Break the Internet

kim-kardashian-paper-coverIf it was broken, it was repaired quickly.

Although Kim Kardashian, her siblings, her mom, her stepdad and of course, her husband, have been doing their damnedest to break the thing for the past half decade (maybe more, maybe less – in Internet time the amount of it is always too much).

Earlier this week “butt”-ery photos like the one to your left of Ms. Kardashian may not have broken anything, but they did at least temporarily do a hurting on the social media front with the accompanying hashtag #BreaktheInternet.

It’s long been an easy opt out for people who write tongue-in-cheekily about communications overload to toss in the phrase “Internet explodes” or “breaking the Internet”, typically when something suddenly swells and creates that perfect social media storm – an Instagram of President Obama, an arrest of Justin Beiber, or something to do with the Kardashians. I refrain from calling the Kardashians a talentless lot here, because, they do indeed have a talent. The talent to overexpose themselves (um…see photo to your left again) and get significant attention for that beyond the E! channel. Fleeting attention, at best, but attention for those who crave it is attention, nevertheless.

Good news, though. The Internet is not only apparently unbreakable, print journalism showed a heroic gasp for life in scoring the coup that was a naked photo shoot with the most famous-for-nothing person of the early 21st century. Published by Paper, for $10 you can hold these photos of Kim Kardashian in your hands and own your own little piece of print, which the Internet still hasn’t finished off completely, as long as it is supplemented by a full-blown online operation.

And by the way, the photos by Jean-Paul Goude are indeed quite fascinating. They’ve got an ’80-esque New York City-style appeal, if the 1980s been infiltrated by either Kim Kardashian or Twitter.

Photo by Jean-Paul Goude, for Paper.

Ferguson

fergusonIThe images coming out the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, ignited in protests since a white cop shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown 10 days ago, are eerily echoing the kind of photos we associate with the Deep South in the years leading up to the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago.

Civil rights protestors are attacked with a water cannon.ferguson5

This time around, it’s a little different. We are a nation led by a black man, in spite of the kicking and screaming of less than half the electorate (and probably half of those who could vote but were not uninterested enough to bother). We also have become a global society where the image – delivered in nanoseconds via Twitter, Facebook or any of the thousands of online news sites – enables us to see the bigger picture without reading any of the facts.

If you want facts, click here (as of Tuesday morning August 19).

More will be forthcoming, no doubt. In the interim, the pictures will continue to flood our feeds and Americans (and the rest of the world) will continue to draw conclusions and wonder. Why, 50 years after the Civil Rights Act is racial unrest still a problem in America? Will Ferguson finally be the end of it? Could social media and online coverage as well as instantaneous (and nearly constant) imagery play a healing role? Or will it just fan the flames more glaringly?

Image credits: St. Louis Post-Dispatch cover by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Civil rights water cannon, 1963 by Getty Images; Police fire device at protestors by Jeff Roberson, AP.

How Twitter Is Killing Your Blog

Admit it. Ever since you started playing with that bright new shiny toy called Twitter – whether you were an early adopter or just joined last week – you’ve found it way more exciting to “tweet” your thoughts than write a blog post.

Sure, it took some time (a few hours or so) to learn to downsize your thoughts into 140 characters (less if you were going to include a link), but you already had experience in shortening things, right? Remember when you were going to write that novel, or really long thoughtful essays, but traded those dreams in for ideas that could be compartmentalized into 350 to 600 words? Seems like yesterday doesn’t it?

There’s a very good piece on how so many of us think we’re accomplishing more with less (Twitter vs. the blog post) on CoSchedule.com. At the very least it made me think twice, if not re-commit to doing more blogging. The way we read, how we get our news and, of course, our thought process has changed dramatically in the last five years. Twitter has been at the forefront of those changes. The bottom line is, while we may not ever go back to blogging as prolifically as we did before the advent of social media, we can at least consider the noise we’re making with our tweets and, make sure that when we make said noise, there is something back on the blog to substantiate it. Nothing says we’re tweeting too much as a potential reader or client who follows us back to a blog that hasn’t had fresh content added in the past few weeks.

Monica Lewinsky, First Internet Victim

Monica_lewinskyIt’s a title someone had to claim (we’re only surprised it took this long). But Monica Lewinsky (“that woman” who nearly derailed Bill Clinton and spawned 10 million bad blow job jokes) has roared back into the news this week some 15 years since we last saw/heard her name every day. In preparation for a tell-all piece that will appear in Vanity Fair, press releases are clue-ing us in to the fact that Lewinsky was given a bum steer last time her 15 minutes of fame came around and she’s back to reclaim it in the guise of claiming to be the Internet’s “first victim.”

According to Mashable, one only need to scroll down this roll call of celebs and pseudo-celebs who have been ridiculed online to see that she has a point. Before “James Franco, Paula Dean, Anthony Weiner, Amanda Bynes, Shia LaBeouf, Rebecca Black, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, Courtney Love, [and] Rob Ford” there was Monica Lewinsky. She should be thankful her heyday was totally Web 1.0 and limited mostly to sketchy blogs, early day online gossip sites and snarky comments and conspiracy theories on listservs. Those that have come since, especially in the social media era, have had much more extreme public floggings, albeit for shorter durations, since someone else is usually quick to make a fool of themselves and the never-ending online babble will shift with the creation of a hashtag.

All jokes aside, Lewinsky writes that “We have created a culture of humiliation that not only encourages and revels in Schadenfreude but also rewards those who humiliate others, from the ranks of the paparazzi to the gossip bloggers, the late-night comedians, and the Web ‘entrepreneurs’ who profit from clandestine videos.”

She claims she’s come forward now due to some recent cyber-bullying episodes that resulted in suicides of young people. A noble cause.

Conspiracy theorists, of course, believe Hillary henchmen and women have put her up to this, hoping for an early recycle of her story that will be long forgotten in a year or so should Hillary Clinton make that much anticipated run for the White House.

Source: Mashable.

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.

Yelp Reviewer Chronicles Lost Love

chase-compton-1I admit, when I first started reading this story about a guy, New York and a social media app on Business Insider, I was about to gag. Call me briefly heterophobic, but its beginnings had all the pathetic drippings of the hipster-who-didn’t-get-the-girl (and for good reason, she could do better).

Call it editing a story for a primarily straight male readership. It takes five paragraphs to drop the pronoun-less mamby-pamby and identify the man who is pouring his heart out on Yelp over his ex as gay.  Which made me go back and re-read the first four paragraphs of this story and look at it with a different light. Instead of being a loser, the writer, Chase Compton, becomes a poet. Is there something much more compelling about a gay person losing a partner and taking to Yelp to document it than a straight one?

Perhaps it’s the underlying movie musical sense of happiness-is-just-around-the-corner  (Compton gives every establishment he visits 5 stars), mixed with reality bites (“It’s not the French Roast’s fault that I got dumped on Thanksgiving and ended up there”). Or, maybe it’s just a combination of my own gay pride meeting up with Compton calling himself a “literary Banksy”. For 22 reviews and counting, Compton has “hijacked” the Yelp platform to tell a story. It’s guerilla-making. And its irony is priceless. Compton’s latest review is of a place called “Happy Taco Burrito.” Imagine being heartbroken and ordering food from there!?

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/yelp-reviews-guerrilla-blogger-2014-3#ixzz2woCBfmMH and Chase C.’s reviews at Yelp.

Photo by Nick Vorderman via Business Insider.

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

 

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

I met Joyce Carol Oates at a book signing about 15 years ago. The prolific writer had just finished her tenth-hundredth book and was making the rounds. Everyone in line had her new book tucked under their arm or pressed against their chest. For some reason I think it was Blonde – the one that imagined the inner self of Marilyn Monroe. Whichever book it was I hadn’t bought it yet, much less read it. I carried in my hand a beat up paperback copy of stories of young America – the tagline for Oates’ mid-sixties collection of short stories Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

When I finally got front and center of Ms. Oates and handed her the paperback, she laughed. “Where did you get this from?” she asked.

Probably a used bookstore, or maybe a flea market. I didn’t know. I just had it in my possession since college, when I first discovered the short stories of Joyce Carol Oates. When I wrote short stories, too. When I was going to be just like her – only less prolific. She could keep the novels and biographies and dissertations on boxing. I just wanted to write short stories. And for a while, I did.

“What do you do?” was the next question Ms. Oates asked me. Because I’m not sure I ever answered the first.

“I’m a writer,” I replied – because I was (am) a writer, an editor, a marketer, a publicist. I work with words. I don’t write short stories (right now) but I’ve always done what we refer to now as producing “content”. Tons of it.

“Isn’t it fun?” Ms. Oates said to me. “Writing. It’s great.”

I nodded, smiled. I don’t remember what I did to tell you the truth. But I got my beat up copy of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been signed to “K.T.” – my initials – the ones I used when I wrote (might still write) short stories. Because in addition to wanting to be just like Ms. Oates, when I was a teenager I also wanted to be just like J.D. Salinger (until I learned more about him). But Salinger is no more (I once saw Joyce Maynard in the Whole Foods parking lot in Marin, but that’s an entirely different story!). Joyce Carol Oates is on Twitter.

Which brings me semi-circle at least to some next steps for Kathy (K.T.) Drasky and KazzaDrask Media, because where you are going always depends on where you have been. There are a couple of posts on this site that elaborate on a few iterations of my 30-(yes, count ‘em!)-year career in the word and image business.  (Links are posted at the end of this entry.) But it’s safe to say that probably no career choices have been more changed since the mid-1980s than those that are related to the way we communicate.

I’ve spent the past 6 months taking a look back at the smaller picture – the past five years of blog posts I wrote that explored some of the work I was doing, but more precisely, the manner in which how I was doing that work was changing. I’ve also looked back at the bigger picture – the 30 years of work, first in the publishing industry, and then as a freelancer – a journalist, a copyeditor, a fact checker, a publicist and ultimately the all-encompassing “digital media specialist” and “content provider” – which means, generate, upload and get people to click.

The result of all-of-the-above, led to the selection of three words to sum up what I’ve come to find I am most passionate about, not just now – but for the past 30 years – which undoubtedly means I will hold them dear for at least 30 more.

Creative. Content. Curation.

That’s where I’m going. It’s where I’ve been.

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