I am unsurprised at the number of questions I receive about this blog, so without further ado.. 20 questions about my blog, 20 Questions Tuesday: and here we go:
Question 1: Why do you do this?
I find it to be rather interesting. I love answering questions in methods that may not be intended by the original questioner, and on top of that, I enjoy asking interesting people 20 questions so I can get to know them better. I try to stay away from questions that many people would ask just because I feel that information is already out there. On top of all THAT, this is also a nice creative outlet for me.
Question 2: Why is it called 20 Questions Tuesday?
Well, that is pretty simple. I post on Tuesdays and ask/answer 20 Questions. Coupled with that is the fact that my wife's name is Tuesday and due to that, Tuesday is my favorite day of the week. Tertiarily, 20 Questions Tuesday has a nice alliteration to this title as well.
Question 3: You know that your typical Question 3 for your interviews is a direct rip-off of a Paul F Tompkins bit from his album Freak Warf, right?
I am well aware of that, and I try to give attribution to that question frequently. I feel that question has been a wonderful launching point for a few good conversations and I try to take the response from that question in a decidedly different direction than Mr Tompkins's bit goes. I would love to get Mr Tompkins to answer 20 Questions and ask him Question 3 myself and see where that conversation takes us.
Question 4: Where do the questions you answer in your non-interview posts come from?
I have a number of real life people as well as denizens of the Internet whom I only know through online means to whom I send an email requesting questions on that week's topic. They send me questions and I cobble together 20 of them and answer them. The number of responses has been dwindling as of late, so I have taken to begging my social graph on Facebook and Twitter to send me questions.
Question 5: Do you research your answers or is all of this off the cuff?
A little of Column A and a little of Column B on this one. Many of the questions I try to answer to the best of my ability without looking anything up, however I am connected to the Internet and do not want to give incorrect answers for very specific questions. That being said, most questions are not actually fact based questions and if they are I try to answer them without focusing on any facts. Don't answer the questions you are asked, answer the question you should have been asked...
Question 6: Why do you aspire to answer questions obtusely?
That is a nice philosophical question more than anything else. I am rather tired of simple answers. Everyone can give a straight forward answer... Surprise is typically interesting, and straight forward answers (when unnecessary) are not surprising.
Question 7: How do you find people to interview?
Well, if I know the person directly, I just ask them if they would be willing to answer my 20 insipid questions. Many say "no." As far as the other people, typically I approach them via twitter. I tweet them asking if they would be willing. Many of those tweets go ignored or unanswered. Sometimes I get responses saying a polite "No thank you" or "too busy." Occasionally I will get someone interested enough to say yes, and then they drift off twisting into the ebon darkness never to be heard from again. And rarely, I get someone who is willing to answer these questions. Even more rarely I find some people genuinely interested in the process. It seems to be a system that has worked. I am always looking for people to answer questions though.
Question 8: How do these interviews work?
Well there are three different methods that I have used. The first, and seemingly most popular, is to have an email conversation back and forth. I ask a question, the interviewee answers it, I comment on that answer and then ask the next one. The second method is the same process with a shared Google Doc. The third method, and least often used, is where I generate a personally tailored questionnaire for their 20 questions. I send it off to them, wait a while and they they send it back filled out.
Question 9: How long does this process take?
For the conversations, I have had 20 Questions interviews take about 2 work weeks at their shortest, and the longest ones have taken over six months. The questionnaires tend to take about 3 days for me to craft and about a week for the interviewee to fill out.
Question 10: How many interviews do you have going on at the same time?
I typically have anywhere from three to eight interviews going on concurrently in different states of completion. At the time of writing this FAQ, I have two with less than five questions answered, two in the six to twelve range, three with more than thirteen answers done and one that is done and just awaiting this upcoming Tuesday to be published.
Question 11: Who is your highest profile interview?
By far it is Clark Gregg. I am not sure who can supplant him at the moment. He did not have the time to answer 20 Questions so I changed up the format for him. I asked him 10 questions and then had some comic book artist friends of mine each create a sketch of Gregg's character, Agent Coulson, and then answer 10 questions about his character.
Question 12: Do you have a list of people you would like to ask 20 Questions?
Oh, yes, yes I do. I send out invitation tweets to people almost weekly, and I am constantly badgering people in my life to do these. I would say that I get a positive response for one out of every twenty-five requests.
Question 13: Do you have any superstitions or rituals?
Not that I can think of off-hand. I did have rituals associated with physical activities as a kid and a rather robust church-life and life in the Boy Scouts. Sports, church, and Boy Scouts are all ritual heavy things. I am not not playing any sports, going to any church, or in any adolescent male organizations anymore so I am in search of some ritual. maybe I will look into mindfulness...
Question 14: Are you willing to ask just any Joe Schmoe off the street 20 Questions?
Sure. If that person is willing to go through the process I will gladly ask them 20 Questions. If anyone is interested, contact me through the "Ask me a Question" page and we can set something up.
Question 15: What is the "To Recap:" piece about?
It started years and years and years ago. I would write out a post and then recap the post with stuff that was not in the post... You know... for the funny?
Questions 16: Have you thought about putting together a map of all the geographic stories that people have given you?
I toyed around with the idea of having a Google Earth kml file of all the places, but that got pretty cumbersome. I have toyed with the idea. I need to see if there is a mappig widget that I can add to the site.... then spend 17 years parsing through all the geographic stories. Oh, that sounds like Hell.
Question 17: How many people have started a 20 Questions that just never got finished?
I would say there are about 7 who have either started 20 Questions and then that faded off to become unresponsive or who just didn't respond after I send them a questionnaire of 20 Questions. Most people, much to their chagrin, finish it out. They are crispy burnt out by the time they are done, but they finish it out.
Question 18: What is the question you get asked the most when you ask the interviewees to ask you a question?
What do you get from doing these 20 Questions? or some permutation of that.
Question 19: What do you take from doing a 20 Questions Tuesday that you did not have when you started it?
Well in the interviews, I feel a strong connection with the person that I have been emailing with for at least 40 emails. I have gotten to know some really neat people with this process... people I would never interact with otherwise. Some of those people have gone on to become actual real life friends. For the standard 20 Questions where I answer everything, a boatload of weird trivia that usually revolves around lyrics of some kind.
Question 20: What's next? Be as vague or concrete, as close-term or long-term, as philosophical or grounded as you want.
Just trying to get more and more people to do the interviews. I think those are immensely more enjoyable than my constant blithering.