Feature #20: Max Zerrahn (Listgeeks Co-Founder)

Listgeeks co-founder Max Zerrahn, in addition to excelling as a creative director (Max edits the Berlin-based fStop image library when he’s not directing things at Listgeeks), is an accomplished photographer, prolific blogger, and enthusiastic appreciator of the arts. Though he was primarily involved in music and graphic design earlier in his career (he co-owned and managed the German indie label Rewika Records for several years), Max has always had a passion for technology, the arts, and popular culture, and a strong interest in finding innovative ways to bring them together.  Check out the below interview for more on how and why Listgeeks came to be – and to learn about some of Maxs’ influences and current favorites:

LG: How did the initial idea for Listgeeks come about?

Max Zerrahn: As big fans of pop culture, end-of-the-year lists, Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity,” and a general enjoyment of all things structured nicely, Derick Rhodes (a long-time friend and collaborator of mine) and I began toying around with the idea of building a website that would allow people to share and compare lists of things within a wider network of friends. Surprisingly enough, it seemed like nobody had ever done this in a meaningful way and we felt like it could be a lot of fun and a great way to discover new things. I personally always really liked the idea of finding someone with – say – great taste in music and then seeing what books that person is reading or what bar he or she would recommend in Istanbul or wherever else.

LG: What have been some of your favorite lists since you launched the Website?

MZ: What’s interesting to me is that when we first started talking about the site, to some extent we made the assumption that people would mainly make lists of their favorite albums, movies, books, video games etc. It was never our intention to build a site focused on product-oriented consumerism, even though as music (and pop culture) lovers, we drew a lot of inspiration from people having heated discussions over their best album end-of-the-year lists. It came as a bit of a surprise, though, to see that the kind of lists people were making ended up being a lot more personal, quirky and entertaining than we had originally anticipated – a great development and what essentially drives the platform nowadays. Here are some favorites:

WTF Band Names” by wwwacht
Favorite Foot to Put Socks on First” by thegoodrobotme
Things that are Usually Better in Theory than in Practice” by blackpanda
Favorite Unicode Characters” by nitrada
Most Overrated Things in Graphic Design” by espiekermann
How to Make an Awesome List” by derick

LG: How can you imagine Listgeeks changing/expanding in the future?

MZ: There are many things on our wish list but it seems like building a mobile app and being able to generate meaningful recommendations are highest up on our list of priorities right now. A Listgeeks app could obviously be a lot of fun and it seems like it would really change the way people interact with the platform in a big way. We’ve been wanting to do this since day one, so it is long overdue!

As for the recommendations, I just really love the idea of taking my taste in movies as a starting point for finding a nice hotel in London! Or saying I love Joy Division and David Shrigley, so where can I find a good bookstore in Marseille? The list format is ideal for creating these kinds of recommendations, so it’s time to start working on it.

Oh, and another thing we’re already working on is our widget. Listgeeks needs to stretch out beyond our site, so using the widget is an easy way to embed lists and part of their functionality into your blog or website. The widget is essentially done but we’re still tweaking it, so it’s at an early stage still.

Untitled photography by Max Zerrahn (see http://www.maxzerrahn.com for more)

LG: Are you a big user of social media apart from Listgeeks?

MZ: Hmmm, no. I use tumblr, Twitter and Facebook and obviously I have looked at many other services but I just don’t have enough time to be using them all. Even though there’s obviously some great stuff out there.

LG: What other types of projects are you involved in and/or inspired by at the moment?

MZ: I have been involved with a lot of photography related projects over these past few years. I do the editing for fStop, a Berlin-based photo agency, in addition to Opak Magazine. I also do quite a bit of my own photography for various projects and clients and I try to post on my blog, Limbo Youth, as often as possible – mainly about art, music and whatever else keeps me inspired.

LG: What are some of your  favorite Websites, apart from Listgeeks?

My favorite websites of the day are:

http://www.errors-in-production.info/
http://www.fucking-windows.com/
http://www.fallingfalling.com/

Otherwise, I keep returning to these:

http://jennilee.tumblr.com/
http://www.qubik.com/zr/
http://reform.lt/
http://pietmondriaan.com/
http://www.creativeapplications.net/

Max-related Links:

Max on Listgeeks
Max on Twitter
Maxs’ Photography Portfolio Website