The Pickle: A Conversation About Making Digital Books
Robin Sloan

The Pickle: A Conversation About Making Digital Books

10: Benevolent Leaders of the Frothy Kingdom

Dear Mr. Sloan, Quinn, Horowitz

Like Robin, I don’t know if I’d OmniBlarp again but, boy am I glad I did it once. It was one of the most intensely generative creative periods of my life — visually, philosophically, in business-minded and high-art ways alike. Admittedly, I was lucky to join a Blarp at a still early stage (it’s now a big(er) Blarp) and that allowed for some wild off-in-the-woods explorations. And the team members who came along on the little Wild Toad Rides all seemed to greatly enjoy it. We produced seriously weird stuff that never saw the light of day. Which sounds like any good artistic or creative process; if you’re not leaving half the output on the cutting room floor, then you’re probably not being loose enough.

But the crux here is that there was, there is, a way to carve out space for this weirdness within an OmniBlarp Moonbase. And I think more OmniBlarps could be weirder and more exploratory if they knew how. The trick is getting that permission to explore, to be strange, to do things that you don’t think are going to work but feel like they will unveil some… truth (?) about the greater process as a whole. And getting that permission is contingent, I’d say, on the CEO, the person running it all. They have to bestow the permission.

The problem is that when you take venture capital, eventually you’re beholden to the money folks, and those folks are very rarely individuals that have gone through intensely creative processes. So they tend to have little patience or understanding around exploration.

Since you guys — Eli and Russell — are the venture capitalists, the CEOs, the co-founders, the engineers, and the authors of your Frothy Kingdom, what did you leave on the floor? How much weirdness did you drop? And when did you finally think: OK! This is it?


Note to readers: This is a long, loopy conversation. The Pickle Index is crisp and svelte. Consider ingesting its nutritious juices.

The Indexed Pickle

  1. Opening Salvo [Robin Sloan]
  2. Blank Slates! [Craig Mod]
  3. Opportunity Cost [Robin Sloan]
  4. The Struggle (Sorry) [Russell Quinn]
  5. Self Selection & The Jaws of Venture Valley [Craig Mod]
  6. The Many Futures of Storytelling [Eli Horowitz]
  7. Recruitment [Robin Sloan]
  8. Blarp [Eli Horowitz]
  9. That Oracular Feeling [Robin Sloan]
  10. ➡︎ Benevolent Leaders of the Frothy Kingdom [Craig Mod]
  11. The Left-on-the-Floor Weirdness [Russell Quinn]
  12. Territory of the Book [Eli Horowitz]
  13. At This Moment [Robin Sloan]
  14. Make a Book, Even Just One [Craig Mod]