Follow Friday
Giving up on crypto, bear chandelier, Halloween puns

Rusty Foster (Today in Tabs)

Listen on
An illustration of a man with short hair, glasses, and a beard looking at the camera
Today in Tabs writer Rusty Foster
When Rusty Foster started the email newsletter Today in Tabs, in 2013, "tabs" was trendy media slang for the articles open in your browser that you were hate-reading. That meaning has faded into obscurity, but Today in Tabs is going strong, dishing up must-reads, great tweets, and a song every Monday-Thursday.

"I do the sort of thing that you do when you have a job where you don't have enough work to do, and you spend a lot of time procrastinating on Twitter," he says. "I do that professionally. I read stuff on Twitter. I keep track of the good tweets and I keep an eye on what people are talking about."

Today on Follow Friday, Rusty shares four great follow recommendations: Programmer and cryptocurrency critic Molly White (@molly0xFFF on Twitter); musician and comedian Petey (@petey_usa on Instagram, @peteyusa on TikTok); writer and technologist Paul Ford (@ftrain on Twitter); and role-playing game podcaster Taylor Moore (@taylordotbiz on Twitter).

And on Follow Friday's Patreon page, you can unlock an extended version of this interview in which Rusty shares a fifth bonus follow recommendation! Thank you to our amazing patrons: Jon, Justin, Amy, Yoichi, Danielle, Elizabeth, and Sylnai.


This show is a production of, hosted and produced by Eric Johnson

Music: Yona Marie

Show art: Dodi Hermawan

Social media producer: Sydney Grodin
Full transcript of this episode
Click to expand
[theme song]

ERIC: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, the podcast about who you should follow online.

Every week, I talk to creative people about who they follow, and why. This is a guided tour to the best people on the internet, led by your favorite writers, podcasters, comedians, and more. If this is your first episode of the show, take a moment now and please follow or subscribe in your podcast app.

Today on the show is Rusty Foster, who writes the email newsletter Today in Tabs. Every Monday through Thursday, he rounds up links to everything great and terrible and weird happening on the internet, in the media, and the world. You can find Rusty on Twitter @fka_tabs.

Rusty, welcome to Follow Friday!

RUSTY: Hey, thanks for having me.

ERIC: I'm so glad to have you here. Today in Tabs is one of my absolute favorite newsletters. And the name of it refers, I assume, to all the tabs that you have opened in your browser at the same time. So you are sifting through all this, you're bringing us the best stuff, you're adding your own commentary.

Can you talk a bit about what your process is for making the newsletter? How do you get all those tabs in the first place and how do you decide what makes the cut? Like, what's worth newslettering about?

RUSTY: The origin of the name is tabs, like browser tabs, but in circa 2013 media Twitter, there was a brief heyday where "tabs" was a slang term for hate reads. "Oh, my tabs!" That has passed into history and very few people remember it at this point, but tabs still work as browser tabs.

At the time, I kept struggling with the reputation that Tabs was a roundup of hate reads, which it's not really. There'll be stuff that I didn't like, but most of it is stuff I did like.

Basically, I have a Chrome bookmarks folder called Tabs. And when I read something on my phone or on my laptop, I bookmark it. Basically, everything that I read, I bookmark at this point because there have been too many times where I've remembered something that I thought at the time wasn't going to fit. And then I go to write, and it creeps in and it would be perfect. And then I'm like, "Where did I read that? Why didn't I bookmark it?"

So, I do the sort of thing that you do when you have a job where you don't have enough work to do, and you spend a lot of time procrastinating on Twitter. I do that professionally. I read stuff on Twitter. I keep track of the good tweets and I keep an eye on what people are talking about in my little corner of Twitter. Then I read articles and I bookmark them.

Generally, by about one o'clock in the afternoon on a weekday, I'll have a folder with 40 or 50 things in it, probably. And half of it might be articles; the other half is good tweets that were funny or possible songs that I might include.

ERIC: Right, because you have a song in every edition of the newsletter.

RUSTY: Yeah. So, I sit down and just start sifting through that and thinking about what themes there are. It's improv every day, essentially. Something always emerges. I sit down and I force myself to write, and whatever I write is what I send.

ERIC: I like that method; just see what happens. "Yes and" yourself.

RUSTY: It's kind of like a variety show, honestly. It's like a late night show. There'll be a little monologue up front where I write about something I have more to say about than the rest of them. Then some good tweets, and then some quick links that I link in a joke-type thing. Then at the end, there's a musical guest and then there's a sign off.

ERIC: Oh my gosh. I never thought about it that way. That's great.

RUSTY: I arrived at that format by doing it a bunch of times and then realizing over time that that's what I was doing. So, now I'm aware that that's what I'm doing, but it's because it's a format that works. That's why variety shows work.

ERIC: There are a lot of people on Twitter who complain about Twitter, who act as if it's their job to be on Twitter. I think you are one of the few people who would be justified... it is actually your job to be on Twitter, to be spending all your time scrolling there.

RUSTY: Honestly, that was one of the things that worried me most about bringing it back. I did it from 2013 to early 2016 and then took 2016 through 2020 off. Then I brought it back at the beginning of 2021. One of the things I worried about the most was, do I want to commit to spending all my days on Twitter again?

I've been consciously experimenting with not doing that, or doing that a little less, and it's worked fine. I don't spend as much time on Twitter as I would've expected or as you might think. Discord really helps because Tabs readers essentially feed me half of the links that I read at this point. A couple of the Discords and some friend chats. I do spend time on Twitter, but it's not the sole source.

ERIC: So, you have channels in the Discord server for your readers, where people know the sort of stories that you are interested in. So, when they come across them in their own browsing, they're sending them to you. So that makes it a little bit easier to find things that match that tone.

RUSTY: It's a virtuous circle because my readers are obviously interested in the kind of stories that I'm interested in. That's why they're the kind of paying readers who would sign onto Discord and chat.

And it's funny because it's 50-50 when people post stuff, whether I've already read it and bookmarked it, or whether I'm getting it from Discord the first time. By the end of the day, I've always forgotten which it is. It just confirms to me that I'm getting the stuff that people are seeing and thinking about.

ERIC: Well that's good. I'm glad you're giving yourself a little break from social media, but now I do want to turn your attention to Twitter and some other places. We're going to talk about who you follow online. Listeners, you can follow along with us today — every person Rusty recommends will be linked in the show notes and in the transcript at

Rusty, before the show, I gave you a list of categories, and I asked you to tell me about some people you follow, who fit in those categories. Your first pick is in the category, "Someone who's an expert in a very specific niche you love." And you said Molly White. She's on Twitter @molly0xFFF.

Molly is the creator of a website called Web3 is Going Just Great, which you can find at She was just recently profiled by the Washington Post, which described her as "the cryptocurrency world's biggest critic."

Could you explain a little bit about what Molly does and why she's great?

RUSTY: She is a programmer and a techie, and I vibe with her in that way. She, for a while, spent time investigating the alt-right and the right-wing extremists. She's also been involved with Wikipedia for a long time.

Recently, she started Web3 is going great, which is really a chronicle of a web 3 and NFT and crypto industry disasters. She started it at the perfect time. It's the perfect concept for this. I write about this stuff in Tabs a lot, but I skip a lot of it because there are just so many. Like every day, there are three crypto disasters.

There was a month where there was crypto in Tabs every day and I had to dial it back because I was like, this is not a crypto newsletter. And at some point, the stories all start to sound the same, where it's like, "There was a new NFT launch and a bunch of people put in money and then they disappeared with all the money. Classic rug pull." There's a name for it in the industry, there's actually a name for that, it's so common — a cute name where everybody's like, "Ha-ha, rugged!"

ERIC: "You got me!"

RUSTY: So, what Molly did was start a project that was really just a blog that chronicles this stuff in the briefest, shortest way that you can. It's a really well-designed, well-put-together project. I appreciate good web design. And as far as I know, she's writing this all by hand. It's HTML.

ERIC: How did you start following her? Do you remember what your introduction to either her or to Web3 is going great, where you first heard about her?

RUSTY: Yes, it was the Crypto Island project. I think she started Web3 is going great before that, but I'm not positive, but that is where everybody heard about it.

ERIC: You gotta explain that. I've seen so many crypto scams pass across my feed, I have forgotten. What was the deal with Crypto Island?

RUSTY: It was a good one. It was a standout, really. I was one that if you look into one crypto scam, it was a good one. It wasn't even necessarily a scam. It was just a misbegotten idea. The concept was you could buy NFTs and the NFTs represented land on an actual island. They were going to build out the island. It was going to be a resort island for crypto dudes.

They raised a bunch of money and they spent it all on an animated video, which they released with great excitement. And the video was absolutely bonkers. It was the most ridiculous thing I think that crypto has produced so far.

[clip from Cryptoland video]

RUSTY: Everybody made everybody make fun of it. Tabs made fun of it, certainly, but a lot of people were joking around with this video. It was almost unwatchable. But if you really pushed on through it, there were parody songs. Every single line of dialogue included three Bitcoin references. It was wild.

Molly White made fun of it like everybody else, but she also dug into the company behind it. She tried to find out, like, what is this island? Does it exist? Do they own it? Is it a real thing at all? She figured out a lot of stuff about the people who were running this and their backgrounds were shady. The island they were going to buy, they had not bought.

There didn't seem to be very much likelihood that it was ever going to happen. It was a real shaky premise to begin with. And the big blow up of this was when somebody tweeted to the Crypto Island's Twitter. They said, "What's the age of consent going to be on Crypto Island?" Because this is libertarian kryptonite. If you want to blow up a libertarian project, you just ask them about age of consent and it immediately collapses.

Their reply was something really shady, "Growing up in their mind is good enough for us ;)" That was not Molly White, but she found that little exchange and publicized it. And that was what rocketed her to be crypto enemy number one

ERIC: I read something from this Washington Post article about her. It really lays out stark terms the fact that there are all these crypto projects that, the rug gets pulled, or they otherwise wind up being some sort of degree of shady.

What I liked about this article is it makes it clear that it's not just a bunch of rich nerds getting scammed. Molly says in the article, "People are putting in money that they can't afford to lose. They thought this might be their ticket out of poverty, or they can finally stop working that minimum wage job, and then all their savings are gone."

RUSTY: Yeah. What Molly has done is chronicling the era of crypto, the Ponzi scheme or crypto, the pyramid scheme. Before that, crypto that was more associated with different crimes. It's always a crime, but crypto is more associated with different crimes, like ransomware. The era before Molly's Web3 is going great era was the ransomware era for crypto.

ERIC: Hackers would take over some computer and say, "We won't unlock this unless you send us all these Bitcoins."

RUSTY: Yeah. It was a service industry at that point. There were groups that ran ransomware as a service, and you could sign up and make an account and pick your target and give them access to the target. Then they would do all the work and you would split the Bitcoins.

When NFTs started getting popular, that became the current era of web3, where it's like a casino where everybody's going to get rich. As long as more people keep buying in, then everybody who's already bought in is going to get more rich. And there's a well understood financial industry name for that structure. It's a pyramid scheme.

ERIC: In good faith, I have tried to give web3 and crypto the benefit of the doubt multiple times because there are aspects of it where it's like, the idea that an artist might get paid every time their work is sold. There are some interesting ideas around there, but as you can hear from how I'm describing it, I am very deeply skeptical/cynical about the state of it now.

Do you think there's a version of web3 that's worth saving or some positive things that we should take out of this?

RUSTY: … No. I've been interested in crypto since 2011 or 2012. I've read the Bitcoin white paper and stuff. I understand how the technology works to at least some degree. It's been a decade and I keep waiting for someone to come up with a use, where it's like, "Well, this is a good use that you need crypto for and it couldn't be done without crypto and isn't a crime." There hasn't been one. At one point, why keep waiting?

Crypto is really good at demonstrating a lot of energy and desire for things to exist. People get involved for a variety of reasons that make sense. They are interested in the community, or they think that artists should make money. These are all great, but crypto hasn't actually solved any of these problems. And to the extent that crypto is used in solutions, it's never necessary. It would be easier to do it with just a database.

That's what keeps happening. At this point, I've pretty much given up. I'll be surprised if anybody comes up with a reason to use it that isn't fundamentally just crime.

ERIC: Well, in the meantime, we can all follow Molly White, the creator of Web3 is going just great. Once again, the name of the website is

Rusty, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for someone super talented, who is still under the radar. You said Petey, who is on TikTok @peteyusa and on Instagram @petey_usa.

Petey is a musician originally from the Midwest, now living in Los Angeles. He released his first full-length album last year called Lean Into Life. First, you specifically called out his TikTok. Can you talk about what he does there that you love?

RUSTY: I came to him via music first. Somebody posted one of his songs, Don't Tell The Boys, in the Tabs Discord in our music channel and I loved it. I listened to it once, loved it, and it really stuck in my head. I listened to it a bunch more times and I put it in the newsletter. And a lot of people wrote about that one, that it was a song they listened to repeatedly after that. It's a great song. It's a great album.

Via that, somebody tipped me off that he was on TikTok. I didn't know he was on TikTok. I found him on TikTok, and honestly, I don't use TikTok particularly. TikTok is a thing I do when I have an hour on a Saturday morning where I just don't have anything else to do. I'll look at TikTok and it's never a good idea.

So, Petey is the only person that I follow on TikTok. They email me every time he posts a new TikTok and I go and look at it. That's how I use TikTok, which is the most Gen Xer description of how to use TikTok.

ERIC: TikTok is like, "Should we turn off this email notification feature? No, we have one user left. His name is Rusty."

RUSTY: They're like, "No, this is the only way we get him in." And it's even a TikTok genre that I generally hate. It's the one person talking to themselves skit, which a lot of people do on TikTok. The fact that Petey does them so well makes it clear that a lot of people do them really badly on TikTok.

So, he just does these little skits where he's a goofy dude and he is kind of a recognizable type of guy. He has got a sort of Jesus beard and long hair. And he has kind of a stoner vibe. And he'll play three or four or five different versions of himself in different shirts and just do a really goofy little skit about whatever.

What gets me is the writing is so good. His writing is amazing. The delivery is great and the writing is great and the editing is great. I think he has a housemate or somebody who helps him with the editing and the filming. They're just goofy and funny and clever. And that's, I feel like, the best you can hope for from TikTok and I enjoy them.

ERIC: The delivery is kind of this … rapid fire, deadpan absurdist? I'm struggling to come up with the right words to pin down his delivery, but it does feel different from most of your sketch comedians who you run into on TikTok.

RUSTY: The timing is very good, which is hard to get right. And a lot of the one-person sketches on TikTok don't get it right, and he'll just always do stuff. Like, every time he swears, there'll be a bleep, but the bleep is always mistimed so the swear is perfectly audible and then the bleep happens slightly afterwards.

It's just a joke that happens every single time on his channel and it's funny. There was one where they were looking at a chandelier and he kept going, "There's a bear in the chandelier. The bear looks scared in the chandelier." It's impossible to describe.

[clip from "bear chandelier" video]

ERIC: There's one that I watched where he's trying to work out all of his psychological issues by throwing things with pinpoint accuracy. He's just throwing stuff off the roof and bouncing into a box and just hoping it'll fix him. It's absurd. It's deeply engrossing, though. I can see why he's your one TikTok follow.

RUSTY: I hope somebody writes an essay about Petey's TikToks at some point because you really could dig into them and talk about, what is this actually about? And there is more than it seems there is. Like that one is about, what if you have one incredible talent but it's fundamentally useless? How do you deal with that?

Can that fix your life? No, that can't fix your life. The movie about the guy who walked across the Twin Towers on the high wire; I feel that TikTok that you just said is an extremely short version of that whole movie. What if you have one sort of useless, amazing talent and you can't make it put your life together in any way that makes sense?

ERIC: Exactly. He winds up having this crisis where it's like, "I have no marketable skills, but I can do this." Well, before we go to the break, let's hear a bit of one of Petey's songs. This is the song that you were talking about earlier. It's called, Don't Tell The Boys.

That was Petey, who was on TikTok @peteyusa and on Instagram @petey_usa.

We are going to take a quick break now, but we'll be back in a minute with Rusty Foster, the writer of the email newsletter Today in Tabs.

[ad break]

ERIC: Welcome back to Follow Friday. Rusty, let's move on to your next follow. I asked you for someone who has stopped posting, but needs to come back. And you said Paul Ford, who is on Twitter @ftrain. You said in your email to me that Paul hasn't stopped posting exactly, but he used to be a lot more active online. So first, could you explain what Paul does?

RUSTY: Paul is a writer and a technologist. God, he's been a blogger forever. The first thing that I ever read that Paul wrote was a story called Robot Exclusion Protocol. And I have it right at the tip of my tongue because I go back and read it every couple of years.

ERIC: What's that about?

RUSTY: It's a little short story that he wrote in his blog from the point of view of a person who discovers a Google bot indexing their bathroom trash can. And it's a physical Google bot that's gotten into their apartment and is going through their garbage and being like, "I'm really helpful. I'm helping you. I'm indexing so that you'll have increased knowledge."

And that was the early 2000s at the very latest. It was an extremely prophetic little story that has largely come true, unfortunately. Also, it was just funny and it was good writing. I've been a fan of Paul ever since then. He's blogged at Ftrain for two decades plus probably, 25 years at this point. And he has not stopped.

ERIC: Ftrain is the name of his blog?

RUSTY: Yeah. I'm not sure how often he still posts there anymore, but probably some. He does a column for Wired. A few years ago, he wrote an entire issue of BusinessWeek Magazine that's called What is Code.

ERIC: Oh, I saw that. I didn't realize that was him.

RUSTY: They asked him to explain what code was. It was going to be just a story, but it kept getting longer and longer and longer. Eventually, they gave him an entire print issue, and that was the whole thing. It's still an amazing read. He's such a good writer. It'll take you a little while, but you can read an entire issue of BusinessWeek and be like, "Oh, that was really worth it."

More recently, he has been running a digital consultancy called Postlight, which he co-founded with another guy.

ERIC: Also, something called Aboard; maybe a spinoff product of Postlight, based on what I saw.

RUSTY: That's what he is doing now. Him and his co-founder stepped down as co-CEOs of Postlight maybe a year ago. Then just last week, they announced that Postlight was being bought by NTT Data.

NTT is Nippon Telephone and Telegraph, it's a Japanese phone company. It's like Japanese IBM, basically. NTT Data specifically is a technology consultancy that started as Ross Perot's company that got bought by Dell's software consultant. Then that in turn got bought by NTT and now it's NTT Data. So they have just bought Postlight. They buy a lot of consultancies.

I have not had a chance to talk to Paul and get the backstory on any of that, and I wouldn't probably be allowed to share it here anyway. But I am curious because it seems like it's a real big fish and a real little fish situation.

ERIC: You said that he's not posting as much, or he's not showing up as much on social media as he used to. What are the sort of things he used to post that you miss seeing from him?

RUSTY: Paul used to be on Twitter a lot, back when it was more fun to be on Twitter. I'm glad for him that he's posting less. You always know somebody is getting depressed when they show up on Twitter a lot more suddenly and I want him to be happy in his life and in his choices.

He was really great at sort of making goofy jokes and riffing. He's an amazing wordsmith and punner, and a person who can write a good pun is a rare thing. A lot of people think they can write a good pun, but very few people actually can write a good pun. Paul is one of the ones who always can.

You could always tell when he was wrapping up a column for Wired because he would show up on Twitter for an hour and kind of blow off the extra words that were churning around in his head. It was always a good time. I feel like I've seen him doing that less recently and I miss it.

I got booked on a radio show here in Maine once. This was right when the What is Code issue came out when the Bloomberg issue came out. A local Maine public radio station booked me and a couple other people to come in and talk about what is code, talk about how computer programming works. I mentioned it on Twitter and Paul immediately called the station and got himself booked remotely on the same show.

So, he horned in on my radio appearance. I didn't tell him that we were recording this because I knew he would be showing up right now like, "Hey guys, it's Paul. I heard you were doing a podcast about me."

ERIC: And now, Paul, if you could please unmute yourself … It sounds like you two know each other in real life? You're friendly in real life?

RUSTY: Yeah. I haven't seen him in a while because he lives in New York and I haven't been down there for a number of years. But there were a few years where I was going to New York every month and I saw him a bunch of times. He's a good person.

ERIC: I want to go back to the thing that you were saying earlier about people who, you get worried about when they're spending too much time on Twitter. And you said something similar in your email. You said "not posting is a fundamentally healthy choice."

Do you think that's true all across social media, or is that a Twitter-specific ailment?

RUSTY: I think that's true for everybody to some extent. It's true when people start feeling obligated to post; they're posting because they feel like, this is the thing that I do. On Twitter specifically, you reach a point where you start having thoughts that are actually just tweets. That's when it's too much, when you have thoughts in the form of tweets.

I think online for a lot of people is a little bit of a replacement for actual in-person life. I've been online a long time and I've noticed that when people start posting a lot, they're not having a good time, for the most part.

ERIC: Just before we stared taping, I retweeted a thing that the investor Ashley Mayer said on Twitter, which is, "My working theory is that the worst tweets happen not when someone has something to say and they just have to get it out, but rather when they feel like they have to tweet and then they find something to say." That rings true.

RUSTY: Yes. When people start getting miserable on Facebook or on Instagram, it's that feeling of obligation. I've said this before in other venues, but delete your accounts. Every once in a while, just delete your accounts. The one that you feel like it's most you, delete it, clear it out, shed it like carapace, like old skin.

ERIC: You can always make a new one if you need to.

RUSTY: Exactly. Start from scratch, and the more times you do that, the more you realize you can always do it. And the people who you really love are going to be there when you come back. And the people that are just irritating, you can just let them go.

ERIC: I love that. Well, that was Paul Ford, who is on Twitter @ftrain. We have time for one more follow today. Rusty, I asked you for someone who makes the internet a better place, and you said Taylor Moore, who is on Twitter @taylordotbiz.

Taylor is a comedy writer, performer/producer, and you specifically called out three podcasts that he's a part of: Rude Tales of Magic, Fun City Ventures, and Oh These, Those Stars of Space. Explain what his podcasts are and what do you love about them?

RUSTY: I picked Taylor. I don't know him personally, and I'm not sure whether I'm assigning him too much credit for these. These are all role playing game podcasts, essentially. So they're quasi-actual play podcasts. They use a variety of different game systems. I think one of them is D&D. Fun City is Shadowrun, which is a really obscure gaming system. And Oh These, Those Stars of Space, I actually don't know what system they use. But it's gotta be something really simple because I don't think they roll dice very much.

ERIC: But all these are based on games that were designed to be played on a tabletop?

RUSTY: Yeah. They're all essentially role playing games. There's a kind of bifurcation of the world of role playing game podcasts. And one is people who are really into the role playing mechanics and they'll never roll a die without telling you about it. You will know what everybody's hit points are at all times. They build characters in 18 episodes before the arc starts.

God bless them, people who are really into D&D and gaming and stuff love those. I've tried some of them and they episodes are like three hours long. I don't have time to deal with that. This is the other branch of gaming podcasts, which is more about the narrative, it's more about improv. The gaming is a mechanism when it's necessary to make a decision and you don't have a reason to think something works or something doesn't work. It's a way to make a decision and to move the story forward.

But at the heart of it, the emotion of it, comes from the people playing the characters who are essentially doing continuous improv whenever they record the shows. I love them. These are three really good ones.

Rude Tales of Magic, Fun City, and Oh These, Those Stars of Space; they're all a little bit different, but they're all great examples of that. Taylor is either a performer or a producer or both of all of them.

ERIC: What's an example of something that Taylor as a contributor to these shows might do that elevates …? Because there are so many role playing podcasts. It's a very big genre. Could you talk a bit about what Taylor brings to the mix here?

RUSTY: Like, Rude Tales, the person running the game on that is Branson Reese. Taylor's role is all the NPCs, basically. So, there are three players who each have one consistent character, and Taylor is everyone else.

In a way, he has the hardest job in the whole thing because he has to improv different characters who come and go. A lot of times, he's faced with, the party will meet someone. This character may just exist for five minutes of the run time and then never be heard from again. And Taylor has to conceptualize a whole backstory and a voice and a demeanor and at least three personal details that could be said about this character.

ERIC: Because he needs to give the other performers something to work with. Whatever character he provides, they can use that information to decide how to talk to them, fight them, whatever it might be.

RUSTY: Yep. And sometimes he has to do that rapid fire throughout the course of an episode. Some of the humor comes from listening to him struggle with that sometimes, which is great.

The other thing that comes to mind is, he does midroll ads and you wouldn't necessarily call out an ad read as something that really adds a whole bunch to a podcast. But he did one that was a promo for a Halloween live show. And honestly, I hope you can pull it up and insert it here. It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard.

He clearly packed in every single Halloween-themed pun and gag that he could in this one sort of 30-second announcement of a live show. And I can't do it justice, but it had me rolling and it was an ad.

[clip from Halloween midroll ad]

ERIC: Despite being a very geeky white kid growing up in the suburbs, I actually never got into D&D or any of the role playing games. I just missed the boat on this. Were you a big role playing game fan when you were growing up, or even as an adult?

RUSTY: I had one friend who we played D&D together. And if you know anything about Dungeons & Dragons, you can't really play it with two people. But we made it work. We made up a lot of our own rules. It was totally unfair. We would just rampage through the pre-written levels and slaughter everything and collect all of their goods and stuff.

And by the end, our characters were both literally gods. We had ascended to godhood by the end of the time that I was playing with him. So, it wasn't proper D&D. It wasn't like if you watch Stranger Things where the group gathers around and they have their little characters, which I am not convinced very many people ever had.

The little figures are really not necessary to play the game. So, I wasn't into it to that extent, but I definitely had grounding in how does it work. It is really just improv. It's an excuse to do improv with your pals. Then I started listening to the McElroys' D&D podcast, The Adventure Zone.

A couple of years ago, my family took a three-week road trip. We drove from Maine to Wyoming and back. And over the course of that trip, we listened to the entire first arc of The Adventure Zone, Balance, which was four seasons. It was 68 episodes or something.

It became the thing that we did because we did a lot of long drives on that trip. We'd just throw on and we'd do six adventure zones and that was one city to the next. We churned through it that way and then I sampled a bunch of other ones. And the ones that Taylor is involved with are always the ones that grab me.

ERIC: You said that Taylor makes the internet a better place. What can the rest of us do to learn from his example? What can we do to make the internet a better place in a similar way to what he does?

RUSTY: The reason I picked that category specifically and as somebody who's engaged with the discourse, the news and the current events that everybody's mad about … I love these podcasts because they are a blissful respite from the discourse. They deal with real world human stuff, but there's nothing current events-y about them. They don't really ever get into that.

Very rarely, somebody will make a very sub-rosa reference to something going on in the real world, but that's it. So, I'll take the dog for a walk on the weekends and just listen to one of these episodes. It's a mental reset.

ERIC: He helps people get an escape from the real world for a bit.

RUSTY: That's exactly what I would say. The things I love the most on the internet are the things that people make because they love to make them. I feel like Taylor loves doing these stories and running games and stuff. It's infectious, in a good way.

ERIC: I love that. Well, that was Taylor Moore, who is on twitter @taylordotbiz.

As a reminder to everyone listening, our supporters on Patreon have access to a fifth bonus follow from Rusty. To unlock that, just go to

Rusty, before we go, let's make sure listeners know how to find you online. Where do you want them to follow you?

RUSTY: I'm basically only on Twitter; so @FKA_tabs on Twitter. I changed my handle to that right before I relaunched Tabs so it was inaccurate almost immediately.

ERIC: And Today in Tabs is at, right?

RUSTY: Yes. I think if you don't put a www in front of it, it won't work because I haven't figured out how to make that work right.

ERIC: And you can follow me on Twitter @HeyHeyESJ. And please subscribe to the Follow Friday newsletter at

If you like this episode, then check out the past Follow Friday interviews with Dave Pell from NextDraft, Ryan Broderick from Garbage Day, and Alexandra Petri from the Washington Post.

Follow Friday is a production of Our theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie, our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan, and our social media producer is Sydney Grodin. Special thanks to our Big Fri Patreon backers, Jon and Justin.

That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson, reminding you to talk about people behind their backs. And when you do, say something nice. I'll see you next Friday.

Recent episodes:

Made on