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00:00:08From the Center for the Study
and the Teaching
00:00:10of Writing at The Ohio State
University, this is
00:00:12Writers Talk. I'm Doug Dangler.
00:00:15Mark Frauenfelder is a blogger,
illustrator, and writer.
00:00:18He is editor and chief of
"Make" magazine.
00:00:20He cofounded the "Boing-Boing"
magazine and the
00:00:23"Boing-Boing" blog and was an
editor at "Wired".
00:00:26He is author of "World's Worst:
A Guide to the
00:00:28Most Disgusting, Hideous, Inept
and Dangerous
00:00:31People, Places and Things on
Earth", "The Computer:
00:00:34An Illustrated History", "Rule
the Web: How to do
00:00:36Anything and Everything on the
Internet Better,
00:00:41Faster, Easier", and his most
recent book, "Made By
00:00:45Hand". Welcome, Mark
Frauenfelder, to Writers Talk.
00:00:47Thanks a lot, Doug. Glad to
be here.
00:00:49Good! Well, we're very happy
to have you here.
00:00:52Like a good analyst, I'd like
to start with your childhood.
00:00:55So, tell me, what were you
like as a young
00:00:57writer? How did you get into
this business?
00:01:00Well, I actually started out
as an engineer.
00:01:04I went to college and got a
degree in mechanical
00:01:08engineering from Colorado State
University and
00:01:13after a stint playing in a band
in London, moved
00:01:16back to the United States and I
went to
00:01:18California and I worked at
Memorex as a disk
00:01:20drive engineer. I was kind of
in the disk drive
00:01:24development industry for about
five years.
00:01:26Do you mean the floppy disk
drives, or just a
00:01:28regular hard drive?
00:01:30No, it was just hard drives,
but in those days
00:01:31first when I was working on
them they were
00:01:33fourteen inch platters that
were 100 megabite
00:01:34capacity and they weighed 70
pounds and by the
00:01:36time I ended it was like a
small one that was 100
00:01:38megabites that was a two and a
half inch drive.
00:01:41You can figure out how old I am
by me talking
00:01:45about the capacities of the
00:01:48I was hoping for the five and
a quarter-inch
00:01:49floppy drives, remember those
way back?
00:01:52Yeah, sure. Well I used
those, but I did not
00:01:56work on the designs of those.
00:01:58But at the same time I was
starting to- well,
00:02:02I was always interested in
00:02:04I have a minor in English and
so I started
00:02:07writing software reviews for
the Boulder Daily
00:02:10Camera, the newspaper in
Colorado, and then a
00:02:13magazine came out, "Mondo
2000", and that was kind
00:02:16of a look at what happened when
00:02:20people got a hold of computer
technology, among
00:02:23other things, and so I started
writing for them.
00:02:25Around that time I started my
own zine with my
00:02:29wife and the zine was called
00:02:31It was a print zine and it
started doing pretty
00:02:34well, actually. I think we
started it in like 1988-1989.
00:02:38Eventually by 1990 I quit my
job as an engineer,
00:02:42moved to California and that
was basically the
00:02:45start of my journalism career.
It was kind of a D.I.Y. thing.
00:02:52A D.I.Y. journalist. So
you're rejecting journalism
00:02:54school right out of hand,
saying "I have
00:02:56an engineering background, I
can write".
00:02:58Yeah. I guess so, but I mean,
I learned a lot.
00:03:01I'm sure that if I went to
journalism school I
00:03:04would have learned things a lot
more quickly and
00:03:07in fact, I still learn things
regularly about journalism.
00:03:11So when you started off with
the zine, that was
00:03:13kind of a really interesting
time to be in zines.
00:03:18Do they still... I don't follow
them perhaps as much
00:03:22as I should. Are zines still an
active force?
00:03:24Are they still something that
will get a lot of
00:03:29play or are they sort of...
everything's gone to
00:03:31the web, nobody really bothers
with the zine
00:03:34anymore? What's the print life
of a zine like?
00:03:37It's interesting. There are
still zines and I have
00:03:42been to a couple of zine
conventions in recent years.
00:03:45It's a pretty active
subculture. It's much smaller|than
00:03:49it was in the late 80s because
everything has
00:03:53moved online. A lot of stuff
has. The advantages
00:03:59of online publishing just
really outweigh print.
00:04:01The great thing about print is
that you have this
00:04:03artifact and you can make it
look cool,
00:04:05you can use different kinds of
paper, you can add
00:04:09things into it, 3-D glasses and
things like that.
00:04:13With online your distribution
costs are zero.
00:04:18You can update things
immediately. You have an
00:04:24audience of potentially one
billion people.
00:04:27Really your only barrier to
entry is that you be|interesting.
00:04:28But it also. That is one of
the things
00:04:30I was want to ask you about is
the movement
00:04:33from sort of a print based
culture to obviously online.
00:04:36You're also talking about a
much more difficult
00:04:38way to make money and to
sustain it.
00:04:41"Boing-Boing" has made that
transition and is now a
00:04:44really, really popular blog.
Tell me about that.
00:04:47How did you work through that
going from a zine
00:04:51to the web presence that you've
got now?
00:04:55Well, when "Boing-Boing" was
a zine we sold
00:04:57advertising, we made money from
subscriptions and
00:04:58single copy sales. The
circulation never got
00:05:00higher than 17,500 for the
magazine and it took
00:05:05a long time to get a magazine
out the door, you know.
00:05:08Putting it together and getting
it printed,
00:05:11getting it distributed, getting
the bulk mail
00:05:13license, all that kind of
stuff. It never really made
00:05:17very much money, you know. We
kind of just squeaked by.
00:05:20Going online, now we have
fifteen million page
00:05:26views a month, so if you
compare that to 17,500...
00:05:30We sell advertising and I and
the other four or
00:05:38five people who work on it all
basically make
00:05:40most of our living from the
blog by selling
00:05:44advertising, so I do think
there is a possibility
00:05:48to make money online.
00:05:52I could talk about that if you
want, but there
00:05:54are ways to make money online
if you have a blog.
00:05:58It's difficult. Everything's a
challenge to make money
00:06:00doing something that you love
00:06:02Right, it's got to be a
different sort of
00:06:05environment for you, having
done the reviews, and
00:06:09going on to write books and
things like that.
00:06:12I'm interested in your
transition between doing
00:06:14that kind of writing, doing the
writing you did
00:06:17for things like "Remade by
Hand: Searching for
00:06:21Meaning in a Throw Away World",
your most recent
00:06:24book, to something like
00:06:26"Boing-Boing" is, for those who
aren't familiar
00:06:29with it, a website that you
have a lot of quick
00:06:31posts and sort of here's what's
cool on the web,
00:06:34or here's what's cool today and
it leads to other
00:06:38things. It's an aggregator. It
seems to be more
00:06:43than writing about at length a
particular topic.
00:06:46How has that affected your
writing? Is that what
00:06:49pushed you into writing, say,
more books because
00:06:52you get to expand on it in a
larger format?
00:06:54Yeah, a little bit. In a lot
of ways I think of
00:06:57"Boing-Boing" as my backup
00:06:59I'm constantly patrolling the
Internet, reading
00:07:01books, going around taking
picture of things I
00:07:04see, and then I put that on
"Boing-Boing" and it's
00:07:10the kind of stuff that as
person who's naturally|curious...
00:07:11I'm very curious about a lot of
different things,
00:07:13I would probably be just
keeping a journal for
00:07:16myself anyway about all the
things I come across
00:07:18and taking notes and doing
potential articles.
00:07:23I do free lance writing for a
number of different
00:07:25magazines and newspapers, and
sometimes once an
00:07:28idea really hits me or I see a
trend or something,
00:07:32I'll go ahead and pitch a story
to a magazine.
00:07:35More often than not it is
something that I initially came
00:07:38across and made a post on
"Boing-Boing" about.
00:07:41What's your process for
picking up the things
00:07:45that you talk about? You said
that you're always
00:07:47sort of trolling for ideas. Are
there places you say,
00:07:49"oh this"- I guess I'm really
going for trade secrets here-
00:07:52Are there places where you say
"this is a really
00:07:55great area to pick up ideas for
00:07:57"Here are things that are
really being brought to
00:07:59my attention as a writer and I
think that's a
00:08:03really fertile area". Or is it
just scattershot, just whatever|hits?
00:08:07There are a number of
sources. One of them is just
00:08:09me walking around, when I
travel or go anywhere,
00:08:14with a camera taking pictures.
A few weeks ago,
00:08:15I live in Los Angeles, I took a
tour around the...
00:08:22There's a part of Hollywood
called Hollywood Land
00:08:26and they have outdoor
staircases all over in this
00:08:31hilly area. These beautiful,
old, built in the twenties.
00:08:34It was this housing development
in the twenties
00:08:38where all the houses were all
built to either
00:08:40look like castles or Tudor
style. It's really interesting
00:08:43architecture. I took photos of
this staircase tour and posted
00:08:47it on "Boing-Boing" and people
really found that interesting.
00:08:50Part of it is just me looking
around the world.
00:08:55Part of it is that I have an
RSS feed that I subscribe
00:08:58to several hundred blogs and I
just go through that
00:09:02as much as I can everyday and
if I find
00:09:03something interesting, I'll
post what I read.
00:09:06"Boing-Boing" has a submission
form that we call,
00:09:09"Submitterator", where people
can write descriptions
00:09:14of something that they think is
00:09:17Or some people send me e-mail
about things
00:09:20they find and then there's all
the books and comic books
00:09:22and movies and computer games
and applications.
00:09:26How do you keep up with all
of that?
00:09:27You're describing a life that's
really interesting on the
00:09:31one hand because you get to do
all this stuff,
00:09:33but on the other hand, how is
that not just a crush
00:09:34of information that you have to
process as a writer?
00:09:36You say, here's an RSS feed,
this is interesting,
00:09:39that's not, that's not, that's
not, that's not,
00:09:41that's not, this may be
interesting. Wait, no it's not.
00:09:43How does that not sort of make
it a chaotic
00:09:46existence for you?
00:09:48Well, it is a chaotic
existence and I think
00:09:49naturally I'm pretty scattered
on something I
00:09:52have to stay on top of because
I'm very easily
00:09:55distracted, but I'm, in a way,
working with my
00:09:57weaknesses- which is being
easily distracted- and
00:10:01I've found a way to survive by
capitalizing on my
00:10:05weakness for being interested
by the next shiny
00:10:06new object that comes in my
00:10:13So why not call it "Shiny New
Object" instead of
00:10:15"Boing-Boing"? What is the
background behind
00:10:17"Boing-Boing" anyway? I mean
the name.
00:10:22The main reason is that
around that time a lot
00:10:26of the zines that were coming
out that I liked were
00:10:30based on sound effects. There
was one called "Honk",
00:10:32another one called "Blab",
"Buzz" and so I thought you
00:10:37have to have the Boing-Boing
sound effect in there too
00:10:39to round out the inventory.
00:10:44There's the book called
"Gerald McBoing-Boing" or
00:10:46something like that. I think
it's Dr. Seuss,
00:10:48but they haven't sued you for
that yet.
00:10:51He created the character. It
has nothing to do with this!
00:10:53So one of the books I didn't
list at the
00:10:55beginning was a co-authored
book called "Braid
00:10:57Crazy: Simple Steps for Daring
00:11:00Oh yeah.
00:11:04So what lead you into writing
about hair, a
00:11:06topic I know very little about.
Was this your children
00:11:07that got into it and that's
what led you into it?
00:11:10Kind of. This was actually
something I did the
00:11:15illustrations for it and my
wife was the author.
00:11:18We were in Palm Springs, maybe
this was six or
00:11:21seven years ago, and we went to
a Renaissance
00:11:26Fair in Palm Springs and my
wife and I noticed
00:11:30that a lot of the attendees,
both male and
00:11:33female, have really cool
braids, different styles
00:11:35and pretty outlandish things.
00:11:37I thought, "I wonder if there
is a good braid book"
00:11:41and so my wife and I went back
home and
00:11:45researched and looked and there
were some
00:11:46traditional braiding, but
nothing that was fun,
00:11:47crazy braids for girls so we
pitched the book
00:11:49idea to Chronicle Books and we
came up with, like,
00:11:52Pippy Longstocking-style
00:11:57Lot's of fantasy kind of
storybook braid styles
00:12:04and things like that and ones
that emulated
00:12:05popular braids in movies and
those sort of things.
00:12:08It was a lot of fun and I
learned how hard it is
00:12:11to illustrate the braiding. It
took a lot of work.
00:12:16Did you get to experiment?
Who was your test subject?
00:12:20My daughter Serina was one of
the test subjects.
00:12:27She was about five or six at
the time, so she
00:12:29wasn't that patient, so
eventually my wife got a
00:12:31dummy head that had real human
hair on it and
00:12:37that became the test thing.
00:12:39That's a wonderful
do-it-yourself sort of thing.
00:12:41It's got real human hair... You
don't explain where
00:12:43it came from, that's fine.
You've written for
00:12:45an eclectic list of magazines,
non-fiction books,
00:12:49web articles, Twitter. What's
your self-definition
00:12:51of a writer? What do you really
think that,
00:12:56"this is what I am as a
00:12:58That's hard to say. I would
say I'm kind of
00:13:03a curator of neat stuff and
that I like to report
00:13:08on these hidden, pocket
universes that
00:13:14are existing around us that we
aren't necessarily
00:13:17aware of, but are kind of these
active, vibrant
00:13:20communities of people- either
communities of
00:13:24interest or communities of
00:13:26where people are doing really
cool things that
00:13:29the rest of us don't
necessarily know about.
00:13:33I like to introduce that world
to other people.
00:13:36I wrote an article about Chili
00:13:39people who are into extreme hot
00:13:40I read that. That was on
"Boing-Boing" not that long|ago.
00:13:44You can actually buy the chili
pepper, the ghost
00:13:45chili pepper, I think, for
sixteen dollars.
00:13:48Why anyone would do this is
beyond me.
00:13:50But you can buy this thing and
grow it, apparently,
00:13:52in pretty much anywhere I
00:13:54And it's incredibly hot. A
jalapeno pepper rates
00:13:59about four thousand to five
thousand Scovilles,
00:14:02and a ghost pepper is about one
million Scovilles,
00:14:06which is incredibly,
ridiculously hot. Pure|capsaicin,
00:14:11which an ingredient that makes
peppers hot,
00:14:13is sixteen million Scovilles,
so you're talking like
00:14:16one-sixteenth capsaicin in a
00:14:21A miniscule dot of that, like a
half of a rice grain
00:14:24to put in your mouth is going
to burn really bad.
00:14:27For three or four days?
00:14:29Well, for at least an hour.
00:14:31Well, you've also got, on
that same topic of
00:14:34exploring these sort of niche
areas, a book
00:14:36called "Worlds Worst: A Guide
to the Most
00:14:39Disgusting, Hideous, and
Dangerous People, Places
00:14:41and Thing on Earth". A couple
of them struck me as
00:14:45really interesting in terms of
what a writer has to do
00:14:49for research on them. A couple
of them we probably
00:14:52can not talk about: most
unappealing fetish,
00:14:55most disgusting behavior on an
00:14:56But, most disgusting coffee
drink, most horrific
00:14:58self-help technique... I mean,
how far as a writer
00:15:01do you need to go into these
things to learn about them?
00:15:05Do you feel at some point "ok,
I need to
00:15:09experiential journalist and
experience any of
00:15:13these"? Are you going to drink
the coffee that is
00:15:17processed through the
intestinal track of a large
00:15:20cat? Is that something that you
think "I need to do or
00:15:23do you do it for this kind of
00:15:28I didn't, but thinking about
it now I probably
00:15:29should have and at this point
if I were to do a
00:15:33book like that I would want to
experience those things.
00:15:36Although the worst
molasses-related disaster
00:15:38probably wouldn't go well
recreating that.
00:15:43A factory mishap in I guess
1916 or something
00:15:47like that that killed a number
of people.
00:15:49In Boston. Yeah, it was hot
molasses barrels
00:15:51exploded and a flood of
molasses rolled down a hill
00:15:55into a shopping area where
people were out walking in
00:16:00the street and they were just
basically drowned
00:16:03in this huge wave, a tsunami of
00:16:06Awesome. And the most
gruesome bug bite,
00:16:08the brown recluse spider.
00:16:10Yeah, that's not something I
would try either,
00:16:13at least not on myself.
00:16:16Worse smelling flower: the
Corpse Flower.
00:16:18Things like this that you've
got to explore.
00:16:20This is what your job affords
you as a writer is
00:16:23to go out and learn about these
00:16:24Now you've moved from being a
writer, and you're
00:16:27still a writer, but you're also
an editor with
00:16:30"Make" magazine. You're the
00:16:33Tell me about that move.
00:16:35You go from sort of pitching
stories to being the
00:16:38person that the stories are
being pitched to.
00:16:40How has that affected you?
00:16:43Well, it's good on both sides
of the fence.
00:16:47I had my impressions of what
editors are like and
00:16:50I know editors at various
magazines that I really
00:16:54enjoy working with and I think
"what makes them
00:16:56good editors?" and I try to be
the same way to my writers.
00:17:02What is it that makes good
00:17:04I think it's helping that
person find out why
00:17:07they're interested in what
they're doing and
00:17:10helping them, saying, like,
"scratch that itch
00:17:12that you have for me because if
you write the
00:17:16story that you want to read,
then it's going to
00:17:20be the story that other people
are going to want
00:17:26to read too". I've had
experiences the other way
00:17:30where editors will keep forcing
you to go in a direction
00:17:34that you don't believe is the
interesting one, or not
00:17:40personally interesting to me.
The story becomes very flat.
00:17:45An editor who allows the writer
to use their own
00:17:50voice to follow their own path
down it I think is
00:17:55a lot better. Let the writer be
00:17:56How do you do that, then, and
still keep the
00:17:58things that you want to
represent in "Make"
00:18:00magazine if someone really
wants to go off track?
00:18:05I'm curious about the
difficulties that you might
00:18:08have to say "this is a great
story, but maybe for
00:18:10another magazine. For this
particular magazine
00:18:12we need you to focus on X".
00:18:17What you're suggesting gives a
lot of freedom,
00:18:18but at the same time with that
freedom, you've
00:18:20got to chorale people in and if
they want to go off.
00:18:24It doesn't happen often. The
majority of our
00:18:27articles are "how to" articles
teaching people
00:18:31how to make things. A portion
of that article is
00:18:35their personal experience
making it and the
00:18:39problems they've had with it
and if a big chunk
00:18:42of that is not an interesting
detour, then we'll
00:18:45just say we're going to cut
this part out.
00:18:50We don't run unto that problem
too much.
00:18:52If they write a feature article
that's not
00:18:54happening I would rather just
say maybe you
00:18:56should just do this for your
blog and not have it
00:18:58in the magazine because it's
just not really
00:18:59fitting our template.
00:19:00That's only happened a handful
of times or less.
00:19:03Most of the time I think makers
and our writers
00:19:09are not all the same writer,
but they have a
00:19:14similar outlook about how fun
it is to make
00:19:18things on your own, that
00:19:21We don't really have a problem
with that, luckily.
00:19:23I was wondering how often you
get pitched
00:19:25things where you go we're not
going to run that
00:19:27in Make. I'm just curious how
often you say "you know
00:19:30what, that's dangerous" or how
far is too dangerous.
00:19:33What actually made me think of
this was reading
00:19:36about that pepper and I thought
somebody could
00:19:41buy this, and obviously it's
not your fault if
00:19:48they take it and eat it and
they shouldn't.
00:19:49How often do you look at things
and say these are
00:19:51cool things to make and these
are great things
00:19:53that someone may be
legitimately interested in,
00:19:56but it's just not something
that we really want
00:19:58to touch, like detonations or
explosions or
00:20:00something like that.
00:20:04Yeah. Funny that you mention
the pepper thing because
00:20:06some guy, when I posted that
pepper thing to
00:20:08"Boing-Boing", some guy said
he's being growing hot
00:20:13pepper seedlings so I wrote him
and asked him if
00:20:16he'd like to write a "Make"
article about raising
00:20:19those peppers. There are some
things that we would
00:20:24steer clear of, like you said
uncontrolled explosions,
00:20:28weapons, things that use high
00:20:33There's a gray area. We've had
projects pitched to us
00:20:38where I will talk to the other
editors and we have a
00:20:42technical advisory board and
I'll say, well that do you
00:20:43guys think of this. One of them
was this thing called a lifter.
00:20:46It's a little, almost like a
ball of wood, with foil-
00:20:49looks like a wooden spacecraft
that has two thin wires
00:20:53leading to it with a lot of
voltage being pumped into it.
00:20:56Through thin wires.
00:20:57Through thin wires that are
potentially not
00:21:00insolated. It's a cool effect
cause the thing lifts up and
00:21:03it makes a noise, but we
ultimately decided it
00:21:06was not the right thing to put
in the magazine
00:21:13even though you can find out
that information
00:21:18online how to build one, that
crossed the line
00:21:22for us. Just barely.
00:21:25If it had been a few volts
less it would have
00:21:28been ok. What about things for
Make magazine
00:21:30that are too complex? Is that
also a factor in what you do?
00:21:35Do you say there can only be
twenty steps, thirty
00:21:40steps, beyond that is too
00:21:42Yeah. There's kind of a
dividing line there.
00:21:44If its makeable we will have
the author write the
00:21:48step by step instructions and
we want to make
00:21:50sure that the projects are
something that anybody
00:21:52can make, even if they have no
prior experience
00:21:55really making anything before.
We want to give
00:21:58them enough so that they can do
it and not be
00:22:01completely frustrated. If it is
something that is
00:22:04incredibly complex but really
cool, then we will
00:22:08ask them to write what we call
a "Build Notes Article"
00:22:10where they kind of describe the
00:22:12where they got the parts, their
thinking behind it,
00:22:14how they worked around problems
because it's
00:22:18an interesting story and it's
inspiring for people
00:22:21and if they want to they can
contact the author
00:22:26to find out more about doing
00:22:27That's how we handle those
kinds of things.
00:22:31Do you have a lot of reader
interest in saying,
00:22:32I like these projects, but I
want the more
00:22:34complex ones where you have
readers pushing you
00:22:37one way or another? Is that a
common thing in feedback
00:22:40or are they pretty much saying
"I like how you're doing it
00:22:43here, just more of the same."
00:22:45It is kind of a more of the
same. One thing that
00:22:48they have asked for and that
we've been giving more
00:22:51is projects that are fun to
make with your kids so that
00:22:54you can sit down with your
child and there are steps
00:22:58that your child can complete on
their own or with
00:23:01assistance from an adult.
00:23:03What's your most common
writing advice to an
00:23:07editor? Say somebody is new and
they're wanting to get
00:23:08into the field and they come to
you with something.
00:23:11What do you often tell people
that this writing
00:23:16is fine, but you need to do X.
00:23:18If you could talk to someone
before they pitch to
00:23:22you in a class at Ohio State or
somewhere else, what
00:23:25would you tell them? What is
the most common stuff?
00:23:29I got some great advice from
Kevin Kelly when I
00:23:34was at "Wired" magazine. Kevin
was one of the co-founders
00:23:36and the executive editor and it
applies to shorter pieces
00:23:40especially, but you can think
of this as longer pieces too.
00:23:45Kevin would tell people, "send
me a pitch
00:23:48describing to me why this
article should be in
00:23:53"Wired" and then write the
00:23:58Now throw away that article and
send me that
00:23:59letter that explains why you
think this article
00:24:03deserves to be in 'Wired'
because that generally is
00:24:06more interesting". Another
thing that he would do
00:24:09for longer pieces, if a writer
was having trouble
00:24:14getting their head around a
story, he would say
00:24:18"Just write me a letter telling
me what it is that
00:24:20this story is about". What is
this story going to be about?
00:24:26Often times that served as a
really good basis
00:24:29for the story. I guess what it
is is the writer should
00:24:32always concentrate on what it
is that they are truly
00:24:35interested in. If you're not
interested in it it's not
00:24:38going to be compelling to
anybody else.
00:24:41If you are interested in it,
your enthusiasm...
00:24:44chances are really good that
there is an audience
00:24:47out there who shares your
similar interests.
00:24:50I think that's how it works
with "Boing-Boing" too.
00:24:52I just post things that I just
find interesting
00:24:55and by luck there is enough
people out there who
00:24:58also find the kinds of things
that I find
00:25:01interesting, interesting.
00:25:02Or they found you because it
arises from the
00:25:05similar interest more so than
arising from the, just,
00:25:08passing by, or the scatter shot
00:25:11Magazines like "Make",
00:25:17"Wired" have made the leap to
the Internet without a lot of
00:25:19trouble, but this move has had
a much greater
00:25:21impact on other magazines, most
notably, what
00:25:24comes to my mind, is news
magazines like "Newsweek",
00:25:25which has gone from a magazine
to like a
00:25:27pamphlet. I still get it, but
it's very thin these days.
00:25:30What are your predictions or
what do you see in
00:25:37the future for print verses
web? Do you see...
00:25:40Not that long ago I went to a
dinner that was
00:25:43saying will newspapers be gone
in five years or
00:25:45ten years, not even giving room
for them to
00:25:48exist? What's your feeling on
that as somebody who's
00:25:52been very active in both
worlds? How long do you see
00:25:57print staying? Is it always
going to be here?
00:25:58Are we always going to have
this or do you think
00:26:00it's a time-limited phenomenon?
00:26:04I think print will decline.
00:26:08"Newsweekly" I think are really
going to have a
00:26:12tough time because you're
competing with
00:26:15immediate breaking news online
and online media
00:26:18has become really good and has
gotten better.
00:26:22I think that prints place is,
especially in
00:26:29books, rediscovering the beauty
of books and
00:26:33turning them into really cool
artifact and really
00:26:39focusing on great paper and
binding and designs
00:26:41and things like that. Then on
the other end is
00:26:45just making a super cheap print
stuff too.
00:26:50Kind of the middle is going to
be excluded
00:26:53and the extreme ends I think
will do well.
00:26:56So that's suggesting a return
to zines or a
00:27:01greater rise because they were
often really
00:27:02inexpensive. I mean zine is
short for magazine,
00:27:03short for a much easier way to
00:27:10You could run them off on the
copier, staple them
00:27:11together and send them out to
someone like a
00:27:12newsletter. So you see that as
rising again?
00:27:15Yeah. In England or somewhere
in Europe
00:27:20they have these new books
called "Flip"
00:27:23and they are read in an
interesting way;
00:27:24you open them up and read
00:27:26and the paper is incredibly
thin, kind of
00:27:28like certain Bibles are printed
on, compact Bibles and things.
00:27:34They are really cheap, they're
00:27:38I think, with two columns.
00:27:39They are made to be read easily
and quickly and
00:27:40then just tossed or recycled.
Very inexpensive.
00:27:45It is an interesting way to...
00:27:50The entry way has gotten so
much lower, you
00:27:51know, because it's so much less
00:27:54That's interesting, I have not
heard of that.
00:27:58Really quickly, last couple
00:28:00What's been your favorite
writing job?
00:28:03Let's see. As far as magazine
articles are, I wrote an
00:28:05article about ten years ago
about bizarre kids'
00:28:09candy and how strange that
world was.
00:28:13I saw my daughter who was like
three or four at
00:28:19the time with this weird
Frankenstein head and
00:28:20you could push out a candied
tongue and the
00:28:23tongue had sores and maggots
and everything in
00:28:26it. These kids are sucking on
monster tongues and
00:28:28so I pitched this article and I
went around meeting
00:28:33the inventors of the toys and
the companies that
00:28:35marketed these disgusting
00:28:36It's gotten much grosser now.
00:28:37What was your least favorite
writing job?
00:28:43What was the most difficult to
00:28:44Lets see. I think one about
physics engines
00:28:46that I wrote for Wired
magazine. Physics
00:28:50engines are the software that's
inside games
00:28:53to keep things bouncing. There
were some really
00:28:57cool things that people were
working on,
00:29:00like a peripheral where you
could spin something
00:29:02and it felt like you were
spinning a chain and you
00:29:04could feel the links in your
hand but it was just nothing.
00:29:07It had to go through so many
00:29:09to fit the format till I
thought it fit.
00:29:15So revision. Alright. Well,
again Mark Frauenfelder,
00:29:19thank you very much for being
here on Writers Talk.
00:29:21Thanks a lot, Doug.
00:29:22Sure. And from The Center for
the Study and the
00:29:24Teaching of Writing, this is
Doug Dangler.
00:29:25Keep writing.
Note : Transcripts are compiled from uncorrected captions