RD: You have to be a little bit of an ephemeralist if you want to be a completionist.
PF: That’s right. You want to make sure that you support those people. But also, I think we all know that the way we learn now is more about stumbling down random paths. And that’s the fun of it. I actually personally find the products of that process more interesting than the products of the more traditional research process, but I don’t function in a world that’s academic, and I’m not part of an activist community. I’m just like a guy who likes to browse.
So I mean, thinking about the archive, how can you contribute to future play and frolic? While also respecting that you’d like this to just be part of the record in a meaningful way, because a lot of work went into it.
RD: There is a tradition in these interviews that I’m going to ask you to participate in. A “wag” is somebody who does things their own way, has their own sort of perspective on things. If you were asked to name your favorite wag from history, whom would you choose?
PF: Hmm. Oh! The great British socialist artist/ architect/typographer, William Morris. He was active in the 1800s, and he said a brilliant thing once. He said many brilliant things, but the thing that he said that I loved the most is: He was complaining about working with a typewriter because he preferred a quill pen. He was waggish, actually; quite waggish. He said, “You can’t have art without resistance in the materials,” and I could think about that every day for the rest of my life. Think about the shape of a page, the structure of an archive, the way that GitHub looks, the way that code works. You can’t have art without resistance in the materials, so William Morris is my wag.