Making the Book Talismanic: An Interview with Robert Ansell

Robert Ansell is the Director of Fulgur Press, which has published the work of esoteric artists for 20 years.

Design Thinking for Social Good: An Interview with David Kelley

David Kelley is the founder of IDEO and the Stanford I asked him about design, process and people—and what it takes to be good at all three.

The Butterflies of India: An interview with Isaac Kehimkar

Isaac Kehimkar is an avid naturalist and the author of The Book of Indian Butterflies Isaac's photostream of Indian Butterflies is at Flickr.

Avi Solomon: What early influences drew you to the study of nature?

Isaac Kehimkar: I grew up in Deonar, a suburb of Mumbai. It was a time when black and white television had just started in India with only one channel and no video games in sight. But Nature offered so many options. Deonar was still green and water in the streams was sparkling clean. The Monsoons were my season and catching fish and crabs with local Koli and Agri boys in the rice fields was my favorite pastime. That's the time I even dared (rather foolishly) to catch snakes too! With the rains gone and rice harvested, cricket pitches were soon paved in the rice fields and we played cricket till the rains came again. Read the rest

Making Shelter Simple: An Interview with Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn is the editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications. His latest book is Tiny Homes: Scaling Back in the 21st Century.

Avi Solomon: What do you see in your childhood that pointed you onto the path that your life took?

Lloyd Kahn: When I was a kid I had a little workbench with holes in it, and the holes were square or round or triangular. And you had to pick the right little piece of wood block and hammer it in with a little wooden hammer. And so I'd hammer with it, put the round dowel into the round hole, and hammer it through. And then maybe the most formative thing was when I was twelve - I helped my dad build a house. It had a concrete slab floor, and concrete block walls. And my job was shoveling sand and gravel and cement into the concrete mixer for quite a while. We'd go up there and work on weekends. One day we got the walls all finished, and we were putting a roof on the carport, and I got to go up on the roof. They gave me a canvas carpenter's belt, a hammer and nails, and I got to nail down the 1" sheeting. And I still remember that, kneeling on the roof nailing, the smell of wood on a sunny day. And then I worked as a carpenter when I was in college, on the docks. I just always loved doing stuff with my hands. Read the rest

Such a Long Journey - An Interview with Kevin Kelly

Photo: Michelle Gray

Kevin Kelly is a senior maverick for Wired magazine. Avi interviewed Kevin at his home in Pacifica.

Read the rest

Game Design with Kids: An Interview with Charley Miller

Charley Miller is a game designer and producer based in New York City.

Avi Solomon: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Charley Miller: My name is Charley, I'm from Kentucky and I'm a game designer based in New York City. I split my time between personal game projects, teaching game design, and working with clients. The client work is split between game design and helping non-gaming projects think through their user experience. I think of myself as an ambassador of games right now because so many people want to gamify their product but most are doing it wrong by just adding static incentives. I'm currently working with a team on an iPhone location and social game about spreading viruses in the real world called Outbreaker—not as scary as it sounds—that plays with the idea of what it means to go viral. I'm also hoping to release games about running for President and walking the streets of NYC this year. Read the rest

The Grammar of Happiness: An Interview with Daniel Everett

Daniel L. Everett is Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University. He is the author of Language: The Cultural Tool and the subject of the documentary A Grammar of Happiness.

Avi Solomon: Were there any formative experiences in your childhood that shaped your career?

Dan Everett: Well, by far the most important experience in my childhood was the death of my mother when I was eleven. She was twenty-nine. That changed my life, and it taught me that life is extremely fragile. And I knew from that point on that I was going to die and never feared dying. Because I felt that if my mother had died, I certainly didn't have any fear of dying. Read the rest

The Botany of Bible Lands: An Interview with Prof. Avinoam Danin

Avinoam Danin is Professor Emeritus of Botany in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He curates Flora of Israel Online. His latest book is Botany of the Shroud: The Story of Floral Images on the Shroud of Turin.

Avi Solomon: What first sparked your lifelong fascination with botany?

Avinoam Danin: My parents told me that when I was 3 years old I always said "Look father, I found a flower". My grandparents gave me the book "Analytical Flora of Palestine" on my 13 birthday - I checked off every plant I determined in the book's index of plant names.

Avi: How did you get to know the flora of Israel so intimately? Read the rest

Filmmaking in Bollywood's Shadow: An Interview with Jaideep Varma

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Jaideep Varma is an author, filmmaker and professional cricket analyst working in India. Avi Solomon

Tell us a bit about yourself. Jaideep Varma

I was in advertising for 12 years as a copywriter, then gave it up in 2000 to be a full-time writer. I published a novel, Local, in 2005. I directed a feature film, Hulla, which was released in 2008, and a full-length documentary feature film called Leaving Home - the Life & Music of Indian Ocean, which was released in 2010 and won the National Film Award this year. I also, purely accidentally, invented a statistical system in cricket called Impact Index, which is what I am running and co-developing full-time currently. Read the rest

Robert Sapolsky on Stress: An Interview

Prof. Robert Sapolsky on Coping with Stress (Audio link) Photo Courtesy of Indiana University

Robert Sapolsky is a Professor of Biological Sciences and Neurology at Stanford University. He is the author of A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons. Avi Solomon:

What event or person influenced your decision to study Primatology? Robert Sapolsky:

Reading The Year of the Gorilla, by George Schaller, when I was in middle school. Schaller was the first person to do field work with gorillas (long before Dian Fossey). I had a vague sense of wanting to do primatology before that (sufficiently so to be reading the book), but that book cemented it. Read the rest

Eyal Ophir on the Science of Multitasking

Photo: Eyal Ophir with his daughter Sahar, courtesy of the subject.

Eyal Ophir was primary researcher on the pioneering Stanford Multitasking study. He now designs information interfaces for the browser RockMelt. Avi Solomon

How did you get to studying multitasking at Stanford? Eyal Ophir

While I was at Stanford, Cliff Nass (my advisor, and a global expert on human-computer interaction) introduced me to some great ethnographic work done by Ulla Foehr and Donald Roberts at the Dept. of Communication looking at media consumption among youth. They saw that young people were reporting more media-use hours than actual hours, and figured out these same young people must be consuming multiple streams of media simultaneously in order to fit it all in. This is where I was introduced to the concept of Media Multitasking. I came from a cognitive psychology background, and I was inspired by Anthony Wagner's work on memory and cognitive control (Anthony was my reference for all things cognitive, and ended up being the third author on the paper). So for me, the interesting question was simply how these kids are managing to process and control so much information all at once. Read the rest

Interview with a Stoic: William O. Stephens

William O. Stephens is Professor of Philosophy and of Classical & Near Eastern Studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He plays tennis and chess, is a vegetarian, and tries to be Stoic about being a big Chicago Cubs fan. Read the rest

Interview with a Maker: Jack Zylkin, USB Typewriter Guy

Jack Zylkin created the USB Typewriter. I interviewed him about his creation, the response he's received, and why people are so interested in "the muggle magic of gears and pulleys and solenoids." Read the rest

An interview with David Eagleman, neuroscientist

Photo: Poptech

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and author. Avi Solomon

What fascinates you about the nature of time? David Eagleman

We all go through life assuming that time is an external river that flows past us. But experiments in my laboratory over the past decade have shown that this is not precisely the case. Time is an active construction of the brain. We can set up simple experiments to make you believe that a flashed image lasted longer or shorter than it actually did, or that a burst of light happened before you pressed a button (even though you actually caused it with the button), or that a sound is beeping at a faster or slower rate than it actually is, and so on. Time is a rubbery thing. Read the rest

An interview with William Powers, author of Hamlet's Blackberry

Photo: Anne Ghory-Goodman

William Powers is the author of Hamlet’s BlackBerry. Avi Solomon

First of all, I understand why you're having all these interviews because I think you've really touched on a sensitive issue for a lot of people, of being connected all the time. William Powers

I've realized that it is sensitive, Avi, but I think we're only at the beginning of people recognizing it. People like you are the cutting edge of something and I'm not sure what it is, but there's some kind of dawning realization happening out there. It's fascinating to see it kind of blossom and I think that it's really just the start of something actually quite wonderful because I think we're going to wind up being a lot smarter about these digital tools. Read the rest

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