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Science: This Time, It's Personal

Published on
August 1, 2022
Show notes

In a world where trust in institutions and in news is falling and the role of influencers is growing, finding the connective tissue between you and your audience is key to, well, connecting. 

To establish a rapport, which can if nourished, lead to trust, which can lead to a genuine connection. And for the creator to go further, to push deeper, to find meaning and bearing in places we as consumers or readers or listeners might not otherwise look or expect, like in local news or video game reviews or recipes.

I think that matters a lot. We’re not only losing trust but feeling that loss. With so much coming at us, we notice and feel a lack of connection, we feel adrift and unmoored. I am moved by people whose work and art I can connect with, whether I’m seeking it out or not.

Because connection matters. Who we get our COVID information or our weather forecasts from matters, but also who helps us understand where we can find comfort, and why.

My guest today is Swapna Krishna.

Swapna is a writer and journalist covering space, science, tech, and pop culture. She writes everywhere from Fast Company to StarWars.com, from StarTrek.com to Business Insider, the LA Times, Bitch Magazine, Bustle, Mental Floss, and more.

She’s appeared on a million excellent podcasts, at Comic-Con, and is the co-host of her own show, the Desi Geek Girls podcast, and the new host of PBS’s show Far Out.

Swapna often writes some of the most empathetic tech and pop culture commentary on the web. She has this unique ability to say “this is what this big thing means to me” and make you feel like “yes, me too!” or “Wait I didn’t think about that”.

We have very different backgrounds and lives but I trust her writing and thoroughly enjoy her new show, and her efforts to try and meet people where they are, on science issues and pop culture fandoms big and small.

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Transcript

Quinn:

There's this cheat code to good copywriting. The idea is to use the word you more often. Make it less about the story or the product and more about the audience, more directly about you, to connect to you. 1000 songs in your pocket, how you can get ahead, how you can get smarter. But on the other hand using me or I can be confusing or even go further, if used intentionally of course. Done right, it can make your work or product more relatable. And yes, relatable gets tossed around, but when done in a considerate way, it's about meeting people where they are, right? Whether that's a story or a news article, an app, a service, a vaccine clinic, about urban heat or video games. In a world where trust in institutions and in news is falling every day and the role of influencers is growing, and the creator economy, as we call it, is growing and becoming more of an option for more people, of course, however, limited by privileges like mine, whatever the case.

Quinn:

Finding the connective tissue between you and your audience is key to connecting, to establish a rapport, which, if nourished thoughtfully, can lead to trust, which can lead to a genuine connection. And further creator or writer or artist or whatever, to go further, to push deeper, to find meaning and bearing in places we as consumers or readers or listeners might not otherwise look for or expect. Like in local news or video game reviews or recipes. And I think that matters a lot. We're not only losing trust, but feeling that loss. With so much coming at us all the time, every day, we notice and feel a lack of connection. We feel adrift often and unmoored, I'm sure you feel it too. And so for me at least, I am moved by people whose work and art I can connect with, whether I'm seeking it out or not.

Quinn:

And as you guys know, I try really hard to bring on guests, most often with very different lived experiences than my own, to expand my own perspective, to understand what's happening to more people, to get better at what I do here and frankly, to help more people. And often that means trying to have a common starting point, something we both give a shit about, something we both enjoy like... Well, give a shit about kids' cancer, nobody enjoys that. We enjoy dinosaurs or in today's case video games, and then we go from there. Because connection matters. Who we get our COVID information from or our weather forecasts, who we get that information from, it matters. But also helps us understand more and more, where we can find comfort and why.

Quinn:

My guest today is Swapna Krishna. And Swapna is an amazing writer and journalist covering space, science, tech, and pop culture, and where they all intersect. She rates everywhere from, oh gosh, Fast Company to StarWars.com, from StarTrek.com to Business Insider, The LA Times, Bitch Magazine, Bustle, Mental Floss and more. Swapna has appeared on a million excellent podcasts you've heard. She's been at Comic-Con and she's the co-host of her own podcast, the Desi Geek Girls show, and the new host of PBS's show, Far Out. And Swapna often writes some of the most empathetic tech and pop culture commentary on the web, if we're still calling it that, I am, because I'm ancient. The point is I've been reading her work for years as part of a fire hose of other tech and sci-fi content.

Quinn:

And Swapna has this unique ability to say, "Hey, this is what this big thing means to me." And it makes you feel like, oh yeah, me too or wait, I didn't think about it like that. And again, I think that skill and effort matters a lot today. So Swapna and I have very different backgrounds and lives, but I trust her and her writing. And I'm thoroughly enjoying her new show and her efforts to try and meet people where they are on science issues and pop culture fandoms big and small. So this conversation goes to some unexpected places, like many of mine recently, and I'm really enjoying that. So many of you have written and express the same, so I hope you enjoy this one as well. And as always, please let me know. You can always reach me at questionsatimportantnotimportant.com or on Twitter @quinnemmett. Swapna Krishna, welcome to the show.

Swapna Krishna:

Thank you, very excited to be here.

Quinn:

I will try to live up to that. We'll see how this goes. We like to start with one important question to set the tone for this fiasco instead of Swapna, what's your amazing, incredible life story beat by beat. I like to ask, Swapna why are you vital to the survival of the species?

Swapna Krishna:

Because I tell people why they should care about science and space. Which I think is so important, because in a world where we're constantly getting pings, we're constantly getting notifications, we're constantly being told why we should care about things that feel like they're out of our control and why we should always be activists, preserving that sense of wonder and that optimism and that hope is so important.

Quinn:

I love that answer, you're amazing. That's it, we're done, this was great. No, I think that's really great. When I was making all of my notes and doing my research in a non-stalkery way... That reflects a little bit to something I want to come back to, which is your work is actually really personal, which is super interesting. So I want to dig into that. Look, your writing and again, go to your website or read your stuff forever, and I feel like I've been inadvertently reading your things for forever here. Because it's like Fast Company and in Engadget and Shondaland and StarWars.com and StarTrek.com and Bustle, like we were saying... Not to say that there aren't other examples of this out there, but in a world of endless tech and pop culture reviews and commentary and hot takes, you seem to intentionally thread your work at least, to me it seems that way, with this ethos of, this is what this means to me or this is how this show or game affected me.

Quinn:

And it's very relatable and it gives readers a way in, that's not just like, "Here's the specs or here's the fan service." By the way, love those too. But recently I can't remember if it was right around when we were scheduling the first time or rescheduled, enter Cozy Grove and you did this, because we were driving back from some swim meet or something and he really wanted something, and we don't break out the Switch that often, I know you love the Switch.

Quinn:

I had just read your piece about the snowstorm, and it is such a kind and gentle game. And again, you made it relatable in another way, because you were like, "Oh look, my switch is amazing." But you also talked about how games on your phone are great. Anyways, it's another example how your work meets people where they are. So thank you one. But also, why is this sort of a connective tissue between how we live and what we consume, why is that so important to you?

Swapna Krishna:

That's a really good question. And I don't know that I've ever gotten that one before. So part of it comes just from the person I am. I actually also have ADHD and that, you can kind of see it in the breadth of what I do. I do really write at the intersection of space science technology and pop culture. And I write about all those things often all at once. In the same article, I will talk about all those things. But I think a lot of it is just to really be able to focus on something, I need to care about it. That's what I have realized. I am not good at just doing things because they pay well or doing things because that's what I'm supposed to be doing. It's a big part of why I'm a freelancer and it's a big part of what I choose to write about.

Swapna Krishna:

I like to bring the personal into what I work about. That doesn't mean my work is always personal, I definitely do like reported work and work where I am not involved in the narrative at all. But there's always a thread of, I am reporting on this because I want to or because it is important to me or it is personal to me. And so a lot of my more personal stuff, like the gaming column I do at Wired is very personal. Because I found that when I became a parent, I have a three and a half year old, one of my real respites and one of my real places of solace and one of the few things I do to relax is I play video games. And I was looking for people like me and I couldn't find them. A lot of the gamer stuff is like you said, it's a little more technical and I am not knocking it. Because God knows I Google, how do I beat this boss and X all of the time.

Quinn:

For sure, yeah.

Swapna Krishna:

So we need that content. Sometimes when I'm looking for something like this and I'm looking for writing on the internet, I just want to give myself permission to do things. It comes from, I think, our generation and our obsession with productivity, I feel like I need to be working all the time. I feel like if I am genuinely just taking a break, it is somehow I could be doing more, I could be doing it better, I could be doing it in a more efficient way. And a lot of it was just finding the permission to be like, no, you need to relax. You need to. And you can tell yourself that all the time, but you can tell yourself that, but you have to feel it and internalize it.

Swapna Krishna:

So part of that column and the reason I wanted to write it is, not only giving myself permission to letting myself off the hook, but if other people were looking for that, letting them off the hook too. But more generally the thing about my writing being very personal it's because I find that that's a very effective way to communicate and get people interested in what I'm interested in. I have so many people who have told me like, "I watch your science videos on TikTok and I don't know anything or really care about space, but you're so enthusiastic that it makes me want to learn more."

Quinn:

Sure. No, I love that. I mean, you're right. It's like people have to give a shit. They have to have a wide-

Swapna Krishna:

Yes.

Quinn:

Like you inserting yourself into that in such a personal way it's, I mean, I guess you could say, provocative in one way, but in such a constructive way. In the sense of just like, "Look, this applies to me and let me tell you a story." And that's what the train one was so amazing. But I also loved... And again, I know these are two of the more recent ones, but I'll go back to some of your past stuff in a moment. But you talked about how you accidentally stopped doomscrolling and I thought that was so interesting. Because again, so my wife got her kicked by COVID and we locked her away for... And she locked herself away and we were like, "No one else is getting it." But very quickly ran out of things to do and she was just like, "I'm just doomscrolling so much."

Quinn:

We didn't directly use the mansion game you mentioned, but I thought about that line where you essentially said, "Look, I love my switch, but doomscrolling is on my phone and I need something there that's going to make me stop doing that." Besides just like take Twitter off your phone and do these things, right?

Swapna Krishna:

Exactly. Like I've done all those things.

Quinn:

Right. And again, it's meeting people where they are. It's not just like, "Go by a switch." It's like, "Great. You can't find one for six months or whatever, but you've got your phone and there's got to be something there that can help."

Swapna Krishna:

Right. And not everybody can afford to drop $350 just on a whim to get... So it's just your phone is there, it's accessible. Pretty much everybody has some edition of a smartphone, might not be the most recent, but it doesn't have to be for a lot of these mobile games. We're not trying to play Elden Ring on your phone. It's like these are very simple games that aren't usually too demanding. It's funny because it's a little bit of a two part. The first one is, I am so embarrassed at how much time... How addicted I am to this mobile game.

Swapna Krishna:

Because there's some sort of internalization writing about video games on the internet. As a woman, as a woman of color, as a person who prides herself on being... Like the column is called Casual Gamer. There's a lot of just toxicity around that and I'm so embarrassed because I should be playing like Elden Ring or the latest, greatest RPG and instead all I've played for two weeks is this mobile game on my phone. And then I realized, like I looked up my screen time and I'm like, I'm spending an hour a day on this instead of Twitter, and that is key for me.

Quinn:

And that's what makes it so personal. Look, I love all those games from GoldenEye to the larger worlds and that stuff is great. But I've got three kids asking for snacks all of the time. And this is one of the things you talked about with Cozy Grove is how it tracks and log for you. And it's so gentle and it's so intentionally kind about the way you come back to it versus some of these games. Like you said, I've got to Google six different ways to this chatroom about how I can defeat this thing. And I'm like, "Oh, guess what? I'm out of time, we've got to go swim practice." I have that-

Swapna Krishna:

Exactly. I don't want to have to keep a notebook on what I need to be doing next to my game. I just want it to log in and it be like... Just not have to think about it.

Quinn:

Sure. But like you said, it's also sort of unintentionally, it became this one for one replacement for Twitter, which is like, have I caught up, am I on this thing? And for some of us that can be part of our job, which is fine, but we can also do that in an intentional way and find things. Like you said, sometimes you can't just take them off because guess what? Then you open it in Safari and you're like, well, guess what? I'm fucking back. But having something you want to do on the same device does matter.

Swapna Krishna:

That's the key. That's the key.

Quinn:

Let's talk about Far Out, which I love, it's a delight.

Swapna Krishna:

It is. I love it.

Quinn:

So it's fairly new, right?

Swapna Krishna:

Mm-hmm.

Quinn:

How many episodes in are we?

Swapna Krishna:

We are just two episodes in. Third episode is dropping at the end of July.

Quinn:

This is very exciting. So I love the first one about getting old and then the second one, which I was curious, it's a little more near-term. So here's my question, it's described as exploring the future of humanity on this big, messy planet called earth, great. Episode two is about things that we talk about all the time here, which is essentially depleted groundwater and desalination and water recycling, and how parts of the world are running out and things like that. I'm curious, basically how are you planning the content for something like this? Is it your baby, is it PBS, somewhere in between? How far out are we going to get, et cetera, et cetera?

Swapna Krishna:

It is very much a collaboration. We come up with the topics, we film and produce. PBS is by PBS, North Carolina, the affiliate. But we work very closely with PBS Digital Studios headquarters. But we come up with all the topics at North Carolina, me. And I collaborate with my producers and my researchers and we come up with the topics, but we do get approval and feedback from Digital Studios. But it's very much like our baby and it's been up to us to kind of figure out the crux of the show, like where are we going to focus... These are eight to 11 minute episodes and we're talking about huge topics. So one of the real challenges we've run into is getting as narrow as possible and getting as detailed as possible because we would rather go deep than broad. So how do we do that on a huge topic? And that's been a thing we're still constantly talking about and working out.

Swapna Krishna:

In terms of how far out are we going to go? I would love to go like 50, 100 years out, but it also depends on how much our experts are willing to speculate. Which experts are usually pretty hesitant to speculate much more than like 10 to 15 years. So what we're trying to do is balance and respect that, which you can't predict the future, with also being like, "Here's a really cool thing we're hoping we're working towards." It's been very exciting and I'm a writer on the episodes. But it's been my first foray into on-screen work and doing all of this. I do TikTok videos, but that's very different from an eight to 10 minute YouTube video. And so there's been a big learning curve for me in terms of like learning how to write for this kind of show.

Quinn:

Going deep in eight to 11 minutes is pretty difficult.

Swapna Krishna:

It's a challenge.

Quinn:

It's a challenge, but it's funny. It reminds me of an... I was talking to someone recently about growing up, and in one example, your teacher could say, "Write an essay about anything."

Quinn:

And I'm like, "I don't know what to do."

Quinn:

But if your teacher's like, "Write 400 words on what you did the last week of summer vacation."

Quinn:

"Great. Let's do it." Constraints makes the world go around for me.

Swapna Krishna:

No, I'm the same way. If you ask me, "What's a book you read recently, you enjoyed?"

Swapna Krishna:

I'm like, "Do I read? I don't know, I don't own books."

Quinn:

What is this book thing?

Swapna Krishna:

Right. "I really like thrillers. Can you recommend a thriller?"

Swapna Krishna:

I'm like, "Oh yeah. Here's like eight I've read recently that I enjoyed." It's just my brain needs that constraint. Once we come up with a topic, it is a lot easier to kind of narrow in on what's the... Because the topics are still really big, like 103 which is coming out at the end of July is, the Future of Cannabis. That's a huge topic. So how do we narrow that? Where are we going to narrow in? What are we specifically looking at and how do we get... And this is very important for PBS and the Terra channel, which is the specific PBS YouTube channel we're on, how do we get deep into the science and technology? Those are the challenges and the questions we're asking ourselves.

Quinn:

It's funny when you say it's so much easier if someone says like, "Hey, what's a specific thriller published between 1995 and 1998?" Versus right about anything. And I think about, again, kind of coming back to this, the first time I realized my kid had a lot going on in his brain was, he must have been, I don't know, two-ish or something like that. And we spent a few months while my wife was making a movie in New York. And usually we were in Los Angeles for most of his childhood, now we're in Virginia. But we're in New York and busy roads outside of all this, and of course he's very much in, I mean you're in it now, like sort of a toddler stage. And he was having a hard time falling asleep and I said, "What are you thinking about buddy?" And he took the deepest breath and he named basically every construction truck that's ever been in existence. And every automobile that had gone by the door that day. And I was like, oh shit, there's a lot going on in there at any given time.

Quinn:

And I thought recently about when he gets projects at school or when he's working on things or when I ask him, "What's going on or what do you want to write about, or what's this homework supposed to be about?"

Quinn:

And you can see him just being like, "It could be anything and everything at the same time." And how important it is for me to help try to provide those constraints for him.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, no, I'm seeing the same thing. Similar in my toddler, he's just like... It's getting harder and harder for him to fall asleep. And I can just tell he is thinking, thinking, thinking like running through the day. And he'll randomly talk about... He's very like only child, and also I am like this as well, so I get it. Very particular about his stuff. So his thing is he constantly thinks about other kids coming over, kids from school and stuff, and touching his stuff. And I'm like, "Kid, nobody's going to come over and touch your stuff unless you want them to." And so it's just so interesting. But yeah, I think giving those constraints, and I think for kids, for adults, for all of us is really important. And so one of the things on the show, I never want somebody to come away from it and feel like that was just an overview.

Swapna Krishna:

I would much rather be like, "Okay, but what about X, Y, Z, and A, B and C aspect of it that you didn't address?" I would rather get very deep into one aspect of it, which is, I think, what we do for cannabis. Water was a really good example of a broader overview of a topic. And that was the episode I was like, "Okay, we really need to narrow because that one was a little bit broader than what I would like to do." That being said, I think it's a great episode, I'm very proud of it and the illustrations and the graphics are incredible. But I want to get a little more into the nitty gritty of the science and the technology, and that's what we do going forward and I'm really excited.

Quinn:

It's hard. I mean, when you tackle anything, climate, water, food, whatever it might be related, there's 70 different strings you can pull. So it's hard to say like, "Are we going to run out of water?" It's like, "I mean, how much time do you have." You know?

Swapna Krishna:

I know, exactly.

Quinn:

Like, "We can do this all day." But I thought you guys actually did a very nuanced version of that because I do think it also prompts more questions to people who would probably then type into YouTube, like "Desalinate waste and brine. And what do you mean groundwater and the stuff is sinking and..." I think that's helpful.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah. And that's what I hope, that's what I want. Our show is just the jumping off point, it's eight to 10 minutes. If you're a writer, my script goal is always 1500 words, which is so short. That's so short, and it's including the expert quotes. It is so short. So just doing everything I can with every single one of those words, but also there's a tone thing here because we're talking about so much. Future of Water, Future of Aging, these are serious topics and I don't want to ever depress people, even if the reality is scary.

Swapna Krishna:

Like the reality of our water situation is very scary. I never want to moralize, I don't want to tell people what to think. I don't want to moralize, but I also want to leave people with some grain of people are working on this, people are thinking about this. There are good people doing good work. So that's another hard needle to thread with a lot of these topics. Especially when as we get more, we're going to talk more about climate. We're going to talk more about all of that, and it's hard. It's a hard needle to thread.

Quinn:

The not moralizing part is definitely a hard to do. I've certainly had to pick some lanes and also acknowledge I'm coming from this incredibly privileged place to be able to do it. But you really do have to almost write out your contract with yourself about like, "Hey, this is how we're going to do things." Because kind of fumbling around is a little difficult, but it does take time. What kind of itch does it scratch for you to be on camera doing this versus all your journalism? I mean, TikTok you're obviously on camera too, but this is like so much more structured and almost... It's so weird to say YouTube is old school, but you know what I mean? Versus TikTok-

Swapna Krishna:

No.

Quinn:

... and everything, versus your incredible podcast, which I also love and we're going to talk about that.

Swapna Krishna:

It's very new. First of all, it's a whole new audience for me, video generally. So I started, actually got on TikTok when I got this job offer and because I was like I need to get comfortable with myself on video fast, because I wasn't at that point. And the way I got comfortable with listening to myself was doing my own podcast and editing my own voice. So the reason I got on TikTok was I need to be comfortable with my face and me talking. I think it's reaching a whole new audience, I think that is really important. And I think in some ways, it's just a lot more visible. I am the host, you're seeing my face, it's much more personal than reading somebody's words even if the content isn't more personal. I get much more personal, for example, in my Wired column than I do on Far Out. Although there are definitely parts to Far Out where I do get personal, you'll see it in the cannabis episode. But it is much more personal and on screen because you are seeing my face and hearing my voice.

Swapna Krishna:

And that is really cool because I feel like I'm connecting with people in a way I haven't before. But it's also really scary in a lot of ways, very intimidating to be the face of something like this. It's something you get used to and some ways you don't ever get used to, people like slinging around your thumbnail in Slack, your face in Slack. And they're just talking about the illustrations around your face, but you're like, oh my God, that's just my face. It's just become a part of the production. And it's a very weird, a little bit out of body experience to be like, oh, I'm just a part of this production in a lot of ways. And I'm integral to it of course, but when it comes to post production, I'm just a part of the production. That's been really interesting and it's scary, but it's really cool. All I ever want to do with any of my work is reach people where they are, and this is a new way to do that.

Quinn:

Are you comfortable yet seeing your face everywhere all of the time on these things?

Swapna Krishna:

Seeing my face? No, no, no, no. I don't know that I will ever get there. But doing the work, yeah. I am comfortable on the green screen, I'm comfortable filming in the studio and that's partially because my team and producers are so good. I was so intimidated to use a teleprompter for the first time. I was like, "I'm going to mess this up. I'm absolutely going to mess this up." But no, it actually went really well. I don't know that I will ever get used to that part of it, just seeing my face everywhere.

Quinn:

It's funny. We've just spent 15 years in LA. My wife is a very hardworking and successful screenwriter and producer and so we've got a number of friends who make their lives on screen in a variety of ways, and it's incredible. I would say the majority of them, if you ask them if they watch their own movies, they're like, "Absolutely not. Literally never. I will never do that." There's a variety of reasons. I mean, listening to myself just on audio, I'm like that guy should never be allowed to do anything ever again.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah. And it's weird because I have a very different relationship to my TikToks than the show. I have trouble watching the show. The TikToks I'm actually fine with, I don't have a problem watching them and maybe it's just because I'm used to it. But the show I still... Maybe it's because I'm not in control of it, and I know... I don't know. I have trouble with the show. But the thing is, it's so good. I have watched both the episodes and just from behind a pillow, because I love the art style and they're really-

Quinn:

It's really cool, yeah.

Swapna Krishna:

... colorful. I think that is important because I think science and technology can be so... Not drab, because I don't want to put it that way, because it's cool. But the color palette is often not... You don't associate with bright colors. And one thing I want to do is if you love bright sparkly things and you love bright pink, and you want to wear glitter nail polish... Hey, I'm wearing bright orange and pink nail polish right now. And that is absolutely valid and you can bring those things to science. That doesn't mean you're not serious. I'm so excited with the color palette and that's why I try to wear bright clothes on camera and stuff like that. I want to send that message that you can be a serious science person and still love bright colors or love glitter, or love puffy skirts or whatever people love.

Quinn:

Oh, yeah. I think it's great. And again, it's meeting an even greater variety and volume of people where they are, that for a very long time, no one has made that effort. So I think it's awesome. It reminds me one of our earliest guests and one of my children's favorite humans is Emily Calandrelli, who's been doing stuff forever.

Swapna Krishna:

Oh my God. Emily is one of my close friends.

Quinn:

Oh, that's awesome.

Swapna Krishna:

I want to just say that she has a little empire now. And she could be so standoffish, but instead she has been the most helpful, kind person in helping me adjust to all of this. I just want to shout her out because we've been close friends for a long time. But I have been so out of my depth in a lot of this on camera stuff, and she has been the best human.

Quinn:

I mean, she's always been amazing. Her Netflix show that my children have probably watched 40 times. That again-

Swapna Krishna:

I know.

Quinn:

... bright colors, she shot it pregnant, it's incredible. And again, talk about... I mean, I can't even imagine not feeling comfortable on screen at times. But yes, it's, quote, unquote, "for kids", but again, it's not this sort of stage stoic version of it. It's just like let's celebrate this with all the pomp and fireworks, and glitter and slime and all that stuff. So I love it. Can we talk about Desi Geek Girls?

Swapna Krishna:

Yes.

Quinn:

Because it's amazing and you've actually been doing this for a long time. What? You guys are 70 something, 75 episodes in?

Swapna Krishna:

Yes.

Quinn:

Oh my God.

Swapna Krishna:

Something like that, 75 episodes. We just had our five year anniversary in February, which blows my mind. Because when we started it, I was like, "There's no way I could commit to a regular podcast." But we've been doing it.

Quinn:

Well, it turns out, and you have talked recently, you and your amazing cohost Preeti, who's got her Spider-Man book coming out, very exciting.

Swapna Krishna:

Yes. Next Tuesday. Everybody please pre-order Spider-Man's Social Dilemma! Oh my God.

Quinn:

Yeah. My kids are all over it. It's going to be great. But it's amazing because you're like, "I don't know how I could commit to so many episodes of this." And it turns out, in one of your recent episodes, you were talking about literally the amount of content out there. It's impossible and it's funny because I thought... Recently I was telling a friend, they were asking me what I thought of Obi-Wan or something. And I said, "You know, I think 15 year old me would be very much not pleased with 39 year old me, who's like, 'There's too much. It's too much Marvel. It's too much Trek or talking or whatever it might be.'" Who'd just be like, "What's your problem, man?" But it is. It's relentless.

Swapna Krishna:

It is. No, people have been asking us like, "when are you going to do Ms. Marvel?" Because I think we covered the first episode and we haven't done anything. And the dirty secret is I haven't watched past episode two.

Quinn:

When would you?

Swapna Krishna:

It's like I just don't have time. I travel to film because of the relentless YouTube schedule and we are playing a little bit of catch up. I'm writing like five scripts and filming five scripts in two months, I don't have time. And so that's what we were just talking. And one of the things I love about doing a podcast with my best friend that is not a job is, when one of us gets behind or one of us gets overwhelmed, we're just like, "We're not filming until it's fun." We only film when it's fun.

Quinn:

You have to have that outlet.

Swapna Krishna:

That is key and that's why we both stuck with it. Because the second one of us is stressed out or she's had like a million book deadlines because she's a superstar, and I'm just like, "No." It's not a conversation. Like, "Let's just wait until we both are excited about it or we both want to talk about these things to get away from the world for a while." And then we'll record.

Quinn:

It's interesting because some of the most popular podcasts from the past five, six years are these very friendship based ones. It could be two non celebrity type friends. I think there was one, I remember the New York Times wrote an article a few years ago is just two sort of like 35 year old women who call each other and talk about things that apply to 35 year old women. And the hoards of people listen to it, because that's incredibly relatable and it's easy. It's a friendship you feel like you're part of, you can turn off anytime you want, there are no strings attached, and it seems to bring the host so much joy.

Quinn:

And it's interesting because you pointed out, it's much easier and it's much more manageable in the long term if you're like, "Look, we're not doing it unless it brings joy." And it's hard because when these shows get really popular, it turns into a business and then obligation and a whole thing, and that can suck the joy out of these things. I have to say, you and your amazing cohost make these pop culture conversations so personal. So I want to talk about Geordi and Picard, because there's a show I haven't looked forward to, for a very long time, like Picard. And season two was interesting, there's a lot going on there.

Swapna Krishna:

It was a lot, yeah.

Quinn:

And you made this point that I couldn't get away from when I was on my StairMaster watching Picard, which is how that show dealt with childhood and mental illness and how maybe it's not so great to lock people in what seems to be a room or a cave from the 18th century, but also the 23rd century. And you said, and I'm going to paraphrase this a little bit. Again, I thought about this because of everything that's going on right now, which is, what matters for the story is how this little boy interpreted and processed this information for his entire life, right?

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah.

Quinn:

And in a world where pop culture, whether it's Solo or Picard, we're always going like, "Why are they this way and how did they get this way?" And they took this on in a really interesting... Some people loved it, some people did not so much like it way. But I'm constantly thinking about how to inform and educate and involve my very privileged kids in this incredible world they're inheriting, but a world that's increasingly, relatively perilous in a lot of ways at school or in the heat, whatever it might be. But also a world where they're obligated to help people and solve problems and take care of themselves. So when you guys talked about that, I thought again about how you make your work so personal. I'm curious how you think about that challenge as a mom.

Swapna Krishna:

Oh God. All the time. Like all the time. I'm of the opinion where I'm going to inflict trauma on my kid because every parent does it to every kid. Like I'm going to do it, I just at least want to be cognizant enough so it's not the same trauma that was inflicted on me. So that's one thing in terms of bringing it in terms of parenting. And the second thing is my job isn't to make my kid into who I want him to be or who I think he should be or... My goal is my dreams. My job is to help him figure out who he is and become the best version of that. And everything I write and everything I do, even if it's not about parenting in any way, comes through that lens.

Swapna Krishna:

I was a person who came into parenting, I wasn't sure I ever wanted to be a parent growing up. I wasn't sure that being a parent was for me, but I was one of those people who was so transformed by the experience of... But now everything I do, I do for him. Even if it's like I'm writing about space, but I'm doing it for my kid because I don't care if space is one of his interests growing up. If he just decides like, "Mom, Star Trek isn't for me."

Swapna Krishna:

"That's fine. You find something that's for you."

Swapna Krishna:

But I want him to see his mom doing something she loves and talking about something she loves, and enjoying things she loves, and sharing that with the world and giving that back to other people. That's what I want him to see. It's not, I want him to... Of course, I want him to love space. Of course, I do. But if he doesn't, that's his choice and that's the person he is, and that's absolutely fine. But I want to set the example of him seeing me do these things that I love and be passionate about something. I don't care what you're passionate about, be passionate about something because it's so important and it's so necessary in the world we live in right now. I bring that thought to everything I do, like in terms of what do I want my kid to take away from this? It is integral in everything I do.

Swapna Krishna:

I think a lot of the way I talk about things and a lot of the way I interact with things has changed since I had a kid. Before I've always written and talked about personal stuff, but I think the tenor of it has changed. I used to do it because I felt like it was the best way to... Like I talked about representation a lot and the importance of that, because I felt like it was the best way to make myself heard on a very noisy internet. And now, I still talk about similar things, but I do it in a different way. Because now I do it because I want to have these conversations so my kids sees me engaging in these things and having these conversations because they're important to have.

Quinn:

Sure, I get it. As a writer, anytime you're giving backstory, whether it's one of your articles or it's a movie or a TV show or some beloved character from when we were growing up and now they're like, "This is why he had to leave his family's winery all the time." It's always a choice and it dives, whether it's pop psychology or more grounded stuff, into sort of who we are and why we are who we are, and who shaped us and how they shaped us and why.

Quinn:

Whether, like you said, it's intentional like, "You're going to love these seven things and that's the way we do it." Or it's just like, "Find your thing but here's a model of what I love and why I love it and how I interact with the world." For me, it seems like it's increasingly a choice in how I interpret those things. Because like you said, all of a sudden you just see everything through this lens of parenting and kids and like, "Oh, holy shit, I'm a..." Like you said, I'm going to inflict some trauma on this child, I hope it's different and at least I'm self aware that I'm doing it, right?

Swapna Krishna:

Yes, exactly. I think the self-awareness is a big deal. I think being aware that like, "We're all going to do it." It's part of parenting. But just be aware of what I am bringing to this from my own experiences and try not to replicate that.

Quinn:

Right. Don't lock him in a cave, would be great.

Swapna Krishna:

Yes. I mean, just I think parenting 101, don't lock people in rooms-

Quinn:

Basic stuff. Like if dad's cutting a sinkhole out, we're going to go outside and watch it. Don't lock him in a cave, it's a pretty decent list. It's a good starter list. If we can go back a little further and if you don't want to get into that, you can say no, and we will cut this out. You wrote an article for, Engadget in 2018 maybe, about how pregnancy apps-

Swapna Krishna:

It would've been probably 2018, yeah. Because I was pregnant then.

Quinn:

Your child is three and a half, but it was also 100 years ago. You talked about how those, again, super personal, "Hey, all these fancy trackers and stuff failed me, and these are the seven reasons." Those devices and apps and such have taken an even more interesting turn recently with... Turns out there's no data privacy whatsoever and abortion laws and all these things. Moral of the story has always sort of been... I mean, you look at what AFTC is trying to do with location data, which they're selling your data every day to everyone. Random smart home devices not encrypted by default, maybe don't get one or give it all your info.

Quinn:

Maybe it's not great to just put your period into any app made by anybody, whatever, because the benefits are kind of marginal and also it turns out now maybe they can send you to jail. I'm curious thinking now, after everything has happened, how you would add to that article or how you would rethink it for yourself or for other people who might be considering using those things. Do you feel like there's more, as Apple has added finally some period stuff and they're a little more trustworthy, but nobody's perfect. Have you thought about that? How would you think about that kind of going forward for folks?

Swapna Krishna:

I think that's a really, very good question. It can be so complicated in terms of period tracking for people who menstruate. There's like a few sides of it, and it's interesting because one thing I also bring to this is infertility. So still have secondary infertility post having a first kid, so bringing that into this period tracking, ovulation tracking, tracking IVF cycles. Having something to track all of that, that could have incorporated... Because it's so funny, I thought about doing a little bit of a, quote, unquote, "followup" to that article with like tracking my IVF cycle have been... I'm not going through IVF anymore, I decided we're done. One kid, happy, done.

Quinn:

I get it.

Swapna Krishna:

But when I was going through it, I thought a lot about whether I wanted to write about this experience and talk about how difficult it was to manage, because nothing... Even the period tracking apps that are supposed to help you track that stuff, they try to predict your cycle. So if you have an extra long cycle, because you're going through IVF, it messes up everything. Like, "Oh no, I don't normally have a 35 day menstrual cycle, it's just because I was on medication."

Quinn:

And the next one's 13, right?

Swapna Krishna:

Exactly. And so it's so funny and then it's not funny. It's frustrating because then I went through that, and then going through everything with the Roe V Wade, and abortion stuff where it's just like take it all off. And it's so hard because there's a few sides to it because those apps make things so much easier. I am lucky to naturally have a very, very clockwork period. It is very easy for me to just put the data in my calendar. But a lot of people don't and a lot of people really have found value from those predictive algorithms. A lot of people have found value from that. And it's very, very sad to me that now the options are basically it's best to just delete all that data and store that locally. But it's so sad to me that that is the case.

Swapna Krishna:

And in terms of pregnancy tracking, yeah, I wouldn't track a pregnancy right now as a person who's had a miscarriage. I wouldn't do that online, and that is so frustrating and sad to me. And I'm really hoping people, as the time passes, I'll put it that way, I hope people start flagging this stuff. A lot of what I write is somebody else going to write this or do I need to be the person who writes this? Because we talked a lot about what I choose to write in terms of the personal stuff. Is it going to be somebody else... I've talked a bit here and there about infertility. I haven't written about it because it's kind of a family decision to write about that and we haven't gotten there yet. I might do it at some point.

Quinn:

By the way, just to interject and we can cut this out if necessary, but I get it. My wife and I did rounds IVF and had miscarriages and all these things. So I'm both inapplicable to talk about it, because I was not the person receiving the shots and all that stuff, but I get it. And you're right, it's a family decision. It's complicated and it's hard.

Swapna Krishna:

I will just say between you and me, I would not talk about it here if I was not comfortable talking about it.

Quinn:

Totally get it.

Swapna Krishna:

So there's also a difference between talking about it on a podcast where it's a more closed group than putting it on Twitter or on a website.

Quinn:

Sure. Of course.

Swapna Krishna:

But I haven't decided to talk about that. And I think maybe with some more distance from it, I might be happy and willing to share my experiences in hopes that they might help somebody else. Because you go into infertility so hopeful and so upbeat that you'll have a positive outcome, and I didn't.

Quinn:

It's so hard.

Swapna Krishna:

I didn't. There's just loss after loss, after loss on top of... It's hard. It is so hard and we don't talk about it. And then on top of that, having to worry about if you do get pregnant and have a miscarriage, if somebody like the feds knocking at your door. It's so much. It sucks. It sucks.

Quinn:

Thank you for sharing all that, of course. When my wife and I went through it, it was eight to 12-ish years ago And so much has changed technology wise since then. And on the one hand I would have been... Like you said, if you go into IVF full of hope, it's a tough one, because you should probably remember why you're there, which is, it's hard. Even with all the most incredible tools and magic and money in the world, and we were so lucky to have all that, and still failed over and over again.

Quinn:

But I think now if I could go back, whatever, 10 months before the Roe V Wade stuff became more clear that it was going to go the way it's going. If I put myself there and look back 10 years, I'd think like, boy, some of this technology would've been really great, because we didn't have any of that. I mean, iPhones were two years old, we couldn't even call an Uber at that point. The idea that my wife could track her period or any of these things on her watch much less more complicated IVF things or pregnancies or whatever. Our pregnancy app was just like, "Congrats, it's the size of a cherry tomato."

Quinn:

And you're like, "That's so cool. Look at what it can do." I mean, compared to now and the data and the algorithms, it's very primitive. But at the same time, it comes back to this question of trust and responsibility and accountability of the companies that build these things to not just help people on the surface, but then not to immediately go and sell that data. Again, skip the Roe V. Wade part for a minute, I mean, we look at... The Markup does an incredible job of covering this stuff on a day to day basis of like, "Hey, these companies are selling your shit, literally all of the time."

Quinn:

And now that's so much more complicated, but it's actually turned back on these companies a little bit going like, "Hey, guess what? You're accountable for that data and we're going to knock on your door, and so maybe don't collect it." But here's the problem, because a lot of things can be true at once and we talked about this with climate and COVID and stuff, which is they can also be really helpful to folks. So it's really hard when you said maybe the best answer is delete it. That sucks for a lot of people-

Swapna Krishna:

That sucks.

Quinn:

... who really need help or just women. We had an incredible scientist on, Dr. Elizabeth Russo, who's designed sort of one of the first genetic tests to help you pick a birth control that doesn't make you super depressed, because there's so many options and they're just gnarly. And again, I've never gone through that, but I have seen the indirect effects of that. And that stuff is really helpful, but again, you're going, "Yeah, that could really help me. But I'm just giving away this data that now, holy shit, the implications are gnarly behind that." And again, it sucks because it can be really helpful.

Quinn:

And someone wrote an article that I think it was pretty brief, and not to say anything about the article and author, that didn't go very deep, but it was essentially like... Again, no one's perfect, especially corporations, but like "Apple, you have an opportunity here to really triple down on your privacy bullshit and not only make, 'Oh you're tracking better,' but to make it completely encrypted and locked down. And say like, 'We believe that this is an important thing to do and a service to provide, and that we're $2 trillion and we can do it. But that also we want to do to safely as we can.'" Again, it's hard because so many things can be true at once.

Swapna Krishna:

No, it's true. And it's really easy to say "delete it," but would you delete your Gmail? I mean, it's the same principle, like how do we think... We are the product when we all use, quote, unquote, "free Google products." We are the product. It's very easy to say, especially if you aren't reliant on these apps, if you haven't gone through the heartache of infertility or you don't have PCOS or some of these other things that-

Quinn:

They're just shitty unpredictable periods.

Swapna Krishna:

Right. It's really easy to say, "Just delete the app." When this thing has made your life markedly better and easier and now, because of what's going on in the world... It sucks. It sucks, frankly.

Quinn:

I try to, and again, it's very easy from my position, both biologically and in general from behind a microphone to say, "Okay companies, you have amassed enormous power more than most governments. I hope you're taking this as an opportunity like with climate or COVID or whatever, to just do the right thing and say, 'We're just going to do the right thing and we're going to figure it out.'" I hope that they're doing that, because with huge problems comes enormous opportunities to rewrite something that is better and safer and helps more folks. So I hope. I hope and I hope that's-

Swapna Krishna:

I do too.

Quinn:

... on the people. Internal of those companies, you don't have to be the CEO, CFO, who's counting the numbers, whatever, to just strike change and say like, "We need to do this."

Quinn:

Someone eventually got to Apple and said like, "Well, you have to build period stuff into Apple Health. This is fucking ridiculous." So whoever those people are that accomplish that, let's take that further. I don't want to keep you forever here. Swapna, as I kind of mentioned to you offline, per our purposes, saving the world, rebuilding a better world isn't just about being some scientist or CEO or policymaker, it's art and journalism and data and ethics. So about all those and there's millions of young and old, and in between people who want to do what you do. Who want to carve a place for themselves, however difficult that can be and offer their perspectives and their lived experiences, to help us imagine something that is better, whether it's Solarpunk or whatever. What sort of practical, specific lessons, tips, resources, whatever you got, you have for people who are looking to model at least the beginning of their careers or art on something like your own?

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah. I think the biggest thing I would recommend is write. I got my start writing on a blog, writing on a personal blog on Blogger. And people resonate with honest, authentic writing. It's easy to do and I think putting your writing out there, even if you don't think anybody's going to read it, I think that's one step that's very important. One thing I highly, highly, actually recommend for people who are active on social media, which if you aren't active on social media, that's something you probably should do if you are interested in building a platform.

Swapna Krishna:

NASA runs these incredible programs and they just started them back up in person post the lockdown. It's called NASA Social. And this is actually how I got my start in really deciding I wanted to cover science. They invite social media users and you don't have to have a huge platform. It's very much you just have to be authentic and be excited about this stuff. They invite people with... You could have a 100,000 followers, you could have... I know there are people there with like 60, it's fine. They look at your authenticity and how excited you are. And they'll invite you to behind the scenes things of rocket launches and-

Quinn:

Oh, that's cool.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah, it's super cool. I saw two launches from a NASA Social, the second to last launch of the space shuttle at [inaudible 00:47:44] and Orion EFT-1, which was the test for Orion 2014. I will be honest, it was better experience than covering a rocket launch as a journalist. Like more access, really cool speakers. They have astronauts come and talk to you, people who works on the missions, you get to tour the NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building.

Quinn:

It's incredible.

Swapna Krishna:

It is the best experience. It's one of those things that is like a life-changing moment. That is when I decided like, oh... And it gives you like... Sounds like odd to just be like, "Apply for this thing." But I feel like that's what gave me credibility. Like live tweeting NASA, the NASA stuff was what made me realize like, oh, maybe I have a knack for this and maybe I'm really good at this short form communication. That's like a very narrow, practical thing you can do if you are interested in space specifically. But larger than that, I really do think that writing authentically is a very good entry point into being able to talk about this stuff. The JWST pictures that came out, that are amazing, like write a response to that. You can write a response to that, write about what's happening.

Swapna Krishna:

All these materials that we work with are public, they're from NASA's office. So write a response to that and see if it resonates with people, share it with your family, share it with your friends, see if it resonates. And having this track record, even if it's just your personal stuff is really helpful because... I was able to transition into writing about space and science and technology because I started a free newsletter, and I showed that I had the ability to write about this stuff. Somebody just posted an open call for pitches on Twitter, and I was like, all right, I'm just going to send this and be like-

Quinn:

Yeah, fuck it.

Swapna Krishna:

... "Look, I have this track record, I can write for you. I've done this for free, pay me to write for you." And that's how all this started.

Quinn:

And the other thing about writing, is it just... Even if you don't share it, but you should, it clarifies your own thoughts on some of these things in ways you might truly not have anticipated or maybe you hopefully did. Because you're just sitting here going like, "What do I think about these incredibly complicated things?" Like you said, can't often be summed up in eight to 11 minute videos, even with the best of intentions. Like work it out, and there's always going to be people who want to engage on these things. And I understand it's scary, it sucks often-

Swapna Krishna:

It does.

Quinn:

... but there's also some incredible supportive folks out there who are looking for your perspective.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah, absolutely. I will say my little Twitter community is so positive and so supportive people.

Quinn:

That's awesome.

Swapna Krishna:

I very rarely get hate this days and I genuinely think it's because I come to things from an authentic place and I'm not cynical. And I just try to be like, "Hey, if you love what you love, that's okay. Here's what I love, that's okay too." I think talking to people in that way is very... I think it's very validating for a lot of people. People feel seen.

Quinn:

Sure. I love that. That's super helpful. I wish I could go back in time and watch one of those shuttle launches, I'm so jealous.

Swapna Krishna:

You still can. I mean, seriously, they're still running the program, it's so cool. It's a specific thing from the past though-

Quinn:

Oh, yeah. For eighties kids like it checks a real box.

Swapna Krishna:

Yes. It does.

Quinn:

Yeah, for sure. That's awesome. All right. I've got a few, quote, unquote, "quick, lightning-ish" questions for you and then we'll get you out of here, because you're a very busy human. First time in your life when you realized you had the power of change or the power to do something meaningful, either solo or with a little squad, whatever, it might have been fifth grade science, running for office, whatever. When were you like, "Oh shit. I can kind of move the needle on something, this is interesting."

Swapna Krishna:

That is such an interesting question, oh my God. I don't even think it was when I was young, sadly. I don't think I ever felt like I had the power to change anything. I think it was when I started... My original blog, where I first started writing online, was book reviews. I think it was just when I started reviewing books and people started reading them. And then the book started doing well and people would tie a book doing well to my review of it. I think that was it. I was like, I can change something. I'm not saying I made any book a bestseller, but people would buy a book because I reviewed it. I think a lot of my childhood, I felt powerless. And so I think a lot of what I do today reflects that.

Quinn:

I love that. That's awesome. Book reviews, oh man. I mean, I could spend all day on that. Swapna, who is someone in your life that has positively impacted your work in the past six months?

Swapna Krishna:

Oh my God. In the past six months? I was like, oh I was going to-

Quinn:

We talked about constraints. We've got to get specific here.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah. Oh, in the past... Who's positively impacted my life in the past six months-

Quinn:

Impacted your work in the past six months.

Swapna Krishna:

Oh, impacted my work in the past six months. Oh, these are hard. Okay, let me think.

Quinn:

Good news, we're not live, so take your time.

Swapna Krishna:

Good. Okay. So I think somebody who has positively impacted my work in the past six months... One thing that's been on my mind very heavily over the past few weeks has been these JWST images and how this observatory is going to transform our relationship with the universe and space around us. And so I'm in a group of female space reporters, a Slack group, informal thing, but just these are the people who I want to be a better reporter and a better writer, because of how good these people are. Loren Grush at The Verge, Marina Koren at The Atlantic, Miriam Kramer, she's at Axios, Meghan Bartels at Space.com, Nadia Drake, National Geographic. I see their work and I want to do better. They make me want to do better, because they are so good at what they do and-

Quinn:

I love that. That's such a great answer. See, we got there. It's great.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah. They do such good work.

Quinn:

That's the best, isn't it? There's no, both like better and worse feeling than reading something and you're just like, I should quit, but also how do I get there.

Swapna Krishna:

I don't know if you've followed Marina Koren space coverage at The Atlantic. But every single thing she writes, I am like, I don't understand how she came up with this angle. We're all writing the same story, I don't understand how she did it. I don't understand... I want my brain to work the way her brain does to see these nuggets of story and the weird, amazing, beautiful angle she comes up with. And she's so good.

Quinn:

Speaking of The Atlantic and this is, I mean, like picking Babe Ruth. But Ed Yong is one of those, for me. Whether it's COVID stuff, just incredibly impactful and he was awarded for that or it's... He wrote about fucking hummingbirds a few days ago and you're just like, this is amazing. It's so good.

Swapna Krishna:

Yeah. And his new book is about animals.

Quinn:

Incredible. Swapna, what's your self-care? It's important for all these people who want to be like you and do all these things, recognize that it's also hard and it's taxing, and you're also a mom and a partner. So how do you take care of yourself? Because we all got to do a slightly better job of that.

Swapna Krishna:

I play video games, that's what I do. It is my-

Quinn:

There you go. Of course, right.

Swapna Krishna:

Yep. It's my self-care. And it's genuinely, it's not just something I write about because I'm paid to write about it. Like I got the new Steam Deck, which is the handheld computer, so I've been taking... Oh my God. It's so good. So good, I love it.

Quinn:

As advertised? Oh shit.

Swapna Krishna:

Yes. I was hoping it wouldn't be honestly, so I could just sell it and move on. Like I put Mass Effect Legendary Edition on there and I just have Garrus Vakarian with me wherever I go and it feels very good. It's just like I sit in bed and play Mass Effect while my kid is laying beside me reading or playing a game on his iPad. It is one of those things where like, honestly, going to the basement and turning on the console has become a little bit of like, ugh, I don't want to do that. Because, I mean-

Quinn:

Sure. Well, this is what makes-

Swapna Krishna:

In 20 minutes I'm going to have to get up and do something else. So it helps with that a lot. But one of the things I've been running into on the Switch is there aren't... The game selection is good, but a lot of the games I want to play aren't necessarily on there. I play-

Quinn:

Some classic, incredible stuff. But Mass Effect on the go is like, that's both amazing and kind of trouble for me.

Swapna Krishna:

Literally, I got the Steam Deck last week, I think, and I've already gone through the entire first game of my Mass Effect to now. This is how much I've been playing, because it really is. I'm like, okay, I have 30 minutes to eat and I've been trying to eat away from my computer and not just work and shovel food in my mouth. I go sit at the table and I'm like, okay, I have 30 minutes, what do I do? I just play Mass Effect for 30 minutes, and then I could just immediately turn it off and go do something else. And the battery only lasts about two hours, which is actually perfect for-

Quinn:

That's great. I need that.

Swapna Krishna:

I know, exactly. Everybody-

Quinn:

And it's like sorry-

Swapna Krishna:

... is like, "Oh, that battery life is terrible."

Swapna Krishna:

I'm like, "No, it's great." Because it's like two hours into it, max.

Quinn:

That's the dream.

Swapna Krishna:

It's fantastic.

Quinn:

I wish my phone's battery life was like 45 minutes and then I couldn't charge it until tomorrow, that would be the dream. Mass Effect, that's so good. All right, last one, and constraints, what is a book you've read this year that has either opened your mind to a topic you hadn't considered before, or it's changed your thinking in some way?

Swapna Krishna:

Book I've read this year?

Quinn:

Mm-hmm. This year.

Swapna Krishna:

Okay. So this is not going to be like traditionally-

Quinn:

Doesn't matter.

Swapna Krishna:

... what you think of as opening your mind, it's very personal. Like everything else, it's very personal for me.

Quinn:

100%.

Swapna Krishna:

So Roshani Chokshi, who... She writes a lot of middle-grade and YA fiction. She's amazing, an incredible writer, I love her books. She wrote a short story for the anthology I co-edited, Sword Stone Table. She's incredible. But she's having her adult debut come out, I think it's next year. And she's friend, so I was like, "Send me the manuscript. I want to read it." So I read it, I finished it. And it is this like super atmospheric, Gothic novel. Like one of those books, that's just dripping with atmosphere. Think like a Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, just like dripping with... Jane Eyre, like the Gothic, really close, thick atmosphere. And I was like, I want to try and write a book like this. I've always said I'm never going to write fiction, A. And B, I had never really considered that maybe I can write something like this. But just the way she wrote it, I'm like, I might do this and fail, but I want to try and do it, because this is just so good that I would regret it if I never tried.

Quinn:

I love that.

Swapna Krishna:

And it's so cool. Yeah, it's not exactly like traditionally what you were asking with the question, but opened my worldview to be like maybe. And I don't think it'll be easy and I don't think... But it's just like reading this book, just like it hits something in me to be like, I want to try and write like this.

Quinn:

I love that.

Swapna Krishna:

And she is so good, and I will never be able to write as well as Roshani. But I texted her and I was like, "Oh my God, this book, maybe one or..."

Swapna Krishna:

And she was like, "Oh my God." She's like, "You should do it."

Swapna Krishna:

And I'm like, "I'm going to try."

Quinn:

I love that.

Swapna Krishna:

And the book is The Last Tale of the Flower Bride. And I think it's coming out next year.

Quinn:

All right. Well, when it comes out, we'll [inaudible 00:58:53]-

Swapna Krishna:

It's not like-

Quinn:

... to that. We have a whole bookshop list and we'll throw it on there.

Swapna Krishna:

It's ready good.

Quinn:

That's awesome. I love that. You should totally try your hand at fiction-

Swapna Krishna:

I want to try. Like it-

Quinn:

... in all of your free time.

Swapna Krishna:

... might be nothing, it might be terrible, but let's try to do it.

Quinn:

Who knows? It reminds of when-

Quinn:

Yeah, I know, in all the free time.

Swapna Krishna:

... I went to liberal arts college and I'm... How many kids showed up and for 10 years, they're like, "Going to be a doctor. Going to be a doctor. Going to be a doctor." And then they take some random ass liberal arts class and they're like, "I don't know, maybe I'll study specifically 1640 to 1670 religious history."

Swapna Krishna:

And you're like, "What?" But you just never know until you know.

Quinn:

You never know.

Quinn:

I love that. Swapna, thank you for all of your time and for all of the incredible work you do across your many platforms and putting yourself out there. We all benefit from it and I'm thankful for you in it, and for chatting with me today.

Swapna Krishna:

Of course. I had a lovely time, this was wonderful. Thank you for having me.

Quinn:

Always. Where can our listeners follow you on the internet? What's your preferred?

Swapna Krishna:

I am on Twitter way too often, probably, @skrishna. It's Twitter and Instagram @skrishna and TikTok @swapna_krishna. And Far Out is on PBS Terra's YouTube channel.

Quinn:

Okay. And number three on cannabis comes out when?

Swapna Krishna:

July, I believe, the next... Oh, let's see. I should know this off the top of my head. The third episode comes out July 28th.

Quinn:

All right, rock and roll. Well, I am excited to dig into that, so thank you. And yeah, good luck with the sinkhole.

Swapna Krishna:

Thank you so much.

Quinn:

It's amazing. All right. I'm going to-

Swapna Krishna:

Oh my God. This is lovely, by the way. I had so much fun.

Quinn:

Oh, you're so sweet.

Swapna Krishna:

And thank you for asking.

Quinn:

It's a delight. Truly, it's such a privilege to be able to talk to folks like yourself. Your work is fantastic. It's fantastic.

Swapna Krishna:

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Quinn:

Thanks for listening to the show. A reminder, you can send feedback or questions about this episode or some guest recommendations to me at questionsatimportantnotimportant.com. Links to anything we talked about today are in your show notes and in your podcast player. If you want to rep any or your shit giver status, you can find sustainable t-shirts, hoodies and a variety of coffee delivery vessels in our store at importantnotimportant.com/store. You can subscribe to our critically acclaimed weekly newsletter for free at newsletter.importantnotimportant.com. Our theme music was composed by Tim Blane. The show was edited by Anthony Luciani and the whole episode was produced by Willow Beck. We'll see you next time.

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