The New New Internet
XY in Tech
National Day of Unplugging lasted from sunset on Friday, March 1 to sunset on Saturday, March 2. But judging from the smartphones, Macbooks, and tablets at the third annual Theorizing the Web conference, no attendees took them up on the challenge.
This past weekend was the first time the conference has been held in New York City, at the CUNY Graduate Center near Herald Square.
Gatherings of this sort are typically insular, academic affairs, but organizers Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey, both sociology grad students at the University of Maryland-College Park, have attempted to broaden the tent to include bloggers, writers, and journalists of all stripes. “We wanted to create the sort of conference we would want to attend,” said Mr. Rey.
News of the first annual Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day swept across the web this morning following an article penned by one of the event’s founders, gaming and social media reporter Leigh Alexander. “From booth babes to harassment, snide comments to double standards, women have often had a hard time feeling comfortable around the tech industry,” she wrote. In order to demonstrate “the absurdity of objectifying people you claim to agree with or support intellectually,” she’s encouraging female tech writers to give gendered compliments or make sexist proclamations to men about their work.
Though the actual Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day isn’t until February 1st, Betabeat–comprised primarily of female writers–could hardly contain ourselves. Here are 25 gendered comments for 25 of our favorite male tech writers.
Predditors, the Tumblr that posts the personal information of Reddit users who publish photos to the controversial subreddit Creepshots, is back up and running after a tumultuous few days. The blog was initially removed by Tumblr after administrators there mistakenly believed that the information being published was personal information. In fact, the author of Predditors is simply stringing together information available on public profiles posted by the users.
Violentacrez, a notorious Reddit user who moderated controversial subreddits like Creepshots and Jailbait, was revealed by Gawker on Friday to be a Texas-based IT worker named Michael Brusch. Adrian Chen’s post, “Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web,” painstakingly detailed Mr. Brusch’s dark online history–including the fact that he has created subreddits for submission of racist, sexist and borderline pedophiliac content–and served as the apex of a brewing inter-website war.
Now, Violentacrez has returned to Reddit under his “clean” handle–mbrutsch–in an attempt to explain his side of the story. In a subreddit for point and click adventure games, Mr. Brutsch surfaced, publishing an innocuous link entitled “Tea Break Escape.” But comments on this link quickly turned to Mr. Brutsch and how he is dealing with the fallout from the Gawker article.
If websites are one big dysfunctional family, Reddit and Gawker Media are the two drunken uncles who can’t stop fighting over who has to pick grandpa up at the airport. Now, the two sites are preparing for a grueling “inter-website war” that threatens to rob netizens of wifi packet rations and provide hours of popcorn-eating fodder.
After news broke on Reddit that Gawker writer Adrian Chen was preparing to publish a post revealing the personal information of Reddit user Violentacrez, a moderator of the controversial subreddit r/creepshots, Reddit began to batten down the hatches. The politics subreddit, which boasts almost 2 million subscribers, announced that it will ban all links to Gawker Media properties–including Gawker, Jezebel and Lifehacker–in response to the news that Mr. Chen may be preparing to publish personal details about Violentacruz.
Sorry, musicians: Unless you’re already Lady Gaga, streaming services probably aren’t going to net you much money. [The Next Web]
This weekend, copyright robots shut down Ustream’s livestream of the Hugo Awards, just as author Neil Gaiman won for his (pretty great) Doctor Who episode. Scifi fans are not happy. [io9]
There’s an app for that, and by “that” we mean war. [The Wall Street Journal]
Cambodia plans to hand the founder of The Pirate Bay over to Sweden. Unless, of course, Ecuador wants to make a habit of hiding Internet-beloved Swedes in its embassies. [Reuters]
“Meanwhile, AntiSec says it will not provide further statements or interviews until a mysterious request is fulfilled – to have a photo of a Gawker staff writer dressed in a tutu featured on the company’s homepage.” [The Next Web]
“The purpose of this blog is to provide sourcing for texts quoted by @Horse_ebooks and, whenever possible, provide context,” wrote freelancer Jack Stuef on a freshly-minted Tumblr conceived in the bleary midnight hours early Friday morning. Born out of that insomniac haze is “The Annotated @Horse_ebooks,” a blog devoted to teasing out nuance and substance from the glorious fountain of non-sequitors that is the Internet’s favorite Twitter account, @Horse_ebooks.
“The idea to do a Tumblr just came to me, but I had looked up some of Horse’s tweets before, and sometimes the sources of those can be just as bizarre and hilarious as the tweets themselves. Or they can be incredibly dull. I thought it was interesting,” Mr. Stuef, who frequently writes for The Onion and BuzzFeed, told Betabeat via Gchat.
PIVOTS AND PYRES. Pivots are in vogue, and recently-pivoted SkillSlate is taking full advantage of the hype with a self-branded Pivot Party. The start-up began as a directory-like site for local businesses and entrepreneurs to build a personalized profile that could put them in front of new customers; it was also meant to capture people like personal chefs who would post specific offers for customers to browse. Oops, no one used it because small businesses don’t check their email, and SkillSlate had burned through half its cash. Pivot time!
SkillSlate is now more like a Zaarly-esque, real-time classifieds where customers posts requests and service providers respond. Which is how the start-up nabbed a fire dancer for tonight’s fete. Founder Bartek Ringwelski posted an ad on the site: “I’m throwing a party for 100+ people for our startup on Tuesday, June 26th, and I really want to invite someone different for entertainment. I’m looking for someone who is an expert sword swallower, juggler, magician or has some other amazing talent. In total, I’m looking for 10-15 minutes of you doing your talent. Please provide some background on yourself and, if possible, a video of you doing your thing,” he wrote. He passed on the ventriloquist ($120), the ribbon dancer ($250), and the magician who can swallow razor blades and needles but no sword ($200).
But within 48 hours, he had a fire performer: Matthew Pagliaro, who we see is being paid $75 to do two five-minute performances with fire poi, which are flammable balls on chains. Good thing the pivot party is at the DCTV Firehouse, LOL LOL. 7:30 p.m.
TECH NEWS IS BORING. Adrian Chen’s meta-post about tech blogging and how boring it is and how sleepy it makes him to read infamous Apple fanboy MG Siegler’s thoughts about Facebook’s iPad app–”Make it stop! This is the most boring shit ever”–and what it will look like and when it will come out is a hit! Almost 8,000 views in two hours and a pick-up from Techmeme, Dave Winer and Slate’s Farhad Manjoo.
Mr. Siegler responded on Tumblr with a post titled, “Rhymes With Douchebag.”
LOOKBACK. Turntable.fm continues to suck up all the air in the New York start-up scene–our top post this week was the news about the music site’s 140k users, but we liked this more rumorish postie better. We did hear some hand-wringing over the departure of young Josh Weinstein, Peter Thiel acolyte, rumored last week to be headed west–if General Assembly can’t keep ‘em, what can?
GAWKER CONSORTS WITH HACKERS. Gawker’s Adrian Chen has been tirelessly tracking the story of Lulz Security hack attacks. Mr. Chen spoke to a member of the collective via Skype, he claims, and although we’re not sure how Mr. Chen would know one way or another if he was Skyping with a Lulz hacker, the quotes are amazing.
“As an arrogant and violent sociopath driven to a frenzy by the sense of my own power, I can’t divulge the upcoming releases,” he said. (Earlier in our chat, Topiary had brought up a March Gawker article that he said portrayed him and his crew as “arrogant sociopaths.”)
After all this bluster, we asked if Topiary was worried at all about being caught. His response: “Worrying is for fools!”