Social Media

Mad Genius Creates Ello, the Elegant Anti-Facebook

Paul Budnitz — exhibiting photographer and filmmaker, artist, designer toy maker, bicycle enthusiast. Add: social media magnate?

For tech entrepreneurs and investors, a social network is the great white whale of startups. Successful ones scale hard and fast, generating mountains of precious user data for advertising clients.

Paul Budnitz, an artist and designer toy maker, thinks that kind of marketer exploitation is downright evil, and has organized a supergroup of artists, programmers, and designers to build a safe haven. It’s called Ello, and it’s a social network with a manifesto. Read More

Big Data/Small Minds

A Broken Valentine to the Hiring Process: Data Scientist Flips Over Interview

How about we...don't? (

Imagine that you are having a Big Thought. You know, the kind of Thought that could Start a Conversation on the Internet, which is clearly the point of having Big Thoughts in the first place (as well as small thoughts/all thoughts, but let’s leave that aside for now). Let’s say your Big Thought was “I don’t like how tech companies determine new hires based on antiquated models of evaluation.” (In this hypothetical, you also didn’t read this month’s Atlantic cover story.)

How to express your Big Thought best? If you’re mad data scientist “Will,” you’d apply to, get rejected, and then send a massive missive to the company akin to a sophomore year, 2 am drunk-email you’d send to the person who broke up with you on Valentine’s Day. AND THEN YOU WOULD CC A BUNCH OF MEDIA REPORTERS. Read More

Off the Media

The Real Story Behind ‘These Links From Our Partners’

A few years ago, I got an unusual request from Google. The search giant was working on an experimental program that encouraged retailers to feature links to products from other retailers on their websites. I forget the exact economics of the deal, whether Google treated it as an advertising unit or more an affiliate program — all I remember was my reaction.

It seemed insane to send customers away from your website and toward the websites of competitors. After spending countless dollars and energies pulling users onto your page, why would you open up an exit door? Even if the ad unit was lucrative, it still seemed like advertising suicide–or at least, like stupidly shooting yourself in the foot.

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Off the Media

Exposing the Racket: A Simple Stunt Reveals How Blogs Will Print Anything for Pageviews

It doesn’t take Noam Chomsky to see that the state of media is bad.

But in 2011, I had the sense that most people didn’t fully grasp the absurd lows the system was spiraling toward. So I set out to illustrate it.

And in the process surprised even myself.

When I sold my first book of media criticism to Portfolio/Penguin, I decided to use the launch itself as an experiment. I even wrote some of the experiment into my book proposal and subsequent deal.

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No Longer an App for That

News Corp. To Shutter Its iPad Magazine, The Daily, on December 15th

(Photo: Digital Trends)

Rupert Murdoch’s less than two-year-old foray into digital-only publishing has officially come to an end with the news that The Daily, News Corp.’s iPad-only magazine, will cease publication on December 15th. Some of The Daily’s assets and 120 employees will transition over to other News Corp. entities; Jesse Angelo, its editor-in-chief, will serve as the new publisher of the New York Post. Read More

Twitter Trouble

Twitter Suspends Beloved Account @NYTOnIt After Trademark Violation Claims From The New York Times [UPDATED]

(Screencap: Twitter)

Update: Our long national nightmare is over. Twitter has reinstated @NYTOnIt, under the condition that it gets a new logo or else face “permanent deletion.” The NYTOnIt Facebook page is now having a design contest for a new logo.

Avid media watchers are well acquainted with the presence of @NYTOnIt, a longstanding Twitter account that gently mocks The New York Times by pointing out articles or trend stories that tread somewhere between indulgent and “duh.” Each tweet always ends with “and The Times is ON IT” to drive home the point that the stories tweeted by @NYTOnIt are some of the Times’s less-than-thought-provoking fare. As the account’s Twitter bio explains, “Because sometimes stories in newspapers are just *that* obvious.” Read More


Your Obnoxious Tweet Could Now Make It Into a TV Commercial

(Screencap: YouTube)

Shooting off some borderline-rude half-baked review of a product or service is kind of a Twitter rite of passage; the platform would simply cease to exist if crochety tweets were suddenly outlawed. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that your anti-iPhone 5 tweets are actually being used by competitors to mount compelling advertising campaigns. Hey, at least you’re not just shouting into a void? (You’re mostly shouting into a void.) Read More