that won't crack

03:02:49   But will pass through the the pass through charging which is why they shifted to glass in the first place

03:02:54   So i'm not laughing at the field of ceramic engineering. I think there's

03:02:57   It's as essential and as bright a future as ever. I'm just laughing at the idea of

03:03:03   You know missing you as a voice in my life on a daily basis while you're out there baking

03:03:10   the seventh generation gorilla glass in an oven.

03:03:13   - Yeah, exactly.

03:03:16   - The live, before we got, I mean, we've gone too long,

03:03:18   but I have noticed though, I mean,

03:03:20   to circle back to design and stuff like that,

03:03:22   you've subtly, not redesigned,

03:03:25   but tweaked the Kottke layout where your,

03:03:29   what you call quick links, instead of,

03:03:32   for a couple of years what you were doing

03:03:34   was sort of batching them up,

03:03:37   I don't know if they were by the day,

03:03:39   or how were you doing that?

03:03:40   You'd sort of put them in a multi-column pool

03:03:44   in between true posts.

03:03:46   Like you'd have post, post,

03:03:49   and then a collection of quick links

03:03:52   in a multi-column tag pool,

03:03:56   then a post, a post,

03:03:58   and then another quick link collection from earlier.

03:04:02   Like how, I never quite discerned,

03:04:05   I figure knowing you it was probably hand-pooled.

03:04:09   This is enough to tie off as one pool

03:04:12   and I'll move on to the next,

03:04:13   or was it automated in some way?

03:04:15   - So it worked slightly differently on the website

03:04:20   and in RSS.

03:04:21   So on the website, there was one main post,

03:04:24   and then under that first main post

03:04:26   there was a quick link section,

03:04:28   and that was just the last 10 quick links,

03:04:30   like reverse chronological.

03:04:32   And then there was a button to,

03:04:34   you could click into like the main sort of quick links archive.

03:04:37   But for RSS, what I did was every few hours,

03:04:41   if there were two or more quick links,

03:04:43   I would bundle those up and send them to RSS.

03:04:45   Manually or, or automated?

03:04:48   Automated. It was all like crown jobs and PHP scripts.

03:04:52   And PHP. I was going to ask what language. Yeah.

03:04:54   You've unbundled that on the website and now the website is just purely

03:04:59   reverse chronological. When did that happen?

03:05:02   I don't think I noticed when that happened.

03:05:03   - Probably, I don't know, a month, month and a half

03:05:06   after I got back from my sabbatical.

03:05:07   So, you know, end of December, maybe sometime in January.

03:05:10   I think it was probably sometime in January.

03:05:12   - I like it, I like it.

03:05:13   - There's a vector here.

03:05:14   I feel like I'm moving towards something.

03:05:16   Like the way that the quick links worked,

03:05:19   it was getting a little long in the tooth

03:05:20   and I wanted to move away from that.

03:05:22   And because I feel like I'm putting a little bit more energy

03:05:26   these days into the quick links,

03:05:27   there's more of them than there used to be.

03:05:29   And they're more frequent.

03:05:30   I wanted to highlight them more on the front page

03:05:33   than they had been.

03:05:34   So that was kind of the impetus there.

03:05:36   - I like it.

03:05:37   I will just say, A, I like the change.

03:05:40   And I think it, I don't know why.

03:05:42   I don't know, it just, it's in my ears, not my eyes.

03:05:46   It just reads better to me, and it reads more like you.

03:05:50   And I don't know if it's coincident or not.

03:05:53   I just feel like when, my sense as a reader

03:05:57   is that when you came back from sabbatical,

03:05:59   you needed to warm up a little.

03:06:01   I don't, I was so happy when you came back

03:06:05   and it was great and it was, you were back,

03:06:08   but I honestly feel like it's more recently,

03:06:13   let's just say it's in 2023, like post-New Year,

03:06:18   there are more stretches of kotke.org

03:06:21   where I have to close the tab because it's,

03:06:26   I've already ruined half my day

03:06:29   with the links, you know, and I'm not even caught up yet. And it's so crack from my,

03:06:37   this is all, god damn it, the next very, the next one too, son of a bitch. You know, like

03:06:44   a hitting streak, you know. There's a famous story, I forget who had it, but there was

03:06:50   the famous year, yeah, it's the famous year where Ted Williams hit .400 and Joe DiMaggio

03:06:56   had the 56-game hitting streak in baseball. I forget which year. I should—the fact that I know most of

03:07:02   this but not which year, but that's bizarre, A, that there's these two freakish stats in baseball.

03:07:08   Ted Williams, last guy to hit .400. Joe DiMaggio has a 56-game hitting streak. In other words,

03:07:13   for people who aren't baseball fans, 56 games in a row, he got at least one hit. But the most

03:07:19   amazing stat of that season was at some point in the middle of the year, and I don't know the

03:07:24   number, but Ted Williams had something like 14 or 15 consecutive at bats with a hit, which is—let's

03:07:30   say you're hitting 400, so it's a little bit less than a coin flip. It's less than a coin flip,

03:07:37   but like 14 or 15—or I forget what the number is, but it was freakish. But that's what—Kotke's

03:07:43   been on to me, and I'm not just buttering you up because you've been so generous with your time on

03:07:48   my show, but you've had more streaks like that where it's not just every day you've got like

03:07:53   Something that I think is gold and I'm jealous that I'm not the one who found it first and linked to it

03:07:57   but post post quick link post son of a bitch every single one of these is a

03:08:03   Feature length article or a 15-minute YouTube or a thing and post post post post all right in

03:08:11   My wheelhouse crack cocaine for my information

03:08:14   Addled bored mind you I'd be in that to me and you've been doing this for 25 years to me

03:08:22   But I feel like you've had more of those stretches of at bat post post post that are all

03:08:27   Gold in the new in the new year then November December, and maybe that's just me. I don't know

03:08:33   What was what's your self perception of coming back?

03:08:36   Would do you feel like I needed it warm up or were you where you all right back in the saddle?

03:08:41   No, I mean it took me a while to warm up my kids

03:08:45   and I have this joke about if we're watching a show together or whatever and we take like a little like break and

03:08:51   and we'll come back to it after a week and I'll turn it on and while I'm finding the show or

03:08:56   whatever I'm like, "Okay, so what's the show about again?" And they're like, "Uh..."

03:09:01   But I really felt like coming back I was like, "How do I do this again? Okay,

03:09:04   so I have to do this and this." And yeah, it definitely took me a while. I think January,

03:09:09   you know, I think you're right about the timing. It's, you know, like January I felt like I got

03:09:14   back into the groove again. I had more time in January than I did in December. December was a

03:09:19   a little bit busy with with family and some travel and it always that and January. Yeah,

03:09:25   yeah, exactly. And then January actually had some time to like stretch and crack my fingers

03:09:31   and like really get involved. So I'm, you know, I'm glad that's, you know, resonating

03:09:36   at least with one person. Well, it's good. Yeah, it definitely took a while to get going.

03:09:41   It's it. I hope it didn't come across as a backhanded compliment, but it

03:09:46   Because it was good when it came back but to me

03:09:49   And again to to go back to the ted williams. Well, actually I think that's a bad analogy

03:09:54   I was going to say to go back to ted Williams. I was going to say it's like when he

03:09:57   Left banger league baseball to go fly fighter pilot missions in korea, which is bananas, right?

03:10:03   imagine if mike trout left the major league baseball now to go fly an airplane in a

03:10:09   Dangerous war zone for a couple of years and then came back but I actually think when ted williams came back

03:10:15   he actually started hitting great right away.

03:10:17   But-- - Yeah, he did.

03:10:20   - So forget that analogy, but--

03:10:22   - Ted Williams is a better baseball player

03:10:24   than I am a blogger, I can live with that.

03:10:26   - I don't know, I don't know.

03:10:27   Well, I didn't mean it as a backhanded compliment,

03:10:30   but it seems to me like you agree in hindsight.

03:10:34   It's just sometimes it's hard when you're the person

03:10:36   creating it to have that sort of perspective.

03:10:38   That's the end of my questions, I don't know.

03:10:40   I mean, do you have any questions?

03:10:42   I mean, do you have anything else you wanted to get to?

03:10:44   I mean, it seems, you know, probably gone on long enough. Yeah, I mean, I think three hours and

03:10:52   how many ever minutes we've got going here is probably good. I've actually got to go pick up

03:10:58   my kids in like 20 minutes. All right. Well, to say that I am appreciative of your time to sit

03:11:05   here and do this at this length with me, it's funny because we ostensibly originally had a hard

03:11:11   stop 90 minutes ago and you told me yeah exactly we don't have that hard stop anymore so if we're

03:11:17   on a roll we can keep going well i feel like we were on a roll and i appreciate it greatly this

03:11:23   is my favorite episode of the show that i've done in a very long time no offense to any other guests

03:11:29   who've been on show recently i love you all i love you all fuck them fuck them whatever i i

03:11:36   Needless to say, I think at this point, I don't know that I need to repeat your URL

03:11:41   for people looking to find your find iProtext products, but it is at kottke.org and on

03:11:49   Mastodon, you know, I've been instead of giving addresses because it's I don't know,

03:11:53   it's like at kottke@mastodon.social or I don't know which instance you're on. You know, I said

03:11:59   to Marco Arman on the last episode, it's better, you know what, on Mastodon, just use your favorite

03:12:03   Mastodon client and search for Kotki and you'll find both Jason and the kottke.org posting bot.

03:12:10   And that's, you know, that's pretty much all you need to know. But I appreciate your time. I will

03:12:14   also just toss in here an extra thanks to our fine, very fine sponsors. What do we have? We

03:12:19   had Trade Coffee. Get a free bag of fresh coffee with any subscription at drinktrade.com/thetalkshow.

03:12:26   collide, K-O-L-I-D-E, collide.com/the-talk-show. That's the cross-platform endpoint security

03:12:32   solution for teams that value privacy and transparency. And, Memberful,

03:12:38   you can monetize your passion with membership. See you in 25 years.

03:12:40   All right, sounds good, Jon.

03:12:43   I hope so. I really do. I think we can do it.