Just published! The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip
We are very excited to announce the publication today (Leap Day) of a new project,
at The History Project!
You’ll be able to learn about (and in many cases, read/watch/listen to) geek friendly content.
To introduce it, I’m going to do what I call a “splinterview”: I’m going to interview myself about the project. As with all of my splinterviews, I haven’t thought about what I’m going to say ahead of time, and won’t substantively edit it afterwards (if I catch typos, I’ll correct those…just like I would with an interview with someone else).
Let’s get started!
Q. Your new project, The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip was published. What is it? A book, a blog…?
A. Well, it’s something different. It’s really more of a timeline, but much more interactive than that usually means.
Q. What do you mean by interactive?
A. When people use it, they’ll often be able to click on a link to watch a movie or TV show, read a book, listen to a radio show, that sort of thing.
Q. Will they pay for that?
A. Not me [laughs]. In many cases, I’m linking to public domain sources where there is no charge at all, but it’s possible they’ll see ads there. In others, I may link to a place that helps them find something where they might be paying. For example, for in-copyright movies & TV shows, I typically link to JustWatch.com, which is a search engine for streaming services. It might show them that they can watch the movie at Amazon Prime or Netflix or Hulu, for example. The user may be paying a monthly fee for that, but they won’t pay more for watching this specific movie.
Q. What about books? Are you only linking to subscription services there?
A. I generally link to Goodreads, which does have links where you can buy books. I’m not opposed to people buying things, even if that has become increasingly unpopular. What I don’t want to do is only link people to a single place to buy something. I don’t want it to feel like an ad, like I’m trying to sell them something.
Q. So, you aren’t making money on the Geek Time Trip?
A. Not directly. I did get permission from The History Project to link to my The Measured Circle blog, for example. It’s possible somebody will go from TMCGTT to The Measured Circle, and then do something there which might result in me getting some money.
A. The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip.
Q. You mentioned getting permission from The History Project. Describe your relationship with them, and what they are.
A. Well, “getting permission” sounds too strong, really. I think everybody has that permission [to link to their websites]…I just asked them and they let me know it was okay. I’m not really connected with them, I’ve just had some correspondence with them as a user. What happened was that I’d heard about them…they’ve gotten some mainstream publicity. I think I first saw it in a Flipboard story. Anyway, I made a timeline for a relative as a birthday present. They happened to contact me for user feedback, and I said quite a bit [laughs]. I had a couple of conversations with them, mostly by e-mail. While they do seem like a startup, although a solid one, it seemed like a good place to do something public, and that they would (knock wood) be around for a while.
Q. What makes them seem like a startup?
A. Oh, there are some interface things, for example, that I expect to mature over time. I also see them making incremental improvements. I can feel the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment that can go with being a startup.
Q. Why do you think they’ll be a lasting company?
A. I mentioned the mainstream publicity…Forbes, CNN, to name two. I can tell that they know what they are doing from the website. Getting that coverage and having something that works technically is a good combination…it suggests both funding and some expertise, and at least some popular resonance for the idea.
Q. That’s probably enough background; let’s talk about what people will see when they go to The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip.
A. Sorry, one more thing first. There was a hiccup early on…I asked a question through the website, and didn’t get an answer. I’m big on Customer Service, and that made me hesitant even to do the birthday present. I could see that some big people were using it, like Jewel, so I decided to go ahead. When I brought that up in my user feedback, which I think was just a random thing, I got a personal and very strong and satisfying response. They apologized, and explained what happened, and made it right. Nobody gets everything right all the time…what matters is how you deal with your errors.
Q. And you were satisfied?
Q. Okay. So, what will be the experience for someone going to the Geek Time Trip?
A. It’s a timeline, first. They’ll see events on a chronological line.
Q. What sort of events?
A. Oh, when an actor or author is born, when a movie was released, when a book was published…something specific that happened. They can then click on that event, and that’s where I would say this starts getting really useful and fun. Visitors will find links to the content, but also to references…Wikia entries, YouTube and Google news searches, lots of things.
A. Wikia…although I did Wikipedia sometimes, too. Wikia is really a fan-based site, with many wikis for different properties.
Q. Were you always able to find links to the content?
A. No. I link when I can, but I don’t want to exclude something just because I can’t link to an online option.
Q. How do you choose what to put into The Geek Time Trip?
A. In this early stage, it’s a bit random. I could literally list thousands of items I’d like to have in TMCGTT offhand,with no research. I think that having the content is a good thing, one of the attractions. So, I’ve been going through some sites that have content, getting things there, and then rotating in other things I want to mention.
Q. Do you mind saying what sites?
A. Not at all! I name them in TMCGTT. I want them to get credit for the hard work they’ve done, and I want to drive people to the sites. For example, I use The Digital Comic Museum. That’s a great site! You can read or download public domain comics there, often obscure.
Q. How do you know they are public domain, not in copyright?
A. That’s a great question! I can’t know for sure…in many cases, it’s hard to research a copyright. What I do is get a sense of whether or not I think the site make a good faith effort to protect people’s rights. I do know something about copyright, as a layperson. I write about it fairly often in my most popular blog, I Love My Kindle. I care a lot about copyright, so I’ll do what I can to get that right.
Q. How long does it take you to create an entry?
A. That’s one of the things. It takes a few minutes, I’d say. I do some research, put in the links…I’ll look for an unusual site. I would have loved to have thousands of entries on go live day, but there just wasn’t time.
Q. You are busy, right? Two blogs, books, and you have a full time job?
A. Three blogs, actually, but who’s counting? [laughs]
Q. I Love My Kindle, The Measured Circle, and?
A. 221B Blog Street. That doesn’t take me much time, though…I just republish the original public domain Sherlock Holmes material, either a chapter or a short story a day, in order. I just like having serialized literature available, which is the way many things we now consider classics were published…and Holmes is great!
Q. How do you have time to add another big project like The Geek Time Trip? Won’t your other projects suffer?
A. I can’t say there will be absolutely no impact, but things have changed. I haven’t really worked intently on a book for some time…ILMK takes up the vast majority of my writing time and energy, and that will continue to be the case. In the past couple of years, I’ve had another change which is helping…I only sleep about four and a half to five and half hours a night. That was a weird big change: I went suddenly from going to sleep by nine and waking up at five, which is eight hours, to waking up between 1:30 and 2:30 AM.
Q. That’s very early!
A. Yes, and somehow, it takes me six hours to get ready for work in the morning! [laughs] Not really, but I do exercise and get writing done. My baseline for exercise is ninety minutes a day, although I generally do more.
Q. Aren’t people supposed to get eight hours sleep?
A. I’ve actually checked with my doctor on it…twice. My doctor thinks it is okay…different people need different amounts of sleep. I don’t fall asleep during the day, and in my job, if I had cognitive decline, I’d know it.
Q. What is your job?
A. I’m a trainer. I work with medical people, so I’m pretty in tune with what’s risky behavior. I wouldn’t mind getting more sleep, but I don’t miss it and seem to be doing fine.
Q. Let’s get back to the Time Trip. When you pick events, what kind of impact do you want them to have on people?
A. I want different reactions. I want to waken lost memories…have somebody say, “I remember that!” I want people to be surprised when they encounter something they had no idea existed…and to hopefully enjoy it, of course. I’d also like it to be useful…I can see someone looking something up on it, and returning to the same event to check the Google news search link.
Q. How often will you add things?
A. I figure I’ll add a few things a week, and then have some binges sometimes where I do more.
Q. Do you have any help?
A. I wouldn’t mind that in the future. Right now, the moderation tools at The History Project aren’t robust enough for me to just open it up to everybody. I need to be able to review something, to make sure it isn’t just advertising, wildly inaccurate, or inconsistent with what else is there. Some of what I’m doing could be done pretty easily, at least basically adding an event…those public domain comics at DCM don’t take a whole lot of decision making, outside of picking the comics. For now, it’s going to be just me. That doesn’t mean I don’t want suggestions or corrections, though! I’ve set up a page where people can comment to do just that, The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip. Even at go live, I had Samurai Pizza Cats, which was suggested to me by someone in the family.
Q. How will you measure the success of The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip?
A. If I have fun doing it and have the time, I’ll probably keep it going. I’d be encouraged if I hear from people that they like it. I would love for it to get mentioned in more mainstream sources…I’ve been a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly for many years, and appearing there would be fun. Getting mentioned in The Mary Sue would also be a measure of success for me. If it brings more people to my other works, great. The main thing, though, is people getting something out of it…that’s what makes me the happiest.
Q. Anything else you want to say?
A. Just that I’ve been having fun with it! There has definitely been some trial and error, and I found some techniques and style which helped. I’ve done a little bit of writing in it, but I’ve been keeping my opinions out of the entries. I just hope it’s a trip people find worth taking.
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