Jeanne & Mike: Original Art Wins Best Short Film at Direct Short Online Film Festival March 2016


My short independent documentary, Jeanne & Mike: Original Art has just won “Best Short Film” in the Direct Short Online Film Festival for March 2016. I love that this festival recognized this as a short film, not solely a documentary. I also love that there are so many opportunities for independent filmmakers to get our work seen. The rise of mobile plays a huge role, as more entertainment is consumed on smartphones and tablets. Online film festivals are simply the next step in helping people like me reach a wider audience than we could have ever dreamed.

What Happens When an Emoji Is the Word of the Year?


Like everyone on the planet with a blog, I was feeling so past long overdue making that post that apologizes for the length of time between blog posts.

You know that post you see on just about every blog you land on – the one that tells you it’s been a while (like six months or four years or whatever), you’re a committed blogger/writer/communicator but you’ve just been busy with other projects (oh, like checking Facebook or aimlessly scrolling Twitter searching for the meaning of life) and/or you’ll be re-dedicating yourself to posting in the future (a promise you can toss off with that certain aplomb that not-so-secretly says you know no one is reading this blog post or any other, actually).

But then I came across an annual news item that I typically blog about – the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, and it absolves all of us who’ve not been pounding out the words this year. Why? Because for the first time the word of the year is not a word – it is an image. The Face with Tears of Joy emoji image, to be exact.

The Face with Tears of Joy was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that ? made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014.

What’s that mean? Well, you probably only need to look at your own communication habits over the first half of this decade to see that you’ve chosen reading a news post via a link on Facebook rather than slogging through an online version of a newspaper, you’ll send a text message now instead of an email and there’s no reason to listen to a tedious voicemail when just hitting “call back” will kill two birds with one stone (sorry, Mom).

In defense of words, there were some contenders for Word of the Year. They included lumbersexual, ad blocker, sharing economy and they (as an all-inclusive singular pronoun). Perhaps there’s a good reason why an emoji beat them all out?

I doubt there are many writers (myself once included, twice removed) out there who will be posting the Face with Tears of Joy emoji accompanying any tweet, link or text celebrating our lack of need for words. But for those of us who at the turn of the century saw our need and use for words changing, and who have stayed in the communications game over the past five years or so by using less words, enhanced with an image – be it a photo or an emoji – well, I suppose we knew this was inevitable.

What happens when an emoji is the word of the year? We get a pass on not blogging and maybe killing these apology posts that no one reads anyway. We who write these things know that the Internet is basically a wasteland of misinformation, click bait and crap. This gives us the reprieve we need to stop cluttering it and maybe do a little more curation in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Oxford Dictionaries.

Bad Cropping Award Goes To…

Hillaryclinton-people-cover-1040605-new.blocks_desktop_mediumA mini-firestorm erupted earlier this week when right-wing fringe blogger Matt Drudge caught a glimpse of a People magazine cover while waiting in line at his local supermarket and decided to tell the world that Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, might be using a walker.

Yes, people who read People and those who just glance at thousands of images per day while browsing screens on multiple devices (i.e., the majority of Americans) were temporarily titillated by this image shown here of the 66-year-old Clinton grasping a… patio chair!

Unfortunate cropping of the photo of Clinton standing (um…leaning) poolside gained mini-momentum from the usual right-wing media mouthpieces that, should Clinton run for President in 2016, she would be 69 years old on Election Day. Should she win and serve two terms (the U.S. conservative base is really quite worried about this), she would be 77 years old by the end of 2024. Clinton is reportedly in very good health and embarks on book tour next week to promote her new book, Hard Choices.

Photo courtesy of People magazine.

Anti-Social Media App Helps You Avoid People

anti social mediaWait for it. Yup, the newest app on the block is called Cloak, and it helps you avoid the very people you have given license to stalk you through connections on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, yadda yadda.

Actually, it’s more about you knowing where the lame cousins you attract on Facebook and total strangers you brag to on Twitter are and avoiding them in real life. Nothing wrong with that, from where I sit.

Choice quotes from this story in The Daily Beast, include:

  • The developers “posted the app to Facebook on Monday morning and since then, we’ve added over 100,000 users and hit the top 50 of the App store.”
  • “Facebook is that kind of lame cousin you hate but check in with every now and then to save face…”
  • “Cloak – an excuse for us to stop pretending we actually like interacting with other humans….”

There you have it. In a nutshell, a free app that helps you undo the last several years you’ve spent oversharing and not really caring. Now you do. You want your privacy back. The Cloak app is a first step. There will be others.

Source: The Daily Beast.

Photo by Fox Searchlight/Courtesy Everett Collection via The Daily Beast.

A-List Selfie Crashes Twitter

A-List-SelfieThe highlight of the 2014 Oscar telecast was not who won, what anyone wore or any particular musical number or tribute. In perfect early-days 21st century fashion, it was a selfie and a Twitter crash that everyone is talking about the morning after (well, that and a “How Would John Travolta Mangle Your Name” generator).

About midway through the nearly endless broadcast, host Ellen DeGeneres “spontaneously” gathered a Hollywood A-list dream team about her to snap a selfie with a Galaxy Note mini-tablet (the show’s official sponsor; according to Mashable, however, DeGeneres used her iPhone to snap other photos and deliver a few live tweets throughout the night). DeGeneres’ gag was that this particular selfie would break previous retweet records and crash Twitter.

It did indeed. Within two hours, the photo was retweeted some 2 million times. Which not only broke the previous retweet record held by no other than President Barack Obama celebrating his re-election in 2012, it also broke Twitter.

Said DeGeneres later in the show, “We got an email from Twitter and we crashed and broke Twitter. We have made history.”

Twitter reported a service outage about four minutes after the original tweet, which was not helped by those of us who had snapped our own photos of the moment as it took place on our big screens, and quickly posted those to Twitter, causing a virtual online 50-car pileup. Unlike a real traffic jam, however, the Twitter-jam was cleared within minutes.

Which brings up the next question on everyone’s minds. Was the actual crash of a social network in some way a great plug for the service? (If so many people are on Twitter, then why aren’t I? Twitter has been struggling with adding significant numbers of new users for some time, which of course affects its stock price.)

Oh, and yes, one other question might actually get more tweets if put to the test. Will Ellen DeGeneres be back to host the Oscars next year?

Sources: Reuters  and Mashable.

Image by KazzaDrask Media.

‘What People Are Talking About Online’ Goes Gold

KazzaDrask Media’s online culture Scoop.It! curation site ‘What People Are Talking About Online’ has just earned the site’s gold medal. We are now “incredibly highly recommended” for our Communications content roundup.

Since 2011, KazzaDrask Media has been selecting online news and stories that pertain to the changing way we communicate via our “online culture”. This extends beyond using Facebook and Twitter (although they are highly responsible for the changes we have seen over the past half decade). Video, streaming and binge viewing, email and voicemail, memes, pinning, pinging and of course, images (Instagram, Snapchat and our fascination with the “selfie”) are all a part of this latest digital and mobile revolution.

Curating the overwhelming oceans of information at our fingertips in any one category is no longer a hobby (i.e., Pinterest), it is a necessity. We are thrilled to be recognized for our early endeavors in the next wave – be it Web 3.0, or whatever it will eventually be called.

Start making sense of the Internet. Visit “What People Are Talking About Online” now.

Not the Brazilian Soap Opera Star

HelenaPriceFile this under “You can’t buy this kind of publicity”, even if photographer Helena Price was doing quite well in the social media realm prior to being mistaken for a Brazilian soap opera star.

According to an interview with the New York Times Bit Blog, Price, who currently describes herself as “Tall, pale, and half-Norwegian. Full-time photographer who occasionally dabbles in tech. Not the actress, DJ, Brazilian soap opera star, or state capital,” was minding her own business last week when her Twitter feed mysteriously imploded with retweets and DMs to her handle @helena that were meant for a Brazilian soap opera star by the same name. The tip-off? The tweets were in Portuguese.

Price, who has been using @helena on Twitter since she was able to secure it in 2010 has gotten 8,000 new followers since the mix up and become the subject for a series of amusing memes that Photoshop her face onto the body of the Brazilian Helena, who we’re starting to feel a bit sorry for. Helena Price, maintaining a good sense of humor, was, for a few minutes last week, the Internet’s latest superstar.

Read more – and/or follow @helenadagmar on Instagram, which is where I discovered her – before the Brazilians did!

Source: “Interview with Helena Price, A Photographer Turned Brazilian Internet Meme”.

Photo credit: Helena Price


Live Streaming the Yule Log


One of my fondest Christmas memories as a small child growing up in the shadow of New York City in the 1960s is of my father sitting in the living room, his feet up, a strong drink in his hand and the Yule Log on TV – WPIX to be exact.

We didn’t have a fireplace, but we had a color TV, and when you put on Channel 11, you and everybody else in the New York Metro area became one with the 17-second open hearth loop and traditional Christmas carols. Nat King Cole’s “Christmas Song”, aka “chestnuts roasting on an open fire”, in all its haunting glory is the one I remember most. Maybe because in my father’s no-nonsense approach to bringing up kids, he informed us that Nat King Cole had died of lung cancer just a few years before.

On that note – flash forward to Christmas in California, where I’ve lived for many years, the last 10 or so with a real, working fireplace. It is another “spare the air” Christmas Eve in San Francisco, so we won’t be lighting our own personal Yule Log. The fact that it’s 60 degrees out makes this basically a non-issue. Besides I’ve had the Yule Log app on my iPad for the last few Christmases past since it usually is a spare the air holiday around here anyway.

This morning I came across a great column called “Historical Shit” in the online version of the Village Voice that gives those of us who grew up with such fond memories of the Yule Log on WPIX more “historical shit” about the Yule Log than anyone but someone who grew up watching a fireplace on their TV at Christmastime could possibly stand. I’ve read every word – twice – and now am even writing my own post about the Yule Log because, obviously, I’m a huge fan.

Two years ago the phrase “there’s an app for that” probably rang truest in our online lifestyles. Indeed, it did for me on Christmas Eve when I found out I could get cited for lighting my fireplace and placed my iPad with the Yule Log app ablaze in front of the home hearth. In 2013, “live streaming” is probably the year’s biggest change to the way we used to do things. Now you can watch what you want to watch when you want to or tap into radio and TV stations from around the world – no longer limited by broadcast reaches or the the FCC.

Best. Christmas. Present. So. Far. WPIX is live streaming the Yule Log from 6 to 10 pm tonight (Christmas Eve), and from 9 am to 1 pm and 7 to 10 pm on Christmas Day! All I have to do now is remember is to put my feet up, get a strong drink and adhere to Eastern Standard Time before giving my Dad (and Mom) a call.


I’ve noticed it, have you? The use of the word “So” to start off an online conversation – email, texting and the Facebook status update seem to the places of choice to say, “So…”.

As in, “So, I’m gonna put this out there.”

“So” has always been used in face-to-face conversations. “So, what should we do now?” or “So, how ’bout those Mets?” It’s a conversation shifter, a way to move things along when they’re slow-going or getting uncomfortable. But what about when the conversation hasn’t even started yet? And when it starts with “So,” it is still a one-way conversation until someone responds, which they’re likely to do especially if it is used before a question, as in

“So, what did everybody get up to last night?”

or, when used before an attention-seeking statement,

“So, there we were, looking into the jaws of a whale.”

This one would be greatly enhanced with a photo.

Those of us who write about social media and online communications love to tell people to think before they make a post or a tweet or send a text or an email. We’re not asking for in-depth vows of silence-like contemplation but a second or two consider-the-consequences stuff. “So, what if my mother saw this?” or maybe “So, what are the odds of this turning up to haunt me 20 years from now when I really want to run for the Senate?”

Perhaps we are starting to win this one. Because we’ve gotten the word “so” being inserted at the start. Using the word “so” to start off an online communication is a deep breath. It shows that you have given what comes next some thought (not of the rocket science variety, but you’ve taken pause). And you’ve gotten our attention.

Start Making Sense

The idea of curating the vast sea that is the Internet is not new. For at least a decade now we’ve been trying to make sense of it. Blogging was a good start for many of us — but the millions of blogs that we created in the process only contributed to the problem: too much good information and not enough good ways to find it.

In late 2011 I came across a service called ScoopIt and started curating the topic “What People Are Talking About Online”. Two years later, ScoopIt is making a play to be the leading online curation tool with its new “humanrithm” technology, created in part by sourcing its regular users like KazzaDrask Media for feedback on how its curating process could be improved.

With billions of us logging onto the Internet everyday, something has to be done to help streamline the information overload that will soon lead to parts of the Internet spontaneously combusting under its own weight. It is inevitable that cute puppies, cranky cats, Candy Crushes and twerking interns will bring down our online society unless a new wave of curation emerges to save us from ourselves. ScoopIt is a great start. It can be used by professional communications teams and individuals who just want to create a sensible platform for their personal interests — and all in between — to start making sense of the Internet.

In the (near) future perhaps what we will log onto in the morning will not be a Google homepage or an Internet browser, but a list of topics that are of interest to us — carefully curated by trusted human sources who use a smooth platform like ScoopIt that creates sharp-looking sites without ads, without distractions. Try it!