Atul has an MBA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor's Ross School of Business and is a roundtable blogger who believes that "Stupid questions can lead to brilliant ideas." He writes about topics as diverse as paper towel design, the ridiculous popularity of American Idol, and why more Americans don't go crazy over soccer. He shakes it to Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Counting Crows, and Coldplay. He once managed saturn.com (cool!) and is officially putting Andy Rooney on notice: watch your back, Rooney.
Bella: How would you describe your blog?
blog is a potpourri of random observations that I have made involving
topics as diverse as science, politics, and culture. I have found that
I write about topics similar to what Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes talks
about. That's why I think I should get his job when he retires.
Bella: Why do you blog?
Atul: I'm a Leo, so I like to be the center of attention
sometimes, (but not always, because I'm on the cusp of Virgo). I
actually started 'Things I've Noticed' upon taking a University of
Michigan Blogging Bootcamp MBA class. What keeps me going is that I
like to share my thoughts, just like I like to share my jokes with
friends. Why keep it to myself? And I have always wanted to write a
book, so the blog gives me a way to lay out writing which I could one
day convert to a book. It also serves to copyright original writing
that I've collected over the years but have not published anywhere else.
Bella: Is your blog a means to an end (finding work
developing creative ideas, making money, meeting people), or does it
exist for its own sake?
Atul: My blog is mostly a creative outlet for me, but I may
start selling t-shirts with funny taglines, many of which could be
directly pulled from my many 'Quick Quotes' posts.
Bella: What kind of person is the likeliest reader of your blog? What would you hope they get out of reading you?
Atul: A person who gets my sense of humor would be a typical
reader. Somebody who's not looking for useful information or a
guaranteed laugh, but somebody who wants to read something that makes
her/him think. I'm unique to the point that I notice things that others
wouldn't think about until they read my posts.
Bella: Are there people in your life who don't "get the whole
blog thing?" How do you explain it to them without feeling as nerdy and
defensive as I usually do?
Atul: I've had more than a few people ask me why I blog, and
those who ask usually still don't understand my motivation after I
Bella: What's your relationship with your readers? How much
interaction do you encourage? How much do you self-censor, knowing that
your friends and family might be reading?
Atul: Few of my readers comment, but I encourage it. I do
keep in mind the fact that friends and family may be reading my blog.
That causes a dilemma between writing what I want to write and writing
what won't upset people I know. I sometimes wish I had an anonymous
blog with my own pen name.
Bella: Have you ever heard yourself say something like "If
you really cared about me/were really interested in me, you'd look at
my blog"? Is this a fair thing to throw at, say, your sister, during an
argument over who gets the nicest drumstick at Thanksgiving?
Atul: I have a difficult time understanding why more of my
friends don't subscribe to my blog or at least visit it once in a
while. They seem to enjoy being around me so you'd think they'd enjoy
reading a slice of my life on my blog, but it doesn't matter; I make no
money from the blog. It's just neat to see increasing numbers of
people read what I've written.
Bella: What is the history of your relationship with
computers and the internet? How long have you been online, and what
kinds of things have you done online (e-mail, chat rooms, message
boards, real-time multi-player games, aimless surfing, etc.)? How has
this changed your life, for the better or worse?
Atul: I studied mechanical engineering in undergrad so I have
some pretty good familiarity with computers and programming, but it was
in "old school" languages. I started using AOL back in 1995, and I
learned about the joys of IM'ing. I go to the Saabnet and Autoblog
message boards a lot more than I'd like to admit, and I use the web for
bill paying and banking. I would say I'm a borderline internet addict
and blogging sure hasn't helped. Luckily, my background project
managing saturn.com has really helped me understand how websites,
searchability, and site statistics work.
Bella: How long do you think you will continue to blog? What are the circumstances under which you can imagine yourself quitting?
Atul: I will continue to blog until I burn out or come across
family/job life that makes it impossible to continue posting. I'm glad
I started “Things I've Noticed,” but it's addictive to write, and to
check stats on where people are coming from to get to my blog.
Bella: What's the coolest thing that's come out of your blogging experience?
Atul: There are a few "coolest things" in my mind. I was
invited to join a blogger's Roundtable and I have ended up
corresponding with people from all over the world. Also, my blog has
really opened my eyes to the way search engines work. For a short
while, if you went to MSN search and looked up 'stand-up comedian', my
blog came as one of the top search results thanks to one Roundtable
post and all of the people who commented on the post. It even led to a
“real” stand-up comic commenting on my blog. (Editor's note: I've had a similar experience. For awhile, anyone who googled "physically repulsive" got me as their first hit. Fabulous.)