Q&A with Dan - April 22, 2008

admin's picture

Today, April 22, Dan will be checking in and out of the discussions area. If you'd like to ask him something, or comment on anything, pop in, and post your entry. He'll make sure to get back to you!

Zibbie's picture

Good morning! I wanted to

Good morning! I wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying the program. It is such a fantastic opportunity to gain insight into the creative process.

Now that you have four webisodes under your belts, how are you feeling about how Titlepage is taking form and evolving? It must be a tremendous learning experience even from each episode to the next. How are you enjoying your role as moderator?

Thanks for the insightful discussions!

Michael Croy's picture

Hello Dan, I'll always be

Hello Dan,

I'll always be in debt to Ruth Liebman for introducing us duing our tenure together at Random House. I am very pleased to see you facilitate this program and these discussions. I love the conversations and the focused nature of what you are providing to readers interested in learning more about authors, the nature of writing and the motivations behind their narratives.

What a dream job you've created! Congratulations on the program - count me in as a fan and regular viewer.

Cheers! Michael Croy

PJ's picture

Hi, Dan. I'm fairly new to

Hi, Dan. I'm fairly new to this bleeding ground between new media and old (and I am probably in that category of who somewhat fear that the speed of the internet correlates to the depth of thought), so would be interested to hear your thoughts on the question of artistic and intellectual quality in the web spheres. Certainly, sites like this as well as many others show whole new kinds of intellectual and creative opportunities not available in print and other traditional media, so that seems clear. But in terms of literature or narrative proper, does the need and pressure to respond deprive us of reflection? Does it make it easier for conversation to be incorporated into a corporate agenda (after all, we are all sitting here typing on whatever product was meant to go out of date within, oh, say, 6 months!), more than the control over publishing by big publishing houses in the past?

Was wondering what you might think about that.

Thanks! Paul

Dan's picture

Dear Zibbie, Thanks for

Dear Zibbie,

Thanks for the kind words. We always appreciate and listen to any response to Titlepage, and we're very pleased to know that people are enjoying the program.
Hmmm. "Webisodes"--the word all by itself is a learning experience for me. I feel extremely proud of what we've done so far, but I know that the evolution of the program will continue. I've gained enormous new respect for professional moderators and interviewers in general--people like Tim Russert, Charlie Rose, Oprah, Scott Simon, etc.--because I now understand how many different kinds of skills need to be mastered in order to do a good job. All the way from not muttering "uh-huh" while someone else is talking, to maintaining eye contact like some sort of Svengali, to remembering to ask what I meant to ask, to spontaneously abandoning what I meant to ask because the conversation has taken an unexpected and interesting turn, to trying to speak directly to a camera as if it itself were actually listening and had to be engaged, to being able to watch my own performance critically. I'm generally very pleased with the progress we've made--I think titlepage will get better and better, especially as I learn to be less self-conscious.
How am I enjoying the project and the work I'm doing as moderator? Very much. It's exhilarating when a discussion takes off and we all forget we're doing a "show." We've been tremendously gratified by the alacrity of many important and established and/or brilliant new writters to be on the program. I've met many before, but many are new to me, and getting to know them is a pleasure, so far without exception. The project also makes me feel that all my work as an editor and writer before now has been in some ways naturally leading to this role. It *is* very demanding but entirely worth it.

Dan's picture

Hi, Michael Croy--thanks so

Hi, Michael Croy--thanks so much for the compliment, and it's good to run into you again, even here in cyberspace. I hope Titlepage continues to be worthy of your expert attention!
As to Paul's question: It's an extremely serious one and one that I've given a lot of thought to. "Bleeding ground" sounds like Gettysburg, and it seems clear that there *is* some kind of conflict and competetion between older, print media and the Internet. I hope that Titlepage may help in a general effort to set a standard for quality, depth, and interest online, and I hope that we as a species are not losing, to the world of instant communication, the kind of deliberative, reflective, and complex thinking and analysis that have led to the invention of this new technology itself. But like Paul, I do worry about it, especially when I consider the lack of thoroughness which characterizes the curricula of so many secondary schools and colleges and universities these days. Perhaps children and adolescents should have computer time limited as they grow up--just as many parents regulate television time. I'm sure some are already doing that--it's a good idea, I believe, especially if the time created is used for thoughtfulness.

Paul's picture

Thanks for the response,

Thanks for the response, Dan. I agree with you on the user side, although I also think the corporate side needs to be highlighted. The digital world, even the 'free exchange" arenas like this, are naturally always already incorporated into private sphere. In my area, this means some serious debates over questions of image copyright (and attendant lawsuits) that just didn't exist, or at least not to anything like the same degree, earlier.

In this climate, how does one preserve not the image of free debate but its actual substance? i think your response to Zibbie above gets to that a little in that moment you describe of (unalienated!?) free discussion where you forget about the formal strictures. But, is this the freedom that Benjamin considered with the audience before the film in his essay on the work of art, or is the digital realm inherently ideological by masking its controls and interests with the cloak of "open access"?

Oh, and forgive my mixing of clothing metaphors!

JD Santibáñez's picture

I love your program.

I love your program. Although it is impossible to get the books you talk about on the show (unless I buy them trough Amazon and pay extra to get them into my country —Ecuador, South America), I like the conversation you have with the authors. As a writer myself I can appreciate this kind of show.

I would love to see a show with genre writers: horror, science fiction, noir fiction, suspense and thrillers. Thanks for this gift you are giving us.

God bless,


Dan's picture

Dear JD, If Anyone blesses

Dear JD, If Anyone blesses anyone, it should be you, for such an encouraging note. We hope to discuss every category of book that is of real quality--we've already talked about a couple of crime books (The Finder, by Colin Harrison, and Lush Life, by Richard Price)--and we're most interested in science fiction and graphic novels and accomplished horror writing (in the tradition of such writers as Poe and Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker) . So thanks for the kind words, and I hope we continue to earn your enthusiasm.
Now, as to your follow-up, Paul: This is a *huge* subject, legally, and philosophically and historically--and morally. It's my understanding that Intellectual Property is the most popular specialty in law school right now, because it's in such play, globally, and such danger. But you're really addressing even larger matters--the apparently growing commodification of art and ideas which may be lurking like a lamprey below the Internet, and the possibly illusory nature of the Net's "freedom" and freeness. This fascinates me, though much as I'd love to go into it more, I'm not sure this is the venue to do so. Suffice it to say, for now, that if everything is commodified, then, essentially, nothing is worth anything more than money. I'm pretty sure we'll never reach that endpoint, and let's hope that literature and art help to achieve more and more of the balance of priorities we must have as a species.