Archive for June, 2006

An Old Chowhound Learns Some New Tricks

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Some of us eat to live; the more fortunate (and, I think, rather unobjectively, the wiser) of us live to eat. Count me among the latter. And when I need a new restaurant, want to find the perfect empanada or needed some grist during my brief stint as a restaurant critic in Philadelphia, I turn to the food world’s personal personal media prototype: Chowhound.

Chowhound’s the site for the non-foodie, the person who might love foie gras and caviar and wants to try every one of Thomas Keller’s new restaurants but wouldn’t hesitate to pass up a $100 a plate meal if they found the perfect dim sum joint. (Philly residents — try Joy Tsin Lau. It’ll change your life, and even here in New York I miss it like crazy.)

The point of the site, essentially, isn’t that different from SMITH’s motto — every foodie has a story, and if you need a recommendation for how to find a long-lost food love, you’re bound to hear plenty of those stories on Chowhound. But it’s long been distinctly low-tech (think Apple IIc here). Fortunately, CNET has ridden in like a white knight with a redesign. The Wall Street Journal has the story. The redesign won’t be ready for a month or so, but my mouth is watering already.

Anyone know where I can get a decent cheesesteak?

Friday Viral Video Fun

Friday, June 16th, 2006

I wish I could come up with a better title than that… something with lots of alliteration, like, I dunno, Voraciously Vicious Viral Videos Vrooming Vou Vinto Vour Veekend.

Oh, man, that was bad. I’m so sorry. I really need to get out of the office.

Anyway, for those of you who haven’t stopped reading, here’s the video, something I picked up from YouTube by a Norwegian film student named Lasse Gjertsen.

Anyone got a better title? Come up with something good and we can make this a regular thing.

Giving “Low Budget” New Meaning

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

In the previous post, Tim asked “when are you media?”

Here’s an answer: when you have a cellphone with a decent video camera. From

Italian filmmakers used a Nokia N90, a higher-end cell phone sold around the world, to produce the 93-minute “New Love Meetings,” which they say is the first feature film to be entirely shot with such a tool. … “With the widespread availability of cell phones equipped with cameras, anybody could do this,” documentary co-director Marcello Mencarini said in a telephone interview from Milan. “If you want to say something nowadays, thanks to the new media, you can.”

In news gathering, early footage is often shot with a cell phone, and, in the case of major events, authorities and news outlets have been known to call on amateurs to come through with video.

When it comes to movies, though, cell phone cameras present limits, such as the difficulty to film in darkness or the lack of high-quality microphones.

As a result, the movie mostly features close-ups, and the image, while overall clear when seen on a computer, is slightly shaky. Mencarini said the movie could be viewed on big screens, though “it wouldn’t be high-definition.” The movie’s directors said no post-production manipulation was made on the image.

Sounds interesting — but will it match up to the images stolen from Paris Hilton’s Sidekick?

When are you media?

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

We’re getting startling stories and images from all over the world these days, captured during almost every kind of event. But while celebrities are trained for this type of exposure, will we be ready when our 15 minutes comes along? Will we be lauded or jeered? Will we be able to deal with it? I’m reminded of a Capote line from Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “Certain shades of limelight wreck a girl’s complexion.”

Now, with that in mind, go root around thousands of emails written by 176 Enron executives between 2000 and 2002. It’s free and it’s fun. Oh, and it’s apparently not that work safe either. :)

It’s worth remembering that all this Internet stuff comes at a price, meaning that if you’re not paying for it, someone else is, and that means they probably own what you say and are keeping copies, in any case. Almost makes you feel sorry for those Enron suits. Almost.

Where’s My Development Deal, Carson?

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

From Variety earlier this week, the news that has the world of Internet personal media buzzing:

YouTube has churned out its first crossover viral video star.

Carson Daly has signed Brooke “Brookers” Brodack to a talent/development deal, making the 20-year-old the first talent to emerge, in an official capacity, from the online service.

…Daly said he became mesmerized by her videos after recently stumbling upon them online.

“The Internet has become a new platform for identifying emerging artists such as Brookers. I hope to give her the opportunity to expose her talent on a much larger scale,” he said. While Brodack isn’t the first talent to surface from the Web — MTV star Andy Milonakis got his start with online video sketches — hers is one of the first deals struck based on YouTube popularity.

So, dude, Carson… where’s my development deal? Sure, I may not actually make viral videos, but I write about them. And I could use the money. Plus, I always thought you were, like, totally hot on TRL. Call my agent, man — we’ll do lunch.

2011 Headline Contest

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

“Firefox reaches 87% of market share, Microsoft throws in the IE towel.”

“More soldiers die from lack of supplies, fuel companies may be to blame.”

“Stem cell research pays off, group of patients cured of diabetes in one injection.”

These are a few of the entries from the official SHOOTING WAR 2011 HEADLINE CONTEST in which we ask: What will be happening in the world five years from now? Submit your headlines from the future here. The winner will get a DVD of BattleGround: 21 Days on the Empire’s Edge, the award-winning documentary Anthony Lappé co-produced with Guerrilla News Network’s Stephen Marshall—and the winning caption will be incorporated into Chapter 7 of Shooting War.

Shooting War in the Village Voice, Bloggers in Vegas

Monday, June 12th, 2006

Julian Dibbell, a longtime chronicler of cyberculture, gives Shooting War serious props in his Village Voice column Site Specific.

The Web’s a great democratizer, but it’s an excellent serializer too, and the light-handed but searing political satire of Shooting War is taking the Sunday comic strip places it could never have gone before. Grab the RSS feed now, and go there with it.

Not too, slouchy. Read Chapter 5 later today.

In other somewhat shameless self-promotion, SMITH contributing editor and all-around buzz machine Jeff Newelt is all over Advertising Age’s piece, The Man Moves in On MySpace. Don’t tell his girlfriend, but Jeff, aka JahFurry, has 1,817 friends, many of whom he alerts to goings on in his professional (he does press for Samsung) and his personal life (among other obsessions, Jah-F does sort of a rabbinical ska thing at clubs across New York City—you sort of have to be there and definitely should).

PLUS: If you only read one story about the YearlyKos blog convention (and how can you only read just one?), give this report in Salon a few minutes of your life.

Big Brother is Watching Your MySpace

Friday, June 9th, 2006

That was the original headline I proposed for the Salon article I mentioned yesterday: turns out it’s far more prescient than I thought.

There’s big news today from the NSA is interested in social networking sites. And no, not because they want to put up a profile:

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming “semantic web” championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

Pardon my French, but that’s some scary shit.

Mom? Is That You?

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

Donald Antrim’s exquisite memoir of his mother and her dying, The Afterlife, is an unblinking look at what it is to be the son of an imperfect mother.

She was sixty-five and had coughed and coughed for years and years. There had never been any talking to her about her smoking. The news that she had cancer came as no surprise. It had grown in her bronchi and was inoperable. Radiation was held out as a palliative–it might (and briefly did) shrink the tumor enough to allow air into the congested lung–but my mother was not considered a candidate for chemotherapy. She had, during the course of forty years of, as they say, hard living, progressively and inexorably deteriorated. The story of my mother’s lifelong deterioration is, in some respects, the story of her life. The story of my life is bound up in this story, the story of her deterioration. It is the story that is always central to the ways in which I perceive myself and others in the world. It is the story, or at any rate it is my role in the story, that allows me never to lose my mother. …

People are fond of saying that the truth will make you free. But what happens when the truth is not one simple, brutal thing? I could not imagine life without my mother. And it was true as well that only without her would I be able to feel alive. I had had enough of Louanne Antrim and was ready for her to be gone. I wanted her dead, and I knew that, in the year of her dying, I would neglect her.

Read more here.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

In yet another continuation of what SMITH editor Tim Barkow has termed my “MySpace obsession” (hey — I just give the people what they want) I’ve got an article up on Salon today about MySpace, and how schools and police are using it as an investigative tool. That raises some important questions, legal and otherwise — one expert I talked to even wonders whether it means this generation won’t value the concept of free speech. The question I find most interesting though, and ultimately this is what the article focuses on, is an issue I’ve discussed here before: why exactly does the social networking generation (and I include myself in this) feel that what they post to sites that anyone in the world can see is somehow private? Ideas, anyone?

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.