Aug 23

F*ck! “Winnebago Man” Was a Good Movie

I have always said that web 2.0 was a bit sanitized. You can’t get mad at people or get in fights unless you are Loren Feldman. You can’t get caught badmouthing others or drinking and saying totally inappropriate things. It’s like we are all these perfect little internet celebrities incapable of expressing frustration, grief, or angst.

What would happen if someone got footage of you uncensored in your natural state? What if people saw when you were sad, angry, or doing things that don’t exactly make you proud? And then what if someone put this footage on YouTube for everyone to see and mock, and you became an instant internet celebrity against your will? Would you lose your mind like the Star Wars kid did? Would you cash out like William Hung? How would you decide cash in on your ten million theoretical dollars you get from YouTube?

Austin based Bear Media decided to delve into the life of internet celebrity Jack Rebney with their film “Winnebago Man”. To the everyday observer, Rebney would strike you as the average crotchety mountain hermit guy. To the trained viral video connoisseur, Rebney is “The Angriest Man in the World”, able to launch diatribes that would make sailors blush.

Rebney’s anger caught in the outtakes of shooting a Winnebago infomercial 20 years ago is pure. Sure, shooting takes for a Winnebago ad in 100 degree heat surrounded by flies and annoying interns would test anyone’s patience. This though, this anger is very YouTube worthy. It is simply a work of art:

How does the internet make it so easy for us to laugh at people’s pain? How do you earn this dignity back when it is taken from you? Director Ben Steinbauer lets Rebney voice off about his internet fame, how he feels he should be remembered, and what we can all learn getting caught on the internet saying the f bomb hundreds of times, on loop, and potentially remixed. Highly recommended, so check out if it is playing in your area.

Aug 18

Consider Your Legal Rights When Using Geolocation

Today, someone on Twitter sent me a DM that he was sad I have had to get a restraining order and therefore do not feel comfortable making any geolocation profiles I have public. This was in response to my many public tweets warning people that publishing your location to perfect strangers simply is not a very good idea. He felt sad that I was “denied a sense of community”. Like I don’t get to play any Reindeer Games and everyone else does.


keyser-soze I love the movie “Usual Suspects”. In the film, Kevin Spacey’s character gives a speech about how the greatest trick the devil ever did was to convince you he didn’t exist. This is exactly how I feel about people who don’t get why privacy is still an issue with social networking. Most people are indeed benevolent. However, it only takes ONE PERSON to make your life a living hell, and even seemingly rational people do very irrational things. Good people can do very evil things sometimes and you do have to have some form of circumspection when utilizing social media. It doesn’t mean it can’t be fun or useful–it just means you probably shouldn’t make yourself a sitting duck by broadcasting where you are every waking moment to the entire world. I don’t understand why this is something people resist so much.

Why is this so scary to me? The lady who processed my protective order told me one of the most common ways abusive ex-husbands find their ex-wives in hiding is by using their credit card statements. If a woman forgets to have her credit card statements forwarded to her new address, her abusive ex can see where she is spending money and track her whereabouts. Yes, women have been killed this way. Educated women who thought they were married to sane people.

So now, with a public profile on a geolocation social network, any shmuck not only could have access to your address, where you are legally entitled to act out against an intruder, but where you like to get coffee, eat, drink, or hang out with your friends. You have no legal rights to ask someone to leave in these places without a protective order, which is VERY difficult to get. So you could go to a party, say the wrong thing to the wrong person, and then find them in all your regular spots looking for an apology. You could anger a customer by accident and find them in your favorite coffee house to harass you. You could date a girl twice, decide she’s not for you, and then find her in all of your favorite spots, and you have no legal rights to tell that person to go away. It takes one creepy person to really mess with your mind and trust me, you have to be physically harmed or threatened before the cops really start to look into it. Sometimes, they don’t believe you and it makes you feel even crazier. Is it really worth it?

So sure, use geolocation. Just make sure you are accessible to all the cool people you want in your “community” and not so much to the creepy people you don’t.


Mar 24

Why I Can’t Get As Excited About Geolocation as Scoble

I was partially responsible for choosing Gowalla as the Texas Social Media Award winner for 2010. While I am happy to support Gowalla and use it myself, I feel compelled to drop a little vitamin C in the geolocation Kool-Aid to make sure people are okay.

I’ve had some not so pleasant experiences with someone who felt compelled to tell me that I couldn’t block him from certain circles of my life, even though they were circles he didn’t know. When I’d tweet that people should go to an event, he’d friend everyone involved. He was basically trying to be everywhere I was both online and off and it was very scary. I’ve mentioned this to other people who are avid social media users and some of them have actually been targeted as well. It is not fun and it makes you think you are going totally crazy.

Here’s the scoop: it doesn’t matter if you think you aren’t going to be stalked. By accepting friend requests from people who you don’t know in any way shape or form, you are jeopardizing yourself along with all of your friends. Why? Imagine I hang out with Person A a lot. Person A befriends Person Q who just so happens to be someone who makes me feel generally unsafe or uncomfortable. Person Q can generally assume that they can hang around along the peripheral of Person A and eventually, I’m going to show up. Thanks a lot, Person A. You’ve just put me in harm’s way because you like the idea of having a million friends on FourSquare. That sucks.

Or, say I check in to all my local spots on Gowalla. I have fairly consistent patterns. If I tweet where I am at, it goes into a public timeline which Person Q can easily see. Person Q can figure out my routines and intercept me this way. That is why I do not care how friendly you are. If I can’t track you in person, I will not friend you. Even if I’m met you once or whatever. I don’t care if I lose out on a few serendipitous meetings.

I’m not saying Scoble is like this by any stretch, but I just felt that someone should bring these points up. Someone shouldn’t have to die for us to figure out that posting your location to total strangers is not a good idea. Geolocation is cool, but don’t use it without putting some thought behind it.

Feb 11

Gain Loyalty by Protecting Your Network

It’s nice to have a lot of contacts. I like the idea of knowing a go-to person for just about everything and that the fact that we know each other makes us more accountable to each other.

There is something you notice when you start meeting a lot of people indiscriminately though. You open yourself up to what I call “toxic networks”. These are people who always manage to ask you or your network for favors but offer none in return. Or my favorite technique–they’ll give you a favor even though you didn’t ask for one and then expect that they can ask you for whatever they want. It’s like they are some sort of New York City window washer at a street light.

I don’t think people intend to impose. They often do not see that when they ask you for something that is easy for you but hard for them, they could be one of 50 people doing just that at that very moment. It’s not cool that it pans out this way but that’s just life.

So how do you protect against this?

1.) Don’t “network” for volume–network for quality. Having one good designer in your network is worth more than eight mediocre ones.
2.) Slow and steady wins the race. Network through existing networks you trust. Good people tend to attract good people.
3.) “Big” doesn’t mean quality. Some successful people I know also seem to ask for the most and give the least. It’s irritating but the way of the world sometimes.
4.) Don’t be afraid to cut someone off. The time you spend with people who drag you down could be spent with people who are actually quality.
5.) Don’t think of what a person means to you. Think of what that person means to your network. If you are ashamed to introduce someone to others, they are not worth your time.
6.) If you initiate a favor with someone, don’t be that window washer expecting a favor in return. Help people because you want to support something good. Then it’s easy to feel positive about life.

Introducing two people into what is a mutually beneficial relationship is a very satisfying feat. Introducing a good person to what I would call a succubus is not. I’ve done a bit of both in my time. Keep good company, play smart instead of fast, and you won’t have anything to worry about.

Sep 22

The Mark That Your Company Culture is Broken

I get LinkedIn invites from time to time. Although I’m not a huge user of LinkedIn, I see its merits in its ability to basically get straight to the nitty gritty of someone’s work experience. After all, I like recommending friends for jobs, but not as much as I like recommending people who are actually competent at what they do.

I notice often that employed people often do not put their company affiliations on their profiles. I can see why you might do this in Twitter or in Facebook. Those can be used for business use, but can also be used for very personable exchanges. But LinkedIn is very business oriented. If a person doesn’t list their company on their profile, there’s a good chance they are looking for another job.

If you are an executive and you think your company culture is good, do yourself a favor. Search for your employees’ LinkedIn profiles and see what they list. Look to see what they are looking for on LinkedIn. Are they looking for business development or sales opportunities, or are they looking for jobs? If your company is either a small part or no part of their profile, that person isn’t happy with you and wants to leave. That’s not the attitude you want in an employee.

That doesn’t mean you should fire that person. Why? Because simply dismissing an unhappy employee is a great way to miss an opportunity for how you can make your company better. That seems very wasteful. An honest and open dialog can fix the problem and can make both your employee and you very happy.

Oct 28

Are Journalists Just Making “The Silent Star Wars”?

Time Inc. is laying people off. Gannett, the owner of 85 newspapers, is laying off 10% of its workforce. Newspapers are seeing 4.6% reduction in

What can they do about it, and what the hell does this have to do with Silent Star Wars, a short film by some dude named Geir in Norway?

Contrary to what a lot of new media “evangelists” say, traditional media sources are not dead. If you checked the links I referred to, they are all traditional media sources and I contend that the sensationalist and somewhat incestuous nature of the blogosphere ensures that traditional media sources indeed stay afloat. However, anyone who’s spent anytime in the blogosphere at all appreciates that media is evolving. Readers can add feedback, ask questions, and actually get to know each other. In these very confusing times, such a feedback loop is useful, fun and even comforting to everyone.

People engaged in new media contend that watching TV is “simple”, but I’m sorry, there is a lot of very reputable content on TV and in news publications. People will flock to wherever the most valid content is. Period.

Traditional media sources often get great content and access to people a regular blogger wouldn’t, but it often feels as if they are making silent films when they could be making talkies. They have the means to deliver engaging as well as interactive content–they just don’t. They get access to all sorts of influential people that they show you in their glass cases, even though the technology that allows us to interact with these people is already there.

When talkies first came out, some movie makers and actors embraced them. Others never made the adjustment and paid the price by never getting work again. Interactive media is new, but you’ll have to figure it out.

So my message to traditional media outlets is this: quit making Silent Star Wars. It’s a great film but the talkie version is much cooler, especially when Darth Vader speaks.

**a note: Geir, your video is very clever and very cool, but if I’d never seen Star Wars before, I’d have to pick Lucas’s version. Sorry.**

Aug 03

The Semantic Web Can Fix Social Media’s Data Portability Issue. See How.

I tend to like to be behind a camera instead of in front of it, but I felt that the issue of data portability was important enough to step up and lead a discussion at SocialMedia Camp.

The semantic web can fix the issue of data portability in social media. How? By using associations to group different profiles together. It also allows people to own their data instead of being at the mercy of every social network.

My apologies for the technical difficulties. Many thanks to Paul Walhus for filming, Juan Sequeda for engaging the dialog, Whurley for fixing my internets, and Giovanni Gallucci for buying me some time while i figured things out.

Check out the details here:

Jun 11

Why Plurk Will Fail

I like Plurk. It’s fun to put out a message and then have all subsequent threads neatly organized underneath. It definitely needs an API and a way to track @replies, but it is a neat tool. I was excited when it first came out.

Why then the harsh title, you ask? Plurk rewards us for Plurking and punishes us for not Plurking by using a “karma” system. Go to an important meeting for a day, have a fun day with your family, save a homeless shelter from being torn down. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t Plurk, Plurk lets you know that they are not happy with your Plurking activity and take away Karma points.

People should not feel obliged or punished for not wanting to use a social network. That’s just silly. It’s like the mother who always whines at you for not calling. Come on now, sometimes we get busy, and it’s hard to call you as much as you want us to because you are retired and we are not.

What is the result of this plurking karma nightmare? Karma obsessed goobers with nothing better to do than Plurk any dumb idea that comes to their head. Uh, sorry you don’t have a lot of followers on Twitter and have resorted to something else. I still do not care what you have to say.

I do give props to Darren Rowse from Problogger. He uses it, but doesn’t abuse it. There are others like Connie Reese and Omar Gallaga who pop in once in a while, but their Plurks are vastly outnumbered by plurking nightmare people. What’s kind of nice is you can stop following your “friends'” plurks without actually taking them off and thus risking the incitement of a Plurk war. God forbid.

That is not a community. That is a competition without money or really any benefit whatsoever. What a Plurking nightmare.

May 30

Create Tags for Your Flickr Pics in No Time with 2Tagger

We all know tags are important. Tags are a service to other people, because they connect people to the content they have been looking for. I see the value in tagging, I just hate doing it.

If you have photos you want to tag quickly, 2tagger is a Flickr mashup that will allow you to either:
1.) Plug in one tag and then you will get to choose from a group of very similar tags.
2.) Choose a spot on a map, and then pick from similar tags used in that area.
3.) Use your GPS enabled phone, and 2tagger will pick this spot where the picture was taken and then offer you tags often used in that area.

2tagger does already work with the iPhone. Considering how hard it would be to effectively tag from a phone, it seems like it could be very useful.

is currently just in test mode and should be more feature rich soon. Thanks to Todd Huffman for pointing out his latest project to me.

Dec 11

I Don’t Want to Burst Your Web 2.0 Bubble, But…

Mark Zuckerberg is five years younger than me and is a billionaire on paper. A billionaire because he helps a bunch of kids throw their pictures to their friends. Marketers go gaga with the prospects of hocking all the latest goodies at the young ones. These young ones will only get older, but I can’t imagine they’ll stop using the web to network. The social web has been born, but when will it mature? What will it take?

The barriers for entry for everything have never been lower. Anyone can be a star. Anyone can network with just about anyone. We are quickly reaching critical mass. t’s just like the song “Imagine.” We can all contribute, because we can connect to each other so much faster and more efficiently than ever before.

But what if you don’t want to be connected? What if you want to disconnect from someone but can’t? You are connected with your friends. If you disconnect from someone, what prevents that disconnected someone from just connecting with the thousands of other “friends”, “connections”, or whatever term social networking sites use to describe the twenty people you actually know and care about and the hundreds of others that you are affiliated with in some form or another? How do you escape that web?

Profound people like to say that you cannot control how others perceive you on the web. While this is true, I don’t really believe people grasp what it means. There is nothing wrong with networking online, but going for quantity of connections rather than quality connections that can actually help fulfill our lives can be harmful to ourselves and to others. Think about it–do you really want to commit to be connected to a stranger? Even if you hit that “remove connection” button to zap that person into cyberspace, he or she has now been exposed to all of your contacts and probably quite a few details about your life. That person also has access to a vast network of people who surround you. Do you know that person? Do you know what he or she is going to use your “profile” and your connections to do? No, you simply click a button and “add” them. Or you set up a script that adds them for you. Why bother discerning who is worthy of connectivity when it takes so much time?

Are you a member of a pug fan group? Did you accept a member who you don’t even know (with meetup, do you even have a choice as long as they have a valid email)? Now, not only does that unknown member know that you attend a Tuesday night pug appreciation group, that stranger now knows what every other pug fan in your group is doing on Tuesday night. Are you sure your fellow pug fans wanted that specific person knowing their Tuesday night plans? No, but they were not given the choice.

So as social networks add more and more users and Zuckerberg gets drunk with money, we weave this web that involves more commitment than we should be willing to accept.

Here’s a challenge for you. Challenge a social networking site on these issues to your safety and privacy, and count how many stock responses you get from their support team.