Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Fanmail Q & A: Coolness

It's been a while since I answered an e-mail from a reader. How about we do that?

Pat,

I just wanted to say I've loved The Name of the Wind for over a year now, but I just recently found your website. Your blog has kept me laughing for almost two solid weeks as I go back and read the archives. That's something I've never done with a blog before.

Even better, your fundraiser was seriously amazing this year.

Seriously, how cool are you?

Jake

Jake,

You strike on a topic I've been curious about for some time. How cool am I?

As I've mentioned before in the blog, growing up, I wasn't one of the cool kids. But things change, and these days geek is chic. I'm willing to admit to the fact that these days, I might actually be a little cool.

Your letter poses an interesting problem though. If you'd simply asked, "Are you cool?" I could have gotten away with answering "maybe" or "kinda." But you've asked for a _degree_ of coolness. What's more, you've requested that I *seriously* consider the problem.

That means we need to use science and shit. We need quantifiable units of coolness that we can plug into formulas. We need to be rigorous.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the BIPM hasn't established a standard unit by which we can measure coolness. I can't just tell you that I'm say, 85 pascals of cool. Or 158 newtons. Or whatever.

That means if we want to determine how cool I am, we have to measure me against some sort of universally accepted standard of cool. We need to develop our own yardstick, as it were.

So, let's pick two people who are undeniably cool. The king and queen of geek cool: Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman.

Now we need some numbers. While popularity isn't quite the same thing as cool, you have to admit they're closely related. Since I don't have access to things like book sales or website hits, we'll have to go to the lowest common denominator: Facebook.

(Yes, I know. Technically, Myspace would be the lowest common denominator. But there's only so low I'm willing to go, even for science.)

A quick search of fan pages reveals the following stats.

Felicia: 192,000 fans.

Neil: 90,000 fans.

Me: 10,000 fans.

Now we could stop here and say, that I'm about .05 as cool as Felicia. Or that I'm roughly .11 of a Gaiman. Or something like that.

But drawing data from only one source strikes me as slipshod. To round things out, why don't we take a look at Goodreads rankings?

Here's a screenshot of their list of most-followed people.

[Edit: Yes, I know these numbers have changed since I took the screenshot. I'm not redoing the math.]

(Click to Embiggen)

As a side note, you can see that according to Goodreads, I'm ever-so slightly cooler than Wil Wheaton. I like how it looks like his little Lego man is pissed at me for being above him.

"Curse you, Rothfuss," Lego-Wheaton says. "How dare you get between me and Felicia day?"

"Takest not that tone with me," Russian-dictator-looking-Rothfuss glowers from above. "Lest I crush you with my manly, blue-lit beard."

"Bring it Hagrid," he replies. "I'll beat you like a redheaded stepchild."

"What are you going to use?" I say. "Your kung-fu grip? Hell, you don't even have any elbows!"

Wait... Sorry, what was I talking about again?

Oh. Right. Coolness. I guess I lost a few points just there.

Anyway, as you can see things stand like this:

Me: 383 friends, 308 people following my reviews.

Felicia: 2,710 friends, 380 people following her reviews.

Not pictured above, Neil Gaiman sits at #1 on this list. Topping the chart on a mountain of cool with 5,175 friends and 3,133 people following his reviews.

Let's just combine these for simplicity's sake:

Gaiman: 8308

Felicia: 3090

Me: 691

Because the Facebook numbers are really high compared to Goodreads, we have to normalize them by multiplying by .045. (Don't ask how I got there. It's boring. If you understand statistics, you know how it works.) That gives us:

Gaiman: 4050

Felicia: 8550

Me: 450

So we add these together and apply the bonus multipliers.

Gaimain:
Medium Bonus - Novels, Comics, Movies, Audiobooks: *1.4

Association Bonus - Engaged to Amanda Palmer *1.5

Flair Bonus - Accent *1.4

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

12358 *1.4 *1.5 *1.4 *1.5 = 54499


Felicia:
Medium Bonus - Television, Webisodes, Comics: *1.3
(The Guild comic is coming out soon, in case you didn't know.)

Association Bonus - Works with Joss Whedon *1.6

Flair Bonus - Smells like flowers and PS3 *1.3

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

11640 *1.3 *1.6 *1.2 *1.5 = 47212

Me:
Flair Bonus: Beard *1.2

Penalty: Engaging in imaginary smack talk with Lego-Wheaton. *.09

1141 *1.2 *0.9 = 1232


You still with me? Now we have to create our yardstick for the measurement of geek-coolness. Imagine if Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day were somehow alchemically combined into one creature. Some ubercool, sexy, hermaphroditic, webisode-creating, rockstar, gamer, author thing.

I think it's safe to say that godlike creature would be the ultimate amalgam of geek cool.

So if we add together the scores of Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, we get roughly 100,000 units. These I hereby term Gaiman-Day units. They will hereafter be used to determine how cool someone is. 100,000 Gaiman-Day units is the coolest you can be without collapsing into some manner of singularity.

So there we go. Now we have a way to quantify how cool I am, Jake. I am exactly 1232 Gaiman-Day units of cool. Only about one percent as cool as it's possible to be.

I hope this answers your question, Jake.


pat

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posted by Pat at 111 Comments



Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Facebook and Fortune Cookies

A while back, I heard a rumor that Facebook wouldn't let you have more than 5000 friends.

At the time, it was just a little blip of information: interesting, but not really relevant to my life. I remember thinking, "That's sensible. Nobody could ever have 5000 friends anyway, and some sort of limit will keep facebook from getting all myspacey."

Fast forward to two days ago. I'm going about my business on facebook, adding another handful of people who've sent me requests, and what do I see?





So apparently the rumor is true...

I mention this for two reasons:

1) If you send a friend request and I don't add you, don't feel snubbed. And take it personally. And show up outside my house clutching a bouquet of flowers and a homemade shiv. Naked.

2) To let folks know that most of my activity is moving to the official facebook fan page. That's where I'll be posting most of the book-related events, pictures, and other assorted ephemera from now on.
(Editorial note - In response to some comments below: I'm still planning on doing the blog. No fear of that going away. I'm just moving most of my facebooking from one place to another.)



Now, the main event. Audience participation requested...

More than a year ago, someone sent me a copy of their book to sign. As per the rules I've laid out in a previous blog, they sent something cool: fortune cookies.
(Editorial note - Yes I'm still signing books according to the rules set down in the blog. But if you want a simpler option, I'll soon be selling signed books as part of the upcoming Heifer Fundraiser. Just so you know.)
Now this might not sound terribly cool at first. After all, you get fortune cookies for free when you order take-out Chinese food. Personally, after packing myself full of garlic shrimp, I'm not always in the mood for a dry, kinda almondy cookie. So for me, fortune cookies slowly accumulate in my kitchen where Sarah arranges them in vaguely ocd patterns on the countertop.

But you need to believe me when I tell you that the cookies these folks sent were, in point of fact, terribly cool. Turns out they actually run their own business where they do custom fortune cookies. Cookies in all manner of delicious flavors like orange or strawberry. Cookies dipped in chocolate. Yes. Chocolate.



(Rock. On.)

Better yet, this company is located in Indianapolis. The same place as Gen Con.

And this year I'm going to be GOH at Gen Con....

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

So I'm going to get some cookies to hand out at GenCon this year, but I'm not sure what they should say inside. These days fortune-cookie fortunes are all cheerful and nice. ("Everyone loves you, and your ass looks great in those jeans.") That's always bugged me. If these cookies are supposed to predict the future, then simple statistics say that some of them should foretell some dire shit. ("You should really see a urologist.")

Also, I miss the old, cryptic, badly translated fortunes. The ones that said things like, "The onion in your salad is someone else's orchid."

And I feel like I should have a few cookies that relate to the books. Maybe a few portentous hints about book two. (Some true, some not.)

Here's the problem, I tend to write long things, not short things. Fortune Cookie fortunes are short.

So I turn to you, my clever and creative fanbase. Any suggestions?

pat

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posted by Pat at 224 Comments



Tuesday, April 15, 2008
New York Times Bestseller List - Part Two.

As most of you could probably tell from my last post, I wasn't really too coherent after I got the news about making the bestseller list.

Now that I've collected my wits, I figured I'd clarify a few things. Some of which I only recently became aware of myself....

First you'll note that the date of the list I posted is from April 20th. This doesn't mean that I know someone with a TARDIS. They make the list available before publication so that industry folks get an early clue-in.

Second, I feel obliged to point out that the list I'm on is the "Paperback Best Sellers EXPANDED list." The regular NYT list only goes down to 20, and as you can see, I'm at #24.

What's the difference? Well, if you look in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, you'll find that they don't print the expanded list. Also, bookstores tend to only stock the regular list of books. Truth is, I'm not entirely sure if I technically qualify as a "New York Times Bestselling Author" or not.

While I admit I'm hoping to climb those last few places, simply making it onto the list at all is extraordinary. A lot of authors never make it, especially not with their first book.

And the reason I'm on there is you. You bought the book. You told your friends and family about it. You nominated me for awards. You voted for me online. You read it at the library and then posted good reviews on AMAZON or Barnes and Noble. You wrote about it in your blog. You bugged your school librarian to order it. You listed it on your facebook profile. You drew fanart. You visited the website and read the blog....

In short, you helped to spread the word. Thank you all so much.

Lastly, in related news, I started a contest over on FACEBOOK to celebrate the release of the paperback. I thought I'd already mentioned it on here, but looking back on my previous blogs, I see that I haven't. You've got until the end of the month if you're interested in participating...

Later all,

pat

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posted by Pat at 9 Comments



Friday, March 28, 2008
Interview part II and a local convention.

Part two of the Peter Hodges interview is now live over HERE, for those of you who are into that sort of thing....

Also, for those of you that are hanging around here in Central Wisconsin, I'll be at a little one-day convention in Wausau tomorrow. You can find some details HERE.


And lastly, for those of you on Facebook, we're having a bit of a shindig to celebrate the paperback release of the book. There will be cake* and fabulous prizes for people who are interested in participating. So stop on by if you're interested.

pat




* (The cake is a lie.)

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posted by Pat at 17 Comments



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