Archive for November, 2006

For All of You Wondering How to Tell Your Story, I Ask: “Who’s Going to Pay for All Those Markers?”

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

You know, Kitty, sometimes I doubt your commitment to Whiteboard Motion.

Mmmmm, 20-Sided Pie.

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Some of our visitors may be wondering: Hey, what’s up with that personal media thing? And what is it good for, anyway? Do I really want to hear the stories of other people?

The answer, of course, is yes. Yes, you do. And if you’re really going to demand proof — and come on, don’t we look trustworthy — I have it for you today, in just two words: modular pie-cosahedron.

Yes, modular pie-cosahedron, or, if you want to get technical about it (and we do, and we do) a 20-sided pecan pie. And personal media is absolutely vital to getting out the story of, not to mention the recipe for, 20-sided pecan pie: See, someone over at Instructables, a site that allows people to post instructions for accomplishing tasks stretching from the wild to the mundane, put together this fantabulous creation, and provided a detailed guide as to how it’s done. Enjoy. (And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the gravy fountain.)

Flickr Faves: Laura Kicey’s Self-Portraits

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Kicey.jpgEach week, SMITH photo editor Audrie Lawrence scours the land of Flickr and finds someone doing highly personal, absolutely amazing photography that you, busy reader, probably wouldn’t have stumbled upon yourself.

This week’s treasure is Laura Kicey, a 29-year-old photographer and graphic designer living outside Philadelphia. Kicey says she was a shutterbug in college, falling in love with the black-and-white photography she took up as she worked toward her BFA in communication design. After graduation, she no longer had free access to a darkroom. “I promptly stopped taking photographs and then lost my camera,” she recalls. Luckily, in 2003 Santa brought Kicey an Olympus point-and-shoot, and a year later she discovered Flickr. “From then on, I couldn’t stop taking photos,” she says. “I don’t think anything will be stopping me anytime soon.”

When we found Kicey’s phenomenal self-portrait stream—192 photos of the photographer telling 192 stories about her life—we couldn’t stop looking. As a part of our Flickr Faves series, SMITH asked her about her life, her art, and her own mind-blowing Flickr faves.

Check out Kicey’s photoset, Kicey on Kicey: I Look Nothing Like Me.

What first attracted you to photography, and what motivated to do this self-portrait project?
I wouldn’t characterize self-portraiture as my primary interest, but I am as comfortable being in front of the camera as I am behind it. I use myself as a model because I am always here, I will always agree to do outrageous things, and I’ll work on a shot until I get it right. My self-portraits help me say things I otherwise cannot, recording my highest highs and lowest lows, so they are very much like a journal to me. For me, photography is about recording the sensory experience—reminders—and a way to transport the viewer to this same place or feeling.

Where do you get your ideas?
The sources for inspiration are varied. It might be a reaction to some event in my life (like the frenzy before my first show, dealing with heartbreak, a tribute to a friend (a photo gift for a tattooed friend’s birthday), stumbling upon an unlikely prop or piece of clothing (such as this flowery shower cap).

What’s the most important quality of a photo for you?
I think nothing conveys mood quite like color. I love throwing off white balance and shifting color temperatures to better convey the feelings I have attached to an idea, place, or thing.

Our Q&A with Laura Kicey continues here. (more…)

Read the Fine Print

Thursday, November 30th, 2006


If you’re anything like me, legal agreements may make you uneasy and anxious. Legal language may bore you, frighten you, or simply cause you to feel cranky. You may deal with these feelings by racing through legalese, where you encounter it, as fast as you can. If you’re like me, when your computer tells you that it’s time to update software, you click “Agree!” “Agree!” “Agree!” on the licenses faster than a little kid playing Whack-A-Mole, all hopped up on birthday cake and caffeine soda.

And you might never pause to wonder what, exactly, you’re agreeing to.

Andy Sternberg’s blog The Small Print Project mines those passive kinds of legal agreements that most of us just gloss over. They’re called EULA’s, or End User Licensing Agreements, and they are like dense, forbidding fruitcakes: outrageous provisions lurk within them, like so many booze-drenched raisins.

Sternberg started the site as a project for a graduate course in online journalism at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication. He writes:

“This site is designed with the hopes of fostering discussion, suggestion, exposition and implementation of EULAs (electronic and otherwise) in an effort to help define, describe and mediate the nature of agreements in the digital age.”

I’m partial to the most recent “EULA of the Week,” a pastel-colored sign at Disneyworld—the mere act of walking past it constitutes permission to allow one’s voice and likeness to appear on film.

Go on, be brave. Take a look at the fine print next time. And when you find something outrageous, call it like you see it.

Lonelygirl15 Has a Secret

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

LonelyGirl.jpgWhat secret? For the answer, I recommend reading Joshua Davis’s story in the new issue of Wired (and don’t just look at the photos … you animal). It’s here, and it’s a great coda to the end of the beginning of Lonelygirl15, the end of the beginning of YouTube, and the end of the beginning of a new type of celebrity. It’s also about the new age of storytelling that’s at the soul of SMITH:

What began as a quirky story about a religious girl fighting with her strict parents and her boyfriend is poised to break out of the bedroom and into a full-blown international thriller. In the process, the series is helping to invent the rhythm, grammar, and style of online storytelling.

Listen to a podcast interview with Joshua Davis about his subject here.

I’ve been a fan and student of Wired since its debut issue, and I have to say that the November (cover: The New Atheism) and December issues (including a piece by Frank Rose about Chevy’s wild and wiki user-generated-video campaign, which worked out better than many of us realized) are two of the best back-to-back issues of a magazine I’ve read in the past 10 years. The future is fun again….

“Yesterday I Met A Shy Dominatrix”

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

That’s my six-word story for today. What’s yours? My meeting with the aforementioned dominatrix—and why getting coffee with her and talking about how she might tell her story is exactly why I love being a part of SMITH—is recounted in this interview I did in the trendspotting site StyleStation.

Thanks to StyleStation’s Jinal Shah who had a long chat with me for her piece (and managed to make me sound calmer and more cogent than I am). Bonus thanks goes out to the tech-spotting genius who answers to the name Angela Gunn. She gives the Six-Word Memoir Contest props in her USA Today column here.

The Blogging Nuns

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

nun_woodcutWhat would a nun have to confess? Apparently, plenty. An article by Tony Allen-Mills in today’s Times UK comments on an upsurge in blogging from the cloisters.

“Yesterday three of us went and played mini-golf. We had a blast,” writes Sarah, a 26-year-old Benedictine novice whose weblog, The Ear of Your Heart, discusses everything from the teachings of Jesus to cooking tofu stir-fry.

They have become known as the “sister bloggers”, a network of nuns around the world whose online diaries are providing insights into previously closeted lives.

With disarming enthusiasm and intriguing frankness, dozens of nuns of all ages are contributing to a revival of American interest in life behind convent walls.

Curious about the blogging nuns? Start your exploring at The Ear of Your Heart, here.

Obey your thirst

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

18378286_78c9fe19d4.jpgDoes every can of soda have a story? Well, for some it may be a reminder of party with friends, a family gathering or a first date long ago.

asap writer Pervaiz Shallwani travels from “ethnic grocery stores” to “corner markets” sampling pop from Pakistan, Mexico and India—every hear of Thums Up? Still, these imported sodas are a hit with immigrants who simply want a taste from home. Americans seem to be digging these new fandangled colas with their funky flavors too. Jarritos from Mexico comes in a maroon hibiscus flower flavor, while Pakola from Pakistan comes in a green ice cream flavor.

“One of the general movements we are seeing in the United State today is cultural fusion,” said Valeria Piaggio, a vice president and marketing expert for Iconoculture, a trend research firm in Minneapolis. Foreign sodas, she says, encourage the “expansion of the American palate.”

“They do two things,” Piaggio says. “They appeal to the nostalgia of Latino immigrants and the desire for discovery and experimentation of the general-market consumer.”

You can check out the story here.

We can do it

Monday, November 27th, 2006

160338327_0863cd5b5a_m.jpgThere’s a fantastic article in The Christian Science Monitor about the role of women in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Apparently, it was the women who, amid the death and destruction, stepped up and spoke out against the atrocities taking place so the international community and NGOs would know just how brutal the situation really was. Of course, spreading the word comes with price. The women risked arrest or worse—and their families weren’t safe either.

You can check out the story here and be really glad that we can protest any situation with our blogs, our voices, our T-shirts or whatever makes us happy.

“Last Night I Was a Model” — The Six-Word Memoir Contest

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Last week, somewhat quietly under the cover of Thanksgiving, we launched the Six-Word Memoir Contest. And you flooded us with the telling, intense, goofy, heartbreaking, and side-splittingly funny six-word stories of your life.

“Jew-born. Yeshiva-educated. Date goyim.”
“Traded mastheads for desert, big sky.”
“These sails have never settled long.”
“Divorced! Thank God for Internet personals.”
“The black sheep of my family.”

Hundred of these have come in and we love them all. But we love some a little more than others. So if you sign up for a free service from a cool new company called Twitter, you’ll get the memoir-of-the day, sent straight to your cell phone for the duration of the contest. Big fun, plus everyone who submits a six-word life story and also signs up for Twitter is eligible to win an iPod. It works like this:

1. Sign up at you’ll get a “verify email.” Approve that.
2. Then go to and click “make your friend.”
3. Finally, go SETTINGS —> PHONE and type in your cell. You’ll be texted a verification code, which you’ll type into a field on the screen right there in front of you.

That’s it. Then let the perfect little stories roll in.

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.