Articles on this Page
- 03/05/13--12:48: _This anti-gay Chris...
- 03/06/13--04:00: _Carrie Brownstein i...
- 03/06/13--05:23: _Jennifer Lawrence o...
- 03/06/13--07:00: _Escaping the trolls...
- 03/06/13--08:00: _100 bands you shoul...
- 03/06/13--11:22: _#WeirdWednesday: Sh...
- 03/06/13--11:48: _Sesame Street celeb...
- 03/07/13--04:00: _Blendtec CEO and "W...
- 03/07/13--08:00: _Podspotting: The st...
- 03/07/13--11:38: _What is Simon Cowel...
- 03/07/13--13:38: _Stephen Colbert tea...
- 03/08/13--05:05: _Anita Sarkeesian de...
- 03/08/13--06:41: _A GIF guide to Jame...
- 03/08/13--09:00: _Lonerism: Bedroom f...
- 03/08/13--14:16: _YouTube Guide: Walk...
- 03/11/13--04:36: _Buzzed: Amanda Byne...
- 03/11/13--12:39: _Kevin Connolly vs. ...
- 03/12/13--05:00: _Spotify Essentials:...
- 03/12/13--07:00: _Marc Maron: Lawsuit...
- 03/12/13--08:23: _Anonymous to boycot...
- 03/05/13--12:48: This anti-gay Christian rap will destroy your soul
- 03/06/13--04:00: Carrie Brownstein is your Tumblr dreamcrush
- 03/06/13--05:23: Jennifer Lawrence on Twitter? Not even close
- 03/06/13--07:00: Escaping the trolls: Franchesca Ramsey's 4-year YouTube struggle
- 03/06/13--08:00: 100 bands you should hear at SXSW 2013
- 03/06/13--11:22: #WeirdWednesday: Shaming people with sh*t taste in movies
- 03/06/13--11:48: Sesame Street celebrates 1 billion YouTube views with "secret" video
- 03/07/13--04:00: Blendtec CEO and "Will It Blend?" host steps down
- 03/07/13--08:00: Podspotting: The state of podcasting 2013
- Time to Re-Boot: What’s Next for Podcasting?
- Monday, March 11, 12:30pm
- Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB
- 03/07/13--11:38: What is Simon Cowell doing with YouTube?
- 03/07/13--13:38: Stephen Colbert teaches James Franco a thing or 2 about Tolkien
- Are bigger pics enough to get you excited about Facebook again?
- A remade Breaking Bad intro sends the show back to the '90s.
- The mosh girl meme has an Egyptian twin brother.
- Watch Stephen Colbert school James Franco on Tolkien:
- A superb gallery of old, fat men in baseball uniforms.
- Japanese women are wearing advertisements on their thighs.
- Party aficionado Andrew W.K. is the new spokesman for Playtex sex wipes.
- 11 fun facts about SXSW. Did you know it could have been called "Third Coast"?
- 12 years after "That's How I Beat Shaq," Mr. O'Neal gets revenge on Aaron Carter:
- 03/08/13--05:05: Anita Sarkeesian debuts first episode of "Tropes vs. Women"
- 03/08/13--06:41: A GIF guide to James Franco's weirdest movie roles
- 03/08/13--09:00: Lonerism: Bedroom funk and soul
- 03/08/13--14:16: YouTube Guide: Walk Off the Earth gets an even bigger guitar
- 03/11/13--04:36: Buzzed: Amanda Bynes, Justin Timberlake, and more
- 03/11/13--12:39: Kevin Connolly vs. Katie Nolan: A Facebook freakout saga
- 03/12/13--05:00: Spotify Essentials: 30 SXSW bands that will shake your rump
- 03/12/13--07:00: Marc Maron: Lawsuit over podcast patent is “extortion”
- 03/12/13--08:23: Anonymous to boycott movie industry, starting with Tom Cruise
Gay-fearing Bible thumpers have finally found the secret weapon to fight back against the homosexual propaganda machine: white-girl rap.
A new music video from YouTube channel Apologetics stars a woman hating on gay love by dropping rhymes in a rough approximation of a hip-hop Rebecca Black accidentally dosed with a hefty serving of amphetamines and Jesus juice.
The song is called "Rated T for Tolerance." It includes lyrics like this:
"Homosexuality is not innate/It is not a genetic trait/Cannot replicate the man between a love and a woman which god did indeed create."
This girl's flow is not smooth. You could call it "viscous," though "paste-like" might be more appropriate. Anyway, watch it below, if you're into this sort of thing.
Screengrab via YouTube
This story was produced by Tumblr Storyboard, Tumblr's in-house editorial arm.
She was a '90s riot grrrl, hung out with Kurt Cobain, and had a music blog on NPR. She worked briefly at an ad agency (Portland-based, of course) before she decided to write comedy; in Portlandia, the IFC sketch comedy series she co-created—now wrapping up its third season — she plays a feminist bookstore owner, new age helicopter mom, kinky greaser,
newspaper blog editor, and, of course, herself (alongside creative partner Fred Armisen). Now she’s got a new band, Wild Flag. And a shitload of blogs devoted to her every move.
In real life, though, Carrie Brownstein isn’t quite so different from the fans who adore her. She once cried because she loved Madonna. She had a crush on Danny from New Kids on the Block. She wrote fan letters and plastered rock posters on her teenage bedroom wall. Portlandia, she says, is like its own version of a fan ballad—an ode to the endearing absurdities of her Pacific Northwest home. Here, Brownstein talks fandom, emoticons, and what was so great about the '90s.
You studied sociolinguistics in college. Is that like the use of emoticons?
Actually, kind of. Sociolinguistics examines the relationship between language and society. So what I did in college was mostly discourse analysis: looking at the ways people communicate via computers, social media, and phones, and the way that language changes. So yeah, emoticons, that would be part of it.
But you’re not, like, xo-ing your online following.
I definitely am guilty of a few too many xos or xs. I think I’m mostly guilty of exclamation points. You know when you’re in elementary school and you’re learning punctuation, the exclamation point is rarely used. Like you think, “Oh, exclamation point, that’s just for something really dramatic, or really hyperbolic.” But now, with email or text, like if I don’t put an exclamation point, people think I’m mad at them. Like I’m mad or just suicidal.
You’re the subject of a whole lot of fan blogs on Tumblr. Who was your Harry Styles?
When I was really young, I was obsessed with Madonna. I remember crying to my mom that Madonna and I would never be friends, and feeling really heartbroken that we would never get to hang out. Which I think is a really common feeling when you love someone’s music, or someone’s style, and you just think, “Why can’t we be friends? This person probably really understands me.” I really loved Duran Duran in the '80s. I just thought that band was so cool. And I actually really loved the New Kids on the Block.
Did you hear they’re reuniting?
I know! And I remember I could never decide who was the cutest. Like sometimes it was Jon, sometimes it was Jordan, you’d just switch your alliances a lot. The funniest thing about loving a boyband is there’s that urge to pick the one you think you have the most possibility to be with. You know, you’re like, “Well, I’m gonna love Danny, because he’s like not as cute as the other ones so maybe I have a chance.”
I know, poor Danny! And then I loved Jon who I think maybe turned out to be gay. That’s probably why I loved him.
So what’d your mom say about you and Madonna?
She told me it was very unlikely that we would be friends, which turned out to be true.
Really? You’ve never met?
No, you know, I’m not Gwyneth Paltrow, so we never ended up being friends. And you know, now I don’t think I want to. I mean, I haven’t been as interested in Madonna for a long time, but I think it’s often disappointing to meet people you admire. I guess we still have a chance, but now I rescind my offer. I’m taking back the fan letters!
Did Carrie Brownstein really write fan letters?
Yup, all of that. I would cut out pictures from magazines of actors and of bands. I loved old movie stars like Cary Grant and Gary Cooper. In high school, I got really into punk. I didn’t write letters to Joey Ramone or Joe Strummer, but I would write letters to actors. The best I would ever get back was some kind of form letter or an autographed picture. I did all of it. Although you know what I didn’t do: Some of my friends would bake bands cupcakes. I never did that.
Why, too desperate?
I always thought, “Well first of all, I’m a terrible cook, so it’s not going to taste good.” But I also just assumed they would throw it out, because, you know, you think it could be poisonous.
Has anyone ever sent you cupcakes?
Yes, and I have the same feeling. I always think, “I should trust this person,” but the part of me that’s a realist — or even slightly paranoid — thinks, like, well what if this person’s trying to get me really high or kill me? But if I have friends around I just say, “Will you just eat this for me?” And sometimes they will.
Fan letters, cupcakes … Is it all part of coming of age?
It’s part of relating to your environment, and figuring out who you are and how you want to express yourself. Sometimes I think with movies or with music or with television, a show or a song will help describe who you are or what you mean at a time when you’re unable to express that for yourself. It’s such a relief to listen to a song or watch a movie or television show and think, “That’s it! That’s how I feel.” It’s so validating. And the great thing about Tumblr, or fandom on the internet, is that you get to be a fan with other people … Tumblr sites tend to be these little love letters, whether it’s to a fan or a person or a book or an animal. It’s just this way that people can express themselves, and it’s very personal and I think that that’s very sweet.
Portlandia’s now finishing up its third season. Were Portlanders hesitant fans of the show?
Portland isn’t a city that’s used to seeing itself on screen like L.A. or New York. So because Portlandia was one of the only shows that took place in Portland, I think there was a lot of pressure on it to be factual and realistic. I think once people got over that initial discomfort of seeing themselves reflected back, they were able to laugh.
Calling social media "confusing" and " overwhelming," established hater Jennifer Lawrence isn't keen on tweeting, Tumblr, or even googling.
But since the Silver Linings Playbook actress doesn't think she's missing anything on your lame Pinterest boards, there's plenty of room for imitators like @JennifLawrence_.
Since joining Twitter less than a year ago, the social media-ardent teen's feed (we'll just personify it as a girl for simplicity's sake) is a mixture of cajoling her minions to follow Instagram accounts, proclamations of her and her friends' Kik messenger presences, and her best carefree J-La impression.
Significantly, the account doesn't identify itself as a parody; it's blatantly filled with teen's ramblings and mindless musings.
So the who the hell is Jennif? Why is the account that's a string of call-outs to an Instagram so heavily followed? Hardcore pimping her Instagram account? And where did the -er go in her name?
First, let's look at those Instagram accounts. Jennif frequently—and successfully—persuades people to follow tweens' accounts on the photo-sharing app to boost their follower counts. According to a search on Status People, only 15 percent of the followers are fake, so her constant tweeting about essentially nothing has garnered her a loyal legion of fans.
The biggest target of lately is someone named itslorebro. Jennif obsessively tells her fans to follow it and if they do, well she'd love "y'all forever."
Itslorebro appears to be a blonde who goes by the name Lorelei Camille Johnson, an alleged teen who overshares every aspect of her life. The account, less than three months old, is a collage of selfies, terrible teen image macros, and screenshots of her Spotify tracks. She's accumulated about 1,000 followers.
Jennif less frequently tells her fans to follow itsalexiabroskii on Instagram using the same pleading methods. However, since the account is set to private it hasn't garnered as many followers.
Another peculiar thing Jennif does is tell her fans to follow an apparent "official" back-up account, @LawrenceJLaw. It's like she knows her impersonation account is against Twitter rules since it's not marked as a parody.
Nothing explains why @JennifLawrence_ has garnered 100,000 followers, of course. They aren't all fake, so they likely weren't bought; in fact, most of its followers just look like bored teens trawling Twitter for amusement. Most likely, it's people quickly glancing at the account, hitting follow, and thinking they're following Lawrence thanks to the account's avatar being starlet's face.
And for the record, the real Lawrence isn't on Twitter. She confirmed to David Letterman that she isn't on the site, saying it would be a punishment to her.
Photo by Mingle Media TV/Flickr
In September 2008, a little-known vlogger named Franchesca Ramsey won a YouTube contest awarding her the chance to fly to Los Angeles and interview Hollywood stars on the Emmy Awards' red carpet.
The opportunity was huge. Ramsey had been making YouTube videos for 16 months and acquired a small but energetic fanbase, but she'd hardly grown into a star. Ramsey, who is African-American, often spoke about her hair, natural dreadlocks she'd been growing out for years. Many of her videos didn't even run advertisements. Some, like a June 2007 video of Franchesca playing with her dachshund, topped out at a little more than 3,000 views.
Winning the Red Carpet Reporter contest meant Ramsey’s celebrity interviews would land on YouTube's homepage. That used to mean something. Before the site’s redesign and investment in "original content,” everybody with a YouTube account would start on the company’s homepage. Featured videos would instantly receive a pipeline into a massive new audience. In short, getting on YouTube's homepage was like winning the YouTube lottery.
For Ramsey, her ensuing placement on the YouTube homepage meant that she'd experience a legitimate influx of video views and channel subscribers. The new fans largely loved her—her style and effusive personality. They loved how comfortable she looked interviewingSurvivor's Jeff Probst and her strong approach and personality.
"You were chatting it up with all the stars," one commenter wrote on a video that finds Ramsey hobnobbing with Vanessa Williams. "I'm so proud of you and I don't even know you. LOL. You're awesome, for realz."
Everybody loved new girl Franchesca Ramsey, except for one person—with a frightening identity.
Nobody knows who ItRubsTheLotion is, but anybody moderately versed in cinema knows where the name comes from: The Silence of the Lambs' Buffalo Bill, a crazed serial killer who skins his female victims' corpses and then wears their epidermises like a robe.
Ramsey had never seen this person comment on her videos at any point in her first 16 months on the site. After the Red Carpet sessions, ItRubsTheLotion started to show up.
"He was saying very thinly veiled racist things," Ramsey told the Daily Dot. "They weren't necessarily nasty in that outright sense. They'd say things about my appearance or my weight."
The comments also arrived with a religious tilt and were deeply rooted in white-supremacy racism.
"They'd call me the N-word, but he'd also talk about God," Ramsey remembered. "Like, he'd call me the N-word, then write, 'Hallelujah, praise Jesus!'"
Ramsey's initial reaction was to speak candidly with the commenter. She's an extroverted person with a kind demeanor and open mind; she wanted to know what would drive a person to be so cruel.
Ramsey's efforts didn't go unnoticed, but they were also entirely ineffective. ItRubsTheLotion would only use her inquiries to be more overtly racist.
Eventually, Ramsey decided to block the name, but that would only dull the bleeding. ItRubsTheLotion2 was the next to arrive, then ItRubsTheLotion3, then LotionRubber and LotionFan. The troll would employ a variation of the infamous Lambs line and would always produce the same results. It happened again and again, repeating like an animated GIF.
"N***er, N***er, praise Jesus! Hallelujah!" "You're a disgrace to black people worldwide. Your ancestors must be rolling in their graves."
You don't need to be a sanitary engineer to know that the written responses to most YouTube videos are the Internet equivalent of a cesspool.
Nestled at the bottom of all videos, YouTube's comment system is where intelligent discourse and conversation goes to die. Communication is littered with racism, sexism, illegibilities, and text that makes spam read like Faulkner.
The site has actually made a significant effort to clean the area up in the past few months, pushing a more concrete identity system that dovetails with Google+ so that individuals can't leave comments anonymously, but the trash and filth remains. Just because you can't go in anonymously doesn't mean you have to give the site anything that resembles your real name.
Like Ramsey, minorities of every color and gender have been conditioned to ignore the large majority of derogatory YouTube comments. Never feed the trolls, they say, and most don’t.
"I still get people throwing racist comments at me like, 'You need to quit!'" DeStorm Power, the first black YouTuber to reach 1 million subscribers, told the Daily Dot. "But I tend to disregard it. I know that I'm probably living a better lifestyle than them and every generation their family's had. I don't care, but it's there."
YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit hate speech of any kind, be it against race, religion, disability, or gender. Report an individual for racism and they're likely to have their account blocked or banned. But banning an account can only go so far: As ItRubsTheLotion has made clear, you can always create another.
ItRubsTheLotion used nine names over the first 12 months in which it harassed Franchesca Ramsey. The user checks her comment threads to see which videos she was watching—to see who on YouTube she'd considered a friend—and use that to leave racist comments on videos.
Eventually, Ramsey and her friends figured out a way to play defense.
"We developed a system where we'd let each other know," she said. "'He's back, and this is the name that you need to block.'"
But blocking only went so far. Whoever was behind this operation knew how to maneuver around the Internet and ascertain information. Before long, Ramsey, who at the time was working for a nonprofit organization in Miami, would receive emails on her work address.
"One time our server shut down," she remembered. "It completely broke off. When our IT guy figured out what was causing the breakdown, he realized that it was a virus that this person had sent to our system."
Then the stalking started to grow more personal. The user would watch her videos and use context to suggest that he'd been following her in person.
"I saw you in Union Square the other day," one note read. "You were wearing a red shirt."
The person would send her emails about her boyfriend (now fiancé), Patrick.
"'Oh, I found this picture of your boyfriend and your dog,' he'd write, and it would be a picture of some girl having sex with an animal," Ramsey recalled.
Ramsey set up filters on her Gmail account to weed out any emails making mention of the N-word or other forms of overt racism. A few would sneak through—ItRubsTheLotion likes to ask her about her fight with AIDS, a disease she does not have—but for the most part, the individual can now only reach her on YouTube, where it's almost always one-and-done: a comment left, a user blocked, then it's on to the next one.
"I don't understand what is motivating them to do this," she said. "Even though he changes his name, I know it's still him. He uses the same icon. It's this blonde girl's face [pictured right]. He says things like 'Francesca wishes she was white' and 'You're a dirty N-word who sleeps with white men.'
"He's very crafty. The last time I heard from him was maybe two weeks ago. I'd already gotten a heads up from a friend. A lot of time, he goes and hides because of harassment claims from other people. Usually, I think he's not as aggressive with me because I stopped engaging with him completely."
The troll is less aggressive, but it's not altogether absent. In fact, it came around last week to ask that question about what it's like to live with AIDS—on a video that Ramsey made in Nov. 2011.
"I never thought that my safety was in question, but I was really upset about it," Ramsey said. "I used to be more open and forthcoming about my relationship and my job and my friends. This was a learning experience that taught me to stop doing that.
"More hurtful to me than people saying mean things about me was people saying mean things about [Patrick]. I couldn't understand why a stranger would go to such great lengths to say hurtful things to me and the person that I loved."
Ramsey, perhaps best known for the video "Shit White Girls Say... to Black Girls," which went gangbusters to the tune of 9 million views, considers herself to have fostered a "really great" relationship with YouTube, and she's solicited the site for help.
A few months ago, the site's brass sent a survey to a limited number of partners, asking what kind of improvements they'd like to see on the site.
"One of the things I suggested was the ability to block users by IP address," Ramsey remembered. "I know it's possible because people do it with blogs. It's pretty simple: If an account on an IP address deleted because enough people are complaining, you shouldn't be able to sign up for a new account at the IP address."
The other suggestion Ramsey made was one that would limit comments to subscribers only.
"I know there's a workaround for that," she said, "but I think it would help to curb the crazies."
In both cases, YouTube never responded to her questions. And YouTube did not respond to the Daily Dot's requests for comment.
In the meantime, ItRubsTheLotion beats on under the guise of a like-minded name. This round, the individual goes by It Rubs TheLotion, and it's done so for two weeks.
You can log on to YouTube to see some of the user's activity. In the top right corner, a brief biographical description is listed:
"Ingrid has been returned to the jungle. She's back in her natural habitat. Banned and broken."
Welcome to the jungle. It’s more than fun and games.
Photo via Franchesca Ramsey
In Spotify Essentials, the Daily Dot curates custom playlists created by some of our favorite artists, staff writers, and Web community leaders. This week, Daily Motion’s Emmy Feldman’s handicaps 100 bands worth catching at next week’s South by Southwest Music conference.
I'm a BBC Radio 6 junkie. Most of the bands that I've discovered and grown to love over the past year have been spoon-fed to me by one of several 50-year-old British men who have dedicated their lives to finding undiscovered and under-the-radar musicians. These are the types of artists that excite me most. I've included as many as I could in this playlist—100 of the most promising new acts to descend upon Austin for SXSW.
I won't waste time talking about the biggest buzz bands. The fact is, if you want to see Alt-J, Youth Lagoon, or Foxygen, you can do that shortly when they hit your city on a headlining tour. I could tell you about a 100 British artists alone that I'm excited to see, but I'll resist and just tell you which label showcase I’m most looking forward to.
Communion Records is an independent label based in London that represents some wonderful indie folk artists. Cofounded by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett, Communion Records produced last year’s breakout artist, Ben Howard, and the label’s lineup at Maggie Mae’s Rooftip on Wednesday, March 13, promises to repeat the feat this year.
You won’t need earplugs; it might even be difficult to find an electric guitar, but it’s a showcase that will appeal to people with a variety of musical tastes. It features Let’s Buy Happiness, the Trouble with Templeton, Mikael Paskalev, Story Books, Jake Bugg, and Kodaline. Bugg, in particular, is stunning live; I can guarantee you goose bumps on that one.
Though the majority of these artists’ albums haven’t been released in the U.S. yet, it’s safe to assume that if they have the funding and support to make it to SXSW without an American following, they won’t disappoint you.
Photo via FIDLAR/Tumblr
Time is a precious commodity. Thankfully, a swathe of opinionated so-and-sos are all too happy to give everyone advice on where to spend our time and money.
Many people turn to critics and their friends when deciding which film to watch, since a movie can account for a solid chunk of your day. Wasting time on a dreadful movie is something many people want to avoid, but some of us are gluttons for punishment, are keen to watch as many flicks as possible, or just have terrible taste.
For those of us who sit through and genuinely enjoy otherwise widely reviled works, a Twitter account is on the scene to share our poor taste. @ILikeShitMovies seeks out and retweets those who enjoy films many other people believe to be steaming piles of garbage.
Since it started earlier this week, the account's shared more than 70 RTs, picking up more than 1,500 people content to munch popcorn and watch the car crash of questionable opinions. To test the theory that the movies these people are watching are genuinely bad, we've included the Rotten Tomatoes score (an aggregation of critic's opinions, where a score above 60 percent is considered good) for each.
The Tourist: 20 percent on Rotten Tomatoes
Norbit: 9 percent
Green Lantern: 26 percent
White Chicks: 15 percent
Sucker Punch: 23 percent
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: 15 percent
The Adventures of Pluto Nash: 7 percent
Valentine's Day: 18 percent
A Thousand Words: Zero percent. Yes, zero.
How do you like those numbers, Count Von Count?
Sesame Street is the first nonprofit organization and U.S. children's company to reach one billion YouTube views.
The show hit the milestone just a few weeks after launching a campaign that bribed us with a super secret video to be released after the billionth view.
As promised, Sesame Street released the much-anticipated video on Wednesday—it features the beloved Count doing what he does best: counting all the "You"s in YouTube.
It's not a straight-up count (like ones on his Twitter account) but he breaks out into song about counting the one billion views after debating "whether to count ninja kitties or bites from Charlie."
Along with the video, the Count wrote a 515-word guest post (he counted) on the official YouTube blog to pay tribute to one of his favorite numbers: zero (which may be surprising for someone who loves to count, but the Count addresses the oddity head-on).
"Well, for one thing, zero comes in very handy when there is nothing around to count about," he noted. "For you can count zero of that thing. Like right now, as I look around the castle, I count zero elephants, zero airplanes, and zero Justin Bieber CDs. Wonderful."
He goes on to explain that zero is a particularly important number. By adding zeros to a number there are even more things to count, and with nine zero's you end up at one billion, which just makes counting a billion times more fun, according to the Count.
This milestone for Sesame Street is just the latest sign of a growing trend of education on YouTube in and out of the classroom. With the help of YouTube, educational videos are no longer restricted to what you catch on TV or access at your local library.
And Sesame Street has reached out to its target audience of kids, as well as adults nostalgic for their childhood. Along with classic sketches like "Elmo's Song" and "C is for Cookie," they've produced parodies like "Upside Downton Abbey" and "Share It Maybe.”
"[H]igh-quality, entertaining, and informative content is available on demand wherever there’s an Internet connection," Caitlin Hendrickson, YouTubeEDU strategic partnership manager, told Mashable. "As a result, education is one of the fastest-growing content categories on YouTube and Sesame Street is at the forefront of this growth. Reaching 1 billion channel views is proof of their outstanding leadership in this space and their creative use of YouTube."
Congratulations, Sesame Street! Here's to counting to one billion more.
Photo via SesameStreet/YouTube
Tom Dickson‘s Will It Blend? was one of the first great Web series on YouTube. The show, in which Dickson attempts to pulverize various solid object using a Blendtec blender, aired its first episode in 2006 and was an immediate hit. Dickson has announced that he is stepping down from his position as CEO of Blendtec, though Will It Blend? will continue.
Will It Blend? has amassed more than 217 million views and brought in more than 536 thousand subscribers in its six and a half years of existence. The release of each new Apple product meant a new blender test, one which ultimately resulted in the utter obliteration of whatever iPhone or iPad was in vogue at the time. Fittingly, Will It Blend?‘s most recent episode shows Dickson blending a Blendtec blender, in what now seems like a symbolic end to his time as CEO.
It’s not fair for me to discuss Will It Blend? in the past tense, but it seems as if the great show is on its last legs. Dickson is now less involved in the company, and besides–how many things are there really left to blend?
You can describe Roman Mars’s thoughts on the future of podcasting in a word: “sanguine.”
“Honestly, I think right now is the best time ever for podcasting,” said Mars, the host and creator of 99% Invisible, a public radio segment and podcast focused on architecture and design. “The connection that I see with audiences in podcasting is better now than it ever has been. When you have an audience that’s passionate, and you’re prepared to make something great, it’s magic.”
Mars has reason to be optimistic. 99% Invisible has grown into a podcast with over 7 million downloads. In 2012, it raised over $170,000 on Kickstarter, becoming the most funded journalism project in the crowdfunding platform’s history.
99% Invisible’s rise has occurred alongside a period of increasing visibility for podcasting, with millions tuning into podcasts from entertainers like Adam Carolla and Chris Hardwick. In turn, many podcasts are increasingly being adapted for television, from Maron on IFC to Nikki & Sara Live on MTV. Podcast networks, including Nerdist Industries (The Nerdist), Maximum Fun (Bullseye with Jesse Thorn), and Earwolf (Comedy Bang Bang), are growing steadily.
It’s a crucial moment in the medium’s development, as increased visibility invites both opportunities and challenges. Across the board, the general consensus is that the medium’s popularity depends on its ability to become more user-friendly.
“There’s something like 31 million people that are downloading at least one podcast a month in the United States; that obviously leaves a huge number of people who aren’t,” explained Matt Belknap, the producer of popular comedy podcasts Never Not Funny and Doug Loves Movies and the cofounder and director of content for the upcoming podcast platform ART19. “And I think a big part of it is that it’s a very different experience to actively select an audio program to listen to. Radio benefits hugely from the fact that it’s just there.”
When it launches later this year, the freemium ART19 will join a field of players trying to streamline the podcast experience and remove the barriers to entry that, many hosts say, are scaring away potential listeners.
“I think for a lot of people it’s still a lot to ask them to listen to a podcast," Jessie Thorn said. "The essential issue is that you have this multi-step process where you plug your phone into your computer, find a show, download it onto your computer, move it onto your phone … I mean, that’s the process I used on my Palm 3 in 1997!
"Even if people are interested, there are too many steps. If you put two steps in front of something you lose 50 percent of the people who are interested.”
Many podcasters agree that the medium will not reach the recognition of radio until it's more easily available in the most popular venue for spoken word content: your car's dashboard. Automobile integration is a major area of focus for the San Francisco company Stitcher, whose popular podcast app seeks to create a more fluid, accessible podcast—or "on-demand Internet radio," as cofounder and CEO Noah Shanok prefers it—experience.
“In terms of Stitcher-connected or Stitcher-enabled vehicles, the numbers on the road by the end of 2014 will be in the millions,” Shanok continued, “and one of the big questions is making sure that it’s as easy to use as terrestrial radio. And that continues to be a work in progress. But car connectivity is going to be a big part of what we do going forward.”
Attracting big audiences will also require an enormous diversity of compelling, well-produced, and professional content. Many in podcasting’s most visible genre—comedy—think the time is ripe for new shows, and new networks, with a wider range of hosts and subjects.
But not every difficulty faced by podcasting is as abstract and non-threatening as accessibility or a dearth of diversity. In late January, several podcasters, including Thorn, Adam Carolla, and Discovery’s How Stuff Works network, received letters from Personal Audio LLC, claiming infringement on a patent submitted in 1996 and approved in 2012. Personal Audio’s patent litigation has, in the past, involved suits and settlements with tech players as varied as Apple, Amazon, and Motorola.
Thorn, Marc Maron, Carolla, and others met privately to discuss their response and are working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to help head off the challenge. With even podcasting’s most successful hosts and producers still pulling in modest incomes—at least relative to large tech firms— the potential for litigation is a considerable concern in itself.
“The average cost of a patent defense, from what I can tell, is about $2.5 million. None of us have that,” Thorn said. “Even the cheapest path out of this costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s an existential threat to this entire industry. Because it’s very different from suing Motorola. They’re suing people whose net worth is $125,000.”
Embedded in that existential threat, though, is a testament to podcasting’s opportunities.
“I can say, as a silver lining, this must mean that we're doing something right. If patent trolls come after you, then you know podcasting has grown up,” added Belknap. “I don't think they’d have noticed us five years ago. So that's a nice compliment.”
Indeed, while podcasting isn’t making many of its hosts rich, and the issue of how to successfully monetize the form has loomed since its beginning, there are new signs of life. There’s not a silver bullet yet, but more and more podcasters are finding ways to make it work—from subscriptions to advertising to crowdfunding.
“No one’s sure what the best way to do it will be,” said Chris Mancini, cohost of Comedy Film Nerds and the cofounder of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival. “No one knows how long it will take. It may be a gradual build. But an exciting thing is that anybody can do it. If you have a computer and a microphone you can be a podcaster. Content is the thing that really matters.”
And the money? Hopefully, it will follow.
“Folks need to be patient. We already see, on the music side, a fair amount of revenue,” Shanok said. “[Monetization] is coming, and it’s probably going to be a hybrid of advertising and some subscriptions, similar to Pandora. It will take a bit of patience. We all want to see the monetization side grow, and it has and it will, but we’re only in the second inning of this game.”
Illustration by Jason Reed
More than 800 million YouTube users need their YouTube news. Andy Smith is determined to give it to them.
Since 2007, the Ohio-based YouTuber has delivered the latest in community news, with stories ranging from the alarming to the heartwarming. Smith is on the topics that you want to know and the stories that you need to know, and he'll tell you how they'll both affect your time on site.
This week, Smith looks at Simon Cowell's new YouTube adventure before offering his take on the rumors surrounding YouTube's subscription-based music player.
Photo via The Lion's Den News/YouTube
Every evening, the Daily Dot delivers a selection of links worth clicking from around the Web, along with the day's must-see image or video. We call it Dotted Lines.
Screengrab via YouTube
After nine months of international headlines and endlessharassment, Feminist Frequency creator and pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian has finally presented the first video of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, her series of Web videos analyzing and deconstructing the underlying sexism in games, the gaming industry, and gaming culture.
The long-awaited series debuted Part 1: Damsel in Distress yesterday on YouTube. Although Sarkeesian came under fire for supposedly being high-handed about what she was doing with the $150,000 she raised on Kickstarter, it's easy to see where the money has gone. At 23 minutes, the video is nearly three times longer than most of her other Tropes vs. Women videos, and features rare clips from lost games like Dinosaur Planet as well as footage from films like Popeye and King Kong explaining the "damsel in distress" trope.
Sarkeesian pulls no punches, setting us up briefly for the history of the trope and then launching into a look at the way the series has played out over the years in gaming, from Donkey Kong to Dragon Lair. She calls Super Mario's Princess Peach the "quintessential stock-character version of a damsel in distress," referring to her as a kind of "damsel-ball" who gets tossed back and forth between heroes and villains who vie for possession of her throughout the Mario franchise.
She also points out that Peach gets kidnapped in 13 out of the 14 games in the main Mario storyline, and is only a playable character in one of them. Zelda, the titular princess in the popular Legend of Zelda franchise, fares a little better: At least she gets to assume a more active role in later games, though the story is still all about her rescuer, Link.
"Willst thou get the girl? Or play like one?" challenges an old ad for the Zelda franchise.
Sarkeesian reminds viewers from the start that learning how to balance their love for the narratives they enjoy with an awareness of their flawed and harmful elements is an essential part of being a critical thinker. But not everyone agrees that thinking critically is the way to go.
Although the gaming industry annually rakes in over $100 billion worldwide, women have largely been shut out both of its narratives and its gaming communities. Attempts to change the status quo have led to an ongoing spate of resentment and backlash from all corners of gaming culture, from sexist industry-hiring videos to the rebellion against the so-called fake geek girl.
And no one has taken the brunt of this resentment more squarely than Sarkeesian. Last fall, TED was forced to disable comments for a talk Sarkeesian gave about the harassment she'd experienced: The video's comments were flooded with—what else?—misogyny and threats. Ironically, her talk focused on the fact that being the subject of so much ongoing harassment ever since she launched her Kickstarter for the video-game project had only made her more determined to do her work.
But this time, she's doing it with comments and ratings disabled.
"The belief that women are somehow a naturally weaker gender is a deeply ingrained, socially constructed myth," she states in the video, which sticks largely to the incredibly popular Mario and Zelda Nintendo franchises for its first time out.
This is a smart tactic: these old-school games are popular even with non-gamers, and using universally popular series to make her points from the start makes it easier for her to challenge other, more modern series that target male audiences more specifically.
Sarkeesian has also released a Tumblr, Bits of Tropes vs. Women, where she showcases additional examples of her current video and previews her upcoming work in the series. If the Tumblr is any indication, we may not have to wait another 9 months for the next installment.
Unfortunately, that means the inevitable backlash over Sarkeesian's work will be returning soon, as well.
Disclosure: the author of this article has been a regular contributor to Anita Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency website since 2011.
Screengrab via YouTube
Generations of people from the mid–20th century onward witnessed the title character in The Wizard of Oz brought to life by character actor Frank Morgan.
Beginning today, people will now see the Wizard played by a Spider-Man villain.
Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful opens in theaters nationwide today. A prequel to the 1939 classic, the film features none other than James Franco assuming the role of the balloon-riding circus magician who becomes the Wizard of Oz.
Since hitting the big time in the 2002 superhero film Spider-Man, Franco has assumed roles that make it very difficult to pinpoint him as any particular type of actor.
"OK, he's a villain," audiences said. "Wait... now he's a stoner? Wait... now he's Allen Ginsberg? Wait... now he's hosting the Oscars with Catwoman?"
As Franco prepares to unleash his magic on the Emerald City, let's take a look back at some of his more, well, interesting role choices of the past decade.
9) Pie-loving Spidey villain (Spider-Man 3)
Franco reprised his role as Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 3, which would go on to become an ill-received final entry in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man series. Now aware that his best friend Peter Parker was responsible for his father's death, Harry follows in the Green Goblin's footsteps and assumes the role of a sleeker, pie-hungry Goblin. Harry Osborn acts as one of the film's 7,246 different villains.
8) Himself (Knocked Up)
In Knocked Up, Franco goes out on a limb to play a truly memorable character: himself. He cameos as a guest on an entertainment show hosted by Katherine Heigl's character, but his segment is short-lived as she experiences a pregnancy-related vomit streak. Franco had previously worked with Knocked Up star Seth Rogen and producer Judd Apatow on Freaks and Geeks.
7) Apatow-brand Jewish drug dealer (Pineapple Express)
What do you get when you cross an action-comedy script with the weed-inspired humor of Judd Apatow and company? In Franco's case, you get a Golden Globe nomination. Seriously: Seth Rogen's co-star received a nod from Oscar Jr. for his portrayal of stoner Saul Silver.
6) Oscars host
In 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tapped Franco and Anne Hathaway to host the 83rd Academy Awards. Exactly why a program dedicated to excellence in cinema was helmed by the stars of, respectively, Spider-Man 3 and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, remains a mystery to many.
5) Allen Ginsberg (Howl)
When one thinks of 1950s beat poet Allen Ginsberg, their mind of course conjures an image of none other than James Franco! In Howl, an experimental film based on the life of the late poet, Franco portrays Ginsberg during his 1957 obscenity trial over the poem of the same name.
4) A warrior named Prince Fabious (Your Highness)
Let's face it: the medieval period was missing a key element: stoners! In Your Highness, Franco reteams with Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green and co-star Danny McBride to portray "Prince Fabious." Franco and McBride's quest to rescue beautiful princess Zooey Deschanel was not well received at the box office.
3) A guy who cut his own arm off and drank his own pee (127 hours)
While their chosen hobby is likely exciting to them, American audiences at large really don't care about hikers and canyon-explorers until one of them is trapped and is forced to amputate his own arm to survive. In 127 Hours, Franco stars as real-life explorer Aron Ralston, whose ill-fated trip into the rocky Utah wilderness ended in a permanent inability to applaud.
2) A gangsta rapper named Alien (Spring Breakers)
Have you ever wondered what James Franco would look like with dreadlocks and a grill? No? Neither has anyone else that has ever lived. Producers of Spring Breakers didn't let this deter them, though, when they cast Franco as "Alien," a gangster rapper who helps four college girls on spring break begin a lucrative crime career.
1) A young Wizard of Oz
We'll see, won't we.
Photo via Nick Step/Flickr
In Spotify Essentials, the Daily Dot curates custom playlists created by some of our favorite artists, staff writers, and Web community leaders. This week, Grammy award-winning guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada shares Lonerism: Bedroom funk & soul.
Tame Impala not only put out one of the best records of the last year, it also possibly named my own "invented" genre. Call it lo-fi. Call it no-fi. Call them one-man bands. Call them demos. I prefer raw, intimate and vulnerable: Call it lonerism.
Sure, it's vague, but all of the music picked here exhibits a certain feeling of intimacy that is sometimes lost in translation when a band gets together in a big studio. Some of this music was either recorded literally by one person in a bedroom with whatever equipment was lying around or captures a moment of someone expressing themselves in a way that makes the listener feel like the only other person in the room.
There are some glaring omissions: Technically Prince is often a one-man band and neither Nino Moschella nor Sean Padilla & the Cocker Spaniels are on Spotify. In addition, given the nature of "bedroom recordings," some of my favorite stuff in the genre is sitting on my hard drive or on CD-Rs (out-of-print small pressings, unreleased Brainchild a.k.a. James Pants beats, iPhone demos from David Garza, etc.). That said, Spotify does have a fairly deep library, and I was able to compile a concise digital mixtape.
I tried to present a well-rounded picture of musicians baring their soul into microphones, tape machines, drum machines, and samplers. From the spaced-out paranoid soul of Shuggie Otis and Sly Stone to the bedroom funk of Antibalas guitarist Marcos Garcia (a.k.a. Chico Mann) to the weirdo psych hip- hop of producer/rapper Edan to intimate, soul-spilling performances from Elliott Smith and Cody Chesnutt, the music covers a wide range of eras and genres.
Perhaps the most extreme but tragic example is the home recordings of Yonlu, a Brazilian teenager who struggled with depression and took his own life before his 17th birthday. It wasn't until after his death that his parents discovered an album’s worth of songs he had recorded on his computer, resulting in Luaka Bop's great posthumous release, A Society in Which No Tear is Shed is Incredibly Mediocre. Despite this example, the music expresses a wide range of emotions, from ecstatic and inviting to distant and guarded.
Hopefully this playlist is a good primer and captures the same feeling I get when listening. I'll leave you with the words of one Sean Combs..."Press Play."
One of the most gifted and prolific artists in Austin, Texas, Adrian Quesada has worked with everyone from Prince and Daniel Johnston to GZA. His primary bands, Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, are both showcasing at SXSW 2013. To hear his own lonerism, check out his sublime solo work as the Echocentrics. You can follow his work on Tumblr and Twitter.
With more than 72 hours of footage uploaded every minute, it's physically impossible to keep track of the content on YouTube. But in YouTube Guide, the Daily Dot will curate its five favorite finds for each workday.
1) Walk Off The Earth, "Red Hands (Big Guitar Version)"
Over a year after the group covered "Somebody That I Used to Know" on a single guitar, Walk Off The Earth brings out a giant guitar from a pawn shop tocover one of their own songs.
2) MinuteEarth, "The Story of Our Planet"
The newest channel from MinutePhysics's Henry Reich aims to examine different trends in the earth's environment. Here, he looks at how much time it took for agriculture, hula hoops, SARS, and his video to travel around the earth.
3) Davey Wavey, "What Lesbians Think About Penises."
Now that we know what gay men think about vaginas, Davey Wavey turned the tables and asked a number of lesbians about the penis. Some have penis-envy (and one of the participants says she isn't a lesbian), but they admire how simple it is: You always know what it's thinking.
4) Dude Perfect, "Wide Receiver Edition"
Dude Perfect recruited Texas A&M's all-time leading receiver Ryan Swope to assist in their display of accuracy and precision in an indoor field, with an egg drop from a multi-level parking garage.
5) LocalEmpireTV, "PHONE GIRL"
After a drunken night, the first thing you may look for the next morning (and fail to find) is your phone. One girl has particular bad luck finding hers and has plenty of possibilities as to where it went. But it's always the last place you'd think to look.
Photo via Walk Off The Earth/YouTube
In Buzzed, we take a look at three things that trended over the weekend while you were away from your keyboard getting buzzed.
Amanda Bynes went to the mall. The "retired actress," as the Daily Mail describes her, revealed the "shocking" makeover on her Twitter account Saturday. Gawk and awe, everyone.
Justin Timberlake posted some awesome pictures on his Instagram account from his latest Saturday Night Live hosting gig. He now joins the five-timers club, the collection of the few who have hosted the NBC sketch show that many times.
Also in that group? Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Drew Barrymore, and John Goodman. Not bad company to keep.
Comedians Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera (sure?), Reggie Watts, and others established a new YouTube-based comedy collective at South by Southwest on Saturday. Called JASH, a play on the verb "to josh," the intro video is all you need to watch to give you a good idea of what it's about.
Photo via JASH/YouTube
Kevin Connolly just got cast as an OB-GYN in his first major TV role since his days as Eric "E" Murphy on Entourage, and while E may have been able to smooth-talk women, his real-life counterpart isn't having such luck.
Even worse, his mental breakdown—as Guyism's Katie Nolan dubbed it—happened right on his Facebook page for the whole world to see.
It started last May, when Nolan publicly responded to a tweet that Connolly made about hockey. She called him the "former crush-of-my-life," and to her surprise, Connolly sent her a direct message minutes later.
Nolan, being the type of person who screencaps everything and posts it on social media, shared it with her Facebook fans. A number of her commenters ragged on Connolly, calling him pompous and Entourage"dogshit."
For her part, Nolan mentioned her "epic short-guy complex." "I watched John Q 15–1,500 times because of this kid," she wrote. Although she was convinced that Connolly was fake (despite the "verified" checkmark next to his name), Nolan continued conversing and flirting with him through Twitter. She would tweet something and he would respond privately.
But the honeymoon wasn't meant to last. Just a few days after Nolan posted the screencap to Facebook, Connolly found Nolan's page on Facebook. And a few days after that, he took to responding to the criticism himself. Connolly took the time to find her followers and attack them, even going so far as to find a picture of one man's wife and mock her appearance.
Nolan was baffled. She responded to Connolly's criticisms (since at that point he'd unfollowed her) and called him out for insulting her followers and making sexist, racist comments.
The back-and-forth followed middle-school-style through public Facebook comments, private messaging, and more direct messages. Connolly called her ugly several times and said that she deserved to be berated.
"[I]t's important to remember that celebrities are just normal people who have money," Nolan wrote about the exchange. "Some are probably cool as hell, some are boring as shit, and some have serious mental issues that cause them to stomp their feet and cry really loudly when someone says anything not nice to them."
However, the feud, which remained dormant since Connolly's outburst in June, stirred up again after news came out that Connolly had been cast in CBS's Friends With Better Lives alongside James Van Der Beek.
Apparently Nolan had been unblocked. When Connolly saw the tweet, he publicly responded with the same "beast" joke that got him verbally attacked last time.
She called him out some more on Twitter after he attacked one of her followers, but it looks like this won't be ending anytime soon.
"He was just a mean person who has no sense of gratitude for where he's at or even just personal decency," Nolan toldJezebel. And I don't think celebrities should get away with being dicks just because they're celebrities."
Your move, Connolly.
In Spotify Essentials, the Daily Dot curates custom playlists created by some of our favorite artists, staff writers, and Web community leaders.
So you’re in Austin for SXSW. Perhaps you’re a label A&R looking to sign the next big thing or a music journalist researching another think piece on Macklemore’s privilege, but I’m going to play the odds and assume you’re among the 99 percent wandering the streets on a mission to get loaded on free booze. If there’s a band playing, all the better.
In the name of pure fun, here are 30 SXSW bands that will shake your rump. No shoe-gazing allowed.
Representing the hometown team are Latin stalwarts Brownout and Grupo Fantasma, along with the dirty R&B of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears and white boy funk of T Bird & the Breaks. Heavy Light rediscoveries Kool and Together and yhe Relatives round out Texas contingent while Jovanotti, Cinemacinco, Café Tacvba, Crew Peligrosos and Bonde do Role all crossed international lines to reach Bat City. Brooklyn deserves special mention here too. as home to both the Indian wedding meets second line brass of Red Baraat and Daptone Records, which is showcasing nearly the entirety of its stellar lineup at Thursday night’s Super Soul Revue.
Have fun out there. And in the words of my guilty pleasure pick of this year’s festival, “Shake ya ass, show me what you workin’ with!”
It's not a wise decision to make Marc Maron mad.
The comedian turned podcasting superstar has a reputation as "the angry comic." On his podcast, WTF with Marc Maron, he'll recount vicious takedowns that brought comedy hecklers to tears. He'll rage against Twitter trolls who try and bait him into confrontation. And if Gallagher is ever involved, things can get really ugly. Yet anyone who listens to the show regularly knows he's changing. The success of the podcast has made him a national headliner and resulted in a forthcoming show on IFC, resulting in a more diplomatic outlook on life.
That's why it was so surprising to listeners last week when Maron broke from his usual intro to unleash that old anger. But this time, the target of the comedian's diatribe wasn't a heckler, rival comic, or even a dickish Twitter follower. It was a patent troll.
Maron, like many other podcasters, has recently come under attack from a company called Personal Audio, which owns the patent to a certain technology it says many podcasters are infringing upon.
Maron says they're simply full of shit.
"It’s a frightening world that someone can extort money from guys working out of their garages and basements," Maron told the Daily Dot. "It's predatory and coercive. It's extortion that comes out of nowhere. It's a shakedown of a bunch of guys who can't defend themselves."
Last month Personal Audio filed lawsuits against three of the biggest podcasting companies: How Stuff Works, TogiEntertainment, Inc., and ACE Broadcasting, which produces the Adam Carolla Show and other podcasts. Smaller podcasters, like Maron, also received letters from Personal Audio inviting them to license the patent for a fee. It's a move that Maron likened to a mafia-style protection racket.
"We're just guys talking on microphones out of our garage," he said, “then someone comes out of nowhere and says we owe them money.”
“The average cost of a patent defense, from what I can tell, is about $2.5 million. None of us have that,” echoed Jessie Thorn of the Maximum Fun network. “Even the cheapest path out of this costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s an existential threat to this entire industry. Because it’s very different from suing Motorola. They’re suing people whose net worth is $125,000.”
Podcasters are just the latest sector of the tech industry to come under attack from patent trolls, a derisive term coined to describe companies like Personal Audio whose revenue comes from holding patents and pursuing litigation, not actually producing or marketing a product. According to NPR's This American Life, patent trolls have plagued other app developers and Silicon Valley startups for years. The high cost of litigation forces many defendants to settle out of court, while others are coerced into licensing agreements that patent holders ensure will protect the companies from legal action.
Patents, of course, need to exist to protect the owners of truly unique ideas. But David Martin, a patent quality analyst for M-CAM, told This American Life that many of the patents issue for technology over the past several decades have been redundant:
"We thought that would be an anomaly. And then we were told, ‘Oh no, it's not an anomaly. That happens.’ So that's what got us into the rabbit hole you're about to see. Which is to say, well, ‘Let's see how many times that happens.’ And as I've testified in Congress, that happens about 30 percent of the time in U.S. patents."
In other words, according to Martin, a third of all patents being issued aren't for new ideas.
The impact of patent trolling costs a lot more than just money. Daniel Nazer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said the patent issue is starting to stifle enire industries.
"We think that the patent system—with the flood of software patents and the rise of patent trolls—has become a tax on innovation," Nazer told the Daily Dot. "And patent trolls are increasingly targeting smaller companies, like startups and app developers. These are the innovators and tinkerers that EFF wants to stand up for."
Of course, Personal Audio doesn't see itself this way. Founded as an LLC in 2009 by James Logan and Charles Call, the firm is officially headquartered in East Texas, which has become ground zero for patent lawsuits since the federal courts there are less clogged with precedence-taking criminal cases. It is the successor to Personal Audio, Inc., which was founded in 1996, the same year it filed a patent application for technology it said is critical to the transmission of MP3 files to personal audio devices.
A statement from the company is vague about the details of the specific technology to which the company claims to own the rights. However, the company was successful in winning an $8 million jury award from Apple in 2011. Personal Audio was also able to enter into licensing agreement with Sirius, Motorola, Samsung, Archos, Coby, RIM, and Amazon after suing the companies for patents related to downloadable playlists.
This record of successful litigation and obtaining licensing agreements is a frightening prospect for Maron and other podcasters. That's why he's come out on his show as a vocal proponent of recently introduced legislation aimed at curbing the issue.
Last month, Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) cosponsored the SHIELD Act, which would require those bringing patent lawsuits to court to pay all the defendant's legal costs if they are unable to prove patent infringement. Unlike an earlier version of the bill, the SHIELD Act would apply to all industries.
“Patent trolls drained an estimated $29 billion from American innovators and companies in 2011,” DeFazio said at a news conference introducing the bill. “They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn’t create and then suing companies from every industry for infringement. These egregious lawsuits have spread to nearly every sector of the economy, costing billions of dollars and countless jobs.”
Supporters like Nazer say the SHIELD Act is a good first step but that further reforms are needed. The EFF has proposed additional reforms such as shorter patent terms for software and penalty caps. Nazer also said there should be an "independent development defense," for instances where a tech developer stumbles upon patent-protected area while working independently.
"Too many patents are granted on small improvements that are quickly, and independently, developed by others," he said. "This is especially true of software-related patents. But if you didn't copy the patent, why should you pay damages? The patent owner has contributed nothing to your success."
More than 11,000 supporters have already signed on in support of SHIELD Act through the EFF website. But in terms of the national dialogue, that's still far from the mainstream. That's why Maron said he'll continue to do his part, along with other podcasters, to bring more attention to the issue.
"This issue is just not real to most people," Maron said. "But it’s very real to folks in the tech industry who’ve been destroyed by patent trolls. Their business model means putting podcasters out of business."
Photo via wtfpod.com
The hacking collective Anonymous has targeted the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) before. But last year’s month-long media boycott, #OpBlackMarch, failed due to “a lack of participation and any way of showing effectiveness.” Well, that’ll do it.
Anonymous has targeted these industry organizations due to their support for SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, the Copyright Alert System, and other measures Anonymous sees as limiting free access to information online.
Now they’re trying the boycott tactic again, with a narrower beam. The new operation is called OpNoShow.
“This year we will call for a boycott of one movie a month in preparation for boycotting the summer blockbusters,” according to an announcement on AnonNews.
“The first target will be a movie titled Oblivion starring Tom Cruise (Because fuck Tom Cruise). It will be coming out April 27th. Do not go see this movie on its opening day or during its opening weekend.”
According to IMDB, the movie’s U.S. release date is actually April 12. If you must see it, for a given value of “must,” Anonymous is encouraging its supporters to pirate.
The group plans to boycott one movie a month “in preparation for boycotting the summer blockbusters.”
They will be tracking “real time updates on the success or failure due to financial reports from various media outlets” to determine the efficacy of the boycotts.
Art via @p0etics