My short bio:

This is Now I Know. A bunch of redditors already subscribe total and I'm a long-time (13 years!) redditor myself. Tomorrow, my third book hits bookstores everywhere.

What I write about is pretty eclectic -- basically, what's something new to me and fascinating. Here are five random ones, to give you a taste:

All the archives are here and you can subscribe for free. They're kind of random, but hopefully interesting.

Keep the questions to Now I Know and I'll answer just about anything. I'll also answer questions about baseball, just because. And most other stuff as well.

My Proof: Hi!

Comments: 365 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

yawetag12320 karma

OK, Dan Lewis, tell the truth.

How cool is Cookie Monster? I've followed his TV show for years, and always envied the fact he worked with you.

MrDNL191 karma

He's a good monster.

yawetag12256 karma

FULL CIRCLE!

I asked Cookie the same question about you and he responded!

MrDNL143 karma

That's some excellent reddit skills.

patman21123 karma

Do you find your newsletter to be financially worth the time you put into it?

MrDNL197 karma

Depends on the day. As you probably know, I'm trying to find better ways to monetize it (and failing). I've put so much time in this that it should be able to be my job, even if I don't want it to be, but I'm nowhere near there yet.

EDIT: A few people asked if I had a Patreon. I do! http://patreon.com/NowIKnow

mrpickle123104 karma

You do great work, Dan. Been subscribed for like 6 years now and I still get a kick out of it. I was hosting a local trivia night at the time, and always found a neat aside I could share between rounds. Your interest in the topic comes through in the writing, keep at it!

MrDNL38 karma

Thanks!

thank_you_kanye27 karma

What about the YouTube channel? I always looked forward to seeing your videos pop up in my feed, but it seems you've stopped uploading.

MrDNL24 karma

There are a few more to come and then, well, we'll see.

zbhoy6 karma

Have you checked out substack.com? Maybe you could start having paid subscribers and monetize that way

MrDNL7 karma

I have. I don't think it's going to work for me!

adamkolson96 karma

Hello Dan,

What subjects for your newsletter have you straight up rejected and why? I realize that's probably a long-list, but a short-list would be intriguing.

MrDNL219 karma

The rejection list is really short, actually. The to-do list, on the other hand, is infinite.

The rejection list, off the top of my head:

And in general, I shy away from anything overtly political, religious, or having to do with my day job.

peterjswift51 karma

I think a newsletter could be made just of your "rejected" stories! This comment led me on a rabbit trail of wikipedia searches! Could be done weekender style. Maybe with an opening caveat of why you didn't want to publish this (and an explanation of whatever term you use to replace penis).

MrDNL24 karma

Maybe. :)

4LostSoulsinaBowl35 karma

Now I want to know which was more deadly, the River of Blood or the Battle of Schrute Farms.

MrDNL51 karma

Depends, is the death toll human, bear, or beets?

CygnusTM87 karma

Are you aware of /r/todayilearned/ and that a lot of things from Now I Know end up on there?

MrDNL116 karma

Yep! I wish OPs would mention where they found it more often, but other than that, I like it because the whole point of Now I Know is to share cool things I've learned.

T_Neil56 karma

Dan, now this is a very serious question. Have you considered being a little less wholesome? As a Brit my sarcasm filter gets totally screwed up by this "genuine pleasantness" rigmarole.

MrDNL53 karma

Nah, I like to be one of the good guys.

01hair16 karma

I hope that someday I can be as easygoing as you are. Keep up the good work, I'm a big fan!

MrDNL18 karma

I'm pretty laid back, yeah. It's a good attitude, I think.

mrpickle12312 karma

For real! Dan, there isn't an r/nowiknow yet...

Edit: oh wait there totally is lol, didn't show up at first

MrDNL15 karma

There is, I used to be active on it, but it's not been a priority. If you all want to run it, have fun!

RohAnTheMaker44 karma

Been getting the newsletter for several years now. Just curious if you have a favorite piece to knowledge that you've shared over the years?

MrDNL68 karma

I don't really have one favorite. There are a bunch that I really like -- Prisencolinensinainciusol really is one of my favorites -- but I probably wouldn't have chosen that specific one a few days ago. Really, it's all about whatever strikes me in the moment. There's one that I haven't written yet that I've really, really liked... and really hated.

I've also forgotten a lot by now :)

konaya4 karma

Heads up! The link to “Louie Louie” in that article is broken.

MrDNL5 karma

happens a lot -- link rot sucks :-(

death_of_gnats1 karma

Markup uses Brackets, then Parentheses for links

MrDNL1 karma

Thanks!

DubTeeDub30 karma

I really enjoy your weekender round-up links and have found some really cool articles from those posts. Have you considered sharing those updates more often or expanding the mailings that you send out in any similar way?

MrDNL8 karma

I'm open to ideas!

mgov99929 karma

How many topics do you like to keep in the pipeline, to make sure you're not scrambling to come up with the daily newsletter? I would feel quite panicky if I didn't have at least a few weeks' worth of ideas in the bank.

MrDNL48 karma

Effectively, zero. I sit down at night and decide what to write about unless I've had the chance to do so earlier in the day or week (which is increasingly rare). I have a collection of potential stories, of course, but it's 2p ET right now and I haven't yet decided what I'm going to write about for tomorrow morning.

Sometimes it's a panic, yes, but usually, I'm OK. My routine is controlled chaos (and I write really freaking quickly, too).

laserlightcannon26 karma

Man, I figured you had months of emails written up at a time.

MrDNL12 karma

I wish!

9c9bs27 karma

Are you familiar with the folks over at Futility Closet? They use Now I Know as a resource for their lateral thinking puzzles on their podcast, which is how I discovered your newsletter! It seems like you and the Ross family would be kindred spirits.

MrDNL17 karma

Yep, we've crossed paths a few times. Early on, especially -- they were one of the few blogs in the trivia space before I got a start.

T_Neil4 karma

I can't remember which I found from which, but they've definitely cited each other and I really enjoy the "light" crossovers. It's like that glad moment when you find an unexpected mutual friend with someone. Normally "No Such Thing As a Fish" podcast (I also recommend) is in the next breath.

MrDNL3 karma

Yeah, I know them, too!

Vahdo26 karma

How do you have the ability and/or patience to go through your reader responses?

MrDNL56 karma

The time has become more and more of a problem, to be honest. I have like 900 unread emails. But I've always wanted this project to be about having a real connection with my readers, so I try to make a point of it. I definitely have the patience for it -- it's the right thing to do. If you're going to spend the time to write me a note, I'm going to invest the time to read it.

peterjswift19 karma

This is much appreciated. I think every time I've emailed you (probably a dozen times now), I've received some kind of a response at some point (and I had no expectation of ever hearing back).

MrDNL15 karma

I try!

NineteenthJester20 karma

What story have you written about that surprised you the most?

MrDNL40 karma

That's a tough one. Off the top of my head, there isn't one that pops out. That said, my go-to one when talking about the new book is the story of a Green Bay Packer fan who sold his blood to buy tickets to the games, and in doing so, saved his own life. Maybe I'll ruin that one later in the AMA :)

wizzwizz416 karma

Are you aware your site's been cracked by an ad spam redirect service?

MrDNL4 karma

I thought I had that fixed... ugh...

wizzwizz47 karma

Want help?

MrDNL4 karma

Maybe!

Skinach12 karma

How much money does running Now I Know make you, as in can you make a living off of Now I Know alone?

MrDNL27 karma

I cannot make a living off Now I Know. It's more than beer money, less than full-time job money. It's "nice vacation money," I guess?

Skinach2 karma

So then what do you do for a living?

MrDNL45 karma

Sorry, I’m here to talk about Rampart.

foofdawg2 karma

I'll give you gold for this comment if you want it, or donate a few dollars to the charity of your choice. Please let me know which you prefer!

MrDNL7 karma

You can support my Patreon if you want! http://patreon.com/NowIKnow

norspur10 karma

Where do you get your ideas for what you become interested in enough to write a book? Do you have a system by which you read or do you just follow topics you find through happenstance? Do you have a daily reading list of outlets or news sources?

MrDNL19 karma

Writing the books is a very different process than writing the newsletter, despite the content being roughly the same. For this one, I wrote about 30-40 of the new stories, then I started to weave them together with older ones, creating some sort of flow. If I hit a gap, I tried to find something to fill that, and that usually works.

For the daily newsletter, inspiration comes from everywhere. Last week, I wrote about grocery store apples and how they take months to go from orchard to supermarket. I knew, vaguely, about the topic. I only wrote about it because my kids went apple picking with some friends and I ended up talking about apple picking with the other parent, and it reminded me about the fact, and I figured, why not?

Nizidramaniiyt9 karma

Hey Dan! What is your endgame like? What happens when you've shared all the knowledge in the universe to your readers? Do you think you'll ever run out of ideas?

MrDNL21 karma

I have no idea what the future holds for the newsletter. I would love to have it acquired by some big media company so I can reach 100x as many people (and yes, I'd keep writing it), but that's not likely.

I'll never run out of ideas. I have so, so many saved that I've lost track.

vankoder8 karma

For your books, were you approached by a publisher, or did you have the idea of publishing a compendium of NYK's and did the submission route?

MrDNL18 karma

An early subscriber and friend of a friend reached out to me, saying he knew a literary agent and thought Now I Know could make for a good book. He introed us and the agent was able to land me a book deal -- I truly don't remember whose idea it was to create a compendium of stories.

I do remember wanting to make a Fact-a-Day calendar, though.

Aphid612 karma

I do remember wanting to make a Fact-a-Day calendar, though.

Please do! Maybe I'm not the only one who loves tearing off one sheet a day & learning something new... ever since I won one many moons ago in a trivia contest against a radio DJ. (That was fun.)

MrDNL3 karma

I did a few years ago. Maybe again!

shaggyscoob6 karma

You are obviously a voracious reader. But you are also an extremely fast reader. Those Weekender editions indicate that you can read through an article far faster than I can. How do you do it?

MrDNL9 karma

I read most of them but not all of them -- some I'll just skim. But yes, I'm an extremely fast reader. I used to be a really slow reader but I had to learn to read more quickly because my college grades were struggling. And I've only gotten faster over time.

I also have a lot of commute time to read during :)

lmaccaro6 karma

Is this real? When I click your links it takes me to a website full of pop ups and viruses.

MrDNL3 karma

Yes, it's real. I've had some weird (harmless) malware on my site on occasion and I'm sorry if it has popped up again, I thought I had it nuked. Guess not?

GCP_176 karma

Dan, how often do you get people that point out typos to you (as I have done several times before)?

MrDNL10 karma

There are a few people who write me every day. It's good -- allows me to improve the content, even after the fact. (So, thanks for emailing your edits, too!)

Vureau6 karma

Where do you find all of these interesting trivia facts over the years? I feel that the quantity of interesting facts from Now I Know seems endless after all these years.

MrDNL9 karma

Thanks!

I'm insanely curious. I like the weird, unexpected stuff. So I find it everywhere.

jwink31015 karma

To the degree you are comfortable, what's your personal life like? Do you have a spouse? Children? Animals? And, to the degree you can answer, what's it like being your souse, child, pet? How do they feel about the time commitment to Now I Know?

MrDNL6 karma

Married with children, no animals. Everyone in my house seems to like me and like Now I Know. I also am a popular guest speaker in my kids' classes, talking about what it's like to write a book :)

mellonmarshall5 karma

how are you doing ?? ANd any chance that you might get round to publishing the books in the UK. please

MrDNL14 karma

Doing fine, you?

Finding non-North America publishers is hard, and something I don't do myself. I have an agent (who is awesome, btw) and he and the agency have a foreign sales group -- how it happens after that is beyond me. Or in other words, I write, they do the rest.

SkipMorrow5 karma

Dan, how often do you just accidentally step on a topic idea? I know you do active reading and research when looking for topics, but do you ever find yourself just minding your own business when something interesting falls from the sky, lands on your face and starts to wiggle?

MrDNL9 karma

All the time.

Usually, though, it's because someone mentions something as an aside and I feel like they didn't give it enough attention -- a tidbit that doesn't make sense but the reporter or whatever just glossed over it.

5krunner4 karma

Huge NIK fan, and daily reader for many years. What’s the one NIK that stands out to you as being the most unbelievable (even though you know it’s true)?

MrDNL3 karma

After a while, nothing becomes unbelievable -- we just don't know the explanation yet. I've become hard to shock.

Sealog13 karma

What’s it like at the dinner table with you?

MrDNL10 karma

Usually, it's me telling a kid that an iPad has no business at a dinner table!

meowhahaha3 karma

I send you a small amount of money every month. Just wanted to let you know you are worth more than what I give you!

My mom used to send me occasional articles from you and then I signed up 4 years ago. You are awesome!

Would you agree thatyour newsletter counts as tikkun olam? It is good to read NIK when I get obsessive depressing thoughts.

MrDNL3 karma

Thanks! And I would love to think that it counts as tikkun olam but I am not going to make that claim!!

ktappe3 karma

What are your primary research sources?

MrDNL6 karma

Everywhere. Reddit and Wikipedia are good first steps.

heyisforhorses13 karma

Have you read Randall Munroe’s What If? If so, what were your thoughts?

It seems like something you would enjoy; I know I liked it.

MrDNL4 karma

Not the book, but he ran a bunch on the xkcd website early on. I really liked a bunch of them, including the baseball one :)

lewsha3 karma

Have you ever almost finished a newsletter just to realize you've done it before?

MrDNL4 karma

Once or twice. In one case -- the reason you get ice cream headaches -- the second time came out a lot better, and the explanation changed a bit, too. (Both were mostly right.)

I'm also okay with recycling bonus facts into main stories (like I did today, hah!)

acr1593 karma

What's your typical writing schedule? Do you create the newsletters Jeopardy!-style by doing two weeks' worth in two days? One per day? Other?

MrDNL7 karma

Start writing at about 10p or so, finish by midnight hopefully. Sometimes I get ahead of things; sometimes I use that time to do AMAs instead :-)

oneupsuperman3 karma

What is the most infuriating fact you've ever discovered?

In a similar vein, are there any facts you just didn't feel comfortable sharing? Could you talk about those now?

MrDNL3 karma

Nothing infuriating springs to mind, to be honest. I don't seek out content which makes me angry. :)

I've addressed the "here's the stuff I haven't shared and why" question elsewhere... thanks!

acadiel3 karma

Why does it always feel like devices like mobile phones and computers get slower so that you need to buy a new one?

MrDNL6 karma

I have no idea. I could guess, but if you've read Now I Know, you know I don't like to guess :)

mattkenefick2 karma

What's the most controversial fact you can remember writing about?

Maybe something you didn't believe, something that had conflicting opinions, etc.

MrDNL5 karma

This isn't exactly what you're asking but it's a fun story.

I wrote about something called a "bat bomb" and opened with this line: "During the final days of World War II, the United States, apparently believing that Japan was unlikely to surrender otherwise, dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki." Totally non-controversial, right? WRONG.

I get two very, very nasty notes. One person screamed at me because it was totally unnecessary for the US to nuke Japan, and I shouldn't have excused that decision. Another person was upset with the use of the word "apparently" -- Japan was never going to give up and I shouldn't give credence to the idea that the bombs weren't necessary.

Heh.

rkgk132 karma

Hello! I just want to thank you for your newsletter - it's indispensable for coaching competitive impromptu speaking.

My question is - where's your go-to place to scope interesting facts? Is it on the internet or back in the forest of a true paper library, or somewhere else?

MrDNL2 karma

Thanks!

Mostly the Internet but I also have a Newspapers.com subscription (which I guess is also the Internet), which has proven valuable many times.

awittenamerequired2 karma

What was the last topic that you researched for a blog that you found something unexpected that either changed what you previously thought about the topic or made you go back after publishing to look more into it?

MrDNL1 karma

I almost always "write it in my head" first, you know what I mean? So I have most of the story done before I actually sit down to write.

But everyone once in a while, it doesn't work out as planned. I'll write something and realize that the hook should be the punchline and vice versa. I can't remember any of the top of my head, but I'll try to highlight those when they happen in future Weekenders!

Notmiefault2 karma

Are there topics you've wanted to cover that were simply too long for the format?

MrDNL6 karma

Oh, good question. Short answer: no. I don't write long-format stories. But early, early on, I wrote about the Taman Shud mystery and said something like "and there's a lot more, check out Wikipedia for the rest" or something. (I've since updated that one, hah!)

TheBelgianHorde2 karma

Just subscribed to the newsletter. I've been wanting something like this for ages, and have no clue how it managed to elude me for so long.

As for the question, do you take topic requests from readers, or do you prefer to just find stuff on your own?

MrDNL2 karma

I take requests ALL THE TIME! Thanks.

TheBelgianHorde2 karma

In that case, some requests are mud volcanoes, half of which are in Azerbaijan of all countries, click consonants, which are common in Southern Africa but exceedingly rare everywhere else, and Silbo Gomero, an old Canarian language that consists entirely of whistles.

MrDNL2 karma

Thanks! I've written about Silbo Gomero before, I think. The others I need to check out!

lewsha2 karma

What's the biggest challenge with a project such as Now I Know?

MrDNL5 karma

The time commitment. It doesn't get easier as the project gets more mature; if anything, it takes up more and more time. Unfortunately, my life has become busier and busier.

I keep adapting, though!

coscorrodrift2 karma

Hi Dan! Love your newsletter, I don't always read it but when I do I love it. Plus I find your Twitter account interesting as well whenever it comes up on my TL

What car do you drive? [I ask this question in basically every AMA in which I participate]

What's your favourite NIK involving cars?

Are you able to know your email read/open rates? And what are they if they can be made public? And what's your opinion on the medium? With social media it would seem like email may be kind of dead for entertainment purposes, but I'm not an expert, maybe there's a resurgence of the email.

MrDNL5 karma

I drive a Volvo. I like it.

My favorite car fact.... uh... let's go with this: http://nowiknow.com/why-you-cant-buy-a-car-on-nissan-com/

I'm not going to share open rates, sorry. :)

I started an email newsletter before it was cool because I think it's important to think about how you distribute your content. RSS is great but RSS reader adoption was meh at best before Google killed Google Reader. I really like the built-in distribution.

And no, social doesn't have that. It's just too noisy.

NurseMan792 karma

How sick are you of the word "factoid" (since it means a false piece of information)?

MrDNL3 karma

It sounds weird, too.

Whisper_Quiet_Maytag2 karma

Beltran or Girardi?

MrDNL3 karma

Girardi.

That said, here's what I tweeted a few weeks ago:

I have absolutely no idea if Carlos Beltran would be a good manager but I would be thrilled to see him back in a Mets uniform. He's one of my all-time favorite players and I like rooting for him.

acadiel2 karma

Who determined how big a sheet cake size is?

MrDNL4 karma

Who gives a sheet?

:-)

DasHuhn2 karma

How do you keep from accidentally duplicating facts? I've been a reader since the first time you posted on Reddit 8 years ago now (The first newsletter I received was on Halloween, 2011) and don't recall getting too many duplicate facts, if any.

Thanks for the weekend links, they're absolutely fantastic, fascinating and well worth subscribing to your newsletter for.

MrDNL1 karma

I check my archives before I write :)

T_Neil2 karma

(apart from showering you with money)

What could your readers do to show you their appreciation / gratitude? I specifically ask because it seems like you already get too much mail...

MrDNL2 karma

Tell your friends to subscribe! :)

Happy-Anon1 karma

This is related to the long 13 years on Reddit 😅😅 how has it changed? And how many gold/plats did you get 😅🤭

MrDNL2 karma

When I started, there were no subreddits.

Midnite_Phoenix1 karma

Have you ever emailed a newsletter only to find it was inaccurate?

MrDNL1 karma

Nope. Although there's one old which may be. http://nowiknow.com/pineberries/ if you want to check it out.

GaryV83_at_Work1 karma

I imagine you get inundated on a daily basis with ideas for Now I Know submissions. How do you prioritize what to put in the newsletter and what ends up in the garbage bin? How far ahead do you have the newsletters planned out?

MrDNL2 karma

I don't get as many ideas as you'd think. I find many (most?) myself.

jogan821 karma

What are the biggest changes/additions the Mets need to make to get over the hump and into the playoffs next year?

Who should the Giants hire as their new manager to replace Bruce Bochy?

MrDNL2 karma

The Mets need to figure out their defense. JD Davis was a pleasant surprise but there's nowhere to hide his glove. Michael Conforto is one of my favorite players but has no business being in CF -- he has to be in a corner. Nimmo really should be, too. Ramos isn't great behind the plate but I can live with that if you don't have a disaster in the field in the other positions.

In short, the Mets need a real centerfielder.

The Giants, I don't care who manages them as long as it's not Joe Girardi, because I want him for the Mets.

WWE_YuGiOh_Watson1 karma

Love getting your emails every day! Do you have an all time favourite fact?

MrDNL2 karma

Nope :)

crossang1 karma

How long does it take to fact check everything that you broadcast?

And do you ever think, this can actually be used in schools? I'm a student and I want to be a teacher, sometime later in life. I want to incorporate new and effective methods of teaching and critical thinking. I have done something similar (using a blog though) where I ask questions that are obvious and make you think about simple things (developing curiosity)(Although there hasn't been a lot of traffic on my blog). I want to know if there's any tip or suggestion for me.

(Sorry for multiple questions)

MrDNL2 karma

Fact-checking is easy because I'm almost always relying on news reports. If they get it wrong, I will too, but I rarely if ever will go by only one report. (And no, a publication rehashing another publication doesn't constitute a second report for me.)

I don't write with a school-setting audience in mind, so I don't know if that's viable for me -- you need to think about the specific needs for that audience. My advice is to think about who you are writing for and then, write for them!

bzzltyr1 karma

What is your day job if it’s not this? Does it involve using the same reading/researching talents or is this completely different?

MrDNL1 karma

Completely different and something I am not going to discuss much, but it's very Googlable :)

AutoModerator1 karma

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shahadar8 karma

He's sent out an email and that email links to this IAMA

MrDNL1 karma

Automoderator is a bot, it say this to all AMAs :)

ossiangrr1 karma

How is development going on the youtube channel?

MrDNL1 karma

Not well. There are more videos to come but it's been hard to get visibility for the ones we've made. I'm trying to solve that but I'm not optimistic.

slvrscoobie1 karma

whats the best part of being a mets fan?

MrDNL1 karma

When the Mets are good, there's really nothing more exciting than being a Mets fan. The energy level is just through the roof.

And when you meet another Mets fan -- even when (especially when) the team isn't so good -- you know they, like you, are true fans. It's a nice connection to be made.

isobane1 karma

Have you always been like this, full of knowledge that is generally useless/trival?

I've got tons of little facts like these floating around my head but can usually only spout them off when a related subject comes up in conversation.

Like, for example, your first bulletin point about the flux capacitors reminded me of how old map makers would intentionally get coastlines wrong on purpose sometimes just to make sure their maps weren't copied.

MrDNL3 karma

Yes, I've always been a fount of useless information.

And what you're talking about are typically called "trap streets." :) There's a really fun story about the Agloe, NY.

unicorn-on-fire1 karma

Hey Dan, love your newsletter. It’s my favorite part of my commute (by subway).

Where do you get all your odd trivia and facts from, aside from suggestions from readers? And what do you do when you’re not writing?

MrDNL3 karma

I have a pretty normal life to be honest. I like to watch baseball and I get stuck binge watching ST:DS9 more often than I care to admit.

choocheu1 karma

Where do you get your ideas from? What do you do when you hit a writers' block?

MrDNL1 karma

I have a list from everywhere at this point, but I still get writer's block a lot. I really need a topic to appeal to me in the moment, and there are many, many times when nothing looks interesting.

Nationalities1 karma

How did you get started and how you hope will it end?

MrDNL3 karma

I got started on a lark. The short version:

A year prior, I was between jobs and took a gig with an email newsletter startup -- my job was to grow the list. It was really, really hard, and I didn't get why. I began sharing fun facts on Twitter here and there and I got like, a few retweets. Nothing big but certainly something more than I usually got. I wondered if I could make that into an email newsletter, gave it a try, got 20 subscribers, then 25, then 30, and kept going.

Torque-A1 karma

How many replies do you get from readers suggesting daily stories and weekenders? And how are you able to read through them all?

MrDNL2 karma

I read them all. I try to reply but I fail miserably. And I try not to count! :)

Skajadeh1 karma

Does your newsletter piggy back off of anything else? I have been a subscriber for such a long time that I can't remember when I started getting your news letter. I think I clicked a link someplace to subscribe, but I don't remember where.

MrDNL1 karma

Nope! It's led to a bunch of stuff, but the newsletter is the beginning.