Archive for October, 2007

Obsessed! Facebook’s Fanatic

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Since its 2004 inception, Facebook has become much more than just another site to post your picture and hype your candidate. To prove it, Saudia Arabia-born student and Royal Canadian Army Cadet Imran Khan wants to take his love for the social networking site all the way to the Guinness Book of World Records. With over 48,000 members and counting in his Largest Facebook group in the Guinness Book of World Records club, the group has a long way to go in order to beat the current largest group, which already has over a million members. Via inbox posts, SMITH talked to this Facebook fanatic on why he’s hopeful he’ll take his group all the way to the top.

SMITH: When did you first join Facebook?

Imran Khan: I joined Facebook back in November of 2005.

Why are you trying to get the group into the Guinness Book of World Records?
I was speaking to a friend of mine on MSN, and we felt that since we couldn’t find a record regarding the largest group on Facebook in the books, we should create one of our own. Honestly, we didn’t know we would do so well in such a short period of time.

So is this group, then, really, about nothing? Just a large group for the sake of a large group?
No, this group has a reason for being what it is right now. This group represents a committed group of people that are willing to be noticed as they create the largest Facebook group. To me, each and every member deserves to be noticed. For some people, this may just be a large group; but for others, no!

Even so, you’ve got some stiff competition. There’s already another group on Facebook that has a lot more members than yours, not to mention the frenzy around the 1,000,000 Strong for Stephen T Colbert group. How do you expect to catch up and surpass groups with these huge numbers?
There are several groups on Facebook that have a lot more members than mine, but I do believe our group can increase. Knowing that the group just started a little over a month ago, I feel it won’t take long for it to get into the record books.

You don’t have a whole lot of customization on your own page. That seems surprising given how into Facebook you are.
There was a time when I was really addicted. But now that school started, I’m trying to tone it down a bit. Exams are here, so I can’t go on Facebook as much.

Fair enough. Back when you were addicted, what was your obsession like?
It was just a crave. I didn’t want to leave my house and whenever I left, I just wanted to go on Facebook. There were times when I was just irritated to leave my home and I would be on Facebook from morning to midnight. But since school’s started, I’ve taught myself to tone it down on Facebook. Life is just too busy now.

With so much going on, do you ever feel an urge to send notes and tell people about your hectic life?
Sometimes. Whenever I was doing something, I would always leave a message on my status board. But now I just try to keep my personal life away from Facebook. I mean, even now I think I have too much personal information on there, like my number and all that jazz.

But what about what’s going on in the Cadets? Do you ever want to tell people what training is like?
Being in the Royal Canadian Army Cadets is more like a leisure activity for me. I’ve been in the Cadets since 2004, and I’ll be done in 2008. I go on my usual Tuesday night trainings and attend parades in downtown Toronto for special events like Remembrance Day or Regimental parades. We go on weekend trainings to Base Borden, where we do some skill work for living in the bushes. There is an annual summer camp for cadets and I had been chosen to attend an advance course to the Rocky Mountains, all expenses paid.

That’s pretty interesting. So how come you didn’t put something like that on Facebook?
Even though I spend most of my time chatting on MSN or talking to people on Facebook, I find it a bit too much work to write about myself on Facebook.

So what about the videos you posted, like the guy on the subway train. Why did you to decide to post that one?
I was fooling around with friends at school so we decided it would go up on my Facebook. I was coming from Rogers Centre when my brother, a few friends, and I encountered him. He wanted to tell us a story, so we said, “Sure, go ahead.”

Before he started, though, my brother took out his camera and asked to record him. He refused at first, but then my brother said, “Well, you can’t tell your story then.” So then he agreed to it. We were coming from the Argos game.

How do you think society has changed since community sites like Facebook first starting making waves? Do you think it’s made the world a smaller place or a larger place?
I believe it’s made my world much smaller. I couldn’t believe how many people I’ve found so easily on Facebook. I’ve found many friends that I haven’t spoken to for several (as many as 10) years. At times, I feel that Facebook is something positive because it brings old friends back together again.

What do you think of all the recent aesthetics and additions to Facebook? Love ‘em or loathe ‘em?
I LOVE THEM! Modifying Facebook only makes it more obsessive!

What are you going to do if you do make the Guinness Book of World Records?
I will put all the members’ names in the book. It would not happen without the members. If I can, I will ask the Record Book to send everyone a certificate because this would be a group record, not an individual record…Even if the members just receive a certificate by email, I would want them all to be recognized.

What’s your six word memoir?
Get off Facebook and do something!

Previous Obsessed! with Web 2.0 Articles

Rosemea de Souza Smart MacPherson, Flickr
Steve Ratner, Ebay.
Chris Thomas, Newsvine’s Newshound
Richard Farmbrough, the Wizard of Wikipedia.

Happy Halloween (so what are you going as?)!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

1809190586_655fc80334.jpg HAPPY HALLOWEEN SMITHs!

Ok, Ok, I know we have the SMITH’s righteous PopuLIST going, but this blogger wants to know what you’re dressing up as TONIGHT. Me? Well, I’m going as that girl sitting at her local bar watching the annual Halloween Parade on TV with a glass of Pinot. Not very original, I did the same thing last year.

Come on, give us the scoop. Best costume gets a high-five from Larry Smith.

In the meantime, check out these adorable Halloween costumes courtesy of flickr’s Creative Commons. I considered scary, but got suckered in by cute. What can I say? I’m weak.

1807753691_b0f6b5d820.jpg (more…)

A Sweet Little Superhero Story

Monday, October 29th, 2007

403370602_970f07fe91_m.jpgHere’s a piece with a wonderful storyline that I stumbled upon in the metro section of The New York Times . It’s about a superb group of do-gooding eccentrics who have created their own superhero society as a part of their efforts to clean up their city. Enjoy: Dressed for Halloween? No, to Clean Up Times Sq.

Happy superhero from Flickr user NYCArthur.

Lauren Hutton

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Warm Hugs and Cold Beers with Lauren Hutton
By Albert Stern

I met Lauren Hutton in front of my apartment building in Miami Beach, about 15 feet from the spot where, a few years later, Gianni Versace would get shot. She sat with my friend Adam on the coral rock veranda of the Amsterdam Palace, an edifice with a singular, irreproducible charm that so beguiled Versace, he bought it and reconstructed it from top to bottom.

lauren_BIG_Cover.jpgThe fetchingly gap-toothed supermodel wanted a tour of the place—supposedly modeled on Columbus’s villa in Santo Domingo—and I was proud to act the docent. An astronomer’s observatory overlooked the verdant Spanish-style courtyard. Bas reliefs of personages like Plato, Moses, Lenin, Florence Nightingale, and Mussolini adorned the walls. Though ramshackle, the place amazed.

Lauren enjoyed bantering with Adam and me, and she joined us for several beers, regaling us with stories about the modeling industry and giving us warm hugs when we parted.

About a year later, I was changing planes at Dulles Airport, and found myself queued up behind Lauren Hutton. Why not say hello?

“Excuse me, Lauren,” I said. “You may not remember, but a year or so ago, my friend and I showed you around my place on Ocean Drive, and then we had some beers.”

Her lip curled and she made a point of looking at me in the eye, then said: “Why would I ever have done something like that?

Would that it all have been over then, but she was seated in First Class on my flight, and sneered at me as I passed her on my way to the narrow seats with less leg room.

In Five Years, They’ll Regret This Video

Friday, October 26th, 2007

This week’s video comes courtesy of a colleague, who said something I thought was rather intelligent, namely that boys still too young to worry about getting laid should probably be prevented from posting videos like this to the Internet, on the theory that now they will be virgins forever. I agree, and I wonder—where are our Congresspeople when we really need them? This is a human tragedy in the making, people.

Wildfire Stories—Blogs, Twitter, Photos, Videos

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

socal_fire.jpgReading the blogs and clicking through the many photos may not bring the West Coast wildfires any closer to home, but it sure provides an intense, personal take on a tragedy in a way that the daily papers and wire services just don’t.

Our friend and Girl’s Gone Child blogger Rebecca Woolf writes beautifully on everything that lands in her lens; and as an L.A. resident and San Diego native she’s been feeling this fire’s pull. Her post, Things We’ll Never Lose in the Fire, belongs in this tragedy’s time capsule. The blog And Still I Persist provides a personal perspective with lots of maps and graphics and links to breaking news about the fires. Cat Dirt Sez combines information with anger. From Slashdot, we find a link to Jim Forbes’ ForbesOnTech, a blog typically devoted to “mobile computing, gardening and occasional fishing strategies” that he’s now turned into a space to blog about what he’s witnessing at the evacuation center near his home.

Here’s a collection of YouTube videos from Southern California.

SMITH’s Kathy Ritchie has scoured Flickr for shots of the fires and created this set of a handful of intense shots; you can see search results for “California” and “wildfires” here.

Lots of folks are providing quick, short updates on Twitter, including Doggpound, zenchoas, and in an interesting sign of the times, the L.A. Times. The site has a good rundown of SoCal Twitter fire followers.

Finally, here’s a google map of the fire.

Ghosts, Ghouls, Guns, and Amateur Pornography

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

This week’s question:

What was your best, weirdest, funniest, most controversial, or just-plain favorite Halloween costume ever?

Next week’s question:
Floods, fires, tornadoes—ever have a run-in with a natural disaster?

Publishing Pet of the Year: SHOOTING WAR

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

PH_SW.jpg The reviews for Shooting War (the book), the graphic novel created by Anthony Lappé and Dan Goldman and first serialized on SMITH, are starting to roll in. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today recently give the book props. The UK’s Financial Times says, “Dan Goldman … employs the computer to the full, overlaying figures on photo backgrounds and manipulating everything with software effects. The result is an eye-frazzling, mind-warping collage, like a sequence of Banksy murals, all aglow with doomy orange hues.”

And we’re all hot and bothered about a full-page rave in Penthouse:

“[W]e are drawn into this cruel action almost against our will. Written by journalist and filmmaker Anthony Lappé and vividly rendered by artist Dan Goldman, this astute, timely graphic novel exposes the brutality of war as well as the insipid way mainstream media reports it.”

Shooting War publishes on November 19 in the U.S., a few weeks earlier in the UK. Pre-order your copy here.

Join us on November 19 at NYC’s Sutra Lounge to celebrate the book’s release. More details coming soon via the SMITH Newsletter.

Why is this woman naked?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Writer Cole Kazdin is no stranger to the business of taking it all off. Her one-woman show, My Year Of Porn, about her time producing a documentary on the porn industry, was an off-off-Broadway sensation. So when she sent me a note wondering if SMITH had any interest in an essay on her traumatic experience as a nude model, I was all over it (so to speak). So take a ride on over to SMITH’s Memoirville section, where we feature personal essays like Cole Kazdin’s, memoirs-in-progress such as Jason Thompson’s piece of his upcoming book on his mother and mental illness, and excerpts from just-published books like Gonzo, an oral history about the life and times of Hunter S. Thompson. It’s one big storytelling stew—and it’s delicious.

Citizen Journalism in Action

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Very SMITHy — a DIY viral video on how to produce your own ‘zine.

Wow. So many buzzwords. If I just started talking about SEO and Web 2.0 I could start my own Internet company! NASDAQ, here I come.

Actually, now that I think about it, I think I’d probably have trouble with that whole folding thing. Not so much with the small motor skills — it’s a genetic issue. Seriously, you should see my mom’s handwriting. (Hi, Mom.)

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