10 Questions with Andrew Kaufmann.

Andrew Kaufmann have been mucking around in web development ever since getting on the Internet around 1994. He was a staff member on the Unofficial Squaresoft Homepage (a website devoted to video games from the company Square), and a founding member of the site the Unofficial Squaresoft Homepage evolved into (it focused on role-playing video games). After leaving RPGamer, he co-founded the Gaming Intelligence Agency (now defunct) in 1998. Another video game site, the GIA was a Web 2.0 type company (a blog before there were things called "blogs") before the advent of Google Adsense to help monetize sites. The site was a critical success and a success as far as pure traffic numbers, but ad sales struggled. They ended up shutting down the site due to burnout in 2002. He then founded GameForms, another videogame site, which didn't have the success of its predecessors, and is also now defunct, which take fully responsibility of the sloppy leadership in the lack of success there.

During the run of those sites, he did freelance writing at magazines The Official Dreamcast Magazine and Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM). He also did freelance writing online at the Imagine Games Network (IGN). During that, he was also studying computer science and English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Now a contractor at Texas Instruments in corporate communications, doing marketing, market research, and web development, while also having a small start-up online media thing getting rolling on the side. At night, you can see him try to get crowds riled up at Dallas Mavericks NBA home games, he's the guy throwing all those tshirts!

[1] Paul: First, describe to us Andrew Kaufmann in 5 words.
Andrew: Innovation and creation meets nerd. At least, that's the way I like to look at myself; whether or not I'm successful at any of the above is up for debate. I look at things optimistically -- each experience helps build toward success at the next opportunity.

[2] Paul: We read reading this story at NPR you have to tell us the truth! Are you an Army major recently returned from Iraq?
Andrew: I'm afraid that's not me! Though that is an interesting story, eh? I do have the utmost respect for the soldiers overseas, however. I consider adventure a day at the gym playing basketbal, though.

[3] Paul: We managed to a certain Andrew Kaufmann at Biomedware is he a twin brother? =p
Andrew: Another case of mistaken identity... sorry! Making this interview tough, eh?

[4] Paul: What make you finally decided to cut your hair?
Andrew: I went to a Texas Rangers basebal game, in the middle of the day on a 100+ degree Texas summer day. You try sitting in the sun for 3 hours under a giant black mop that collects heat, and you'd cut it, too!

[5] Paul: Any favorite site or hang-outs?
Andrew: Too many to list! Lately, I've been all into the ABC show Lost. I float from Lost web forum to Lost web forum, reading every cockamamie theory out there. More regularly, I love reading Mark Cuban's blog -- even though I don't always agree with him. D Magazine has a great blog for Dallas residents, I also love Dave Barry, and he's one of my favorite authors -- so I always read his blog. I like browsing various sites at www.9rules.com, and am enjoying Scott Adams' new blog. I'm just finished reading "Fluke -- Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings" and am currently reading "Lamb -- the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" both by Christopher Moore. And I'm wasting far too much time playing
Civilization IV.

[6] Paul: What are you working as in Texas Instruments? It must be some top position, especially when you are guarded by a lady assassin at your front desk. Tell us a little more.
Andrew: Absolutely! About a year ago, I missed a few days of work to get a tooth removed that I broke playing basketbal. During those few days, the stock price dropped. Coincidence? I don't think so.

I'm essentially a jack of all trades in the worldwide communication services department. I do a little bit of everything, since I'm a young buck -- web development, a little writing, some marketing and market research, and a little project management. Essentially, whatever is overflowing on someone else's desk, I go after it.

Leslie is a very nice lady at the desk, you'd never guess she was a ninja. But you should see her pounce when someone tries to get into the building without their security badge.

[7] Paul: You are 26 years old and already have bachelors degrees in English (with a specialization in creative writing) and Computer Science from Southern Methodist University. Why not be a writer? Did you get both degrees at the same time at Southern Methodist University?
Andrew: I did get both degrees at the same time, doing some summer school along the way to stay on schedule. I do fancy myself a writer, and I've done magazine writing in the past, as well as being a columnist at SMU's school newspaper. Right now, I'm focusing mostly on web design and development, and watching this whole revitalization of the web page as a viable business prospect. I do plan on doing some more writing at some point in the future, I'm just not sure in what capacity. The novel interests me, but my first attempt during college was a bit of a flop. I've had more success with the shroter essay that's more suited for magazines and newspapers, and I hope to get back into that as a freelancer in the near future.

[8] Paul: Why lunar adventures? It's kinda of an interesting name.
Andrew: Thanks! I thought long and hard for 10 minutes on it. (Though I am struggling with coming up with a new for my web design / web media project... any suggestions out there?) My name is Andrew Kaufmann, my friends call me Andy. Andy Kaufman is the "Man on the Moon" -- the song about him written by REM, and the movie about him named that as well. REM is also my favorite band. So the whole "moon" theme fits. The site is me talking about my adventures through life, which mostly consists of deciding what type of dressing to get on my sandwich from Subway, but
makes for a cool title anyway.

[9] Paul: What makes you join the Mavericks Dr Pepper Hoop Troop? We gathered that you really love the Dallas Mavericks.
Andrew: I do indeed love the Mavericks! The opportunity came up to join the Hoop Troop, a group of glorified male cheerleaders, and I jumped on it. I love the idea of unity behind a sports team, and I've always wanted to be a part of that (I let a few opportunities slip in high school and college).

The Hoop Troop gives me that opportunity. It's not every day you get the chance to goof off and be silly in front of 20,000 people. I love watching the crowd get into a frenzy over the game, over the tshirts we might throw to them, over the dancers, whatever. It's a real thrill to be a part of the Mavericks team. I can't be a player, since I'm short and not that good at basketball. But I've been given the opportunity to be a part of the team in a different way, and it's been a marvelous experience so far. Except when people get upset that I didn't throw them
personally a tshirt. But it's still all good.

[10] Paul: Last question, you got to share with a short lesson on creative writing, we haven't had too many of these writers around.
Andrew: Any writer will tell you the only way to get better is to write, write, and write. The more, the better. And don't just write, but also read your writing a bit after you've written it -- wait long enough that you can look at the work objectively, and critique yourself. I always look back at things I wrote and think about how I could have improved it -- once it's published, you can't change it, but you can make your next work better.

I see creative works as having essentially 3 main facets -- the plot, the descriptions, and the characters. Good works of fiction have a balance between the three. A work with bad characters? Boring. Bad plot? Boring. Scenes you can't imagine because of weak descriptions? Boring. You have to have all three to have a successful work -- no matter what your medium. The novel, the short story, the play, the screenplay -- they're all different in their specializations and their implementation, but at the core, it all comes down to the same three basic facets. Shakespearean plays never had fancy descriptions of the environs, but characters left clues in their speech that brought their world alive to the viewer.

The next time you get bored while reading a book, try to identify where its shortcoming is, to you. Too much description, leading to a boring plot? A story that's all plot plot plot and cardboard characters? That can help you identify where your own shortcomings might be. For example, I get bored when I read books with what I deem is too much description. At the same time, description is the weakest part of my writing -- I'm better at plot than character. My personal sensibility gives description less weight as I write, but that doesn't mean I can ignore it.

Thanks so much for for the interview! Just want to add a Thanks to my parents for paying for the crazy tuition costs when I was at Southern Methodist University.