Interview with Christopher Snider
I conducted this interview with Chris about a month and a half ago. Due to re-design issues and vacations, I am finally posting the interview. The basis of this interview is to get a more “behind the diabetes” view of people and find out what they do for a living or what they enjoy other than blogging and advocating for diabetes. We all have things that we do that are not just based on the DOC things we do, so I figured, why not start asking people what those other interests are.
So, here we go:
For those that may not know who you are, please give us a quick introduction of who you are and what you do.
I’m Chris. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 2002 during my freshman year of college at Virginia Tech (side note, I, Chris Stocker, am not a Hokie Alumni, but I am a Hokie football lover, hence the YouTube link). I live in northern Virginia with my awesome girlfriend, Dayle (who also has type 1 diabetes). As to what I do? Professionally, I work for the American Diabetes Association. Specifically, I manage the Google Analytics installation for all of our online assets. I also do a lot of reporting on web metrics and event fundraising but Google Analytics gets the top billing on my job description.
Off the clock, I’m all over the place. I blog (http://tobesugarfree.com), I tweet (@iam_spartacus), I tumble (socialmediaaddict.tumblr.com), I podcast (justtalkingpodcast.com), I’m trying to figure out what to do with this pinning thing, and I generally take an interest in video game and technology/social media news bits as they populate my Google Reader.
How long have you had diabetes?
My diabetes will be 10 in October. Adjusting to life with diabetes along with college made things interesting but I think I did okay in my first couple of years.
Let’s talk about web analytics, have you always been into numbers and analyzing data?
In to numbers? Sure. Math was always my strongest subject and I took to computer programming as soon as I started taking classes in high school. I didn’t really get in to legit data analysis until I started working at the Association. I had my blog before I got this job but I don’t count WordPress’ basic stats page as “analytics”.
And to tell the truth, I didn’t start in Analytics when I was hired. I sort of fell into this position and ran with it once I got my bearings straight. Now I’m falling down a rabbit hole of data and have no interest in trying to find my way out – it’s fantastic. It’s one of those weird situations where I didn’t know how much I loved this stuff until I got involved in it. Looking back at my educational interests and all that, this stuff seems like a natural fit, but I had no idea any of this stuff was out there until I started working at the Association.
What is your favorite thing to do with Google Analytics?
My favorite thing to do is empower stakeholders. It sounds corporate, but it’s true. I interact with staff in the Home Office (Alexandria, VA) as well as hundreds of staff and volunteers across the country. Rather than just tell people how many pageviews and visitors their pages get, I take the time to explain to them what the data means. The first time they call they will have no idea what any of the terms are (please, don’t ever say “hits”.
Any time you say “hits” when referring to pageviews, an angel loses its wings) but after a few emails or phone conversations they turn into informed stakeholders. Then they can educate others in their offices and eventually make their own data-based decisions as it relates to web content or generating awareness for a local event. I’m over-simplifying a bit, but I take my role as a “teacher” of sorts very seriously and I think the people I work with appreciate it.
Or, I hope they do.
You have your own podcast, but are there any podcasts that you subscribe to?
The ironic thing about producing your own podcast is that your podcast consuming habits tend to take a nose-dive. I subscribe to a handful of podcasts and do my best to keep up with the content:
-Giant Bombcast: my primary source for video game news and opinions. I come for the content but stay for the personalities.
-The B.S. Report: Bill Simmons (Grantland.com) talks mostly sports, but also branches out to pop culture topics and guests whenever he feels like it.In a way his show was one of the inspirations for my podcast.
-Good Job, Brain!: A weekly dose of trivia and random facts that will intrigue and help at your next pub trivia contest.
-Savage Lovecast: Dan Savage offers relationship and sex advice to callers. Definitely for mature audiences, but it’s never boring.
-This is Only a Test: from tested.com, this show talks about science, technology and pretty much whatever else the hosts feel like. Again, never boring.
-Remember When: from my podcasting mentor, Parris and Jay talk about current television and movies as well as going back through the archives to talk about movie classics. You’ll see a theme here…Never boring.
What are some of the tools that you use for your Podcast?
I’ve just finished upgrading my setup; it’s very exciting. I record, edit and publish from my MacBook Air. I record conversations over Skype using Audio Hijack Pro and edit each episode using Levelator (to balance the audio) and Audacity for the final edits. iTunes also helps out with the final polish of album art and show notes.
I use a Beyerdynamic DT234 Pro Dual-Ear Headset to talk with my guests and the headset is connected to my Air with a Turtle Beach USB adapter. If I need to record a group of people locally I have a Blue Snowball that I can put in the middle of a table and capture the full conversation. That microphone is a beast.
When did you decide that you wanted to create a podcast, and how did that idea come up?
When I started my blog in 2009, I knew I didn’t want to just write about life with diabetes. As frustrated as I was with my diabetes at the time, I knew I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself into one topic all the time. Every Friday I would write about a video game topic of my choosing with a target word count of 1,000. Eventually I started to post these video game posts on talkingaboutgames.com to get my content to an audience that would be more receptive and more likely to offer feedback.
Eventually the Editor in Chief approached me wanting to put my posts on the front page of the site and bring me on as part of the writing staff. (This was a really, really big deal to me.) That exposure brought along an offer to be part of one of Talking About Games’ podcasts, the Post Game Report. A few months into my run on that podcast I took over hosting duties. This included creating show notes, editing, posting on the site and publicizing on Twitter and Facebook. All of this took place over a six-month period.
Around September 2010, I got bored just talking about video games each week and decided to start my own podcast that wasn’t bound to weekly gaming topics. I knew that each of my co-hosts had interests outside of video games but the nature of that podcast kept us in a relatively strict format. I wanted more than that. My podcast, Just Talking, is self-described as a free-flowing conversation with purpose. I talk with members of the diabetes community, various gaming communities, members of the video game press, community managers for video game studios as well as anyone else who is willing to talk to a total stranger for an hour or so.
As I’m typing this, I’ve produced over 145 pieces of downloadable audio under the Just Talking label and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. I’m having far too much fun.
I know you are a gamer, so what is your game of choice right now?
My gaming habits of late aren’t what they used to be when I didn’t have responsibilities like an 8-5 job or a mortgage. I still dabble in first person shooters like Call of Duty and always enjoy beating up thugs in Batman: Arkham City, but my most played games lately are Torchlight on my Mac and Drop7 or Peggle on my phone.
Seriously people, do NOT sleep on Peggle.
Let’s go back to the days of Nintendo, what is the greatest game in your opinion? For me, Contra for Nintendo gets the nod.
Without hesitation – Tecmo Super Bowl. You can’t stop Lawrence Taylor on the wing or Barry Sanders with the sweep. Jerry Rice would catch anything thrown to him. Bo Jackson was unstoppable. And QB Eagles was my Arch Nemisis. I own the original NES cartridge, an emulated version, the XBLA port as well as a remake for the Nintendo DS.
Don’t mess with LT.
Other than blogging, podcasting, gaming, and analyzing, what is your favorite thing to do?
Dayle and I started a garden on our balcony a month or so ago. We’ve got tomatoes, bell peppers, peas and carrots growing. It’s weird how excited you can get to eat something like peas if you grow them yourself. Between the plants and the bird feeder, I’m all about relaxing with the small slice of nature we have at our disposal. I can identify cardinals, blue jays and red-winged blackbirds by the noises they make. Because that’s normal. If that doesn’t prove that people with diabetes are more than this silly disease, I don’t know what does.
I want to thank Chris for taking the time to do this interview with me. I hope you all enjoyed. There will be more interviews like this with some more non-d related questions.
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