An interview with bookofjoe.com, the blog I’d take to a desert island

An interview with bookofjoe.com, the blog I’d take to a desert island: I gave up trying to participate in Steve Rubel’s “my top ten blogs” meme (Technorati tag: 10blogs). After a few attempts, I couldn’t even begin to whittle it down to ten. Besides, I have different types of blogs I follow: business, Nashville, media.

However, while I couldn’t come up with a top ten list, I quickly determined what the top one blog I’d take to a desert island is: bookofjoe.com from the self-defined “world’s only blogging anesthesiologist.” I saw bookofjoe referenced about a month ago and clicked through to it and have been in awe ever since. Throughout the day and evening, bookofjoe is a steady stream of wit and weirdness. I don’t know quite how to describe the topics covered, but Joe finds some of the strangest and coolest products around — not gadgets and tech toys, but handy or quirky items. He finds things to blog that make kottke, boing-boing and all the gadget and cool-hunting bloggers look like posers (although they made the long list when trying to come up with my favorites). I know that a post from bookofjoe in my newsreader is going to give me a moment’s break from whatever’s stressing me. And Joe delivers throughout the day.

When I decided to make this post about bookofjoe, I sent him an email asking some questions regarding his blog. He promptly responded and I discovered I have a nice Q&A that some of Joe’s other fans may find interesting.

Here it is:

Rex: Why do you blog anonymously? You are, I assume from your cryptic “about page,” an anesthesiologist (the world’s only blogging one) living in Charlottesville, Virginia. Why not fill in the rest of the blanks?

Joe: I’m not anonymous, really: anyone who wishes can find my name and street address and phone number without breaking a sweat. I just don’t advertise them. But, for example, occasionally, on short notice I have a call-in session: I put up my phone number in a post and then take calls for a specified period of time. I’d say that’s a heckuva lot less anonymous than 99+% of bloggers.

Rex: How do you find the time to blog at such a fire hose pace?

Joe: I give anesthesia in the OR for cash money one week every three months. That leaves 12 of 13 free.

Rex: The question about which I’m most curious is this: Where do you find all that stuff you blog about? I’m assuming you are finding this stuff yourself as I rarely see you credit another blogger. Finding all those products would set you apart from other gadget or “cool hunting” bloggers. You also blog a lot about products you actually own or have tried — are marketers beginning to send you stuff?

Joe: My sources are:

a. Newspapers. I subscribe to 6 (Washington Post, New York Times, Financial Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Charlottesville Daily Progress) and read each cover to cover daily.

b. Magazines. I subscribe to the Economist, Sports Illustrated, Scientific American, New Yorker, Wired, Cabinet, Giant Robot and Zembla and read cover to cover as they arrive.

c. Books. I read perhaps 2-3 books a week, about half nonfiction.

d. Catalogs. I get 10-15 every week: they are the source of my more weird and wonderful posts. Yes, I find everything myself. I do not read other blogs, so never find stuff in them. I try to feature things you won’t find anywhere else online.

e. Readers and fans. About one post in 10-15 comes from something a reader submits. I get perhaps 25 suggestions a week and use maybe 2 or 3.

f. Random stuff I see or hear about in the real world or online.

I would sum up the sources of bookofjoe as follows:

50% – newspapers
25% – catalogs
5% – magazines
5% – books
5% – readers’ suggestions/submissions
10% – random stuff

Hey, it adds up to 100%!

I like to blog about stuff I use, true. Occasionally someone will offer me something after I write about them and I always accept. So far I’ve received: one jar of wasabi powder; one Wheel of Death amusement card; a box of hard-to-find-in-Charlottesville candy like piña colada Almond Joy; one Mad Dog Watches T-shirt.

I would never write about something because someone asked me to, though. Many have tried this route. I always try to credit sources: look at the last line of many of my posts, which have a bracket and source credit and link whenever possible. Any time I take something from a published source it is always credited along with a direct link when possible.

I do note that I am ripped off routinely by others, even some very well-known blogs and websites, which use stuff that could only have come from me, but without attribution. Hey, I don’t have time to bother dealing with such things.

Rex: Obvious question from people who read my blog will be this: There are no ads and no apparent affiliate store relationships. You don’t seem to be offering consulting or other types of professional services related to the focus of your blog. So is there a “business model” related to your blog, or is your blog an expression of your passion for discovering cool stuff? Or what?

Joe: No ads and no links appear because they cause clutter. No affiliate store relationships, now or ever. I like clean, clear expression and design and I like the way my blog looks.

Also, it’s always said that the secret to success in the blogosphere and the greater internet is to link to others and vice versa. I have always liked doing the opposite, so I decided to test this theory. So far the absence of outbound links (there were 671 inbound links from 411 sources last time I looked at technorati [this morning] does not seem to have proved this theory correct.

Also, any income from ads would not change my life: if it’s not enough to do that then it’s not enough. There is no business model that I can think of related to bookofjoe, however: I fully expect that by 2010 I will be seeing a significant amount of income from whatever bookofjoe has morphed onto by then.

As you may have noticed, I have stated from the outset here that bookofjoe – the blog — is merely a placeholder for bookofjoeTV. I believe that now even more strongly than when I first mentioned it 2+ years ago. I do bookofjoe because it’s the single most fun I’ve ever done on a consistent daily basis, from the moment I get up until I lay me down to sleep. I think it shows. I like to surprise myself and others, such that I can honestly say I haven’t a clue what might appear tomorrow.

I’ll keep watching to find out what Joe discovers.