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Question: What is Kottke.org?


Jason Kottke: Well what became Kottke.org started in 1998 when I decided I needed to have sort of an online diary to . . . to put things . . . a place to put my thoughts.  I was doing this other project called 0Sil8, which is spelled 0-S-i-l and the number 8.  And I was doing that project, and that was sort of an episodic kind of Web project.  I would do an episode every three or four weeks where it would be something about design, or writing, or some little thing.  But I decided that I would . . . I wanted to start writing more, and so I began this little Web journal thing on 0Sil8.  And eventually was spending more time on that than 0Sil8 itself, so I kind of spun it off and put it at a different domain, which was Kottke.org.  And it was very much modeled after sort of the online diaries of like the early ‘90s . . . not the early ‘90s, but the mid to late ‘90s.  And weblogs that were just sort of coming out at the time . . .  There was a general awareness among a group of people that there were these things called weblogs that were slightly different than a journal because they were more about links and more . . .  They had a slightly different format.  They were reverse chronological.  It was very much . . .  The point was to link to people and things.  And you know Bill found this link, and Mary commented on it here and things like that.  And eventually Kottke.org sort of morphed into that.  It didn’t . . . it wasn’t a straight up journal for too long.  Maybe a couple . . . you know two or three months.  And it started to be more “linky” and then developed into, you know, using . . . using links more frequently.  And eventually . . .  I mean now what it is is it’s a . . .  Basically you can follow . . . follow me as I explore, you know, the Internet and find interesting things to read on it.  And it’s sort of me, you know, riffing on whatever’s out there, I guess, that day. I just feel really lucky to be doing what I’m doing and where I’m doing it.  And you know I don’t have a boss.  I don’t have to . . .  I don’t have clients; I have readers.  But they’re sort of a massive collective, so they don’t really have any way to . . . to tell me to do anything . . . You know except weeks, and months and years I get little bits of feedback here and there.  And they can tell me, “You know you need to move this in another direction because this is getting a bit stale,” or what have you.  You know and it’s . . . it’s very lucky that I get to do that.  And as far as a personal philosophy, I don’t know.  I’m just not . . . I’m not introspective in that way to sit down and say, “Here’s what I’ve learned” or whatever.  Like I said before I just sort of . . . I’m always like feeling my way along experimenting and things like that, and not . . .  You know I’m not that conceptual I guess.  I don’t . . .  I don’t have a concept by which my life is ruled.  I mean I tend towards simplification – things that are simple.  I . . .  You know when I read an . . .  Let’s say I read an article.  It’s, you know, a 2,000 word article.  It’s huge.  I’ll try and put that into three sentences to explain it to somebody.  And I feel like I do that with . . . with other areas of my life as well.  My design is very streamlined, simple.  You know my wardrobe, my approach to . . . I don’t have a lot of possessions.  I try and keep my . . . the number of my possessions to a minimum.  I’m not a shopaholic.  I don’t like shopping.  I don’t like accruing things.  I like getting rid of things.  I like keeping around only what I need.  So I mean I guess that’s . . . that’s the closest I can get to a personal philosophy. I don’t like imparting things to my readership.  I purposefully don’t do that.  I don’t say, “You should think this, or you should think that.”  I think people should be able to . . .  You know there are a few things I am, you know, overtly sort of biased on and it shows.  But for the most part I think I     . . . I think I do a pretty good job of being neutral and just sort of, “Here’s this thing.  You should think what you want about it.  I’ve . . .  I’ve . . .  I’ve told you enough about it.  If you’re interested, you know you can go read it.  If you’re not, you don’t have to.”  I don’t tell people they should donate to, you know, certain charities or, you know, endorse certain candidates or anything like that.  I’m just not comfortable with that.  I don’t . . . I don’t like using my soapbox in that way I guess.  I feel like I use it to inform, not to motivate or to, you know, steer people in a certain direction.


Recorded on: 10/9/07





What is Kottke.org?

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