Actually, Quite Likely! Recorded Live in Brooklyn (Episode 49)

We recorded a special live episode of The New Disruptors in Brooklyn's fantastic DUMBO district in the Galapagos Art Space as part of the Nearly Impossible conference in which we talked about the joys, challenges, and surprises in prototyping, funding, producing, and distributing products. On stage, we had Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy of CW&T, Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost of Studio Neat, and Jessica Heltzel of Kern and Burn.


Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons. Thanks to Shopify for sponsoring my trip to New York and this episode!

Shopify: Use Shopify to create your online store. Everything you need to start selling online – today



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

Show notes

CW&T is best known for Pen Type-A. I spoke originally to Taylor and Che-Wei Feburary 27, 2013 in "Où est la plume de ma Kickstarter?" Studio Neat burst onto the scene with the glif, and has since made the Cosmonaut, among other products, and wrote the book It Will Be Exhilirating. I spoke with Tom and Dan in "Living in the Back It Bracket." (Dan now lives in Austin.) Jessica Heltzel and Tim Hoover collaborated to conduct many dozens of interviews they posted on a blog, and then to crowdfund and produce a book called Kern and Burn.

Galapagos Art Space is a fascinating and wonderful performance space that literally has water underneath sections of the main floor seating. It's lovely and cool, and I thank them for hosting us.

Tom and Dan's Neat Ice Kit just raised over $150,000 towards a $50,000 Kickstarter goal. The Dr. Demento movie Kickstarter had a zillion add-on options, but that's because those were collectible and unique items, and helped push them over the top. (I spoke to the director of that upcoming movie in "They're Coming to Make Him a Film Ha Ha!" a few weeks ago.)

Kickstarter isn't keen on stretch goals, but doesn't ban them. The 99% Invisible Season 4 Kickstarter is going gangbusters, even bigger than its Season 3 crowdfunding campaign, and they keep setting more and interesting stretch goals — and meeting them. (I interviewed show host Roman Mars just before he launched this Kickstarter a few weeks ago in "99% Indivisible.")

Che-Wei made the TV Barrow to make it easy to move an HDTV from room to room. Enough interest sparked them to plan to sell it as a product. Tom, Che-Wei, and Taylor all went to the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, as did Tom's wife, roboticist Kacie Kinzer. Che-Wei and Taylor are now studying at the MIT Media Lab. Autodidacts teach themselves the meaning of the word.

My grandfather was a great negotiator, and he told me a lot of stories about running a furniture store. Scott Thrift updated his backers every full moon for The Present. Crowd Supply is one of the firms pursuing a crowdfunding model in which money is released to creators as mileposts are reached in protection, which is intended to provide more confidence to backers.

Thanks to Anthony Saggese for providing our on-site recording services!

Free, Live Taping in New York, November 6th

Come to DUMBO, the up-and-coming area of Brooklyn, for a live taping on November 6th that's part of the Nearly Impossible conference. Tickets are free and you don't need to be a conference attendee. (But the conference is pretty cool and very "ND" like: it's teaching people how to make ideas into products.) 

It's be an hour on stage of me interviewing Studio Neat's Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost, CW&T's Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy, and Kern & Burn's Jessica Karle Heltzel. The audio will be aired later in November as a podcast episode.

Thanks to Shopify for sponsoring the live taping! 

Lights, Notes, and Brews from XOXO (Episode 43)

Click above to listen in your browser or download the podcast directly (MP3, 2 MB, 48 minutes). Subscribe to the show's podcast feed to get every episode automatically.


XOXO is a truly remarkable festival and conference that you've heard me talk about quite a lot. I interviewed Andy Baio and Andy McMillan just before they announced the line-up for the 2013 show, which took place in mid-September. At XOXO, I interviewed the folks behind four companies or projects exhibiting there about what they were up to: Brewbot, Draplin Design, Projecteo, and NeoLucida. To read more about the 2013 event, read my account at Boing Boing, Leah Reich's essay "The Uncanny Valley of Earnestness" about the place for criticism in the midst of positivity, and Frank Chimero's "The Inferno of Independence."


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 (now part of the Midroll) for details!

Chris McClelland. 

Chris McClelland, Brewbot

This band of app developers, known as Cargo, and home brewers from Northern Ireland attended XOXO in 2012 and were so inspired they built a prototype of Brewbot, an automatic beer-brewing system that relies on sensors, precise temperatures, and app to get you consistent results. Their Kickstarter is 60% of the way to its £100,000 goal as we finished editing this podcast. I spoke with Cargo's CEO, Chris McClelland. (Kickstarter allowed UK-based creators to launch projects in October 2012.)

Aaron Draplin. 

 Some of Aaron Draplin's designs. 

Some of Aaron Draplin's designs. 

Aaron Draplin, Draplin Design

Aaron Draplin is an American original. A graphic designer who produces bold and interesting work that's rooted in love of place and love of materials, he had a huge booth for Draplin Design, selling T-shirts, posters, and Field Notes products. Field Notes is a co-venture between his firm and Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners. Aaron and I spoke while someone else staffed his booth, which was selling out of gear as fast as he could drive it over; he works in Portland.

(I interviewed Jim in January 2013 in "Any Color But Purple," Episode 7. The purple referred to the purple-covered Field Notes guides custom printed for XOXO 2012. Aaron told him to use any color — but purple. This year's were slightly redder than puce.)


Ben Redford, Projecteo

Projecteo is adorable: a tiny film projector that's connected with your Instagram account. Select photos and they're printed to a 35mm frame as an itsy-bitsy film wheel, which the company cuts out and delivers with the micro-projector. Funds were raised via Kickstarter ($87,000 towards an $18,000 goal.) One of the fellows behind Projecteo, Ben Redford, and I talked about how it works and about a tiny 3D-printed "theater" that pairs with it.

An attendee uses NeoLucida for a drawing. 

 The parts of the NeoLucida. 

The parts of the NeoLucida. 

Pablo Garcia, NeoLucida

The advent of good-quality lenses in the 1600s brought new ways of seeing things. The camera lucida overlays what someone sees through a lens with a piece of paper onto which one can trace or draw. Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin collaborated to make a modern version, the NeoLucida. Pablo had antique models on site, and a table set up for visitors to try out his new version. Funded on Kickstarter for vastly more than their target — $425,000 towards a $15,000 goal! — Pablo explains to me in this interview how they worked to scale up and meet production demands.

Episode 28: Hugs and Kisses from Portland: Andy Baio and Andy McMillan on XOXO

Click above to listen in your browser or download the podcast directly (MP3, 38.4 MB, 80 minutes). Subscribe to the show's podcast feed to get every episode automatically

Andy Baio and Andy McMillan had the simultaneous idea for an arts-and-technology conference, and the synchronistic good fortune to wind up in the same city at the same bar with the same friend who connected them to talk. The result was XOXO, an event that tore the top of my head right off and led directly to creating this podcast. Hundreds of attendees and tens of thousands of video watchers describe a similar enlightenment about realizing what's currently possible — without cynicism, snark, irony, nor greed. Andy and Andy talk about the first XOXO in 2012, and preview the second outing that's coming in September 2013. (For more, see my photos from 2012 and read an article I wrote for BoingBoing about the event.)

Tickets for 2013 will be on sale soon; go to the Web site and sign up for the mailing list to get notified as soon as they are available.

On Twitter: Andy Baio, Andy McMillan, and XOXO, as well as the hashtag #xoxofest, still in use.

Show notes

Kind of Bloop was an 8-bit chiptune music tribute to Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. A transformative bit of cover art based on a picture by Jay Maisel raised the photographer's ire (or that of his agents). Andy settled rather than pursue a lawsuit that most thought he could win, but would cost him a pile.

Neven Mrgan is one the founders of Panic Software, a company so modest it doesn't have an about page. (Neven's wife, Christa, wrote a terrific essay for us at The Magazine on her time working at Yosemite, and illustrated a review of Dog 1.0.)

Valleywag thinks the world is a terrible place. TechCrunch says "meh" to Kickstarter in to 2009. XOXO sold its tickets through a Kickstarter campaign.

Williamsburg hipster stereotype should have played out by now. Portlandia is a TV show, not a mirror of Portland, but it does convey some truths.

Portland has about 700 food trucks which gather together like whales in pods. Seattle, much larger, has about 50 now due to a lack of desire to rock the boat. Sadly, Andy's remark about multiple zine stores in Portland is out of date — the stores have closed, says Yelp!

The Yale Union was a Portland laundry (no connection to the university), and is now a contemproary art center. It's a magnificent building. Andy's Build 2013 conference will be the last. Sam Adams, former mayor of Portland, opened the XOXO event, was very funny, and plays the mayor's aide in a recurring role in Portlandia. He's now the head of the City Club of Portland, a non-profit policy wonk group.

The portable bathrooms were wonderful. They looked like this. Air-conditioned, cleaned, better than most indoor bathrooms at heavy-use facilities. The Oregon Convention Center is soulless and convenient. The historic Morrison Bridge was near the Yale Union.

Other conferences that seem to have a similar vibe to XOXO include Çingleton in Montréal, Webstock in New Zealand, Paul and Storm's JoCo Cruise Crazy with Jonathan Coulton on the sea, and MaxFunCon in California.

Kickstarter founder Perry Chen explains how the company was funded as a result of his desire to sell tickets for an event without fronting the money or charging people until a goal had been met.

Stripe (not a sponsor! unprovoked recommendation!) has a magnificent system designed for charging credits that optimized for how developers work. Everything is easy in their system. Dumb pipes and smart pipes are about networks that carry all traffic equally and ones designed to promote the business of the network operator. It applies in all electronic commerce in which "flooding" the pipe is a better strategy for a dumb pipe and enables more innovation at the ends.

Musicians have re-recorded their own work under compulsory license when they don't have access to their recordings. Compulsory license allows them to make record already-recorded songs using the same lyrics and music and pay a small fee per recording. Suzanne Vega did it to have her own back catalog that she could sell. Def Leppard did it, and so did Everclear.

What is Marco Arment working on?!?!

The electron bumping problem. My baker friend in Seattle with the problem of too much success.