A Year of Living Disruptively with Guests from Early Episodes (53)

The New Disruptors launched on December 5, 2012. I wanted to talk to people making stuff, creating art, or helping others get their work out there. The show is now at episode 53, and it's been a delightful year. I wanted to look back at early guests, and was able to get the folks who appeared on the first four episodes to chat briefly about what happened next. I talk in this show with Lisanne Pajot and James Swirksy, Indie Game: The Movie; Chris Anderson, then Wired and now 3DRobotics; Tony Konecny, Tonx (coffee); and Evan Ratliff, of The Atavist and Creativist.

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Show notes

I know regular listeners will be disappointed, but the show notes this time around are exceedingly short, as it's a reflective episode. These are the original episodes (in order that they appear in this anniversary check-in) for each guest or guests:

I Am the Camera with Dean Putney (Episode 48)

 Photo by  heysanford .    

Photo by heysanford.

 

Dean Putney has made some of your favorite things on the Internet. He's Boing Boing's software developer, as well as filling your mind with the best animated GIFs on the Internet.

But what he's working on at the moment takes us over 100 years into the past: a book of photographs his great-grandfather took before World War I, and in the trenches as a German soldier. He recently funded the book project on Kickstarter, and shares lessons in publishing and crowdfunding. (You can still pre-order the book even though the Kickstarter is over.)

Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons. Thanks to Stack for sponsoring this episode! Stack sends you a different magazine every month, selecting from among the best English-language publications in the world. With coupon code DISRUPT13, 3 months is $45 (normally $50), and a full year is just $170 (normally $190)!

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And thanks to our patrons, supporting us by pledging an amount via Patreon for each episode we produce. Thanks this time to Ready Chi and GravityFish! You help make it all happen. 

Show notes

David Karp was about 17 when Marco Arment went to work for him, not knowing quite how young he was. Nitrate film stock is highly flammable and degrades horribly unless stored in perfect conditions. It wasn't until the 1950s that all movie film stock was replaced with cellulose triacetate. (Which also isn't stable, but is less dangerous. Now they use polyester.)

Just for clarity about which armed force that Dean's great-grandfather belonged to: The German Army in World War I was the culmination of Prussian consolidation of the country in 1879, and was dissolved after Germany lost the war in 1919. The WWII army was the Heer, the land component of the Wehrmacht, which lasted from 1935 until 1945, when Germany lost WWII. The Wehrmacht was separate from the Waffen-SS, which was a more directly controlled arm of the Nazi party.

The Daily Mail ran a wonderful, lengthy article about Dean's project. They're a little right-wingy, and supported Hitler and the Nazis in the 1930s. So did a fair number of English, though, especially in the ruling class.

Pocket Pal is the very, very best source for understanding the technical production details of pre-press (the stuff you do in making layouts and images that work and turning them into something that can be printed) and press production. It will help you understanding the difference between continuous-tone images (actually different shades of gray, such as on an screen or using a dye-sublimation printer) and halftone images (in which tiny clusters of dots fool the eye into seeing different shades). (I co-wrote three editions of a book on pre-press and images: Real World Scanning and Halftones.)

Dean and his friend Dan Shapiro spent many hundreds of hours discussing their Kickstarter campaigns before launch. Dan's Robot Turtles raised $630,000 towards a $25,000 goal! He has about 15,000 copies of the game to make and ship. Kicktraq is a useful and free way to track information about any Kickstarter campaign, although its early extrapolations of the total amount to be raised aren't very accurate — it doesn't factor in early acceleration slowing down.

Code Monkey Comixology Crazy

Screenshot 2013-10-14 16.25.32.png

The first installment in the Code Monkey Saves World  comic-book series based on Jonathan Coulton's songs and written by Greg Pak is available to the public today via ComiXology.

I talked to Jonathan and Greg in May about their blockbuster Kickstarter, and as a backer, I had the first issue in my hot little hands already several days ago. Very enjoyable and sets the stage for the next three issues!

Yes, We Can! with Marisa McClellan (Episode 38)

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Marisa McClellan puts stuff in jars and it's delicious. Her Food in Jars blog on canning and preserving went from a side venture alongside a full-time job to her main hub as a food writer. She writes for Food Network and Table Matters (part of Saveur). She conducts dozens of workshops and demonstrations every year. Her first book is Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, and she is in the middle of writing her second book, Preserving by the Pint. You want to pickle something? She's your woman. She talks about how she built a career one jar of jam at a time.

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Show Notes

Canning Across America (launched as Canvolution and still on Twitter under that handle) is a loosely organized group that encourages spreading the word about all methods of preserving food. Kim O'Donnel is a key mover, as was my late friend and officemate Kim Ricketts. The Seattle Times ran an article in July about the spread of the movement.

The Cooperative Extensive System, run by state agricultural colleges, and often funded solely or largely by the state, spreads information about farming, ranching, and kitchen skills for canning and other tasks. Through extension, one can become a Master Food Preserver. Extension programs' funding has been radically cut in the last few years just as widespread interest in this basic knowledge has exploded.

Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire explains that Johnny Appleseed ran orchards out in advance of settlers, who planted trees to make hard cider (low alcohol) and applejack liquor — both were safe to drink where local water supplies might not have been. People also tested their apple trees to see if they grew spitters or tasty versions, as apples are heterozygous (that's the right word, not precisely what I said on the podcast). An apple-tree owner with a tree that produced great-tasting apples would send cuttings off, get them licensed, and potentially make a lot of money. That's how the few varieties of apple that are grown in massive quantities were found and commercialized.

Why Not Take Awl of Me with Choire Sicha (Episode 37)

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Choire Sicha (pronounced "Corey SEEK-a") is one of the founders of The Awl, a site devoted to new writing and events of the day, with four sister sites under the same umbrella. Choire was an editor at Gawker — and returned as editor a second time after he first left. He's written for or worked at the New York Observer and Radar. Choire just came out with the fictionalized but entirely true novel, Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City. He's on Twitter: @choire.

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Sponsors underwrite the cost of producing this program, and we love learning about our sponsors' products and services so that we can tailor an informed description for our audience. If you'd like to sponsor the podcast, contact Lex Friedman at Podlexing for details!

Show notes

Nick Denton started his network with Gizmodo, and Gawker came later. Pete Rojas founded Gizmodo, then left to join Jason Calacanis to create Engadget as the founding site of the Weblogs, Inc., network that Calacanis sold later to AOL. (I mistakenly said Calacanis started with Gizmodo! How soon we forget.) Pete Rojas then founded gdgt, which was sold not long ago to AOL as well.

New Yorkers get by on five hours of sleep?

Denton built Kinja, a reputation/commenting system. Co-founder David Cho left The Awl to join Grantland, Bill Simmons' terrific editorial operation at ESPN. The Verge evolved from what seemed to be a gadget site into a more nuanced, richer multimedia site with long-form journalism to boot. Tracy Kidder is a great old white man.

All readers (and listeners) are handsome and beautiful.

The Awl has four sister sites: Splitsider, a comedy website; The Hairpin, a site geared toward women; The Wirecutter, a consumer-electronics blog; and The Billfold, a blog with a focus on personal finances. The Wirecutter is now owned by Brian Lam, but the other sites are part of The Awl, with ownership stakes by editors.

Completism is the necessity of a reader to complete an entire magazine or newspaper or what have you. It's why people have stacks of Economists piled up.

I wrote about pick-up artist (PUA) philosophies for Boing Boing because of a controversy about whether a book being Kickstarter funded about PUA technique was full of suggestions tantamount to sexual harassment and assault. The Awl's Maria Bustillos wrote an article seemingly supportive of the book's author. Choire mentioned that The Awl published a poem called "Rape Joke" by Patricia Lockwood, and had a massive number of first-time commenters that he would be perfectly fine if they never returned.

I spoke to Jason Fried of 37Signals in Episode #10, "Go Home at 5 O'Clock," about working humane hours and having a globally spread-out group of employees who only meet occasionally in person.

Valve runs as an anarchy and has an in-house economist, Yanis Varoufakis, who explains this in part here and gave a great interview on this economic podcast.

Moby-Dick is one of the funniest books of all time. We're serious.

 Photo of Choire Sicha by Tiffany Arment. Used with permission.

Episode 36: Machine of Breadth with David Malki

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David Malki's biography would take five minutes to read out. You may know him best as the perpetrator of the cartoon Wondermark, but he's also a filmmaker, a movie trailer editor, an author, an entrepreneur, and the Supreme Commander of Publicity & Promotions at TopatoCo, a firm that handles merchandise primarily for webcomics. He's available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. We talk about making films, making cartoons, and making books, and having a great time at all of it.

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 Show notes

David Lynch's peculiar cartoon strip, The Angriest Dog in the World. Penny Arcade is one of the most popular Web comics. Zach Weinersmith's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal dates back to that era (we talked in Episode 15), as does Diesel Sweeties by Rich Stevens.

I received a copy of Chris Ware's Building Stories from my wife for Christmas, but his work makes me realize the keenness of life too fiercely. Or something. Dinosaur Comics is produced by David's friend Ryan North. It has the same drawing every day; the dialog is all that changes. Jeff and Holly Rowland run TopatoCo. Holly was my guest on Episode #21, in which we talked about Make That Thing! New England Web Comics Weekend took place in 2009 and again in 2010 and was hosted by TopatoCo.

Machine of Death was inspired by this episode of Dinosaur Comics. Futurama had a "death clock" in an episode in 1999, but David points out the death-predition thing is as old as the Greeks. David Pogue tried an experiment in removing DRM from an ebook in 2009; sold a lot more books. But he didn't like the outcome.

Machine of Death spawned a game funded on Kickstarter and a second collection of stories just out called This Is How You Die.

You can find David at GenCon in Indianapolis this weekend (August 15–18), and at PAX in Seattle August 30–September 2.

Photo by Joshin Yamada. 

Episode 31: Me Eat Pretty Some Day with Matthew Amster-Burton

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Matthew Amster-Burton is a food writer and host of the podcast Spilled Milk. Matthew has a particular affinity for Japanese food, and that led to a trip to that country he'd promised to his daughter, Iris, who stars in his book Hungry Monkey. Their trip led to a second visit to Japan with Matthew's wife and Iris's mom Laurie, and to a second book, Pretty Good Number One, about eating in Tokyo. He talks about the perils of publishing with a large firm and on his own, and how he's navigated the maze of electronic book production.

Matthew on Twitter: @mamster

Show notes

Gourmet shut down in 2009 after nearly 70 years in operation. Editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl moved on to other pursuits. Physical colleges may have some of their business model threatend by MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses.

Molly Wizenberg is a well-known food writer and memoirist, and Matthew's Spilled Milk co-host. Her first book was A Homemade Life; her second, Delancey, is upcoming.

American teriyaki isn't the same as Japanese. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a film about the proprietor of a subway sushi restaurant which is thought to be one of the best. Tampopo is an interleaved, stylized film about life in Japan that is both a comedy and an homage to food and sex. It features ramen in the main storyline.

Robert Boynton's The New New Journalism is a selection of interviews with the best practitioners of narrative non-fiction writing that gives some insight into the amount of time it takes to write these kinds of deep tales. I said Erin Brokovich's case was discussed in the book, but it was really what Matthew said: A Civil Action, Jonathan Harr's book about Woburn, Massachussetts, water contamination. Harr spent 7 1/2 years researching the book.

Matthew mentioned APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawawsaki and Shawn Welch as a great bible to navigating the publishing world. EPUB is a reflowable ebook format: it's HTML with extra pieces designed specifically for ereaders.

Serenity Caldwell described Macworld's EPUB production process at the Çingleton Deux conference; watch the video of her talk. Apple's Pages program (for Macintosh) produces very reasonable output into PDF, EPUB, and other formats. Sigil is an EPUB editing tool. Greasemonkey lets you override HTML and other code on Web pages you visit for local display.

My dad and I run Books & Writers, a book rank-tracking service. Amazon's AuthorCentral lets authors identify (and confirm) that they wrote specific books and then get sales information about them. Musicians in some cases have the right to reclaim copyright that was transferred 35 or 54 years previously.