Compare: Gawker's story about Horse_ebooks and Shortformblog's story about reply girls. Once again, spammers are ahead of the curve in predicting the future of the internets: The Pseudo-Algorithmic Human!
Rick says a bunch of interesting things in his new column about whether you need to a be highly networked individual to succeed online. I especially relish how he ties geography into the conversation, alluding to a midwestern startup.
And many, many more hyper-social New Yorkers and San Franciscans make successful startups than antisocial Midwesterners. Or even antisocial New Yorkers. These are things you can control. You can move to San Francisco. Better yet, you can move to New York. You can go to meetups. You can go to conferences. You can email investors. You can go to classes at General Assembly. It's in your control. Or, you can stay at home in the Midwest, reading TechCrunch and talking about how it's all rigged and an insiders game.
This will frustrate my friends in Minneapolis -- those dozens of startups trying to compete at CoCo and other places. They're trying to create their own scene right now. Creative acts are becoming increasingly dependent on groups of people. Being part of a "scene" in music was undeniably important in the '80s and '90s, but now it's become as true for fashion, technology, theater, and nearly all creative arts.
It's an interesting dilemma building a company in the midwest: Your success is as much a factor of your peers' success -- the community's success -- as it is the brilliance and execution of your idea.
Opposing visions of the gamification of the web from this morning:
Joseph Puopolo on Techcrunch:
Gamification has become one of the hottest buzz words in the industry and is probably in the process of taking over a website or user experience near you.
I surveyed the community services I frequent -- Metafilter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Mlkshk, Mixel. These services do present goals to their users and they have crafted a user experience that nudges them towards those goals -- but they do it without points, ranks and the other mechanisms and patterns advertised in the Techcrunch post above.... At some point people are going to wake up to the fact that the gamification industry is a scam.
For sure, "visualizing success" is a major component of social sites, but there are still scant examples of successful sites with more game-like components like leaderboards and badges, despite the rampant startup growth.
From an interview on ReadWriteWeb with Dens, this bit about the future of Foursquare:
The challenge isn't really that dissimilar than some of the growing pains and hazing that Twitter went through. For a long time, Twitter was "oh, it's just people tweeting what they had for lunch, or that they're going to the movies." That wasn't interesting for a lot of people.
Then they hit a moment that was a little bit of critical mass and a little bit of clarity, where people started using it to break news and share headlines and spread information. And that's when it started clicking for a lot of people.
It is reminiscent of Fred Wilson's post from a couple months ago, Mocked and Misunderstood, where he posits that the most ridiculed services could be the most successful. It's an over-simplification (hello, ChatRoulette), but there's definitely something to this.
The Death of the Cyberflaneur argues that the web once seemed a place for the anonymously strolling (not trolling) flaneur:
Transcending its original playful identity, it's no longer a place for strolling -- it's a place for getting things done. Hardly anyone "surfs" the Web anymore. The popularity of the "app paradigm," whereby dedicated mobile and tablet applications help us accomplish what we want without ever opening the browser or visiting the rest of the Internet, has made cyberflanerie less likely.
It then goes on to blame Facebook for much of this problem.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Will Wright Is Back. Whah! “If we had that much situational awareness about you and at the same time we were building this very high-level map of the world, and I don’t just mean where Starbuck’s is, but all sorts of things like historical footnotes and people you might want to meet. I started thinking about games that we can build that would allow us to triangulate you in that space and build that deep situational awareness.” And maybe it includes a TV component! (His 2007 SXSW keynote is still my all-time favorite.)
2) Just.Me. Looks interesting, love the name.
3) Denton’s Memo. Okay, this commenting system (Pow-Wow) could be the real deal. However, I doubt that the product itself will be that revolutionary — I mean, how much can we do with comments? But the power will be in pairing it with an editorial agenda. Imagine if something like Reddit or Metafilter were more programmed, had the power of a media enterprise around it.
5) VYou 2.0. VYou comes out of Beta on Monday.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) North Koreans weeping hysterically over the death of Kim Jong-il. THEY ALL DESERVE OSCARS. (This video will be a pervasive meme in 5… 4…)
2) WHERETHEFUCKSHOULDIGOFORDRINKS. (dot-com)
3) Distrust That Particular Flavor. William Gibson has a book of non-fiction coming out next month.
4) Rob Delaney’s new Comedy Central Show Using Twitter. Also, the design of those new FastCo pages!
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) The Spielberg Face. Once you’ve seen it, you can never not see it.
3) WhoSay Strikes Deal With AP. The future is celebrities owning and distributing their own gossip.
4) Ebert’s Best Films of 2011. Someone kept Drive on their list!
5) Jack Shafer: Are you reading the best magazine in America? I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that Bloomberg Businessweek is my favorite magazine right now. (Also, props to Reuters for hiring Shafer and letting him write so glowingly about their primary competitor.)
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) 25 Most Viral People. (On the internet.)
3) CNN: A Social Media Addict Tries to Disconnect. Day 1: “I land at Antigua’s airport, where I’m greeted by warm sunshine, a long customs line and a man playing Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ on a tin drum. All of these observations are ones I ache to tweet.” Hrrrrm.
4) The Death of Television. From Evan Shapiro of IFC, who is probably the smartest tv exec I’ve ever worked with.
5) SAY Media. For most of 2011, Aol was the most interesting company on the digital media scene — every week was a new product launch, a new purchase, a new scandal, a new reorg. For 2012, SAY Media could take its place. For several years, people in the industry have heard various rumors of a “blog rollup.” It’s never happened because most of the time these companies stall after buying one or two properties. But SAY Media is really giving it a go. Sure, xoJane hasn’t performed that well, and the mishap with Rookie didn’t help, but by most accounts Dogster is doing well, and snagging Frommer with its purchase of Read Write Web is tantalizing. (And the reported $5M price tag indicates they’re being tactical and might not burn out.) Now there’s rumors of an IPO, plus some chatter about a revved up CMS. You never would have guessed that the merger of a blog platform and a video ad network would lead to anything, but prepare to hear endless stories about it in 2012.
1) VC Memes. Well. Done.
3) Biz Insider Launched an Advertising Vertical Last Week. Servicey.
5) P.R. Stunts in a Digital Era. “A lot of brands are seeing the value in a P.R. rep who has an online persona that can be used to magnify the brand message.” Some boner actually said that.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Klosterman on Tebow. The interesting thing here is that it seems to start as another analysis of hater culture, but then it does a few back-flips and turn-arounds and, oh christ, it's about faith!
2) WeedMaps Acquires Marijuana.com For $4.2 Million. You missed this breaking news over Thanksgiving.
4) Pitchfork's Top Music Videos of 2011. Best year for the medium since the .90s? Sure, let's try out that idea.
5) Did You Read? This. Is. Amazing.
Fifteen things that intrigue me right now:
1) You Say You Want a Devolution? Here's an interesting thesis from Kurt Anderson in Vanity Fair: While there have been massive technological changes in the past 20 years, everything looks the same. That is, he suggests, if you looked at a random snapshot from 1991, the people and buildings and cultural objects would mostly look the same as today. So? Well, that certainly isn't true if you looked at 1931 to 1951 or 1951 to 1971. This is one of the broad cultural essays that "seems right" though I'm not sure why.
2) The .xxx top-level domain went live yesterday. You will know it when you see it.
3) Who's Afraid Of Lana Del Rey? I'm glad someone wrote this, but isn't the artifice of "authenticity" itself the bugbear to be slayed?
4) Fast Co Design. Fast Company has a design blog that tries "to bridge the fuzzy border between design and business."
5) New Walker Website. Waaaay back in the day, The Walker was one of the earliest organizations (and for sure, the first museum) to take up blogging, but the effort seemed to only get partial internal support. Last week, a site redesign revisited the idea of museum as a locus for content generation (or "idea hub"). Congrats, Schmelzer, nice work. (See also: The Atlantic and Artlog discuss the redesign.)
6) The Bitter Email Exchange between David Denby and Scott Rudin over the Review Embargo of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Rudin missed such a great opportunity to use a scathing Subject line!
7) Aaron Sorkin's New Project: Newsroom. People who say they aren't excited for this are lying.
9) The Utne Reader to Leave Minneapolis. Sad. I used to have an office across the street from these guys in Loring Park.
10) JimRomenesko.com. Hello there, old timer!
12) Richard Lawson in Atlantic Wire. How fast did this become the best writing online? In just weeks, we've received thought pieces like When Fans Attack and movie reviews that read like the best of the New Yorker (so: Anthony Lane not David Denby), while still satisfying us in that off-hand impulsive bloggy way. (See also, this post on Gawker that isn't at all about Lawson but somehow the commenters turned it into a rally cry.)
13) The Trailer to Shame.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Minneapolis Is A Startup Powerhouse! Sure, why not?
2) Lets Not Party Like Its 1999. All party reporting should be like Ricks.
3) Marc Maron Podcast. I finally listened to this over Thanksgiving. So good.
5) YouTube Innovation. For the first couple years after landing into Googles lap, YouTube had essentially zero new product innovation, perhaps because they were busy fighting off lawsuits. But in the past year, numerous interface, design, and product changes have made it a surprising place of innovation perhaps the most innovative department in all of Google. One very small example: You can subscribe to feeds of videos that appear on your favorite websites, such as Hipster Runoff, Kottke, TMZ, and Cute Overload.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
2) The Bipolar Reactions that Lana Del Rey Elicits. Watch the video and then look at those comments!
3) Slaughterhouse 90210 Entries Like This One. She’s still got it.
5) Social Media Pillows. There ya go, the beginning and end of the Fimoculous Holiday Shopping Guide.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) This Appealing Headline. “The Atlantic’s online ad revenue exceeds print”
2) This sentence in Vanessa’s profile of Arianna Huffington. “It’s a feat — Huffington’s characteristic gift — to aggregate childbirth, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Tiger Moms, a cow, Nancy Reagan, and unconditional love into one surprisingly intimate, seamless skein, and it makes spending time with Huffington a pleasure, even if interviews with her can be stultifying.” (Also, this accompanying graphic.)
3) UC Davis Pepper Spraying from Multiple Angles. Like if Time Code were a documentary.
4) eBay buys Hunch. This one’s about as obvious as it comes. I know nothing of the back story, but I’m sure Amazon had a chance and passed because Bezos doesn’t overpay for anything. While I hope Hunch still seeks a consumer-facing solution, I’m pretty sure it will end up being integrated into eBay and slowly disappear.
5) Startup Angel Funding Rap. Check please!
Five things that intrigue me right now:
2) How I Ended Up Leaving Poynter. Jim’s highly-detailed account doesn’t make Poynter look worse, but they sure don’t look any better.
3) Betabeat’s Most Poachable Players in Tech. The best thing about this is not knowing most of these people.
4) Sylo. I love when people do creative things with their VYou accounts.
5) Gawker Redesign Second Thoughts. Appropos of nothing, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Denton had gone in a different design direction. If, as he said, he believed so much that the traditional reverse-chronological order of blogs was broken, why didn’t he go with a information-dense gridded design (like Vulture and The Verge) instead of the two-pane iPad-inspired layout? That also seemed to have been Steve Jobs’ feedback. (Btw, traffic across Gawker Media right now is even lower than when he lost the bet.)
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Reddit IAmA. Most people are pretty familiar with this amazing series on Reddit, but it’s interesting that content programming this precise and defined has emerged organically out of a user-generated platform.
2) Grantland’s YouTube Hall of Fame. On the opposite end of the spectrum is this highly programmed concept which is a goldmine of YouTube esoterica.
3) Video Beast. This will probably lose a million bucks per quarter, but it will be fun to watch while it lasts.
4) RecordSetter.com book. Can an open source version of record-making outseat the Guinness Book? I think so!
5) The Top 10 Reasons Lists Are Popular With Journalists. “There’s this form of nostalgia tied to them, but I actually think of them in terms of the future.” Someone said that.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Match the DeLillo to The Cover. 10 for 10.
2) Kabletown. Ive heard NBC employees including executives actually refer to Comcast as Kabletown, even at work. Ill be surprised if this will be allowed to continue forever.
5) The Verge. The Verge is the tighest merger of magazine thinking and blog culture that weve ever seen. Its also proof that even crowded spaces can be broken into with the right execution.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) This Nick Denton Quote. "The problem is the boring people online -- they're incredibly difficult to get rid of, because theyre often really nice."
3) Nymwars. Once it gets an official name, you know trouble is brewing.
4) ASOS iPad App. This is the end game of the merger of editorial and commerce. Amazing experience and content integrated almost perfectly into a purchase environment. (There are mens and womens issues.)
5) Uproxx. I suspect most of us wouldn't know about it if Cajun Boy weren't writing there, but Uproxx is the latest in the growing genre of web culture blogs. And judging from posts like Alison Bries GIF-Able Moments and Thirteen Movie Poster Cliches, it could be the best.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Jotly. So good. I almost dont want to tell you its a parody.
2) NYT on Reality Weekly. The amazing thing here is that no one thought of it before. It will be huge.
3) Don Draper at 84. I hope he looks more convincing than DiCaprio as J. Edgar.
4) Foursquare Badges Level Up. Smart. Its the little things.
5) Minneapolis, Mark Mallman. The amazing bit here is at 2:15 where Mark turns the city into a spaceship. (Also, Minneapolis people really like Minneapolis things, dont they? Its nearly as bad as Portland.)
(#Fun! I will try this for a week.)
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) The Atlantic Cities. Urban affairs microsite, yeah!
2) OKFocus. An agency-type-thing from Ryder Ripps. This is the other internet.
3) ScoutMob. The deals app that everyone suddenly seems to be using. Seriously, ask the person next to you I bet theyre using it.
4) Pinterest. Everyone knows how fast this is growing, but its fun to wonder how Tumblr might react.
5) EW Viewer & TV Guide Watchlist. Sure, Umami and GetGlue have a head start, but it's good to see that the magazines arent just sitting around waiting for social tv to eat their lunch. Everyone seems to acknowledge this is going to eventually be a huge industry. My guess is that some futuristic AppleTV/Twitter integration takes the market, but maybe someone else can get a mindshare first.
(#Flashback! This is what blogging used to be. Yeah, I'm not sure if it's any better either.)2 hours ago
I thought it would be funny.
So I walked into Fimoculous on Christmas and started blogging anonymously, without telling Rex, the owner, beforehand. Which -- you guessed it -- means that pretty much everything posted here since then is by me, not him. (How: I spent time as a house-guest here about a year ago, and the keys were still under the mat.)
Just after I started, I learned that Rex had recently been in a kerfuffle in which someone accused him of saying "anonymous blogging is bad," and that he was later characterized as saying "blogging is dead." Even better. My Operation: Goldilocks was evolving into A Scanner Darkly -- turning against itself, or at least appearing to. It seemed like a good opportunity to indirectly engage both of these issues.
Is blogging dead? I don't want it to be, which is another reason I tried to revivify this blog, which was about 10 years old and staggering around like a zombie. In my opinion, there should be room in our online discourse for blogs like this one -- offering a consistent, often thoughtful perspective, collecting and observing things of interest to its readers. But being consistent, thoughtful, and observant requires effort and time, and it requires the same of its audience.
And that, I think, is why blogging, for the most part, appears to be moribund: Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, etc., are media that have evolved such that there is no expectation of prolonged engagement with pieces of content on the part of their writers or readers. Consider the recent widespread use of the shorthand "tl;dr" (too long; didn't read). This dismissive assessment is commonly interpreted as fair, expected criticism of the author, not the reader who offers it because he couldn't be bothered to read the content simply because it was long, regardless of its undiscovered merits. The media that are replacing "traditional" blogging value brevity above all, so much of the incentive to write anything that is both long and thoughtful diminishes (since few will bother to read it), and the self-motivation required to do so will only increase over time.
It's funny to be talking about blogging -- which for its entire lifespan has been dismissed broadly for being superficial and narcissistic -- as being a besieged outpost of well-developed, thoughtful writing, but I think that's exactly what's happening. It's no one's "fault" -- it's just the natural evolution of popular content production and consumption towards the most frictionless state: from books to periodicals to personal websites to blogs to Twitter to the Like button. When a medium comes along that's easier than clicking the Like button -- maybe thinking you Like something -- you can be sure everyone will speculate about and then bemoan its death before moving on.
But, even blogging isn't dead yet. There are some people out there who are still committed to the form, even if it seems no one else is, regularly posting smart, thought-provoking analyses and observations of their respective interests. A few that come immediately to mind:
- Joanne McNeil at Tomorrow Museum
- The brilliant Danah Boyd, whose research and insight into social media and youth culture is unmatched
- Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG, who is at once reportorial and speculative
- The visionary architect Lebbeus Woods
- Errol Morris and his "too long," multi-part monographs, some of which are probably the best things ever published originally on the web
And there are others who take the time to put together coherent, original posts:
- Star Wars Modern, where I'm not always sure what's happening, but I appreciate the effort involved
- Nav at Scrawled in Wax, usually correlating academic concepts of post-modernism with pop culture
- Amy at Amy's Robot, who has been writing witty, thoughtful posts on pop culture and politics for NINE YEARS. Collaborators (like me) have come and gone at that site, but Amy is still there. Someone oughta be reading her.
A confession before I continue: for every one of those sites I mentioned, I have often found myself getting the gist of a post, thinking "that's a good insight," and then skimming the rest of it. Does that matter?
Continuing, let me also mention some more widely read sites that I think demonstrate originality and effort:
- John Del Signore at Gothamist, whose humor brings color to stories without obscuring them
- The Big Picture photo blog, started by a developer at the Boston Globe who is now launching a similar project for the Atlantic
- Yeah, what the hell -- I'm leaving it on this list: even Boing Boing can be pretty good sometimes, when it's not being a caricature of itself...
- Maybe you have your own suggestions to share in the comments
And lastly, if you miss Fimoculous now that it's zombified, just replace that section of your brain with Pop Loser, which I've been ripping off mercilessly for the last month and which strikes me as the blog that is the spiritual inheritor of this one.
Will any of these blogs still live in 5 years? Will new ones rise to take their place? So far, trends appear to indicate no: aggregation, automation, voting up, "liking," etc., seem to be resulting in a hivemind where thoughtfulness is replaced with promulgation and sameness. Maybe we need a "link aggregator in reverse" that shows the links of interest to you that everyone else like you hasn't Liked yet.
Thanks for reading, or skimming. And thanks, especially, to Rex. See you next time.
Update: Rex offers his take, on Tumblr.
While we are on the subject, here are some other blogs you may find worth reading:
Google engineers grew suspicious of Bing results and set up a sting operation, which shows that Bing has been stealing results from Google. And they didn't even provide a via link, which is what you should do when stealing links from someone.
In this clip from the Today show in 1994, Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric attempt to explain the internet to their viewers while simultaneously asking what it is. They hadn't figured out the @ sign just yet.
Regarding Photos of Bloggers, Alone, Illuminated by Computer Screens. But the link -- is it worth anything?
Facebook to allow HTTPS for all page views. This is to make it secure and private, like everyone wanted. Hm?
Slavoj Zizek has a new piece in the London Review of Books comparing the Wikileaks situation to The Dark Knight: "In one of the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks Putin and Medvedev are compared to Batman and Robin. It's a useful analogy: isn't Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' organiser, a real-life counterpart to the Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight?" [summary on Biblioklept]
I was having one of those "alternate history" moments this morning. Like, what would have happened if Adobe had not purchased Macromedia? (Would Flash be dying or could it have been purchased and refined by Apple?) Or what if Microsoft and Yahoo had merged three years ago?
Vaguely related: Hacker News randomly brought up a Paul Graham post called Microsoft Is Dead to the homepage today. It was written three years ago.
"President Obama has signaled that he will give the United States Commerce Department the authority over a proposed national cybersecurity measure that would involve giving each American a unique online identity." Sounds scary, right? But don't worry: such a system "would enhance security and reduce the need for people to memorize dozens of passwords online." Feel better?
Battelle says, very simply, that the reason Facebook should go public is that it will end up being accountable about the issue of privacy. (Conversely, maybe that's the reason they never will hold an IPO?)
Huh. Wordpress.com shut down the blog Reblogging Julie, the super negative Julia Allison site that you forgot. Peter Feld writes: "If the U.S. State Department is serious about wanting to shut down Wikileaks, they obviously need to hire Julia Allison."
Doesn't it seem like you're hearing about Quora just as much as you were hearing about Twitter right before it exploded? There's a reason for that: interest in Quora is exploding, at least according to Dustin Curtis's inbox. He says in his post that the tipping point seems to have been December 26, when "something strange happened." He doesn't say what, but I think it may have been this widely linked-to TechCrunch post about why Flickr didn't build Instagram, which was sourced from a Quora thread. Related: Why did Yahoo/Google Answers and related efforts crash, but Formspring and Quora (and VYou?) start taking off? The "social" feel of them?
Update: A Quora engineer provides the explanation and describes the impact on its servers, which were not prepared for the 10x load. The TechCrunch post(s) mentioned above contributed.
A few months ago, a writer at Vanity Fair called me to say the editors had just seen The Social Network, and there was a problem. Now they wanted a story that was "just like that internal story of Facebook." I rubbed my head for a while, but I couldn't think of anything even remotely like that, so we talked for a while about other ideas that might work instead. Now, months later, it appears that those Vanity Fair editors found their story, because this story about two people suing Arianna Huffington over the origins of HuffPo just dropped from the sky.
Tomorrow Museum: The Blog in 2011: More Pictures, More Words. "Some 1,600 word blog posts are better off paired down to epigrammatic tweets."
Update: AOL's former chief marketing officer has joined the Quora thread. Two tidbits: (1) She claims that at one point, 50% of all CDs produced in the world had AOL logos, and (2) for a while, the conversion rate on the direct mail campaign was 10%. Amazing.
That didn't take long. Less than a month after a London Ignite hyper-real presentation on an imaginary 4Chan-motivated flash mob gone fatally wrong, a man was falsely accused of murder on Facebook and returned home to find an angry mob there.
I was thinking this morning about how I can remember exactly where I was the first time I saw Napster. (One of the IT guys at work showed it to me. It was mesmerizing.) This got me thinking about other online apps/phenomena that I can recall seeing for the first time with precise clarity. Here's my list of I Know Exactly Where I Was When I First Saw...
- Google Maps
- Hot Or Not
- Bro Icing
- Netscape browser
- The Paris Hilton Sex Video
- 2 Girls, 1 Cup
And for whatever reason, some things not on this list:
- Chocolate Rain
- Any video with a cat
The Chatroulette kid gets the New Yorker treatment. He likes SF more than NYC; he met Ashton and Demi, and Fred Wilson; it was originally called Head-To-Head; the name Chatroulette was indeed inspired by The Deer Hunter. The end.
This internal Gawker memo in which Denton bestows advice on how to win at the internet is fun to read, largely because the note seems so surprisingly banal ("readers respond to drama") when compared to the often excellent work that appears on the media empire's sites. [via] -NA
Though they aren't always the most current - this essay on 'A White Boy's Defense of Avatar' went up yesterday - there are at least a couple of reasons to enjoy Ryeberg (tagline: 'Curated Video'): not only is their mixture of embedded video and the essay a uniquely online form, they're also just delightfully odd.
Examples? Poet Lynn Crosbie's strange tribute to Michael Jackson; Mitu Sengupta on 'Bombs, Bombshells and Bollywood'; the ever-awesome Lisan Jutras giving Keyboard Cat the kind thoughtful of analysis I always thought it deserved; and Bert Archer on the quintessential songs of the 80s and 90s respectively.
Bonus link: Markus Kirschner on cyborgs and fetishising technology in an essay called "Fucking Machines". -NA
But, beyond being really funny, it does make two important points: 1) that "the fact that the internet emerged in an advanced capitalist society where knowledge is intensely privatized and proprietary [means] the valorization of surplus value trumps ethical concerns"; and 2) that SEO depends on finding and tricking 'e-rubes' to fall for AdSense ads that no-one I know ever actually clicks on.
Might lean too far toward the Keen-Carr side of the spectrum, but it's smart and well-written enough to make it worth a read. -NA Update: PDF of the essay.
Regarding yesterday's discovery @WhatTimeIsItNow: it turns out there are more than a handful of Twitter clock bots out there to tell you what time is it. In the words of @big_ben_clock, Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! -JM
WhatTimeIsItNow: hilarious? useful? Updated over 276,482 times*, which only ranks as #47 on the top 100 most noisy accounts on Twitter. (The most updated account has tweeted more than 1,560,818,) -JM *corrected via, not daily updated, but aggregate.
Tomorrow Museum asks: "When did curate stop meaning, as the OED says, 'to look after and preserve' and start describing the retweeting of bit.ly links and SEO optimization?" That and more...
Welcome to DotComArchive.org... If you created or worked at an internet technology company during the 1990s, we invite you to tell us about your experiences. :DS
I'd be wary of a site that offers to call your cell phone for you in case you can't find it. Who knows what telemarketing list you'll end up. Plus side: Oh, there it is!
Whoops, and just figured out how that site works as spam. So no links for it!
Never mind, different spam site. Go ahead and use at your own risk. -- DG
When Spiers described her earlier idea for an online "Maxim for women, Women's Wear Daily noted comparisons to Gawker Media women's site Jezebel (where that story's writer, Irin Carmon, now works). However, The Gloss feels quite different from Jezebel. It's female-positive, for sure, but without the overtly feminist voice often found in Jezebel. (Spiers' "Maxim" concept was intended to cater to the female id and the female ego.")
New York's okay if you like
saxophones a women's site catering to your ego where the only dude is Michael Orell. --DG
I've decided to follow someone at random. She likes peanut butter and gummy dinosaurs. Sarah Killen, your life is about to change.
Update: Here's an interview with her.
The Wolfram|Alpha knowledge engine can now answer queries about the Academy Awards. So you can enter a query like "academy awards for The Godfather" and it will show you the Oscars it won. Note that the examples suggest querying with the phrase "Academy Awards" but using "Oscars" seems to work too. --ADM
They are a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath. The goal is to get the targets of a search fired from their jobs, shamed in front of their neighbors, run out of town. It's crowd-sourced detective work, pursued online -- with offline results.
The article opens with the story of a woman who appeared in an anonymous web video stomping a cat to death. Viewers organized an effort to identify her. Shortly thereafter, living in a small town in a country of one billion people, she was identified. And ostracized.
The article suggests such efforts are more mainstream in China than in the US, though identification and subsequent harassment of "people who have attracted their wrath" is common among certain online communities here, too. In fact there are exact parallels: a group of users on 4chan have also tracked down a cat abuser (among many others).
But perhaps all online communities and social networks are essentially human flesh search engines, or easily transformed into them as desired -- although usually with less malice. We might not be much more closely connected than we have been in past years, but with 400 million people on Facebook alone, discovering (and persisting) those connections is becoming trivial. Powered by the data and photos in these social networks, recent technological advancements such as real-time face recognition built into cellphones will soon erode, if not entirely dissolve, anonymity.
With your anonymity goes your privacy. Does it matter? Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says a desire for privacy is no longer the "social norm." But maybe such social norms were a casualty of his -- and others' -- business models. Uploading a photo of myself doesn't mean I want everyone to be able to identify me on the street. Emailing clients regularly doesn't mean I want them to see the names of everyone else I'm in contact with. But to Facebook, Google, and other companies, it does. This is the bargain we've made: give me convenience and connectedness, and I'll give you my anonymity and privacy.
We know the short-term consequences of this already -- insurers checking up on us, bosses peering into our personal lives, and so on -- but what are the long-term social and psychological consequences? Adults today have had years of disconnection from their pasts and had the option of growing up and evolving outside the gaze of their childhood peers, their relatives, etc. But today's kids will spend their entire lives on the social web. Will this hold back their personal growth in any way? Would you be different if everyone you've known from elementary school and beyond could look in on you at any time? Will today's kids grow up acting more conservatively because they know their behavior (and that of their friends) will be publicly and permanently documented? Or, will this instead cause a greater liberalization of social behavior as they become adults in a generation that accepts everyone acts foolishly, and everyone's foolish acts are publicly and permanently documented?
Or maybe the problem will solve itself. It seems possible that if nearly everyone you've ever met is your "friend" on Facebook, then your social network will eventually become so diffuse and the amount of information available will be so overwhelming, no one will bother checking up on anyone they don't really care about. Sound familiar? Maybe the social network will supplant the role that the internet played in our lives 10 years ago: others could often find you in its vastness if they cared, but they didn't. Just as ten years before that, we all had our names in the phone book, but no one called. The social norms adapt.
How do you see them evolving in the next 5 - 10 years? And how will Facebook and Google respond to or drive the changes? --ADM
Rex's oft-repeated prediction about the Hipster Grifter is one step closer to reality: Ex-con Kari Ferrell will be answering readers' questions at Gawker. She'll be responding by video. Get in there, Rex! --ADM Update: Her response is up.
"A raid on suspected militants in the West Bank planned for Wednesday was called off by [Israel's] military because a soldier posted details of the operation on Facebook."
The offending message:
"On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home."
He also gave up the name of his unit, the time of the operation, etc. Maybe we should just give Facebook to the guys at Guantanamo. --ADM
Google Blogoscoped takes a look at the current state of Google Knol, Google' almost-forgotten, and allegedly more "authoritative" response to Wikipedia. Knol launched with much fanfare in 2008, although plenty of skeptics at the time felt the walled garden approach would fail.
Since the last time you've heard anything about Knol was probably in 2008, it's probably safe to say that it is now a failure. Will it recover? Google Blogoscoped says the developers seem to be "taking a long term view" of the project, and notes they are still actively improving the service. But the post estimates that Knol only has about 163,000 articles on it, many of which appear to be spam or debates about Knol itself. (Wikipedia has 3.2 million articles in English alone.)
As a result, few people seem to be thinking about or looking for Knol. Some Google Search Trends charts included at the bottom of the article dramatically illustrate this point. (The blue line is Wikipedia, the red line is Knol.)
Have you used Knol? Contributed to it? Made any money from it? --ADM
Putting aside the brief hysteria that PleaseRobMe.com set off recently, will your use of social media sites have an impact on your insurance rates? For instance, if you post your vacation plans or pictures from a wild house party, will your insurer notice? According to Computerworld, Legal & General, a home insurer in the UK, is exploring the possibility. [via Techdirt]
Joel Spolsky, widely known among programmers for his exceptional blog, Joel on Software, has a thoughtful piece in Inc. about corporate blogging.
He credits fellow developer Kathy Sierra with helping him verbalize something he may have only intuited:
"To really work, Sierra observed, an entrepreneur's blog has to be about something bigger than his or her company and his or her product. This sounds simple, but it isn't. It takes real discipline to not talk about yourself and your company. Blogging as a medium seems so personal, and often it is. But when you're using a blog to promote a business, that blog can't be about you, Sierra said. It has to be about your readers, who will, it's hoped, become your customers... So, for example, if you're selling a clever attachment to a camera that diffuses harsh flash light, don't talk about the technical features or about your holiday sale (10 percent off!). Make a list of 10 tips for being a better photographer. If you're opening a restaurant, don't blog about your menu. Blog about great food. You'll attract foodies who don't care about your restaurant yet."
But are corporate blogs necessary or even desirable? Despite running one for 10 years, Spolsky isn't convinced. He observes that many successful companies -- Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. -- have lousy blogs, and Apple has none at all. Finally (and relatedly), he announces that in a few weeks, he will be retiring his blog. He makes a good case for doing so, but it seems to me that companies who lack a large customer base and name recognition could gain a lot by blogging the way he did. --ADM
The Foursquare Rap - Badges Like Us:
George Soros has been buying massive quantities of Yahoo stock, increasing his holdings from 726,000 shares to 3.5 million. No one knows why. An analyst at Minyanville recommends being cautious about following Soros on this one. --ADM
This is a week old, and most likely old to a lot of people, but this post about becoming the mayor of the North Pole on FourSquare is interesting in the whole gaming the system / creating useful systems debate. -RX
I wonder what Proust would have made of our present-day locus of collective fantasy, the Internet. I'm guessing he would have seized on its wistful aspect, pointing out gently and with wry humor that much of what beguiles us is the act of reaching for what isn't there.
With User Labor, we propose an open data structure, User Labor Markup Language (ULML), to outline the metrics of user participation in social web services. Our aim is to construct criteria and context for determining the value of user labor, which is currently a monetized asset for the service provider but not for the user herself.
Today in Tumblr stats: The Universal Record Database (URDB) reveals that the most "popular" post on Tumblr is a wedding proposal video created by some random dude. As of this morning, the post was liked/reblogged 12,844 times. --MM
This is really a great way to waste your time: Thanks to the new collaboration between Google and Russian Railways, you can now take a virtual cross country trip across Russia! The Moscow- Vladivostok route is 9226 km long so in order to make your trip more pleasant Google included audio clips of Russian classic literature, brilliant images and fascinating stories about the most attractive sites on the route. --MM
I'm not sure how I ended up on Razorfish's site, but this is a well-done timeline: A Decade In Search. --RX
Remember when Matt Haughey was on the cover of Brill's Content? No, of course you don't. But just like the good old days, here's an interview with him.
I have people constantly asking me to recreate Gmail, recreate Flickr, recreate Twitter, recreate Delicious. "Can't I just post a link instead of having to make a post about it?" "Can't I upload photos into posts?" Well Flickr already does photos so much better, so why don't you just go there and we'll figure out ways to bring them into our site.
Racked.com enlists Katie, a 5-year-old fashion blogger to cover New York Fashion Week:
"I met Carlota, the vice president of Hautelook, and I interviewed her about her job. I told her my favorite color is turquoise, like the flower on her necklace. Then I put on some glitter make-up and lip gloss, talked on my favorite pink phone, and checked my email."
Whatever. -- MM
A young lady of 18, wealthy, pretty and agreeable, wants a husband. Not finding any one of her acquaintance who suits her, she has concluded to take this method of discovering one. The happy gentleman must be wealthy, stylish, handsome and fascinating. None other need apply. Address within three days, giving name and full particulars, and enclosing carte de visite, Carrie Howard, Station D, New York.
NYT tracks down the creator of Chatroulette. He's a 17-year-old Muscovite.
Bandwidth bills show sums which shock me as a teenager, but I am not very worried.
A tidy link farm of people's diverse impressions of Google Buzz today: Dennis Crowley, Robert Scoble, Mat Honan, Jason Calacanis, Dave Winer, Tim O'Reilly, Kevin Rose, and MG Siegler. (Mine? It's as annoying as fuck. It will be huge.)
Clay Shirky, for instance, the author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, is a man whose name is now uttered in technology circles with the kind of reverence with which left-wingers used to say, "Herbert Marcuse." "Web 3.0 is not an upgrade -- it's a revolution," says Shirky characteristically. Shirky, along with Jeff Jarvis, a Cotton Mather (or Billy Sunday) figure, who has turned his sky-is-falling lectures to old-media executives into a lucrative consulting practice to old-media businesses, Chris Anderson, Wired's editor in chief, and Jay Rosen, an N.Y.U. professor -- all dedicated bloggers and, in Internet parlance, "quote monkeys" -- have essentially morphed the anarchic, 60s-style, Whole Earth Catalog roots of the Internet into aggressive business theory.
Even when you don't want to like Michael Wolff, you have to love pshit like that.
What makes the NYT Most Emailed list? There's a study for that:
Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list.
Our most popular new online tools -- Google, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Digg -- were designed to help us tame the web's wildness, to tag its outer limits and set up user-friendly taxonomies. ChatRoulette is, in this sense, a blast from the Internet past. It's the anti-Facebook, pure social-media shuffle.
It's usually provoking when the academic press gets ahold of popular technology, because it tends to create new sociological, economic, or aesthetic perspectives. But this long New York Review of Books piece on Facebook reads more like an attempt to coalesce everything that has already been written about Facebook, without any attempt to say something unique. But I wonder: is this the fault of the academic press, or is popular publishing already doing a decent job of contextualizing Facebook?
And the winner for "Best Google Streetview Discovery" goes to... Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne bathing nude in his backyard.
Like a lot of Gen Xers, I often wonder how college would have been different with Facebook (or for that matter, cell phones). Here's a small glimpse of what it might look like if Foursquare were: Foursquare at Harvard. [via]
Rumpus: You've previously mentioned a master password, which you no longer use.
Employee: I'm not sure when exactly it was deprecated, but we did have a master password at one point where you could type in any user's user ID, and then the password. I'm not going to give you the exact password, but with upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, all of the above, it spelled out 'Chuck Norris,' more or less. It was pretty fantastic.
Rumpus: This was accessible by any Facebook employee?
Employee: Technically, yes. But it was pretty much limited to the original engineers, who were basically the only people who knew about it. It wasn't as if random people in Human Resources were using this password to log into profiles. It was made and designed for engineering reasons. But it was there, and any employee could find it if they knew where to look.
This and much more in Conversations About the Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee.
While compiling this list, I asked a few people a dumb question: What was the biggest online event of the year?
Random answers included Oprah joining Twitter, Michael Jackson's death breaking on TMZ, and Susan Boyle coming and going. Someone even tried to argue that a writer who detailed his firing from The New Yorker on Twitter was momentous.
But frankly, I've got nothing better. So try this out: Matt Haughey selling PVR Blog on eBay for $12k was the most emblematic online event of 2009. Why? Because the amount seems both ridiculously high and preposterously low at the same time. It proved that if there was ever a time when you couldn't tell what the fuck something was worth, this was it.
With Kim Kardashian making $10k per tweet, even internet fame seemed synchronously bankrupt and filthy rich. Or as someone else asked, how didn't we notice that Perez Hilton had accidentally become more famous than his namesake Paris? And how is it possible that more people are reading Reblogging Julia than Julia herself?
So it's time to stop being wishy-washy about our value assessments. A few years ago, someone convinced me to drop the title "Best Blogs" from this annual list and change it to "Most Notable" blogs of the year. It made sense at the time, when the medium was still figuring itself out: chiefs were being chosen, voice still being refined. But as I began to assemble this year's list, it became clear that, no, these blogs actually were my favorites, not merely the most interesting.
So here they are, the 30 Best Blogs of 2009:
30) Dustin Curtis
Woe, the personal blog. It's a small tragedy that the decade began with the medium being used primarily by single individuals to gather and share small insights, but ends with the impersonal likes of Mashable and HuffPo. In the age of more more more, it's remarkable to see someone dedicate so much time to a single post, making sure the pixels are aligned and the words are all just right. Dustin Curtis' personal site is one of the dying breed of personal bloggers who care about such things (similar to how Jason Santa Maria puts art direction into every one of his posts). Start with: The Incompetence of American Airlines & the Fate of Mr. X. (See also: Topherchris, We Love You So, A Continuous Lean, and Clients From Hell.)
29) NYT Pick
The bloggers behind NYTPicker had quite a year: they got Maureen Dowd to admit to plagiarism, they pointed out several errors in the Times obituary of Walter Cronkite, and Times contributor David Blum was revealed and then un-revealed as one of them. In the process, they showed that blogs can comment on the New York Times in a more substantial way than making fun of silly Sunday Styles trend pieces. If anyone really still thought blogs couldn't be the home of original reporting and research, NYTPicker proved them wrong. They watch the watchdogs! Just wait for an enterprising blogger to start NYTPickerPicker in 2010.
28) Gotcha Media
Every year it seems like a site should emerge to take the video aggregator trophy, but the space is still a hodgepodge of sporadically embedded YouTube clips. Gotcha Media was the closest to the quintessential destination for finding video events we remembered through the year, whether that be Kanye crying on Leno or Michele Bachmann leading a anti-health care prayercast. (See also: Gawker TV and Mag.ma.)
As Virginia Heffernan recently asked in a recent NYT essay, what exactly should a magazine look like in the digital age? Once a sporadic print title, Animal is now one of the last remaining examples of what an underground magazine could look like online. (See also: Black Book Tumblr and Scallywag & Vagabond.)
26) Shit My Dad Says
Several people tried to convince me to change this entire list to "Best Twitterers of the Year," a listicle that someone probably should compile but which exceeds my pain threshold. In the meantime: "Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that."
25) The Rumpus
As literary magazines go, The Rumpus is something of a mess. Created by Stephen Elliott, who spent most of the year jostling around the country in support of his novel, The Rumpus defined itself mostly in opposition to what it is not. But columns by Rick Moody and Jerry Stahl, along with a rambling assemblage of interviews, links, anecdotes, reviews, and whatever fits onto the screen, make it the best case going for a reinvented online literary scene. (See also: HTML Giant, The Millions, Electric Literature, and London Review of Books Blog.)
24) Best of Wikipedia
...Coprolalia, Foreign Accent Syndrome, Stendhal Syndrome, Dude, Mopery, Sokushinbutsu, Tyvek, Shm-reduplication, Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, Pica, Kayfabe... (See also: Double Tongued.)
23) WSJ Speakeasy
It didn't start off very well. In the backdrop of the Wall Street Journal announcing Speakeasy in June was the chatter about Rupert turning the internet into a clunky vending machine (put a quarter in, junk food drops out). And the coverage at this culture blog was spotty at first, but the gentility eventually morphed into a more conversational aesthetic. (See also: NYT Opinionator.)
22) Script Shadow
"I was just thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process," said Tim Robbins' cocky producer character in The Player in 1992, and Hollywood seems to have listened. By reviewing movie scripts before they get made into movies, this site turns the focus back onto the written word. (See also: First Showing, Movie of the Day, and Go Into The Story.)
21) Newsweek Tumblr
It isn't enough that Newsweek is the only mainstream media organization dangling their toes in the rocky stream of Tumblrland; it also happens to be doing it better than most of the kids. (NYTimes.com has been threatening to do "something interesting" with the medium for a couple months, but there's still nothing to show for it.) It's tricky for an established old media company to find the right voice on a new platform, but the Newsweek Tumblr has figured out how to mix their own relevant stories with the reblog culture. (See also: Today Show Tumblr.)
20) Asian Poses
The Nyan Nyan. The Bang! The V-Sign. The Shush. These are just some of the poses Asian Poses introduced us to this year, illustrated by photos of cute Asian ladies. Is it offensive? Maybe, but many of the most interesting blogs straddle that offensive/not-offensive line. Also, based on the well-known "members of a group can make fun of that group and you can't" rule of comedy, this is not offensive since it is run by a Chinese guy. But maybe it objectifies women! Color me confused-pose. (See also: Stop Making That Duckface, This Is Why You're Fat, Really Cute Asians, and Awkward Family Photos.)
19) Look At This Fucking Hipster
If you thought the Internet had run out of ways to mock hipsters, Look At This Fucking Hipster and Hipster Runoff proved you wrong this year. Look At This Fucking Hipster took the more direct approach, simply asking you to look at photos of these fucking hipsters, complete with caustic one-line captions. It may come as no surprise that the author, Joe Mande, appears to be a self-loathing hipster, posing in black-rimmed glasses and a flannel shirt on his website. Literary-minded hipsters are surely jealous of LATFH's book deal.
18) Hipster Runoff
Hipster Runoff's Carles took a more satirical approach, blogging about pressing hipster issues such as the music meme economy and whether you should do blow off your iPhone in fractured, "ironic quote-heavy" txt-speak. Many people suspected that "Carles" was actually Tao Lin, since Carles' writing was so similar to Lin's affectless prose, but Lin denies this. Whoever Carles is, he is most certainly another self-loathing hipster. He knows far too much about Animal Collective to be a civilian.
There's a long-standing joke on this annual list to mention Metafilter every single time. But this was the first year it seemed that more people were paying attention to what was going on in the conversation threads on Reddit. For the uninitiated: Reddit takes some of the features of Digg, mixes it with the aesthetic of Twitter, adds the editorial of Fark, and accentuates it with the comments of Metafilter. But better than that sounds.
16) Smart Football
If you had told me at the beginning of 2009 that Steve Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell would get into a heated debate about football esoterica, and that this debate would happen, in all places, within an internet comment thread, I would have said, "Yeah, and Brett Favre will have the best season of his life at 40." But every once in a while intellectuals wander into sports, and recently the NFL seemed the place where the Chronicle of Higher Ed crowd is hanging. So if you want to get smart about football, this is the place to do it. (See also: Deadspin and The Sports Section.)
It looks like a conspiracy that Snarkmarket has made this list a few times now, but unlike most blogs that become sedentary in their success, it just keeps innovating. This year, Robin Sloan quit his job at Current TV to become (among other things) a fiction writer -- and one of the most fascinating ones on the scene in some time. Matt Thompson had been gigging at the Knight Foundation, but recently hopped to a new gig at NPR. With them being so busy, Tim Carmody settled in as the new scribe of ideas. If they let me give it a tagline, it would be "The BoingBoing it's okay to like." (See also: Hey, It's Noah and Waxy.)
13) Nieman Journalism Lab
Where were these guys when we needed them? Sure, it's another think tank, but Nieman Journalism Lab has been putting its not-for-profit money where its mouth is by also breaking news, such as the item about Google developing a micropayments sytem, the crack-ass idea from the Associated Press to game search, and little factoids like NYT's most frequently looked-up words. It also happens to be the only place still hiring journalists. (See also: Reflections of a Newsosaur and Newspaper Death Watch.)
12) Anil Dash
At some point during the year, I asked Anil for an explanation in the upsurge of blog posts on his site. He said it was merely recognizing an opening: there are so few people writing intelligently about technology today. True! Daring Fireball may have the links, and TechCrunch may have the coverage, but there are scant intellectuals left in the space. When it was announced last month that he was leaving Six Apart to work for a new government tech startup within the Obama administration, the techno-pragmatism all made sense. (See also: Obama Foodorama.)
11) Slaughterhouse 90210
Slaughterhouse 90210 combined lowbrow TV screencaps with highbrow literary quotes, making it kind of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups of Tumblr blogs. Another comparison: an intellectual I Can Has Cheezburger. Seeing a quote from, say, The Bell Jar underneath a Friends screencap is pleasantly shocking -- especially after you realize the quote fits the show perfectly -- and a reassurance that it's okay for smart people to like stupid things. Could be a good candidate for a book deal, if it weren't for those pesky copyright issues. (See also: The G Maniesto and Fuck Yeah Subtitles.)
10) Letters of Note
We've known for a while that the best blogs are dedicated to a precise nano-topic, but there is also a new thread emerging: the blog dedicated to disappearing technologies. The tagline of Letters of Note, "Correspondence deserving a wider audience," says it all. There's Hunter S. Thompson starting a screed "Okay you lazy bitch," there's Kurt Vonnegut writing his family from Slaughterhouse Five, there's the letter from Mick Jagger asking Andy Warhol to design album cover art, and there's J. D. Salinger's hand-written note aggressively yet delightfully shooting down a producer who wants to turn Catcher in the Rye into a movie. (See also: Significant Objects, Iconic Photos, and Unconsumption.)
Launching another media blog didn't sound like rearranging Titanic deck chairs; it sounded like booking a flight on Al Quada Airlines to Jerusalem. But not even six months after launching, Mediaite was already on the Technorati 100, eventually landing somewhere around #30 on a list of players who have been there for years. Sure, it can go a little bananas with the seo/pageview bait, but it's also one of the few entities in the whole bastardly New York Media Scene to actually have the will to take on Gawker (or its pseudo-sibling, The Awl). (See also: Web Newser and Politics Daily.)
8) Clay Shirky
There were only, what, a dozen or so essays on his blog this year? But one of them, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, caused such a little earthquake in the industry that tremors were still echoing months later. Shirky is the only guy in the whole space who doesn't sound like he has an agenda, who doesn't have a consulting agency on the side that he's pumping his half-baked theories into. (See also: Umair Haque and The Technium.)
6) Harper's Studio
The book industry is about to go through the same disruptive changes that the music industry set upon a decade ago -- this, it seems, almost everyone agrees upon. But just as with the previous natural cultural disaster, no one is sure how to prepare for the earthquake. The editors at the new Harper Studio are the most likely candidates for turning all the theory behind "the future of books" into actual functional products. An impressive list of inventive works on the horizon hints at their agenda, but the blog, which is something of a clearing house for discussing everything that has to do with the future of publishing, is like an R&D lab for print. (See also: Omnivoracious, The Second Pass, The Penguin Blog, and Tomorrow Museum.)
5) Eat Me Daily
As one competing food blogger put it to me, Eat Me Daily is the Kottke of food blogs. Which, if you want to follow that obtuse metaphor, makes Eater the genre's Gawker and Serious Eats its Engadget. And which, if you understand any of that at all, means that this blurb can end now. (See also: Eater and Serious Eats.)
3) TV Tropes
If you don't know TV Tropes, it's too bad, because I probably just ruined your life. If you've ever recognized a hackneyed plot device on a tv show and thought "I wonder if anyone else has thought of this," the answer is: yes, a lot. I don't even know where to suggest starting in this labyrinth, but try entries like Butterfly of Doom or Chekhov's Gunman or Bitch In Sheep's Clothing -- or just hit the random item generator. My dream is to have Tarantino spend a month here and come out with his Twin Peaks. (See also: Television Without Pity and Urban Dictionary.)
2) The Awl
The Awl is too good to exist, or so goes much of the catty banter in the media business scene. There is seldom a conversation of The Awl lately that doesn't ask, "How the hell will they make money?" But let's set aside that gaudy little question for a second and instead ask, "Why has The Awl become an internet love object?" I've done the math, and I have a theory, involving at least two factors: 1) It winks at all the sad internet conventions while both debunking and adopting them at the same time (Listicles Without Commentary and those Tom Scoccha chats are the best example). And 2) it is willing to go to bat for the unexpected without sounding like one of those intentionally counter-intuitive Slate essays (Avatar and Garrison Keillor are two good recent examples). In short, it's just less dumb than everything else. Even Nick Denton joked about it at launch, and I don't know how they'll survive either, but The Awl already exists in an admirable pantheon that includes Spy and Suck. (See also: Kottke and Katie Bakes.)
Go ahead, scoff. But I will tell you this: no site in the past year has better personified the internet in all its complex contradictions than 4chan. Blisteringly violent yet irrepressibly creative, vociferously political yet erratic in agenda, 4chan was the multi-headed monster that got you off, got you pissed off, and maybe got you knocked out. When I interviewed moot in February, I discovered a smart kid who had seen more by the age of 16 than someone who actually lived inside all six Saw movies. People tend to think of 4chan as pure id, but there are highly formalized rules (written and unwritten) within the community. Inside all the blustery fury of the /b/tards, there is more going on psychologically than we are equipped to understand yet. (See also: Uncyclopedia, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and Know Your Meme.)
Special thanks to these exceptionally nice people for contributing ideas to this list: Caroline McCarthy, Joanne McNeil, Melissa Maerz, Chuck Klosterman, Soraya Darabi, Mat Honan, Katie Baker, Erin Carlson, Noah Brier, Jason Kottke, Taylor Carik, Nick Douglas, Lockhart Steele, Matt Thompson, Anastasia Friscia, and Kelly Reeves.
I wanted to pick The Awl for best new blog of the year in Bygone Bureau's roundup, but Womack took it, so I chose Mad Men Footnotes instead. And rather than actually talk about it, I choose to rant about Tumblr.
Whether your metric-of-choice is book deals or raw numbers, The Kids Who Tumble graduated to big boys on the playground, not so much by stomping the other kids as by inventing their own game in the corner. Tumblr's make-or-break premise was always that the semi-closed platform (insular, secular, participatory) would eventually make a deeper connection than the open online systems (cosmopolitan, egalitarian, populist) powered by Feedburner and retweets. Whereas anyone can read blogs or tweets, tumbling nearly demands participation.
This Financial Times article about the downfall of MySpace and its conflict with News Corp is pretty funny for all kinds of anecdotal reasons, but my favorite bit is this:
Former MySpace executives say News Corp dragged its feet over implementing Ajax, a program that allows users to send a message, an e-mail or to post a comment on their friends' pages without having to open a new browser window.
Oh really? So that's what Ajax is!
Meta-Enabling should be the word of the year. It's everything that's right and wrong about the internet right now.
Like Twitter and Facebook, Foursquare taps into our inner exhibitionist self -- a malady of the post-Internet era. It allows everyone to be a Ruth Reichl, the legendary food critic -- an arbiter of taste. With a narcissistic quotient that is higher than a genius's IQ, it's only a matter of time before it's discovered by everyone from dithering fashion editors to pro athletes and pop stars. And when that happens, yet another tech pop phenomenon will be born.
Google Dashboard. Provided by Google as an aid, this is actually a quick view of how scary it is that you store so much stuff in Google.
"Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. It should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls. If someone charges you for SEO, you have been conned." Previously: Bad Strategies.
Following the New Yorker profile, Gawker is offering $1000 for photos of blogger Nikki Finke. If you include Eater's little gimmick to give you $25 for shutting down your food blog, this is becoming a strange little trend: micropayments as a form of promotion.
The Six Apart kids gave me a preview of this last week, and it's out now: Typepad Motion. It wraps the social graph onto your blog platform. (It essentially combines Typepad and Pownce, which they bought almost a year ago. Another analogy might be "a cleaner, more extensible Ning.")
Question: who actually uses those "share this" buttons cluttering up all websites? Seriously, who? Sites are increasingly looking more like this graphic that accompanies the NYT story about those social media buttons. While I'd like to say these are complete bullshit (and I try to convince clients that they are), you can't ignore that ~200 retweet count on Techcrunch posts. Do any of those really matter? Are those influencers, or bullshiters?
(Similarly, isn't it crazy that no one has stopped and wondered how the hell ShareThis and Bit.ly, like Pluck before them, became hot startups? It's like once the legitimacy of user-generated web 2.0 companies was accepted, no one dared ever question the importance of the intermediary ever again.)
So I've read several analysis stories now and I still don't understand why Adobe bought Omniture. $1.8 billion seems like an awful lot to spend to get those Flash apps tracked correctly!
50 things that are being killed by the internet. #1: "The art of polite disagreement." Yes, that.
The Web Ecology Group has another new paper: The Influentials: New Approaches for Analyzing Influence on Twitter. Example finding: "sockington is more influential than MCHammer, while MCHammer is more influential than three major social media analysts (garyvee, Scobleizer, and chrisbrogan)."
Gawker Media launched seven years ago. They're
gloating celebrating their success with a few quotes from those heady days.
"It's such a stale idea. The Web is distributed. Try to get the flow to coalesce in a premeditated way. Not likely to work."
"Will it be profitable? I think it's possible but it's much more likely to break even long-term. Which, for the publishing industry, ain't too bad."
"It's still too new of a site, but I'm looking forward to seeing how well written it is, and if it keeps me coming back. If so, and it makes the people behind it money while doing it, maybe professional blogging can work afterall."
I was waiting for someone to write about how Twitter isn't popular among the kids. (The 18-year-old who sounds like a 68-year-old -- "I just think it's weird and I don't feel like everyone needs to know what I'm doing every second of my life" -- has 11 followers.)
Twitter to Add Location. Was wondering how this would ultimately be executed. It's at the API level and users can opt in to add location metadata. The teaser:
For example, with accurate, tweet-level location data you could switch from reading the tweets of accounts you follow to reading tweets from anyone in your neighborhood or city -- whether you follow them or not.
Just imagine if a service like Foursquare was able to send your actual location to Twitter alongside the name of the place you are at. That would save the people who follow you on Twitter but don't use Foursquare the hassle of looking up the location of the place you are at if they want to meet up with you.
Google's IPO was five years ago today. I was trying to remember the skeptics. Here's one:
"I'm not buying," Stephen Wozniak, an Apple co-founder, declared to The New York Times in the weeks before Google went public.
There are two clashing worldviews. There is my view, that a human being is in charge of his or her own life and, with sustained focus, can reach higher and higher achievement every week, gradually approaching (and maybe one day reaching!) a virtuous, peaceful, and happy life.
The other view is more of a victim mentality: that life happens to you, that infinite frustration and suffering are unavoidable, that the only reasonable way of coping with such an awful world is to attack whoever seems to actually enjoy life -- because surely they are dishonest or crazy and must be brought back down to Earth.
What kids searched for this summer. Seeing "sex" and "porn" at #4 and #6 reminds me of how, from age 10 to 15, I looked up "fuck" every time I picked up a dictionary. Some terms you might also need to Google:
- "Webkinz" (#16)
- "Runescape" (#37)
- "Nigahiga" (#99)
- "Miniclip" (#18)
- "Poptropica" (#54)
- "Hoedown Throwdown" (#61)
- "naked girls" (#86)
Meme clash: Honan's Ask A Flowchart for Single Serving Sites. Uses its own websites, such as AmIDoingThisRight.com, to come to the final app to end all single-serving apps: WiredSingleServingSiteGenerator.com.
Kottke's right about Twitter litter, which is why I want an app that will just give me friend recommendations. Update: NYT story about Vark.com, a revved up Yahoo Answers that uses your Facebook friends and their extensions.
Koogle, the new "kosher" custom search engine for ultra-Orthodox Jews that filters out "prohibited" content and shuts down on the Sabbath. What's next -- custom search engines for hipsters, Scientologists or foodies?
Even though everyone instantly knee-jerk hated on Bing, Microsoft's new search engine launched last week, it quickly doubled Microsoft's search size and flew by Yahoo in popularity. Update: Oh, this is cool. Someone built a blind search engine where users compared the results of the big three and voted on the best. Bing apparently was winning!
Steven Berlin Johnson in Time on Twitter. "Skeptics might wonder just how much subversion and wit is conveyable via 140-character updates. But in recent months Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communications channel." Yep, Twitter is pretty much a link blog now.
I've grown skeptical of most new collaborative communication tools. They always seem to suffer from an inherent problem: they feel like they were designed by project managers for project managers. (When I worked at Microsoft, I called this PMware. Microsoft is basically packed with PMware.) This use-case is, needles to say, quite limited. But I can see Google Wave spreading to a larger audience. The demo is 80 minutes long but O'Reilly has a summary. It essentially collapses IM and email into a wiki-like space. It's pretty cool.
Proceeding Heffernan's column last week about Mint.com, a number of commenters voiced security concerns about the site. The CEO came back with a pretty interesting response about the level of security, which includes biometric access, video surveillance, "man-trap" doors, encryption, and other things straight outta Ocean's Seventeen. But here's something that's never exactly been addressed by Mint: read the fine print and you'll see that you're essentially handing over right of attorney to Mint. (They need to do this to get this level of access.) It's kinda creepy, but I still use it.
TechCrunch: "Have you ever been annoyed by the fact that Wikipedia has a wealth of textual information but no videos and hardly any pictures? [...] This is where a new service called Navify comes in. Launched in public beta today, Navify intends to enrich Wikipedia by adding pictures, videos and user comments to each article."
Meme Scenery. Waxy erases the figures from classic internet memes to reveal only the backdrops.
Is Twitter finally doing something new? "Twitter has some very interesting plans for its newly-unveiled live search function: soon it will activate crawlers that will index the links users include in their Tweets. In one fell swoop that turns Twitter into an even more powerful news and opinion aggregator." [via]
Is there any innovation left in online news design? Let's look at the experimental msnbc.com story page which creates layers for text, photos, data, videos, etc. Craig Saila describes how it's attempting to forgo pageview-driven logic in favor of "capturing the intent of what a page view is."
Rick Astley pens the bio of moot for the Time 100 poll. He thanks him and says "I suppose at first I was a little embarrassed by it. I always liken it to when people look through their photo albums or home videos from 20 years ago and think, Gosh, did I really wear that?" More entries. [via]
Your 57th Twitter link today: Most Twitterers are Quitters. Nielsen study reveals that 60% of users who sign up for Twitter don't return to the site the following month, which I hereby declare The Oprah Effect.
Kottke goes in defense of Twitter, which isn't shocking, except he even goes to bat for even the inane "what I had for breakfast" conversations, suggesting that this is the raw material of social bonds. Balk made a somewhat similar point, that those who oppose Twitter speak from a privileged position. It's true, right? Most of the people I know who are opposed to Twitter are merely holding onto a previously official way of speaking, which they are slowly losing.
Editor: So which of you hasn't written about Twitter yet?
Editor: How about you, Dowd?
Maureen: Ah, fuck.
And things that sound like every nyc-based journalist/blogger from 15 months ago: "I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account."
"Twripple: The vast footprint created when a single status update propagates across social media networks, blogs and search engines."
I couldn't sleep last night. I don't know what sorts of thoughts occupy your mind at 4am, but I was recalling the blog/news coverage from 3.5 years ago when Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion. It was nearly all positive at the time, but I was calling bullshit. Today, YouTube is still pulling in nickels on its investment, and reportedly losing another half-billion to bandwidth costs. This is a stupid thing to lose sleep over, but this morning I awoke to the news that YouTube will be setting up a payment program for premium content. Yawn.
I finally got around to reading Grigoriadis' NYMag cover story on Facebook from last week. No new ideas in there, but she again comes up with the phrasing to make everything seem slightly more interesting than maybe it is.
Poll hacking brought to a completely new expertise. Wow, 4chan wins. [via]
Good work from Andy: Attribution and Affiliation on All Things Digital, which I won't quote at length. :)
Overlooked anniversary: Five years ago (yesterday), Subservient Chicken changed the internet by launching the notion of (love it or hate it) viral marketing. One of its creators, Rick of Barbarian Group, reflects on its creation and lasting impact. "Then, of course, there's the question of whether or not it worked. This is mostly answered now, I think. But to recap, yes, it worked." Happy birthday, chicken.
So let's see if this starts any debate.... my pal Matt Haughey recently wrote a little ditty called This Is How Social Media Really Works where he essentially argues that this new marketing force is completely unnecessary:
So maybe instead of getting your company on twitter, paying marketers to mention you are on twitter, and paying people to blog about your company, forget all that and just make awesome stuff that gets people excited about your products, hire people that represent the company well, and when your stuff is so awesome that friends share it with other friends, you may not even need "social media marketing" after all.I've been known to rant about this new breed of internet expertise too, but that's probably because NYC seems to have more social media experts than rats. But for the sake of argument, a counter-example of Matt's attempts to find a swingset, here's a story from Ad Age about buying an air conditioner. It makes a compelling case for a more subtle presence for brands to exist in online social spaces. Thoughts?
Web Trend Map 2009. It maps the 333 most influential domains and the 111 most influential people onto the Tokyo Metro map. Height of a station correlates to its traffic, revenue, and trend; width represents stability. And so on...
Team Scoble? Blech, okay. But yeah: "Zuckerberg is right. He shouldn't start listening to his users now."
This is making the rounds today: Omegle. Anonymous, random, one-on-one chat. Seems compelling for 20 seconds.
NYT thinky-think piece that compares the evolution of wikipedia to that of cities. The argument frames itself around Andrew Lih's new book, The Wikipedia Revolution. Meanwhile, over in Arts, there's an urban planning piece: Reinventing America's Cities: The Time Is Now.
Caterina Fake's new startup: Hunch. Via her blog post: "Hunch is a decision-making site, customized for you. Which means Hunch gets to know you, then asks you 10 questions about a topic (usually fewer!), and provides a result -- a Hunch, if you will. It gives you results it wouldn't give other people."
My probably favorite session at SXSW this year was Merlin Mann and John Gruber just chatting about being passionate about what you do online. That sounds like a bland proposition, but it turned out funny and illuminating: Obsession Times Voice.
Come to think of it, I could use a Twitter ghostwriter too.
Annie Colbert, a 26-year-old freelance writer from Chicago who is one of [Guy] Kawasaki's ghost Twitterers, said she judged her performance based on how often her postings for Mr. Kawasaki are "retweeted," that is, resent by other users of Twitter.
Recently, she said, she had a coup when the actor Ashton Kutcher repeated her post about a YouTube video showing someone getting high from a "natural hallucinogen."
"Facebook is like Cheers, where everyone knows your name," she said. "Twitter is the hipster bar, where you booze and schmooze people."
She said she had been considering trying to get other ghost Twitter clients. "I don't think I could ghost Twitter for 100 people," she said. "More like 10 clients. I think I would have to get to know them."
Rocketboom revisits the Know Your Meme Gameshow. Great production, given the circumstances. And once again, we killed them. Team Boxxy!
Last night I randomly asked, "what makes my link blog different from my Twitter different from my Tumblr different from my Facebook stream?" Mat Honan then answered on Twitter ("Replies"), on Tumblr ("Reblogging"), on Facebook ("Comments"), and now he can answer here.
Winners at the SXSW Web Awards included Lost Zombies (Community), Hulu (Film/TV), Why So Series (Games), Project Miso (CSS), The Bygone Bureau (Blog) and We Tell Stories (Experimental / Best of Show).
I guess the personal highlight of sxsw was the "Bikini Flashmob" that Foursquare and I threw at the Omni Hotel pool, where I wore the worst Japanese-tourist-trapped-in-Texas outfit one could possibly assemble at the souvenir shop -- David Carr describes the scene in today's NYT. Post-Austin, people ritualistically debate panels versus parties, but for me the best part is the space in between: dinner with groups of eight or so smart people and spontaneous conversations in the hallways between sessions. The booze is fun, but you forget it in the morning; the panels are theatrical, but seldom revelatory; that leaves you with the conversation, which is always why we always trek to Austin in March.
Are Blogs Losing Their Authority To The Statusphere? Nope, just you, TechCrunch.
So now we can add this to the canon of newspaper-saving stories: App Out Of It, Paper-Boy! At over 6,000 words and starring many of the city's brightest meta-media bylines (John Koblin, Matt Haber, Gillian Reagan and Doree Shafrir), this should -- finally? -- be the think piece that identities the problems and presents the solutions. However, if you read closely, it's more of a "throw everything against the wall" approach than a cohesive web strategy.
Some of you might recognize the rhetoric. It feels like one of those "brainstorming sessions" that marketing/editorial execs love to hold. If you've ever worked for a big media company, you know exactly what I'm talking about: every six months, it's the same dozen people trying to predict the future. (I enter a guilty plea: I've held as many of these as anyone. You know why? Because if you work for a lumbering big media company long enough, the only catharsis is trying to imagine the impossible.)
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's first admit that this story is fighting the good fight. This sort of cultural rhetoric is juicy and readymade for the <blockquote>:
The media of the 21st century is one that is blogged -- not a negative thing, see later in the piece! -- and merged with the users' own experiences and viewpoints synthesized with the original. If postmodernism came to literature in the '80s, it's got to come to journalism now.That sounds right! But what does this future look like? That's where you start to see the gaudy side of postmodernism, a pastiche of the greatest hits of the past decade. It's basically the Girl Talk version of product development, including all of the following:
+ Personalization. "How about customizable home pages for users? So when they go to NYTimes.com, it will display, say, only international news and science headlines, and eliminate maybe sports- and style-related articles. Users could set preferences to display more new podcasts or video posts and drag and drop any reporters' column into a specific space on their home page."
+ Hyperlocal "A combination of local news and location-based technology has the capacity to be the foundation of this kind of distribution system."
+ Audio Stories. "Maybe Times reporters should file mp3s of their articles, reciting their reporting, along with their print stories, so people riding on the subway, and listening in their cars can participate."
+ Flashy Advertorial. "FlipGloss, a California-based ad start-up that just launched their beta site last week, is one company offering a model for high-end publishers and brands. Their interactive Web advertising translates the visual experience of flipping through a magazine on the computer screen."
+ Mobile. "The idea is this: The news must go mobile."
+ The Live Web. "Everyone in the new world has a status. Newspapers can take a lesson from 'status culture' by integrating it into their sites. What are readers reading right now? How many people have their eyes on one story? Who are they emailing it to? Where are they blogging it? How are their friends using the site?"
+ RSS Readers. "If they want their Twitter feed or del.icio.us links integrated into their home page, so they can see what their friends are reading, let them set that preference as well."
+ Audio Comments. "Users could comment on the article, by calling into the Times and record a comment, which will be automatically transcribed and posted on the website."
+ Subscriptions. "Premium access -- one better than the failed TimesSelect project -- will bring in revenue."
+ Applications. "The Times already has an application that is free for download on various devices including the iPhone and the BlackBerry -- with simple headlines and easy reading. But applications with added data, personalized content and social media would be more valuable."
+ E-Ink. "Perhaps more newspapers should be meeting with mobile device manufacturers and designers to make sure they are catering to consuming news on the go. Can you imagine the next Google/New York Times Android-powered portable reading device?"
Although none of these are bad ideas (some are quite good!), none are particularly novel. It presents this mashup as innovation, even though all of them have been around for a decade. But nostalgia-as-futurism is not really the big problem with this story. The fundamental concern is more prosaic: this story proposes that doing everything is the solution.
This spaghetti-throwing exercise accidentally reveals the actual looming problem inside media companies. Contrary to popular belief (propagated entirely by people who have never worked there), good ideas are not in short supply within big media companies. (You want to meet an aspiring futurist? Stop by the online department of a media company.) By far the biggest problem is focus.
Let's put this simply: there's a management problem inside big media, not an innovation problem.
But in fairness to this story, I am glossing over the prevailing thesis, which does deserve some attention: applications are the future of news. ("If news sites entered these other areas -- became social, hyperlocal, mobile -- perhaps they could retake the center stage and bring paid readers and advertisers to the same place?") That bit of futurism is worth contemplating, but it also deserves some scrutiny. We have some hardware-as-future precedent to discuss. Until recently, the software industry also thought it should build itself into hardware. But Google came along and nuked all of that. If the Mountain View idealists taught us anything about application development (and the word "Google" appears 27 times in this story, so they must, right?), it's that the browser is still the king. iPhone apps are cool, and they undoubtedly should be explored, but will newsy-retrofitted hardware and custom applications ultimately be the savior? TimesReader, anyone?
Despite all of this, I still recommend you trudge through the theorizing in here. The industry quotes are decent, and the thesis holds up most of the time, except when it's subverted by its own gizmo doohickey fascination. There are clearly some good ideas in there, if you can dig them out from the busy thicket.
p.s. This piece also happens to coincide with a lackluster redesign of Observer.com. It's unfair to hold the writers up to the mirror of the tech/biz units of a company, but it also makes the whole thesis a little suspect.
Finally catching up on some reading from earlier this week, this NYT story about Google's "deep web" initiative seems to have been overlooked. This bit was new and intriguing:
Google's Deep Web search strategy involves sending out a program to analyze the contents of every database it encounters. For example, if the search engine finds a page with a form related to fine art, it starts guessing likely search terms -- "Rembrandt," "Picasso," "Vermeer" and so on -- until one of those terms returns a match. The search engine then analyzes the results and develops a predictive model of what the database contains.The idea that Google is spidering via search queries is fascinating itself, but that it's building database models from this... this seems to be creeping us toward a semantic web future.
I've been thinking this too: Twitter = YouTube. The argument: YouTube is now the second-most-popular search engine and Twitter Search (as we've previously mentioned) has immense potential to become the next big thing in search. Small prediction: Twitter hasn't released any new features in a long time, but the next thing we'll see is a fancy new search feature (geo stuff? retweet/favorite filters? something....) that includes a revenue model. (More info: Borthwick had similar musings about Twitter Search a couple weeks ago.) Update: more context from Honan in the comments.
NYT gets lots of important people to talk about the Facebook flap. Not one of them goes meh.
Jorn's "Web 3.0 is going to be about filtering Web 2.0" got retweeted 50 times, which elicited the post Twitter's Two Cultures (retweeters vs. favrders). Update: Honan gives a pretty good counter-argument in the comments.
On an SEO forum, some people are discussing how to monetize 4chan. The funny thing is that the SEOs are bigger assholes than the /b/tards.
An Interview With The Founder of 4chanA month ago on the eve of ROFLcon, I interviewed the founder of 4chan for a magazine story that never ended up running. He chatted about everything from the techincal complexities of keeping 4chan alive to the anxieties of operating the most controversial site on the internet. By the end of the interview, I was thinking "This kid has seen stuff that would make my eyes burn, but he seems so smart and sweet about it all." (He started the site when he was 15; he just turned 21.) It seemed like insightful stuff that should run somewhere, so here it is....
Like many successful internet phenomena, 4chan is a shockingly simple idea: an online bulletin board where anyone can post pictures.
This simplicity is deceptive.
4chan is actually one of the most robust, complex, annoying, disgusting, illuminating, perverse, fascinating online communities ever created. It is the direct or indirect source for many of the strangest internet memes: RickRolling, LOLcats, Sarah Palin's email hack, Anonymous, Chocolate Rain, and many other minor and major feats of esoterica (i.e., fucked up weird porn). Most of these viral specimens arose from the site's most popular image board, /b/, which can be the source of considerable hand-wringing and fist-clenching for anyone who has dared navigate its murky, anonymous waters.
4chan's founder is a 21-year-old New Yorker named Christopher Poole. Known as "moot" to the site's devotees, Poole is disarmingly well-spoken and pragmatic about what he has created. "It's my belief that the community should dictate its norms, standards, and rules," he says. "I've left /b/ to its own devices, with very little intervention."
Of all the memes spawned from 4chan, is there one you feel most attached to?
At the last ROFLcon [in Cambridge last April], someone asked "Do you like RickRolling?" I said something to the effect of "Screw RickRolling!" Everyone gasped because that was the cool thing at the time.
But now they'd probably agree.
Yeah, once Nancy Pelosi does a RickRolling video with her cat on YouTube, you know it's done.
But then I remembered that my favorite was something called Weegee, and only two people in the crowd were like "Yeah, Weegee!" That's a good sign -- that no one knows what it is.
What is it?
Weegee is just a vectored photo of Luigi from Mario Brothers placed in completely random situations.
Sounds harmless. Does it bother you that most people think of 4chan as only being the most controversial board, /b/?
We have 44 image boards at this point, so in that sense it's a small part of the site. But /b/ accounts for 30 percent of our traffic. That's where the attention is, that's where the headlines are coming from. That's also where a lot of the rowdiness and lawlessness goes on.
What do you think of that lawlessness?
Some of it can be healthy, as long as it remains within certain boundaries.
Like that we don't actually break that law. Because of the lack of rules, 4chan has fostered an environment where there's a lot of creativity and good things coming out of it. But at the same time, when people go out and do crazy things...
Which kinds of things?
The best example is when Jake Brahm was arrested for posting a bomb hoax. [In October 2006, Brahm was arrested for threatening to blow up multiple NFL stadiums. He was sentenced to six months in prison.] And after that we saw a lot of copycat stuff. People were getting arrested for saying they were going to do the same thing. Law enforcement was coming every week and asking for our help.
When you started the site, did you expect any of that?
Absolutely not. Its popularity has been entirely an accident. I was 15 years old and into anime. I threw up one image board, which was the original /b/. At first it was all anime. As people started posting other things, I added more boards and /b/ remained the random board.
4chan has blown up over the past five years. It's gone from 100 people to 4.75 million per month. And /b/ is pushing 100 million pageviews.
What makes it so big?
At the time, it was very unique. Image boards and anonymous BBS had been big in Japan, but not in the West, where we were used to bulletin boards and blogs. When 4chan started, the format was new. And it was unique because of the anonymity aspect.
What was your scariest moment running the site?
Probably the first time I was contacted by law enforcement. At the time I was 16 and I was living with my mother. That was shocking.
Given your user base, are you worried about your own identity theft?
Yeah, I originally hid behind the moniker because I was 15. It was not appropriate to use my real name at the time. My friends didn't know, my parents didn't know, my educators didn't know. Back then, people didn't appreciate the site so much, but now I can point to good things like LOLcats. Back then, they would have just seen porn.
When did your family find out?
Only when those articles came out last year. I kept it a secret from almost all of my friends and family until 2008. It was five full years of living a double life.
Was your mom shocked?
I don't think anyone was put-off. Four years ago, it was just a porn site. It's matured a lot into something a little more presentable. Now I think they can appreciate it as more than that.
One of the most interesting things about 4chan is that nothing gets archived. Threads disappear within an hour. It's a contradiction -- 4chan is known for creating memes, yet it's designed for them to die so quickly.
The lack of retention lends itself to having fresh content. The joke is that 4chan post is a repost of a repost of a repost. There was a guy who was downloading every image from /b/. He calculated that 80 percent of what's posted has been posted before. So it's survival of the fittest. Ideas that are carried over to the next day are worth repeating. The things that are genuinely funny get carried over.
The reason we're seen as a meme generation factory is because of the unique qualities of the image board and the lack of retention. On other bulletin boards, threads are archived indefinitely. All the big threads have been around for months or years. But with 4chan, something has to be really good to keep getting posted.
How involved are you with Anonymous?
I'm not involved at all.
What do you think about it?
I think it's interesting. When Scientology tried to make the Tom Cruise video disappear, there was this instant mobilization of thousands of people who banded together overnight. They had plans to stage a worldwide protest. I thought that was pretty incredible. I was fascinated by it.
Are there situations where they go too far?
I would say so. Submitting bomb threats -- stuff like that is going too far. You need to be smart about it. You can't just throw it all away with threats, you have to be proactive and productive.
Because there's no membership policy, it seems like anything can get attributed to being an act of Anonymous.
Yeah, now it's become more of a buzzword for the media. Now anytime something happens, it gets labeled as "an act of international hate group Anonymous."
That's why I always personally felt that the movement was destined to fail. You've got two types of people: You have the Anonymous members who are genuinely passionate about dismantling Scientology, but then you have the casual hangers-on who are just there to troll. Because you can't filter it and because the membership is open, Anonymous will always be held back by the bottom rung who are pelting Scientology with eggs and bomb threats and these mischievous juvenile acts. They are holding back the people who take it more seriously. For every step forward Anonymous makes, they can go 10 steps back with one negative headline.
You must feel something similar. 4chan has a mixed public image too.
4chan certainly has a stigma.
And Anonymous seemed to emerge out of 4chan.
Yeah, I would say that's definitely the case. Anonymous culture emerged out of image boards. The rules of these communities spawned some of the original thinking behind the group. But once the Scientology protests started, people outside of 4chan joined. At that point it diverged into its own thing.
How much does it cost to run the site?
About $6,000 per month. That's actually not too bad for a site that is all rich media and has 300 million pageviews. I don't have any overhead past that. I don't have any employees. I don't have an office.
Are you making your money back?
Just barely. We're trying to convince advertisers that our community is worth their ad dollars. That's been a really uphill battle because of our content. Advertisers will Google us and see that we're huge, but they'll also see all these threats and hacks. It scares them away. Overcoming that stigma is difficult.
Have you thought about dropping the controversial board?
People have suggested dropping /b/, but that's the life force of the site. I can't do that. It was the first board, and it will be the last board to go.
I imagine you've seen so many strange things doing this site. What's the most demented thing you've seen?
I'd be happy to email you something. [Laughs.] I've seen some horrible shit. I like to think that I've grown as a person, but at the same time I think a little piece of me continues to die every year.
What have you learned from all this?
I'm still trying to figure that out. I need to start thinking about getting a job. I don't have a resume. I've been asking myself, what have I learned about the internet, what have I learned about myself? At this point, I've been unable to articulate that.
Twitter gets the NY Mag treatment, but with the mark of Will Leitch: How Tweet It Is. It leads with some discussion of the innards of the company and its future revenue models (the traditional story line), but it ends on a future-looking bit about the Hudson plane crash.
Fred Wilson on Facebook opening up API access to user's status updates. "It seems to me, and I am certainly influened as an active user of and investor in Twitter, that status has emerged as the ultimate social gesture." Update: Get Facebook Status Updates as T-Shirts.
Several people have noticed that I've been getting interesting commenter spam on my site over the last couple days. I've deleted most of it, but I kept it alive on this one post. Why interesting? Because the spam appears to be (actually, almost certainly is) written by actual humans, rather than by spam bots. You can tell because the "commenters" actually seem to address the topic of the post. The only quality that makes it spam is including links to spam-o-licious sites. And now it's gone to an extreme: the spammers are commenting on my comments about spamming, including more spam links. And another reason it's interesting: there must be some significant investment in hiring these spammers. It makes you wonder, is it some sort of off-shore gold farming generating this stuff? I'll continue to delete it, but it does raise an interesting question about actual commenter motives: if you're responding to an issue in a comment, is putting a product in your sig file any different than linking to your personal blog? Is this a case of commenters merely reinventing the product placement?
@PleaseRetweet. This is the end / Beautiful friend / This is the end / My only friend, the end.
Twitter is three years old; one of the founders writes about its creation. "For months, we were in Top Secret Alpha because of competing products like the now-defunkt Dodgeball. "
Calacanis goes all emo in his post on We Live In Public. While trying to coin a new term, Internet Asperger's Syndrome (IAS), he says: "The classic argument when someone 'famous' gets beat up is to say 'Didn't you ask for this?' Well, actually, no. The reason I got into blogging was not to be famous or to get attention. It was simply to have an intelligent discussion with people I respected. The people I thought were interesting were debating stuff in the blog format, so I was drawn to it." Is there anything left to say in this hatah/empathy, snark/criticism, trolling/creating debate?
URLesque had a video booth at ROFLcon where they asked people "What do you love/hate about the internet?" I'm in there hating on hating haters, hatefully.
Social Media "Experts" are the Cancer of Twitter (and Must Be Stopped). "The zombies then seek each other: You'll always notice that of the 5,000 followers that a social media expert has that all 5,000 of them are also social media 'experts'. Their only form of conversation is to quote each other and live tweet conferences where they gather."
Dodgeball is shutting down (which is news for about a dozen New Yorkers), but Dens is working on a replacement.
Detailed update on the Twitter account hacks from a couple weeks ago: it was an 18-year-old kid.
So if you want to dabble in this Tumblr thing, here are the Tumblr Award Winners (mysteriously without links, probably because they can't do anything that isn't a reblog -- kidding!)
Another Twitter thought: people love to mention when someone notable shows up on Twitter, whether that be Shaq or Diablo. But no one ever says, "Hey, did you see Shaq has a [MySpace|Facebook|FriendFeed] page?" Anyway, Kurt Anderson is on Twitter.
In the comments of this post, my friend Rico makes an interesting comparison: lexapro on Twitter Search vs. lexapro on Google. Very different results! It suggests an interesting question: could conversational knowledge eventually usurp search knowledge -- and doesn't it already, in many ways?
If we could bundle up the internet into a few snappy headlines, 2008 might look like this:
If not exactly an admirable time capsule, it still felt something like progress. I personally began the year promising a reduction in my daily internet intake, yet ended it with 100 additional sites in my rss reader. Perhaps it was a resolution meant to be broken.
In previous years, this list was dubbed "The Best Blogs You (Maybe) Aren't Reading." But that wordy contrivance seems presumptuous in these niche-filled times, where everyone seems to read everything yet no one seems to read the same things. So I took some advice that Lindsay gave me last year and dubbed this a collection of "notable" sites instead. That appellation seems more appropriate.
Maybe half of the blogs listed below are new, and the other half deserve attention for having reinvented the medium in some way. Consensus is an impossible task in a world this diverse, but that shouldn't stop us from pointing out excellence when we see it. So here they are, the most notable blogs of the past year:
30) New York Times Blogs
Given the variety, it's probably unfair to group them all under one heading, but the old gray lady boldly stuck her neck further into the blogosphere guillotine during a year when retreat would have been forgiven. Old mainstays like Krugman, Freakonomics, DealBook, and City Room continued to drive daily conversation, while new additions like Proof (drinking), Laugh Lines (comedy), Measure for Measure (songwriting), and Ideas (their first foray into link blogging) proved big media could still navigate the niches. The most consistently important, however, was probably Bits, a disarmingly lucid tech-biz blog that proved you don't have to be bombastic or supercilious to win the category. (See also: L.A. Times Blogs.)
29) Boner Party
If you operate a celeb/entertainment/snark blog, you know how you are supposed to talk. The voice, now deeply entrenched in the genre, must be mimicked by any new entrant: bitchy, sneering, unimpressed. Boner Party somehow hit REFRESH on the whole genre this year by instead being celebratory, horny, fanboyish. Unlike, say, The Superficial, which is all attitude and no love, Boner Party is pure happy-happy-boy-boy. Imagine remaking Cute Overload but with pictures of girls next to giddy prose, and you've got yourself a boner party. For instance: "For guys, vaginas are like a cross between a pocket knife, a really cool nightclub, and a wizard. It can do SO many things, you REALLY want to get into it, but you have no idea how it works, and therefore it must be magical." (See also: Street Boners and TV Carnage, Golden Fiddle, and Tumblettes.)
Matt Thompson packed up his belongings this year and moved to the middle of Missouri to think about the future of news -- not a bad gig if you can get it! (Matt is also known for being half of Snarkmarket, the voice of EPIC, and the founding editor of Vita.mn.) His fellowship at the University of Missouri provides time to explore the issues that many of us in online media are grappling with: poor news filters, a top-down approach to news gathering, the lack of pertinent local information, a broken breaking news model, and so on. While he's been researching these problems and writing about them on Newsless, he also put his ideas into action by launching The Money Meltdown, a site that aggregates the most essential information about the financial crisis. Though his research proposal involves Wikipediaing the News, he isn't naive enough to believe that simply turning on wikis will necessarily produce anything of value -- the right solution will be more complex than that. With the news industry in crisis, it's good that someone is trying to find models for maintaining an informed populace. (See also: PressThink and MediaShift.)
While a vocal minority of stoic internet enthusiasts screamed bloody murder when she landed on the cover of Wired (and others advised to just don't look), Julia Allison did something this year that many people have failed at: living a publicly transparent life -- or at least as close to it as possible. The snark machine may resent this, but it has been nothing short of notable. (See also: Reblogging Julia and Jake and Amir.)
25) Last Night's Party
While others were pointing to the rise of the street fashion blog, the party photoblog made a surprise resurgence this year. The fascination has always been curious -- sure, there's some prurient interest, but there's also that moment of abhorrence. The disturbing mix of envy and disgust are why party shutterbugs seemingly reinvented the moribund genre that seemed frozen in the summer of 2006. Perhaps the resurgence can be attributed to stack of party photo books that topples on you when walking into Urban Outfitters and Virgin Records -- or maybe it was the death of the hipster. (See also: Cobrasnake, Nicky Digital, Guest of a Guest, Hot Chicks With Douchebags, and Random Night Out.)
23) Know Your Meme
A subset of Rocketboom, the "Know Your Meme" series has been one of the few beacons of hope in the inspiration-deficient genre of videoblogging this year. The genius is that the episodes are funny while being actual history lessons -- sorta like the Daily Show for the internet. Personal favorites include Magibon, Reaction Videos, and FAIL. (See also: ROFLcon, Internet Superstar, Pop 17, and Internet Famous Class.)
22) Very Small Array
Chart porn: instead of dying this year, it almost seemed to flourish. Very Small Array made beautiful images out of random data sets, such as My Love Is A... (Google searches), Largest Minority Population (NYC demographics), and Hit Songs (music charts). (See also: emo+beer = busted career and infosthetics.)
Though it already seems like it's been here forever, io9 launched in January as a less didactic BoingBoing. Some of the most memorable posts have included Twenty Science Fiction Novels that Will Change Your Life, Imagine an America Where Socialism is No Longer a Dirty Word, and Kevin Kelly's remembrance of Gary Gygax. Hurry, before Denton slices it into space shrapnel. (See also: Offworld and SF Signal.)
20) Ta-Nehisi Coates
In one of a few areas that it seemed edge out The New Yorker this year, The Atlantic maintained its provocative blogging tradition with Matthew Yglesias, Andrew Sullivan, and James Fallows. But it was Ta-Nehisi Coates who leapt from the monitor like no one else writing about politics and culture this year. In his remarkable profile of Bill Cosby, Coates took on one of the most complex areas of race (comedy) while teasing out Cosby's occasional similarity to Obama. In a political season strangely devoid of genuine race commentary, Coates was one of the few keepin it unreal. (See also: TNR's Blogs, The Assimilated Negro, and The Root.)
19) Magic Molly
Of course, we need a Tumblr in here somewhere. The Tumblr Awards highlight the idiosyncratic characteristics of the platform that has essentially reignited the personal blogging movement: reblogs over comments, overheard conversation over discursive prose, clique over mass, fast over deliberative. Magic Molly embodied all of these things, as her itinerant persona flitted around the internet, from penning the definitive piece on adderall for n+1 to contributing to This Recording. If the Tumblrverse seems like high school, Molly is the smartest girl in the class -- the quickest with the Phillip Roth quote but never hiding her Sasha Grey guilt. (See also: TopherChris, CatBird, hrrrthrrr, Kung Fu Grippe, Soup Soup, Dear Old Love, Mediation, AntiKris, Frangy, and so on and so on....)
18) What Would Don Draper Do? and I Am Chuck Bass
After serving as a useful foil for the past couple years, the fake personality blog expired this year. But a new form arose from its ashes: the blog inspired by a character. Rather than feigning a famous person, these sites explored a character through a different set of criteria. The outcome was such projects as What Would Don Draper Do?, which imagines the Mad Men mad man as a self-help columnist, and I Am Chuck Bass, which invokes the notorious boulevardier's name to explore the inner-torment of Gossip Girl. (See also: Fire Nick Douglas and Rex's Scarf.)
17) Tomorrow Museum
Responding to last year's list, Kottke made a semi-plea for "blogs done by people who are passionate about something, not writing for a paycheck." He's right, of course -- many of those sites get lost in the fracas of the mega-blog. One of my favorites this year was Tomorrow Museum, which contained nimble think pieces about such topics as Microcelebrity and Frienemies and New Media in Fiction. (See also: Marginal Revolutions and The Morning News.)
After first landing on this list in 2006, Buzzfeed has been slowly transforming from a blogger favorite to a legitimate cultural force. It has also become unbelievably fast at identifying online trends before they happen. (See also: Radar Archive and Stuff White People Like.)
15) Keith Gessen
You can say this about the guy: he tried. While the commenter meme was raging this summer, Gessen had taken up the
noble peculiar cause of trying to tame the unwieldy beast. This didn't exactly go so well, but you can't help feeling like we all learned something from his mistakes along the way. (See also: The Millions, Lit Mob, Geekcentric, and Emily Magazine.)
Launched in April as a Stereogum offshoot, Videogum aggregates, dissects, and comments on everything happening with viral videos. If you saw a funny video this year, it was probably on Videogum first. While popularizing such phenomena as the live puppy cam, Amelie Jr., and the Ice-T / Soulja Boy feud, Gabe and Lindsay mixed in the occasional funny routine themselves. And Videogum elicited the best overheard faux-insult of the year: "I hate you. I hope your viral video doesn't go viral." (See also: Tilzy, First Showing, Antville, and Flavorwire.)
13) The Big Picture
It seems illogical that a photoblog using generic wire service photos and sitting atop a MovableType installation could possibly cause such a stir, but The Big Picture did one simple thing right: super large photos. After its June launch (by Kokogiak), the design/photo blogs instantly sent their link love, causing Boston.com's traffic to reportedly skyrocket. (See also: Media Storm and Getty Moodstream.)
12) Gawker & Radar
Fourteen months ago, not long after the Grigoriadis story, I guest-edited Gawker for a few days while Choire went off to Fire Island to feed his demons or some such thing. Everything was chilly at the office, but I had no idea I was living in antediluvian times. Since then, too many things have transpired to even count. But let's try: Denton introduced a pay-per-click model for bloggers, Emily quit, Choire quit, Josh quit, Denton hired himself, whoa -- NYT Mag cover story!, Josh responded, Emily landed a book deal, Moe had that unfortunate incident, Moe went to Radar, no wait she didn't, ack, Denton axed pay-per-click model, Choire hopped to Radar, a new Gawker editor joined, Moe was laid off, poor Balk, oops Radar folded, Denton predicted the end of the world, Sheila published photos, not you too Pareene, and a few redesigns happened. What'd I miss? If this all seems like some sort of horrid bukakke ritual performed by the blogomedia on you -- it is! And yet, we somehow ate it up. So give the guy credit -- he knows how to turn his empire into a compelling, twisted tale. (See also: Fake Nick Denton and Cover Awards.)
11) The Technium
Kevin Kelly seemed determined this year. The mission: to use technology as a stick, or perhaps a poker, to shake and jab at society. No one has written more clearly about how technology is shaping -- and can be used to shape -- culture. In influential essays like 1000 True Fans and Better Than Free, Kelly showed how to use an emerging network economics to your advantage, while Cloud Culture, Screen Fluency, and Tools For Vizuality illustrated a future that is more evenly distributed. (See also: Metagold, Text Patterns, and TED Talks.)
10) Alley Insider
I'm as surprised as you are. When Alley Insider launched last year, it seemed like another unessential tech/biz blog whose purpose was to clutter the internet with more rewritten press releases. But Henry Blodget, the infamous former Wall Street analyst taken down by Eliot Spitzer in the first dot-com boom, had something else in mind. What immediately differentiated Alley Insider from the fracas of other also-rans was analysis -- sometimes provocative, generally accurate, and occasionally funny. A Wired profile chronicles Blodget's difficulties with living down his past, but the empire is growing with spin-offs like Clusterstock (financial dish) and The Business Sheet (business gossip). (See also: Paid Content and Techmeme.)
9) This Recording
From what I wrote in July: "What we have here is failure to communicate... strange little essays, or collages, usually around people, like Cronenberg or Ashbery or Anselm or Scarlett or Diablo or Sun Ra or Pasolini or Sasha (!!!), that are pieced together with aphorisms, links, pictures, and music, with lots of italics and ellipses. You don't really "read" the posts so much as "scan" them, which is not the same as "skim" -- it takes time. Sometimes they adopt the style of a writer -- Brett Easton Ellis -- and other times it's just something random like deducing who killed Chris Farley. Even the straight-up stuff, like the memo to Hollywood on which books to adapt, has this strange outsider voice.... It's more like some crazy ass pastiche, like this random thing about Mad Men from a few days ago, which we can either call an "essay" or visual-poetry-media-criticism-mashup." (See also: Public School Intelligentsia, Fey Friends, and Hipster Runoff.)
It's been around for a while, but the pithy cartoons on the unpronounceable xkcd seemed especially poignant this year -- especially after YouTube took one joke and turned it into a reality. Known for poking at our peculiar online passions, some of this year's best strips involved pointing out the obvious weirdness of Wikipedia and the Large Hadron Collider. (See also: New Yorker Cartoon Lounge and Gaping Void.)
7) The Daily Beast
I don't know if it's really a blog either, but Tina Brown is creating, well, something over there. She has claimed in interviews that the site's intent is to sift through the online detritus for the best information -- a noble cause, but it already seems to be busting at the seams with its own information overload. Then again, features like The Cheat Sheet, Buzz Board, and Big Fat Story are at least trying to winnow the data flow to something manageable. (See also: Culture11 and AllTop.)
6) Kanye West
At some point in October, I made the most difficult decision of the year: I finally unsubscribed from Kanye's blog. The fatigue of trying to keep up with his 50-posts-per-day pace had finally set in. But I still say everyone should be forced to ingest all-things-Kanye for at least one week. And I mean everything -- including the random cut-and-paste jobs from IMDB and Google Image Search. And the comments -- oh yeah, you gotta read the comments. And you know what -- who cares if he's really writing all this stuff! You don't think Warhol made every painting, do you? (See also: Aziz is Bored, Lovely Package, and Pretty Much Amazing.)
5) Fred Wilson
Although there's no way to prove this, it seemed like the tech/media blowhards finally became less relevant this year. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but the old guard of Scoble/Winer/Calacanis/Arrington/Cuban seemed to lose influence, while more sober voices emerged -- those who weren't creating incestuous diurnal feuds with each other to game Techmeme. In the vacuum, Fred Wilson, who has been around the scene for a long time, became the analyst to turn to. Though he is a venture capitalist (with investments in del.icio.us, Outside.in, Twitter, Tumblr, Etsy, FeedBurner, and Disqus), he uses his blog (and Twitter and Tumblr) to address everything from his music tastes and Halloween costume to investor liquidity and google juice. (See also: Shirky.com, Rough Type, and Steven Berlin Johnson.)
4) Waxy & Ana Marie Cox
Whattup, old skool? Andy Baio and Ana Marie Cox are blog pioneers, which means they would be forgiven for getting crotchety and sedentary like several of their grumpy peers. But this year they adapted to the changing landscape and invented new ways to deal with it. Andy tore apart the data-centric stories that no one else was bothering with -- by using Mechanical Turk to collect Girl Talk data, by visualizing one-hit-wonder trends, and by investigating pirated Olympics video. (Along the way, he also coined "Supercuts" and tried to end FAIL.) Meanwhile, after losing her job at Radar, Ana Marie launched a pledge drive to cover her travel expenses on the McCain trail. Both of them repurposed old-fashioned blog ideas -- the tip jar and the online investigation -- for modern times. (See also: Young Manhattanite, ASCII, Alex Balk, and Tony Pierce.)
Though it came in tied at #1 on last year's list, Twitter gets a rare repeat appearance because it made a big jump this year from a chatty novelty to a legit news stream. Toward the end of the year, people were still struggling to define the microblogging platform on a continuum between publishing and communication -- a debate that only illustrated the complexity of a such a simple platform used differently by so many people. (See also: Posterous and 4chan.)
1) Single Serving Sites
More than any medium before it, the internet is fueled by gimmicks. This particular gimmick, the single serving site, has been around for a while, manifesting itself in odd forms like YTMND and The Hamster Dance. While amusing, these sites were mostly inside jokes for the Goatse Generation. But then something happened last year when the concept was applied to a useful binary question -- IsLostARepeat.com and IsTwitterDown.com, for instance. These sites provided the kernel of an idea that exploded at the onset of 2008, beginning with Mat Honan launching BarackObamaIsYourNewBicycle.com in February. Three days later, Jason Kottke officially coined the term, which unleashed the craziness. (In its own way, you could label Sergei Brin's one-post abandoned blog a single serving site.) This all concluded with the brilliant and inevitable IsThisYourPaperOnSingleServingSites.com, the definitive academic investigation on one of those short-lived phenomena that makes the internet feel continuously new, even if hitting refresh changes absolutely nothing. (See also: RickRolled and ICanHasCheezBurger.)
There was a rumor floating around that Obama might pick Lessig to run the FCC. Um, guess not -- he wants to demolish it. (Anyone else notice Larry becoming increasingly libertarian lately? It seemed to start with his apology for getting Microsoft wrong in the '90s and more recently we've seen a drastic shift in stance on net neutrality.)
It's starting to feel like if an event was live Twittered, it didn't really happen. This guy tweeted the runway plane crash in Denver yesterday.
I'm pretty sure Tumblr makes you stupid. [via -- reblogged!] See also: Tumblr is Second Life for people who dont realize they're losers.
I helped Rachel launch a new thing today: Charitini. For the moment, it's a hub around doing charitable giving for her birthday, but she's got big plans with expanding it.
Three new interesting features on NYTimes.com: 1) a unique way of handling letters to the editor, and 2) click EXTRA for an alternate view of the homepage with copious external links, and Nicholas Kristof is on Twitter. Clever.
Over on Tumblr (that locked box of inside jokes and sex talk, reminiscent of AOL in 1995 -- OMG, I'M SO KIDDING), a scandal is breaking out because someone named Tara Michelle (dead link now) faked an online identity that eventually led to an online boyfriend. The Tumblr gang is now having fun with the meme. [See previously: Plain Layne, Kaycee Nicole Swenson, etc.]
The NYT Mag story on Google's international legal quandries is worth reading. The backdrop is how free speech is defined country-by-country (holocaust denial, for instance, is illegal in France and Germany), especially as it pertains to removing content from YouTube. Lest you think that America is free speech oasis, it also tells the story of how Joe Lieberman has been trying to get YouTube to take down videos produced by Islamic terrorists, even if they don't feature hate speech or violent content.
I've been more-or-less offline for a couple weeks. Here's everything that happened in my absence: Shaq joined Twitter, the Macy's Day Parade was rick-rolled, that tween fashion blogger turned out be real, Jarvis yelled at someone again, a super whale fail, Michiko railed against Gladwell, a whole issue of NYT Mag went to screens, SearchWiki, Hannity dumped Colmes, Arrested Development movie... again, and... yeah, not much.
I expect a very very very long reply to this over here. (I'm half-way through Jarvis' book, What Would Google Do. Rosenbaum has the right take so far.) Update: there it is, shorter than I guessed it would be.
For the true Web 2.0 addictive-compulsive personality: UserNameCheck.com. Lookup whether a username is registered on 68 sites.
Heffernan looks at something you've probably encountered, The Hitler Meme, which uses a 2004 German movie to satirize everything and anything -- Sarah Palin, Burning Man, Brett Favre, Obama, Hillary, HD DVD. It's basically FAIL meets Godwin's Law.
This is retarded. Seriously, terrorists can use anything. Why not: "Walkie-talkies and batteries on FBI most-dangerous list"?
Dude killed his wife because of an update to her Facebook status. Now that's complicated.
Qwitter. It tells you when people unsubscribe from your Twitter. So now you know when you've been BAD.
Andrew Sullivan's "Why I Blog" from The Atlantic will probably be the most quoted thing on the internet for the next few days. So here are a few quick excerpts for faking your way through conversations:
A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.
But a blog, unlike a diary, is instantly public. It transforms this most personal and retrospective of forms into a painfully public and immediate one. It combines the confessional genre with the log form and exposes the author in a manner no author has ever been exposed before.
The blogger can get away with less and afford fewer pretensions of authority. He is -- more than any writer of the past -- a node among other nodes, connected but unfinished without the links and the comments and the track-backs that make the blogosphere, at its best, a conversation, rather than a production.
Alone in front of a computer, at any moment, are two people: a blogger and a reader. The proximity is palpable, the moment human -- whatever authority a blogger has is derived not from the institution he works for but from the humanness he conveys. This is writing with emotion not just under but always breaking through the surface. It renders a writer and a reader not just connected but linked in a visceral, personal way. The only term that really describes this is friendship. And it is a relatively new thing to write for thousands and thousands of friends.
A good blog is your own private Wikipedia.
People have a voice for radio and a face for television. For blogging, they have a sensibility.
To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm's length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while, and to let others, as Montaigne did, pivot you toward relative truth.
The triumphalist notion that blogging should somehow replace traditional writing is as foolish as it is pernicious. In some ways, bloggings gifts to our discourse make the skills of a good traditional writer much more valuable, not less. The torrent of blogospheric insights, ideas, and arguments places a greater premium on the person who can finally make sense of it all, turning it into something more solid, and lasting, and rewarding.
Chicago has mysteriously become ground central for the local online media battle. The Onion recently launched its entertainment portal, Decider, in Chicago. Huffington Post last month launched its local effort in Chicago. NBC just launched a new affiliate site, NBCChicago.com, that is heavily entertainment-based. Curbed and Eater will be spreading there soon, and EveryBlock also hails from ChiTown. And in addition to the normal Gothamist and MetroBlog presence, Gapers Block has a huge following.
Are you a rabble-rousing blogger who worries they might get sued? You can now take out liability insurance!
A new study reveals that narcissists can be identified on Facebook. As if you needed science.
Whether you call it a "blog war" or a "blog theater," more proof that the commenters are winning: commenters take over Slog thread and create an impromptu play about George Washington.
The link bait to beat all link bait: The 50 Buzziest Blog Posts of All Time. (Not bad, though. Full of nostalgia.)
Twitter's CEO on how traditional media is Tweeting. "Twitter provides a great man-on-the-street account of what's happening right now." Update #1: in a twist, Gawker scolds Dorsey on race/class issues and compares it to relying on commenters. Update #2: TwitterIsAPenis.com.
The Big Money, Slate.com's new business site, launches today. As NYT suggests, it could be the best worst day in recent financial history to launch a financial publication. Features will include a blog dedicated to Google, an ad comparison engine, and a Twitter account that takes jabs at WSJ. (Disclaimer or whatever: I might write for it.)
Sorry to ruin your weekend, but you have another internet-related NYT Magazine story to read: Brave New World of Digital Intimacy. (It's Clive though, so it should be okay. But it can wait until you're back from shooting wolves from airplanes.)
This is just the kind of good publicity bump that MySpace needs: MySpace Cofounder Tom Anderson Was A Real Life WarGames Hacker in 1980s.
Haughey on the demise of commenting over the years. It's tough because I love blogs and I love comments in blogs, but I'm starting to think there's this "new generation" that has grown up online only knowing blogs as having snarky comment areas and never realizing it used to be a personal, intimate space where you'd never say anything in a comment that you wouldn't say to a friend's face. Yes.
The most boring site on the planet, FriendFeed has a new beta redesign, which is still mighty sucky, but it has added the most important feature in the history of social networks, Fake Following, which TechCrunch describes as a "seemingly unintuitive feature that allows users to look like they're following their friends without actually getting their updates." More like this, please.
5 Ways the Newspaper Botched the Web. A nice little history of early newspaper consortium projects starting as far back as 1983, including one ugly company I was involved in.
It seems such a small revolution, but one of things I instituted at msnbc.com was embeddable video. A year later, no other site affiliated with a news network had gotten on board -- until recently. It looks like cnn.com just added an "embed" button. [via]
Random blogging etiquette observation: it's curious that bloggers almost never link to the "printer friendly" version of a story, when that version is more visually pleasing and usually advert-free. (Even more strangely, the only person I can think of who occasionally uses that link is Romenesko.) Is this actual courtesy, or mere convenience? And what would happen if every blogger started to suddenly change their seemingly good-willed linking practice?
[Apologies for the insidery nature of this, but just this once.] Hey Blakeley, you managed to wrap what I like least about both Gawker and Tumblr in one simple paragraph! There's a whole established history of crediting links -- Gawker and Tumblr are the most flagrant abusers of that history.
AsPostedontheNYTimes.com. Some dude who appears to be crazy is cataloging all the comments he makes on NYTimes.com blogs.
How much of a meme has it been this summer? So much, that it's even in The Onion now: Local Idiot To Post Comment On Internet. "After clicking the 'submit' button, I will immediately refresh the page so that I can view my own comment. I will then notice that my comment has not appeared because the server has not yet processed my request, become angry and confused, and re-post the same comment with unintentional variations on the original wording and misspellings, creating two slightly different yet equally moronic comments. It is my hope that this will illustrate both my childlike level of impatience and my inability to replicate a simple string of letters and symbols 30 seconds after having composed it."
NYT: Don't Want to Talk About It? Order a Missed Call. The story uses SlyDial, a service that allows you to leave a voicemail without letting the person hear their phone ring, to set up a thesis about "tools that let users avoid direct communication." Clever thesis, but it rubs dangerously close to falling apart when it cites other tools (including Twitter and Facebook) which create more direct communication, not less.
Pretty much designed to explode the internet, NYT Magazine's story on trolls: Malwebolence. Who knew these people were self-identified? Welcome to backlash to the backlash to the backlash. Link stream: Metafilter | NY Mag | Slashdot | Digg | Gawker | Weev.
This is long, but it's actually pretty fantastic, if you're into academic studies of goofy internet phenom: An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube, from the guy who did The Machine is Us/ing Us. [via]
Good Valleywag headline: Forrester acquires Jupiter, creating monopoly in Internet quote-factory market.
From Lewis Black's Root of All Evil: How Blog Comments Could Have Ruined America. See also: Jarvis' recent tirade. And also: Merlin Mann on bystander culture. And, wtf, Bob Garfield interviewing Ira Glass on commenters. What the hell -- Poniewozik too. Will commenters be the Time Person of the Year?
Two psychiatrists "believe they have discovered a signature mental illness of the YouTube era: patients who claim they are subjects of their own reality TV shows." You mean, I'm not? [via]
Though perhaps the most statistically dubious and blatantly linkbaitish list of all time, I have only one response to NowPublic's MostPublic Index: suck it, Sklar!
"How is babby formed? How girl get pragnent?" Heffernan gets all Safirey: Online writing is a typographical and grammatical mess. Should we fix it? Hey, lookie there, Derrida reference.
It's been a while since you've asked -- actually, you've never asked -- but let me tell you... my favorite new blog is This Recording. What we have here is failure to communicate... strange little essays, or collages, usually around people, like Cronenberg or Ashbery or Anselm or Scarlett or Diablo or Sun Ra or Pasolini or Sasha (!!!), that are pieced together with aphorisms, links, pictures, and music, with lots of italics and ellipses. You don't really "read" the posts so much as "scan" them, which is not the same as "skim" -- it takes time. Sometimes they adopt the style of a writer -- Brett Easton Ellis -- and other times it's just something random like deducing who killed Chris Farley. Even the straight-up stuff, like the memo to Hollywood on which books to adapt, has this strange outsider voice. Most of the writers are, I think, from LA, or at least it feels like LA. It's not done-with-it-all jaded like NYC or earnestly passive-aggressive like the Midwest. It's more like some crazy ass pastiche, like this random thing about Mad Men from a few days ago, which we can either call an "essay" or visual-poetry-media-criticism-mashup. Whatevski, I could read this Molly person all day. Update: "when Walt Whitman liveblogged Abraham Lincoln's funeral".
Hey West Coasties, don't forget, you have your own Julia too. "I wonder if the discrepancy between Internet fame and real fame has something to do with being so hate-based?"
Since I'm talking about comment culture too much lately, linking to Gessen's new post seems required. "I think, generally speaking, that every site gets the commenters it deserves... It's disingenuous for people writing online, especially for people who are expert at writing online, to pretend like the commenters they attract (over and over again) are somehow incidental to the work they do, or the context in which they do it... You may not be legally responsible for the things that appear on your site, but you are I think morally responsible." See also: Choire thinks NYT should sue anon commenters. Controversial!
Kottke: Just. Don't. Look. It's great advice if you're tired of the relentless "look at me!" blog onslaught, but it's more difficult if you feel compelled to be in touch with it all -- able to talk about all corners of politics/culture/media/tech. Sometimes you need to see bad movies to recognize the good ones, ya know?
Though it might seem that every ounce of nuance has been sucked out of this whole "commenter culture" meme -- yesterday it was Time with "Post Apocalypse" and previously it was NYT Styles with "All-Stars of the Clever Riposte" and NY Mag with "The What You Are Afraid Of" -- I'm still convinced there are some missing pieces, even if I can't put my finger on them....
A lot of people (and by "a lot" I mean the 47 people who are trudging through this whole confessional bloggy moment) will find Chez Pazienza's "Droll Models" in HuffPo edifying.
Jorn of Robot Wisdom, who invented link blogging, takes up Warren Ellis' critique from earlier this week in which he said, "The world does not need another linkblog." It might seem that I'd naturally rally around Jorn on this one, but I'll say this instead: if Fimoc had not existed for the past way-too-many years, and I had to invent something now... I would probably not try to invent a link blog. We are compelled by our histories.
This response to the Jezebel Incident is getting passed around a lot right now in Tumble-land. I think there's something smart to this reaction... but I also think there's the voice of dad saying "You kids should learn your place." (I shouldn't be trying to unpack this on a link blog!)
You favorite Tumblr for the next five minutes: One Person Trend Stories. (It's media criticism, fiction, humor, and decent writing, all wrapped in one.)
I love the "In Popular Culture" section of nearly every Wikipedia article (which inevitably has at least one Simpsons reference). XKCD does too. Unfortunately, some Wikipedians took that one seriously. [via]
Good issue of Technology Review this month, populated with articles about various Web 2.0 conundrums (privacy, data portability, internet gridlock) and companies (Plaxo, Facebook, KickApps, Twitter, Pownce, Qik).
Makes me wish I had actually finished a year of Japanese in college: Wired gallery of Japan's Hottest Celebrity Bloggers.
Good column on this whole over-sharing debate: The Overshare War. "I think the people who complain about oversharing are snobs. They want their art filtered, processed, sanitized and read-only. They don't object to emotion per se, they just want it managed and packaged for them."
The exact median blog post: "I was new to the city and scared, so I drank too much and met someone." That's it, I quit.
Update: Xeni wrote to point out that the reason the post was deleted was because it was accidentally double-posted to BoingBoing Gadgets. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding, which basically invalidates most of what I say below.
LAT's Web Scout on Violet Blue's scrubbing from BoingBoing. I've got an inkling of an idea of what happened, based upon previous gossip I heard. But I'll wait for a while to see what emerges. Anyway, some people have been asking me what exactly BoingBoing deleted about me. I've decided to reproduce the post, which was originally at this location, but is now gone:
Filmolicious [sic] dug a 15-year-old copy of Wired issue 1.0 out and gave it a loving, thoroughgoing examination through the lens of history. My life was changed by that issue -- I read it on the bus on the way to university in Waterloo, Ontario, got off the bus, took one look at the campus, and thought, "Christ, why am I here, when all this stuff is going on out there?" A few months later, I'd dropped out to program CD ROMs for the Voyager company, whose wares had been reviewed in that inaugural issue.
I remember exactly where I was when the first issue of Wired was handed to me. Exiting a coffee shop called The Urban Stampede -- the only coffee shop within 70 miles of the small midwest state school I was attending -- a friend accosted me, clutching a mysterious magazine with a striped spine. He shoved it in my hands, exasperated, "You have to see this." Wired instantly became required reading for all of our friends.
And our favorite part of the magazine was buried in the back, in the pages that articles jumped to: the colophon.
There were probably two reasons why we loved the colophon: 1) we had no idea what a colophon was, and 2) it showed the means of production of the magazine. The colophon listed the computers (Apple Macintosh II), the printers (HP Scanjet IIc), the layout software (Quark XPress), and even the routers (Farallon). And then it concluded with some music (Dinosaur Jr., Curve, k.d. lang, etc.) and a final heading for "drugs of choice" (caffeine, sugar, Advil).
See also: MeFi erupts in speculation.
UPDATE #1: BoingBoing responds, sorta.
UPDATE #2: Valleywag floats rumors.
ENOUGH with the parties, where is the innovation? What the fuck are we celebrating anyhow? Of course I happen to like parties, but I agree with Ethan's point about Mashable. Seriously, when the fuck was the last time you heard someone say, "You must read this Mashable post"? And it's in the Technorati Top 10! Whatever, great parties though!
Tomorrow Museum takes up the issue of BoingBoing deleting posts from people who are marginally critical of the site. It happened to me a few months ago too, seemingly because I wrote this, more as a disappointed fan than a disgruntled rage machine. It's a nasty moment online right now, where a lot of people are trying to figure out how to write critically about internet society and its participants while not joining the throng of noisy hatah culture. BoingBoing's tactics suggest they are on the wrong side of this debate.
Deadspin's conversation with Buzz Bissinger. This conversation is becoming ground central for this debate about the public internet, commenter culture, and the tone of online chatter.
Without comment, I give you:
19TH NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
You're the kind of person
You meet at certain dismal dull affairs.
Center of a crowd, talking much too loud
Running up and down the stairs.
Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years.
And though you've tried you just can't hide
Your eyes are edged with tears.
You better stop
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.
When you were a child
You were treated kind
But you were never brought up right.
You were always spoiled with a thousand toys
But still you cried all night.
Your mother who neglected you
Owes a million dollars tax.
And your father's still perfecting ways of making sealing wax.
You better stop, look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nilne-teenth nervous breakdown.
Oh, who's to blame, that girl's just insane.
Well nothing I do don't seem to work,
It only seems to make matters worse. Oh please.
You were still in school
When you had that fool
Who really messed your mind.
And after that you turned your back
On treating people kind.
On our first trip
I tried so hard to rearrange your mind.
But after while I realized you were disarranging mine.
You better stop, look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.
After another completely retarded week for those who live publicly on the internet, some advice from Will Leitch: Someone Hates You Online. Try Not To Be Offended.
My favorite blog right now, you ask? The answer is not Keith Gessen's Tumblr, which causes much brow rumpling and eyebrow raising. (Sometimes I read his posts like poetry, repeating the lines, hoping that something will reveal itself. It's annoying because I really believe someone should be carrying the flag he's unfurled and raised. There's a legit point in his ruckus, but I just don't know where the fuck he's going with it.) No, my favorite blog right now is my pal Joanne's Tomorrow Museum. She has been doing careful thought pieces on little cultural phenomena. Sure, I like the stuff on internet celebrity -- Microcelebrity and Frienemies and We Live in Public -- but there's also the essay on Boss Culture and the one about Hypertext and the Kindle. She has a super-informed voice that eschews trickery. Maybe this is the flag we should be flying under.
The news that Reddit is going open-source got me thinking about other sites that have done the same. The three other examples I could come up with are Slashdot, LiveJournal, and Consumating. All seem to be, well, increasingly obsolete. (A different debate might be does Slashdot still matter? I'm sure it's audience is still sizable, but does it matter?) Are there any better examples? And who would benefit from this, if anyone?
The One Red Paperclip Guy (refresher: he started with a paperclip and kept trading up until he had a house -- and then he published a book about it) is now trying to trade his house. So far, he's gotten one proposal: a red paper clip.
Over the past couple months, I've been working with New York Magazine to develop some stories related to internet media. The first is "The Microfame Game", an analysis of how micro-celebrity is generated, with advice on how you -- yes you! -- can use the internet's self-publishing tools along with the new networked media machine to generate well-deserved acclaim. The eight-step plan is intentionally cheeky, but it's also probably helpful, if you're the kind of crazy person looking to create a successful online identity.
My original inspiration for writing about this topic was Kevin Kelly's essay 1,000 True Fans, which is a motivating take on how small amount of renown can be turned into a successful career. In thinking about the idea, I smacked out the three paragraphs below, which never made it into the story but can serve as the spark of the original idea:
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to stand in front of large groups of people and scream at them. I wanted to proclaim my love for their mid-size city and then show them my genitals. I had no interest in becoming a musician, because I wanted to be a rock star.
Before the internet, or before whatever weird historical moment we're in that causes us to overuse the phrase "before the internet," being a rock star used to signify something grandiose. As subcultures arose, the term itself became imbued with meaning beyond music: one could be the "rock star of sushi" or the "rock star of hedge funds."
And now, with an eroding mass culture, and with the internet slicing everything to tasty bite-sized morsels, the "rock stars of _____" are the only rock stars who matter. With subcultures now the dominant culture, the only solution is retreating to the fringes and joining these new niche rock stars, the microfamous....
Mark Cuban stays on message with his rant against YouTube: Hulu is kicking Youtube's Ass. At least he's got a point this time...
Where Are They Now? Profiles of first-generation dot-coms eToys, Webvan, Pets.com, Boo, TheGlobe.com, Entertaindom, Excite@Home, Kozmo, Garden.com, and DrKoop.com -- early giants that I bet most of the dot-com kids have never hear of. [via]
TimesPeople (FAQ). It's an NYT app (a Firefox add-on) that you can use to "create a network of like-minded readers." You add friends and it adds a social networking bar to the top of NYTimes.com. There's also a Facebook app. Some people will likely criticize the closed nature of this, or the "do I need another social network?" aspect, but I think this is a smart move. UPDATE: Caroline's CNET story.
Slog + Gawker + Commenters = Mean Commenters Are Running Bloggers Out of Town. This seems like a good way to wrap up a truly fucked up week on the internet.
The Ira Glass Twitter page that made a lot of people giddy has changed its named to "Fake Ira Glass." Sorry kids, you were punked.
TechCrunch launched Elevator Pitches yesterday. Make a video to pitch your startup idea, then upload it. I'm not sure why, but this sorta annoys me.
It's not far off to say that the demographic that cared about this story most was the New York new media crowd. That group's open access to megaphones and soapboxes belies its exceedingly small and unrepresentative nature -- so much so that with a collective eye blink it can light up the blogosphere with vituperative chatter about what's, after all, just a story about the by now unsurprising pitfalls of playing with the Web's peephole-filled boundaries between public and private.
ROFLcon, last month's internet meme conference in Cambridge, appears to be now taking its act on the road. Events of some sort are scheduled this summer in Chicago, Seattle, San Fran, and NYC. They need to go wherever this kid is.
A new "best of Twitter" application: Favrd. From the blog post about it: "By any means necessary, web-strategy, social-media, online-marketing webcocks -- unaware as they are of how toxic their presence is in the arenas they cannot shut up about -- must and shall be filtered out of view." Perfect.
Emily's NYT Magazine cover story: "Exposed." Chat windows across NYC are lit up like ticker-tape parades right now.
(I haven't read it yet.) Update: Alright, I've read it. I vomited out a ridiculous amount of nonsense (with footnotes!) in the comments.
Denton got ahold of the cover to the upcoming NYT Mag expose by Emily Gould, which will have everyone in nyc media blogland in a tizzy this weekend.
Mena Trott imagines what it would be like if videoblogging were available to us in 1994, which actually isn't that different from if I did a videoblog now. UPDATE: Videogum did a fake videoblog too. [via]
New viral internet content blog from AOL: Urlesque.com. Gawker says it will destroy me, but they haven't heard about my miraculous new compensation model that will DESTROY them. Pageview bonus compensation? Phrack that, number six six six! We're going PPF -- that's right, Pay Per Fuck. Consider this the press release: the Fimoc blogging empire will compensate its employees based on how often they get laid. As the only metric that matters in blogland, it will force my minions to greater heights than your intern commenters and non-celebs could ever imagine. (LINK TO THAT PSHIT, AOL!)
SixApart buys Apperceptive, launches ad network. Congrats to David Jacobs and company, who I've been working with a bit, because nearly everyone in online nyc media has worked with them at some point. Update: Anil's post.
Kevin Kelly: "Digital things I've been wrong about." A list of predix he got wrong -- Photoshop, Quicken, eBay, etc. What would be at the top of my list? Easy: Huffington Post. The internet, after all, is supposed to be anti-celebrity, yet it continually proves me wrong. So, your biggest prediction gaffe?
A bunch of random domains that I own, which, when clicked on, redirect back to this site, for now: viewsource.tv, azineaboutyoutube.com, seattlespeak.com, fimicolous.com, ficklecorp.com, remoter.tv, saltychewy.tv, voyeuse.tv, rexsorgatz.com, watchingparis.com, realfakereal.com. It's like a history of forgotten and future projects. Fess up, what are your weird domains?
The rumors are true: three of the Gawker Media sites are being spun off. Wonkette is going to Ken Layne; Gridskipper is going to Lock; Idolator is going to Buzznet. Update: Gawker post | Wonkette post | Valleywag post (where Denton is dropping juicy comments).
Andrew is auctioning his Twitter account on eBay. He has
1,395 1,542 followers, which right now is worth $510 $1,125. I have 1,034 followers, and plan to sell all of them up the river if that bitch hits four figures. Update: It hit four figures. But if you look at the bidders on the auction, you see lots of people who have recently tried to purchase domain names on eBay. So, sorry Andrew, but I think you're selling yourself to spammers.
I'm writing this at 10 pm ET, which is usually around the time that newspapers break their big stories online from tomorrow's papers. Tonight a funny thing happened. WSJ just reported that Yahoo and AOL were close to brokering a merger that would thwart Microsoft's bid for Yahoo. But NYT also just published their story claiming that Microsoft and News Corp were in negotiations to make a joint bid for Yahoo. The stories don't necessarily contradict each other, but they are clearly written from radically different sources. I say we just merge them all and call it Yahooglenewscorpaolsoft.
The internet show that Twitter spawned? Sure, that's what You Look Nice Today (iTunes) is. It comes from the medium's three best voices: @lonelysandwich [Adam Lisagor], @hotdogsladies [Merlin Mann], and @scottsimpson [er, Scott Simpson].
Jack Shafer rants about links on news websites, including seo-friendly keywords, keyword popup ads, and other topics.
In "An Example of Creative Commons Not Working", my pal Aaron talks about how his Flickr photo was stolen by BoingBoing without attribution. (I've tipped it to Valleywag, who will probably title this "Cory Doctorow Is a Hypocrite.") Update: Cory apologized.
NYT yesterday: "[Rick Astley] has not spoken publicly about the meme and efforts to reach him through his agent were unsuccessful." Maybe no one has tried hard enough, because LAT tracked him down for his comments on the most important meme of our time. (Also, Rick Astley looks ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like Rick Astley.)
Last week I saw a presentation for a site called Cafe Mom -- ya know, a social network for moms. I started joking that Cafe MILF would probably be more successful. Then today I read that Cafe Mom landed $12 million in funding. Huh, maybe I'm not so clever.
Scientology responds to Anonymous with YouTube video. Up next: attacking Gawker with a Facebook widget.
[SXSW-influenced post #4.] So yeah, Lacygate. Not that you need another opinion, but since I was there... My take is that the audience reaction was unnecessarily harsh, and based mostly on style than substance. Some people have criticized her for "softball questions," but I don't think those people have ever been to a keynote before. Rather, it was mostly her passive-aggressive interview style that seemed to annoy the masses. And make no mistake about it -- the audience really was annoyed. (It's interesting to read the opinions of people who weren't there -- their perspective is similar to that of Lacy herself, who was clueless of the mounting tension until nearly the end. But if you were sitting in that room, you could feel something horrible was about to happen.) Even if the crowd was over-reacting, it was surreal how aggressive Lacy became toward the audience once she realized what was happening. She could easily have recovered pretty quickly, but instead chose to get combative with a couple thousand bloggers. It was like a lesson in how not to manage a community -- like Web 2.0 in reverse.
[SXSW-influenced post #3.] The best SXSW presentations are never explicitly educational. Most of what's left to be learned from others about online interaction is around what not to do. Which is why Andy's Worst Website Ever session was my favorite. (My contribution would have been my idea to do a print zine about YouTube. I'm not even really kidding.)
[SXSW-influenced post #1.] Julia has sworn that she's going to make her Tumblr more mature. This could be interesting/disastrous to watch. Meanwhile, people like Ryan want to ban mentions of her from the internet. It's understandable. However, Julia's most recent post about breaking up and the internet is actually a decent attempt (counterpoint!) at talking about something more substantiative -- and it reveals a lot of what I suspect some people will be talking about in big mainstream media places over the next couple months. Even I have become fatigued by the way break ups have become massive public events!
Spielberg is starting a social networking site for "users who've had or who are interested in sharing paranormal and extraterrestrial experiences." Zoinks.
Arrington starts off with something of a point about Valleywag, which seems to be getting less interesting as it gets desperate for scandal. (The whole Jimmy Wales storyline that it's currently obsessed with is just boring. And it sorta makes me feel sorry for everyone involved. Which is hard to do!) But Arrington's faux-ethicist values aren't up to the task -- he eventually loses our attention by playing the suicide card. It's a ridiculous gesture, especially since everyone knows suicide is more likely in The Valley if you get added to the TechCrunch Dead Pool than if your weird kink is revealed on Valleywag. (Dave Winer's decent counterpoint: Isn't Wikipedia the scurrilous one?)
Nicholson Baker's fantastic essay in the New York Review of Books: The Charms of Wikipedia. The first half proposes that the attraction of Wikipedia is its game-like quality, full of characters who play out anon roles on the encyclopedia's stage. "Wikipedia would never have been the prodigious success it has been without its demons." And later: "Not only does Wikipedia need its vandals -- up to a point -- the vandals need an orderly Wikipedia, too. Without order, their culture-jamming lacks a context." And then later, he admits his obsession with fighting against the "deletionists," those curmudgeons who are purging hundreds of articles every day. Baker's profile (username: "Wageless") lists all of his contributions and edits. [via]
Guardian article on videoblogging featuring Joanne Colan (Rocketboom), Alex Albrecht (Diggnation), Xeni Jardin (BoingBoing TV), Mark Frauenfelder (BoingBoing TV), and Ze Frank (The Show) that gives one the impression that there's a movement.
New site alert: "Frrvrr uses cutting-edge technology to identify topics you might be interested in based on your browsing history, public records, health records, email activity, legal filings, and web profiles." What!? Exactly. Lindsay and I were debating the legitimacy of site -- to my eye, it seemed just crazy enough to exist and it's even having a launch party at SXSW. Then she noticed the party is sponsored by The Onion. Oh. Oh, nevermind. I signed up for the Beta anyway!
Strictly No Photography. "Photo-sharing for pictures taken where you are not allowed to take them."
If you read the EveryBlock interview, you might recall Adrian mentioning that they would later explain why they decided to eschew Google Maps and instead build their own mapping application. The explanation has been posted.
The New York Times is trying to gentrify Twitter. A column from a self-confessed parent contends that Twitter can be used to manage household communication. I suppose that's true, but that's like saying Craigslist's Casual Encounters can be used to meet really great friends.
CNN has launched iReport as a stand-alone site, dubbed as "unfiltered, uncensored user-powered news." Hm.
If you ever want to befriend someone who works in online media, I suggest you just say these words: "I hate my content management system." You will become instant friends, quickly sharing tales of cached pages, ridiculous workflow, outrageous downtimes, and reprehensible slowness. Which is why I love that there's an upcoming NYC media event entitled I Hate My Content Management System. Go there, meet your soul mate!
Email yourself from the future: FutureMe.org. ("Dear Future Me, I told you it wouldn't last.")
I hope everyone else sees the hypocrisy of Google's press release on the Microsoft-Yahoo merger. Invoking the spectre of monopolies hardly seems like a good move here. The "wise Google-ish thing to do" here would have been just to stay quiet. (Update: Microsoft's response came in quickly.) [More inside.]
Some good new Twitter apps: Twitter 100 (shows 100 of your friends on one page), Tweet Scan (search Twitter), Favotter (shows everyone who has favorited you), Tweetmeme (tracks popular links), Twitterverse (big Twitter tag cloud), and Politweets (tracks candidate name references).
Two sites I've been playing with lately: DailyLit emails you snippets of a novel every day; Instapaper stores articles that you want to read later. (There's something interesting here about how these two sites represent reverse trends of each other. Or not?)
"If one of Mr. Denton's bloggers had posted the Tom Cruise video, his or her haul thus far would be more than $17,000. In an instant-message interview, Mr. Denton, who replaced Mr. Sicha with himself as editor, wrote, 'Unfortunately, I don't get page-view bonuses'."
At long last, Adrian and Wilson have launched their neighborhood-aggregation site EveryBlock.com (funded by a Knight News Challenge grant). It's available for Chicago, San Fran, and NYC. It's a data emporium -- for instance, here's graffiti in nyc. (Poynter.org: interview.)
The Observer has a profile of Tumblr founder David Karp. Because NYC is a media town, it's a little slow to everything -- but after years of making fun of Tumblr and Twitter (because they didn't get it), several media types across town are starting to get on board.
Karina makes some good points about Zack Galifianakis' web stardom. The online video persona that he's built (sorta like a reticent Jack Black) is pretty interesting.
Doing research on a project, I accidentally just stumbled across Suck.com's NETMOGULS, a project I remember so well yet completely forgot! Scroll down the names on the left (frameset!) for a flashback to who was hot online in 1997.
So this is sorta interesting.... last week Nick Douglas did a post on Gawker about 2 Girls 1 Cup. The commenters FREAKED like nothing I've ever seen since the last time I made fun of MetaFilter. But realizing that their freakouts would in fact lead to more pageviews for the post (and per the new retribution model, more money for Nick), the community decided to take their comments to a four-month old post instead. Crafty, this industry's audience. [via]
I'm probably obliged to link to Radar's profile of Josh Harris. I was once obsessed with We Live In Public (dead link), Harris' long-ago-defunct attempt to do an online reality tv show, which predated other panopticon phenomena like Justin.TV, Ustream, The Hills, and even Big Brother. In the middle of the dot-com boom (and perhaps the most telling sign of that age), Harris, who also founded Pseudo.com (big press and big bomb), famously wired his entire house with video cameras. (One of my most-recommended items of all time is Errol Morris' First Person, which includes an absolutely fascinating episode about Harris and his girlfriend living 24 hours/day online.) Harris is now back with Operator 11 and, more importantly, a movie called We Live In Public, the trailer of which actually puts the whole voyeurism/exhibitionism world under something of a microscope.
A new super stalking site: Spokeo. Enter someone's name and it will update you whenever the person does something online -- updates their Facebook notes, adds to their Amazon Wishlist, uploads photo to Flickr... and so forth. [via]
Last year I decided to put on twist on my annual "best blogs" post [2002, 2003, 2004] by taking a turn toward the obscure. Because blogs now pervade the media landscape, it makes little sense to write a post arguing that Huffington Post is better or worse than DailyKos -- or Cute Overload.
It turned out that this change -- pointing to lesser-known sites like History of the Button, Buzzfeed, and Indexed -- was a rather auspicious. Within 24 hours of releasing the list, seven of the top ten links on Del.icio.us' typically-tech-centric hotlist were sites on my list. And so in the spirit of celebrating the lesser-known, it's time again to point toward the best blogs that might have flown under your radar. Here they are, the Best Blogs of 2007 that You Maybe Aren't Reading:
30) The Informed Reader
As mainstream media organizations continue to close their foreign bureaus out of cost-saving desperation, the less expensive version -- "the international news blog" -- has become a staple property on nearly all sites (nytimes.com, msnbc.com, cnn.com, newyorker.com, etc.). Though the foreign news consumer might be tricked into believing these will reveal new forms of international reporting, it actually means that none of these sites stick out above the rest -- except for the Wall Street Journal's The Informed Reader, which somehow kept my attention this year by finding the right balance between gathering links and providing context. (See also: Good Magazine.)
29) Songs About Buildings and Food
Imagine if your favorite college prof got hooked on meth and The Hills -- and you were more concerned that the latter was killing him. That's this blog. (See also: Advanced Theory Blog and The Medium.)
If the dictum "the future is now" has any veracity, then what do we do with the past? This blog chronicles how past generations envisioned what the future would look like. With an archive that goes back to the 1880s, Paleo-Future is an essential compendium of a new historical category: nostalgic futurism. (See also: Subtopia.)
27) TV In Japan
If ever there were a genre in need of aggregation, Japanese TV would be it. This site (from my friend Gavin Purcell, whose day job is running Attack of the Show on G4) is religious in its pursuit to bring you the best moments of televised weirdness from the Land of the Rising Sun. (See also: Neojaponisme and Ping Mag.)
For those of us who have given up on the once-spectacular and oft-praised Arts & Letters Daily, the transformation of Book Forum to an aggregation blog has been nothing less than a savior. (See also: ArtsJournal.)
23) Metafilter Popular Favorites
Every year I sneak a reference to Metafilter onto this list. And every year a Metafilter post ridicules its inclusion -- can't wait to see this year's! My longstanding love-hate relationship with Metafilter (check the archives) tilted back toward the negative this year, which is why the Popular Favorites feature was almost a panacea for my frustration. More big sites are adding this "favoriting" feature (BoingBoing, Gothamist, etc.), which I initially appraised as a cheap way of avoiding depth, but now find the only way I can continue reading some sites. (See also: Ask.Metafilter.)
Drawn bills itself at "collaborative weblog for illustrators, artists, cartoonists, and anyone who likes to draw," but it acts more like a comprehensive guide to visual culture. (See also: Design Observer.)
The overabundant jungle of pop culture blogging leaves little room for new voices to emerge. One can read only so many snarky reviews of every episode of every reality tv show on every network every night (I know!). As an antidote to Perez Hilton's pretty hate machine, FourFour's Rich Juzwiak (whose day job is blogging for VH1) has carved out something unique in the pop landscape by balancing critical insight with a celebration for the lovable. And what does FourFour love? For starters: Tyra, America's Next Top Model, Beyonce, Tyra, Project Runway, and... Tyra. (See also: Golden Fiddle and Best Week Ever.)
20) Reverse Cowgirl
Her: "Why don't more sex bloggers make your list?" Me: "Cuz they all talk about the same thing." Her: "Yes, but in many different ways." It's true, sex bloggers don't usually end up on this list, but Susannah Breslin's blog was one of the few sites in the genre to stay in the "to read" pile all year long.
19) Kanye West: Blog
Too much was made again this year about famous people getting blogs. Do you really want more insight into these people's opinions? Of course not -- you want to know their passions, their desires, their interest in dropping $7K on a bottle of cognac. Kanye's blog is more like a scrapbook of his id: some links (hey look, the new Lupe Fiasco vid), some photos (hey look, a Delorean), but surprisingly little ego.
16) Pussy Ranch
Several years ago I included Diablo on a "hot new blog!" list. Now she's super famous, and I'm still making this stupid list.
15) Serious Eats
Food blogging has always been a blind spot for me, but Serious Eats was the first site to find the right mix of editorial voice and community interaction.
13) La Blogotheque: Take Away Shows
Drag a band out into the street, shoot video of them playing, upload it to the internet... and magic. If you're looking for a place to start, I suggest The Cold War Kids, but there are 70+ more. (See also: RCRD LBL.)
11) The Daily Swarm
Looking for an alternative to Pitchfork? Who isn't! But Daily Swarm isn't exactly that -- it's a music news source that somehow seems to break news before anyone else. And it's not "press release" news that Pitchfork delivers, nor the salacious celeb news of TMZ, nor even the industry banter of Idolator; rather, The Daily Swarm's beat is a rare kind of -- dare I say -- investigative work that no one else is doing. (See also: Stereogum and Culture Bully.)
10) A Brief Message
Brevity seemed to only increase its role as the ruling doctrine this year (see: Snack Culture), and the designers hopped on board with their micro-manifestos on this site. (See also: Very Short List.)
9) The "Blog of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks
You've seen them -- too many times to count. And if you had taken pictures of every unnecessary instance of quotation marks, you "probably" would have made this list too. (See also: Apostrophe Abuse.)
8) emo+beer = busted career
When Earl Boykins mixed the infographic with a passion for Brooklyn indie music, he ended up with several pieces in the New York Times that could have passed for art installations. (See also: Infosthetics.)
7) Frolix-8: Philip K. Dick
What we once called "the news" is increasingly becoming different filters for perceiving reality. If you think about it, watching the news is just putting on someone else's reality goggles. Philip K. Dick would probably agree, and so this amazing site gives you today's headlines matched up next to which PKD novel the story corresponds with. If it seems that science fiction gets less fantastical every year, then this is the site for you. (See also: Cyber Punk Review.)
A snowclone -- says Wikipedia, cuz it oughta know -- is "a type of formula-based cliche that uses an old idiom in a new context." The best example is the rampant usage of "X is the new Y." But there are so many others, such as "Don't hate me because I'm X," "In X, no one can hear you Y," "No rest for the X," "To X or not to X," "Xgate," "Xcore," "Got X?" -- and many more. The site is so diligent in its pursuit of the cliche and the trite that you might fall stricken with a loss of words, gasping "This is not your daddy's snowclone." (See also: Language Hat and Away With Words.)
Gawker Media's modus operandi is to enter a content category (gadgets, politics, sports, music, etc.) by summarizing that industry with enough volume (in both senses of the word) to basically become the essential trade mag in that sector. This is why Jezebel represents the biggest coup in the empire's history. Rather than beguile its way into the women's magazine industry, Jezebel burst onto the scene in May by defining itself in oppositional terms. It isn't so much a thing as it is not those things. To be clear: it is not the celeb porn that Conde Nast and Hearst have been splooging on you from newsstands for decades. Whereas the average Idolator post would fit in just fine in Blender or Pitchfork, Jezebel was an entire take-down of Glamour, Cosmo, and the rest of the airbrushed crew. This is the holy grail of publishing: to find a voice that is completely unique while still appealing to a broad category. Nicely played, Mr. Denton. (Note: By the numbers, Jezebel probably doesn't qualify in the "overlooked" character of this list. But with as many dudes like me reading this "women's fashion" site every day...) (See also: Spout.)
4) Smashing Telly
Smashing Telly is the antidote to all those skull-numbing viral video aggregators. Instead of gathering 30-second clips of dogs on skateboards, the site meticulously curates long-form clips that will make you wishing to extend your office hours. It's where I found the Mailer/McLuhan interview, Manufacturing Consent, a random Clockword Orange documentary, and countless other things. (See also: First Showing and vidoes.antville.org.)
New York Magazine is a perplexing contradiction. It is probably the best magazine on the newsstand right now (Wired is the only competition), but it also has an editorial voice that is occasionally annoying in its sense of privilege and entitlement. On its worst days, I call this attitude "Aggressively SoHo" -- as in, it surpassed believing that NYC is the center of the world by declaring the epicenter somewhere south of 14th St. and north of Chambers St. When my bestest friend Melissa (disclaimer!) said she was co-launching this blog (she has since moved onto Rolling Stone), I was worried that this voice would ring through on its cultural coverage. But the opposite has happened -- Vulture has kept the best parts of New York Mag (the nuance, the design, the clever), while leaving the Aggressive SoHo Tude at the door. (See also: Wired's Blogs.)
2) Ill Doctrine
When Ze Frank sadly abided by his promise to shut down his much-celebrated but under-watched show in March (after exactly one year), the internet was left to gasp for unique video programming. Jay Smooth's Ill Doctrine has been the only video blog to emerge with a distinct voice, a mature vision, and brilliant programming that mixes essay, criticism, and attitude. Check it: Chocolate Radiohead and Amy Winehouse and the Ethics of Clowning People. (See also: Epic-Fu and Rod 2.0.)
1) Twitter and Tumblr
"Blog" has always been an elastic term, just barely surviving the stress of containing everything from Hot Chicks With Douchebags to DailyKos to your mom's Vox account. But this year the seams of the term finally burst, and out spilled some brand new words, tweets and tumbls, and these two new forms of quasi-blogging that are more personal, more immediate, and of course more annoying than anything online communication has rustled up so far. Twitter and Tumblr are the Rubik's Cube and the Tetris of the blogging world -- simple concepts that are immensely more complex and compelling than they logically should be. I've explained Twitter to a hundred people in a hundred different ways, each time not quite capturing why it's different, why it matters. "You just have to play it to understand," I eventually say, choosing the only verb that approaches the nuanced complexity. And yet, there's another very simple way to say it: Twitter and Tumblr made blogging fun again this year.
Since Drudge is also reporting it, I guess it's safe to now say: the leading contender for the job of new managing editor of Gawker is... Nick Denton. Valleywag was at its best when Nick helmed it, so we'll see how this works. Update: Now NYT has the story.
My old friends and colleagues at Internet Broadcasting launched an interesting new site today: Slantly.com. The idea is that you make claims (Wikipedia has a legitimate competitor in Google Knols, An Arrested Development movie would please me, etc.) and people vote on whether they agree or disagree with them. So it's basically Digg for opinions. (You have to vote to see other people's opinions, but even that feature is up for debate.) You can seemingly build a profile with various claims, which others will either support or deny. Clever -- and a nice surprise.
Everyone knows I despise Fark, so let's just note their attempt at trademarking "NSFW" and move on without comment.
While guest-editing Gawker last week, it was pretty easy to tell that something was wrong: IM conversations were quirky, people reacted in strange ways to innocuous comments, and, well, Choire said so. And so, it's no surprise that Emily and Choire are leaving (sorta brilliantly buried in that post), but the job posting (which contains Gawker's first acknowledgment of the NY Mag article by linking it with an "existential crisis" -- errr) does strike a peculiar note: "It's no longer enough to take stories from the New York Times, and add a dash of snark. Gawker needs to break and develop more stories. And the new managing editor will need to hire and manage reporters, as well as bloggers. Gawker.com receives more than 10m pageviews per month. Think of Gawker less as a blog than as a full-blown news site." New York is weird.
Although I am no fan of LOLcats, I am definitely interested in the intersection of pop culture and internet memes -- and so is Anil, who's going to ROFLCon, a conference being organized at Harvard to celebrate online memes and celebrities. Sign me up.
Ben has been riding high on the fame handed to him for launching his social weather site Cumul.us (which he coded up at night while working for me by day, natch). Current TV even picked it up and did a segment.
One of these days I'm going to do a take-down article on a sacred cow of the internet: BoingBoing. I've already got a few ledes written: "BoingBoing, the pretend-thinking-man's Fark," "BoingBoing, your source for two-week-old links," "BoingBoing, keeping post-hippiness alive since 1991...." And so on. Truth is, I like Cory and Xeni and the gang -- they're swell people. And I bet I'm the only one here who owns every single issue of bOING bOING -- the magazine. But BoingBoing is clearly the most over-rated blog on the internet (which is easy to declare, since it's also the third-most-popular). I thought that maybe BoingBoing TV might finally give me the opportunity to write this imaginary critique, but, like Slate, I'm mostly just bored with it (though the John Hodgman interview was alright). So until I write that take-down (oops, is this it?), I will continue to mumble about BoingBoing being slow, single-minded, and DIY smug... every single day, because I somehow can't unsubscribe from the damn thing.
Romance in the digital age? This one's for you! This dude -- Patrick Moberg -- set up a website called NyGirlOfMyDreams.com after he fell for a girl in the NY subway. The girl -- Camille Hayton -- has found him. The dude, it turns out, works for Vimeo, so of course Jakob Lodwick made a video about the whole thing. If this doesn't make sense, certainly a NYT Styles story will put it in context for you next week! And while this all sounds pretty sweet, it unfortunately is not the way the world works. Please, people -- just resign yourself to unrealized Missed Connections like everyone else. [via]
"Twitter sort of not really saves man from suicide." I thought the same thing as Nick when I read the NYT Styles piece. Even back when I followed the story in real time, it seems sorta hoaxy.
If you didn't notice, NYT Mag gave Virginia Heffernan a column about online video culture. "The Medium," now its third week, this time sets up a discussion of GodTube by differentiating between videos that people view and those that people comment on.
Slate is starting a business site (just linking to this so you get a new Spiers photo -- hey Liz!).
Don't call it nepotism! Lock got $1.5 million in funding for Curbed -- from Gawker Media and others.
Daily Mole asked me to pick the best "pro-Google and anti-Google" blogs out there. This is what I came up with.
My favorite TechCrunch post of the year: Tom from MySpace has been lying about his age on his profile all these years. Perfect.
Portfolio's story on YouPorn describes how none of the site's founders want to acknowledge their involvement with the site yet want to sell it for $20 million. See also: Proposed Law Could Be a Cold Shower for YouPorn.
Jason linked to this a couple days ago, but I read it today on the bus and it's pretty interesting, mostly in a meta way: Is the Net Good for Writers? It's a good question, posed to several decent writers (most of them cut from the old-school-hippie Wired mold). But it's surprising to see how many of the contributors truly despise the internet because they think it destroys serious, long-form writing. The irony is that this article is a serious, long-form piece of writing found only on the internet. [My thoughts inside.]
Ever wonder what a blog newsroom looks like? Here ya go: the NYC Gawker office has a livestream of itself up on Justin.TV. I can't look away. Update: they streamed the booklaunch party last night, and if you happen to look right now, you'll seen Denton is on.
The re-emerged meme du jour appears to be about how digital memory is affecting human memory. Three unconnected recent examples: The Advantages of Amnesia (Boston Globe), Britney? That's All She Rote (New York Times), and Human Memory and the Outboard Brain (Wired).
Pretty decent analysis over at NYT Styles (didn't see that one coming!) on how some blog commenters are becoming micro-celebrities: All-Stars of the Clever Riposte. There's also a slideshow about a MeFi event in Portland that I actually attended.
A 19-year-old admin at Wikipedia deletes an entry by Jimmy Wales -- and all hell breaks loose (discussion). The article also contains a mention of the interesting site Wikirage, which lists the most-edited entries.
Christine Rosen -- who you might remember as the crypto-techno-conservative author of The Age of Egocasting -- is back with another tirade in The New Atlantis: Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism. Actually, it's one of those foreboding pieces that you will want to dismiss, but it's also fun to read -- so you'll probably make it through all 12 printed pages only frowning (and grinning) a few times. [via]
Months ago, I asked what the over/under of LinkedIn adding profile photos would be. Now it's happening. I think of this as the contemporary version of the New York Times switching from b&w to color photos (a controversy at the time -- and not all that long ago, kids).
The Gawker Network is adding some new features, including small-scale social networking functionality. (Some people might think the blog format has expired its innovation potential, but Gawker has been doing several new things lately.)
And now, your moments of zen: Tokyo Brass Style - All Girl Brass Band Covers Dragonball Theme and Cougar Ruffles Duck's Feathers. Or for the complete opposite of those, my pan Nav's long post on Trapped in the Closet. Have a good weekend.
"Jean Baudrillard, as any philosophy student will tell you, theorized that, in the postmodern world, 'the territory no longer precedes the map.' In other words, if you are a member of N.Y.U.'s class of 2011, you probably arrived in New York City with a preëxisting web of soon-to-be college friends from Facebook." --The New Yorker (the umlaut gave it away).
Join the thread on SnarkMarket in which I try to identify which punk rock band is your favorite blog.
The story in this month's Wired about sex and mistaken online identity starts off reading like something you might see in your daily paper... but it wraps up with a magnificent surprise ending. Recommended.
For those who haven't seen it yet... what would happen if corporate meetings were blog posts. First!
If there was any doubt that the market is flooded with social web apps, Techcrunch reviews 34 sites that allow you to create your own social networks.
Estimate: Gawker has $52 million / year in revenue. Sources say this is a tad exaggerated ("laughable"), but who trusts sources anymore?
I'm finally watching Kate Modern. For the uninitiated, it's a video blog from a hot, young, confessional artist -- oh, and it's from the creators of lonelygirl15. So the question is: will you watch it? Although this clip will bring you up-to-speed on the plot, this clip in which she discusses Derrida's The Truth in Painting will pretty much make you decide one way or the other.
Remember how you stopped watching lonelygirl15 immediately after her identity was revealed? Well, prepare to stop reading Fake Steve Jobs: it's moving to Forbes.com.
Fake Steve Jobs revealed as Daniel Lyons via some small-time sleuthing. (Ahem, I was wrong.) Best quotes: the Real Steve saying he has no interest in reading the Lyon's novel (via IM?!?!?!) and "One bright side is that at least I was busted by the Times and not Valleywag" (Fake Steve).
I know, you've been watching every single lonelygirl15 episode.... there's a finale coming! It will be on MySpace, which is lame, but the sorta cool part: it will consist of 12 episodes released hourly.
The Wired blog Epicenter gave Drew "Fark" Curtis' book a 5 out of 10 rating, which frankly is way too high, but which, of course, got Farked, so now it's got 560+ moronic comments. Hey, you stupid fucking Farkers! Over here!
Facebook acquires its first company. Sorta reminds me of the day when Google made its
first third acquisition -- Blogger.
In Wired, Clive Thompson describes the "telepathic awareness of the people" that makes Twitter so engaging. I described this as "ambient friend awareness" a while back, but I love Clive's analogy: "It's like proprioception, your body's ability to know where your limbs are.... Twitter and other constant-contact media create social proprioception. They give a group of people a sense of itself, making possible weird, fascinating feats of coordination."
WSJ celebrates the 10-year anniversary of blogging with commentary from people like Tom Wolfe, Mia Farrow, Elizabeth Spiers, and Newt Gingrich. Best part is seeing Jorn get his due. (Update: everyone wants to debate "first blogger" status again.)
Wired's Undercutter attempts to play the Cloverfield ARG. Also, for anyone who's playing, more sites have popped up: EthanHaas.org, Stay Underground, Tribble Agency, and ABZ 3293. Too much for me...
This is one of the strangest stories I've seen in a while. Did you see the story about the professional wrestler (Chris Benoit) who killed his wife, son, and himself earlier this week? Apparently, he may have been involved in editing his own Wikipedia entry right after doing it. Best part is that the entry seems to have revealed his wife was dead before anyone actually knew this. Update: the comments and this Newsvine post have more on this. Update #2: Dude who edited it says it was a "terrible coincidence."
Interesting synchronicity: Wired has a decent series on the future implications of a Google Maps universe (which concludes with an imagined hyperlocal future from Bruce Sterling). Meanwhile, Technology Review has a remarkably similar story about a future in which Second Life and Google Maps merge.
I just heard someone in a meeting say "Facebook is the new AOL" (that wasn't a compliment), and now I see Ad Age saying "YouTube is the new AOL". Poor AOL. (BTW, they relaunched their news site today.)
The one reason that I'm not buying an iPhone on Friday -- that it doesn't work with Exchange -- could in fact be changed as soon as.... today? (BTW, don't be fooled by that Mossberg line "if your IT department cooperates by enabling a setting on the server," because your IT department won't enable IMAP, despite what Gruber speculates.)
Wired: great profile of the guy behind reCaptcha and the ESP Game (two brilliant ways to ambiently gather knowledge), with mentions of his other upcoming game ideas.
Metropolis has a pretty great profile of Jonathan Harris, the guy you know as behind We Feel Fine, 10×10, Daylife Universe, Word Count, Phylotaxis, and Love Lines. The profile includes some interesting morsels on what's up with Daylife, which had a high-profile launch and has seemingly fallen off the radar since then.
Everyone got excited yesterday because we learned that YouTube will be available on the iPhone. But everyone overlooked that YouTube also announced m.youtube.com, which is, ya know, the same thing for everyone else.
The one's weird... Google has started a blog about its views on government and politics: Google Public Policy Blog.
Why did Apple release a Windows version of Safari? We've all been asking, and I guess that rounds up some of the best theories. (Robert Cringley's idea that AT&T wants it is pretty choice in a convergence-bending alter-universe kinda way.)
How CNN and YouTube Debates Will Work. This is a little more progressive than I first imagined.
Jessica Cutler (Washingtonienne) files for bankruptcy. Let that be a lesson to you aspiring online celebutantes: not even a Playboy appearance and a book deal can save you if you get sued.
Trulia has added some very cool visualizations of real estate information over time: Trulia Hindsight.
Me.dium. Looks interesting -- it's a browser plugin that adds a visualization of recommended webpages based upon a) your current browsing and b) recommendations from your friends. So it's sorta like real-time social web browsing. Expect security people to freak, but who listens to them anymore?
Remember when it was rumored that Amazon was going to start its own version of Netflix? When asked about it, Bezos was so damn coy, so it seemed inevitable. Of course, we've forgotten those days -- and finally the rumor is out that Amazon might just buy Netflix.
Business Week may call it "The Twitterization of Blogging," but goddamit, I've been nano-posting for 8 years.
NYT has an epic story on Google's search team, which is huge yet still leaves you wondering about several things. Also, it doesn't get decent until about half-way through.
Surprise! Techcrunch has an analysis piece that's actually pretty good: The New Portals. It draws out the history of internet use from browse (portal directories) to search (Google) to share (Facebook). The argument is almost too tidy, but it also works. It's also a good response to Cringley's recent column that asked who will kill Google?
Continuing my prolonged fascination with pretty much anything on Wikipedia, a few entries I'm currently loving: Laminated List, Technological Singularity, and Retcon. Wikipedia makes me feel both preposterously dumb and ridiculously smart at the same time.
My pal Anastasia has started a new conference on Gen Y and marketing: Mashup 2007. Mid-July in San Fran.
Whoa, didn't see this one coming: CBS Acquires Last.fm for $280 Million. Except I did see it coming! Check out my 30 Predictions for 2007 in Media/Tech/Pop (written in December) which says "23) CBS. The digital unit will make a few acquisitions that seem peculiar." Money.
I've been in several conversations over the past week involving the upcoming Facebook vs. MySpace rivalry. At least that's how I'm hypothesizing it. Facebook simply trounces MySpace as a product, but MySpace has volume. The question is if that can change. (Just for something to link to: Facebook opened up their platform last week.)
Interesting or fake? Or both? A father suspected of murder is on the run from the law with his son. So what's he do? Of course, he blogs about it.
Ever been angry with someone and left them a passive-aggressive note? Well, here's the blog for you.
New Gawker blog just launched: Jezebel. It's pitching itself as the anti-women's-mag mag. From an email: "Jezebel's mission is to cover celebrity, sex, and fashion for women -- without airbrushing. Think of it as the sort of women's media property that could never see the light of day in traditional print because the big-name advertisers and the publishers who kowtow to them don't much like it when someone points out the vulgarity of a $2,000 handbag." Doy, the editors are hot.
So I sorta know Derek Powazek. Or rather, I met him once at a Fray event, where we talked about hot dogs and Alaska. I suppose that means I just barely know him. I've never met Heather Champ, but everyone talks about her like a superstar, so I sorta feel like I know her, because that's how the internet works. I have, however, hung out with Paul Cloutier a few times. He's really nice. I like him. His wife, Alana Jackson, is funny and sharp. As with a lot of creative people in the Valley, Paul and Alana make me wish I lived in San Francisco. I sorta hate them for that. A few months ago, I very drunkenly told Paul this at the Rocketboom party at SXSW, which was a little embarrassing. By now, you may be asking: who the fuck am I talking about? I'm talking about a handful of people associated with this thing called JPG Magazine, which blew up into a gigantic fracas this week. I was just going to let it slide by, but then noticed Alana has responded. I'm only linking to it now because I assume many of you never heard the other side, and she makes some interesting points about how the internet makes us think we know people.
Truemors has launched. People share rumors that the rest of the community votes on. I'm in love with its predictive quality. Update: Well, this obviously isn't turning out as good as I thought.
I have a hunch that Truemors will be a big success. Love the simplicity and the immediacy of it.
"09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0" -- from 0 to 748,000 Google results. Digg that.
Fake Steve: "The truth is, all this 'radical transparency' and 'naked conversation' horseshit from Rubel and Shel Israel and Robert Scoble is just a way for PR flacks to feel more important than they really are." Amen, bro. [via]
This one's for those of us who were blogging before the year 2001: Jorn recently made a don't-call-it-a-comeback with something called Robot Wisdom Auxiliary and yesterday's post is so deliciously weird and rich with links that it makes me wish there were still just a few hundred of us making HREFs.
After taking a lot of flack over the last few months, MTV.com has redesigned again. The criticism waged against the previous incarnation was its use of Flash, but the real problem was simply its slowness (and there's no reason these should be connected). Also: MTV has a labs site. I love me some lab sites! Update: Newsvine also relaunched today. And we did a subtle upgrade too.
So best. My pal Melissa has launched a new blog for New York Magazine: Vulture. (Time permitting, I might write an occasional post for it.) UPDATE: It's really good!
So the Times finally got around to writing about Twitter. Their lede is an E. M. Forster quote. Man, do they know what the kids want, or what?
Mike is ranting about paginated stories (as Jason has in the past (and as my colleague Jim has grumbled)), but this is one of those things that I've strangely never really cared about. I suspect users don't care that much, and I've just always been willing to find the "print" button. I don't want to turn this into a web design blog, but does this really bother any of you?
A funny little fracas is building around a Valleywag editor who apparently searched through someone's cell phone contacts after he left it behind on a table at a bar. [via]
Nick threw some of my quotes into his Valleywag post about the fall-out from last night's Justin.TV. I've been contending that the real protagonist of Justin.TV is not Justin -- it's actually the people of San Francisco. And when the camera went dark, it was like the inmates had taken over the asylum -- for a few hours, it was as though the audience was the show.
Slate catches a ride on the Twitter train, and even gives a shout-out to my early fake-celeb Twitter account, Condi. (I think it was the first fakester Twitter account, thankyouverymuch.) They mention this tweet: Stuck in traffic on Pennsylvania Ave and guess who pulls up next to me. Colin in his Avalanche! AWKWARD! I see now that I totally need to bring back Condi -- America needs it.
Since the advent of Twitter, blogging about such things as Justin.TV getting laid last night seems ridiculously old.
This is so weird I'm not sure I can type it: Jimmy Kimmel sat in as the host of Larry King Live and ranted about Gawker Stalker while editor Emily Gould cowered under the verbal lashing of a Michael Jackson lawyer who seized on the whole moment by predicting Gawker will get sued. (And if that's not enough, Radar's reaction and Gawker's response.)
Towards a New Google News. Interesting idea that maybe Google will do something with AP and AFP feeds.
Pretty much everyone I know has linked to The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs sometime over the past couple months, but I don't think I ever have. And I just want to say it's brilliant. (Engadget interview from a couple weeks ago.)
I've been suspicious of this Josh Wolf story since the beginning, but I've been a little afraid to voice it because it sounds like he's fighting the good fight. But now that he's out we can also see for ourselves why he was in jail for 226 days because... HE POSTED THE FOOTAGE THAT HE DIDN'T WANT A GRAND JURY TO SEE TO HIS VLOG? Fer chrissakes. Sorry, but now I'm even more suspicious of this than before. It's too long to explain here (me link blog; you word blog), but this whole thing treads on too much dangerous ground, potentially capable of bringing down so much that First Amendment lawyers have fought for. I don't think you people realize what you're fighting for.
I'm totally in like with the new dating site ImInLikeWithYou.com. The general idea is to accentuate flirting rather than dating. It does this by giving you virtual money that you can "spend" by bidding on a girl or boy. You need an invite to get in...
My role as unabashed Twitter propagandist is now complete. In addition to the G4 Attack of the Show appearance yesterday, I was on NPR's Future Tense (along with my old Minneapolis pal Aaron) this morning. This time around, I describe the "existential anxiety" that Twitter creates. So there, it's not completely unabashed.
It was a big mock battle: me versus anti-Twitterite Natali Del Conte (who is a former TechCrunch writer and is now at Podshow). The gist of the show was asking if Twitter is a fad, but I didn't even get around to making my most salient point on this matter: who cares!
I've already blabbed about Twitter more than enough in many different places, but I want to address this idea of "fads" in social web applications. Some people may eschew the comparison but I'm not afraid to admit it: Twitter actually does remind me of Friendster.
When Friendster burst on the scene in the summer of 2003, it seemed like so many things at once: 1) a giddy little experiment in the radical conflation of communication and publishing, 2) a disorienting visualization of your friend and your friends' friends, 3) yet another chink in the armor of privacy in her battle against transparency, and 4) something that would probably get you in deep trouble when you noticed that girl was one-degree of separation from that other girl.
And yet, during the entire Summer of Friendster, everyone seemed to sorta agree: "This is ridiculously fun, but I probably won't be doing it next month."
Surprise, surprise: you weren't.
The truth is, even though I predicted last year (#12) that Google would buy Twitter, I have no idea if Twitter is the next MySpace. Fuck, I don't really even think MySpace is the next MySpace. The thrill of Twitter is actually that you feel like you could quit using it at any moment. (I've heard a rumor that some people also say this about crack. But I don't trust rumors.)
I think we've entered a stage where web apps might just be like tv shows -- exhilarating for a while, but gone tomorrow. And you know what? I'm totally cool with that. Why do we resist it? In other words, I contend that Twitter is basically like the first season of Lost.
And finally, a note on production: it looks like I'm giving Natali suspicious looks during the interview, but in reality I can't see her. I'm in a small room staring at a camera, with a strange backdrop of the Space Needle behind me. I have no idea what any of the people on the show even look like. Truth be told, if I had known what Natali looked like, I would have flirted more.
Bonus points: I use the phrase "death by croutons" in the segment. Score!
So The Atlantic chose to tackle Web 2.0 this month. The subtitle sez it all: "Why the social-media revolution will go out with a whimper." While it occasionally makes some good points, it fails because of a basic premise: unlike "push" technology or other such fads, social media has already won the war.
Anyone notice how Malcolm Gladwell has pretty much abandoned his blog? A few of his first posts turned into comment maelstroms, so I wonder if he just gave up.
After exactly one year, Ze Frank has wrapped up The Show. I suspect we'll look back on this amazing episodic programming feat with the same fondness as such comedic contributions as Suck.com, Might, or even Arrested Development. Thanks, Ze.
I've recently become very interested in the para-industries that develop around the success of certain products. (The accessories around the iPod and the embedables around MySpace are the obvious examples.) Now comes along Delutube, a service that let's you view videos even after YouTube has deleted them. (The files are apparently not deleted off the server, which is amazingly dumb.) [via]
Many of the SXSW Podcasts are already up. If you listen to the Blogebrity one, you can hear Nick Douglas repeatedly stumble while mispronouncing my name. (Love ya, Nick!) Bruce Sterling's rant was totally crackpot... but mildly genius. And stay away from Dan Rather's exceptionally tedious boilerplate. (Will Wright stole the show, but his speech isn't up yet -- transcript here.) Summarizing all that I saw and heard at SXSW would be futile, so I'll just say thanks to everyone I got to hang out with.
Bruce Sterling told everyone at his SXSW keynote rant that Viacom sued Google for a billion bucks. You could hear the tapping of blogs in the crowd.
How do you know Twitter has gone mainstream? When John Edwards signs up. How gay. (Kidding!)
Nicholas Carr's lucid argument, In Praise of The Parasitic Blogger, reads something like the manifesto that I never wrote when I launched this blog eight years ago. Except his analogy is to bacteria, whereas a Fimoculous creates and consumes its own waste.
This is about as insider ball as it gets: 10 Great Blogger Temper Tantrums. What's weird is I remember each one very distinctly.
Another wildly unexpected dot-com purchase: Cisco is buying Tribe.net. This comes in addition to other major social networking moves this week: Reuters announcing it wants to start a financial MySpace, Ning getting relaunched, and Shelfari receiving Amazon.com funding. It does make you wonder: does everyone need a MySpace?
Although I'm certainly not the only one who has been aggravated by the increasing appearance of the "This video is no longer available" message from YouTube, I didn't know how to quantify my frustration. So I decided to do a little test... do you remember Pitchfork's 100 Awesome Music Videos post from last summer? There was a brief moment where these types of posts opened our eyes to the potential of a new form of curatorial criticism of video, with a mashup of moving illustrations that were controlled by users. Suddenly, you could image whole new ways to conceive of writing about the history of visual culture. Now, just months later, that vision has been practically erased, as over half of the clips from the above post have been removed from YouTube -- to be exact, 54 of 100 are gone (I counted). I try not to be polemic about these matters on this blog, but I find it hard to believe this is good for anyone -- artist, label, critic, fan, and, especially, the marketplace of ideas.
I've been thinking about the Business 2.0 story that I linked to last week about 25 Web 2.0 Companies to Watch. Of those listed, the ones I would bet on include Meebo, Blip.TV, and maybe StumbledUpon. That's it. So what would I bet on? Twitter and Stickam, which weren't even mentioned.
The Next Net 25. "Business 2.0 Magazine's guide to the hottest Web 2.0 companies -- and the powerful trends driving them -- in this make-or-break year."
WeAreOnlyHuman.com, "a community where people share stories about mistakes they've made in life and their advice to others."
I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but someone built an online store that uses the zoom in/out interface of online mapping sites: BrowseGoods.com.
Anil on Twitter. So it looks like Twitter is catching on, which means I can cease being its greatest sycophant.
New video sites: Nick Douglas launched Look Shiny, Vice launched VBS.TV, mash-up site Cut.com launched in beta, and TMZ wants to set up shop in DC. And that's just over the weekend. Maybe this whole online video thing will catch on.
Is exhibitionism the new generation gap? That's what Emily Nussbaum argues in a crafty analysis of Kids, The Intenet, and the End of Privacy in NY Mag, which argues we are witnessing the greatest generation gap since the invention of rock 'n roll.
If you're into IM, you might like IMified, which seems to aggregate your various apps into a single IM universe.
Nominations for The Bloggies were announced. So it's not too early to ask: who's going to SXSW this year?
How many new products has Amazon launched in the last couple months? Amapedia is "a community for sharing information about the products you like the most." Basically: wiki + tagging = search + filtering.
What does News Corp hope to do with MySpace in 2007? They're aiming really high: don't fuck it up. I'll say it again: not one single new community feature since the purchase.
Interesting hypothesis from Danah Boyd that teens care little about the persistence of their online identities: Ephemeral Profiles. It's the exact opposite for me -- changing my cell number or AIM nick sounds horrifying. [via]
While writing my Predictions for 2007 in Media/Tech/Pop post, a small little idea crept in: we tend to think of websites on a scale similar to that of tv networks -- large, permanent, liquid. But what if a better comparison were sitcoms -- small, ephemeral, risky. Due to media hype, MySpace is perceived on a scale next to Fox (as AOL was to Timer-Warner), but maybe it should be considered more like Lost (which turns Yahoo into The Simpson's). And before this freaks you out, think about how we might use this to our advantage.
As far as I can tell, I made the first fakester Twitter account: ladies and gentlemen, Condoleeza Rice is accepting your chat sessions.
HollywoodIsCalling.com. You pay $20 to have a quasi-celebrity call you on your birthday. Which celebs? Lou Ferrigno, Larry Holmes, Marta Kristen (Lost in Space), Christopher Atkins (Blue Lagoon), The Barbi Twins, and several other c-listers. The faq says they've been investigated by news sources and are real.
Wow, finding the right hookup is taken to all new heights with this one: Airtroductions. You fill out a profile and when you fly, it will seat you next to someone who matches your traits. No check box for "mile high club member."
So Jon Pareles' Sunday NYT Arts cover story on user-generated content was fine (most of us live with -- and spread -- this propaganda all day long (though the comparisons to folk culture are sorta new (and the references are medium fresh))), but isn't it sorta weird that it's basically one long essay without any reportage?
Valleywag and Techcrunch peed all over themselves last night with posts about the shakeup at Yahoo. Meanwhile, NYT was pretty fast (for a lumbering old paper) to publish, and Semel even pushed out his own blog post about it (I wonder who's moderating those comments?).
Blufr.com. You post historical items that may or may not be true, and then people try to guess if you're bluffing.
Every year around this time, I attempt to summarize what's been happening online by publishing my list of the best blogs of the year [2002, 2003, 2004]. But I abruptly stopped last year because the list had become annoyingly redundant. Yes, dear blogosphere, after only six (or so) years of existence, you already have your canon, created either through fiat, power laws, or meritocracy -- you decide!
Sure, new sites break through (such as Techcrunch and Valleywag did this year), but a glance at the Technorati 100 shows that things aren't really that different than they were a few years ago. So do you really need me to prattle on about the significance of Kottke and Waxy, Romenesko and Gawker, Engadget and Scoble? I think not. Instead, this year I've gathered 30 blogs that you perhaps aren't reading.
Caveat: no human on the planet is qualified to do this, and the 500 blogs that I follow probably represents how many blogs are created in a second.1 On the other hand, this is not a list of esoteric blogs that you'll smirk at and never read again. I actually read all of these, because I think they're great.
And finally, please add your under-appreciated blog suggestions in the comments. Because really, aren't the overlooked ones the reason we're all here anyway?
30. Starbucks Gossip
Romenesko's other other blog, Starbucks Gossip is the kind of idea you wish more people would rip off. A gossip blog for fans and employees alike, the site has been on the forefront of such controversies as the ghetto latte and the tipping debate. (See also: Mini-Microsoft.)
29. TV Squad
Blogging about tv sounds hard -- you're always a day late, yet you're always a spoiler. This surprisingly good Weblogs Inc. blog finds the right balance between last night's TiVo and tomorrow's buzzed show. (See also: Television Without Pity & Tuned In.)
Sorry, this isn't actually J.G. Ballard's blog. As possibly the only science fiction writer who merits the adjectival form, Ballard is synonymous with technology, body enhancement, organic architecture, dystopia, car crashes, and other generally weird stuff. This blog is about those things, sorta. (See also: William Gibson's Blog & Bruce Sterling's Blog & City of Sound.)
27. T-Shirt Critic
I've got this theory that the t-shirt is becoming its own legitimate form of media -- informative yet dispensable. Probably the most frequent email query I get is "where do you get all those t-shirt links?" The answer is all over the freaking place -- but this site is one of the best. (See also: Preshrunk & iloveyourtshirt.)
Ostensibly, this is a blog about landscape architecture, but it actually illustrates how any discipline has complexity and hybridity behind it, usually by gathering all sorts of random pieces of visual culture. (See also: BLDG BLOG & Things Magazine.)
You can count the number of people making a living by blogging on a couple of hands, but be sure to add a digit for Anastasia. If you think you know what teenagers are talking about today, you may reconsider after reading this blog, which tracks everything that the kids (Generation Y) are into. (See also: Agenda Inc.)
24. Eyeteeth & Offcenter
Through some bad twist of misfortune, I never met the multi-talented Paul Schmelzer when I lived in Minneapolis. But I've been collecting all the marvellous little spores he leaves behind on various sites around the interweb, including these two. (See also: Greg.org.)
23. We Make Money Not Art
There's an easy way to get me to fall in love with your blog -- just link to a meat chess board, and I'm all yours. The international talent on this blog covers topics in the digital arts: social media, electronic design, wearable computing, etc. (See also: Design Observer & reBlog.)
Not that you care, but 2006 was a crummy year for the lad magazine. Could it be that the social internet is invading dude-ness too? This one-man site (from Joel Johnson, former Gizmodo editor, recently interviewed by Matt Haughey) is a good example of what one person can do in a niche topic. (See also: Daddy Types.)
21. Cute Overload
Yes, hipster, I know -- you, your sister, and your mom have seen Cute Overload. But have you bookmarked it? Have you returned to it every day just for some cheery bunnies? You have not truly experienced Cute Overload until it has become a ritual. I dare you. (See also: Flickr: Interestingness.)
20. IFC TV
Picking the best film blog is difficult. Luckily, picking the best one you perhaps aren't reading is easy! This link-heavy blog is the perfect mix of news and views on film culture. (See also: Cinematical & GreenCine Daily.)
From the esteemed tradition of Waxy and Snark Market comes Journerdism, a link blog from Floridan new media journalist, Will Sullivan. (See also: Magnetbox & PaidContent & Innovation in Colllege Media.)
Joke, right? No, not really, because I bet everyone reading this post has at one time or another given up on Metafilter. And unlike the time you gave up on Slashdot, you eventually came back to Metafilter. (See also: Ask.Metafilter, the real reason this site deserves to be here.)
You're going to see a huge surge of video link blogs this year, but this one has always stood above the others for good community contributions of quality music videos. (See also: ClipTip & Digg: Music Videos.)
15. Josh Spear
Cool Hunting and The Cool Hunter are, well, cool. But they tend to track international trends that seldom seem to intersect with your life. Josh Spear's cool hunting includes stuff you might actually be able to afford getting your hands on. (See also: NotCot.org.)
14. Data Mining
Yawn, right? Nuh-uh. Everything that's happening today in areas around buzz tracking, social media, geocoding, data visualization, and countless other subjects is tracked on this blog, where I consistently discover new ideas. (See also: Blog Pulse & Micro Persuasion.)
13. Make Magazine
Even though this blog is arguably pretty popular, I'm including the work of the indefatigable Phillip Torrone because the trend of life hacking and productivity really started to emerge this year. Make's philosophy is simple: anything can be DIY if you just figure out how to hack it. (See also: Lifehacker & 43 Folders & Life Clever.)
12. 3 Quarks Daily
3 Quarks Daily sets the paradigm for what a good personal blog should be: eclectic but still thematic, learned but not boring, writerly but not wordy. (See also: Snark Market & wood s lot.)
I've had a boyish crush on Virginia Heffernan's writing since her days as Slate's tv columnist. This year, she started this peculiar little blog for the New York Times, covering the cultural side of the internet video industry before anyone realized there was such a thing. She was the first mainstream media writer to snag lonelygirl15 as a storyline (which I -- still boyishly -- think she first saw here), writing in a cozy vernacular that you were surprised in the old gray lady. (See also: Lost Remote & Carpetbagger.)
It might be too early to judge this recently-launched human+computer buzz hybrid, but so far the meme detector has caught Hipster-on-Hipster Hatred, Evil Hippies Ruining Stuff, and Racist Jokes as strangely recurrent cultural themes. (See also: Hype Machine & Blogebrity.)
9. Pulse Laser
Matt Webb is the kind of nerd that all nerds aspire to be. His amazing presentations mix science fiction, Coke commercials, and brain chemistry in ways natural only to polymaths. With his partner Jack Schulze, Webb has worked on such projects as redefining news with BBC, understanding phone personalization with Nokia, and writing about mind hacks for O'Reilly. Impressive work, but this blog tracks their random ideas, such as the social letterbox or a collection of robot arms. (See also: Ratchet Up & v-2.org.)
An editor from The Atlantic who was doing a story on buzz-building recently contacted me about finding the source of a meme he saw on Fimoculous. He asked where I got it, and I said Subtraction, to which he replied, "that's what everyone else said too." A blogger's blogger, Khoi Vinh is the new design director at the NYTimes.com, which might sound high-brow, but his personal site has the quality you most desire from a blogger: curiosity. (See also: Anil Dash.)
7. Pop Candy
I'm as surprised as you that a USA Today blog makes this list. Beyond the cute Chuck Taylors in her pic, what makes Whitney Matheson better than the slew of other pop culture blogs out there? Simple: while everyone else is there to out-snark and out-upskirt-shot each other, Whitney seems to actually like popular culture. (See also: Stereogum & Amy's Robot.)
6. Future of the Book
Ostensibly about exploring the shift from the printed page to the networked screen, Future of the Book stumbles across a variety of new ideas along the way, such as creating a wikibook on gaming. Although occasionally windy, Future of the Books is on the precipice of something big. (See also: Read/Write Web & Smart Mobs.)
5. Corpus Obscurum
It's an inspired idea: track the obits of those whose accomplishments vastly exceeded their fame. So you get the last boxer to fight Muhammad Ali, the animator of Fred Flintstone, the tuba player from the Jaws theme, the first physician convicted of illegally performing an abortion in a hospital, and many, many more. (See also: Blog of Death.)
4. Information Aesthetics
I suspect we need a chart to explain why this blog is so great, because just saying "this blog tracks instances of data visualization" sounds like it could be a weapon to kill terrorists with boredom. But this site is essential reading for anyone interested in the ways that engineers and designers turn the messy world into a clear visual representation. (See also: Visual Complexity & xBlog.)
3. Google Operating System
Like William Gibson famously decreeing that the future is already here but not evenly distributed, this blog's name alludes to the ongoing rumor that Google is starting its own operating system, which is essentially already here but we don't even realize it. The site offers "news and tips about Google" (hey, they put ads on their maps; wow, only a handful of sites have a 10 PageRank; huh, you can mute threads in Gmail), but the best posts have top form theorizing on what the future holds for the online operating system. (See also: Google Blogoscoped & John Battelle's SearchBlog.)
2. History of the Button
A blog about the history of buttons? Yes! A blog about the history of buttons! Finally, someone has come along to try to say something sensible about this year's wretched Adam Sandler movie Click, to trace the history of game show buzzers and buttons, and to analyze Push! The! Button! cries in Lost. Next thing you know, you're seeing buttons everywhere. It's a button nation. (See also: Boxes and Arrows & Signal vs. Noise.)
1If you believe Technorati's numbers, it's actually about one blog per second.
A new social news site called NewsTrust is coming. "The site differs from existing aggregators like Digg and Del.icio.us because it measures not just the popularity of the story, but asks readers to consider how balanced it is, the diversity of sources it refers to and whether it provides enough context." Sounds interesting. (This is Jemima's first scoop at her new position at The Guardian. Nice.)
A Biz 2.0 blog post asks, have you been unsubscribing from Digg feeds like everyone else has? Count me in.
Ubu Web is an vast collection of experimental film, music, and miscellaneous stuff. Curated by Momus, it is basically YouTube for the avant-garde, including material from Beckett, Nauman, Burroughs, Duchamp, Barthes, Apollinaire, Sontag, Picasso, and hundreds of others. [via]
Lately I've been thinking about how celebrity culture has taken a strange turn over the past decade: we now have a flotilla of celebrities that exist exclusively to be hated. Seriously, who likes Paris Hilton? No one. She exists to be despised, and an entire economy has developed around this hatred. Saying you hate Paris Hilton is about as original as saying you like The Beatles. (And realizing it is the definition of snark.) A new Consumed column looks at this from a different angle: how online communities are formed around that hatred.
Fafarazzi.com is a celebrity fantasy sports league. Points given for arrests, nose jobs, pregnancies, etc. You will undoubtably hate it.
Decent story in Wired News about how a program in Second Life that can copy digital objects is creating a rift in the community, and the implications on what it means for copyright. "Are digital goods in virtual worlds more like music or fashion, more like movies or food?" [via]
Arrington writes about the feud between Calacanis and Denton. If we could get Jarvis and Cuban in there somehow, my mind would explode.
I'm betting the exec who wrote the leaked Peanut Butter Manifesto is pretty much the least popular guy at Yahoo today (he advocates 15-20% layoffs).
Although a little late to the scene, Wired compensates on their lonelygirl15 profile with a lot of background and by drilling down on the angle that sucked me in: the community that grew up around Bree. The best detail is about how Bree (okay, Jessica Rose) was not paid at first and almost had to take a job at TGI Fridays in the middle of the secret.
YouTube has all those lawyers sitting around until they get sued -- might as well do something. Let's cease & desist TechCrunch! Funny.
So I'm working on a long post about the best unknown blogs of 2006, and I'm pretty sure that The Silent Penultimate Panel (discovered by Waxy) and Marmaduke Explained (discovered by Jim) will make the list.
The news about Nick Douglas exiting Valleyway is mildly interesting -- but check out Krucoff and Spiers fighting in the comments! (For the three of you who care.)
I don't know what percent of Richard Siklos' Sunday NYT biz columns are about Google, but it's gotta be above 50%. This week he asks media companies if Google is a friend or foe.
Three (at most) of you will care about this post, but maybe someone at MIT will read it. Has anyone else gone to one of the many MIT websites (say, Center for Collective Intelligence or Media Lab or Senseable City Lab or any of the limitless others) and said "This looks cool, but I wish there was a way for it to alert me when new stuff is posted"? Why is there no MIT blog or MIT email dist list or MIT RSS feed -- or anything that would alert me to new MIT stuff? Will someone please go wake up Negroponte? Thanks for listening.
So Riya yesterday released their visual image search as a consumer product finder, Like.com. Okay, fine. But seriously, shouldn't they use the technology as a mate finder? I wanna game this sucker by putting in pictures of Penelope Cruz and telling it to find me a girlfriend.
So I've been telling anyone who will listen that Local.Live.com is the most interesting thing happening right now on the Microsoft campus (yes, more interesting than Zune), and today's release of 3D maps in a browser in a huge step, despite the fact that a) I could be heard screaming for 10 mins in my office about the number of downloads it took and b) it only works in IE. So now I have the conundrum where I never used Google Earth because it wasn't browser-based, but I probably won't use these 3D maps because it doesn't work in Firefox. Sigh.
Mark Cuban has posted a large conspiracy theory regarding YouTube. But most of it sounds plausible.
Calacanis thinks it would be "unconscionable to not monetize the Wikipedia," and offers Jimmy Wales $100M/year to put up a leaderboard ad. I can't decide if he's got a point about how the money could be used for good.
Notice any strange bulletins atop MySpace lately? The infamous Tom of MySpace had his own MySpace account hacked. The culprit? He fell for a phishing scam. This guy invented the online social revolution?
The best thing about the possibility of News Corp buying Digg is that the price is relatively cheap, which gives me hope that we're not in a second tech bubble.
The Enron Explorer allows you to search the Enron e-mails that were used in the indictment case. Nice UI.
Bush on CNBC: "One of the things I've used on The Google is to pull up maps." The Google!
Jimmy Wales asks: what works would you like to see be made free? "Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you like to see purchased and released under a free license?" Some answers.
What's up with Amanda Congdon? At this moment, she's in Minneapolis, where she interviewed my best blog buddy Chuck Olsen about MNstories as part of Amanda Across America, a videoblog about her journey to L.A. (no Pacific Northwest stops -- I've already voiced my distress), where she will announce the deal she has signed with a network as a videoblogger.
The Knight Foundation wants to give you a big chunk of money to invent a 21st century news site.
YouTube/Google round-up: NBC, News Corp, and Viacom are bonding together to possibly litigate against YouTube; Eric Schmidt tries to console them; The Times still thinks it was a smart deal; and Colbert wants his royalties.
What I love about the story of the self-effacing third founder of YouTube is that he acts exactly how I wish I acted if I were a millionaire a hundred plus times over. Except, I know I wouldn't act anything like him, and for that, I hate myself.
We won! MSNBC.com took home the general excellence award at this year's Online News Association Awards.
Apparently, there's a rumor floating around that Google is buying YouTube. While the deal makes sense in many ways, I suspect in the long run this would hurt Google's ability to work with mainstream media sources, who they will eventually have to play ball with.
Forbes has an obsessively large package of stories on YouTube. [via]
NYT: Netflix will award $1 million to the first person who can improve the accuracy of movie recommendations by 10%. How about: add porn DVDs. Gimme my million.
So wait, the girl who won Yahoo's Hack Day was also on Project Runway? I think that's pretty much the Rex definition of "dream girl."
After playing around in Second Life for many hours, I still don't know what the hell to think of it, but it's noteworthy that Leo Burnett is buying ad space there.
Barry Diller didn't get to buy Daily Candy, so he started Very Short List instead. Although that sounds like a lame knock-off, it has amazingly managed to enlist Simon Dumenco and Kurt Andersen as contributors. [via]
Finally, someone offers a cogent analysis of Paris Hilton's fame: she's all about the links, baby.
Yeah, I keep saying this is my last lonelygirl15 link, but here's a long mtv interview. Last, last...
In a surprisingly good story from The Boston Phoenix about slacker web entrepreneurs (examples: the million dollar webpage and one red paper clip dudes), the final example is Julian Dibbell, who is sorta a hero of mine, for simply having written one of the greatest articles about virtual worlds, A Rape In Cyberspace, for The Voice over a dozen years ago. I had no idea what happend to him, but the story informed me of his brand new book: Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot.
My bestest friends Matt Thompson and Margaret Andrews have launched a new local (Minneapolis) events/networking site: Vita.MN.
I can't even count all the conversations I've had about the relationship status choices on Friendster and MySpace. One of them was even with Diane Mapes, who's quoted in a NYT Styles story all about the public status signifier.
Whatever happened to the town in Oregon that was renamed to Half.com during the dot-com boom? Good story...
My original lonelygirl15 theory may not be true, but since I never revealed it anyway, you don't have to worry about it. However, my second theory is very close to the one espoused here. In other words, it's the Blair Witch Project of 2006 -- a semi-brilliant marketing scheme created by nobodies.
Yeah! I'm the #2 result on Google for lonelygirl15. I'm working on a theory about who I think is behind the "show".
Huff Post: What Right-Wingers See When They Read The New York Times. Awesome.
Google pays MySpace $900 million dollars for search deal. So much for the rumors that News Corp wants to buy a search engine.
East Bay Express: On Google's practice of withholding ads on edgy stories.
All journalists who think they have cracked the code on the blogosphere should be forced to read Steven Berlin Johnson's Five Things All Sane People Agree On About Blogs And Mainstream Journalism, written in response to this New Yorker piece.
Looks cool and desired by having The Popularity Dialer call your cell phone when you're around friends.
OurPrisoner.com is an interactive reality tv show starring Kieran Vogel, who is in the middle of a six-month confinement to his home where his life is being constantly streamed online. It's also A) extremely boring, B) pretty stupid, and C) concocted by a sponsor I'm not giving the pleasure of a search engine referral.
Fan Club is a new interactive online reality show produced by MSN and LivePlanet (Project Greenlight). The show/game involves controlling a real minor league baseball team from Chicago. Fans (those who register on the site) are given the ability to make key managerial decisions for the actual team, such as selecting a team roster, determining batting order, etc.
Hacking Netlflix landed an interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who I once saw on Charlie Rose and thought came off really sharp.
Get ready for it: bloggers are gonna harsh hard on this week's Modern Love about a girl who lives her life almost completely on social networking sites, IM, Dodgeball, and Second Life.
HuffPost has more on the Gawker shake-up, including Loch's staff email, which alludes to a forthcoming Gawker music site.
I'm not on Second Life yet, though I know I should be. I've been watching the site pretty closely for years, and it's fascinating that it's finally taking off, though I have no idea why now. Anyway, there's some reportage that Amazon.com is planning on extending their web services to support virtual stores within Second Life.