Merlin Mann, site creator and host of “The Merlin Show,” offers wise ways to make life a little simpler. With weekly installments produced with the help of Ben Durbin, in association with Pixel Corps, Mann interviews musicians, technology geeks, and entrepreneurs who offer personal insights about everything from working with teams to the ascendance of the MP3 blog. Launched in February 2007, the show is a spin-off of 43 Folders, a popular site created by Mann that helps users navigate their computers with an expert’s ease.
A regular writer for WIRED, Make, Popular Science, and MacWorld, and occasional host on the MacBreak video podcast, Mann sums up his inspiration and reasoning for “The Merlin Show” better than I ever could: “Benjamin Franklin was a statesmen and an inventor…one reason he was so careful with his time and that he was so productive ultimately was so that he’d be able to drink and have sexual intercourse more often. And so I think that’s something we’re going to be talking about. Is how you can cut through the mire of modern life to do more of the things that you enjoy, whether that’s drinking, sexual intercourse, or occasionally being electrocuted by a kite.”
On average the shows run around 15 minutes, during which time, Mann engages his subjects in witty banter that complements his quirky style and easy-going, guy-next-door demeanor. On a patio in San Francisco, Mann interviews Chris Wetherell, Google application coder/rock band drummer about email overload and the “information rat race.” And in a dusky coffee shop he chats with Jonathan Coulton about juggling his roles as a father and a singer/songwriter, while dealing with technology glitches. Though the interview format of the show is straightforward, its design is crisp and professional from the filming and graphics to Mann’s weekly introduction and delivery. In addition to the interviews, the site also has videos in which Mann provides functional “how-to” guides for Mac users that deal with specific software. So if you’re dying to learn how to create a temporary stack in Quicksilver to allow for easy multi-tasking, Mann will walk you through it. In all cases Mann imparts practical information with a fun flare that is fittingly user friendly.
The interview Mann does with Indie rocker, John Vanderslice is a good one, especially when talk turns to vibrating beds. Singer John Roderick is my favorite eccentric subject, who pauses his rant on web-based business to curse at on-set hippies.