Interesting Thing of the Day FAQ

What counts as interesting?
What counts as a thing?
Who is Joe Kissell?
Who is Morgen Jahnke?
Where did the idea for Interesting Thing of the Day come from?
Why is Interesting Thing of the Day no longer published daily? Isn’t that missing the whole “of-the-day” point?
Can I suggest an interesting thing?
Can I write an article for Interesting Thing of the Day?
What’s with the “Standard” and “Blog” editions?
What does RSS mean?
What if my question wasn’t answered?

The following answers were provided by Joe Kissell:

What counts as interesting?
It goes without saying that the word interesting is quite subjective. So by interesting I really mean interesting to me. Your mileage may vary. That said, I try hard to choose topics that, in my estimation, are unusual or unfamiliar to the average North American adult and seem likely to interest a wide range of people. In general, I try to select things that will still be interesting several years from now, which rules out many topics in the worlds of high tech, pop culture, and politics, interesting though they may be. I also prefer, when possible, to describe things with which I’ve had some personal experience, because I believe that gives the descriptions more depth and credibility.
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What counts as a thing?
After an exhaustive lexical search, I determined that thing was the only English word suitably broad, generic, and vague to cover the entire range of topics I wanted to present. An interesting thing might be a gadget, an event from history, a philosophical concept, a word, a place, a food, or pretty much any noun except a person. Even there, I might make an exception now and then.
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Who is Joe Kissell?
Joe Kissell is an author, editor, consultant, and software developer who lives in Paris with his wife, Morgen Jahnke (see next question). To learn more about Joe, see joekissell.com.
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Who is Morgen Jahnke?
Morgen Jahnke is a writer, editor, and traveler who lives in Paris with her husband, Joe Kissell (see previous question). She runs a blog called Spectatrix: The Passionate Introvert.
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Where did the idea for Interesting Thing of the Day come from?
It all started with the Girolle. When I first encountered this simple gadget for shaving cheese on a vacation to Switzerland in 2000, I thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. Although I was happy at the discovery, I was surprised and slightly annoyed that I had never heard of such a thing before. My next thought was that many people outside that corner of Europe were probably also unaware of the Girolle and would probably be equally interested to learn about it. I knew, too, that there must have been many other unusual things I’d come across in life that made me say, “Wow, that’s interesting!” in much the same way. All kinds of things: words, places, historical events, foods, and of course gadgets. I ought to create a Web site to share these fun tidbits with the world, I thought. I’ll call it “Interesting Thing of the Day.” Within a few minutes of my first encounter with a Girolle, the whole plan had formed in my mind. A few years later, after a fortuitous layoff, I finally had time to make it a reality.
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Why is Interesting Thing of the Day no longer published daily? Isn’t that missing the whole “of-the-day” point?
The original intention of the site was to have a brand new article each day. At various points in its history, Interesting Thing of the Day was published every single day (April 1–November 1, 2003 and June 1, 2004–May 31, 2005) or every non-holiday weekday (recycled articles from June 1, 2005 through May 30, 2006). Neither of those schedules was sustainable given the amount of time required to produce each article versus the amount of income they generated. So, in the latest incarnation of the site, I make no explicit guarantee about the frequency of article postings, though the site generally runs some new article (even if it's recycled content) three times a week. If the site’s income increases to the point where it can pay me a reasonable salary for writing more articles than that, I’ll be all to happy to publish more often (and if the income drops, I’ll most likely scale back accordingly).
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Can I suggest an interesting thing?
Absolutely! I always enjoy hearing about new interesting things. Please use this suggestion form to share your ideas. I cannot guarantee that all suggestions will be used on the site, but I will certainly read and consider them all. TIP: If you can list books, magazine articles, Web sites, or other sources of information where I can learn more about the topic you suggest, you will greatly increase the likelihood I’ll write about it.
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Can I write an article for Interesting Thing of the Day?
Sorry, we’re not accepting any outside submissions of new articles at this time.
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What’s with the “Standard” and “Blog” editions?
The Standard edition of ITotD puts a single article on each page; the Blog (or weblog) edition lists the first couple of paragraphs of all the current month’s articles in reverse chronological order. (When viewing the Blog edition, if you follow a link to read an entire article, it will take you back to the Standard edition.) Either way, the content is the same, but some people prefer the blog format. So is ITotD a blog, or isn’t it? It was not originally designed as a blog, and though it has some blog-like features (dated, titled, periodic postings), it is also very un-blog-like in some ways (longer articles than a typical blog, extensive additional resources, and no focus on punditry or the latest news). Feel free to think of it however you like.
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What does RSS mean?
Depending on the source you consult, RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” “RDF Site Summary,”, “Rich Site Summary,” or nothing at all. It's a way of representing the most important pieces of information from a Web site in such a way that desktop applications (or other Web sites) called aggregators can collect and display them dynamically. ITotD offers an RSS feed so that people using aggregators have convenient access to our content. There are several competing standards, but most modern RSS aggregators support them all. And because our main feed now comes via Google's FeedBurner service, the content should automatically be modified to support whatever news reader you use.
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What if my question wasn’t answered?
Feel free to ask using this form.
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