Wade Gratton is 71-years-old, a graduate of Union College, and a devoted naturist. He is also among the millions of fake people on Facebook. Recent news stories detail how Facebook hosts as many as 83 million “illegitimate accounts.”
Gratton’s persona was manufactured several years ago as part of a marketing campaign at my former place of employment. We needed to make the fictional “Henry Hudson Nudist Camp” seem like a real place, so we concocted an online presence complete with web page and Facebook pages. It was convincing enough to even generate a modest amount of media attention.
Anyway, sorry Facebook for ignoring your terms of service and all, it was just in the name of good fun. But here’s the thing: it was so easy to become real on Facebook. We were just up to something harmless, but it’s scary to think how it could be exploited for evil purposes by creeps and criminals.
The internet has changed everything — even the way we cook. Recipes were once analog and earthbound, printed in books and magazines, scribbled on index cards, or passed on like oral history from one person to another.
Now you have a million recipes at your fingertips, but this can lead to very modern problems.
After braising a cut of meat all day it was time to finish the pulled pork egg rolls and coleslaw I’d seen on a TV cooking show. That’s when the Internet crashed. Thanks, Time Warner!
So what now? The recipe is locked in cyberspace. I jumped in the car with with my laptop and headed to Panera. Too cheap to go in and buy a cup of coffee, I lurked outside and leeched off the free WiFi in the parking lot. Recipe copied, it was back to the kitchen.
This got me thinking of another incident that also involved sitting in your car, stealing wireless service, and yes, even pulling pork.
In Queensbury recently, a man was arrested after allegedly sitting in a hotel parking lot using their WiFi signal to watch porn on his laptop. Police say they received complaints that the was man “committing lewd acts.”
Yes, the innovations we’ve seen in our lifetime are a tremendous thing. Who would have figured twenty years ago that you could sit in your car and look up recipes — or watch porno for that matter? Ah, progress.
It’s estimated that there are between 60 and 70 million cats in America — and all of them have their picture on the internet. Not all of them, however, are doing something interesting like Mia.
She enjoys getting in the bathtub after we shower and staring at water dripping from the faucet. Look! Isn’t that amusing?
I had a dream last night that I misspelled something in a blog comment and couldn’t change it. A brief moment of panic ensued and I woke up.
For as long as there have been dreams, people have dreamed of bad things happening — but only very recently has our sweet slumber been interrupted by nocturnal typos.
It’s interesting that these days our subconscious is haunted by poor grammar and spelling, rather than marauding bears, starvation, and barbaric invaders. Nightmares are fueled by what we know.
It sounds trivial to be woken up by hitting the submit button and not being able to take it back. But maybe there’s a lesson lurking in there somewhere.
But this is not a day for lessons, is it? This is a day to celebrate.
Enjoy this video before the copyright cops catch up with me!
Today’s angry mob does not show up with pitchforks, pikes, and torches. They arm themselves with keyboards and light their way with glowing monitors. You won’t see them storming through the streets, but doing their dirty work in the comment section of news websites.
Some media outlets are trying to get the e-mob under control. In June, the Buffalo News clamped down on anonymous comments on news stories, and just last week, Mormon owned Deseret News actually shut comments down completely.
It’s not an easy decison. On one hand you want lots of comments, but on the other you’d like people to be civil and reasonable. Unfortunately, many of those who moderate comments say to hell with decorum. Decorum doesn’t sell advertising.
It takes some guts to insist on civility. Last week, All Over Albany ran an item about an employee of a local supermarket chain who’d made a bad decision when dealing with a customer. Did she make a mistake? Sure — but did that mean she deserved to be ripped apart online?
To their credit, All Over Albany closed comments when things started getting ugly. Ugly sells, but they feel it’s more important to be decent and responsible.
It’s always nice to balance the heavy with some light — and this video perfectly captures the atmosphere in most comment sections:
Maybe you’ve noticed the ads on this page — not the banner and box advertisements that help keep the lights on, but the text ads at the bottom served by Yahoo. Here’s a sample:
Like a lot of people, I generally ignore these ads, but the headline Work With Ron Jeremey is a real attention getter.
Some of you may know that Ron Jeremy (it’s misspelled in the ad) is a well-known actor who in the 1980s appeared in something like 1700 porno films. His nickname is The Hedgehog, and he is still a celebrity of sorts — in the peculiar way you can remain famous in America for once being famous. I don’t think he does porn anymore. Thank god.
Unable to resist finding out what sort of acting you might do with Ron Jeremy, I clicked.
After entering a fake name and email address, my browser was whisked away to a seemingly endless parade of ads, all of them requiring an opt-out before allowing you to go on to the casting page. No, I don’t want to find out how to make more money. No, I don’t want email alerts about anything. No, I’d rather not have a trial membership to the Steak of the Month Club.
Finally, I got to the place I wanted. The results: “There are no jobs working with Ron Jeremey in your area.”
Try it yourself. I’m not saying you won’t work with Ron Jeremy, but be prepared for disappointment. That’s show biz.
Content is ruled by the free market. If people don’t like something, it goes away. TV shows that nobody watches, magazines that don’t sell, radio programs without an audience — they are cancelled, shut down, shown the door.
Stuff people hate vanishes. It’s cultural Darwinism.
The curious exception seems to be blogs, where contempt can contribute to success. This became clear while reading the nasty comments hurled at Jeanie DiNapoli of the Times Union’s Bethlehem Blog.
Ms. DiNapoli wrote recently how much she dislikes soccer and those hideous horns blown by South African fans at the World Cup . The nerve of her to criticize “the beautiful game!” This not only brought out agitated soccer supporters, but Bethlehem people demanding to know what her post has to do with the town. For example, “Dellane” wrote:
This blogger appears to be more interested in showing off to her friends that she has a blog then offering Bethlehem related information.
People that don’t like Jeanie’s writing are never shy about leaving comments, but — and here is the important part — they keep coming back again and again to re-read their snarky remarks and see if anyone responded to them. This racks up more hits. And more hits means mo’ money.
So, folks, keep going back to look at that blog post you can’t stand. Read the comments five times, ten times. Leave another nasty comment. Go back again. Your anger spins the dial on the hit counter.
TU blogger Teri Conroy is profiled in the TU today. If you don’t read her, Teri writes about life on the farm — and she does a great job of making me wish I didn’t have to spend my day sitting in an office.
Asked about her advice for bloggers, she says to write from your heart, and that if you just care about hits and comments, “Write about politics and thong underwear.” I think if you want hits, use provocative headlines.
Anyway, I don’t care too much about about Web traffic, but I do feel a slight responsibility to help the paper make some money, so today let’s talk politics and thongs.
I used to scoff at people who say we should throw the bums out of office. Not anymore.
Closing the state parks and failing to pass a budget has pushed me over the edge, and now I say that your state senator and assemblyman have to go, no matter who they are. Not fair? Too bad. If you’re not sure who represents you at the Capitol, you can look it up here. Then go to November 2 on your calendar and and write their names in red ink with this note: VOTE AGAINST THESE PEOPLE TODAY.
From the bad idea department, a Boulder, CO man was arrested in a thong related incident.
Police made their first arrest under Boulder’s new public nudity law Thursday, taking into custody a man who they said was begging in the nude on a highway off-ramp while wearing thong underwear on his head.
Amusing video is also big on the internet, so let’s watch what happened in New Orleans last week when some anchor banter went very, very badly. Look: when you talk for a living, sooner or later you’ll say something stupid.
Alcohol and computers. They don’t mix well.
Google has a feature for Gmail called Mail Goggles. What this does is make you take a simple math test before allowing you to hit the send button. The idea is that you might send crazy, drunken email like at 2am Saturday morning or something. You can set the difficulty of the test on a scale of 1 to 5. Oh — and you get sixty seconds to take the test.
I decided to see how this works. As an experiment, I set Mail Goggles to be on the job for four hours a day, once a week. I set it to “2″, and since then if I want to send email I have to take the test.
This has taught me a valuable lesson: there’s a reason why I worked in TV for 24 years and not rocket science. Becasue when it comes to math. I am an absolute idiot.
Granted, the four hours I chose are late in the day, a time when I am not at my sharpest. Let’s put it this way, if I’m like Albert Einstein in the morning, at 7pm I’m Lennie from Of Mice and Men.
Now all we need is something to stop people from drunk blogging.
Q: What do you do when you find a blogger burried up to his neck in sand?
A: You go get more sand.
That’s just one of the bad jokes I didn’t tell at Wednesday night’s Times Union Media 2010 blogging forum. Moderator Steve Barnes kept us so busy answering actual questions that there was little time for my nonsense. He deserves a big thank you from the audience for keeping me away from my two pages of corny material. I could tell that not everyone finds me funny.
It was also good because we got to discuss the topic of anonymous comments. If you’re reading this, you know that commenting on Times Union blogs doesn’t require any registration or verification. This is great because it encourages participation, but also opens up a dark and vicious side of people that doesn’t usually surface.
These are sometimes simple insults, like those made against Bethlehem blogger Jeanie DiNapoli — to vile and hateful attacks. The most virulent of these I’ve seen lately are leveled against Libby Post. These people aren’t just getting more sand, they’re swinging the shovel.
Libby Post writes about civil rights and GLBT issues, and Wednesday she stood up and talked about the nasty remarks hurled her way in the comments section. She said that she’s used to people lashing out at her because of who she is and her beliefs, but the anonymous comments are like nothing she’s ever seen.
This doesn’t stop her from writing. And that takes courage.
If you comment, you should probably know that we can sometimes tell where your computer is located. This means it’s a bad idea to comment from places that could be embarrassing — like your office. It’s also transparent if you’re using multiple identities from the same computer.
It’s funny sometimes to see where people are commenting from. For example, I’ve gotten several critical anonymous comments from right inside the Times Union building. That’s the thanks I get for working for free?