Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Virtual Happy New Year

I started this blog in March of last year in support of a class that I have taught for several quarters. With no expectation and the knowledge that the topics I would be covering are not of interest to the broader community, I have been surprised and delighted by how rewarding it has been.

Besides being part of a larger blogging community, where I have met and corresponded with some outstanding people (and gnomes) it has been an opportunity to explore some broader topics that pertain to my more focused interest of how people are viewed from the information that we find out about them that exists online.

Thank you to the thousands of people who have stumbled across the postings here and have been interested enough to leave comments. It has been gratifying to have as much activity in the comments section that I have, given the number of people who come to this blog. The most frequently visited page was the home page of course, but it is interesting to see which posts people come to most frequently based on the subject matter and specific interest.

Not that the topics are all that proportionate in popularity as they are to my interests, though many do reflect what I like to talk about or at least what the class of that quarter might be interested in.

Top Ten Most Popular Posts for the Year

Nothing says "damage to your credibility" like seeing your name pop up on Google with the title "Doh, Being Simpsonized Was Painful". But no doubt enough people had trouble with this online marketing software that they googled the topic for instructions and ending up on my site. As troublesome as it was, it was also a great deal of fun and I acquired a nice collection of local simpsonized folks as well.

1) Doh! Being Simpsonized Was Painful

This very early post featured an artist named Elana Lindquist who has quite the international following. She sent out a link to her post through her online listserv and the number of hits to the site went up dramatically.

2) A Quote Takes Flight in Cyberspace

The recent South Sound Technology Conference received a lot of attention. In fact two of the top blog postings from this year came from that conference. The first was simply a save the date notice, posted three weeks before the date.

3) South Sound Technology Conference 2007

Nothing says site traffic like mentioning someone famous. I posted about writing a chapter for a Podcasting book, but it was my mention of Stephen King's book on writing that still get visitors coming through a Google search.

4) Stephen King, On Writing

I compared the Puyallup Fair to the NY State Fair after visiting both, but I am sure that it was the time I took to transcribe the lyrics to the Do The Puyallup song that caused the visits to my blog. I was somewhat disappointed that not much attention was drawn by my changing the roasted pig picture to add a spider web in the smoke that read "Some Pig".

5) Do The Fair Comparison

Another posting on SST as stated above. I used this post during my presentation.

6) Some Notable Blogs

Mark Briggs made both the 7th and 8th most visited posts, once in August and once in October. The first was for a book he wrote called Journalism 2.0 and the second was after a visit he made to my classroom.

7)Journalism 2.0 in a Web 2.0 World

8) Mark Briggs, Newspaper Innovation and Webcasts

One of my favorite local bloggers, the TacomaGnome is still making his presence known around the South Sound.

9) On the Internet Everyone Knows You're a Gnome

Finally, my twice yearly Internet Scavenger Hunt made the list. Probably because of the tracking that is done through the comments section.

10) Online Scavenger Hunt Fall 2007

Thank you to everyone who has visited. May the new year bring happiness, excitement and opportunities to learn into your lives.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Political Sock Puppets and Trolls

Trolls, Sock Puppets and AstroTurfers have entered the lexicon of the web. Actually, they have been around for a while, but I have recently seen them pop up in mainstream stories and blog postings. Just in case you run across the terms and are unfamiliar with them I thought I would give some quick definitions and a couple of links to more detailed information.

Sock Puppets
Given that we are in the middle (aren't we always) of a political season and things will begin to heat up, it is good to know just what a sock puppet is and does. You can get a sense of it just from the visual of a person standing there talking to a puppet on their hand, asking it questions and getting answers. A Sock Puppet on a blog is a set up, a person who is often a fictitious creation or a friendly posing as a member of the crowd. That person, fictitious or not, is used to ask softball questions, defend the candidate on other blogs or comments, and generally push the message they have been given.

For some good examples of sock puppets in the political realm, there is a good article from the New York Times, written back in February of this year.

Sock Puppets aren't always friendly toward their puppeteers. Sometimes they are outrageous and viciously attack their benefactor. The purpose here is to use ridiculous argument to to rally support around the target and to gain that target attention. A local artist not too long ago put one to use, in what I found to be a very funny fashion.


Trolls are a different breed altogether. Generally aliases as well. They are the online bane of blogs and forums as they serve no real purpose other than to give themselves a thrill by disrupting conversation and gaining attention. Trolls can be thought of as ugly creatures with disposition problems, (which they often are) but the origin of the term actually comes from the idea that they move from forum conversation to another, trying to lure people into debates through provocative statements. In essence, trawling along the web, baiting people into an argument. They just love the attention and getting a rise out of people. Where as a fisherman might troll for salmon, they troll for fights. I think both terms fit. has some good Troll information.


The truth is that this one was new to me, and the first mentions of it I ran across come from less than a year ago, though it is another term that has been around for several years. In a way, they can be sock puppets or trolls, but the idea is that this is a new occupation. These are people paid to surf the web for postings and articles on a topic or person and then post positive information about it, or whatever the PR machine that has hired them dictates.

There have been guerrilla marketing approaches that have hired good looking, young people to go to hot spots in New York where they would talk up new products to others. Basically being hired as an actor to go out and pitch a product, while posing as a just someone who happens to love this new thing. Pretty low, if you ask me. It is a form of propaganda.

The same goes for astroturfers. The issue I have with these approaches is that right from the start, even if you truly believe in what you are promoting, the intent is to deceive.

Here is another persons take on the topic.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

South Puget Sounds

The wet of the pavement is slick on your feet
And the feel of a warm hearth at home is a treat.
The Almonds not Roca without Haley or Brown,
And tongue thrilling Cupcakes are helloing downtown.

Our Yuletide displays offer eyefuls each December.
The Zoolights bring dazzling images to remember.
The Harmon pumps out the aroma of hops for what ales you.
Three dollar steaks add to the holiday scents that regale you.

Yes, Tacoma, your season of senses abounds,
So listen and enjoy the South Puget Sounds.

The hum of “The Link”, and the Santarchy’s yelling,
The crowd singing loud to “The Bash”, Jingle Belling,
The auctioneers cry at the Festival of Trees,
The Mouse King at Nutcracker cries, “Who moved my cheese?”

The slush of the snow does not come from the ground,
But inside of TAM’s Snowbound is where it is found.
The Don’t Walk or Walk noise on 13th and Pacific
Gives way to the clinking of dishes terrific.

Hardly a sound comes from the Ms. L. Toe mall
because it's online, so the keystrokes are all.
But the others are packed with the holiday shoppers
like The Crossing or Tacoma for all you mall stoppers.

Yes, Tacoma, your season of senses abounds
So listen and enjoy the South Puget Sounds.

The wise people of bloggers are using their voices
to shout to the rafters our downtown development choices.
We’re proud of our city we will not defer
our civic call to, quite frankly, an incensed murmur.

So ring in the New Year and sing out the old,
with a voice that is gritty from fighting a cold.
This town is not one to except status quo,
Enjoy each bright light from the Port’s glow.

Feel the holiday spirit through the smells, tastes and sights
That comes from the foods and the drinks and the lights.
Yes, Tacoma, your season of senses abounds,
And keep your ears perked for the South Puget Sounds.


The above image was cropped from one of the pages featuring zoolights, though no photog credit was available.

The above ode was the consequence of a fun and strictly non-mandatory task our little writers group was assigned. I would be remiss in not including a little ditty by's very own Mary Lloyd.

I-5 Santa
By Mary Lloyd…to the tune of “Santa Baby”

Santa Baby, we really need some roads and a bridge—or two,
So cars and trucks and ambulances can get through.
Send us transportation tonight.

Santa Baby, it really is a crawl to the mall and all
It makes us wonder if we want to go at all.
Send us transportation tonight,

Please don’t say it would be a plus
If all of us just simply learned to ride the bus.
That won’t work and we all know why
Until it goes where we go, we won’t even try.

Santa Baby, we really need some roads and a bridge—or two
So cars and trucks and ambulances can get through.
Send us transportation tonight.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Web Programming as an Entertainment Farm System

If you want to play in baseball's big leagues, you will likely have to make your way up through the farm system. Sure, on occasion a player will debut from college to the majors, but far more make their way through single, double and triple A clubs (go Tacoma Rainier's!!!)

Who knows where the web will evolve when it comes to original entertainment as an industry. Certainly the Writers Guild thinks it is an important question.

But for now, I like the idea of the web being a farm system for our more lucrative outlets for entertainment professionals. The idea was brought to my attention by quote within an article on Robert Thompson is the director of Syracuse University's Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and says "The internet is one great big farm team...offering the opportunity for people to make stuff" which could "rise to the top". He expects that some could be co-opted or bought -- and people will move into the mainstream area."

The CNN article offers the examples of Quarterlife and mentions the Star Trek: New Voyages webisodes. Since the former is produced by the folks who produced thirtysomething it doesn't quite fit the farm league metaphor, but check out the latter which, though it features some of the original cast, looks to be a work of love and a calling card for other opportunities.

Probably a better example would be the lonelygirl15 folks.

There is one point at which I would differ with Thompson's featured quote, and that is that I don't think it will be one farm system, but multiple farm systems, which is more in keeping with the metaphor. I can see groups of creative types self organizing around genres, regional areas and traditional delivery systems such as television news, movies, serials, soaps and sportscasts. Not to mention whatever monetarily supported entertainment infrastructure emerges from the web space.

So, just as Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith formed United Artists in the emerging world of feature films, it would be very cool to see creative types in the web space organize into sustainable ventures.

As for our own "Triple A" web entertainment clubs, how about a news team in the South Sound. Maybe a FeedTacoma style cooperative of folks creating a daily or weekly program around local news. I still say that could be a nice opportunity for expansion of services from the The News Tribune. Heck, the FCC just provided waivers that allow newspapers and television stations to be co-owned in the same market.

We've seen great video content from Exit133 and KevinFreitas. With a little outreach and the right executive producer, you could have a nice program assembled.

If it seems like that might not be feasible at this time, just wait a few more years. Even now, you can easily create your own Sweeney Todd movie trailer on their official site. Sure it is drag and drop, and fairly predetermined as to the output, but it does show how far the tools have come.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some Origami Notes

Since I was off teaching origami models to my daughters second grade class on Thursday, will be teaching the history of origami and some folding techniques to a seventh grade class on next Tuesday, and am gearing up for my son's first grade class following that, I thought I would post some quick information for those interested in paper folding.

Favorite origami artists and sites.

Hands down: John Montroll
A mathematics teacher, Montroll has written over 20 origami books including my second favorite "Animal Origami for the Enthusiast" which he published in 1985. Among his many contributions, John Montroll introduced the term double rabbit ear fold. Though his books aren't necessarily for beginners, if you have an active interest, they are both challenging and rewarding. It is my second favorite only because my favorite is the one my Dad owned, which he bought in Yakota Japan and it was published the year I was born. He has since passed on the book to me.

Close second: Robert Lang
Dr. Robert J. Lang was born the same year as myself (and my Dad's origami book) and is an American physicist who is also "one of the foremost origami artists and theorists in the world. He is known for his complex and elegant designs, most notably of insects and animals." (Wikipedia) His book Origami Design Secrets is amazing and includes mathematical formulas for calculating how to get certain designs and features out of designated areas of your paper. I featured him and some of his designs in an earlier post.

Great starter sites:

OrigamiUSA, which used to be called The Friends of Origami Center of America, is headquartered in an autonomous space in the Museum of Natural History in New York. I have visited and sat down for some folding a few times there, but there web site has just about everything you need to get started or take things further. They also sponsor folding contests for children.

Alex Barber has had a site out their for some time which, if you were interested in origami you have likely already found. The site has a good database and a large number of links to other sites.

I also ran across a relatively new site by a recent convert to origami, called Happy Folding. What I like is that she includes online video instructions on how to do some models. She has, with John Montroll's permission, presented a video demonstration on how to fold the Tyrannosaurus Rex model. I have memorized this dinosaur model and sometimes fold it to pass the time, leaving it for whoever wants to pick it up when I'm through.

Origami Supplies:

My favorite place is Uwajimaya in Seattle. They have the best supply of Origami paper and supplies at a very reasonable price. The problem is that I don't get up there as often as I used to so they visits are infrequent.

Second, and particularly good for me due the convenience is Tacoma Art Supply. Friendly staff and right downtown, I can find a number of different kinds of specialty origami paper there. I bought most of the paper for the thousand cranes I folded there as well as some very large sheets.

Age Groups:

All. I have taught 4 and 5 year olds, as well as adults and every grade in between. They all seem to have fun and if you select the right projects, everyone has a model they can successfully fold.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, The GritCity Dancers

So many people had so much fun earlier this year with the "Simpsonize Me" post, that I thought I would do a short post on this little piece of animated holiday cheer. My sister sent me a version with her family and I immediately created one with my own.

Using a concept similar to the Simpsons site, this asks you to upload a photo of yourself in order to create the piece. But rather than turn you into a cartoon you instead become an elf. An elf with some serious moves.

Rather than subject you to my own visage, I thought I would abscond with the holiday cheer photo the Grit City bloggers used in their Thanksgiving post. Within a few quick moments I had the quartet dancing their little elf hearts out.

The site, sponsored by OfficeMax, is called Elf Yourself and if you have photos easily accessible from your computer it is easy to load, scale, rotate, shape and save the image for enjoyment.

The ease of use on the Elf Yourself site was much different than the experience I had from the animation "Have it Your Way" software from the earlier post. Whereas that site was difficult to connect to and took several minutes to load, if it loaded at all, this activity took little time and I had emailed out a version to my wife in minutes. (with my kids and my faces, not the Grit version.)

Mind you, since this is viral marketing, it could slow down from overuse as the emails start flying around. However as of this morning it was fine.

Without further ado, put your Reindeer hooves and snow mittens together for the Grit City Elf Dancers!!!

Your Industry Digital Double

The idea that a person can have an image management need based on the information being aggregated about them online is relatively new.

But the idea that it is important for a company to manage its online image is a given. After the first few years of web site building and widespread adoption of the internet as a business to consumer - business to business communications, marketing and sales environment, companies understood that how they were represented online was a reflection of the company itself.

In the mid 1990's there were a myriad of instances of where an online image of a company was open to the danger of misrepresentation. Branch offices that built web sites with the company name were contacted by headquarters and told to hand over domain names. Big companies lost some luster when their first forays into the web space were less than the quality their brand had worked hard to build. Small operations took pains to look larger to the online world, and small marketing companies with a few HTML coders grew quickly as the demand exploded.

Since then, companies have in large part managed to align their online impression with their brand and message.

So it is not surprising that many of us check out companies online before we ever run across them in our real lives. I do, so when I ran across Transmedia as mentioned in the last post I thought it an interesting example of two different impressions being made by the same company.

Obviously I liked the message from the PR Newswire I quoted. It reflected a very clear articulation of why virtual community and social networking sites offer "free" access to some very cool features and environments. They are telling us, "Trade us your personal info and we will show you a good time, (or provide you a valuable service)".

As this quote by this company impressed me, I also checked out some articles on their products, including Glide Present, which was very positively reviewed, Glide Write, introduced earlier and the proclamation in August that "Transmedia is on a roll" with its Sync product. Pretty impressive coverage.

I probably could have saved some time by just going to their web site. That's because the home page is simply a scroll down of news articles about the company and their products.

At the top of the home page is a link to company information, then to products, then to news (which is essentially the home page) and then a menu item that provides logos and screen shots for those aforementioned articles above. Not really much more.

I dug down, as I normally do, to the company information. In particular I like to check out the About, Board of Directors and Management information. The About page features a paragraph on the company which is pretty heady stuff for a few sentences.

It starts with "TransMedia is leading the emergence of rights and identity based, compatible and integrated multipurpose software and services for corporations and consumers." and covers more.

The management page consists of one person, who does have impressive experience, Donald Leka, Chairman and CEO. Now if you go down to the next link to the Board of Directors page it lists... Donald Leka. There is also an advisers page, which has a couple of definite heavyweights featured, with significant media and technology experience. That is still only three people, of which only one appears to be directly employed by the company.

The career page states that Transmedia is a mid-sized company with top notch benefits for application developers. The site itself does not give the impression of a mid sized company.

But my interest was in the products page. That is where I had hoped to find out more about the capabilities and perhaps try them out. The products page drops down to three product listings. Select the first product and you get the same three products listed in the drop down. This time they are listed on the page in logo form. Click on each separate drop down and each takes you to the same page with the three product logo listing. Click on a logo and you get a graphic splash page with three choices: Log in, Register or info (on the product). The "info" selection takes you back to the news/home page. Your only other recourse is to go through a registration process which asks for a lot of information. The irony to me is that the great quote that I used about the value of information comes from a site that does not allow access to it's product without providing some of it.

In conclusion, what do I know about Transmedia and Glide? I know they have impressive products. How do I know that? The reviews are from media sources that are trustworthy and have tried them out with praiseworthy results. Several of them. Present, Write, Sync and with the last PR release a storage facility for your personal information.

They offer a free trial, with a registration process.

They just don't register as mid-sized to me. At least not from the web site. I suppose that might also depend on your definition of mid size.

It could be that they are flying under the radar and growing organically. But then they are sending out PR releases. They could be looking for funding to go big and the news articles help in that regard. Then they better give more thought to their web site.

It is an intriguing company with some interesting, though small in number, people associated with it. I am not meaning to be critical but felt this was an example of how two separate impressions are made by a single company. Are they a contender in the web space of hosted applications and services, are they David vs Goliath, are they mid sized and hidden from the world, or all of the above? I will be keeping an eye on them.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Facebook, Transmedia and the Value of "Free"

The following is not an unusual item in the net news. Large company (Amazon, Microsoft, Big Financial Institution, etc.) collects or mishandles personal data (tracking, hidden feature, loss of data, etc.) and we are reminded that our personal data is something we need to be vigilant in protecting.

This time around it is Facebook, which today apologized to users and introduced a new policy regarding its controversial "Beacon" feature. The invasive advertising approach that Beacon undertook resulted in personal user data being shared with others. Not just the advertisers but also the user's "friends".

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explained ....

When we first thought of Beacon, our goal was to build a simple product to let people share information across sites with their friends. It had to be lightweight so it wouldn't get in people's way as they browsed the web, but also clear enough so people would be able to easily control what they shared.

and apologized ...
We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it.

on his blog.

When I was poking around the subject and noodling over why we seem to revisit this scenario, I came across a well written explanation as to why this is a common offense. It is a natural consequence of getting the most value out of what we are told is free, our personal information and tastes.

The following excerpts are from a PR Newswire release from TransMedia.

"The stated goal of many leading web services is to accumulate the most comprehensive database of information about you in order to target far more personalized advertisements at you that would command higher rates from advertisers."

"Many consumers spend hours everyday entering personal data into web services at home and at work and most have no idea how their personal information makes money for online services," said TransMedia Chairman and CEO, Donald Leka. "The online advertising business model is being taken to new extremes and the right to privacy lies in the balance."

"The advertising business model has also resulted in product innovation taking a back seat to the holy grail of building the perfect advertising platform focused almost exclusively on better ways to target advertising at consumers. Glide is free of advertising and designed to promote your right to privacy. Our mission is to serve you with a rapid and continuous stream of useful and fun innovative products," said Mr. Leka.

Then the release goes on to talk about Glide and the companies proposed Online Bill of Rights. I find the website for TransMedia and Glide to be a discussion in itself, and will save that for the next post.

In the meantime, Steven Burke of CMP Channel has offered up Five Lessons for VARS From the Facebook Fiasco.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

10,000 Subscribers Watching Hank and John

There was a big milestone which occurred yesterday. I almost missed it, but thanks to an introduction from tacomachickadee, I spent some time checking out the Brotherhood 2.0 site. I got there just in time for the vlog (video blog) announcement of this momentous occasion.

George Orwell’s Big Brother, is here, (but that's not the announcement I have alluded to). No, the brothers Hank and John Green are also here, and they are apparently having a good time. "Big Brother" you may remember is from George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four. In the society that Orwell describes, citizens are under surveillance by the authorities, and privacy is nearly an unknown. From this book we have been given the phrase, "Big Brother is watching you".

In this case though, we are welcomed to come watch. The brothers of twenty six plus years decide that, "After noticing that their relationship had for years consisted primarily of emails and instant messages, John and Hank swore off all textual communication with each other for 2007. Instead, we are making public video blogs back and forth every weekday for the entire year."

It is ironic in that, though much of what Orwell predicted about privacy can be applied to our society today, we as that society have in fact become Big Brother. Reality TV, online access to conversations, blogs, web cams and communication services like twitter have brought voyeurism, as an informational and entertainment practice, to the forefront. The web offers a legion of online personalities all volunteering to share some of their lives with us, occasionally with some rather entertaining and enlightening results.

What was the milestone announced by the Greens? Over 10,000 subscribers are now tuning in to share in a years worth of web based conversations between the two. Not only are they watching but they are participating as well. Thousands of comments are posted on the message boards, and if one of the brothers should miss a posting deadline, the community of watchers suggest the appropriate punishment.

They are also working on a Secret Project!. I don't know what it is but I signed up on their secret project mailing list anyway and may some day find out.

They'll probably have everyone set up a web cam and YouTube account so that we all watch each other. "Big Brother is Watching Himself!"

Post Script - In no way do I wish to diminish the warnings from that classic work of predictive fiction, Nineteen Eighty Four, which so effectively describes a future dystopia . Read or reread it when you can.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tacoma Musical Playhouse Update

Back in July construction was being done at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse over on 6th Avenue . You may recall this exterior view.

Phase One of a reconstruction of the entire facility is now complete. Added adjacent to the old theater were a green room, bathrooms and dressing area for the actors (much better than having to change in the aisles backstage). For that the actors are grateful. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures.

However, at last nights dress preview of Meet Me in Saint Louis, Julie was able to snap a few photos of some of the other improvements.

The entry to the the theater has shifted to the left of the entrance where formerly a different facility existed and has added to the size of the lobby substantially.

As you enter, new floor tiling might catch your eye.

The concession stand is now on the other side of the longer lobby with far more room to serve patrons.

Now gone are the overhead tiling squares and dingy lighting. In there place a higher ceiling and beautiful lights with accents and recessed lighting surrounding room.

To do it justice you have to see it, but here are the artist conceptualizations that represent the larger view.

But in the end, the single greatest improvements to the theater going experience were to ...........

.... the bathrooms.

Anyone, especially if you are a woman who had to deal with a line during intermission created by the grand total of two stalls, can appreciate these changes.

And there is a SECOND line of them on the other side.

I suppose that it is fitting that the next show I will be in at the theater is Urinetown. More on that at another time.

These improvements benefit greatly the experience of the actors and patrons of the theater. In the next phase, an orchestra pit for the fine musicians who make live accompaniment a hallmark of the shows performed at this musical theater.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Notable Blogs

I have all of fifteen minutes today to give a tour of what we are calling "Some Notable Blogs".

Given that this will be done at a local South Puget Sound conference it makes sense to include some local blogs. After all, this is an active blogging community and there are in fact many blogs that would be considered notable. But in order to give those in attendance a broad sense of the huge selection of blogs that there are to choose from, it will be necessary to reach out into the vast blogosphere as well. Not to mention we are covering quite a few with our panels: newspaper based blogs, parentally focused blogs and civic and community minded blogs to be exact.

I know it is impossible to give a good overview when there is such a eclectic mix of sites to choose from, but that also means that I am swimming in choices to use as examples.

Therefore: I am going to hit as many as I can under a number of categories.

First, since they we are talking blogs, how about blogs about blogs.
Since I use Google's Blogger tool, I thought I would include Blogger Buzz.

And from a technical point of view there is the CNET blog.

Because some of my favorite blogs are in their hearts simply personal journals, I thought I would feature two that I frequent online.

Erik Emery Hanbergs blog which often has an art focus (check out that great martini glass). Erik will be leading a birds of a feather group later today.

Someone who I encountered after he posted on my site who I only know as "noisms". I have never met him but feel like I know a bit about him and enjoy reading his blog. We are different in age, location and political viewpoint, but I relate to his style of writing and perspective.

Some bloggers are in the employ of a business which they blog about.

Our favorite bell captain from the Hotel Murano for instance.

This isn't strictly speaking a permanent employee but you might like this gentleman's enthusiasm for Tacoma and his adventures as an intern.

Rather than hit too many blogs in so few minutes I thought I would feature some local blogrolls. Blogrolls are, according to Wikipedia, "a collection of links to other weblogs. When present, blogrolls are often found on the front page sidebar of most weblogs."

FeedTacoma contributors
The News Tribunes blog list plus local blogs
A large selection of links from the TacomaMama site

Anthro professor Mike Wesch has an excellent video on YouTube called The Machine is Us(ing) US. In it, there is a statement that a new blog is being created every half second. With that many blogs at work, sites that provide value be aggregating information and activity from them have been created.

Tracking interactions between bloggers:
Technorati, BlogPulse, Tailrank, PubSub and BlogScope.

I invite you to provide a category and some examples as well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i-SAFE From Harassment and Blackmail

Two examples of online social harassment and criminal activity came up in conversations I had last week.

First. The story of Megan Meier, a 13 girl who hanged herself Oct. 16, 2006, after becoming upset over messages she received from a boy she had met online. First he befriended her, and then six weeks later began attacking her personally with harassing messages, not only posted by him, but from other "friends" as well.

It has been in the news recently because it turned out the person who created the MySpace account was not a 16 year old boy named Josh at all, but in fact a neighbor and an adult. It was a woman posing as the boy to find out what Megan may have been saying about her daughter. When the harassing messages and the true identity of the sender were discovered, police notified the parents that although the actions were vile, they were not illegal.

Secondly. The story of Amy Polumbo. Amy Polumbo is Miss New Jersey and a 22-year old student at Wagner University. She was the subject of an attempted blackmail scheme in July of 2007 when someone threatened to send compromising photos from her Facebook account to the Miss America Pageant. The account was password protected and the photos were meant to be private, but instead ended up being mailed to the pageant board by a group calling itself "The Committee to Save Miss America."

Pretty negative stuff, but some recent positive action has resulted.

Last week, Dardenne Prairie, where Megan lived, became the first city to pass a measure outlawing Internet harassment. She wasn't from Florissant, Missouri, but the incident inspired the Florissant's city council to unanimously pass an internet harassment ordinance yesterday as well. It is now a misdemeanor.

In the second story, Amy went public with the photos. The speculation was far more scandalous than the photos, which could have been of any college age student horsing around with friends. No nudity, no underage drinking, just out with friends and partying some. (like I have said, be careful when drinking with friends carrying digital cameras).

As a result, Amy is now a national spokesperson for i-SAFE, a leader in Internet safety education. She is hoping to raise awareness about victimization of children on the Internet.

Their mission as self stated: "i-SAFE Inc. is a non-profit foundation whose mission is to educate and empower youth to safely and responsibly take control of their Internet experiences."

"i-SAFE provides age-appropriate K-12 curriculum to schools in all 50 states free of charge. The curriculum is a dynamic interactive program designed to educate and empower the student. Each lesson includes Activity Pages and Discussion for the class. The high school curriculum is a video Webcast hosted by teens on either VHS or DVD format. Some of the lessons taught by i-SAFE are:

* Cyber Citizenship
* Personal Safety
* Cyber Security
* Intellectual Property
* Cyber Bullying
* Predator Identification"

As parents and as citizens in the virtual world, we need to be aware of how rapidly technology is changing our children's social activities. Ethics, laws and behavior change when you go online. The feeling of anonymity and the disguise of an alias provide all the cover that some folks need to do things we wouldn't approve of or legally allow in the real world. Adjustments will come, but in the meantime, education and awareness from child to adult will have to do.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Just Another Manic Cyber Monday

If you believe, as I do, that almost everything we do societally eventually ends up with a virtual counterpart, then you are not surprised nor unfamiliar with Cyber Monday. As of Sunday night there were over 1,500 Google news articles on it with a variety of hooks covering the topic. It will be on television, all over the web of course and in the newspapers.

What is it?

Why, it is The Online After-Holiday Super Sale!!
Step back, cyber bystanders loitering around the online worlds shopping doors or you will get run over. Get ready to circle the download parking lot looking for the best spot. Watch out unsuspecting shopper, for just as you reach for that iWiiPS360 50" flat screen hard to find item, someone is likely to use a "Blade of Eternal Justice" upside your head to take it from you.

At least that's what I am reading.

Business Week reports of potential productivity losses predicted from a "Challenge, Gray and Christmas" report.

There are also growth and sales forecasts from a variety of stores, comparisons of shopping online to shopping in the flesh, pointers for online shoppers and ((you better watch out) for goodness sake) even a list of Oprah's favorite things for Cyber Monday.

Some of the retailers are even bending reality. According to one report, Best Buy is starting Cyber Monday ..... a day early. Which I would imagine makes it Cyber Sunday, or the day before Cyber Monday day.

But whether manufactured or not, as the red suited gentleman tossing candy from the last float of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade can attest, yes Virginia, there is a Cyber Monday. (This last sentence brought to you by The Magic of Macy’s: Cyber Monday Exclusive Web-Busters!)

At least according to, which is part of the U.S. trade association National Retail Federation, and the originator of the term in 2005.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Exit133 and Virtual Community

One of the books that inspired me early on in my World Wide Web work was written in 1993 by Howard Rheingold and was called The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. In it he helped to define for me what a "virtual community'' might be. Both like minded and diverse people gather online, collaborate, argue, problem-solve and form lasted emotional relationships.

There is a sense of place and boundary without any real physical counterpart and frequently little or no physical contact. The community he discussed most often was his own, “The Well” which was a BBS system in 1985. He describes how communities can bond over personal matters, with the example catalyst being his son’s contracting leukemia. Interestingly, an illness in the family and the need to share information and request insight from family and friends has been the catalyst for several blogs I know, some local, and is also the subject of a previous blog entry about CaringBridge and a little girl named Jayna Bean.

Online communities have come a long way in just a bit more than a decade. Fully formed virtual worlds like Second Life exist and continue to provide examples of how it is possible to move real world systems like real estate, guided tours and job interviewing into a universe of bits and bytes.

But what makes a community? A feeling of place, a selection of individuals with a broad common interest but diverse experiences and opinions, venues for sharing, discussing a collaborating, rules and laws, an opportunity to contribute and even stake a claim for some of the land (virtual of course).

These attributes are part of several strong communities on the web such as Triggerstreet (which even has a Hall of Justice and citizen rankings), MousePlanet (which also plans physical meet ups) and our own Exit133.

Derek Young and Erik Hanberg stopped in to give a tour of the site and to discuss its inception and growth, as well as the strong local community of readers and contributors. is about Tacoma, Washington, (and sometimes the surrounding Pierce County) so it has a definite sense of place. Derek launched the blog in its current form in May 2005 and it has grown into a valuable local resource for information, conversation (both in the comments section and the forum) community (whether it be bocce or otherwise).

Size of a community matters and the citizens who frequent Exit133 have grown in number to a degree that the site is treated on occasion as a media outlet. Not only have the number of readers/viewers grown, but so have the number of those commenting on the blog posts and the forums. As noted by Derek, the people who comment are often experts in their fields, making their insights all the more valuable to those participating in the discussions or utilizing those discussions as an information resource. This Consumer Generated Media (CGM) is the fuel that fires up the community engine. Civil participation without value is a mob; valuable participation with civility is society. (Does that sound like something the Sphinx from Mystery Men would say?).

Other attributes of the site include an events calendar, managed by the site operators and videos of events, artists and activities downtown, all with a Tacoma focus.

Exit133 works because it maintains a common topical interest with contributions metered by a small dose of editorial control and a strong community standard. When someone gets out of line online, they are generally reeled in by other patrons of the site.

That area of interest can expand however, as is the case with Exit133b. Erik Hanberg, who also blogs at, is helping to grow this off ramp to arts and entertainment discussion with an intent to provide a resource similar to the main exit but for the arts community. I have written some theater reviews myself for this portion of the site. Known as the lighter side of the web site, Erik has attributed the “B” designation as not only an extension of the freeway sign metaphor, but also the “B” side of a single or even “B” for Beta, as they are still tinkering with the concept.

Perhaps when the "C" side launches, it will stand for community, something that already exists within the virtual boundaries just off of this exit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kindling My Interest

I am stuck.

What do I want for Christmas? What do I want to give for Christmas? What will be the device of the holidays?

One of my kids wants an iPod Nano. I like the new design and size. The grey version goes for 149.00 but then jumps 50 bucks for a different color. Really? For a color change? If I go this direction then I would just as soon by her the grey version and a skin of her choice.

Interestingly, there is substantial jump to the iPod classic in terms of space for files. Four Gig to Forty Gig with a 100 dollar change in price. How do you use up 40 Gig of space, or 80 Gig for that matter? Does the space fill up fast?

What about the Zune? I just read that it is the best selling music player on Amazon. Is 2.0 much better than the 1.0?

Another of my children would like a Nintendo DS, as there are two others in the household who already own and are using them to play games. It is distracting enough listening to just those two playing against each other in the family room, even with their headsets on. There will be complete silence for several minutes and out of nowhere, one or the other will jump off the couch yelling in victory or defeat. These sudden outbursts scare the heck out of me sometimes. Three would be worse no doubt.

Sudden jolts to the heart aside; this is probably safer than when we had a toddler crossing back and forth in front of two people playing the Wii sports package. Whether it be boxing, bowling or Wii tennis, I was certain the little boy was going to just get smacked as he continued to weave his way back and forth between the flailing arms of the oblivious players.

And the PS3 just got a substantial price cut.

Another device just introduced is the Kindle, which is featured on the Amazon home page. It is the latest attempt at a readable, easily portable and usable e-book (which I believe poses no physical threat). I really want one. At least I want the idea of one. Forbes and the New York Times have both exclaimed the virtues of Kindle 2.0. Too bad this is only version 1.0. All the talk is of what it could be, and not so much what it is.

I think it is fascinating that when you check out the product from the Amazon link on the home page, and drop to the product page that Amazon’s own strength is its weakness. Out of the 182 customer reviews on the page, 72 of them rated the product a 1 (lowest rating). Out of five stars it received two a one half stars.

My question is this. How many of them even have the product? Many were condemning it by virtue of the product specifications as opposed to experience.

In the meantime another family member is searching for a new laptop but I don’t want to think about that just yet.

At this point, I am leaning toward Play-Doh and sweaters for Christmas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

BoF Sessions and SST 8 Program Update

Here is an update to some of the program for the Eighth South Sound Technology Conference. Let us know what questions within these topics provoke your interest.

Opening Address - Welcome by Congressman Adam Smith (and others)

Panel One - "How Blogging has Transformed the News" Mark Briggs and selected company.

Focus Topic - "A Basic Introductory Tour Through Notable Blogs" Andrew Fry

Panel Two - "How ParentBloggers are Transforming Community" and "Life of Elle" (and others)

Focus Topic - "Blog Tech: Connecting, Reading and Feeding" Kevin Freitas from FeedTacoma

Panel Three - "Civic Blogging: Public Discourse and Participation Through Blogs" Paul Ellis from BIA, Derek Young from Exit133 (and others)

Close and Invite to Birds of a Feather

I would like to highlight for a moment the Birds of a Feather.

This year we are keeping the conference shorter, running only until 1:00pm. Along with some scheduling concerns, the reason for this is the very large number of sub topics that can be discussed.

Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions provide face to face exposure to those interested in the same projects and concepts. BoFs can be organized for individual projects or broader topics (best practices, building community, managing forums). BoFs are entirely up to the attendees and participants of the conference. We can post your topic ideas online and on the conference site, with some space suggestions as well. At the end of the regular conference time has been set aside for these groups to meet. You provide the engaging topic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Watching the PC

Is there such thing as a PC dinner? Or a PC guide? How about a PC tray for your PC dinner?

I just watched the NBC show Chuck the other night on my computer. I had missed an episode and forgot to set the DVR to record it, and I kinda like the show.

So anyway, I was sitting there next to my wife watching the computer thinking that this was something new and different. Well, for me it was, but not in Europe.

In the recently released European Interactive Advertising Association report, "SHIFTING TRADITIONS: INTERNET RIVALLING TV IN MEDIA CONSUMPTION STAKES" all sorts of online habits and their adoption are outlined.

The one I found fascinating for the moment was that this:
For the first time ever, 16-24 year olds are now accessing the internet more frequently than they are watching TV – 82% of this younger demographic use the internet between 5 and 7 days each week while only 77% watch TV as regularly (a decrease of 5% since last year). 16-24 year olds also spend 10% more time surfing the internet than sat in front of the television and almost half (48%) claim their TV consumption has dropped off as a direct result of the internet.

So here is my question. What if they are spending 15% of their time on the internet watching "Chuck"? Doesn't that tip the balance back in the favor of TV even if you count that time on both? Come on TV, you can hang in there as the entertainment venue of choice! At least for a while.

Now here is another thought. Oh wait, I think "The Bionic Woman" is on the PC. I'll have to get back to that.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

South Sound Technology Conference 2007

The Blogging Boom:
How News, Private Enterprise, Parenting and Civic Action have Changed Through Online Journaling.

Please save the date to join us on Thursday, November 29th, 9:00am to 1:00pm (8:30am registration) in the Carwein Auditorium of the Keystone Building on the University of Tacoma campus, for a conference on how blogging is changing the way we communicate, socialize and take action.

After the event we hope to organize several "birds of a feather" break out groups to head out to lunch and carry on further with the conversations.

Speakers and panelists will explore who is doing blogging, how it's being done and how you can participate. Come join the conversation on how blogging is transforming the exchange of information, and the influence on journalism, business, civic leadership and the public at large.

Many members of the local South Sound blogging community will be there and I hope you will be as well.

More information to follow as the program firms up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Online Scavenger Hunt Fall 2007: WRAP UP!!!


Congrats to Jan and Wendy for first, Bryant and Allysha for second, Eric and Lamond for third and Nancy C for first out of non class participants.

Until next time.


Collect as many items as you can by 1:45 PM Pacific Time. You can provide the items in two ways. Find the item and copy and paste the URL into an email or a document. When you have collected as many items as possible email me the results with the subject line TINST207 FALL 2007 HUNT. Some items are not URLs but can still be copy and pasted into a document. Provide as many as you can.


Note: If you need to physically write down any information you can turn them in to the front desk in the Pinkerton reception area. This should not be the case.

1) The URL address for the HTTP specification.

2) A shopping cart with total price plus delivery of “Screenplay” the book, a Panasonic AG DVX100A camcorder and a Roomba robot vacuum.

3) Travel itinerary for Disneyland for 2 adults and 2 kids at the Grand Californian hotel.

4) A list of the Tacoma Gnomes favorite movies.

5) The names of three matchmaking websites that are NOT

6) A web page (or address) featuring Andrew Fry as a panelist for Digital Hollywood. Bonus if you can list one other person on the panel.

7) A home valued at between 300,000 and 400,000, three bedrooms in NE Tacoma from both Zillow and Redfin.

8) The names of three general search engines sites that are NOT, Google, Yahoo or MSN Search.

9) Email me when you have created a blog entry on the results so far of your online scavenger hunt linking back to your blog address.

a. A bonus for a link within the page to

10) Financial information for Oracle. URL address please not any pdf.

11) A message posted on a message board since the beginning of the hunt. A BONUS if it is in RESPONSE to a comment you have made.

12) Find an ad for a Tacoma tourist attraction in a publication or blog not based in WA

13) Two definitions of what a cookie.txt file is from two different reference sources.

14) Six of the cast members from the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’.

15) A Tag Cloud for

Monday, November 5, 2007

Online Scavenger Hunt Fall 2007

Tomorrow will be the second virtual scavenger hunt I will hold in 2007. Last May I posted about the upcoming assignment and I received some good suggestions as to items I should consider adding to the hunt. Recurring since 2005, it involves a variety of search techniques and refinements that teams of three must employ in order to beat out the competition in a three hour contest.

For those in my Living and Working in a Virtual World class who read this blog: Yes you will be graded and there will be prizes for first, second and third. You have just been given a head start. Prepare your strategy and form your team so you can be ready tomorrow.

As previously instructed in class and in this blog, "It might be a shopping cart full of three very different and hard to find items, or the total box office receipts of a movie with Peter Sellers in it with the only information provided being three supporting characters or an email response from your local government official. It might be."

One of the items on this Hunt's list came from the comments section of the May hunt. I will also require the teams find an item from comments posted on THIS blog entry. So anyone out there wanting to provide a suggestion please do.

The above picture is from the classic "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)"

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's Getting Easier Being Green

Though Kermit may have said otherwise, times are changing and it is much easier being Green. Goodness, everyone seems to be talking about going green these days. There are Green buildings, Green Halloween, Green Campuses and many others. In fact, if you Google on “Green Initiatives” it will return 464,000 entries and counting.

Just recently I was pointed toward three different Green Search initiatives.

The first was from one of the students in class who posted about Google Greenback Search.


"Greenback Search is powered by Google, so you'll get the same high quality results, but Greenback Search gives back to the environment by purchasing carbon offsets with the revenue it earns”

They do so by donating 50% of their revenues to, and I am paraphrasing, organizations that are dedicated to making it easy and affordable to eliminate climate impact as well as moving more quickly to a clean energy future.

They then informed me that my search benefits would be directed toward

Next up, if you want to simply search for Green information, Green companies and Green architects, then you can try Green Maven.

Green Maven is your gateway to the Green Web. We're a search engine that focuses on green, conscious, and sustainable websites. Use the search box above to search the green web!”

Powered by and noting kudos from the likes of Times top ten lists, they provide three tools (just to start with) in order to go Green. These tools are a Green search engine, a Green newsreader and a Green directory. There mission is to “grow the green economy by leveraging the power of the collective internet.”

Which brings me to my third example and probably my favorite from a thinking out of the box front. It also is the least likely, in my mind, to catch on as it requires us to darken our outlook, or at least out output.

However, for those who believe in basic black, and want to do their part one starter home page at a time, check out Blackle.

Thank you to tacomachickadee, for bringing this site to my attention.

Blackle believes that “Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black”, which in turn makes it Green.

This is supported with the notation that "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user's color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002

Blackle was created by Heap Media, which purports to be committed to “developing and growing leading online services with global reach”, as a reminder to us all that even baby steps in our everyday lives can save energy.

They are currently in Beta and are intent on being a Green products and services search.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Feeding the Bloggers a Blog

Kevin Freitas came by the Living and Working class recently to discuss his blog and his work. He was received well by the students, as evidenced in their own blog entries. The longevity of his participation in the blogging community, the uniqueness of his site and the thousands of photos that he has aggregated over time were part of the conversation. Photo safaris, community involvement and gaming cheats were also on the agenda.

We talked about the fact the Kevin built his own blogging engine, and then also fashioned a mechanism by which entries from all around the Tacoma blogging ranks could be funneled through a single site, just like a news feed. That of course would be FeedTacoma, one of my favorite tools in the South Sound online world. (Yes, RR, we also talked about the Tacomic).

The big announcement though, was the introduction of the ability for those who have accounts with FeedTacoma can start their own FeedTacoma blogs using technology that he has built into the system. Previously, account holders could participate in the forums and build events into a calendar. Now with the blogging capability he has almost created a hyper-local Google (sans search).

The setup and use are extremely simple.

Go to your account (or create one if you haven't already) and Start an Entry.

Fill in the blanks. In particular I like the idea of a subtitle on the blog entry, something not available here on Blogger.

The formatting buttons were familiar and easy to use.

Overall a solid start, with two features I would like to point out in particular.

Number one, the requirement of tags (and the explanation of what they are). I like to see that the tool is making tags a mandatory part of the post. I would in the future like to see a more illustrative reasons behind it. The idea that tag clouds, searching tags across blog entries and general organization of the users blog would be helpful to any new and occasional users.

Secondly, I loved that I could resize my photo within the blog entry and that I could drag and drop it on to the page. Very nice.

When I was through with my post, I kept hopping over to my new blog, but I didn't see the entry there.

I finally figured out that I needed to select the "Make Public" button to be able to see it there myself.

As a result, I managed my first blog post on FeedTacoma's site. Seen here it is a blog post within my blog post.

For those who already blog on other engines, it will likely be hard to switch, but if you are starting a new blog, it is quite nice. You can also tag Tacoma to your posts in order to immediately move them into the FeedTacoma feed.

I could then blog post this blog post over on the FeedTacoma blog post and then back again to achieve an Escher like blog posting, but that is probably too much.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A "Bama Breeze" in Las Vegas

“I took off for a weekend last month, just trying to recall the whole year”

Julie and I and some friends of ours headed to Vegas this weekend. The precipitating event was the Jimmy Buffett “Bama Breeze” concert at the MGM Grand Arena Saturday night. We stayed at the MGM Grand itself, which made getting to the concert that much simpler.
"Yes I am a pirate, 200 years too late. The cannons don't thunder, there's nothing to plunder, I'm an over 40 victim of fate".

There were far too many Jack Sparrows loose on the grounds. What we didn’t think about, but surprised us, was that for Vegas, this was Halloween Weekend. The number of people roaming about in costume all over the town was amusing and funny. There was also a big Halloween costume party at Studio 54 in the hotel which just added to the concentration of costumes. Angels, devils, cheerleaders and lots and lots of pirates were everywhere. Someone dressed in a maids outfit looked like they were trying to break into our room, so I chased her off.

At 6:45am on the day of our flight back there was this lone vampire just getting back in and he definitely looked like the living dead.
“I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Hines 57 and French fried potato.”

The food was amazing. We tried to keep the dining casual but two meals stood out. We went to a place called "Corsa Cucina" at Wynne's and had a Wild Mushrooms pizza made from mushroom puree, robiola cheese and white truffle oil, some Mozzarella di Bufala made from marinated heirloom tomatoes, basil, balsamic, extra virgin olive oil and split a huge hand cut Kurobuta Pork Chop with roasted butternut squash, raisins and apples.

The wine was incredible but the side potato dish fell short.
"In days of old, when knights were bold,
and journeyed from their castles,
Trusty men were left behind,
Knights needed not the hassles.
They helped themselves to pig and peach,
and drank from King's own chalice.
Oh, it was a stirring sight
these gypsies in the palace."

We were at the Wynn to see Spamalot. We missed the opportunity to see it at the Paramount when it was just here so I begged Julie and we made it part of our plans for Friday night. It was fun and entertaining and left me singing much of the songs from the show. Last year, Jill, a faculty member of the school of business, and I sang “A Song That Goes Like This” as part of a performance here at the UWT campus, so it was great to see the song in the context of the show.

A word of warning. They have cut down the show and removed the intermission for the Wynne theater version. The good news is that at 95 minutes long, it means you’re done early enough to go out on the town. The bad news is that something did seem missing. More than just the Arthur line “Have a drink and a pee, we’ll be back for Act Three”, “Two, sir” “Two, Run away, run away, run away.”, some of the songs seemed to have been shortened.

Nevertheless, check out half price tickets and hit the balcony and it is still a good deal.
“At a moment like this, I can’t help but wonder, “What would Jimmy Buffett do?”

After Spamalot, we met up with friends at Margaritaville Café and got a surprise.
The members of his band were all there on stage providing the music for the evening.
Nadirah Shakoor who sings vocals was the headliner, announcing a CD she was releasing, and introduced Tina Gullickson, who also provides vocals. Michael Utley, Mac McAnally, who was just admitted to the songwriter’s Hall of Fame (and recently discovered he was a second-cousin in law to Elvis) were on hand with several other band members. Jimmy would wait until the concert to make his appearance.
“You got fins to the left, fins to the right, and you're the only bait in town.”

I am used to Corona sponsoring the concert so I was surprised to see it sponsored by LandShark Lager. LandShark Lager, which has replaced Corona as Jimmy Buffett’s beer sponsor, is brewed by Anheuser-Busch. I am a little disappointed by this, but in the scope of the world, I think I can adjust.

“We are the people, our parents warned us about….I’m growing older but not up”

The concert was great. Very solid set and the music did not stop. Many of my favorite songs, which are quite a few, and some rarely heard ones. The only time Jimmy left the stage for a break, Mac McAnnally took over with Piece of Work, which Mac wrote, and another song. They played for nearly three hours with two encores (per usual) and the place was rockin’. The crowd has grown older along with Mr. Buffett, and it was evident only in looks but not attitude. There are always young fans coming on board, but this night was definitely skewed toward the veterans.

My favorite fan sighting had nothing to do with costume, though the prerequisite flowered shirts, coconut bra, leis and funny hats were being worn. No, it was the multiple piercings and the dark makeup that made me take notice. Those were the first Goth Buffett fans I have encountered.

All told, a truly fun weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the Internet Everyone Knows You're a Gnome

There is an old saying that goes, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” It works on a number of levels and addresses anonymity, aliases, virtual characters and the secret lives of canines whose owners leave their computers logged on.

The web allows for us to create extensions of ourselves that to some can be as real as any other individual, or gnome, that they might meet. Few are immune to the call of character creation, and most people already have multiple email addresses which they imbue with different tones and activities depending on the situation.

It’s already a time honored tradition in the print business. Advice column by committee with a figurehead is one example. The Weekly Volcano has printed guises of Bobble Tiki, Natasha and the like. In the online World we have a multitude of posters under pseudonyms, and a great discussion on the Exit133 forum about use of real names when posting.

So it only makes sense that characters real and surreal co-exist in the blogging world. Is it the real Steve Jobs or the fake Blogging Steve Jobs? Check out the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs for a laugh. ("Dude, I invented the friggin iPhone. Have you heard of it?") Or like Victor/Victoria, the story of a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman, it may be Steve pretending to be someone else pretending to be Steve. (It’s not; it’s Daniel Lyons of Forbes).

But anonymity has many levels and many uses. I had two recent visitors to the Living and Working Class who bare this out.

TacomaChickadee is a frequent blogger, and author of Tickle Me Tacoma. She is a writer in the real world, works in the South Sound and is a fine individual. On her blog, she freely writes about the things she enjoys about Tacoma and life in general. However, you may notice that her site does not betray a great deal of personal information within the posts or the profile and she likes it that way. It is an excellent outlet for her love of writing and it also allows her to keep her working life separate.

On the other hand, I had assumed that the TacomaGnome was an alias and looked forward to meeting the blogger behind the garden décor. Instead I was treated to a genial Norwegian Garden Gnome whose relatives live all over the world but who himself has chosen to discover Tacoma.

Whereas I thought he might speak to the class about living online as a personality, instead the pleasure was in learning how easy it was to communicate to all of his Gnome friends and family around the world through his blog. He has visited the Tacoma Dome, the Murano, UrbanXchange, Savi Day Spa and other locales.

His trip has been a pleasure thus far, and he has garnered attention from the bloggers at Grit City, Exit133 and Mark Briggs online in the South Sound.

A thanks to him for stopping off at the UWT.

Hopefully you have seen the press release from the EDB about Infoblox renewing its lease in Tacoma for another six years. Growing from sixty...