May 24, 2007, 12:58 PM — Josh Fruhlinger recently spoke with Ryan North, author of the popular Web comic, Dinosaur Comics and perhaps a little more relevant for this audience, he's also the person behind a new ad auction service that's called Project Wonderful.
Josh Fruhlinger: Let's start with a little bit about your professional background as a developer. I know probably most people who have heard of you in your Internet fame have heard of your comics, but what's the technical background behind the comics?
Ryan North: I actually trained and worked as a computer scientist, as a developer, and started the comics in my spare time and they became really popular. So I ended up doing the comics full-time and then computer science is kind of an itch that you have to scratch and so I started thinking, oh, I should do some other stuff, what can I do? What can I enjoy that's also computer science? And that's where Project Wonderful came from. I'm coming from a computer science background today, graduate degree in computational linguistics, which is basically figuring out how to get computers to talk to us and to each other in natural language, which is fun, but hard.
Fruhlinger: I can imagine. You never tried to get the computers to write your comics for you?
North: If I could, I would have a very easy job.
Fruhlinger: So when you started doing the comics fulltime, the idea of doing the ad service wasn't the motivator behind that? You didn't like leave a job to say, I'm going to change the way that ads are sold on Webcomics or something like that?
North: No, no, I graduated and thought I could get a job, or I could work as a cartoonist and one of these seems like a lot more fun.
Fruhlinger: Once you did start to do Project Wonderful, what was it that you wanted to do differently? Why didn't you just put Google ads all over your site or something like that?