Archive for May, 2006

Big Media Blows It (Again) on Personal Media

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

While we wax about the meritocracy in personal media — the idea that anyone can create great stories and get credit for it — there is a flip side where the anonymity of personal media allows for the creation of a wider array of (sometimes disturbing) content. But that anonymity also allows others to co-opt and steal that content, redefining it with sometimes disturbing ends.

This recent Reuters story about terrorists modifying videogames, replacing soldiers with terrorists, is completely fake. It turns out that not only is this not a videogame “mod” (as these types of modifications are called), it’s just a short video clip a fan made for fun (reply #18 is apparently the author) which includes quotes from the movie comedy Team America (shoulda been a tip-off).

It’s not too much of a stretch to see in this more ham-handed, government-sponsored “spin,” either to stir up support for the war on terror or against videogames, take your pick. The Reuters reporter is probably spending the weekend getting the hook out from his cheek (research, people).

Found in the Wall Street Journal—LaPorte book

Saturday, May 6th, 2006

The Wall Street Journal offers a sweet praise for Found magazine co-editor Jason Bitner’s book of found photos, LaPorte, Indiana.
Read the WSJ review here (scroll down a bit to find it). Here’s a small bite of the short review:

Though the book yields motifs — couples, siblings, pearl necklaces, buzz haircuts, bouffant hairdos, horn-rimmed glasses — the faces appear anonymously, each a souvenir from the 1950s or ’60s.

Check out SMITH’s excerpt with an intro by Bitner and a bunch of great photos.

Jane Says: Internet Changes Everything

Friday, May 5th, 2006

Wired co-founder and Forca da Nature Jane Metcalfe talks about where the Net’s come from and gone to as the Wall Street Journal checks in with her 13 years after the launch of Wired. Here’s a piece:

Ms. Metcalfe acknowledges she’s no longer in the dot-com limelight, joking that she’s a has-been at the ripe old age of 40-something. Asked if “Wired” accomplished what it set out to do, she says that “we succeeded in showing people how much they have in common and helping people find each other. And instilling the idea that ‘what’s good for the Internet is good for you.’ ”

Those ideas are now pervasive in our culture, Ms. Metcalfe argues.

Wired remains one of my favorite magazines—soon after it launched, I wrote a piece on it for Columbia Journalism Review, and have rarely missed an issue. (The one that just arrived has a great piece on the online video revolution and a solid profile of Al Gore). So it was quite a thrill when way back when I took SMITH’s print prototype in to see Metcalfe and her life and magazine partner Louis Rossetto in their Berkeley offices of their post-Wired project, Força da Imaginaçao (a technology, media, and real estate investment firm). She was a delight and generous with her time and encouraging and imparted wisdom from the magazine battlefield that I used then and continue to use this day. Rossetto sort of wondered in in his signature white tee and messy mop of hair and mumbled something about “be brave….say a lot …. say a little” and sort of wondered out, but he too was enjoyable in his own odd way. I always thought it was quite good of both of them to see me and check out the goods.

You Must Be 18 Years old to use MySpace…

Friday, May 5th, 2006

You gotta love this: Tom Reilly, the Massachusetts attorney general, is calling on MySpace to make their minimum age 18.

In all seriousness, I think it’s great that Reilly clearly has nothing better to do with his time than pointless grandstanding, and, hey, this proposal is bound to work. I can see it now: virtual bouncers, checking IDs at the door. There’s just got to be some way to keep people under 18 out of a completely anonymous, faceless environment - after all, in the real world, where people could see how young I was, I was never able to, say, buy alcohol when I was 15 years old.

Oh, no. Wait. Nevermind.

Sob Stories

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

As many people have quoted, the Buddha said that life is suffering. But the word he used — dukkha — is better translated as unsatisfactoriness or, less fancily, as sadness.

And The Saddest Thing I Own is a lovely meditation on this.

Everyone has a JetBlue Story

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Or so the carrier with the good snacks (mmmm….blue chips) thinks.
From Coolhunting:

In order to tell the story of US domestic airline carrier JetBlue in a forthcoming web and tv campaign, JWT (their ad firm) decided to look to JetBlue passengers for content. New York based Mesh Architecture was tapped to create the physical Story Booth and Local Projects created the interactive experience inside the booth. The way it works is simple-walk in, tell your story and leave. The Story Booth is currently at the start of its 10 city tour in Rockefeller Center in NYC and will remain there through the weekend.

A Ghost in the War Machine

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Paul Rieckhoff’s war memoir Chasing Ghosts arrives just in time for the third anniversary of “Mission Accomplished.” The founder of the of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and subject of SMITH’s first Back Home from Iraq column, the book is Rieckhoff’s first-person account of his journey from National Guard lieutenant to pissed-off patriot.

Chuck Palahniuk of Fight Club fame blurbs it:

Chasing Ghosts gives us the best reporting to come out of the Iraq War—possibly the best reporting to emerge from any war. No book since Catch-22 has depicted this gruesome subject so compellingly.Rieckhoff should make room on his mantel for the Pulitzer Prize.

You can buy it here.

Or rock out with Rieckhoff at the IAVA benefit on May 10. My friend Tate says it’s well worth your 50 bones.

The benefit is for my good buddy Paul Reickhoff and his group, the Iraq and Afghanistan Vets of America (IAVA). They are a powerful weapon in the debate over the Iraq war. These guys were on the frontlines, and now they’re back, and telling the truth (more…)

World Responds: Yeah, probably so.

Monday, May 1st, 2006

In response to Larry’s previous post, citing an Onion article poking fun at bloggers who overshare, I thought I’d answer the question of whether personal media has gone too far (jumped the shark, if you will).

That answer? Uh, yeah.

Now, don’t get me wrong — there are a million great personal media sites out there, and they still far outweigh the bad. But there are some sites that are just, well, victims of oversharing. Like Almost 40-Year-Old Virgin, the blog of a man who is… well, I guess the title makes it pretty obvious, right? The concept is brilliant, but the execution sometimes leaves me wondering: is this guy still a virgin — not by choice — because he’s a jackass, or is he a jackass because he’s still a virgin? (I know I would be.)

Writing a blog about your continuing failure to lose your virginity after almost 40 years, you start off with a certain amount of sympathy from your audience. And yet, judging by the comments, it seems this guy’s lost it all. No wonder, when you consider his posts, mostly the misogynistic, sometimes even racist, whines of a man who hates women yet wonders why they won’t sleep with him. Still, this isn’t a man searching for his wallet: Almost 40-Year-Old Virgin is, for all its faults, quite an interesting read.

Man Loses Wallet. World wonders: Has Personal Media Gone Too Far?

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Man narrates his 12-minute wallet search. Read it and weep here.

Local man Kevin McCormick, 28, delivered a complete running commentary throughout a 12-minute search for the four-year-old, Velcro-fastened wallet he misplaced Sunday.

McCormick looking on his record shelf, a place he told himself he was “pretty sure” he left it.

The narration began in the late afternoon, when McCormick, a part-time pet-store attendant, announced his intention to visit a local taqueria for lunch. It was then that he first audibly noticed the wallet was missing.

“Oh shit,” he said. “I can’t find my wallet.”

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