In case I haven't mentioned this, my pet project this year is trivia. Thus this man holds a great deal of my attention. Ben Schott knows an enormous amount of information: lowbrow, highbrow, or something in between. He says he doesn't remember it all, but he certainly records it.
I like this quotation from his latest interview with BoingBoing:
I tend to write it quite selfishly. I don't think you can write for a particular audience. I tend to look at any news story and say, Well, what do I need to know? Who are these people? Has this happened before? What's increasingly interesting about modern media is its filters: if you actually look at websites, technology from TiVo to iPods to blogs, it's all about filter. What we mean when we say we like a blog or we like a website is that we like somebody's filter. And we have several filters for different things. Of course our friends are filters. Word of mouth is the ultimate filter. So what I try to do is act as a personal filter. When I say personal, I don't mean political or partisan, I mean, What's the Schott's Almanac take on this? It's almost a sort of character.
Of course, through my own filter, I don't mean to make him out to be trivial. Especially after reading this interview with the Herald Tribune:
Schott does not consider this, or any other of his oddball facts, to be trivia. "I hate trivia," he said, "and I've never been interested in trivia books. Trivia is competitive; it's 'I know this and you don't.'
"I think what I'm doing is more inclusive. It's more about sharing information. So it's not so much about, say, who won the Super Bowl in such and such a year as what's engraved on the Super Bowl trophy. Trivia books are written by people who are obsessed, and I wouldn't want to read any of them."