Yet with a Radio 4 series on language, a fresh run of the hit TV quiz QI, a new volume of memoirs out and some controversial comments last week about a culture of fear at the BBC creating "incredibly bland" programmes, the busy man's busy man is evidently also busy in what the blogosphere calls "irl" (in real life).
As those of us living in information-age societies become ever more comfortable expending our emotional energy in virtual communities where it's possible for just about anyone to achieve a semi-celebrity status, isn't it inevitable that "irl" communities will lose some of their vitality?
I met a friend for the first time "irl" that day, a Saturday, for brunch in Greenwich Village.
It's just that a lot of the time knowing things about people irl or having opinions about people influence how I see them in movies, and I don't think I can buy Shatner as a crotchety old man.
Debbie Stier, SVP, Editor at Large and Director of Digital Marketing for HarperCollins says, Find a comfortable way to engage and connect with your readers (ie not the megaphone), and then spend as much time as you possibly can doing that (online and irl).
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There's more distance than there is irl because you can't see their face.
I believe that Sarah Palin is irl trolling the elections.