The New York Times Reveals What Deadspin’s Editor Timothy Burke Does For Fun: Make GIFs Like A Crazy Person

  • Jake O'Donnell

Former SportsGrid employee and current Deadspin Editor and GIF master general, Timothy Burke, really wants to bring you infinitely looping three second clips of butt fumbles. Like, really bad. That’s why, according to The New York Times, he spends over “100 hours a week” in front of (at least) 10 screens, showing more than double that many sporting events. So he doesn’t miss anything. So you go to his website. Deadspin.

And you thought GIFs just fell out of thin air, didn’t you?

The reality is that, to make a name for yourself on the internet, you have to have your head on a swivel and be on the clock 24/7 (ironic that we use sports terms to describe sports journalists, we know). The faster you find the the next buttfumble, the better your traffic will be. The more butt fumbles you find, the more consistent your traffic will be, because people will come to rely on you for sports news — or whatever a GIF is considered…

We’ll let Burke explain that one: “It’s an art object. You’re taking this little moment and making it exist in perpetuity, because it constantly loops.”

And you thought GIFs were just shitty little grainy videos, didn’t you? Think of it this way, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is only one frame. Geno Smith’s spike fail on Sunday was at least 100. BEHOLD!

If he sounds grandiose, it’s because the graphics interchange format is the medium to which he dedicates his entire life. Burke’s sports viewing setup is so gnarly that The New York Times went to his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, and interviewed him at length about how he does it just to see what it’s like. Answer: It’s looks like a nerdy version of NORAD from 80’s war movies. They wanted to know how he does it — that is to say, how he exists as a human being while diligently combing the internet for sports gaffes/fails 24/7.

We’ll start with the basics.

Burke on lunch:

“When do I want lunch?” Burke asks. “Whenever you want lunch is fine.”

Hummus is mentioned.

“That’s right, hummus,” he says. “Thank you. Where did that [Andy Dalton red zone] interception go?”

Burke on life in general:

“I am not able to do many other things,” Burke said of his life in general.

Burke on his marriage:

The more Burke works, the more Hurtak [his wife] spends time by herself or with friends. She and Burke play shuffleboard together one night a week, and they take the 12th day of every month off — they got married on Dec. 12, 2012…Hurtak, 36…tries to remain calm. “I’ve done a lot of personal growth this past year,” she said.

Burke on why he does it:

“This is going to sound really pretentious if I give any more value to it, but there’s a reason people like seeing these things,” he said. “I think mundane is human, and we’re capturing people being human, and anytime we can make someone feel smarter — even if it’s vis-à-vis someone else being stupid — that’s something that appeals to people. People like to feel smart.”

Burke on hydration:

He makes sure his three Mason jars are filled with water so he will not have to leave the room on the account of thirst.

Um, are we to assume Burke pees in those mason jars when he’s done drinking them? Burke addressed that on Twitter this morning (in his own detail-obessed way, he wonders why people didn’t painstakingly scan the photo at the top of the NY Times article and notice a bathroom in the frame).

So, that’s a no on the pee jars. Right?

His setup is something to be in awe of. Back in March, Gizmodo ran a piece detailing Burke’s estimated $5,000 work station, of which he’s cobbled together much in the same way a Dad who hates his job would nervously build a low budget tree house for his kids. Or a kit car. The difference, is that Burke loves his job (maybe a little too much).

Here’s what he’s working with:
Custom i7 server running OS 10.6.8 (router/firewall)
Xbox360 (monitors ESPN, NBA, & MLB)
PS3 (monitors MLB & NHL)
Three Roku boxes (MLB, NBA, NHL)
Three HD cable boxes
Four DirecTV receivers
Kenwood 5.1 surround receiver
Six EyeTV 200 Firewire-based tuners
Two Miglia TVMax USB-based tuners
Four Hauppauge HD-PVR USB-based tuners
Old random AMD server running Ubuntu 12.04 (archive video encoder)
Three HDHomeRun tuners
TrendNet 24-port Gigabit Ethernet switch
Various iDevices (online video feeders)

Burke talks with the eloquence and vernacular of a mad genius who doesn’t get out much. After reading the New York Times article, it’s clear — that’s exactly what he is. His commitment to your satisfaction, internet, is commendable. He’s giving you his life. Send him a thank you note here.

Photo via The NYTimes