The End of Solitude [must read]


Got an extraordinary kick in the pants from William Deresiewicz’s article in The Chronicle titled “The End of Solitude: As everyone seeks more and broader connectivity, the still, small voice speaks only in silence.” He writes of how text messaging, myspace, facebook, and twitter have eliminated idleness, personal time, and self-reflection. We have forgotten how to be alone:

But we no longer live in the modernist city, and our great fear is not submersion by the mass but isolation from the herd. Urbanization gave way to suburbanization, and with it the universal threat of loneliness. What technologies of transportation exacerbated — we could live farther and farther apart — technologies of communication redressed — we could bring ourselves closer and closer together. Or at least, so we have imagined. The first of these technologies, the first simulacrum of proximity, was the telephone. “Reach out and touch someone.” But through the 70s and 80s, our isolation grew. Suburbs, sprawling ever farther, became exurbs. Families grew smaller or splintered apart, mothers left the home to work. The electronic hearth became the television in every room. Even in childhood, certainly in adolescence, we were each trapped inside our own cocoon. Soaring crime rates, and even more sharply escalating rates of moral panic, pulled children off the streets. The idea that you could go outside and run around the neighborhood with your friends, once unquestionable, has now become unthinkable. The child who grew up between the world wars as part of an extended family within a tight-knit urban community became the grandparent of a kid who sat alone in front of a big television, in a big house, on a big lot. We were lost in space.

Link to article

It’s part anecdotal, part philsophical, and 100 percent dead on.


A scientific approach to Myspace’s Failure

Myspace brings out the best in people

Flämt! by Hannes Iversen
Flämt! by Hannes Iversen

There’s been 360 priceless comments on an article I wrote about myspace, and the maelstrom of inarticulate myspacers throwing down words will likely continue. Here’s a recent gem:

ok , 1st of all yes im emo , 2ndly FTW i mean that in a specific way , 3rd i am a manic depresant , im not greatly social , and some of this stuff is really pissin’ me off! , obviously you have to be an idiot to think emos made this site they made it probably so when emos look stuff up it would take them here.i used to be gothic before i heard about emo , now i know , and it fits me perfectly.and i like it , yah i kan get aggresive/violent ik thats not exactly the emo thing to do. nd ik ppl r gonna say y u even trying to say anithing , well its bkause the truth is if theres NO deperession in chuer lyfe ur NOT EMO!Duh!!!!!!!!!!!! yourea poser obviously! does anione kno how many idiots would outnumber , the population. its not lyke we arent already brainwashed!this iz y i might as well b dead bkause i try to take a stand , and it goes nowhere. im hoppless.!. i wuz emo b4 i knew wat it waz , but i nevr knew that , basically i was a depressed goth….im an outcast aniway , nd i dont kare.!I DONT DO IT FOR ATTENTION EITHER!”( in wayz i hate attention)”i dont kare wut ani1 thinks bout this ,or meh, evry1 has an opinion , but that doesnt make it rite. nd i mean im surprised aniway , that this many emos compaired to so called;”norms”;(slang i really dont use much,) actually commented.theirs so much i wunt to say , but this is getting old , nd long , so im gonna cut the crap!kuz i forgot*cries* =’< / MANY ppl dont get that ; “ITS NOT THE EMO , ITS THE PERSON” , but ppl who dont kare bout the person , nd hates them kuz the label well , i guess theyre not that tru either! and thats reality so yew kan either take that for wat its worth , or lie to urself for the rest of ur (FAKE) lyfe.emo is a label , so is goth , but how is it a label!?….SOMEONE BASED/OR DECLAIRED IT AS ONE!….just as emo wouldnt be wut it is now if it wusnt based/or declaired. SO , for now , thank you if you listened/read wut i had to say , with so many things enclosed in my life i had to get this out!BTW, im not a poser , think that , nd theres probably ovr 100 , or more wayz i kan prove you wrong !, proably more than i kan count , mabey even things i dont kno about myself…also , mah dad waz a hippie! but they had bad style. ok , finally ; BYE!

I actually haven’t read, I just thought one of you might want to. Here’s another one I haven’t read, but the poor guy put an afternoon into writing it. Probably longer than it took to write my piece of crap:

Continue reading “Myspace brings out the best in people”

Thinking about Photos

I’m overwhelmed with a lot of aspects of New York. But when I think of what I want to photograph, it’s hard to think about what I wanna capture. After spending 21 days as a real resident of Brooklyn, NY, I definitely could see more to get that “critical distance” to finally start taking meaningful photos. And by meaningful, I mean important to me as a moment in time, shown in a way that may survive as a compelling image-memory of that moment.

Because I went to school nearby, had internships in the city, and traveled with my family to NY over the years, I’ve had a lot of outsider experience with the city. Having a key to open my own door, however, is a new thing.

There’s some images near where I work and live that I’d like to photograph, but It’s far too cold now so I’m gonna look back at past photo times while I wonder if my friend at Citibank (read this) will get fired.

Here’s some I’d like to share:

spinna flame by you.

Malibu, California Continue reading “Thinking about Photos”

Me, You, Spitzer, and Dupre


Regrettably, the identity of Eliot Spitzer’s prostitute has gotten out, the Smoking Gun has some photos, and the e-trolls have plastered her myspace page with some amazing things.,%20New%20York%20-%20R&B%20_%20Soul%20_%20Pop%20%20-%20www.myspace.com_ninavenetta-3At least a million people have visited Ashley Alexandra Dupr?©’s myspace page so far according to the play count on one crappy song she put up there. This is truly a moment where we should step back and think about how much of ourselves we put online, not only that which is represented in (bad) songs, but photos, videos, etc…. What if you were Spitzer’s right hand man? What would ‘get out’?
If you don’t know what this is, scan to the bottom for some news clips.

Continue reading “Me, You, Spitzer, and Dupre”

Content and Editors will always be friends: The Trouble with Social Media

(update: The Issue has closed its doors. wah)

Bullshit. Person of the year is a pack of clowns.

Crowdsourcing is another word for clown sourcing. Things have to change. Digg is filled with lolcats and misspelled link descriptions. It’s like Web 2.0 run by monkeys. Google constantly fights the capitalistic art of search engine optimization, making true content discovery more difficult. We have a problem. There’s so much quality content out there, but no way to get to it.

The massive democratic aggregation of content will never be a quality portrait of media, news, entertainment, culture, or sports.

The Old Model

FARK, the original link blog (circa 2000), grew to popularity because of the distinct flavor of the place. It was a linkdump for high school kids who liked stories about animals getting electrocuted while motor homes caught fire. Mr. Drew Curtis |npr interview| would go through his inbox and see if anything made him churtle. If it did, it made it to the list. Today, it still retains the quality of a high schooler’s myspace blog, but I can’t knock it. A stupid post about Fake State mottos I compiled made it to the front page in 2003. Twenty one thousand hits (in 2003 numbers) in one day gave me my first e-erection. Still, most posts are like this:

Improving on Fark

norman%20wiener%20the%20human%20use%20of%20human%20beingsSites like Mahalo are gaining ground because they provide an (sometimes) enlightened editor to cover a topic. New Web 2.0 or whatever point oh sites try to resolve the problem of mechanistic content discovery.

Google’s response to what we can consider mechanistic content discovery is the ‘knol.’ Building on the success of Wikipedia, Google announced that they will be introducing ‘knol,’ a more conventional encyclopedia with articles written by actual people. It’s nothing new. The knol is just a fancy term for a new ‘’ All the hype about Google’s ‘knol’ is silly. Google writes:

A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions.

Compare this to’s about page:

Exclusive to, over 600 expert “Guides” steer’s content – sharing their passions, expertise and how-to information with visitors every day. The result is a vast information “bank” that couples the breadth and reach of large content providers such as AOL and MSN with the depth of consumer-focused sites like CNET and WebMD.

The only difference between Google’s Knol and’s ‘Aboutie?’ is that anyone can write a or comment on a knol. To contact an writer, you have to painstakingly EMAIL THEM. I think every expert should write from a ivory tower on a mountaintop, dropping their typewritten pages to secretaries below. But that’s just me.

In content discovery, Web 2.0 was the birth of dynamic crap (DC)

The list of Digg clones is a testament to how amazing this idea of democratic media seems. Just sit back, and promote your site. Have people vomit out links, and let the public decide. It’s kind of like having people fill a warehouse with random interesting things they find. People entering this warehouse of crap press a button to elevate crap they find interesting.

Time for Change

The aggregator and the digg clone is out. People who talk about the next ‘Digg Killer’ piss me off. Digg is not what we need. We need a swift kick in the head, or perhaps a slam in the back of the head with a NEWSPAPER. I’m not saying the web has failed, just our idea of dynamic content. ‘Reliability’ in content comes from experience, honesty, and education. Not from the number of people who chortled. Digg should not be hackable. This list of ways to get on Digg is just what I’m talking about, and it speaks to all social media sites (the list itself is touted as ‘Diggable’). Formulas and ‘post on a Monday at 5pm’ strategies kill the reliability of content.

Enter ‘The Issue’



If you want to shed a tear, please read their mission statement. In a word, it’s beautiful. It goes straight to the heart:

Exposure to alternate perspectives is invaluable in a media source. Without this exposure, the breadth of understanding will always be limited to the pre existing context of the reader. If the aim of a media source is to expand the understanding of its readers, to help them better understand their perspective and those of others, then publishing different points of view is fundamental. 

The evolution of blogs, from eccentric personal diaries to influential and reliable news sources, has created the opportunity for a new genre of newspaper-one that can effectively expose its readers to myriad points of view while maintaining the highest editorial standards. The Issue aims to harness these perspectives in order to shed light on the news that affects us all. Our mission is ambitious, but we believe that even partial success will create a valuable resource.

It’s what we need, and there are lots like it. Blogging doesn’t have to be sloppy. The mission statement for 10ZenMonkeys is very similar:

10%20Zen%20MonkeysWe have declared ourselves a ‘webzine,’ as opposed to a blog, and that was quite deliberate. Because we’re seasoned, professional journalists and authors, and are committed to publishing thorough, feature-length articles, we just thought it fit better…But unlike the mainstream media, our content is very heavily informed by the blogs themselves, which is visible in the themes we explore, such as: technology news and gossip, internet phenomena and controversies, and even our coverage of politics and media. Our voice is firmly rooted in the flux-bound memes of the digital culture.

Caring about Content is Key

Content discovery should be natural and organic. Things you share should be things you care about. Here’s some more services that move in the right direction:

  • Feedheads takes Google Reader Shared items and ranks them. It’s like Digg, except you’re not directly voting on articles. Because you subscribe to the blog you’re sharing articles from, you’re somewhat more invested in the content you’re promoting. This is good, but does not read the tags you put on Google Reader items.
  • In the same vein, Read Burner makes Feedhead into a public site, compiling rss feeds from people who share articles. It’s Alpha fresh, so not that many people have put their feeds into it. The site will probably always be dominated by internet articles, because only certain types of geeks share things on Google Reader (like me). We can expect these sites to always look like, where the sheer numbers of web designers, internet types, and programmers constantly push articles they would enjoy high on the ‘popular‘ page.
  • But at the end, we need editors. No amount of technology or algorithm could ever replace a real person who knows what’s worth reading. Believe it or not, other people know better than us. It’s the PHDs who tend to write the most insightful Digg comments, but none of us have enough minutes in the day to seek out their blogs. We can do better than this:

    Related Links

    This page was featured on The Issue. has some nice methods, as does
    Read Write Web’s feature.

    Best of 2007 – And I still don’t know what Moneydick truly means

    By a large margin, my article on the emo creature is the most popular this year, with over 50,000 hits. Second place goes to an ancient article titled ‘A scientific Approach to Myspace’s Failure.’

    For some reason, most visitors to my site are based in London and Tokyo. I’m sorry if I’ve neglected any American English speakers.

    It wasn’t the most exciting year for Moneydick, but here are some potent notables that received a lot of traffic and should be remembered.

    The Senica Tale – A Geo Mystery: A digital novel in Google Earth I uncovered.
    Serenading Gone Wrong – The Photo evidence of an unfortunate event during a traditional food fight at Vassar.
    Tim and The Great Beyond – The Last in an interview series with a magical man.
    Facebook Code Comments – It must have been embarassing for FB when this got out… This article was linked to by the Financial Times London.
    Video Picks for December – some amazing videos that few people seem to know about. Especially Robot High School.
    Nanotechnology as a Subgenre of Science Fiction – A quick post about where I’m going with my senior Science Technology and Society thesis at Vassar.

    The Internet Hierarchy of Needs

    Please visit VortexDna (The Internets Hierarchy of Needs) to check out their adaptation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for the internet user. It’s a great starting point for coming face to face with what all this internet saturation means for personal fulfillment.'s%20Hierarchy%20of%20Needs

    Ultra%20Fat%20Man%20Sitting%20At%20The%20Computer%20@%20snaps.lumra.comI immediately thought of a friend of mine who doesn’t really ‘get along’ with the internet. Her use of the internet is limited to finding directions, research, and occasionally reading the NYtimes. When she strays beyond these info boundaries, she’s assaulted by unpredictable websites, strange internet social behaviors, and lots of ‘weird things.’ The internet is more of a social vacuum to her… she would laugh at me if I explained Hugh Macleod’s sense of a ‘social object.’

    So how can my friend ever use the internet as “frictionless tool for personal growth and fulfillment” ???

    Maybe there’s another way we can think about it. I think it’s kinda like joining the YMCA. If your only experience with the YMCA is that exuberant song–or you actually think it’s the Young Men’s Christian Association, you might be anxious about joining such a community. Why join a gym to interact with strangers if you can just self-actualize without it? The stigma of ‘internet people’ and the expansive social protocols in online communities can be intimidating.


    Take Second Life, for example. Give anyone a tour of even the most modest areas of Second Life and you’re going to lose a friend. Newt Gingrich held a press conference in Second Life, but I’m sure he was all weirded out with the ordeal. I’m sure he had a secretary digitally gesticulate for him while he awkwardly held a mic.

    These feelings we have about internet communities are responsible for drawing lines between Facebook, Myspace, and Xanga. If all you know about social networks is Facebook, Xanga is a joke, and Myspace is an aborted fetus of social interaction.

    Back to my friend… the only way to show how community on the internet is beneficial is to point to the great successes of the social web: We’ve got a massive encyclopedia (Wikipedia) to call our own, some semblence of political organization with the help of groups like,, and (+ weak groups on Facebook). These orgs are just as social as blinking noisy myspace… they’re just productive.

    Coming to terms with oneself as a blog is the first step towards humanization…

         I’m worried that It’s been at least two months since I’ve posted in text-only mode. This may mean I rely too much on images or videos to do my explanatory work—or maybe something worse—that I’m too afraid to create something myself. And this brings me to my point. If I’ve learned anything from blogging these last four relaxing years (and eight months) it’s that people don’t want a regurgitation of the lastest can’t-be-missed-youtube-masterpiece or a short summary about the latest newfangled thingamajig… people want a person to speak at them loudly from the throne of the static text, delicately blending sincerity and hyperlinked omnipotence. And when I mean omnipotence, I mean a dramatic flourish of hyperlinked sourcing trickled throughout. We’re trying to stand on the shoulders of giants or something, right?

         There must be a balance: A blogger must know when something should not be linked. Outlinking to obscure ideas or objects may offend the intelligence of well informed readers—insufficient outlinking confuses the average reader (general audience) but strengthens bonds with the well informed. The snooty remain, but the newbies act like they’ve stumbled into the wrong class.

         So I guess I’m back where I started… The attractiveness of the outlink devolves into the allure of habitually embedding media. But my cursory knowledge of statistics shows that continually throwing up videos and images alienates people who have come here for stuff | like | this.

         While we’re on the subject of improving this horrible blog, let me direct you to the right sidebar. Notice I have more than 20 categories. Does this mean I’m bad at categorizing, or should I think of them as tags instead? Of course at the root of the problem is this blog has no focus. With a focus of interest, (perhaps pictures of small asian children hooked up to brain readers) I would attract only those strange types who are on a NEED TO KNOW basis on that stuff. At the moment, I’m just a little blog of things you might find slightly interesting. Stay tuned for that topic, but don’t hold your breath.

    Modern Music Copyright – Sending Samplers Underground

    Came across a very informative post about modern copyright problems in the music arena today at Geek News Central. Here’s why I like:

    The justification for copyright as it applies to music is that it encourages innovation. The argument goes that if people have protection for their creation then they can gain the financial benefit of that creation and are therefore encouraged to produce. This is only accurate to a point. While the recording industry tries to gloss over it, copyright is not binary (present or absent) there is a scale of control. While moderate controls can promote innovation, extreme controls can actually stifle it. If the laws of today were in place in the 80’s then the Hip-Hop genre would not exist. Regardless of whether that appeals to you or not, it would definitely make the music industry smaller than it is today.

    The question I want answered, is this: If a ‘backyard sampler’ like Girl Talk sits down to explain his right to ‘creative expression’ and ‘innovation’ to a Judge, who but RIAA lawyers would represent the other side of the table. The logical perspective of economic language will sadly always truimph over weak appeals to ‘cultural enrichment’ or creative genre exploration. ‘Financial protection’ will trumps the Girl talk.

    What if Girl Talk Was Illegal?

    girltalkFar in the future, if sampling and major label infringement becomes a more serious crime, I hope at least the underground samplers (like the 80 year old Girl Talk dude) at least have the wherewithal to adjust their moniker to include reference to their a certain Swiss Bank account number to which devoted fans could deposit ca$holas. At least they’ll get their money.
    The Geek news article also linked to a great video which provided a case study on the issue, featuring a drum loop and its use in hip hop (18min.):