de.tech.ting

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

College newspaper penis prank leaves nine seniors in graduation limbo

Posted by andreaitis on May 7, 2010

It’s getting harder and harder to make this whole ‘journalist’ gig sound appealing.

Today is graduation day at the University of Utah except for nine seniors from the student newspaper, the  Daily Utah Chronicle.

As a parting gift to the University of Utah, graduating senior writers at the student newspaper decided to leave with a vulgar word, or two.

The starting letters of each of the nine veteran reporters’ and staff members’ editorials, including one written by editor-in-chief Rachel Hanson, spelled out coarse words for male and female reproductive organs in their final printed edition, which hit stands April 28.  Since then, the stunt has gone viral, earning more than 8,400 votes on failblog.org. It has been shared on Facebook and Twitter at least 3,000 times.

“It wasn’t meant to be obscene or pornographic,” Hanson said. “It was in poor taste, I’ll give you that, but it was just supposed to be a silly joke.”

via University of Utah seniors say goodbye with vulgar send off in the Chronicle

It’s more than just a silly joke, though.  It’s a tradition, one that began in the ’80s in fits and starts but has been consistently upheld for the last 12 years.   Since 1999, graduating seniors at the Daily Utah Chronicle write and edit farewell pieces that, with some creative layout and design, reveal unexpected words.  Previous years have included hidden words like “hateu,” “tipsy,” “drunk” and “balls.”   Over the years the words have taken a more graphic turn.  This year, the hidden words were “penis” and “cunt.”

When the Daily Utah Chronicle penis prank landed on failblog.org it received the digital equivalent of a standing ovation.  University of Utah officials, however, were not laughing.  They placed a hold on the academic records and diplomas for the nine graduating seniors.

Editor Rachel Hanson was concerned the administration’s response could impinge on students’ press freedom, as was the paper’s outgoing faculty adviser, Jim Fisher.

“It was childish and stupid, but it’s not a cause for institutional notice,” said Fisher, an associate professor of communication who had long planned to step down as adviser this spring. “It, at the very least, has a chilling effect, and at the most could be censorship. I don’t agree with the behavior at all, but I support their right to be idiots.”

via Outgoing U. columnists in trouble over ‘hidden’ vulgarity – The Salt Lake Tribune

Isn’t that what college is for, to work out your inner idiot so you can successfully mask that part of you when you get a real job?  I remember walking one afternoon  in between classes at Rutgers University, listening to our college radio station WRSU-FM (on my sony walkman, thankyouverymuch).   I was a dj at the radio station, I knew the gang and the drill.  Suddenly, the standard “Some of the music heard on WRSU-FM is provided by Cheap Thrills”  was replaced with “Some of the music heard on WRSU-FM is brought to you by John’s record collection.”

They had stolen the airwaves.  A few of the guys — mostly graduating seniors — stole the airwaves and were broadcasting from their apartment.

I don’t recall why, I just know it was funny.  Then, and still.  It wasn’t so funny, though, when a disciplinary committee was brought in and there was a formal review.  I even had to testify, and while many of the details are now fuzzy I do remember how surreal it all seemed, like the bizarro world.   It was a college prank!  A really funny college prank.  I understand there were some FCC issues but no one was hurt, they switched it all back, let’s laugh, slap a wrist and move on.

Perhaps the University of Utah is using this as a “teaching moment.”  There is a valid point there, one of judgment and lines to be crossed, or not.   How a single decision can have cascading impact.   Match that against the First Amendment and the discussion heats up.  In an email to editor-in-chief Rachel Hanson, Associate Dean of Students Lori McDonald accused the nine graduating seniors of  “[I] intentional disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings or other University activities,” stating these offenses could lead to disciplinary action.

Such a charge is without merit, contends the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Student Press Law Center in a joint letter Thursday to U. officials.

“While the content in question might offend members of the campus community, it is unquestionably protected expression under the First Amendment,” the letter states, urging the U. to lift the hold on the students’ records and allow them to graduate today.

via Outgoing U. columnists in trouble over ‘hidden’ vulgarity – The Salt Lake Tribune

Are the students graduating today?  They were told they could participate in the ceremony, but that their diplomas are on hold pending a post-graduation meeting.   I went searching for the latest update on the Daily Utah Chronicle’s website but — surprise — there’s no coverage of their very own breaking story. Not on their newspaper site, and not on their @thechrony twitter feed.   Is that the result of all this?  That student journalists are intimidated into hiding?  They’re not covering their very own story for fear of recriminations from the University.  Journalists need to be fearless.  They need to learn to make good decisions, to chase stories, to follow their instincts, to not back down when the story is out there.   I understand it’s scary, taking on the administration.  Did you make a mistake?  Was it a bad judgment call?   Most will say okay on “penis,” but  “cunt” went too far.   So, you learn from your mistakes.  Trust me, every journalist has at least one big mistake they never ever forget.   Thanks to this mishap, future employers will have their eyes on all nine of you now.  Forget resumes, writing samples, cover letters.     What are you going to show them, right now, right this minute?  Turn #peniscuntgate into an opportunity.   And for Pulitzer’s sake, cover your own story.

courtesy of Salt Lake's cityweekly.net/utah

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Posted in Strange, technology, U.S. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Just can't get enough? Follow True/Slant on Facebook and Twitter

Posted by andreaitis on April 5, 2010

Here we are on Facebook:

Friend us.


And don’t miss  all of our Twitterage:

Follow us.

Why?

Every time I think of you I know we have to meet.
And I just can’t get enough.  I just can’t get enough.

[youtubevid id=”1WQRUTITwS4″]

(thank you, everyone)

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Today's celebrity Twitter fight: Kara Swisher vs Joshua Topolsky

Posted by andreaitis on March 25, 2010

It’s not Sandra Bullock vs Jesse James or House minority leader John Boehner vs Healthcare Reform, but in tech/media circles, this is a big f’cking deal.  A Twitter rumble that roared.

In one corner: Kara Swisher, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-producer and co-host (along with Walt Mossberg) of the website and conference for D: All Things Digital.

In another corner: Joshua Topolsky, Editor-in-Chief of Engadget.com, which he leads with a self-described “firm yet awesome hand.”

It all started when Josh fired the first shot  yesterday at Walt Mossberg.  In addition to All Things D, Mossberg is the principal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal.  In 2004, a Wired magazine profile referred to him as  “The  Kingmaker,” noting that few reviewers “have held so much power to shape an industry’s successes and failures.”

Being both awesome and firm, Josh was not intimidated.   What he was, actually, was Howard Beale.

A few hours later, Kara Swisher fired back.

At issue:  Walt Mossberg’s review of the new Tivo Premiere.

I have been testing the new Premiere, and it worked as advertised, with conventional cable programming and with the available Internet sources TiVo (TIVO) supports. But, in my tests, it showed some flaws and, in my view, it doesn’t go nearly far enough in tapping the Internet.

via New TiVo Mixes TV and Internet, but Falls Short

Walt published his review yesterday.  According to Topolsky’s twitter rant, there was an embargo on this story. That means that Tivo and their public relations department told journalists they could not publish any information about the Tivo Premiere until a certain day and time.  In his twitter tirade, Topolsky makes two charges:

1. Walt Mossberg broke the Tivo embargo.

2. Walt Mossberg (and Kara Swisher) get too many exclusives, preventing Topolsky from participating on a level playing field.

Disclosure:  Walt Mossberg reviewed True/Slant when we first launched our alpha site, on April 8th of  2009 —  a T/S text review and a video review.

Fact:  From that experience I know that Mossberg typically posts his reviews on allthingsd.com on Wednesday nights around 8 pm, and then later on wsj.com.   Engadget’s review of Tivo Premiere was posted at 9:57 pm on Wednesday.

Fact:  Companies do often designate exclusives, so one source will ‘break’ the story first.  Walt Mossberg has worked as a reporter for 40 years.  Forty years!!  He gets exclusives because he’s earned them.  I don’t know that he had an exclusive with Tivo, but it would not surprise me and should not surprise you.

Fact:  Topolsky contradicts himself in the Twitter rampage, saying first:

“Work  should be judged on work, not timeliness.”

And then:

“You and Walt are used to special arrangements. That’s nice but not fair, and not how I feel like playing.”

Which leaves me thinking: If you want to be judged on the work, then any special arrangements should not matter.

The level playing field is the interwebs,  where all of the Tivo Premiere reviews are readily available.  There’s not going to be a coalition of journalists who decide to ban exclusives.  Seriously, Josh, would you turn down an exclusive?

The bigger question in all this is whether embargoes matter anymore.   It’s the second time this week I’ve been talking about embargoes.  A few days ago a former co-worker pinged to ask how to handle embargoes with journalists, knowing they are rarely respected these days.  It’s too easy to break an embargo, the pressure to be first too great, the ability to publish or tweet too tempting.   When the world was  on a limited publishing cycle with print, an embargo made more of a difference.  I could only get the story — tangibly get the story — from a particular source.  Now, it’s much more about the journalist, the reviewer.   The credibility and brand of the reporter is paramount, much more important than the date of publication.   Timeliness and relevance are still important, of course, but a few hours don’t make a difference in most cases.   Except for the Google juice.   And that’s, perhaps, the substance of Josh’s complaint.    Walt Mossberg is a brand unto himself.   Walt Mossberg + wsj.com?  Super-big brand.  Engadget is a brand as well, but likely wants and needs SEO traffic more than Mossberg.

Exlcusives won’t go away.   Embargoes?  Maybe, if brands stop trying to control journalists and start taking control of their own messaging and interaction with consumers  (see T/S Ad Slants).

Josh, you’re passionate about what you do.  You get extra bonus points for being Jimmy Fallon’s resident tech-expert. You’ve got cool glasses.   But you also have bitter trousers.   That’s right, bitter trousers.

Still, I agree with your point.  It’s the work that matters.  These days, I think that’s more true (true-er?) than ever.  So let it go and do the work.  Oh, and start prepping for your Webby acceptance speech.

Here’s the in-your-face exchange.  Read it and I’m sure you’ll agree we’ve all learned something from this:  Tivo’s the big winner here with more press than they anticipated, and we totally need more info about the alleged “lesbian collective.”

UPDATE!!
Last night, Josh Topolsky spoke with Walt “The Kingmaker” Mossberg and then issued this apology on twitter:

To which Kara Swisher replied:

So we wake to another day, and all is well in Twitterland.   Walt Mossberg gets exclusives, Josh Topolsky rants about them (though perhaps only in his head from now on) then comes to his senses with class and grace, and Kara Swisher proves the depths and bounds of loyalty.

More Twitter Fights:
*  Celebrity Twitter Fight!  Steve Case vs Sarah Silverman
* Clerks, Cop Out director Kevin Smith vs Southwest Airlines in ‘too fat to fly’ Twitter rant

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Should registered sex offenders be identified in social networks?

Posted by andreaitis on March 9, 2010

In October of last year, 17-year-old British teenager Ashleigh Hall ‘met’ a young, handsome teen named Pete Cartwright on Facebook.   They struck up a friendship and made plans to get together on October 25th.   Ashleigh told her mom she was going to stay with a friend, but instead went off to meet her Facebook friend for the very first time.   At least, she thought she was meeting Pete Cartwright.  Turns out she was really meeting Peter Chapman, a 33-year-old convicted rapist.

Peter Chapman and Ashleigh Hall.  Should Facebook add a Panic button?

Chapman raped and killed her, before dumping her body in a gully, close to Old Stockton Road near Sedgefield. He was arrested the following day.

Following his sentencing, Ashleigh’s mother, Andrea Hall branded the 33-year-old murderer “inhuman” and called for closer monitoring of sex offenders.

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Mrs Hall said authorities should reveal where sex offenders live.

via Facebook killer Peter Chapman monitoring probed — BBC News

Here in the U.S., we can find out where registered sex offenders are living with a couple of clicks on  Family Watchdog.  Type in an address or city/state  and you instantly get a map showing the name, picture and location of registered offenders.  You see their proximity to schools and parks, their convictions, any aliases and even sign up for alerts.   It is incredibly easy to find out if sex offenders are in our neighborhoods.   These days, though, we don’t just live in suburbs and cities; we also live online.   We can find out if registered sexual offenders are in our neighborhoods, but what about on our social networks?

The Liberal Democrats & home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, criticised Facebook for not adding a panic button, created by the Home Office & Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, to its site. Ceop says the button, a large graphic which once installed features prominently on each profile page and gives internet safety advice, should be added to all social networking websites. Its chief executive, Jim Gamble, said it was “beyond logic” that Facebook and MySpace have not joined.

via Facebook security measures criticised after Ashleigh Hall murder | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Facebook released a statement addressing Huhne’s criticism:

“What is clear is that Peter Chapman was a twisted, determined individual with an evil agenda who used every online and offline opportunity to meet people.  This case serves as a painful reminder that all internet users must use extreme caution when contacted over the internet by people they do not know.”

“We echo the advice of the police, who urge people not to meet anyone they have been contacted by online unless they know for certain who they are, as there are unscrupulous people in the world with malevolent agendas.”

According to a report in The Guardian, Chapman was just 15 when he was first the subject of several  sexual assault investigations.  At 19 he was sentenced to seven years in prison for raping two prostitutes, and was released in 2001.  Several months before Ashleigh’s murder, convicted rapist Peter Chapman fell through the cracks.

Merseyside police, who should have been monitoring Chapman, today referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The force acted after revelations that it waited nine months before issuing a national wanted alert for Chapman, after realising last year that he had vanished from his home.

This begs the question:  if we can’t properly track registered sex offenders in the real world, how can we possibly track them in a digital world where it’s even easier to hide?  Even if there was a solid technical solution (there isn’t), someone would surely find a loophole or hack.  There is momentum, though, for a proposal to remove sex offenders from social networking sites.

State Rep. Rob Teilhet is introducing a measure Tuesday that would allow the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to send sex offenders’ information to Facebook, MySpace and other sites.

The sites could then remove their information, ban them from creating profiles and notify state authorities of any suspicious activity.

A similar proposal has already been adopted in New York and others are being considered in California and Oklahoma.

via Georgia could restrict sex offenders from Facebook — Atlanta Journal Constitution

In Illinois, as of January 1, 2010 it is now a felony for registered sex offenders to join social networking sites.  Should all sex offenders be prohibited from joining social networks?  What about those who have served their time, who are now living their lives as proper citizens — should they be identified in some way if allowed to participate in a digital social circle?

In Ashleigh’s case, there very well could have been a different ending if Peter Chapman was not allowed to join Facebook.   Or, Peter Chapman would have found another way to get on Facebook and prey on teenage girls.

There are some things we do know:

– Digital media easily allows anyone to create a persona, a veil of anonymity.

– It’s unlikely a panic button would have saved Ashleigh’s life.

– Facebook does offer several ways to alter privacy settings and block users.

– Parents need to be involved with their children’s online education and behavior.

– Authorities need to take responsibility for more vigilant monitoring of sex offenders.

– Ultimately, we still make choices about who we communicate with and in what manner.

Yesterday Peter Chapman was sentenced to life in prison for killing Ashleigh Hall.  At least we know where he’ll be for a good long time.

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Posted in crime, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tony Kornheiser, Hannah Storm and free speech as an endangered species

Posted by andreaitis on February 24, 2010

Hannah-Storm-SportsCenter-outfit

Hannah Storm in the "horrifying" outfit. PS: I'd wear it.

Hannah Storm’s Wikipedia entry has been updated already:

In February 2010, fellow ESPN colleague Tony Kornheiser harshly criticized her outfit that day on his radio show, and was suspended from ESPN for 2 weeks. He has since apologized to her via a 15 minute phone conversation.

via Wikipedia

What did Kornheiser say that warranted a two-week suspension and a 15-minute apology?  Did he say she stood by and did nothing while videotaping kids bullying an autistic child?  Did he call her a racist?  Did he suggest she repeatedly and casually incorporated the other r-word into her conversations (hint: it rhymes with me-tard)?  Did he call her (gasp!) fat?!?

Nope, none of the above.   Kornheiser’s offense:  He criticized her outfit.

What Kornheiser said, on his weekday local radio show on ESPN’s Washington, D.C. affiliate Friday, was that Storm was on-air in a “horrifying outfit” with “red go-go boots” and a skirt “way too short for somebody her age.” He added the kicker: “She’s what I would call a Holden Caulfield fantasy at this point.”

Kornheiser has apologized on-air and as well as to Storm personally. On the show Tuesday, he noted his suspension and said he wouldn’t talk about it in any interviews.

So, some context. Kornheiser, on that show, occasionally critiques on-air TV fashions —Kathie Lee Gifford, on NBC’s Today show, has been found wanting — which is perfectly fair game given costuming is a big part of TV. He also makes great use of what he finds irritating — Storm’s stylings just seemed like fodder.

via ESPN suspends Kornheiser for comments on Hannah Storm’s attire – USA Today

ESPN executive vice president John Skipper said “Hurtful and personal comments such as these are not acceptable and have significant consequences.”    What he actually meant is that “hurtful and personal comments” about colleagues are not acceptable.

Asked if the key was that Kornheiser was talking about a fellow staffer rather than specifically what he what said, spokesman Mike Soltys said: “Yes. Respect for colleagues is paramount!”

And here is where we slap the WTF?!? label on this little incident.   Have we learned nothing from Jay and Conan?  Perhaps this is some reverse psychology plot by a super-smart TV executive to get some attention for ESPN, a last-ditch effort to get a ratings spike as February sweeps come to a close.  More likely, it’s just another boneheaded bungle.  How does ESPN react?  A wannabe white knight TV exec rushes in to protect and defend the damsel in distress, and the implication is that Hannah Storm went crying to management.

That is offensive — much more offensive than Kornheiser calling her outfit horrifying.  Where is Hannah Storm in all this? Trash talk is part of sports.  Where’s the feisty comeback, the call-him-on-the-carpet confrontation, the self-deprecating sense of humor?  More than anything, I’d like to hear from Hannah Storm, get her reaction and have her stand up to Kornheiser herself rather than standing behind the men of ESPN.

Here’s how this should have gone down:

– Tony Kornheiser does what he always does.  Nothing new, nothing different, and certainly nothing extraordinarily offensive.  He criticizes Hannah Storm’s outfit and her judgment in wearing such an outfit.  File that under “freedom of speech.”

– Let’s imagine Hannah Storm blows a gasket or, at the very least, is annoyed.  She has several options:

1. She calls into (or shows up on) Kornheiser’s  show, Pardon the Interruption, to criticize his tie.

2. She invites Kornheiser onto her show, SportsCenter, to criticize his tie (and talk about trash-talking in sports).

3. She comments on Twitter, Facebook or in a blog post.

4. If ESPN execs release their idiotic statments, she notes the double-standard  idiocy:  It’s okay to make fun of other people but not of one another?   She also notes the ridiculousness of a two-week suspension and her ability to speak for herself.

5. They appear together on The Daily Show, with Dr. Phil and Jon Stewart as mediator.

6. They appear together as surprise judges on Project Runway.

7.  They immediately shoot a series of promos for ESPN that are posted to youtube and predestined to go viral.

8. Hannah Storm makes a video ripping apart Tony Kornheiser’s Penguin Dance.

[youtubevid id=”7RO82Rwdj1o”]

Remember,  Tony Kornheiser likes to have fun.  And Hannah Storm likes to dress up.

[daylifegallery id=1267047120620]

Were Kornheiser’s comments nice?  No.   Does he have a right to his opinion?  Yes.  The reaction by ESPN implies there was a complaint.  Did Hannah Storm have an issue with Kornheiser’s comments?  I’d really like to know (Hannah, you can reach me at andreaitis@trueslant.com).

Meanwhile, I just told my T/S colleague Michael Roston that his grey shirt doesn’t go with his brown sweater, and suggested he try Garanimals.   Gee, I hope I don’t get suspended.

Posted in Business, Entertainment, sports, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Today's celebrity Twitter fight: Steve Case vs Sarah Silverman!

Posted by andreaitis on February 15, 2010

Sarah Silverman on stage at TED2010 (via ted.com)

Sarah Silverman on stage at TED2010 (via ted.com)

Yesterday it was Kevin Smith in a blistering twitter tirade about having his chubby self chased off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was ‘too fat to fly.’

Today it’s AOL co-founder Steve Case in a snit-pick with comedian Sarah Silverman.

The Issue: Sarah Silverman spoke at a fancy schmancy conference and used the word retarded over and over (and over) again.

Let’s see how this scene unfolded…

The Place: TED2010, a conference that describes itself as “a lineup of amazing speakers, performers and attendees…gathered for four days of TED in Long Beach and Palm Springs.”

The Background: It costs six thousand dollars to attend TED.    Six.THOUSAND.Dollars.    According to blogger, author and tech evangelist Robert Scoble (he’s worked at Microsoft, Fast Company and is currently at Rackspace),  TED never even gives out more than 15 press passes.  It’s been called elitist, smug, pompous and unattainable; the Conference for the Rich & Famous.  Scoble himself suffered from TED Jealousy in 2008.  Now, though, he’s a convert.  In a Scobleizer blog post he wrote yesterday:

Truth is, TED has opened up its content to the world. More than 500 talks have now been shared on TED Talks.

On the TED stage I saw that they had hundreds of events where the live feed was broadcast, including many into Silicon Valley (several VCs and entrepreneurs invited me to view TED with them at their houses, or work offices). Rackspace bought the feed too and lots of my coworkers were talking with me about the talks. So, getting access to the content might not be attainable by everyone in real time, but is certainly attainable eventually by everyone.

via The elephant in the room at TED — Scobleizer

The very first TED conference took place in 1990; over the years speakers have included Lost creator J.J. Abrams, novelist Isabel Allende, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, magician David Blaine, True/Slant’er Michael Shermer, Avatar director James Cameron, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Bono.  This year TED ran from February 9th through the 13th, and included the one and only  Sarah Silverman.

The Incident: TechCrunch has a good write-up of Sarah’s TED performance, from someone who was actually in the audience.

(I’m recalling from memory):

“I want to adopt a special needs child (to which one person applauded), because adopting a special needs child, who would do that? Only an awesome person, right?” I looked around the room and I knew exactly what was coming next. She was going to say retarded and not only was she going to say it, she was going to drop it like 10 times. I knew it wouldn’t be ok, but I was excited about it…

…She went on to say:

“The only problem with adopting a retarded child is that the retarded child, when you are 80 is well, still retarded and that she wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms of setting them free at age 18, so she was only going to adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness so it has an expiration date, because who would adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness? Well, someone who was awesome like her”.

The room went silent and she went on with her show and sang a song about how all of the penises in the world couldn’t fill your heart holes.

The Aftermath: Aside from a mixed reception from the crowd, the man responsible for pulling TED together  took to the Twitter waves with his own reaction.

Chris Anderson on Sarah Silverman and TED

Wikipedia describes Chris Anderson as “the curator of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference, an influential annual conference.”  I’d describe him as someone who 1. couldn’t wait to distance himself from the expectedly controversial Silverman and B. has a hypocritical sense of the free thinking that TED is supposed to embrace.

At any rate, Silverman posted her own Twitter message, which prompted AOL co-founder Steve Case to jump in, and…well…Gawker pulled together the entire She Said/He Said exchange:

Earlier today, TED Organizer Chris Anderson called Silverman’s “retard”-filled talk “god-awful,” which set off this exchange between Silverman and AOL founder Steve Case:






The Analysis: What caused all of this?  Robert Scoble has the most prescient and balanced perspective on  Sarah Silverman and TED:

Silverman succeeded because her talk was a science experiment, albeit one of trying something out on a much different audience than she usually gets to perform in front of. TED is all about trying out ideas and seeing which ones are the best and hearing from the people who do the best experiments, from dance to algorithms. Silverman is the best at her craft alive today. Or certainly in the top .001%.

It was why she was on the TED stage. She used that opportunity to try to challenge the audience. That was successful and I hope TED invites her again to perform another one of her experiments on stage.

But it failed too. I found her talk repulsive and challenging. I was in the second row. I actually was one of those who called for her to come back out on stage, although I knew that she had challenged the audience in a way that would be viewed as a failure. She challenged me quite a bit with her experiment. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that Chris Anderson, the guy who runs TED, had said she was “god-awful” on Twitter (he now has removed that tweet).

I didn’t have a chance to discuss that talk with Chris, but I would say that he was wrong and right. He was right that her talk wasn’t up to the usual TED quality but that she represented the best of what TED is: science experiments in human living.

via The elephant in the room at TED — Scobleizer

“Science experiments in human living.”   We can apply that to Twitter as well.  We’ve been granted access to intimate moments we might otherwise never see.  We all experienced first-hand the emotions around Silverman’s performance because Sarah Silverman and Steve Case allowed us to do so, as did Chris Anderson (until he deleted it).   With Twitter, Facebook and now Google Buzz, we’re all experimenting with what we share, how much we share when, where and with whom.  It happens to the rich and the poor, the known and the unknown, the savvy and the meek.   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Technology, social media, social publishing, digital community — it is collectively the great equalizer.

Chris Anderson should not shy away from this.  It is, as Scoble states, what TED is all about.   It’s exemplary of what we are all going through now as we fumble through new social terrain.   It is what you should have expected  from a Sarah Silverman performance, and you should have embraced it at that moment.  Why did it split the audience?  Why did it trigger such strong emotions?  That’s the hard but most interesting part.  Don’t favor political correctness at the expense of greater understanding.  We can look at @thatkevinsmith’s rabid ‘too fat to fly’ twitter rant and see the very same thing.

The Conclusion: It’s all so awesomely exciting that I’ve come up with a new word for this phenomenon:  twumble.

Twitter + Rumble = Twumble.

@johncmayer, I’m pretty sure you’re up next.

I’ll leave you with one last thought on the Sarah Silverman saga and, really, it’s all we need to know:  She’s f**king Matt Damon.

[youtubevid id=”WTADSFR0E_c”]

Posted in Entertainment, social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Clerks, Cop Out director Kevin Smith's 'too fat to fly' twitter rant against Southwest Airlines

Posted by andreaitis on February 14, 2010

There is no love lost this Valentine’s Day between director/writer and sometime actor Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines.   According to his rabid, blistering twitter rant,  Smith was kicked off a Southwest Air flight last night for being too wide for the skies. Smith has always been a larger-than-life character.  He shot his first film, Clerks, for a grand total of $27,575.   It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 and went on to earn millions.   You may also know Smith from  Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  Today he’s not-so-silent Bob.

thatkevinsmith starts southwestair twitter rant 2-14-2010 8-51-03 AM

That started a string of twitter rage.   I de-tweeted it all into the following ‘graph:

Dear @SouthwestAir, I flew out in one seat, but right after issuing me a standby ticket, Oakland Southwest attendant Suzanne (wouldn’t give last name) told me Captain Leysath deemed me a “safety risk”. Again: I’m way fat… But I’m not THERE just yet. But if I am, why wait til my bag is up, and I’m seated WITH ARM RESTS DOWN. In front of a packed plane with a bunch of folks who’d already I.d.ed me as “Silent Bob.” So, @SouthwestAir, go fuck yourself. I broke no regulation, offered no “safety risk” (what, was I gonna roll on a fellow passenger?).  I was wrongly ejected from the flight (even Suzanne eventually agreed). And fuck your apologetic $100 voucher, @SouthwestAir. Thank God I don’t embarrass easily (bless you, JERSEY GIRL training). But I don’t sulk off either: so everyday, some new fuck-you Tweets for @SouthwestAir.

Smith’s emphasis on ‘ARM RESTS DOWN’ is intentional.  Looking through Southwest Airlines’ Guidelines for Customers of Size, the arm rest plays a key role in determining whether a passenger is fit to fly.

Customers who are unable to lower both armrests and/or who compromise any portion of adjacent seating should proactively book the number of seats needed prior to travel. The armrest is considered to be the definitive boundary between seats and measures 17 inches in width. This purchase serves as a notification of a special seating need and allows us to process a refund of the additional seating cost after travel (provided the flight doesn’t oversell). Most importantly, it ensures that all onboard have access to safe and comfortable seating.

In fact, there’s an entire Q&A about Customers of Size.  Just like the name, it’s all very politically correct.

Is the policy unique or new to Southwest Airlines?
No, other carriers have similar policies, but to the best of our knowledge, no other carrier offers a refund after travel. We’ve followed this policy for 29 of our 38 years of operation, but only became more vigilant regarding the additional purchase when we began seeing an increase in the number of valid complaints from passengers who traveled without full access to the seat purchased because a large Customer infringed upon the adjacent seating space.

Smith addressed this issue right from his seat on the plane:

kevin smith on southwest air arm rests  2-14-2010 9-51-42 AM

kevin smith on southwest air flight He even took a picture of himself and twitpic’d it out to the digital court of public opinion.  Piecing together what happened next from Smith’s tirade, it seems he was placed on another Southwest flight (after, I presume, a rousing discussion with Southwest officials and anyone else within earshot).  Kevin Smith was clearly not going to take this sitting down.  He spewed his unfiltered anger all over twitter, and it spread from there.  He had a point to make and he was going to make it.  Sitting in his second Southwest seat of the day, he twittered:

Dear @SouthwestAir, I’m on another one of your planes, safely seated & buckled-in again, waiting to be dragged off in front of the normies. And, hey? @SouthwestAir? I didn’t even need a seat belt extender to buckle up. Somehow, that shit fit over my “safety concern”-creating gut.

You have to admit, he does know how to play a scene.  I don’t doubt his anger is authentic, but the timing is also quite interesting.  Known for following his own path writing and directing offbeat movies, Smith recently directed a Hollywood formula buddy-cop movie starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan.  It’s the first film he’s directed that he has not written himself.  It happens to open in a couple of weeks, on February 26th.  As I said in my last post, timing is everything.  Let’s drag out another too-true cliche:  There’s no such thing as bad publicity.  I don’t doubt Kevin Smith was outraged and angered, but being (allegedly) discriminated against because you’re (allegedly) too fat certainly won’t hurt the promotional campaign for Cop Out.  It’ll totally help (no allegedly).

[youtubevid id=”IAqej4v6WCc”]

Kevin Smith finished his venomous tribute to Southwest Airlines with this:

kevin smith final twitter rant against southwest air 2-14-2010 10-01-09 AM

Classic.  A good director knows how to play a great scene and what to do with priceless material when it falls in your large lap.   Kevin Smith shows his talent even when he’s unhinged with rage.  Oh, and the absolute irony of this high-flying adventure?  The Valentine’s Day message up at the Southwest Airlines website:

southwest airlines v-day ad  2-14-2010 8-42-00 AM


Happy Valentine’s Day, Kevin Smith,  from the LUV Airline.


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From fawn to yawn: How social media is killing the awards show

Posted by andreaitis on February 2, 2010

Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and they were as boring as Anne Hathaway’s beige pantsuit.

Announcing 2010 Oscar Nominations.  Y-a-a-a-w-n.

Announcing 2010 Oscar Nominations. Y-a-a-a-w-n.

Sure, the people  who win awards care about them. And the people who are nominated care about them until they don’t win and then they rationalize the superciliousness of awarding one another trinkets for perceived validation.

Aside from the winners and the wanna-be-winners, does anyone one else care anymore?  After nodding off during the Golden Globes and then the Grammys, I’m thinking not so much.  To be fair, most of the Grammy performances were worth watching.  It was the awards part that felt like filler.  T/S’er Leor Galil noticed as well in  Another ‘Grammys are irrelevant’ post.

So, what gives?

Two words:  Social. Media.

That’s right, social media is killing the awards show.    We used to watch awards shows because they were the only chance we had to live vicariously, to see celebrities as themselves or dolled-up versions of themselves.  We could relate — Sandra Bullock winning a Golden Globe is kind of like when I came in third place during that district spelling bee in 5th grade.   Dressed up?  Check.  Trophy presented?  Check.  Accomplishment recognized?  Double check.

But now, I no longer need to wait for an awards show to get an intimate glimpse of a celebrity, and I no longer need to rely on the “expertise” of those selecting the winners.   Social media gives me access to celebrities and experts on my terms, allowing me to call the shots.   Rather than a network programming my awards season for me,  I can do it myself through blogs, twitter feeds, podcasts and videos.    Social media is, to a large extent, the great equalizer.

I watched the Golden Globes specifically because Ricky Gervais was hosting, and I was disappointed.   Mel Gibson joke aside, it was a multimedia dose of ambien.  Lesson learned.  I’m much better off going to Ricky’s blog, where I learn he just did a photo shoot, his mate’s missing dog was found and  his day consisted of “More junkets.  Went for a run.  Drank wine.  Watched telly.”

I can follow celebs on twitter, including my fave awards show host and current crush Neil Patrick Harris (@actuallynph on twitter and yes I know he’s gay but I’m still crushing).  I can even interact directly with celebs, responding to their twitter messages or commenting on their blogs.   Sometimes, a-hem,  Jon Favreau might even retwitter you.

jon favreau twitter 2-2-2010 9-53-47 AM

But mostly, it’s about the ever-growing voice of public opinion.   It’s about what movie or music my Facebook friends favor, rather than the Foreign Press Association.   It’s about what’s trending on my Twitter feed, with my carefully-curated list of people I follow.  It’s about technology giving us an all-access pass, letting us in behind the velvet rope.  I imagine many actors watched the Academy Award nominations much as I did this morning, viewing the live stream on my laptop.  They will follow the media flow in the same way as well, googling and twittering and clicking on multiple devices.

We’re no longer handcuffed to the entertainment experts presented to us through traditional media venues.  Celebrities can listen not just to the professional critic,  but also to the amateur and fan.   I listen to the opinions that matter to me;  I can find, choose and follow those voices.  Through social media we are achieving what art is all about — freedom of expression — and in doing so we are de-valuing the monopolistic voices that drove public opinion for so long.

I’ll still watch the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7th, to see how Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin fare as  co-hosts and to see the dresses and drama.   It will no longer be a Big Event for me, though.  I’ll likely be multi-tasking with the TV on and TweetDeck open.   Like the Golden Globes and the Grammys, the Oscars have lost their luster.   To shine again they need a significant overhaul that takes into account how we consume media today.  That means more than a go-to-the-website -to-vote-for-a-Bon-Jovi-song gimmick.   Seriously, that’s the best you can do?  For an industry that is grounded in story-telling,  imagination, creativity and magic, remaking the awards show should be a worthy opportunity and challenge.

My six-year-old put it all in perspective when I told her about the Oscars.  She said, simply,  “Oh, they just want you to go to the movies so they can make more money.”

Members of the Academy, the future generation of awards-show-watchers are waiting in the wings.   Go ahead.  Make their day.

Posted in Entertainment, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

And the #biggaybattle winner is…

Posted by andreaitis on January 6, 2010

This #biggaybattle between Neil Patrick Harris and John Barrowman has been nothing short of  legen – wait for it – dary.

It got its own name courtesy of Neil Gaiman, and  a full-fledged meme on Twitter:  #biggaybattle#voteNPH, #votebarrowman

It has celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Alyssa Milano and Kevin Smith mixing it up with the regular peoples on Twitter.

It has fan art

John Barrowman and Neil Patrick Harris in #BigGayBattle (art by Jean Kang)

John Barrowman and Neil Patrick Harris in #BigGayBattle (art by Jean Kang)

…and sparkly fan art:

John Barrowman and Neil Patrick Harris in sparkly #BigGayBattle (art by Jean Kang and sparkly friend)

John Barrowman and Neil Patrick Harris in Sparkly #BigGayBattle (art by Jean Kang and sparkly friend Alix)

…and a YouTube video:

[youtubevid id=”A5TygZjr3Lc”]

It’s endorsed by the ACLU.  The poll, not a candidate, of course. Because that would be wrong.

ACLU on the #BigGayBattle

ACLU on the #BigGayBattle

It even got a big gay Wall Street Journal story.

And to think it all started with a simple Who is (Gay) Man of the Decade poll on afterelton.com.

So, afterelton, who gets the glittery title and tiara?  Did the USofA take down the Brits?  Did @actuallyNPH out-tweet @team_barrowman?  Did Dr. Horrible crush Doctor Who?

The answer:  YES!  Neil Patrick Harris is officially the Gay Man of the Decade.  I can hear the chanting now.  N-P-H…N-P-H…N-P-H.   Will John Barrowman request a recount?  A sing-off or a duel or a Dancing on Ice throwdown?

We can only hope.   ❤  #biggaybattle 4evah.

Posted in Entertainment, twitter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Neil Patrick Harris and John Barrowman in #biggaybattle on Twitter

Posted by andreaitis on January 4, 2010

Neil Patrick Harris, 2008

Image via Wikipedia

At midnight Tuesday night someone will be crowned Gay/Bisexual Man of the Decade and if the USofA is to maintain any of its superpowerly machismo, it darn well better be Neil Patrick Harris.

It all started on afterelton.com, a website that is not affiliated with Elton John but is dedicated to “news, reviews and commentary on gay and bisexual men in entertainment and the media.”   They put up a poll asking the question I just know circulated festivus tables across this great land: Who is the gayest or most bisexualist man of the decade?  Neil Patrick Harris took the early lead, but now the British are coming.   Well, actually the Scottish are coming in the form of John Barrowman.  He launched a revolutionary war on Twitter to steal the crown from NPH.  What are his credentials? According to well-placed sources (or, um, Wikipedia) he’s:

British actor John Barrowman saluting on a flo...

Image via Wikipedia

…a Scottish born singer, actor, dancer, musical performer and media personality, best known on British television for his acting and presenting work for the BBC and for his television role of Captain Jack Harkness in the science fiction series Doctor Who and Torchwood.

I know, I know.  You read that and thought — pssht, NPH can take him.   NPH stars in HIMYM!  He hosted the Emmy Awards!!  He’s Dr. Horrible!!!  Here’s the alarming part, though:  Barrowman appeared on the celebrity ice skating show Dancing on Ice.   Dancing. On. Ice.  Sequins, twirling, dramatic flair, blades of glory musical numbers, flounce and ice skates.   Could anything make Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Tony Awards look more like Peyton Manning at the Superbowl?

[youtubevid id=”4ek4BP4tnHo”]

As if that’s not enough, Barrowman has called out the Twitter troops.  The #biggaybattle is heating up, with @actuallyNPH and @team_barrowman throwing down in a twumble (twitter + rumble).

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade!

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade!

John Barrowman in blatant attempt to steal NPH's title.

John Barrowman in blatant attempt to steal NPH

The war has escalated, with celebrities on both sides of the pond taking sides to support their candidate.

Enter Jonathan Ross , riding on a white stallion, to aid his friend John Barrowman. Jonathan is, for lack of a better comparison for our U.S. readers, a sort of Jay Leno in the UK, except people don’t seem to hate him. In fact they love him so much, he’s got about 500,000 followers on Twitter. So when he put the story out there that Barrowman was going down to NPH, things took on a life of their own.
via afterelton.com

Not to be out-Britained, Alyssa Milano weighed in on the biggest, gayest twitter battle ever, declaring NPH gay of the century.  In a burst of patriotic spirit, NPH’s Dr. Horrible co-starFelicia Day and Nathan Fillion twittered strong for NPH.   Nate’s strategy is to rock the vote: US vs. UK! Help! While brits sleep, we must surge and tweet!

Let’s show the world we’ve still got it, America.  We need to OWN the Gay Man of the Decade and send Barrowman to Gaytanamo Bay.   Voting is  over at midnight on Tuesday, January 5th.   Vote now, and let’s get that tiara for Neil Patrick Harris and the United States of America.

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade.  Vote NOW or Dr. Horrible will get you.

Neil Patrick Harris for Gay Man of the Decade. Vote NOW or Dr. Horrible will get you.

UPDATE:
The U-S-Gay movement is mounting, with Twitter support for Neil Patrick Harris from Jimmy FallonAlyson Hannigan,  Hal Sparks and Chris Hardwick.   Still no word from Ashton Kutcher or Larry King.

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