Wired Anniversary Issue

Powell's had the new Wired early!

So I’m in the new WIRED issue! It was a little weird to see myself listed alongside industry giants, but I’ve been working on MetaFilter for 14 years now, so it probably aligned nicely with a 20th anniversary look back.

A quick note about the short interview: we talked for 20-30min but it was edited down to a pretty small space. Most of the questions I was answering were about Ask MetaFilter (the Q&A section) so they sound a bit weird when applied to MetaFilter in general. When they asked me what internet things I hated, I couldn’t actually think of any at first, and only later on in the interview I mentioned that Buzzfeed is sometimes annoying in that “stories” are often just a list of animated GIFs when I really wanted to read an article, and they might use that list of GIF as a comedy device a bit too much. But I’m not as down on Buzzfeed as the article would suggest. There are things I like at Buzzfeed, the FWD technology blog has been one of my favorites of the genre since it launched. They also do some impressive longform journalism, so they’re not all bad.

It should be in stores now and I was honored to be a part of it. Oh, and that hot tub pulled by bike for a bike-based midwife was a real suggestion on BikePortland.org.

Pulling off a surprise party in this day and age

Pulling off a surprise birthday party in this day and age isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when the subject of a surprise (Andy Baio in this case) is totally plugged in with the technology world. Every movement and moment in our digital lives can leave a trace. Think about all the status updates, phone photos, and check-ins that 25 people can produce, and now think about how hard it is to hide all that from someone that is connected to all those 25 people. It’s not easy, but it is possible. Here are some things that made one party a success:

  • I live outside of Portland and once every month or two I meet up with Andy when I head into town. Andy’s wife came up with the idea I could lure him pretty much anywhere if I just said “oh hey, I’m nearby, want to meet up at this nearby location?”
  • She created a private event Facebook group of everyone but Andy, and it actually worked. No accidental leaks into his friend timeline, everyone got status updates, calendar reminders, and could see the guest list. I’m kind of surprised this part worked, about the only hard part was stealth inviting everyone we could think of (did our Facebook friends overlap with enough/all of his?)
  • When he asked about throwing a party for his birthday, Andy’s wife lied to him saying she was too busy this weekend and maybe they could plan something a week after.
  • A couple hours before the party I faked a Foursquare check-in at the OMSI museum (I was actually driving into Portland at the time), knowing Andy might see it and think I was nearby (at the party Andy said yeah, he saw it and completely believed it).
  • At a precise time in the afternoon I sent a text that I was leaving the museum with my family, we were thinking of grabbing a beer at a pub by his house, and if he wasn’t doing anything, to drop by.
  • Andy’s wife was stalling him all day, he was dying to go out and get some fresh air and said yes immediately, and they showed up 15min later.
  • He didn’t realize it was a huge surprise until the last possible second when he walked in and saw everyone waiting for him. We even had the proverbial out-of-state friend to seal the deal and make it a really great surprise party.

Car feature context

I bought a Mexican Coke at a gas station yesterday, and as I was driving away I remembered that they don’t have twist-offs caps.

As I looked around my car’s interior for something to pry it open with, I thought with all seriousness “Why isn’t there a bottle opener hidden somewhere in the lower part of a car’s dashboard?!” before realizing that’s actually a terrible idea in other contexts.