Tormod is your friendly neighbor in the web world.
What sets him apart?
Well, if you are reading this message, it is because of him. Yep, Tormod created Hypography and continues to maintain it.
We decided to ask him a few questions to understand what makes him tick.
>IT HAS BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE HYPOGRAPHY BEGAN. THE EVOLUTION OF THE SITE FFROM A SMALL WATERING HOLE TO A LUSH OASIS WOULD HAVE MADE YOU PROUD. ANY SPECIAL THOUGHTS AT THIS DAY?
Hypography began before the concept of online communities really took off. It started as a link collection with articles and quizzes thrown in for fun, but has ended up more or less as a purely "old school" discussion forum. Although we have never ranked as a really large website, it is humbling to see how loyal the hardcore members are. Some have been around for years now, and without all the people who help out with site maintenance and moderation, I don't think Hypography would be celebrating much today.
Nine years may not sound much to everyone, but I like to think that after all Google is only 12. Hypography was already born when the IT crunch came in 2000. Hypography is older than both my children!
Hypography's success is not mine, but it belongs to the community. It belongs to all those people who keep posting, discussing, arguing and sharing. Hypography has always been a site for everyone, and if we are indeed growing into an oasis for someone, then that is great.
Over the years there have been offers from people who want to buy Hypography, but the site has never been for sale. It has been a part of my daily routine for almost a fourth of my life. It'll probably stay with me for as many years...who knows.
We do need to change in order to grow. Right now it's okay to look back and think "cool, we made it". We have the critical user mass needed to keep Hypography running. But how can we serve these users better, and how can we become a more attractive place for all the lurkers? Those are things I have pondered for a long time. If we ever reach 18 years, it will be as a different place again, just as Hypography is completely different now than it was back in 2000.
>HOW WAS HYPOGRAPHY CONCEPTUALIZED?
I have always been interested in science. Although I have never studied science as such, apart from some high school and college courses, I find science to be immensely interesting. I like to learn something new every day. Popularization of science is perhaps one of the most important aspects of modern society. It is a part of what makes us "modern". If we look back over the past centuries, we see a parallel growth in the public interest in science along with the scientific progress. The 20th century will perhaps be remembered mostly as the century of scientific enlightenment - mass communication made it possible to share knowledge in entirely new ways.
The web is a child of science, and it is a brilliant channel for communicating and discussing scientific topics. However, back in 1999 I realized that there were no really good science sites for "the rest of us". There were a lot of inaccessible journals and a forest of university sites, but very few sites oriented towards sharing online resources.
Hypography was to be just that. At first I wanted to build a kind of "popular science portal", and tried to get some friends to write content for it. Everyone was too busy. I registered the domain in October of 1999 but it took a while for the idea to materialize.
It started as a link collection where everyone could share and find links. It was launched on May 17, 2000 - which is Norway's National Day when we celebrate the signing of our constitution in 1814 and thus our independence. The slogan "science for everyone" was conceived at the same time. It has evolved into "Making science social", but I'm not sure that is a more apt slogan...it was just made on a whim. But that's the truth behind most stuff here at Hypography. It's a continuous stram of consciousness thing...just taken to the most slow of extremes...?
>HOW WAS THE UNIQUE NAME THOUGHT OF?
I was flipping through dictionaries and thesauri in order to find a good name. I wish I had kept the list of names, but it's lost. I wanted a single word that would describe the concept of links that reference electronic sources, a sort of electronic bibliography. The final name just came to me in a flash. It is a mix of "hyperlink" and "bibliography". I have been criticized many times for not calling it "hypergraphy", but that name doesn't ring with me. Some think "hypo" is degrading, but I don't see the logic in that. Hypo simply means "beneath" or "below", just as in "hypodermic" or "hypostatic". So we feature the stuff that is "under" the science, which on the web means all the relations that connect all the sources - the hyperlinks.
A "hypography" is thus a sort of a "bibliography for the web", just like a "discography" is a list of recordings. I wrote many hypographies over time. They still exist but need some freshing up. Maybe it's time to revive that concept? I don't know. We started social bookmarking before it was even known as a concept, but that never became the real focus of our site. The forums is what has made Hypography what it is today, but the name has stuck. I see no reason to change it now.
>EACH DAY AT HYPOGRAPHY IS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER DAYS. DO YOU AGREE TO THIS STATEMENT OR NOT? IF SO WHY?
I don't really know. For me Hypography is an entity that moves in ebbs and flows, related to how much time I can spend on the site. I am always amazed at the breadth of topics people discuss here, yet I also wonder how people find the energy to keep at it day after day. We have become a real community and there have been days when the mood of everyone is so tangible that you can feel it - either vibrantly positive or strangely negative. This "pulse" is what makes Hypography interesting to me.
>WHAT SUBJECT FIELDS (AS A SCIENCE) YOU PREFER TO STUDY THE MOST?
Like I said above, I never studied science, really. But I have read tons of popular science books and magazines over the years. The topics that interest me most are astronomy and cosmology. I really like to read about things like particle physics and how our understanding of the cosmos has evolved. The history of science is also something I enjoy. In general, good writing can make any subject interesting, but scientists who are great popularizers are my favorites. Writers like John Barrow, Gino Segre, Lee Smolin, John Gribbin, Leonard Mlodinow and Michio Kaku are examples. Carl Sagan is perhaps my greates star - it was his Cosmos series for TV that really brought me into science. But it was his role as a science communication that grabbed me - not his role as a scientist. It's funny, because that's what my professional life has turned into - working as a professional communicator with the world wide web as my field of expertise. I don't think that would have happened without my interest in popular science.
>HOBBIES WHICH YOU LIKE?
I love reading books - on my iPhone. I have been an "ereader" for years already. Science fiction, crime and business books top my list.
I am an avid cyclist and recently moved from offroad biking into road racing and it is wonderful. I love cruising through the local countryside with myself as the engine.
I love movies and TV series. I am perhaps lucky to live in the Nordic - it's dark half the year so I can focus on indoor activities, and light the other half of the year so I can be outdoors and enjoy nature.
>HYPOGRAPHY HAS HAD A UNIQUE DASH OF ANYTHING UNDER EVERYTHING IN ITS FORUMS. PERHAPS THE FIRST FORUMS THAT DISCUSSES POPULAR SCIENCE IN ITS OWN UNIQUE WAY. ANY THOUGHTS TO SHARE?
We do have competitors which started around the same time and have grown into sites ten times our size. That's cool. Our staff has decided that Hypography should try to have a non-specialist approach. This means that we don't really attract the big names in science, but we do attract a lot of those who find science interesting, amazing or disturbing - and who want to share it with others. We want to be a unique place yet what sets us apart is not our name nor our colors, but the sum of our members. We are more a local park where people come to talk and hang out, rather than a huge museum where people are hushed at and we only have to focus on the displays. This is what we can aspire to, and I think it's just about where we are right now.
I am a huge fan of U2. But I listen to a lot of stuff, from classical guitar music to electronica.
Too many to mention! But I love all of Richard Feynman's books. Although they can be difficult, they communicate the wonder of discovery and understanding.
Ladies and gentlemen, that was Tormod.
If you'd like to ask him more questions, do so right here