TTU in the NYT

I’m excited to let our readers know that there is a great piece by Pamela O’Connell about the Trixie Update in today’s New York Times Circuits section. Here’s the article (free registration required). Don’t miss the accompanying illustration!

Now, I love the piece for it’s hard-science angle, but does it make me come across too maniacal or the right amount of maniacal? Some of my quotes seem harsher in print than I realized they would — especially considering that many of our readers do run their own baby blogs.

“Mr. MacNeill has been accused by some of treating Trixie as if she were a science project. He counters that ‘the world didn’t need another baby Web site.’ “

I didn’t mean to sound so arrogant here. The science project criticism had more to do with the style of objective writing than the actual collection of data. In fact, one reader had objected to my description of Trixie as a “human baby” rather than properly referring to her as “my loving daughter.” My point is that everyone knows that babies are cute and the world doesn’t need another web site just to tell us that.

“Everybody loves their baby – that’s not interesting,”

I’m not trying to dismiss any parent’s love for their kid or anyone who wants to blog about it. When I started the Trixie site, I didn’t want to write about how much I love my daughter because that’s a given. My goal has been to make the Trixie Update into a site that would have been interesting to me before I happened to have my own kid.

I like writing about Trixie as a human baby because it lets me take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I like the details, patterns and behavior that we’ve discovered as Trixie is developing. I like how Trixie is simply one of the newest representatives of the human species and how we get to see everything unfold again just like it has 6 billion other times for 12 billion other parents. And I feel it’s important to keep a sense of humor about these things in the process. Simply put, writing about how much I love Trixie wouldn’t be as interesting to me. Instead, I like to let the charts, graphs, and gory details speak for themselves.

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19 Responses to TTU in the NYT

  1. John says:

    Funny; I just saw the article. Congratulations! (You can delete my comment about it in the other post if you want.)

    Reading the article made me think a little more about the whole “Metafilter effect”. If I had known the site woudl get so much attention, some of it negative, I don’t know if I’d have linked it on Metafilter. I hope I haven’t created this huge invasion of your family’s privacy; that certainly wasn’t my intent.

  2. Tallis says:

    I saw the article in the paper this morning and am just about to check out your site but i had a very positive reaction to the description of the blog. As a researcher with a passion for charts, graphs and matrices, soon to embark into the world of parenting, your site gives me comfort that all parents don’t lose the ability to do what you describe, take a step back and gain some perspective. I’ll check your blog out in detail, but thank you for the additional take on child-rearing.

  3. benmac says:

    Hi John:

    My thoughts on this are that everyone sets their own limits on privacy, and once it’s put on the web, I think it’s hard to violate those limits. To date we’re comfortable with the information that we share through the site, but we appreciate your concern. thanks again-

  4. FrumDad says:

    1. Jealous jealous jealous jealous jealous.

    2. You don’t come off as too maniacal. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

    3. Your quotes could be taken as a little off, but anyone who then actually comes to visit will get the picture pretty quick. I don’t think anyone reading TTU will think that you’ve gone overboard. Just don’t mention that you’ve been weighing her poop. And that you hate all non-robot babies. Or that Small Wonder was your favorite TV show. 😉

    4. Jealous jealous jealous

    5. Presumably, the NYT article will have a traffic-effect. I’d be curious to know if metafilter or the NYT gives the bigger bump, and then how many people stay with it. (Presumably metafilter will give a bigger initial bump, since the cost of exploring is a click and there’s immediacy. But it *might* be that the NYT has more readers who would be sufficiently drawn to the site to return. Probably not, but possible.


  5. DavidNYC says:

    Ben – congrats! Totally awesome. Waiting for 60 Minutes interview next.

    FD, the article was also online with a live link, so presumably Ben will get some direct hits from that.

  6. Lindsay says:

    Hi, Ben-

    Do not start apologizing for your website or questioning your comments in the article! As I recall, you ARE a little maniacal. So what. You should not worry or care that some people criticize you for analyzing your ‘human baby’. They are not getting it. That is what makes the site so hilarious. It is obvious that you love Trixie. Anyone can see that. Trixie’s absolute cuteness comes through in the TPOD. If you also talked about how cute she is, it would be too much. I’d much rather hear about play-doh poop. (boy, that’s something I never thought I’d say.) For those of us who don’t have kids yet, your scientific musings are unique and eye-opening. None of my friends who are parents ever mention the facets of child rearing that you do.

  7. benmac says:

    Weighing her poop? That’s nothing. The real secret is that I have been tagging and labeling each diaper and filing them away for safekeeping in a storage unit out on Highway 54.

  8. Smerahn says:

    A wonderful site — a real-world example of the kind of thing Edward Tufte promotes regarding visual display of information — as a pediatrician, it is very nice to see the human side of parenting explored so neatly…you clearly adore your child and this does not appear clinical or sterile at all…how fun.

  9. hannah says:

    Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!! It doesn’t make you sound harsh – don’t worry. Some people will inevitably be offended by TTU b/c it has an irreverent approach to babies and babies are one of those topics that people feel are off limits to such a take and such humor. Which is preciesly why the world doesn’t need another baby site about how much people love their babies – yawn. I mean, it’s fine and it’s nice for the families of those babies, but no wider interest, IMO. TTU on the other hand, is wildly entertaining, informative, *and* heart-warming in its own TTU way. Keep it up – I’d be lost w/o TTU.

  10. ADHD Dad says:


    I can see why other parents with baby blogs would like to have their own Trixie Telemetry, its design is magnificent.

  11. schaff says:

    The New York Times article was a pretty good analysis of Ben’s side of the story, but wait’ll you see the tell-all exposé Us Weekly has made from Trixie’s exclusive interview. It really puts “deh deh deh deh” in a new light.

  12. benmac says:

    Lindsay and Hannah:

    You guys are totally right. Thanks for the steadying hand.

  13. Congrats. I think you’re site is awesome, interesting and funny as hell. I think you should publish it YEAAAAAAAAAHHHHH. Not because Trixie s the BEST kid in the world(although thats enough) because the writing is inventive, smart and funny.
    You should do a chart on trixie’s hereditory behavior: when she acts more like dad or more like mom. could be fun if one can even graph that out


  14. Lisa says:

    Great site! I looked it up after reading the article in the Times. This is lots of fun and I imagine your wry perspective is really helpful to other parents. I’m forwarding it to my brother-in-law who has 2 kids & is constantly exhausted.

  15. istya says:

    Just wanted to throw in my own encouragement. My first child is due in November, so I’m soaking up your info like a sponge, and it’s helping me greatly. I don’t see how trying to learn as much about your baby as possible, then sharing both the information and the method for defining it with whoever is interedsted could be seen as harsh or overly scientific. It’s not like you have some bizzare lab in your basement with a ‘control baby’. I see you more as a field researcher or an infant anthropologist. More Jane Goodall than Louis Pasteur. So keep it up, I’m here everyday! Cheers!

  16. Shelly says:

    Congratulations,Ben! I bet your parents are very proud of you! I’d be interested in hearing whether your becoming a parent has changed your perspective on your own parents. Maybe you still need a few years on that one. By the way, people who don’t care for your site don’t have to keep viewing it. If you don’t like Howard Stern, don’t watch him…you don’t have to censor him. But I guess it’s too late for Howard.

  17. Lennon's Dad says:

    Wow, the New York Times! C’mon, how many babies can have an article from the New York freakin’ Times in their scrapbook?! Keep up the good work, and grats to you and Trixie.

  18. Um, actually, I think Jeremy had his picture taken with the New York Times.

  19. Chris says:

    Man, you’re crazy! Do you have any nervous twitches? (Just kidding). It’s a fun site! Ours is 16 mos. now and I’m glad we don’t have some of the depressing statistics but it’s fun to look at yours!