As part of our Geeks We Love series, I caught up with a few couples that, through the beauty of the internet and technology have influenced both our lives and each other.
There are plenty of couples that both blog, but Anil Dash and Alaina Browne are in an elite club of longtime bloggers that have been around the blogosphere for years, but are still humble about their success, influence and accomplishments. Anil, is Vice President at Six Apart, a blogging software used by millions of people across the world, but he describes his occupation by saying "I help people start blogging." Alaina is the general manager at Serious Eats, a website filled with video, blogs, photos and feature stories all geared toward the foods people love. What geeky things do these two love about life online and each other?
Geeksugar: So, let's lay it all on the table. What do you think is the "geekiest" thing about yourself?
Anil: I'm probably a little bit obsessive over weird little technical things, like the order of icons on my desktop, or the way my songs are tagged in iTunes. I've even gotten hundreds of people to tell me how they use Excel to organize their personal lives. So probably the most geeky thing about me is that I really, really love software and consider myself a student of software culture.
Alaina: I won my school’s Computer Science Student of the Year award in 7th grade.
Geeksugar: Tell us a bit about your background.
Alaina: I’ve been a web geek pretty much since the beginning, working with MindSpring (later Earthlink) and puttering around with websites and later blogs for about ten years. I had a personal site for a long time, and then when I moved to New York City in 2002, I started NYC Eats, which later became A Full Belly. It was one of the first food blogs, and I was very lucky and happy to meet a lot of people and discover a lot of new things through the site, though I don’t update it much anymore. After we moved to San Francisco in 2004, I started working for Mule Design, a great web design shop run by some friends of ours. While there I got to work on a diverse mix projects for Six Apart, CNET’s Chowhound, and a lot of other great clients. Then late last year I got the chance to help get Serious Eats off the ground. Combined with the chance to come back to New York, it was an irresistible opportunity and one that I’m very excited about. The community on Serious Eats is already something really special.
Anil: I work at Six Apart because I've been a blogger since 1999 (at dashes.com) and I wanted to help people get started blogging. I was the first employee, so I've been at it for about four years. These days, I get to go everywhere talking about Movable Type, TypePad, LiveJournal and Vox, and it's the best job I've ever had. You could say I got into it because I couldn't not do it.
Geeksugar: What about the geekiest thing about your significant other?
Anil: Hmm, that's a tough one. Alaina is very adept at masking her geekiness around others, so that I am the only one who gets to see how funny and clever she really is. It's like being married to a geeky J. Frog.
Alaina: His blortal.
Geeksugar: How and when did you meet eachother?
Anil: We were introduced by a couple whom I had met through my blog. In late 2001, they set us up, and 5 years later, we're married!
Alaina: We met in December 2001 thanks to an introduction from a college roommate, dear friend, and master matchmaker. Before we met, she sent me the link to his blog which I’d seen before. Its tagline at the time was “New York, New Media, New Funk,” which made me go “blech” but I trust Shannon so I kept an open mind.
Geeksugar: What are your top 5 favorite gadgets?
Anil: I really love my Nintendo Wii and covet Alaina's DS Lite. (I have a regular DS, so I can't complain.) I have an iPod Nano, which works well enough, but I love the form factor more than the device itself.
Alaina: iPod Nano and accompanying Nike+ sport kit, white DS lite, Macbook, Fuji F11 digital camera, my pink Gameboy Advanced SP.
Geeksugar: Top 5 luxury gadgets you really want?
Anil: Oddly, I don't covet very many gadgets. I got a chance to see the new Nokia NSeries phones because they work with Vox, and the video camera in the N93i looks awesome.
Geeksugar: Your first computer was a...
Anil: A Commodore VIC-20. I had pretty much every Commodore but the Amiga, including a VIC-20, a C-64, a C-128, and even a Commodore Colt, which was a PC clone.
Alaina: Commodore 64.
Geeksugar: What are your favorite websites?
Anil: Well, seriouseats.com, of course. And I am pretty proud of what I've done with dashes.com over the past several years. I think the web page I visit the most is my Vox neighborhood at anil.vox.com. But I'm inspired by some of the really great blogs I read - Overheard in New York, Ftrain, Rebecca's Pocket.
Alaina: Seriouseats.com, Flickr.com, Vox.com, Kottke.org
Geeksugar: What are your Valentine's Day plan?
Anil: Well, we like to eat well, so I think a nice dinner somewhere and then returning home for a date to play Wii Sports and Wario Ware might be pretty nice.
Alaina: Not to have a Valentine’s Day plan.
Geeksugar: Who makes the final decision when it comes to gadgets for the home?
Anil: Actually, we almost never even have discussions about this. We're fairly moderate in our gadget purchases, so we can each pretty much get whatever we want. It's always a nice surprise to come home and find that the other person has something shiny to show off.
Alaina: We’re pretty in sync when it comes to gadgets and our finances and trust each other to make these kinds of decisions. If it’s a big ticket item, like the flat panel tv we just bought, we’ll discuss it together first so there are no surprises when it comes time to balance the checkbook.
Geeksugar: Who solves tech problems at home?
Anil: I think it depends on the nature of the tech problem. I tend to do most of the CSS troubleshooting and wifi wrangling. Alaina is more adept with hacking blog templates and making DVD/TV/web video go. It's a pretty balanced relationship.
Alaina: I try to solve tech problems myself and if I get stuck, I call in Anil.
Geeksugar: Are you going to buy an iPhone?
Anil: Probably not. I love the idea of a common platform for portable hackery, but I hate phones and phone carriers, especially. I tend to be a late adopter with iPods anyway, which is fine by me.
Alaina: No. No. No.
Geeksugar: How do you feel about people calling you a "geek"?
Anil: I'm very comfortable about that. I like that, when I'm in a room full of normals, I'm the geeky one, but when I'm in a room full of geeks, I'm seen as not geeky enough.
Alaina: It’s an accurate description I don’t object to.
Geeksugar: What do think are the greatest things you guys have contributed to the blogsosphere?
Anil: I've helped promote the good work that other people do in creating the social web. I'm very proud to be friends or acquaintances with a lot of the most talented people in the world of blogging and social media. As far as Alaina's accomplishments, I think she has been phenomenally influential in the world of food blogging and in food community online in general - A Full Belly (originally NYC Eats), was a seminal food blog and informs the spirit of a lot of food communities today, including Serious Eats.
Alaina: His ability to effectively communicate about technology with the non-geek majority. No one does it better.
Geeksugar: How many hours do you spend online a day?
Anil: Roughly 24? Actually, in all seriousness, I pretty frequently spend 14+ hours a day online, and sometimes 18 hours, since I don't sleep much and you could count watching a DVD on a laptop or playing video games as "being online."
Geeksugar: How many hours does your partner spend online a day?
Anil: Less than that. She actually does other things like running marathons and eating good dinners at nice restaurants. I should learn from her example.
Alaina: All of them.
Geeksugar: What is one geeky habit you're trying to quit?
Anil: Obsessively checking things like stats, RSS feeds, and email. Nothing that important is ever in there, but sources of stress often are.
Alaina: Reading scripting.com.
Geeksugar: Are you the "Beauty" or the "Geek" in the relationship?
Anil: I think we're both a lot of both in our marriage! Even though I'm definitely a geek, Alaina's had a personal website a lot longer than me, and really gets a lot of geek culture at a gut level. On the other hand, I dress a lot better since I've had Alaina's help, so while I can't quite come to her level of beauty, I'm at least not looking like something the cat dragged in.
Alaina: I think we’re both beautiful geeks.