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5 Minutes on The Verge: John Gruber

5 Minutes on The Verge: John Gruber

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John Gruber is a man that really needs no introduction. As the regularly-snarky voice behind Daring Fireball and one of the foremost experts on all things Apple, he's carved out a mini-empire for himself on the internet (and taken his fair share of heat as a result).

He spared a few moments of his time to answer some of our pressing questions on life, technology, and a handful of items in between. The exchange is below, and we think you'll enjoy it.

What are you doing right now?

Literally? I just got home after taking my second-grade son trick-or-treating. (He was Han Solo.)

What's most exciting to you about technology at this moment?

The intersection of exquisitely-crafted native apps with ubiquitous networking and cloud-backed storage. Think about an app like Instagram. It's totally about the native experience -- smooth scrolling, fast access to the camera, instantly-applied image filters. But it would be completely uninteresting if not for its server-backed social networking. Used to be that native apps felt best but anchored your data to the device, and web apps running in a browser offered you ubiquitous access to your data but had a crummy front-end experience. We're getting to a point now where you don't have to compromise.

What's an app that you're in love with right now?

I'll say Tweetbot.

I use Twitter more than anything else on my iPhone. I can (and of course do) read email on my phone, but as I go through new messages on the phone I always find myself flagging messages to come back to when I'm back at my desk, because dealing with them seems like too much to do on the phone. Whereas Tweets are the perfect size to be digested on a small screen.

I find a ton of the material I link to on DF via Twitter, and for many months now, Tweetbot has been my go-to client. It's fast and it integrates with a slew of other services. And the app has a lot of personality.

What is your favorite movie?

Just one? Tough. Come back in a week and I'll probably give you a different answer, depending on my mood, but tonight I'll go with 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What science fiction technology would you most like to see become reality?

I suppose those heal-anything-wrong-with-the-patient devices Dr. Crusher had on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Have you ever edited a Wikipedia entry? Have you ever edited your own Wikipedia entry?

I was going to say "no" to both of these, because I don't recall having ever done so, but I checked, and it ends up I do have an account there, and I've edited two pages, including my own.

In March 2006 I edited my Wikipedia entry to change the word "blog" to "weblog."

In August 2007 I edited the entry for "cheesesteak" to correct the address of (the excellent) Lorenzo's Pizza on South Street, here in Philadelphia.

Hard to believe I forgot about these profound contributions.

Is the current chaos in the economy and the global political landscape a sign that we're in decline as a civilization?


Who is your favorite person on Twitter?

My wife, Amy (@amyjane). She can be funny.

Who is your least favorite person on Twitter?

There are a lot of people I dislike in the world. I mean, a lot. I don't follow any of them on Twitter.

What was your first laptop?

It was a PowerBook G3 of some sort, circa 2001 or so, but I actually don't recall the exact model. I used the hell out of that thing.

Do you believe aliens have visited Earth?


If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I'd like to say Batman's indomitable will, but I worry that I'm lazy enough to just want Green Lantern's ring.

What's missing in technology that nobody seems to be working on?

Car accidents kill so many of us; we're not going to give up cars, so it seems like we ought to make them harder to crash. Did you see those reports about a sudden decrease in car accidents in Saudi Arabia during the BlackBerry messaging outage last month? That's terrifying, to me. I'm not sure this counts as "no one seems to be working on it" though, because Google's got those self-driving cars.

So let me pick another one, more practical: a modern-day HyperCard. Something that allows anyone who can just kinda-sorta program to make their own apps. We've regressed in this way from 20 years ago. 20 years ago most Mac users could build their own software with HyperCard -- rudimentary stuff, often, but nothing is more satisfying than scratching your own itch.

What do you think will define the next wave in technology?

Ubiquity. Accessing your data, your stuff, from anywhere, using a wide variety of devices, software, and interfaces -- GUI at the desk, touch on the couch, voice on the go. "The cloud" is effectively an augmentation of our brains' memories.