Jason Kottke is a blogger and former web designer. Educated at Coe College, Kottke began his career as a web designer in 1986. He worked on design projects for companies as diverse as Charles Schwab, Target, and the University of Minnesota. He designed the now-ubiquitous typeface Silkscreen in 1999, which has since been adopted by Adobe, MTV and Volvo. He has served on the Advisory Board for SXSW Interactive since 2000. In 2005, he announced he had left his web design job to work on his blog full-time. The site is now supported by paid advertisements. Kottke lives in New York City.
Question: Are you a pessimist or an optimist?
Jason Kottke: I’m a pessimistic person, I think. Most of the time. I’m a pessimistic optimist.
I don’t judge people. You know I’m optimistic about people, but I’m generally pessimistic about; I don’t know. Other things I’m pessimistic about it. And I used to be pessimistic about the earth. And I . . . I had a post a long time ago on my site. It was probably like in ’99 or ’98. And you know it was probably more of a young person’s post – very uninformed and sort of off the cuff; and probably not a lot of thinking behind it other than kind of a gut feeling. And I thought within the next 50 years some major catastrophe was going to happen to the population of the earth, reducing it by; I think I said more than 50 percent, so 50 percent of the population gone. You know basically a world of six billion people was going to become a world of three billion people because of some “thing”. I don’t know if I believe that anymore. We might get hit by an asteroid. Who knows?
I think we’ll turn the ship around in time to avoid major environmental problems. You know New York City might have a huge dike around it, but I think we’ll survive. You know I think the place I currently live is, what, 21 feet above sea level or something in Manhattan. We might be underwater in 50 years. I don’t know. But I think in general I mean I don’t know. Despite all my pessimism, I kind of have an optimistic view of that sort of thing – that time kind of evens things out.
And if you look at the state of human civilization – let’s say the turn of the . . . you know the beginning of the first millennium A.D., and you look at it now and how much progress we’ve made; and you know how many people are more educated and have access to healthcare; or are living until 80 and not 35. I just think that the march of the world is toward that sort of thing and towards people being more free and more able to make their own decisions in life.
October 9, 2007