235: The Study of Gaming with Mike Schramm

Mike Schramm is a Senior Research Manager at Interpret in Los Angeles, working on providing qualitative research for the video game industry. He returns to Systematic to talk with Brett about his history with writing and gaming and how the two have intersected in meaningful ways.

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Systematic 235

[00:00:00]Brett: [00:00:00] So Mike, how are you doing?

Mike: [00:00:03] I’m doing good. Hello. Thank you for having me on this. the second, season, this return, I’m excited

Brett: [00:00:09] yeah. So you were the very first guest on systematic eight, eight years ago. Almost exactly. Eight years ago. It’s been a long time.

Mike: [00:00:19] I was very flattered when you asked me to be the first guest on the very first episode. And I’m now also very flattered, even more flattered, I would say to be asked back to be the first guest on the second season. So I think it’s great. And it’s interesting because we both worked on T way w for a long time, and I don’t know if you were like this, but I was like, I put a lot of stuff out there in the world and like was very active online.

And lately I have not been. And I’ve also been like, man, interesting. I wonder if I went back online or if I started putting more stuff out there, what it would look like or how it would work. So I’m excited that you’re tackling this again in a, with more energy.

Brett: [00:00:55] hopefully more energy I ate. Okay. First I have [00:01:00] to make a confession. I let Merlin Mann slip in before you in the lineup. So you’re actually season two, episode two.

Mike: [00:01:09] That’s fine. Merlin Mann will draw much more of an audience than I will we’ll so that makes complete

Brett: [00:01:13] he also just scheduled before you, so I

Mike: [00:01:16] Oh, well, he’s very, he’s probably more productive than I’d think. So that makes sense. He he’s able to sneak in and drop in the schedule

Brett: [00:01:22] But yeah, I took, it was just going to be a couple months. I just needed a break. I felt like. I felt like I was putting a lot of effort into making shows and I wasn’t loving it anymore. And then that couple months turned into over a year before I finally got the bug again and thought, you know, I really miss doing that.

So it felt good to get back to it.

Mike: [00:01:47] Yeah. Yeah. I took a very specific hiatus because, so whatever nine years ago now, whenever I write, when I left TYW or right when I walked away from blogging, I was looking for, well, I was bogging with [00:02:00] you for awhile. And I was writing on TBW and writing and a couple of other places. And then I was like, this is great.

And I love this job and this is awesome, but I need benefits. I need, and I need insurance. It’s like, I need, I need some sort of setup here. So I started looking around for a job and I looked around for a job long time. And I finally found a job in, with the company eedar doing research for video games.

Cause that’s what I’ve been writing for so long. And back then, I was like, well, I will just kind of like go away a little bit, but I’ll still have Twitter and I was still kind of keep in touch with people. But then I changed my website as well, so right around 2016 then, when Trump had, I was like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, internet really shook me up a lot.

I was like kind of shaken by that whole thing by how Facebook was used and how social networking was used. And I was like, kind of like very shocked by it. And it was interesting to me because. It’s something that I had. And it’s about three years after I started stopped writing online, basically.

But I was like, I really had ended and being online and I invested in social network [00:03:00] and I had shared, met a bunch of great people, including you through all those different sites and all that networking stuff. And I was really struck by what, what had happened in that election and what is still happening today.

Like what’s still going on with all that stuff. And I sort of stepped away and I actually deleted a bunch of old archives, not deleted them, but took them all offline and like redid my website where it’s very simple and straightforward. but I agree that like recently I’ve been like, I think there is a place or a way for me to be more public and be online.

And I’ve been thinking about like maybe a Patreon podcast or just a blog or something like that. Like I’ve been thinking about coming back to, so, uh, it’s interesting. I wonder if that’s a larger theme or a larger thing that’s going on, but

Brett: [00:03:37] well, it’s, it’s a weird time with all of the protests and the pandemic. It’s a weird time to feel like my voice needs to be heard. Why do I think I matter right now? I don’t know. it’s not, I, I’m not doing it for, I don’t know what I’m doing it for now. You’re making me question my motives.

Mike: [00:03:57] No, no, no, I don’t mean to make you question your motives, [00:04:00] but I have been a question questioning motives as well. Like I actually, I literally have written a blog post that I was going to post on my site and I also had that same feeling of like, well, how necessary is this? Like, do I need to be another dude?

Blogging online. Do I need to say this thing? Do people even care? Like, do people even know me? Does anyone care about the day, the old days like me or is there even, cause when I first started, no one did know me and I just did it. Cause it was something I really enjoyed doing and I really liked it and I still like doing it, but I just don’t, I don’t want to, I don’t know.

I want to. I do want to reapproach it in the, in, you know, I want to get back to blogging and I want to get back to sharing stuff, but I don’t want to do it in the way that I did it when I was younger, which is just get everything out there and get my name out there and get in front of everybody. So I’m trying to do it in a more interesting way, but I’m really.

Kind of struggling with that. Like how do I do it in a way that I think is valuable, that I think is helpful, but, uh, but you know, make sure that I make sure that, you know, let other people’s voices speak [00:05:00] and make sure that we’re going in the right direction and not just like rebuilding the same thing. I don’t know.

I’ve been struggling with these issues a lot lately, too. So it’s interesting too. I was, when I saw your invite to do this, I was like, Oh, awesome. Uh, because I’ve also been thinking the same thing. So. But that said your work has always been really helpful and really, you know, all of the stuff that you’ve released and all the stuff that you’ve done has always been very much focused on improving people’s lives and making it better.

So I think you’re more justified

Brett: [00:05:26] that’s very

Mike: [00:05:26] in what you’re doing and I think, but

Brett: [00:05:28] All right.

Mike: [00:05:29] my thing will say, go ahead.

Brett: [00:05:31] the, uh, the topic that I think is the most obvious and also the most intriguing to me that comes up when, uh, w reading about you is gaming. I feel like that’s you live and breathe gaming and it’s kind of fascinating to me because like we started gaming at the same time in the same age.

Like for me, it was on a monochrome, piece the earth. No, I guess my [00:06:00] first computer was a PC junior, which did have 16. Colors. Um, but like we started with Oregon trail and I was into jump man, and I played a lot of games back then, but yeah, I didn’t, well, I never got an Nintendo. Like that’s where it ended for me.

I never had a game. Boy, I wanted a game boy, but that wasn’t happening in my house. Um, and from there, I play a lot of games on my phone now, but I don’t have the relationship with it that I think anyone who would call themselves a game or does. So I’m curious about the relationship that you have with gaming.

Uh, it’s obviously been a meaningful part of your life. So tell me a bit about what, what, what exactly it means to you.

Mike: [00:06:46] For sure. So I started on a Tandy color computer. My dad, uh, brought one home from one day from work. He, he bought her from a friend at work. He worked at, uh, McDonald Douglas, which is not Boeing and st. Louis, although he’s, he’s long since retired. Uh, and [00:07:00] my family what’s interesting is that I was adopted.

Uh, I, my, my family, we have three kids, me and my brother and my sister. I was the only one who was adopted. And then my parents had my brother and my sister biologically afterwards. And for some reason I have always been super interested in gaming and no one else in the family has ever had the same interest.

So I think, I think that’s part of it is from the very beginning I was. Fascinated by games and fascinated by computers and like technology. And for some reason, I don’t know if it is just nature, nurture, whatever happened, but I kind of staked out that space in my family. And I think looking back I’m like, that’s why, you know, one reason why I was so engaged with it and so interested in it.

I, I tell the story. Sometimes my, my parents, uh, when I was very young, my parents were like, we understand that you like games, uh, and we support you for that, but we are never going to buy you games, or we’re never going to support that. Cause we think it’s a waste of time, which maybe sounds mean maybe that’s.

You know, looking back sounds mean, but, but at that, but what did it did in me has made me like, how can [00:08:00] I get this? How can I, how can I get into gaming? I bought a GameBoy on my own. I’ve saved up money and picked it up when I was really young and just loved that played games nonstop on it. Um, and then as I, as I’ve gotten older, obviously, like when I started blogging, I was blogging specifically about games to start.

And so then it became like, you know, I. I started working as a writer first, but as quickly as I worked as a freelance writer, you know, I started working for a paper in Chicago called new city, the Chicago, which I don’t think it’s an all weekly. I don’t know if he’s still going on. I think the website’s gone.

I think they’re all done now, but, uh, but I would go, I would write about a bunch of different events, but the, but one day I pitched, uh, there was a S. Game studio. So I was also working at a PR firm in downtown Chicago, and I was writing press releases for them. And then, uh, in on the floor, right above was a studio called wide load games, which is a former owner of bungee was running that studio.

And I went to the newspaper that I was interning at and I was like, Hey, yeah, The studio is here. They’re Chicago based like, can I write a story about a Chicago based game [00:09:00] studio? And I said, sure, great. And that’s the first time I remember that? I was like, Oh, I could write about games. Like I could just specifically write about games the whole time and really kind of combined my career and my gaming stuff.

And then the older I’ve gotten, the more I see, you know, gaming is connected to psychology. It’s connected to who we are as human beings. It’s, you know, it’s all about perceptions and. I’m reading, thinking fast and slow recently and getting into in, into the, all that type of thinking. But yeah, and then, you know, in my work, so I, I, when I left, TYW, when I left, uh, joystick, I started working for a firm called ITAR.

It’s called electronic entertainment, design and research. And when I first got hired there, I did what we called mock reviews. So I basically wrote. About what the press would say about games. So, you know, before a game came out, I was able to give them a heads up. I’m like, this is what the press will think about it.

And this is what people will think. And I got very good at like looking at a game and yeah. Telling what could work and what wouldn’t work and how things would go, you know, how people would connect with then how people would understand it. And [00:10:00] that led me to just like, you know, Evolutionarily, like what drives us?

What’s our, what’s our interest. What? No, w in a game, if you want to show the way forward, you put a light on it, and that’s such a core evolutionary thing. Like we go towards the light, we go towards spaces that are more well lit. And like that stuff that really got me thinking about like, well, how do we connect up to what humans and all that stuff.

So, so yeah, gaming started as. Something, I was super fascinated by as a kid and something that I just couldn’t get enough of. And over time it has become more of the study of like, how, how, how do people interact both with each other and with the, whatever they see, like, how do they interact with the world?

How do our perceptions she’s governed what we choose to do? And how would you say go? And I don’t know, maybe that’s too big, but I like thinking in those big terms,

Brett: [00:10:44] did. So. So when you, at the point where you combined your professional life and your love of gaming for a lot of people that would have gone sideways. Um, you would have ended up liking one or the other less because of the [00:11:00] combination, but it sounds like that combination actually just strengthened your love of gaming.

Mike: [00:11:05] Yeah, I think what I was able to do because I started, so I actually was working at retail when I first started writing for wow. Insider insider is the first blog that I started writing for. And that was within the AOL group there. Um, and I was working retail during the day and I was going home at night and writing.

So it was like, It was part of the fun, part of the fun was going home and writing every night. Like I would think about stories or thinking about things to write during the day, and then I would go home and write. So that was really beneficial that it wasn’t like my main job to begin with. Like it was sort of a hobby that built up.

And then I think the other thing is that over time, I, I just. I built it up very gradually. So initially I was writing for wow. Insider in the evenings and working retail during the day. Then I was able to work on two different blogs. Wow. Insider and TBW. And that gave me enough to like go full time freelance and just work on my own.

And then when I left those Boggs, I was like, well, I love blogging. I love this job. It’s just that I [00:12:00] need health insurance. So I really had the time to look for a job that I liked and looked for a company that I like. And that’s when I found EDA, I actually had applied to. Five or six different places before.

And either I didn’t want to work there. They didn’t want me to work there. So I think that the benefit of having, and I know it’s a benefit and speaking of voices, I know it’s a privileged position to be for sure. And I’m very lucky to be in the position. Um, but, but I I’ve been able to like, Take steps. At each point in my career, I’ve been able to take steps that I really felt were the right steps to take.

I almost never have had the, the I’ve always had the luxury, three of choosing the next thing to do. I almost never had to like jump into the next thing to do because I had to jump into it. So I know that very fortunate position to be in. And I, but I mean, I’ve also worked as hard as I possibly could for it, but I also know, you know, who knows.

I, I it’s, it’s, it’s definitely, uh, certainly there’s probably privileged that I’ve benefited from in that sense, but. That’s why I think it’s worked so well in terms of keeping the hobby interesting. And also [00:13:00] keeping it professional is that I’ve been able to balance pretty well, like what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.

Um, but, uh, yeah, I mean, you also have, have done a lot of that stuff too. You’ve been made some smart choices about where to go and what to do and

Brett: [00:13:13] I’ve made some, I’ve made some, uh, I had the privilege of voluntarily leaving a six figure job

Mike: [00:13:21] right, right. That’s a privileged

Brett: [00:13:22] It is, it really is like to have the option to risk things like that. Um, to have that job in the first place. Yeah.

Mike: [00:13:31] Sure. And when I was working retail, I was eating ramen. Like I saved my money. And, and when I, when I jumped off to, to be full time freelance, like that was a gutsy thing to do to say, I’m just gonna work from home and just write for these blogs the whole time. And as you probably know, working at AOL, there were a couple of times where they were like, we can’t really pay you guys this month and we don’t, we don’t know what your job is going to be like.

So I I’ve taken risks for sure, but

Brett: [00:13:54] I don’t think, I don’t think they ever, of course I never wrote so much that I cost a [00:14:00] lot for AOL to keep me around as a writer. And then once I was actually working on the other side of the blogs on the development side, Yeah, the paychecks are pretty. Paychecks are really steady there. Um, but, uh, let’s see.

So this random question came to mind. did you watch mythic quest?

Mike: [00:14:22] I did watch mythic quest. Uh, it, that has been interesting. So when I was writing for joystick and writing for TUAW obviously I was very much on the outside. I was very much writing about stuff as much as possible. And like, I think you and I are also pretty lucky in that we were ready for TUAW, right when the iPhone was taking off. And we, we really, I mean, I, I feel like I got a front row seat to a really interesting time. Uh, and, and I was writing about. IPhone games before there was an app store. Like I remember writing a post about like, here’s how Apple should handle the app store. And I’m not going to take credit for the app store, but, but certainly I was in a good [00:15:00] spot to like share some of that stuff.

And we know people at Apple were reading. So I feel really lucky to be, I want to do that. Um, so yes, but then as I moved into the more, the publisher side of things, so I don’t, we don’t publish games, the company that, so I worked for a company called eedar. eedar got bought by NPD, which is kind of a big data Nielsen type competitor.

Uh, and I worked for NPD for a couple of years because they had basically acquired, eedar, and then earlier this year I moved back back to LA and I’m currently working for a research company called interpret. So interpret is a little bit more focused on just video game research, NPD. A big company that sells data for a lot of different industries, including books and toys, and also like CPG, which is consumer packaged goods and all this other stuff.

Um, so I’ve kind of moved back into games in January and I’m working for this great company in LA called interpret. And we do a lot of great work. Uh, none of the clients I can mention, but they’re all on the website. It’s all very secret work, but. I will say that, uh, as I moved into more of this research role and more of this industry specific role, as opposed to like a [00:16:00] journalism role, uh, I have gotten much more insight into how studios work and how things go down like that.

I will say that some of this stuff fun, mythic quest is true. There’s a lot of ego, obviously in any creative field and video games is no exception for sure. Uh, and yes, sexism is, uh, I mean, again, I, I say it pretty, pretty, uh, uh, lightly, but yeah. But sexism is a huge issue. You know, Ubisoft has had a bunch of problems in the, in the past few weeks here and there trying to adjust things and make changes as best they can.

And great, like everyone should, and there certainly are still video game studios out there where sexism runs rampant and, and is a real problem. So. So it’s definitely an issue. Uh, I will say too, like some of it is overblown. I think a lot of the, the, you know, the, the people who actually work on art and people actually design stuff.

Like they, they really want to be creative and they really are devoted to the job and all that stuff. But, uh, but no, I mean, it’s pretty dead on, I can’t disagree with anything. We did anything [00:17:00] in there. I really liked that. Megan Ganz. I think she’s the, uh, she’s one of the creators, one of the writers on there.

I think she, she brings a great voice to the show too. I think. I think having that, that sort of main character for her, it seems like a great voice in there too. Go ahead.

Brett: [00:17:13] The, uh, the subplot that, that I enjoyed the most was the couple that started the game studio with the really dark idea of a game where you couldn’t, what was it like? All you could do is run from monsters. And you had a flashlight. I don’t remember the name of the game or the name of the studio, but that the, the kind of the, the journey of an indie game through becoming a massive hit and losing all creative control.

And that, that felt true to me. Like I have no experience on either side of the gaming industry, but that felt, it felt like it was coming from a place of truth for whoever wrote that.

Mike: [00:17:55] Sure. No, I think, you know, one of the great things about gaming right now is [00:18:00] that in the past couple of years, it has become easier than ever to make a game. It used to be around the, you know, when we started playing a game, it was extremely complicated to make a game. You had to program physics, you had to understand high level math.

You had to build your own engine and do all that stuff. These days. Anybody can consider it down. If you have an idea for a game, you can sit down over a couple of weekends and you can probably put together a prototype. That’s pretty close to your idea. Um, and as a result, there’s lots of amazing games out there.

You know, the, the itchio, uh, bundled for racial equality was released recently and it’s got 7,000 great games in it. They’re all little indie games, just go to itchio and you can find a bunch of great games there. Um, and, but that said, you know, that’s, that’s all great, but it’s only operating at a specific level.

I don’t, it’s only operating like below us, you know, there’s not as. So much money there it’s, it’s only the real giant hits that make any money in terms of that type of space. So to make a very popular and very successful game, you really need to [00:19:00] like, you know, uh, follow certain conventions and you need to make sure, you know, you’re aiming for such again, talking about the, the core human experience.

You’re aiming for such a wide audience that you need to make sure that anyone who sits down to look at your game immediately understands what’s happening and immediately understands what’s going on. And that’s the thing like Fortnite, you look at a game like Fortnite. Which is hugely successful. And if you play it, it’s, it’s very understandable.

Like it’s not necessarily your speed. It’s not specific to what you want or what you’re looking for or your sentiment, but it is very understandable and it isn’t very accessible and very straightforward. Um, so yeah, once, you know, a lot of people inter gaming or a lot of companies start out making like the game that they want to make and the game that they really have an interest in and.

You know, my company sometimes, uh, you know, w you know, one thing we do is provide feedback to help games be better and help games and be more successful. And I wouldn’t say that I try to crush anyone’s dream or anything like that, but definitely there are, you know, if you’re going for. Such a wide audience, you need to make sure that certain things are accessible and certain [00:20:00] things are clear.

And, uh, if your goal is to scare or frighten or confused, the player, people don’t necessarily want that out of a game or want to do that. So it’s like, you know, it’s the same old artistic commercial balance that people would have to keep all the time. Unfortunately. So. Um, but yeah, that episode was great.

And I liked that the episode was so different from the rest of the show too. I liked that they sort of took a risk and, uh, told this little story, just combined story in that specific episode.

Brett: [00:20:27] so I know enough about film and television to be really annoying to people when I’m watching films and television with them. Um, like I, it makes me enjoy, like, knowing. How the sausage is made, makes me enjoy them more, but it makes me insufferable to some other people. However, too, it sounds to me like playing games with you would actually be a more entertaining experience.

I feel like you bring, uh, a certain amount of fascination to [00:21:00] it.

Mike: [00:21:01] Sure. Uh,

Brett: [00:21:03] is just me complimenting you.

Mike: [00:21:05] I was, yeah, I was gonna say yes. Is the answer to that. I know. I, and I thought about that. So obviously the work that I do, you know, it’s all very confidential. I work for companies. I work on games before they come out and I can’t really talk much about what I do or, you know, not necessarily what I do, but like, I can’t talk to them much about who I’m working with or who I’m working for because a lot of the stuff.

Stuff. Now, now I am working on giant games and the odds are good that if you play a bunch of games, you’ve probably played things I’ve worked on. So I’m happy about that. But when we provide research to a company it’s designed to help them not tell anybody else what’s going on or things like that.

But that said, man, I, yeah, I would love sometimes, you know, I would love someday to have the ability to sit down and like talk about a game. So I did a panel at PAX South a couple of years ago where we played games live in the panel and talked about them. It was me and a couple of other game journalists, and we talked about them as we were playing them.

And yes, I love. Spotting little details that [00:22:00] developers and put it into game to help you understand, like even there’s a great video on YouTube of the super Mario camera, the super Mario world camera and how detailed it is in terms of moving the camera around the screen. When you’re playing, you notice none of that, you’re just playing along and Mario is always in the right place on screen, and you’ll always know where he’s headed, but if you actually look at the mechanics of how the camera works, it’s very detailed and very.

Uh, intelligently designed in terms of how the camera is moving around and how, you know, the sense of movement that it creates. And I love stuff like that. I love little details and games, and there’s a lot of stuff that developers do, uh, that really, you know, allow players to understand what they’re doing.

And I talk about this too. So I do improv as well. And, uh, with improv, it’s interesting, although that’s a fad, that’s kind of going away as well. Now we’re getting old

Brett: [00:22:47] I feel, I feel like it comes and goes

Mike: [00:22:49] Yeah. And maybe it’ll come back again. But I feel like all of the stuff that we were really excited about now, kids are like, eh, the iPhone’s a hold.

All this stuff is dumb. Uh, but, uh, uh, improv, I always say like, [00:23:00] uh, to get really good at improv, you usually have to take like weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks of classes. And usually wouldn’t improv, I’ve taught a little bit of improv and when people teach improv, they say, when you first start doing it, you’re great because you don’t think about it.

Your head’s not in it. You just kind of do whatever you want. And you’re great and it’s super fun. And then your head starts getting into it. And then you start thinking about what you’re doing and you start overthinking and then it starts getting clumsy. And then you have to like train yourself to get back to that initial, like innocence that you had, or that initial play that you had.

But the thing about improv is that you can take years and years and years of training to do it, but to watch it takes no training at all. The stuff that you’re seeing on stage during an improv show, you pick up on it immediately, you pick up on when things feel weird or when people don’t connect, you pick up on it.

When it’s not funny, or when things don’t work, you don’t need training to do that. And that’s the same thing with games. You could train to make a game and make a brilliant game. Like Dale could GMO, you could. You could train and train and train to like, understand how he guides the player’s attention and how he bounces things and does all that type of stuff.

But to play the [00:24:00] game, you need no training, it just works. It just connects up with what you’re, what you’re doing. And I see, you know, obviously speaking to someone who wrote with me on T way, w that’s. That’s Apple’s philosophy the whole time. It’s just work. It’s just something that you and good software as well.

Like it’s just supposed to, you know, the developer takes care of all of that stuff in the background. You just understand from moment to moment to moment what you’re supposed to do. So,

Brett: [00:24:22] yeah. Yeah. The, it just works philosophy. I feel like we should, for the sake of listeners, uh, who aren’t old enough to UAW was the unofficial Apple web blog. Uh, and it was a name Apple didn’t like, uh,

Mike: [00:24:39] Yeah. Cause it had Apple technically in it. Although I think AOL downplayed the w they went for the acronym by the end of it, but go ahead.

Brett: [00:24:47] Yeah. But yeah, so that was, that was actually where I met Mike was, uh, writing at, at TUAW or as some, some writers called it TUwow. Which I don’t understand that [00:25:00] pronunciation, but

Mike: [00:25:01] I think it was fun.

Brett: [00:25:02] Mike likes to say to you a w because he likes all those syllables, that’s more syllables than just saying no unofficial is okay.


Mike: [00:25:11] To, uh, I, I think I, I think I helped Victor invent TUAW and then I just made fun of it. I always think. It’s T UAW, but yeah, I don’t know, like that’s the thing is like, we, I wouldn’t say we were, you know, the biggest site in the world, but we certainly had a community that really liked us. And occasionally in my, even in my current game industry thing, I’ll mention, Oh, I used to work on, on joystick or even WOW Insider, or sometimes I used to work on WOW insider and people go, Oh, so there’s some awareness there, but yeah, it’s like this thing that we did that used to exist and then the world changed and things changed and now it doesn’t exist anymore. And I, I think we’re also headed. You can tell me what you think about this. I think we’re headed back towards. Blogging, obviously, like, I think we’re headed back towards like, well written individual posts. You know, I think we, we, you know, [00:26:00] Facebook and the pivot to video, that’s all coming up nowadays.

And, and certainly a lot of blogs, I kind of exited the blogging scene. Right as the pivot to video type of thing happened. But I think that there’s an email newsletters are coming back, email newsletters are getting more and more popular. And I think people are really excited about like specific voices or specific groups, not huge.

Social networks, but specific groups. I don’t know. What do you think about that? Do you think blogging is a thing that might return or,

Brett: [00:26:24] I think idealistically, I want to say yes. Um, my traffic on my blog, uh, despite having more name recognition now than I did 10 years ago, my traffic is. It peaked and then has dwindled since, um, it’s, it’s harder and harder to sell advertising, on blogs or in podcasts. Aren’t, aren’t an easy sell either.

Um, I feel like most of the Patreon money goes to video producers and, uh, And the occasional podcast, or I shouldn’t say [00:27:00] occasional to have saturated market, but, um, I, I medium demonstrates, I think that individual voices still matter in, in writing, um, But medium is as a whole, not, it’s not a blog, you know, it’s not even individual blogs.

It’s a conglomerate, but

Mike: [00:27:20] That’s true. Yeah,

Brett: [00:27:21] I, I really hope I still read blogs. I still use an RSS reader every day.

Mike: [00:27:27] I do too. I think kids are assessed is really simple syndication. It’s it’s a, it’s a way to read, read blogs. Oh man. I don’t know how many kids you have listening to this, but we’ll explain everything. We’ll go. We’ll go to your level. At some point, millennials.

Brett: [00:27:42] Um, so do, do you, uh, do you still write at all?

Mike: [00:27:47] I do. I mean, as much as I’m not writing online, I, uh, well, I will say that I don’t write finished stuff. I have been taking up journaling the past few years and I write a [00:28:00] lot of stuff in terms of a journal. And I’ve also been like more interested as I get older, I guess, in keeping track of where I’ve been and what I’ve done.

Uh, I’ve done a lot and I’m really excited about all this stuff I’ve done and all the stuff I’m currently doing, even, even though it’s not as public as it used to be. But, uh, so, and I think just it’s, I think everybody does this as you get older, you kind of like go, well, what’s my life mean? And where’s my life headed and what am I doing?

So I, I have been like, uh, just personally writing a bunch of things and keeping track of stuff. And, uh, I’m always working on a book or two, like I’m only just trying to put ideas into file and. Usually I over judge everything and I ha I, you know, I don’t think it’s worth sharing after the fact, but maybe someday.

And I do want to start a blog. I mean, I do, I have my website and I have a blog set up. I just, and like I said, I have a couple of posts that I have ready to roll and I have ideas, but I just want to make sure, I dunno. Like I, uh, when I. I don’t know. I want to make sure that when I put stuff out there, Hey, I now kind of have a job to protect.

Like I need to make sure that I, you know, I, when I was a [00:29:00] blogger, I could put whatever I wanted, because that was my whole thing. But now it’s like, well, I need to make sure that I’m not endangering my job in this culture in this time. Not that I would say anything offensive, but you know, who knows what happens.

And then I also, uh, I also know, yeah, I don’t want to contribute to, we live in an era of misinformation. We live in an era of everyone yelling. Their opinion as loud as possible all the time. And I don’t want to just yell another opinion out into the, into the ether. I don’t think that’s helpful. I don’t think that’s useful for anybody.

I don’t think it’s useful at all. It’s selfish of me to just be like, okay, I’m going to do this, but that said too. When I first started writing it wasn’t even at the newspaper. The first thing I started writing was my own personal site. I just posted every day. And that’s how I kind of like got into the habit of writing and got into the rhythm of writing.

And I didn’t do that to make anything happen. I didn’t do it with a whole career in mind. I did it because it was like, this is fun. I like putting stuff up. I like seeing responses to it. I like seeing people interact with it. And, and [00:30:00] now it’s like, I almost. I think I’m overthinking it. I almost think I’m like, well, what should the voice be and what would be most helpful?

And it’s like, maybe that’s maybe I need to just do it. Like maybe I need to just say, well, I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I need to, I feel this drive to do it. And I’m just going to put stuff out. And if you’re angry at it, tell me, or if you don’t like it, tell me, and I’ll figure out from there.

But I dunno, maybe I need to take that risk again and just say, let’s put, let’s put stuff out there and see what happens. But.

Brett: [00:30:25] did you know that most of the stuff you ever wrote for weblogs is still there?

Mike: [00:30:30] Uh, yes, I’m still on Engadget. I can still look at my old joystick posts on and gadget. Uh, and, and you, uh, kindly when TUAW was when, well, I think when TUAW was shutting down, you kindly wrote some scripts to pull as many posts as possible. So I still have, uh, archives at most everything I’ve written. Uh, not that

Brett: [00:30:49] it’s surprised a bunch of other TUAW writers to find out that their articles still existed on the internet. They thought they were all gone rendered down to markdown files on their own computers.

Mike: [00:30:59] No. [00:31:00] Well, now that now we’re all Engadget writers, so,

Brett: [00:31:02] Right, right.

Mike: [00:31:03] is a, still a blog that’s still alive. So, uh, no, I, I, and I’m not surprised by that at all, AOL. I mean, they, they should use the whole Buffalo. Why not?

Brett: [00:31:13] yeah, I mean, they, they paid a good $10 for most of those posts.

Mike: [00:31:16] Yeah. Yeah. Well, I also know we’re not the contract that I signed, uh, said that they own the post for 90 days.

After that I could do whatever I wanted with them. I always understood that if I wanted to publish it, not that he would have ever wanted, but I probably wouldn’t publish a book of my best posts. I could do that. So technically I don’t even know if they own those posts that they’re putting up, but it’s fine by me.

Brett: [00:31:36] I didn’t read that contract.

Mike: [00:31:37] Yeah, I S I S the contract that I have says we owned it, or AOL had rights for 90 days. And then after that, it was technically back to me. So technically I own that content, but yeah, you know, I’m never going to, I would never tell AOL to take them down and I benefit more from having an Engadget byline and all that stuff, but.

Uh, but yeah, so it’s still there and I’m proud of it. I’m very proud of what we [00:32:00] did. I think TBW was a great site. I think you did great work. I think Mike Rose and Kelly and, and, uh, Steve and Victor and everybody that worked on TUAW. I think we did, we, Oh, Dave Kalo, and I’m going to miss a bunch of people, but everybody did great work.

Uh, Erica. Yeah. Even, uh, uh,

Brett: [00:32:16] even

Mike: [00:32:17] she had her. Well, she had her own tone. She very much was like doing her own thing and still doing her own thing. And she wouldn’t argue with that at all, but, uh, but, uh, but yeah, I think we, I think we did terrific work and I’m proud of it. It’s just, like I said, the world, we were a very, it was a very specific moment in time.

I think like a very, you know, we, it was, it was the time where people wanted journalism and one of those insights and mainstream journalism didn’t have the capability to give those insights and we did, and it was great. So,

Brett: [00:32:45] I don’t remember how it happened, but, uh, last month we had a, an accidental to our zoom meet up.

Mike: [00:32:54] I heard about that, uh, after the fact, I don’t know.

Brett: [00:32:57] I’ll make sure you get invited to the next one. If it

[00:33:00] Mike: [00:33:00] I don’t know what, I, I don’t know what I contribute. I don’t want to, I don’t want to invade too much cause there are thing on TUAW. So I took to you not, not because I didn’t want to, cause I really did love Apple and I really didn’t want to want to like write about it and understand them and understand the company.

And I, I do think I still have a fairly clear understanding the company, but, um, But I took TUAW because I wanted to get out of my current day job. I wanted to write full time freelance. I wanted to work from home and write full time freelance and with just WOW Insider with just Joystiq. I couldn’t do it when I got TUAW, when I was able to write at TUAW that’s when I had enough money that I could say, Oh, right, okay.

And I remember the day it’s one of the best days of my life. It was a Sunday and all my friends hung out with a bunch of friends and they were like, they all had to go back to work the next day. And I was like, I do not. I get to wake up, walk to my computer and just start writing blog posts. And, uh, I really enjoy doing that.

So yeah, I’m, I’m very proud of that, but yeah, it, it definitely, uh, even as I was leaving it, because became very tough for Tiwi, Toby and all of the AOL blogs beyond like in gadget [00:34:00] and auto blogger, where you read of the top blogs, where it became very tough for able to justify keeping those up and keeping those running in the same way that they were.

Unfortunately. Yeah.

Brett: [00:34:09] Alright. Well that brings us to the top three picks.

Mike: [00:34:13] All right. I picked three things. Your listeners, I would assume are extremely savvy and I’m a little scared of, uh, bringing them things that they’ve already heard about. But I have three things that, uh, I think either probably not new, but at least will direct your attention to, I have two of them that I think are actually interesting and actually helpful.

And I have one that is completely selfish and I just want to mention, I think is fun. So,

Brett: [00:34:35] and with that,

Mike: [00:34:36] And the first one is, uh, the AI dungeon. Have you heard of AI dungeon?

Brett: [00:34:42] have not.

Mike: [00:34:43] Alright, GPT three is a, uh, I’m not an expert at AI, but GPT three is the latest iteration of the open AI initiative, which is an open source AI that is best in class for open source.

I’m sure it does not compare to what [00:35:00] the high level companies are using, but it’s. It’s the best in class open source AI, you can come across, uh, there’s a game called AI dungeon that the newest version of it uses the GPT three engine or the DPT three, whatever the term is, the GPT three structure, whatever.

And, uh, it is. To me incredible. Now it’s a text adventure. So if you’re used to playing graphical games, it may, you know, it’s already a throwback and it is not perfect. If you play it for five, 10 minutes, you will start to see the flaws and start to see all the stuff in it. But the, basically it is an age, the guy that builds a text adventure as you play it, right.

Essentially, you can tell the game anything, and it will build out the story and tell and respond to you to whatever you want to do. So if you want to cast a spell, you can tell what spell you want to cast, and it will tell you what happens when you cast that spell. If you want to go talk to a King, if you want to go talk to a beggar, if you want to go talk to a maiden, you can do it.

And it is an [00:36:00] AI built. Text adventure that, you know, in the past, there have been some AI text adventures that have just been okay. This one is the one that has been the best I’ve seen. It is really phenomenal. And I’ve always had throughout all my work in gaming, I have this, this idea, this like golden idea that’s been sitting in my head and I’ll share it because ideas are free.

Uh, implementation is the hard part. Um, but I’ve had this idea of like a game that just responded to the way that you interacted with it. So like Skyrim. If you play the elder school of Skyrim, there’s a whole world for you to want around it and you can go do whatever you want, but the world doesn’t change.

The world’s persistent from game to game to game, you wander on the map, the cholesterol pre-written like, it’s all persistent, but I think no man’s sky has messed around with procedural generation and procedural. Things like that. There is a few where we will play a world run by an AI that will basically generate itself according to what we do.

So if you want to go pick flowers and Skyrim, the game will generate more types of things. Flowers and more types of flowers to find, if you want to fight enemies, the game will generate more types of enemies. And if you play a certain way, it’ll [00:37:00] generate enemies that counteract that play style or support that play style.

If you want to talk to people, it will generate more and more people to talk to. And more and more people that talk about. And if you want to read books, it’ll create more books like it’s an ever, you know, the AI that AI will, AI is going to change a lot of things, but it’s definitely going to change game creation and game development.

And AI dungeon is the first iteration I’ve seen at that. That really makes me excited about what AI generation looks like and what it’s going to be right now. It takes a lot of people, a lot of time to create a lot of different models for a game like Skyrim or game like the Witcher or things like that.

But in the future, You will tell an AI, this is a table and the AI will kick back 600 tables in different ways and different types of the structure and things like that. So check out AI dungeon VA. There is actually a pay level to it like that. You can pay to actually play it for a long time, but there is a demo available online and it’s well worth playing through.

And when you think back to like Eliza, right, AI started and, and interacting with computers started and then this, yeah. We’ve made huge leaps. And man, like I said, [00:38:00] yeah, he’s going to change a lot of stuff, but it’s definitely going to change gaming. And AI dungeon is the first indication of that, where it’s like, this is something’s really happening here.

So check that out.

Brett: [00:38:08] Did you play a lot of, uh, text adventures when you were a kid?

Mike: [00:38:11] Yes, many texts adventures. I wrote a text adventure on a Tia 85 calculator while I was sitting in school. I wrote I’ve written text adventures. Uh, there’s also, you know, like I said, it’s much easier to make games than ever before. There’s very easy text adventure engines to load up a I’m blanking on. On what the big ones call it.

There’s a very easy one to write in twine. Twine is a great text, text adventure editor. So if you’ve ever wanted to make your own text, adventure, go check out twine. Um, my second pick here is something that you’ve probably heard of, which is called notion. Have you used notion at all?

Brett: [00:38:44] The note taking app. Yes.

Mike: [00:38:46] I’ve been a fan of Evernote for a long time.

I’ve been a big Evernote user for a long time, but I have never once paid for Evernote. Maybe I should feel guilty about that, but I’ve used Evernote a long time without paying it. I found it earlier. I think later last year I found it for the [00:39:00] first time and I paid it. I started paying within the first two weeks.

Like it’s, it’s amazing. Yeah. I don’t think it’s perfect. I don’t think it’s the best thing we’ll see. Like I said, I think we’re heading back towards like, Voices in text or voices in articles. And I think we’re heading towards like a revolution. Like every, you know, the big picture is like web 1.0 is just hyperlinks and being able to link things web 2.0 is flash and colorful graphics and interacting with the web in different ways, web 3.0 or where I think we’re headed next is like returning to texts, but Richard texts and meaningful texts and more linked texts and linked information and notion is a great way to like link information and create linked databases.

If you are a hardcore coder or a. Or Excel user, maybe it won’t be complicated enough for you. Like it’s a little too simplified, I think, and a little bit too, you know, uh, hands on. And, and there’s definitely a lot of things I’d love them to do for it, but they just haven’t gotten around to it yet. So I think there’s definitely improvements to be made, but I, I love using notion and I love linking all the different things.

I’m working on all the different tasks I have and everything I’m trying to keep track of it in [00:40:00] my head. Like it’s really cool to like have a database. That also uses articles that also uses hyperlinks that also has some coding connected to it. And it’s really, it’s really neat. I really like a notion a lot and notion is fairly popular these days.

So I’ll also recommend, this is a two way recommendation. There’s a site called Rome research, which is another site. Have you used that one?

Brett: [00:40:22] I have. Yes. Uh, it drives me nuts.

Mike: [00:40:25] Okay. Yeah. It’s another thing where I think there’s definitely many improvements to be made, but it’s also like putting thoughts down and then automatically linking them for automatically keeping track of them as you go.

Brett: [00:40:35] I’ll, I’ll admit that it mostly drives me nuts because, uh, people cause I’m working on a note taking app and

Mike: [00:40:41] Oh,

Brett: [00:40:42] the most frequent, uh, feature requests I get are things that Rome does. But they don’t make sense in another app that wasn’t built up with the idea of, of blocks and backlinks and everything. So, [00:41:00] so I have to constantly feel those.

Uh, do you know who Ted Nelson is?

Mike: [00:41:04] I do not know

Brett: [00:41:05] He was he Tim Berners, Lee, Ted Nelson. They kind of had divergent ideas of what the internet should be. And, uh, one of the last episodes I did before the hiatus was with Ted Nelson and he, he had this idea of what the web should, should be, what hyperlinked should be and, and micro attribution’s and micro payments.

And the way things could work in a truly like a galley Terrian. Uh, internet age, you, you would enjoy it. You, you would enjoy a look at what web 3.0 could have been or could be.

Mike: [00:41:47] Sure. Yeah. I’ll check it out. I think, I mean, I think that’s it. I think we, despite all the terrible things going on, you know, illiteracy used to be a major problem in the world. It is not everyone [00:42:00] now re reads and writes and can understand each other, even if they’re just using emojis, they can at least understand each other.

And that is really a result of the internet. That’s a result of us connecting up and the internet being such a required skill that illiteracy has almost completely disappeared, which I think is awesome. Like as much as many terrible things are happening there. There are plenty of terrible things going on in the world.

Uh, illiteracy is really coming around and, and that’s what excites me about these new types of like Rome and notion. And I’m excited to see what you’re working on. Um, but like, I think we we’re, we’re moving to an age where we, we have access to all this information and we just need to make sure it’s as organized as it can possibly be.

And so the next step is not putting stuff online because we definitely have a lot of stuff online. The next step is making sure that the best way to find stuff is not necessarily Google. Like, it’s something that, you know, in some sort of easy, you know, organization or some sort of some, some, some lining things up in the right way.

And again, going back to gaming, gaming is very good at using our evolutionary cues to guide us in the ways that developers want [00:43:00] us to play the game and sort of teaching us the rules of interacting with things. I think. We can build rules to interact with text and information that are clear than what we currently have on the internet.


Brett: [00:43:10] I agree.

Mike: [00:43:11] big stuff there, but yeah, and then the last thing is very selfish. Uh, it is something that I love and I don’t know if anyone else will love it, but it is, is the show, the TV show legends of tomorrow. Uh, I love superhero stuff. I love superhero movies. I love heroes and comic books in general. And I think that the CW is doing some really wild stuff.

We talked about art and commercial. I am a big fan of like, how can you make really interesting art, commercial, and how can you, you know, make commercial, you know, how can you commercialize art without losing the core of it without losing the vision that people have for it? I think legends of tomorrow is a whack wild TV show.

It is very pop culture TV in 2020. Like how can you, you make a show? I kind of hearkened back to Buffy the vampire Slayer, which the show that I loved. And it’s like, how can you make a wild wacky sort of subversive, but also very [00:44:00] popular show on TV and legends of tomorrow is that show it’s part of the arrow verse, which is the arrow show on CW and the flash and Supergirl is part of it.

And DC is kind of combining all their TV yeah. Properties into one. But legends of tomorrow specifically is like, The first few seasons are pretty standard superhero stuff, but then by the third or fourth season, it gets way, way off the deep end. And yeah, it just, it goes insane. It’s literally insane what’s happening on the show every week and it’s because, and it’s also like very, you know, there’s a lot of.

Uh, you know, different types of community. It very, it makes a commitment to be very diverse. Uh, it makes a commitment to show like other types of sexuality, other types of points of view. Like I think it’s, I think it’s wonderful. If you don’t like superhero stuff, you will be tired of this show. You’re not interested in it.

If you, if you’re, if you don’t like dumb TV or you don’t like, you know, serialized. Buffy the vampire Slayer type stuff. You will not be into it, but if you, if you want to see what pop culture TV looks like, it’s very, it’s so subversive. Like from moment to moment, [00:45:00] it is designed to grab the biggest audience possible.

Cause it’s still network television, but also introduce these ideas that are really deep and like the, you know, the best comic books. Play with really deep social identities and re really deep social ideas. And this show is also doing that, but in a way that also includes like vampires and pirates and demons and just ton and time travel.

There’s so many wild little time travel like star Trekkie ideas in the show. It’s super fun. So that’s, it’s a little selfish, cause like I said, if you don’t like superhero shows, you will watch one episode and be like, this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. But if you enjoy the wackiness of a superhero show legends of tomorrow, it’s a great thing.

And I’m in, I’m in season five right now. And, uh, it’s. I just love it. It’s probably my favorite thing. Well, it’s probably not the best thing on TV, but it’s probably my favorite candy, uh, cotton candy type

Brett: [00:45:49] no, this looks, it looks interesting. I think I had originally scrolled past it because it looked corny.

Mike: [00:45:56] it is corny.

Brett: [00:45:57] after, after this description, I definitely [00:46:00] want to check it out.

Mike: [00:46:01] Yeah, it’s I will say the first two seasons. So if you really are. If you’re really well, here’s the thing. If you want to see whether you’re into the show or not, you can go on YouTube. I believe there is a, there’s a fight between two giant CGI creatures. I don’t know what the actual we’d have to. Maybe we can, I can send it to you and we can put a show link or something like that.

But there was a fight with two CGI creatures that became a V like a viral video for a little while. If you watch that fight and you go, this is a show I want to watch. You’ll love this show. If you watch that fight. And you’re like, I can’t believe this exists on American television. What, what dumb. Stuff is, this is a, then you probably won’t like the show at all, but I will, I’ll send you the video.

We can, you can link it out, but just watch that little like CGI fight. And if you think that that’s something you’re into, you will definitely be into legends of tomorrow. And I think it’s great too, because I want to support it. It’s it’s it is a mainstream network TV show. So it doesn’t like, need my support that much, but it, it.

It. And especially in 2020 in the Trump administration era, it is doing things [00:47:00] that, uh, that, you know, other network shows, uh, wouldn’t necessarily, you know, wouldn’t necessarily want to do for a mainstream audience. It’s really, it’s really putting yourself out there for better or worse. I really, I really like that show a lot, so,

Brett: [00:47:11] so my, uh, my TV watching. I has included this, uh, this dedicated drive that my girlfriend and I have to go back and watch star Trek from the beginning. we’re, we’re into season two of T TNG now, but it is amazing how some of those hold up over time.

Mike: [00:47:34] It is great. And it’s great. Both the characters that they built, like it’s such great character work, both in terms of acting and in terms of writing, like all those characters are so specifically drawn and have their own specific role. And it’s also great from like a, uh, a writing perspective. Like every episode really does tackle.

A theme tackle an issue. Like you can argue that it is, it’s very episodic in that the show starts and ends. It’s the same way, [00:48:00] but it, yeah. Yeah. And that’s what the show does too. And in fact, listen, tomorrow in the later seasons has a star Trek. They have a bunch of iModules to old shows and old media. Uh, and, and it does have a couple of star trickle Matias.

Cause it’s like, of course you can’t make an episodic hour-long scifi TV show on TV these days and not realize that the next generation is basically. What created that form and what set off that form? I

Brett: [00:48:23] that’s interesting because like, what I love about a lot of scifi is that it’s able to take social issues of today and abstract them in a way where people don’t have to look at them. With the same emotional attachment that they look at modern issues that they they’re facing or have opinions about. And instead of being a race thing, it’s actually like a species issue.

And how are we treating this in, in this off world situation? And, um, I haven’t seen as much of that in superhero stuff, but maybe I’m missing it.

[00:49:00] Mike: [00:48:59] I mean, definitely like Marvel movies. They’ve played around a little bit with it, but not hit it hard. Like Marvel movies are designed to make money. So they’re not, they’re not designed to say something they’re designed to make money. Uh, so yes, I think it doesn’t hit as hard as it should. X-Men is a little bit closer, but even then the X-Men movie, these are again trying to make money.

They’re not trying to like tell a story of outsiders, things like that. So, yeah, I think they’re good at heart. I mean the comic books. Did do that because in the seventies and eighties, no one cared what, I mean, comics were making enough money, but they weren’t making so much money that anyone cared what was in there.

So writers could write all kinds of fun things and all kinds of interesting stuff. And we are kind of seeing, you know, in the adaptations of those stories, we’re seeing some of that stuff come out, but you’re right. I wish that, I mean, doom patrol is a show that does kind of like deal with a lot of the things.

The boys on Amazon is another

Brett: [00:49:47] Oh, I love the boys.

Mike: [00:49:48] yeah, it’s great. It deals with some darker stuff. When some sort of that, some of the things, so there’s some of that in there, but, but yeah, the mainstream superhero stuff, I mean, it’s just designed to be, it’s designed to be something. I mean, this is another fascinating, the [00:50:00] Marvel movies are designed to be successful, not just in the U S audience, but on a worldwide scale.

And that’s why they, the story it’s melodramatic there, they’re drawn so broadly that. Whether you speak Chinese, or whether you speak English or whether you speak Taiwanese or whatever language you speak, you can recognize what’s happening. You know, that Loki is bad. You know, the captain America is good.

Like it’s very clear from the beginning. So that’s what the Marvel movies are. And I like them for that. Like I do, like, I mean, the Russo brothers are very, are brilliant in the way that they can really explain characters and really express stories very quickly and very directly to anybody you can understand.

So that there’s a, there is a certain sort of brilliance there, but you’re right. Yeah. It doesn’t really tackle the issues that we wanted to tackle necessarily. Um, uh, there was something else. I was, Oh, I was going to ask if you’ve seen devs, have you seen devs?

Brett: [00:50:46] I haven’t, I, I it’s, it’s on my, my list.

Mike: [00:50:51] Yeah.

Brett: [00:50:51] I can’t even remember what service that’s on, but

Mike: [00:50:54] It’s on FX.

It’s the director of ex Mokena and it is a limited series, although I think they’re making a [00:51:00] second season, but it’s a limited series about, uh, Nick Offerman who plays like a Mark Zuckerberg type who, uh, runs a very secret experiment at his. Not actually Facebook, but probably Facebook company basically.

And it is very and very abstract, wild, and interesting, and maybe not super successful all the way around, but, but visually really, really impressive and really wild. And also what he’s dealing with in terms of like, you know, text’s responsibility in terms of the world. And also, you know, the, the general computer idea like that.

The scifi idea and the technology ideas that they put in there. It’s really fascinating. So yeah, when I think of you and your work and all the things that you think about I dads is probably the one that I think is most, most specific. And you might, you might like a lot. So

Brett: [00:51:47] did you know, I have a show with Christina Warren now.

Mike: [00:51:50] I did, I saw that I have not heard it yet.

Brett: [00:51:53] it w well, we had 80 some episodes. It also went on hiatus at the same time. It systematic. Um, but, but it is [00:52:00] starting back up at the same time as systematic too. And we talked T V a lot, so I’m going to make sure she’s also watching devs so we can bring this up.

Mike: [00:52:09] sure. Yeah. It’s great. I mean, Nick Offerman is excellent in it. And the lead actress is also, I forget her name, unfortunately, but she is amazing. She’s she’s, she’s really incredible in that show. She had, she played a bit part in ex Mokena. She was the other, the other robot. Uh, and now I feel so bad that I forgot her name.

Cause she’s so good. But, uh, but yeah, it’s a great show. Uh, Alison pill is also in it. She’s excellent in it. Um, and, uh, it’s good. It’s really good. And it’s, it’s also, it’s, it’s well-written I think maybe there’s some issues I have with the writing, but, uh, but yeah, again, like the, the, the, the way it looks at tech companies specifically is really fascinating.

And like, what is the responsibility of these people who have billions and billions and billions of dollars? Like, what is their responsibility? And, you know, Is it, is it selfish of them to pursue their own dreams in the name of making the world [00:53:00] better or whatever else tech companies use to justify their own existence.


Brett: [00:53:03] The Noida Mizuno.

Mike: [00:53:05] yeah. So my name is Donna. She’s excellent. A really great in this show and her character takes such an Arkansas, so many turns and she still makes it believable somehow. Like she still does such a good job of like making it work, even though you’re like this there’s, there’s no way all this happens to her, but it works.

You believe it. So

Brett: [00:53:22] I was, uh, I was at a toy store last night to celebrate my, my birthday party a couple

Mike: [00:53:28] Oh, happy birthday. Oh, well, there you go.

Brett: [00:53:30] Um, and uh, they had in their curiosity shop, they had a section of candles fashioned after the, uh, the Virgin Mary candles that you see and. Like, uh, my skin grocery stores, I think it’s okay.

Catholic thing, but I associate it with Mexican grocery stores. Anyway, they had, they had a candle of Nick Offerman, uh, specifically Ron Swanson. But I, I almost bought that. I did not though. I just [00:54:00] came home with a coffee mug. Cause I know I’ll actually use that.

Mike: [00:54:02] I would say there, is there a larger theme in here about like us losing religion and needing icons? Or is it just a dumb, fun parks and rec candle that someone

Brett: [00:54:14] that’s an that’s another show. All right. Well, let’s see, people can find you@mikesram.com. Uh, two, two M’s and SRAM, anywhere else you want to mention.

Mike: [00:54:26] Uh, yeah, I’m on Twitter. I still post stuff on Twitter, uh, for some reason. I mean, I, again, I’m trying to be as good as I can, but I, I, I don’t know if my voice is really worth it there, but I, I definitely try to signal blast when I think it’s most valuable or what I think it’s most important. A lot of indignation, just like everybody else.

A lot of, a lot of just. Shock at, at what’s happening in this country and what’s going on with the world world and all that stuff. And I hope I’m, I hope I’m doing everything I can. I, I really, you know, I, a few years ago I was really shook by what happened and, and the way social media was used. [00:55:00] And I’m, I’m trying to focus locally and.

Do everything I can around me to make sure that the world that I can existed, uh, is as good as it can possibly be. So I really, I really hope that I’m doing that. So it’s not so much that I’m online, mine as much anymore, but yes, please do follow me. And you may see blog posts on my website soon. I also wanted to make sure that the first post I put up was not the post that we all used to joke about it as bloggers, which is the post where you go, definitely we’ll be writing more here soon.

And then it’s three years old.

Brett: [00:55:27] Steve Sandy was the only person that was ever true of.

Mike: [00:55:31] Yeah. Yeah. He actually did keep writing soon

Brett: [00:55:34] Five more times that day.

Mike: [00:55:36] Yeah.

Brett: [00:55:37] Yep. All right. Um, and, and it’s Mike SRAM on Twitter, right?

Mike: [00:55:42] Yup. Just make sure I’m on Twitter.

Brett: [00:55:43] Very consistent. I appreciate that. All right. Well, it was great catching up with you. Thanks for coming back. Thanks for helping inaugurate season two.

Mike: [00:55:52] Yeah, I I’m congratulations to Merlin man, but I’m also very, I’m also very flattered and I hope we have at least another couple, 100 episodes [00:56:00] from you. I always enjoy your work and I always enjoy all the things that you do. So thanks very much for

Brett: [00:56:04] Thank you. Alright. And, uh, thanks everyone for listening.

Mike: [00:56:08] Thanks very much.