Category Archives: The Internets

Blogonomics

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.

Politics and Thongs

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.

Politics
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.

Thongs
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.

Bonus Item!
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.

Mr. Math

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.

Hurling Stones from the Peanut Gallery

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?

The Newspaper Strikes Back

NY Times 2/17/10For several weeks, anyone who could put two words together was swinging their keyboard at the New York Times. They pasted together a piñata with sticky rumors, stuffed it with newsprint, and took their shots.

But while the angry mob demanded answers about the David Paterson story, the Times did what they do best: they put their head down and and patiently worked on a difficult project.

And now that the entire tale is revealed, calling it a “bombshell” is almost an understatement.

Yes, the first story caused mild concern. The second? OK, maybe it raised some serious questions. But yesterday’s installment, bringing forth allegations of tampering in a domestic violence case, that’s explosive.

Two lessons here: if the Internet has done anything it’s made us impatient for the payoff. And reports of the death of newspapers was an exaggeration.

City Dims

I feel for Times Union blogmeister Michael Huber.

As Interactive Audience Manager at the Times Union, Mr. Huber has the unenviable job of rounding up local people to write blogs. This is like herding cats or juggling chainsaws. Or juggling cats, even. He’s does a great job —and if the online community were a real community he’d have my vote for town supervisor.

But there are people in Blogville who are not doing their part.

To mix a few metaphors, some of the bloggers on board have dropped the ball miserably. Where you really see this is the City Brights section. All I can figure is that these people have so much important stuff going on that they can’t be troubled with their blogs. And some of them have neglected their digital space in a BIG way. For example:

L. Oliver Robinson, Superintendent of Shenendehowa School District: last posted May 18

R. Mark Sullivan, President of the College of St. Rose: last posted June 24

Don Levy, Director of the Siena Research Institute: last posted September 28

Susan Lerner, Executive Deirector, Common Cause NY: last posted October 21

Mitch Messmore, Executive Director, Upper Union Street Business Improvement District: last posted October 13

There are more. Some have just been MIA for a month, but on the internet, that’s an eternity.

Look, 95% of blogs are completely irrelevant and unnecessary —but if you’re a community leader or policy type, it’s a great forum to push your agenda. And c’mon: isn’t it embarrassing to have your name on something that you’ve abandoned?

Finally, here’s the ironic part: These people have something important to say but don’t say it. I have nothing important to say and you can’t shut me up.

Go ElfYourself

Yes, you heard me: go ElfYourself. Elf your friends while you’re at it. And why stop there. Elf your pets, too.

OfficeMax is back again this year with their JibJab fueled web application that allows you to put your face on ridiculous animated holiday videos. You can share the video for free with friends —or download a copy you to save for about $5. It’s actually startling and sort of amazing, as seen in this one I did last year featuring my wife, Ann, and the two dogs. It’s an Elfing good time.

If that’s too goofy you can always may want to skip the Elfing nonsense and send somebody a message from Barack Obama.

The Insidious Power of the Internet

Could it be that the world economic crisis has something to do with the internet?

Really, think about it.

The web has done immeasurable harm to productivity by offering something infinitely more interesting than work. The trouble is that people just aren’t paying attention to things anymore because there are too many online distractions.

Imagine if everyone who was supposed be keeping an eye on the subprime mortgages were instead managing their fantasy baseball teams, following eBay auctions, and goofing around on Facebook. Meanwhile the residential mortgage market was falling to pieces. Oops!

There was a time when you wouldn’t dream of sitting at your desk and reading the paper. That would have been seen as the the ultimate in F-you I’m Goofing Off At Work behavior. Today the internet is the new reading the paper at work —and it’s out of control.

And why wouldn’t it be out of control? Is your job really more interesting than things like Popeater’s list of Top Ten Twins? By the way Kim Deal and her sister Kelley of The Breeders are on there. At 48 they still rock  which is something I find very comforting. Here’s they are back in 1993:

The Truth Hurts

This requires no introduction:

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