Elite Blogger: Rendezvous With Mark Wilson

Gadgets are like pets for geeks and the argument is shielded by the competent geeks and divas residing amongst EliteBloggers. Whilst yesterday we had with us Gina Hughes from TechieDiva ruling the face of our series and today we are in high spirit with another proficient geek. Mark Wilson, associate editor, Gizmodo made an entry into blogosphere in 2006 with a video shoot at E3 for Kotaku followed by running a This Day in Gaming series at Kotaku and “Frankenreviews” over at Gizmodo. During all this time, Mark was engaged in a day job in commercial production. Later in July 2007, he took a call to be a full-time blogger writing half days for Giz and Kotaku. And gone May onwards, he transitioned full time with just Gizmodo.

Lately seen occupied with WWDC to populate us with updates on iPhone 3G, Mark managed to devote time for EliteChoice readers and fellow bloggers’ with his interesting pool of responses. The geek in him is all set to welcome a day when robots would be efficient enough to blog. This is what he has to say: And as long as I have a robot that buys my food and pays my rent, that’s just fine with me

Here is Mark, all set to give vent to his geeky juices so don’t think, just roll over to know more about this tech spy:

Introduce yourself to my readers and take us to the flow of your day at work.
Hey, I’m Mark Wilson, Associate Editor at Gizmodo. I’ve taken a bit of a tour at Gawker Media, having written for about two years at various capacities for both Gizmodo and Kotaku (tech and video games). Now I’ve settled in to a fairly typical routine. I roll out of bed around 6:45 and go right to work on Giz.

I catch up on any news I’ve missed while sleeping before impatiently refreshing my RSS for the next 8 hours. Usually, I write until around 3:00 without any major breaks. Then I’ll take care of any outstanding emails and keep a general eye on my posts for the next half hour or so. Depending on my energy level from there, I’ll make myself get outside for a run. While I don’t formally work for the rest of the day, I’ll definitely check in on the site through the evening or work on various features.

When did you sense an inclination towards blogging? Are you satisfied with the functionality of the blogging eco-system or think there is a need for revamp?
Before I wrote for Gizmodo, I read them incessantly. I found myself linking friends on their stories daily along with my own little quips. After a while it was pretty obvious that I was, to some small extent, blogging already.

Is it there a need for a revamp? I’m not sure. The constant, linear updates of a blog are very addicting to read. And the short to medium length articles are perfect for sneaking a 5-minute break from whatever office jobs our readers are supposed to be doing. That’s not to say things won’t continue to evolve but blogs have certainly stuck a chord with what/how the general populace is looking to read at the time being.

Mark WilsonWhat is your take on the growing nature of concept-based products? Considering the advancement in technology, don’t you think these products would be of no relevance by the time they become functional, if ever?
Concepts keep us all excited about the industry. Think about Star Wars better still think about the works of Jules Verne or Isaac Asimov. These writers predicted all sorts of things we’re seeing happening already. And in some ways, they surely shaped the imaginations of those who made today possible.

Darren Rowse from Problogger has talked about five emerging trends in blogging. Do you agree with him or feel the need to update the list?

I’m really not a blog design expert. I consider myself a writer who happens to write on a blog. But I will say that Multiple Author Blogs and Blogs Converging With Other Types Of Sites aren’t what I’d call emerging trends but things that have been around for years now.

Tell us about your must-read’ or favorites blogs?
Obviously all the big tech blogs are on that list. But I enjoy the micro niche content in my spare time stuff like NadShot.com. I mean, here’s a blog totally devoted to illustrations of comic book characters getting hit in the nuts. Brilliant! I have a penchant for foodie blogs as well.

What all innovations in the tech industry have influenced you lately? What is the extreme of technology that you can figure put in your wildest thoughts?
Multi-touch and high speed (3G+) wireless access both have me pretty excited right now. Multi-touch is really the biggest innovation we’ve had in UI since the mouse. As for high-speed tech with areas like the 900Mhz spectrum, how can a constant connection to the world’s knowledge not be exciting? But that’s just a small chunk of it

I’m fascinated by what we’re doing with low-power tech, like LEDs, which keep getting brighter every year. There are plenty of people working on paintable displays. Think about it – you paint your living room and anything can be the TV. And e-ink this list is getting long. I guess that’s why I write about gadgets.

As for the ultimate technology, who isn’t fascinated by the potential of nanobots repairing their bodies, or beaming images straight to the optic nerves in their brains?

Besides content generation, networking comes as a part and parcel of a blogging. What is Gizmodo or Mark doing at that front to maintain the frequent visits of its savvy readers?

We have one staffer who’s in charge of our feature content, Wilson Rothman. He does amazing networking for our site, keeping us in the loop with major companies and their newest products. That means he sends emails, makes phone calls and takes a lot of meetings to check out new gear even if he can’t write about it, etc.

I find it’s good to send an email a day beyond my normal social network. Sometimes I email a company’s PR team for info on a product, and sometimes I just email another writer as a hat tip to their work. Wow, I just made myself sound so organized. I’m really not. I just try to follow up with people on the things that interest me. It makes networking a whole lot more tangible and reasonable.

Japan seems to breed robots in huge numbers. Can you imagine a day when robots are efficient enough to substitute humans for all major tasks? Would you depute one to blog for you?
I think it’s pretty undeniable that robots will one day help us with just about everything we can imagine (before overthrowing us, eating our brains, etc). But when Asimo fell, it really put things in perspective for me seriously. Here’s the world’s most fawned-upon robot and it falls down staged stairs during a simple demonstration. That’s not to say Honda had failed with the technology; it just showed how freaking hard that bipedal robots are to make.
Sure, robots will be able to blog one day. And as long as I have a robot that buys my food and pays my rent, that’s just fine with me.

How was your experience while writing This Day in Gaming at Kotaku doing Frankenreviews on Gizmodo?
This Day in Gaming (TDIG) was even more challenging than I had imagined. Since it was a daily retrospective on video games (a sort of if today is your birthday horoscope with factual content), it took weeks of nonstop work to develop my game history database (incomplete as it may have been) and lots of additional source checking each day on top of that. That said, TDIG did seem to amass a loyal following. And it did so with the type of original, daily content that I bet could drive growth in a smaller blog.

Frankenreviews started on Gizmodo where we experimented with various new takes on the standard review roundup. We tried all sorts of things to combine these voices into one big review. I was really proud of the work from a technical standpoint, but it was a complicated writing exercise that never really gelled for me or the readers. On Kotaku, we started with a more simplistic list of quotes that worked well from the start. I learned so much about review style after closely reading so many reviews that I eventually wrote an editorial on the topic, Video Game Reviews Are Broken, Please Fix. It was generally well received, and it was a nice way to gauge what I had learned by writing so many Frankenreviews. Anyone can paste a bunch of quotes in succession. Hopefully by putting as much thought and care into this as possible, I’ve been able to construct review roundups better than the average monkey with a typewriter.

Kotaku is a place for Gamers while Gizmodo focuses upon gadgets and technology. What made you switch from Kotaku to Gizmodo?
I’d have loved to continue writing for both blogs indefinitely, but the transition was a depressingly logistical one. Both Giz and Kotaku demand a lot of trade show attendance. If you figure that each site demands 5 trips a year (which might be an underestimate) that means I’m on the road at some point every month and away from one of the two sites. This meant that I was able to double-dip a plane ticket to Germany for back-to-back video game and tech conferences, but it also meant that someone inevitably was covering for me somewhere.

Provide us with your five favorite posts you have written to date.
How my wife castrated my DVD collection
Video Game Reviews Are Broken, Please Fix
Halo3, The Ride, Hands-on
How To Launch an Apple Product in 5 Easy Steps?
Excuse Box: No Reason To Tell The Truth

Introduce us to your three gadgetry possessions that you can’t afford to miss while stepping out.
iPod nano, MacBooke Pro, Samsung A900

Which cell phone do you have right now and what do you love/hate about it?
I have a Samsung A900. It was the phone that Sprint acquired to counter the RAZR (so yeah, I’m about up with my current contract). I love that it’s durable and thin. I hate that it’s not a smartphone and is generally bad at text messaging/email/staying on/etc.

What upcoming gadget you want to possess and are impatient about?
A 3G iPhone would make me very happy as long as it doesn’t get any thicker. I really like to have a pocketable phone. (Note: I attended WWDC in the middle of this interview and it’s here now!)

You’re stranded on a desert island: What gadget do you bring?
A satellite telephone, so I can get the hell off after a few months of relaxation.

How would you like to be known as:
Gadget Guru:
Product Reviewer:

Umm entertaining and knowledgeable.

Quick bites:
Biggest blogging mistake you did: It’s all repressed at the end of a day.
If asked to post only on one blog (not Gizmodo or Kotaku), which one would that be? Boing Boing, if they’d have me
If asked to post only on one blog (not Gizmodo or Kotaku), which one would that be? Boing Boing, if they’d have me
Advice you would have given yourself five years ago? It never hurts to ask.
If not a blogger, then A failing screenwriter or poor short story author.
Life without Internet: Not so bad, just inconvenient.
Count of professions you have been into: 3
First gadget you kept your fingers upon: Nintendo Entertainment System
One thing you hate about Gizmodo: Sometimes it feels like Menudo.

Tell us some weird things about you that most of the people don’t know.
Hmm, I met my wife in high school. I guess that’s kind of weird, but it’s always felt pretty normal to me.

If asked for giving three tips to a greenhorn blogger, what would that be?
1. Keep writing (because that’s what makes you better at writing).
2. Writing without first person fallbacks will give you more authority.
3. Read something that’s not from a blog/online at lease once a day.

Is it good to have an individual identity of a blog or run it as a part of a blogging network?

I’ve actually never started a blog even a personal one. Gizmodo obviously has a lot of sister sites through Gawker, and it works for us. Aside from convenient cross-site promotion of big events, our head editors have other head editors to consult as needed.
Then again, affiliation with other sites that aren’t very good could hurt a perfectly good site’s reputation. Luckily for Giz, our sister sites set a high standard.

Do you think blogs are or can be as popular as NYTimes, Time, NewsWeek are?
Blogs are inherently on niche topics and this question weighs them against general news publications that’s a bit tough to compare by nature. I will say that the fact that all three of those publications have blogs is a testament to the format.

Imagine a day when you are forced to stay away from blogging and gadgets. How would you cope with it?
I did that for a week in the Virgin Islands a few months back. And I didn’t miss it. Then again, I got to sit on the beach all day where nothing was expected of me. To be productive in the current labor force, you need things like Blackberries just to keep up. And the more you like your gear, the more pleasant a day at work will be.

Where do you see the Blogosphere in the future?
Written by robots.

Give us your views on EliteChoice.
I like anyone who likes me.

Mark WilsonWhom would you recommend as my next EliteBlogger and Why?
Grab Luke Plunkett or Brian Ashcraft from Kotaku. They work internationally and on a graveyard shift but still manage to draw an audience.

You can ask me one question.
One question in trade for like 50?? I’m not so sure that’s a fair deal!
Zola: But I believe everything is fair in love, war and blogging. Kidding! Mark, I really do respect the time you have devoted in penning down the interesting responses.

And here i personally thank Mark for managing and meeting deadline besides being occupied with WWDC. Mark, we here at EliteChoice love you and your work!
Mark Wilson

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