Netflix and Ch-Ch-Chilly
How have decades of mass media and technology changed us? I return to my hometown to find answers.
Netflix and Ch-Ch-Chilly
Oh good, the login to the CMS I wrote in 2001 still works!
Just a note -- I have been doing a series on Medium about art authenticity in the age of the copy. Here are all the links in one place:
Part 1: This Is Not a Vermeer TM
Can anyone own a masterpiece? Five very dissimilar people share a common desire: To own a Vermeer.
Part 2: Uber for Art Forgeries
So you want to own a masterpiece? It's easy! In part two in this series about artistic authenticity, we explore how to score that painting you have always wanted.
Part 3: Forgeries Gone Wild!
How widespread is art forgery? Experts say it's wildly rampant. Is it time to reconsider the economy of images?
Part 4: The End of Authentication
Woo-hoo! You just discovered a Vermeer in your aunts basement. But who will verify if it is real? Maybe no one.
Part 5: The Artist, the Thief, the Forger, and Her Lover
How did the Mona Lisa become famous? The biggest art heist of all time connects the forger and the thief.
There will be no blogging for the next few days while I'm in Cambridge for ROFLcon. (Haha, like I really blog anymore anyway.)
I'm excited to see what this week's guest blogger, Danielle Strle, is going to come up with. She works at StumbleUpon, designs stuff, and will blow your socks off. (If for some twisted reason you are interested in what I've been doing, here's an interview with me about recent projects.)
Another new launch today: Styleite. I'm really happy with how this turned out. Power Grid is back, bigger and prettier, and Style Sheets is the new Tumblettes. Verena is going to be a fantastic editor.
[Sorry, I'm sneaking back onto my blog for self-promotion!] I forgot to announce that we relaunched this over the weekend: TheWeek.com. If you know the magazine, you know The Week is in an interesting position, as basically the most internety thing in the entire print world. If you take some of the editorial principles -- aggregation, synthesis, simplicity, clarity -- and apply them to the internet, you could envision something immensely desirable. It's a fantastic staff, so I'm excited about applying our/their ideas over the next few months.... -RX
It's been a fun week. I'll sign off now before I get tempted to overstay my welcome and live-blog the Oscars tomorrow night. ("WHAT?! Hurt Locker was SO contrived!!", etc.)
Thanks for reading, and thanks to Rex for the opportunity.
If you're interested in more of this kind of thing, you can follow my shared links and catch me on Twitter. In a couple months, I'll be launching Slow Machine (RSS), a site with occasional, longer pieces about -- what else? -- pop culture and politics. Hope to see you there. --ADM
Some people asked me for the slides from last night's Ignite talk. It completely lacks context without the audio, but here they are: Why The Hills Is The Greatest Show In The History Of Television -RX
This week's guest editor is ADM, someone who I have known online for, oh boy, nearly a decade. He's already picking up items you'll see talked about in other places all week. I think you will enjoy his curation.
(In the meantime, one of my upcoming and exciting projects got written up in NYTimes' style mag, T: Refashioner. Much more on this later, but this will be exciting.)
Things are about to get a lot better around here.
While I bury my head in work the next month, I have a few guest editors coming on board. First up, my pal Marina is taking over link operations for the next week. Brief bio: Marina learned English by watching American television while bombs dropped around her Serbian home. Beat that, Tumblr! She has been given uncensored reign to create chaos. Welcome!
I don't know if you've noticed, but this site has kinda sucked lately. The last few months have been ridiculously busy, and the next couple will start to reveal why. I'll be launching several new projects in different spaces: a couple startups, a few blogs, a couple old/new media combos, and a large sports league. The categories range from user-generated fashion to virtual economies to data-focused blogs. Today is the launch of a small but cool one, Geekosystem, which should complement the category that includes BoingBoing/io9/Wired. The differentiating feature, the Power Grid, kicks off with a list of the 30 Greatest Geeks, which, rather appropriately and quite unlike other lists, is algorithmically determined. [Techcrunch story.]
The giganto list of 2009 lists is finally winding down, but here are few highlights to appear recently: Ad Tunes' Top Ad Music, Onion A/V Club' Top 10 Electronica Albums and Mixes, Eat Me Daily's The Year in Food Blog-to-Book Deals, The Auteurs' Movies Posters of the Year, Techmeme's Top 10 Objectively Biggest Tech Stories, Art Fag City's Best of the Web, The Atlantic's Best Cocktails, Stereogum's 10 Most NSFW Music Videos, and The Yale Book of Quotations' Most Notable Quotations.
I wonder: what is the quality of 'viral' that makes it viral? Some would say it has something to do with the medium -- the way it gets passed around socially, without the aid of traditional outlets. In that sense, the 'viral hit' is somewhat like the 'sleeper hit' -- it starts slow, builds momentum. It doesn't seem much different.
But I wonder if that's not what people mean at all when they say 'viral.' I suspect they mean something much closer to a different phenom from a previous decade: the 'one-hit wonder.' In that sense, is Blind Melon really any different than Tay Zonday?
--Me, quoted in an essay that proposes the aughts were the first decade to be defined by their virality (memes), an interesting theory that I possibly tried to debunk.
I did a 5QQ for Mediate in which I talk about The Hills, BNO News, and Megantereons. Snippet:
Isn't it interesting that Tumblr and FourSquare are NYC's major contributions to social software in the past couple years? I have a theory! They share this commonality: they're both semi-closed networks. To wit: Though wildly successful, both platforms still somehow feel clubby and insidery.
In the long run, it will be interesting to see if this distinct (dare I say New Yorky?) quality is a feature or a bug.
(Before I lived in NYC, I had a name for social software like FourSquare's predecessor, Dodgeball. I called it "NewYorkWare" because those apps seemed specifically made for the hyper-urban. Similarly, Tumblr seems made for the hyper-mediated.)
It's my responsibility to explain why list-making matters, probably by making up some ridiculous counterintuitive argument and using words like "paradigm," self-reflexive," and "counterintuitive." I suppose I could suggest that the acceleration of technology has changed the way humans organize their internal thoughts, or that the proliferation of media has made list-making a necessary extension of cultural engagement, or that the ability to place pre-existing items into an arbitrary sequence has replaced the desire to generate an authentic personality. But that would be predictable.
The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order -- not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists -- the shopping list, the will, the menu -- that are also cultural achievements in their own right.
The 2009 List of Lists is progressing nicely. Some new things that have been added: Google's Zeitgeist, Yahoo's Year in Review, Pitchforks' Top Videos, and The Millions' Year in Reading. Please email me additions.
So yeah, the End of the Year List of Lists is happening again. [Except this year, I have no time to manage it, so please email me if you'd like to either a) manage it for a small stipend, or b) sponsor it.] It's just starting out, but a few things already added: NYT's 100 Notable Books, Amazon's Best Books, Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction, S/FJ's Best Songs and Albums, Metacritic's Best Music, and Wired's Pop Culture Moments. Be sure to email me if you have more lists.
The Black Friday sale that I recommend: 23andMe. Complete ancestry and health analysis for $300 if you order three or more. I'm getting it!
I need help again! Last month I posted for an assistant, and it went well: I've hired that person full time. But now I need to find someone new. Same requirements as before. If you're interested, let me know.
When Garrison Keillor had a stroke a few weeks ago, about 20 people sent me emails asking if I felt any sort of glee. Of course that's dumb -- this Gawker tag is all the vengeance I need.
Sorry for the obnoxious personal nature of this... I desperately need to hire an assistant and I thought I'd try posting it here first. Some terms:
- The ideal candidate knows a lot about the internet. The super ideal candidate can make stuff on the internet. Any combination of basic design or programming or project management is awesome, but not required.
- Writing, too. And research.
- This is not a full-time job. It's barely even half-time. So it should be your backup gig.
- It very possibly could grow into a fulltime job, soon, if you wanted.
- Some things might be interesting (meeting pitches, product invention) and some things won't be (sorry, Zuki needs to be walked).
- You must be in NYC, but you can probably work from home some of the time.
If you're interested, let me know!
Old time (very old time) readers of this site know that the last time the Red River of the north flooded (12 years ago), I lost everything I owned in the fire that started in the middle of the flood. (People have short-term memory for these things, but it was the largest evacuation of an American city in the 20th century. Brokaw broadcast live on location for two nights, and it was the only time Bill Clinton ever cried on national television. This Pulitzer-winning photo shows the block with my apartment and the newspaper I worked at.) I've been hitting refresh on local news sources and contacting old friends all weekend. It currently looks like the damage won't be as bad, but that doesn't make The Big Picture's slideshow any less eerie or reminiscent.
If you ever need someone to say stupid things on camera for you, just gimme a call. (I was trying to be sarcastic, but it doesn't completely come across.)
Evelyn Waugh reference? Blowhard! (I kid, Nick.) Two other notes on the flowchart:
1) Has anyone else noticed that the blowhards are becoming increasingly irrelevant? Just a year or two ago, it felt like Calacanis and Cuban were required reading -- however begrudgingly. But now they seem as important as any other random blogger. Is it my imagination, or has the blowhardosphere become more diffuse?
2) I've had some interesting discussions about why women weren't included on this chart. The two who I considered including were Sarah Lacy or Kara Swisher, but neither really seemed in the same blowhardish category (that's a compliment!). I definitely think it's difficult and complex for women in this industry, but I'm not sure about the contention that only women get called names. To clarify: Michael Arrington is a douchebag asshole fuckwad; Kara Swisher is pretty smart!
Hey lookie, I made a flowchart for Wired: Which Blowhard Am I? Are you Mark Cuban, Jason Calacanis, Dave Winer, Michael Arrington, Chris Anderson, Nicholas Carr, Jeff Jarvis, or Seth Goodin? (They added the You asked us to use a word other than "blowhard" fork that goes to Chris Anderson, but I like it!)
So the coasts will be collapsing into Austin in approximately a week for SXSW. I'll be there, pleasantly not presenting a single damn thing this time around. If you plan to be there, please drop a note in the comments so I know to look for you.
I've been using Flickr to store little ideas lately: His Girl Friday, Warhol, The Prophet, Tower of Babel, and Shake It, Start Over. I'm sure there are better examples, but is anyone using Flickr as a essay/blogging platform?
On today's I'm Just Sayin Show: watching sex scenes with your mom in the room. We've all been there.
I was on NPR's Talk of the Nation earlier today talking about the year in blogging [listen]. Some of the things I talked about: Kiva, Tumblr, Twitter, FiveThirtyEight.com, Ana Marie Cox, Robot Wisdom, The Daily Beast, and The 30 Most Notable Blogs of 2008.
As 2009 encroaches, and "What are you doing for New Years Eve?" becomes the question you hear five times an hour, the list of 2008 lists is finally wrapping up. Here are some of the best recent additions: Merlin Mann's Top 10, The Copycat Effect's Top Ten Evil Clown Stories, NYT's Year in Pictures, PC Mag's 100 Favorite Blogs, Esquire's Best Bars, Fortune's 21 Dumbest Moments in Business, fourfour's 44+ Reasons To Love 2008, WSJ's Best And Worst Ads, Daily Beast's Top Ten Thinking Man's Sex Symbols, Wired's Vaporware Awards, Cracked's 12 Most Embarrassing Photos, This Recording's 13 Personalities That Mattered Most, DJ Earworm's Mashup of Billboard Top 25 Hits, and Howard Wolfson's favorite music (yep, that one).
Today's episode of the I'm Just Sayin Show: Polygamy and The Girls Next Door. It's probably my favorite so far -- Alisa, who is a practicing Mormon, tells her story about living next to a polygamist compound. This personal anecdote sits next to a discussion of The Girls Next Door, a clearly polygamist situation that no one has ever legally questioned. Toward the end, Alisa discusses the codes for strict religious sects, but then Jackie mentions how those codes seem similar to the lives of playmates. What I love about this episode is that it mixes narrative and criticism, personal and political.
If you haven't looked through the list of lists yet, now might be a good time. I added a couple hundred more over x-mas, pushing it near 650 entries. Some of the best recent additions: College Humor's Best Pictures, Reality Blurred's Top Reality TV Whores, Get The Big Picture's Best Movie Posters, IGN's Best of 2008, Spin's 20 Best Songs, The Hypeful's 25 Best Cover Songs, I Love Typography's Favourite Typefaces, Adman's Top 10 Celebrity Ads, Magnet's Top 25 Albums, Mashable's 10 Most Memorable Twitter Moments, Videogum's 10 Worst People, Village Voice's The Year in NSFW Photos, The Onion's Your Favorite Band('s Merchandise) Sucks, New Yorker's Architecture's Ten Best, Slate's Best Books, and Roger Ebert's Best Foreign Films.
Tired with hearing myself answer questions the same way all the time, I decided to have more fun with this interview. "That kid who created Tumblr wasn't even masturbating to Japanese cosplay porn when Fimoc launched." Sorry, Karp! Other topics: Hot Chicks With Douchebags, Da Vinci, A Shot At Love 2 With Tila Tequila, Pachelbel's Canon in D Major, Jeff Zucker, and my Aunt Judy's polished rocks collection.
Lists are a constant stream right now. Some recent additions: NYT's Year in Buzzwords, Violet Blue's Top 10 Sexy Geeks, Archaeology Magazines's Top 10 Discoveries, The New Yorker's Ten Best Art Shows, Entertainment Weekly's Best and Worst, NYT's Year in Culture, and Pop Candy's Top 100 People.
Some recent highlights from that list of lists things: Antville's Best Music Videos, Pitchfork's 50 Best Albums, Jezebel's 25 Most Annoying Elisabeth Hasselbeck Moments, AdFreak's Freakiest Ads, Smoking Gun's Mugshots of the Year, WATCH's 10 Worst Toys, Esquire's 10 Worst Members of Congress, The Onion's Year in Film, Time's People Who Mattered, The Big Picture's Year in Photographs, Yale Book of Quotations Most Notable Quotations, KEXP's Top Tens, and Regret The Error's Year in Media Errors and Corrections.
If you happen to be in New York and want to punish yourself, I am reading tomorrow night at "In The Flesh Erotic Reading Series: True Sex Confessions Night" (wow, gulp -- mouthful!). The event's organizer, Rachel Kramer Bussel, did a Top 10 Reasons you might want to come. I actually have no idea what I'm going to read yet, but it will likely end with crying.
If you're gonna make the Approval Matrix, the place to be is the Brilliant/Lowbrow quadrant -- not too far from Shaq's Twitter and Jizz In My Pants, but regrettably closer to Hugh Jackman's gay porn in Australia. (List of lists is here, if you're looking.)
New Yorkers: we are throwing a party on Tuesday night at Barramundi (67 Clinton St. -- Lower East Side) to commemorate the launch of the show and my survival in NYC for one year. You're all invited -- rsvp on the Facebook page.
The top list of the year, NYT Mag's Year in Ideas is out. Other items recently added to the list of lists include: Discover's Top 100 Stories, Spin's Top 40 Albums, Rolling Stone's Albums of the Year, Videogum's Best Viral Videos, Urlesque's Year in Internet, and Stereogum's Gummy Awards.
On today's I'm Just Sayin Show, the girls talk about the Content and Its Discontents essay from last weekend's NYT Mag. Under discussion is: the meaning of "original content," verbose McLuhanite theory, Don Draper on Twitter, advertising as content, and a debate about a Gossip Girl videogame.
The yearly ginormous list of lists plods on this year. Thanks in advance for emailing me links. Some of the best lists added so far: Pitchfork's Top 40 Music Videos, Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year, Yahoo's Top Searches, Entertainment Weekly's 25 Entertainers of the Year, This Recording's Top 20 Albums, Paste's Top 50 Albums, Yahoo Movies' Top 10 Trailers, Multinational Monitor's 10 Worst Corporations, and NYT's 100 Notable Books.
I have a chart in the new issue of Wired (the one with Ray Ozzie on the cover): The Fake News Index. It uses the axis of Commentary v. Comedy and Slapstick v. Sophisticated to chart out such things as Weekend Update, Obama Girl, The Onion, Colbert, The Daily Show, John Hodgman, Fake Steve Jobs, and so forth.
On this week's I'm Just Sayin, we will be doing a three-part series called "On Language." SERIOUSLY! The first epp is all about the word like, which the girls have been accused of over-using. OH REALLY? Let's see! Update: second in the series, Log Off 4chan.
I've always said that videoblogs are hard to watch. But here's my favorite episode of I'm Just Sayin so far. (Tomorrow's will be even better.)
I will be on the FoxNews.com show "Strategy Room" from 1-3pm (ET) today. This could be funny.
For those of that persuasion, I've created a Tumblr that approximately duplicates this site: fimoculous.tumblr.com. (There will be nothing over there that isn't here.)
It's that time of the year again: the annual list of lists for 2008 is being primed. There are just a handful of things there now, but last year ended with 600+ links, so check back often for updates. (Also! Because this is a monster time suck, I'm looking for a sponsor this year, so that I can hire some help. Email me for sponsorship details.)
The I'm Just Sayin' Show is now out of beta -- it's already looking a lot better than last week! After a nice review, Tilzy.TV has an interview with me that explains how the show came together. We (Jackie, Alisa, Kristen, and I) like to think of the show as "Diggnation for girls" -- or, okay, "Golden Girls for hipsters."
With a commenter name like "ratman," you would probably expect a lulz onslaught. But whoever is commenting on this site with that username (here, here, and here) is my favorite commenter in the world. They are such non sequiturs that at first I thought they were spam, but now I see it's some sort of crazy genius. I hope they all come together to form a story.
So yeah, since the cat is crawling out of the bag, this is my answer to the question "What the hell are you working on right now anyway?" (You can run from NBC but you can't hide!)
My favorite part of Rachel's performance of "American Pie" at the 23/6 event in Denver isn't that she's wearing Obama Girl's bra (true) or those Digg signs behind her or that she wrote it all in like five minutes, but that she reads it off her Blackberry.
Thank you, Howie Kurtz: "Sklar discovered an ancillary benefit [of Twitter] in June when she wrote to a casual acquaintance, blogger Rex Sorgatz: 'Your latest twitter is one of the reasons I like you without knowing you so well.' After that e-mail, she says, 'he wrote back suggesting we have lunch.' They are now dating." See boys, it's that easy.
Yay! My pal Gavin is moving to NYC to work on Jimmy Fallon's new show. Several of you have had contact with Gavin as the exec producer of G4's Attack of the Show, but to me he'll always be the guy who dumped me for Fallon.
Chuck's weirdest Esquire column to date: Chuck Klosterman Has an Opinion, But Does It Matter?
After being on Pop 17 the other day, I mentioned that we talked for quite a while about various internet things. And golly, she put up a second video, this one a little more personal. Thanks for the good conversation, Sarah and Kenyatta!
Honan has outed me. I started a Tumblr a couple weeks ago, while I was feeling depressed about the dating churn, the scenester complex, the image upkeep, the drunken plotting. I'm fine now! But I'm still updating it with occasional conversations: Self-Loathing Nighttime Conversations. It's ridiculously self-indulgent, so I don't recommend actually reading it; apologies to those who are excerpted.
Video: I was on Attack of the Show on G4 yesterday, talking about the microfame article. I tried to get through all eight steps, but tv moves so fast! Anyway, the very important footnote: I'm wearing a t-shirt in the segment that shows only two letters (ON) because of the jacket. But I took a photo of it, so you can know my stance on the self-awareness of being on tv talking about microfame.
I like the tags I got on Buzzfeed: internet famous | julia allison | rex sorgatz | silicon alley | techboys.
Aaron confessed to me last night that he and Taylor did a Fake Rex Sorgatz blog last year. He said they stopped updating it because it was too much like Fimoculous. I regret admitting that it is pretty funny.
This is an open thread. I would actually like to hear what you want more or less of from this site, but you can say whatever the fuck you want.
Narcissism post... I'll be at ROFL Con in Boston on Thursday and Friday -- drop a comment if you will be too. Then I fly to Minneapolis on Saturday, throwing a party at The Chambers -- drop an email if you want an invite!
Lost Remote: The power of embeddable video. If I leave any legacy, sure, let it be getting that embedded player onto msnbc.com -- the first on a major news website.
Today on CNet's The 404, I unveiled the secret project that I have been working on. After months of preparation in NYC, I am finally ready for the unveil: my new super secret project is going to be... a zine! That's right, to hell with digital media! But wait, there's more! It's going to be a zine about... YouTube! Although Conde Nast has turned down seed funding, I am sure this will be HUGE. (This isn't even really an April Fool's joke. Not really. If you would like to submit anything to the zine, email me!)
I'm the only person at SXSW who doesn't have a business card, mostly because I don't have a job right now (or because I have five jobs right now). Perhaps "Valleywag Commenter" could be my new title. (Also, sorry no updates here until I get back later this week. That other guy's site is better anyway.)
Kottke started it, but I'll do it too. Cities I visited in 2007:
New York, NY
St. Paul, MN
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Las Vegas, NV
And a realization: Huh, I didn't leave North America.
The best thing about wrapping up the year is that I can put the 2007 List of Lists behind me. (Note to self: never, never, never do this again, you goddamn fucking idiot.) Here are the best ones from the past week: Entertainment Weekly's Best of Everything, Idolator's Worst Album Cover, Neatorama's Year in Cats, Cool Hunting's Best of Transport, Radar's Year in Lies, Curbed's Top 10 Craziest Architectural Renderings, Cinematical's Ten Best Trailers, AdTunes' Top Ad Music, Mashable's Dumbest Startups, and Reality Blurred's Top Reality TV Whores.
I bought myself these hot metallic silver kicks for xmas. When I look down at my feet, I can see a reflection of myself. And because ANYTHING that is even vaguely self-referential gets labeled a product of the Facebook zeitgeist, I'm now calling these my "Facebook Shoes."
The weekly recap of the best 2007 lists (as always, culled from the master List of Lists): Book Finder's Top 10 US Out of Print Books, Director File's Ten Best Music Videos, Time's Person of the Year, Sports Illustrated's Sports Pictures of the Year, The Onion A/V Club's Year in Film, Forbes' Top 25 Web Celebs, Antville's 500 Best Music Videos, Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums, Neotera's Top Ten Stupid Criminals, Pop Candy's Top 100 People, Billboard's Year End Charts, and Baby Center's Top 10 Baby Names.
It's probably the only worthwhile thing I do all year. Here are the Best Blogs of 2007 That You (Maybe) Aren't Reading.
Culled from the list of lists, some of the best lists of the past week: Google Zeitgeist, Slate's Year in Books, Pitchfork's 20 Worst Album Covers, The Gummy Awards, The Year in Media Errors and Corrections, Pitchfork's Top 50 Music Videos, and Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year.
Culled from the list of lists, here are the best 2007 lists of the past week: Radar's New Radicals, AOL's Top 10 Political Music Moments, Village Voice's Best Books, Ask.com's Top Searches, Art Forum's Best Music, Yahoo's Top Trends in Search, XLR8R's Best Albums, Drawn's Favourite Comics and Art Books, Sports Illustrated's Ten Best Trades, The Economist's Books of the Year, RealClearPolitics' Worst Election Mistakes, Mark Ronson's Albums of the Year, and of course my Top 25 Albums. Also of note: Goody Bag's rant about lists.
Last year at this time, I made my annual Predictions for Media/Tech/Pop, which somehow even squeaked a bit of praise from Frau Denton. As I wrote in a comment in that Valleywag thread, accuracy is never the goal of these things -- it's more about creating alternate universes that seem plausible.
But that's no excuse to hide behind the veil of science fiction. So let's review how well my predictions actually were. I score them below, on an accuracy scale of 1 to 10, even the ones that were purely a joke.
1) $100 PC will be a failure.
Cha-ching. This one hardly seemed obvious a year ago, but this project has run into innumerable problems, the least of which is that it costs twice the advertised price. Score: 10
2) MySpace will introduce no new significant features.
I was very close to scoring a 10 on this, but Facebook scored the bejezus out of Tom and Rupert by mid-year, so they finally released some new things, including a user update stream. It still sucks. Score: 4
3) Apple buys Last.FM. iTV is a hit. No iPhone.
I should just erase all my points -- I was wrong about every single one of these. Horribly, horribly wrong. To be honest, I only made this prediction so I could write this: "The iPhone is like god -- if it really existed, you wouldn't care that much." Turns out, I was only half right -- it is god, but you do care. Score: -1
4) Google and Apple form partnership.
Nope. In fact, I'm surprised to see how much the two companies were competing by the end of the year -- especially in the mobile space. Score: 0
5) A rumor spreads that Conde Nast is buying Gawker.
This didn't happen, but it totally should have, so... Score: 3
6) Jim chooses Pam on The Office.
Yes! Score: 10
7) Studio 60 catches on.
No! Score: 0
8) A media company tries to buy Technorati.
If by "buy" you mean "runs away from in fear," then sure. Score: 0
9) Your mom is charged with plagiarism.
The year started with more plagiarism accusations, but they mostly fizzled out by the end of the year. Score: 3
10) 1) Brian Williams. 2) Charlie Gibson. 3) Katie Couric.
Flip the first two. Score: 4
11) Vista ships.
But it sucks. Score: 7
12) Google buys Twitter.
Could still happen. Score: 2
13) AOL does nothing.
Ya know, despite all the lay-offs, AOL wasn't as laughable in 2007 as it was in 2006. It may get spun off yet... Score: 5
14) No one buys Facebook.
A year ago, this actually sounded like a bold prediction. Score: 10
15) Terry Semel exits Yahoo.
C'mon, gimme some credit now, eh? This wasn't obvious! Score: 10
16) Zune 2.0 is a sorta hit.
Oh yeah, baby. It's not super huge, but it did sell out on Amazon and other places. Score: 9
17) Second Life begins to sink.
Hitting my stride now. Score: 8
18) The year of mobile.
I say this every year, and it never quite happens. The iPhone and... that's about it. Score: 3
19) Dane Cook hosts the White House Press Corp dinner.
Bzzt. Score: 0
Well, it came out. No accolades though. Score: 3
21) More newspaper layoffs.
Ugh, that one was really hard. Score: 8
22) Smartpox won't catch on.
What the hell is Smartpox? Score: 10
23) CBS makes some surprise investments.
Last.FM! WallStrip! Now do you forgive me for those horrible Apple predictions? Score: 10
24) Chinese Democracy comes out.
Whahahaha. (Okay, some tracks leaked.) Score: 3
25) Courtney Love come-back.
Not so much. Score: 2
26) Britney's album tanks.
Hm, tough one. It went gold. Score: 6
27) Ze Frank ends up at Comedy Central.
You wish. Score: 0
28) Amanda Congdon on ABCnews.com = success.
Shoot. Me. Now. Score: 1
29) lonelygirl15 fades.
Totes. Score: 9
30) The planet warms.
Yawn. (I mean, OMG!) Score: 7
Meh, not bad. I should have predicted that I would buy Newsvine though.
If you're thinking of buying a Kindle, please do so through this link so I get a $40 referral fee!
I move out and they give Brian Williams my office. Seriously. (He's shooting Nightly News from Seattle next week.)
Some of the best items to make The 2007 List of Lists so far: Mr. Skin's Top 20 Movie Nude Scenes, Top 10 Cryptozoology Stories, Bad Sex in Fiction Awards, NYT's 100 Notable Books, Best Book Shelves, Best Magazine Covers, Best Book Covers, Rolling Stone's Top 25 DVDs, Amazon's Top 10 Games, and the Top 60 Japanese Buzzwords.
Oh yeah, my little welcoming present from NYC was being asked to guest-edit Gawker for a couple days. After making a long list of minor media revolutions I would introduce, I spent most of my first day on the job looking for the perfect combination of WiFi and coffee. When I finally got around to writing and editing, my most substantive piece was a weird little week in digital media review (complete with a McLuhan reference in the first graph, for all my fans back home). More next week...
Once again, it's time to announce the stupidest thing that I do every year around this time: collect year-end lists. You probably know there's a long history here (2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 -- 2002 was my 1960s), with last year clocking in at a head-hurting (and browser-dragging) 712 lists. This takes ridiculously too much time, but I bleed lists for you, people. As always, email me your additions.
I can finally mention this publicly: I'm moving to NYC next month, working on some new projects. Hush-hush, shh-shh, see ya there. (In the comments, kottke turns this into a Valleywag post. Feel free to write your own press releases inside.)
I'm in Toronto for ONA 07 for the rest of the week. I probably won't update this dumb blog, but I will very likely drunk-dial you at some point.
Despite working on this deal for several months now, the exhilaration that one feels when turning the corner to see the future has not dissipated. But the thrill has transformed into a new kind of obsession: thinking about how news deserves to be a better experience -- better to create, better to share, better to participate in.
You can read elsewhere about the details of the deal, but the gist is this: we plan to leave Newsvine alone -- learn from it, integrate little pieces of it, watch it grow. The site will continue to run independently with Mike at the helm; meanwhile, we will incrementally find sensible ways to integrate the "social thinking" of Newsvine into the "big media thinking" of MSNBC.com.
I'm convinced that Newsvine represents a different way of thinking about traditional media -- as merger of gathering, interacting, and consuming. By positing news as an ecosystem rather than a hierarchy, the philosophy of Newsvine is actually an old one. News has always been conversational, but only recently have we begun to rediscover the tools to bring it back to its networked mode. Mike and his team have built an amazing site, and we are excited to turn some of our large audience onto it.
For me personally, it's a moment I have been anticipating for years: seeing how a big news outlet can interact with its audience, how it can learn from its audience, how it can cede control to its audience. And ultimately, how "audience" isn't even the right word anymore.
I've been working for big media for over a dozen years now. And to be honest, I am always close to giving up. While all my nouveau riche Silicon Valley friends cash in their start-ups, I've been preparing the epitaph on my days working in this industry: "Mainstream media is hard."
This is certainly not breaking news, but the media industry is hemorrhaging. As the differences between "big" and "small" media continue to crumble, I cling to the corny, nostalgic philosophy that mainstream news is still a crucial part of democracy, binding us together in ineffable ways. If you've ever worked for a big media company, you know this is not an easy philosophy to maintain. You get bitter, you get depressed, you drink a lot, you have an infinite string of two-month relationships (ahem).
Because big media is hard. And no matter what you do, no matter how much you try to fix it, the media industry still moves slowly. Why? Because the media world has lost its faith, abandoned its roots, absconded the throne. And proving that an empire is its own worst enemy, media companies seem determined to kill themselves, slowly and painfully, pointing fingers at non-existent enemies as they go down.
Which is why it needs fixing, now more than ever. And fixing it is about finding its roots -- news as conversation, as a network, as a platform. By reconstituting media as participation, Newsvine suddenly makes news fun and engaging again.
For the first time in a long time, I'm actually optimistic about the prospects. Maybe media doesn't need to be so hard after all.
Rex Sorgatz is the Executive Producer of MSNBC.com. This blog has, like, nothing to do with that.
Fimoculous.com is in San Francisco for the weekend, trying to convince Waxy to come out and play. See ya next week!
fimoculous -- 1.16 million hits. filmoculous -- 57 hits. Statistically, I guess it ain't so bad that a small number of people spell my blog name wrong. But you'd think that Broadcasting & Cable would at least spell it right! (But thanks for the mention, Lisa.)
No updates here for the next few days, as I'm back in Minneapolis, avoiding bridges.
You've perhaps heard about PhotoSynth from Buzzfeed or Ted Talks or Very Short List -- it's basically a cool zoomable interface for photos. We just launched an experimental one for Wednesday's shuttle launch: Space World. It's a joint partnership between MSNBC.com, NASA, and Live Labs. More coverage at TechCrunch.
I'm in NYC this week. My goal: investigate why Malcolm Gladwell has not updated his blog in over six months. This could take a while, so expect few updates here until next week...
Because of a previous project, I own the domain watchingparis.com. This should have been the week I tried to sell it.
I have this little theory that trends and predictions can be stand-alone narratives, so I wrote a little essay about it, which doubles as a note announcing a new work project: iPredict, where you make predictions around news events.
I will be in L.A. for the long weekend, so no updates for a few days... unless, of course, I do coke off a B-celeb's tummy. (I wouldn't tell you if it were an A-celeb. I'm classy like that.)
I honestly believe that I may have stumbled upon the most perfect and sublime use for Twitter: a daily Steven Wright quote. Follow me!
I keep saying I'm gonna talk about my actual day job here, but it's all been lies so far. Well, today marks the beginning of a very long process to relaunch MSNBC.com. This is just a small step (basically a logo change), intended to coincide with the launch of a marketing campaign (spectrum.msnbc.com), which WSJ did a story about. For anyone who actually cares about the good old mainstream media, I'll try to talk a little here about how this evolves over the next several months.
The cover story on the new issue of Wired is Snack Attack!, a mini-manifesto on the notion that culture is becoming more bite-sized. I wrote three short pieces for the compilation -- on t-shirts, lists, and link blogs. These happen to be three things I'm ridiculously qualified to prattle on about.
Snack Culture is a notion that, once stated aloud, seems almost obvious: society is speeding up, so of course culture reflects that acceleration by providing smaller, easier-to-consume bits. Just think about ringtones and texting, iTunes and Twitter, online profiles and speed dating -- nuh doy, right? Aren't FlashMobs just really nano-protests? Isn't H&M just fashion in fast-forward? How about the mashup -- couldn't we argue that it is simply a way to consume two songs in the time it takes to listen to one? (I remember an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation in which Data was listening to five Mozart symphonies at once. This seemed like utopia to this attention-deficient teenage mind.)
Steven Berlin Johnson's decent counterpoint, Snacklash, makes a compelling argument that miniaturization is actually an illusion created by surplus. But his points about movies and music (old media) seem to crumble with recent inventions (new media): games, startups, webisodes, memoirs, gossip, widgets, highlight reels, and all the rest -- just let your mind wander and you'll think of some.
Some bite-sized notes on the items I wrote:
I've had this theory for a while: the t-shirt is becoming its own legitimate form of media. Whereas t-shirts used to be a retroactive way to classify yourself in a social group, now t-shirts seem to broadcast news. From Wii tees to Dick in the Box halter-tops, the t-shirt is the nano-ist of nano-publishing.
It's strange to be known as the list guy. Since at least Nick Hornby (or Letterman?), it's become easy to be cynical about cultural lists. But lists are like malls -- we may hate them, but they can never perish in the age of micro-niche. Lists have a mathematical elegance, an efficiency. Lists are ways to editorialize, to predict. Lists are nostalgia and futurism at the same time.
Stacks of links, neatly organized, precise and discrete: you have your version of beauty, I have mine.
I'm speaking at a conference in Ohio (eTech), so updates will be light the next few days. Anyone want anything from Columbus, OH?
New website idea: a place where you submit nasty details about people you really hate. But the details are held secret until that person dies. And when the person dies, all the nastiness is released at once. Call it ToDieFor.com. Just give me my millions now.
Here's a little personal tidbit very few people know: I was briefly the editor of Fate magazine. BoingBoing has a reminiscence, but I could tell you much, much crazier stories. (Until recently, Fate was published by the biggest New Age publisher in America, Llewelyn Books, which is based in St. Paul. You have no idea how nutso that place was to work. Upon meeting you, the first thing colleagues would ask is "What's your sign?" I would change my answer every time.) Most newsstands still carry Fate, which is somewhat extraordinary.
I was on the BBC talking about blogs in 2006 yesterday. You can listen to it here if you figure out how the player works, but I don't recommend trying it. Best part: I get interrupted for a cricket update. Go Manchester!
As we get close to wrapping up lists 2006 (650+ lists and counting), here are the best lists of the past week: 100 most annoying things from Retrocrush, best of the web from Art Fag City, the art of science gallery from Princeton, the year in reality tv from Reality Blurred, the year in culture from Slate.com, top 12 online media stories from Cyberjournalist, top ad music from AdTunes, top sex toys from Fleshbot, top 5 lists from Comic Book Resources, top science stories from Discover, the year in games from Wired News, top 10 sex stories from San Francisco Chronicle, personalities of the year from Gawker, and a deluge of top 10s from Time.
Culled from the list of lists, it's time for the weekly list wrap: top 100 baby names for 2006 from Baby Center, top reality tv whores from Reality Blurred, top 100 wines from Wine Spectator, top 10 cryptozoology stories from Cryptozoo, worst vlogs from 10 Zen Monkeys, top 10 cited Wikipedia entries from Wikipedia, vaporware from Wired News, least essential albums from The Onion A/V Club, best of everything from IGN, 10 best unseen films from Film Threat, artists of the year from City Pages, dozen dumbest press releases from Collateral Damage, best albums from eMusic, entertainers of the year from Entertainment Weekly, 10 best celebrity trends from Best Week Ever, 99 most desirable women from AskMen.com, and buzzwords from the New York Times.
Best new lists over the last couple days: most popular time-shifted shows from TiVo, worst movie trailers from iFilm, best recut movie trailers from Rolling Stone, top 10 creepy fossil finds from Cryptozoo, the year in viruses from CrunchGear, top stories from The Onion, top 50 albums from Pitchfork, and the year in film from The Onion A/V Club.
Best of the recent additions to the best-of lists list: top 10 politically incorrect words from Language Monitor, most expensive champagnes from Forbes, buildings of the year from Business Week, top 100 songs from Pitchfork, top 10 tv shows from Time, year in review from the L.A. Times, 15 who had 15 minutes of fame from Time, the year in culture from NY Mag, top 10 cryptozoology mystery pics from Cryptomundo, top 10 movies from Stephen King, and of course Google Zeitgeist.
I did an interview about blogging for Mediabistro, containing absolutely nothing you don't already know: "I'm never really offline and I would never vacation someplace without internet access. In other words, I don't have a soul and you should never take my advice on blogging." I also talk a bit about magazine websites, book blogs, and writers who blog.
Some of the best lists of the past few days: top 10 YouTube moments from AP, top 10 TV moments from TiVo, top 100 people from Pop Candy, top 50 albums from Rolling Stone, 25 worst album covers and 25 best music videos from Pitchfork, the year in corrections from Regret the Error, photos of the year from Time, favorite podcasts from iTunes, 9 most surprising business moves from Valleywag, best music from The Onion A/V Club, and 100 things we didn't know this time last year from BBC.
Mid-week best of The 2006 Lists round-up: 5 most expensive phones from Luxist, 100 best songs of the year from Rolling Stone, best films from the New York Film Critics Circle, favorite fiction and non-fiction from the L.A. Times, top 10 tech words from Valleywag, and top 40 sports figures from sports bloggers.
Best of The Lists weekend round-up: words of the year from Merriam-Webster, banished words list from Lake Superior State University, book awards from Salon, video game awards from Spike TV, worst book covers from Ed Rants, top 10 books from Stephen King, best songs and albums from Sasha Frere Jones, year-end recap from Other Music, the year in catfights from Radar, librarians of the year from the New York Times, and of course the year in ideas from the New York Times Magazine.
More '06 lists? M'kay: top 50 music videos from DoCopenhagen; top 5 movie posters from Sam's Myth; best nude scenes from Mr. Skin; the year in books from Slate.com; best books, music, film, and art from Art Forum; and of course a whole lot more.
I was on the NPR technology show Future Tense this morning, talking about the 30 blogs and the list of lists. Gawd, I hate my radio voice.
New 2006 lists? Okay, NPR's listeners' picks, Bookslut's best book covers, CrunchGear's gadgets, NME's best albums, The Onion's cheap toys, Leite's Culinaria's 20 best cookbooks, and of course a whole lot more.
Wow, this is pretty amazing: if you go to Del.icio.us right now, 6 out of the top 10 "hot" links were featured on yesterday's Best Blogs You (Maybe) Aren't Reading post. I guess that makes the title of the post already obsolete.
Now that the 2006 lists of lists is growing to a respectable size, I'll mention that you should email me lists that fit in that genre: about 2006. Occasionally, people send me lists that have nothing to do with 2006, such as one of my recent favorites, Top 10 Servers In Movies. Yes, that's computer servers, not the who tell you to watch out for the hot plates at restaurants. Anyway, it's an excellent list.
More as an experiment in curiosity than anything else, I've put a couple early issues of Wired (#2 and #3; summer of '93) up on eBay for sale. I've got several duplicate issues from the first few years -- if these sell, I'll put the others out there too. I'm curious: does anyone care about print anymore? (UPDATE: That was fast. Some guy from outside Portland bought them. Thanks Matt! Print lives on!)
Believe it or not, I make a living as a futurist -- in the same way that nearly all of us (writers, entrepreneurs, bookies... Miss Cleo) bring home the butter by trying to predict what will happen next. The Prognosticating Class has become so large that you now can't click 'empty trash' on your desktop without a futurist falling out.
Last year was the worst -- I made 33 Predictions for 2006 in Media, Technology, and Pop Culture. It's time to look back and see how well I did. In fairness to myself, this wasn't really a true attempt at clairvoyance -- several of the predictions were just meant to be goofy. Oddly enough, those were the ones that turned out to actually be right.
Next month, I'll publish some predictions for 2007, but in the mean time, let's review last year's effort, with ratings of 0-10:
1) Netflix will be bought by TiVo, which will be bought by Yahoo....
Um, not so much. Score: 0.
2) Absolutely no one will buy Knight Ridder....
Oh boy, this is getting ugly. Score: 0.
3) NBC's new Thursday comedy line up will be a big enough success that tv execs will once again try to invoke the phrase "destination tv"...
Wellll...30 Rock is a hit, My Name Is Earl still does okay, and the relocated Office is stellar. But, well, no one is exactly shaking the presents under the tree at NBC this Christmas. Score: 5.
4) A new Pew study will reveal something about internet use that will be drastically over-cited by people who are reading this blog post.
See, that's me being funny. Score: 5.
5) David Chappelle will do something that makes everyone ask "why the hell did he do that?" It will be "brilliant," but "enigmatic and frustrating."
Tricked ya. That was written after he actually did "enigmatic and frustrating" things. Score: 1.
6) Showtime will pick up Arrested Development.
Um, yeah. Well, MSN picked up the reruns. Score: 2.
7) "Hello Katie, welcome to CBS."
Doy. Score: 10.
8) After a guest appearance on Veronica Mars, Amanda Congdon will sign a deal to host a new show on UPN...
Okay, wrong about Veronica Mars (how cool would that be?), and wrong about CBS and UPN... sorta -- instead, she'll be on sister company HBO. And ABC. So I get some points. Score: 7.
9) Book publishers will drop their silly little fiat and announce a triumphant partnership with Google Print.
Sorta yeah, sorta no. Score: 5.
10) Nonetheless, Google's stock price will slip 20% by the end of the year.
Can I get negative points? Score: 0.
11) Someone in Seattle or San Francisco will get beaten to death at a dinner party after saying the words "Web 2.0" for the five-trillionth time before the first course.
I can't prove it, but I'm sure this has happened. Score: 6.
12) 2005: the year of search. 2006: the year of mobile....
Maybe next year? Score: 3.
13) Current TV will start to show up in Nielsen. The numbers will be good, not great.
Well, not yet. But they got closer. Score: 2.
14) The break-up of Viacom will have unforeseen repercussions...
Maybe I should have kept them all this vauge. I was thinking something big would happen, but nothing really did. MTV got older, CBS joined the YouTube revolution. Score: 2.
15) Steve Jobs will announce a DVR.
Not quite. He announced iTV. But still... Score: 6.
16) iTunes will give in to record labels and adjust pricing such that songs will range from $.50 to $2.
This is getting painful. Does Zune caving to Universal Music count? Score: 1.
17) Sirius will double subscribers but it still won't be enough to pay Howard Stern's salary.
They started the year with 3.3 million and ended with over 5 million. So close. Score: 7.
18) David Letterman will announce his retirement.
I'm a moron. Score: 0.
19) Microsoft's new operating system, Vista, will launch in mid-summer, and will get surprisingly good reviews.
Hah! Score: 0.
20) Despite the L.A. Times' dismal failure, several media organizations will release successful wikis....
One word: wikiality. Score: 2.
21) Martha Stewart will quietly become a nobody. Donald Trump, however, will still somehow manage to remain famous.
Is this even measurable? Score: 4.
22) Mary-Kate and Ashley will return.
Shoot. Me. Now. Score: 3.
23) One person will finally figure out a cool use for Google Base....
I'm still not sure this has happened. Score: 2.
24) At the end of the year, the New York Times will drop Times Select. Soon after, CNN.com will make Pipeline free.
You wish, blogger. Score: 0.
25) Despite some inspired ideas, Craig Newmark's new journalism project won't be a gigantic success, but it will inspire others sites that quickly take off.
What the hell happened to DayLife anyway? Score: 0.
26) News Corp's purchase of MySpace will yield a decent record label that has a surprise hit.
Mickey Avalon! Mickey Avalon! Mickey Avalon! Score: 9.
27) FBC -- Fox Business Channel -- will launch.
Pft. Score: 0.
28) Ten major cities will release city-wide WiFi.
I had to use the word major. Score: 3.
29) Fergie from Black-Eyed Peas will announce a solo album...
Rock out. Score: 8.
30) The New York Times Sunday Styles section will write a trend piece about the trend of trend pieces. It will then implode.
It didn't, but it still could. Score: 3.
31) Chuck Klosterman will announce he's writing new columns for Vanity Fair, Wired, and Modern Midwestern Living.
Well, he almost wrote some stuff for Wired. Score: 3.
32) Fimoculous.com makes a triumphant return as an "almost decent" blog.
Fuck yeah. Score: 10!
33) Anderson Cooper will claim he's the father of Katie Holmes' baby. A wicked paternity suit -- in which everyone refuses to take DNA tests -- ensues.
You wish, Andy. Score: 0.
Average score: 3.27. Before you get all schadenfreude on me, please consider that some of those predictions were intentionally outrageous. As will next year's predictions. Tune in soon...
Guess what time of the year it is, kidz? That's right, time to launch the meta-list machine. Here it is, the yearly crazefest: 2006 list of lists. It's skimpy now, but there were 700+ last year, so bookmark that boy. I even added some new features: sorting and category pages (and will try to add filtering and search later).
I need a Halloween costume. It needs to be nerdy. A couple years ago, I was the yellow AOL guy and last year I was a spam filter. Any ideas?
I'm in Sillicon Valley again for a couple days (four trips, three weeks, oof). Updates will be slow.
I'm in D.C. for the Online News Association conference through Sunday, so updates will probably be light.
I'm in NYC through Wednesday, so updates will be light.
Fimoculous.com got another dusting and cleaning today. Drop your thoughts in the comments.