10 Commenter Tropes That Should Get You Banned From the Internet

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If it were up to me, we’d just call it a failed experiment, like New Coke or Lindsay Lohan’s music career. We tried it. It went off the rails. And now we’re done.

But alas, with every day that passes, the comment sections of news websites persist. The argument in their defense is that they increase engagement and give readers an opportunity to have their voices be heard. Not for nothing, they also keep people coming back to the website, which is great for pageviews and thus, great for advertising which the journalism industry desperately needs to survive as the economics of the news business evolve.

So what’s the problem?

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#YesAllWomen Is the Equivalent of Having a Peace Sign Bumper Sticker

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Shutterstock.com

On Friday, Elliot Rodger murdered six people in Santa Barbara. We know — from documents and videos — that Rodger, who took his own life, was motivated by misogyny. He made it very clear: These people were injured and killed because women didn’t want to have sex with him.

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll no doubt learn more about Rodger’s mental health, but less than 24 hours after the murders, the world had already learned that Rodger’s motivations are not all that unique. On Saturday,#YesAllWomena hashtag started by two friends, spread through cyberspace like wildfire. Women from all over the world shared personal stories of sexual abuse, street harassment and everyday examples of gender-based hatred.

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The Instagram Account You Need to Follow Now: Fashion’s Coolest Dog

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Fashion hound!

Today’s hilariously fun fashion tip: Follow this Instagram account right now. Go on, don’t ask questions. Just do it.

Done? Okay, here’s the backstory: Willie is a Jack Russell terrier dreamed up by Alex Stadler, the quirky artist/author/designer and owner of Sansom Street shop stadler-Kahn. Willie’s closet could rival even the most fabulous of fashionistas—she pumps iron in Galliano, she jogs in Manolos, she adopts kittens in Tsumori Chisato. Alex’s sketches (which you might remember from the walls of Joan Shepp some years back) are some of my favorite things ever; I’m desperate for him to start making Willie note cards, framed prints, playing cards, t-shirts and bags. (Note: Canvas bags featuring Willie sketches are coming to stadler-Kahn soon!) For now, though, you’ll have to whet your Willie appetite with her new (and downright fabulous) social media presence: Willie’s got her own Instagram, @whatwilliewore. Click here for some of my favorite posts so far. Enjoy!

Click here! It’s so worth it.

Keith Olbermann Won’t Stop Trolling Flyers Fans

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To be clear, Keith Olbermann fired first.

No, he wasn’t fired (although who would be surprised) — he took a shot at Philadelphia Flyers fans by calling them illiterate.

One day later he was back at it on Twitter, taking another cheap shot at us after we shared the story:

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Twitter Could Kill Your Relationship, Study Says

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I’ve often marveled at how tone-deaf my friends’ tweets can seem—something about the limitations of those 140 characters, perhaps? Too much striving to be witty in too small a space? So I really can’t say I was surprised at a new study indicating that those who can’t start or end the day without checking their Twitter feeds could find themselves with a lot more free time in which to do so. According to the study’s author, the more active you are on Twitter, the more likely your relationship will blow up.

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My Crowdsourced Life

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Illustration by Joe Reinfurt

It was, you have to admit, a pretty smart publicity grab.

Back in January, Mark Zuckerberg snapped a picture, posted it online, and posed a question to his readers: What kind of spider is this, and is it okay to let it keep living in my shower?

The Facebook founder wasn’t posting on his own site; he was on Jelly, a hip new app from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone that lets users upload photos so their social media contacts can answer questions about them. Nine minutes later, Zuckerberg got his answer from Kevin Thau, Jelly’s COO: I think it’s a Phidippus johnsoni. Probably want to relocate it out of the house. As backup, Thau included a Wiki link about Phidippus johnsoni — a terrifying jumping spider with a nasty bite. Not long after, Stone completed the loop with a tweet: “First life saved via Jelly!”

Welcome to research in the age of social media. Jelly’s raison d’être may be crowdsourcing, but you don’t have to download the app to tap into the collective brainpower of the masses — not if you have any other sort of social media account. At 31, I’m at the stage of life where I use my Facebook account mostly for birthday reminders and cat videos (fine, and maybe to find out if that cute woman I met has a boyfriend) — but I think I’m increasingly alone. So many of my friends in Philly use social media to outsource their problems that my various newsfeeds have more pleas for help than an episode of Dr. Phil.

My car horn stopped working — will it be expensive to fix? Does someone have a copy of Photoshop I can have? I want to start running. What’s the best couch-to-5K app? I don’t know what to wear tonight! (On that last one, the “help me” is clearly implied.)

A journalist friend of mine turns to her “friends” on Facebook regularly for stories she’s working on. “I don’t only learn about my topic,” she says, “but I figure out what people are interested in hearing about. It helps me shape my stories, too.” Another pal cops to crowdsourcing everything from mechanics to cold remedies, out of what he readily admits is sheer sloth.

The lazy friend has a point: Any reasonably connected human being can simply ask and then receive — and receive immediately, with zero effort. Crowdsourcing is about efficiency, really — about putting social media to work for you. But while the answers you get from that network of 500 of your nearest and dearest are fast and easy (and also probably better than the ones that come from the unwashed Internet masses on, say, Yahoo! Answers), that doesn’t mean the collective brainpower of the crowd is always right. Is it your transmission making that noise? Was that a Phidippus johnsoni? Does having so many answers at our fingertips actually make life easier and better? Or just … noisier?

I decide to find out — to spend a week crowdsourcing my decision-making, letting “friends” on Facebook and my Twitter followers guide my path.

Exposed: Philly’s Big Banana Peel Problem

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“When I’m walking with friends, they tell me it’s a little awkward for them,” says Frank Danay. “They’re the ones standing next to the guy who’s in the gutter taking pictures.”

Danay’s buddies know better than to compromise the process. He’s simply chronicling another day of potassium-rich existence on the streets of Philadelphia, an apparent national leader in the field of wayward banana peels.

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The Philly Instagram Hall of Fame: The 15 Shots Everybody takes

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Philadelphia, like most cities populated by smartphone users with a little too much time to kill, boasts a thriving Instagram community, and its members are not afraid to show off their surroundings.

We have the pleasure of living in a photogenic town, rich with opportunities to pic-share stuff more interesting than dashboard thermometer shots and butchered Starbucks cup names. But with so many active ‘grammers out there flexing their Valencia, Sutro and Earlybird skills, it’s only natural that some shots are cropping up more frequently than others.

Here, in no particular order, is a rundown of the Philly-centric Instagram shots I come across the most. Let me preface this roundup by stating for the record that I’m personally guilty of most, if not all, of these moves. Now join me in celebrating the Philly Instagram Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

See Drew Lazor’s Philly Instagram Hall of Fame after the jump »

Philadelphian Takes Selfies to Prove Local Residency to IRS

There’s a story at Mashable by Brian Koerber today with a fun tale about Andrew Jarvis. Jarvis is an architect at EwingCole who splits his time between the firm’s offices in New York City and Philadelphia.

Koerber reports Jarvis began to rent an apartment in New York City due to the long commute. (Geeze! That’s expensive. Why not Jersey City or Northeast Pennsylvania?) He realized he needed to spend fewer than 182 days a year living in New York or else he’d have to pay NYC taxes.

So, to prove to the IRS he lives in Philadelphia most of the time, he began taking dated self-timer shots with a camera — holding a copy of the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer to prove it.

His daughter, Anne, recently started an Instagram account documenting his work. After the jump, a selection of the best.

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