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Friday, July 31, 2021

v-book
Something overlooked during Amazon’s infamous remote-deletion this month of already-purchased e-books on the Kindle was the surgical-strike strategy employed for the move. Amazon knew that the move would be roundly criticized and incur customer wrath; so they opted to do it abruptly and without warning, basically gambling that the less noise surrounding the incident (mostly, minimal official pronouncements from Amazon itself, before and after), the quicker it would blow over, thus minimizing the longer-term damage.

It was the right way to play a distasteful but necessary situation. Unfortunately, a new class-action lawsuit from a high-schooler who’s claiming academic-work damages is serving to extend the controversy over Amazon’s action — exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

Not helping is the almost comical nature of the court complaint:

Amazon forcibly (and ironically) recalled copies of George Orwell’s “1984″ and “Animal Farm” earlier this month after it was revealed that they were unauthorized. Justin Gawronski’s complaint alleges that he was reading “1984″ as summer reading for an advanced-placement class and had to turn in “reflections” on each hundred pages. With the loss of the digital book, Gawronski claims his page count was thrown off and his notes were “rendered useless because they no longer referenced the relevant parts of the book.”

As if the specific books targeted wasn’t enough of a corker — Orwell’s iconic “Big Brother” theme couldn’t sync up any better with the suddenly-revealed Kindle manipulation — Gawronski’s experience really drives home the potential for disruption in the consumer experience. Not only can Amazon leave you high and dry for reading material, it can also botch your reference work (instant joke — who needs a dog to eat your homework when you have a Kindle?). Pretty much alienates students, researchers, and similar intensive users who might otherwise find the Kindle appealing.

So now, Amazon has to engage in a potentially high-profile continuation of something it had hoped to get past relatively cleanly. Goes to show that no plan, however calculated, ever survives contact with the enemy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/31/2009 03:36:44 PM
Category: Business, Publishing, Society, Tech, True Crime
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park n playI’m always up for combining the cultural with the gimmicky, and that’s what The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare In The Parking Lot does.

It’s really more urban-appropriate than the standard Shakespeare In The Park performances. I’ve got nothing against iambic pentameter in a grass-green setting; but this is New York. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” played out on asphalt blacktop in lower Manhattan just feels right.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/31/2009 12:39:59 PM
Category: Creative, New Yorkin'
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Recently, a series of tweets alerted me to some general public confusion over proper use of the slang-antonyms “dope” and “wack”.

This cannot stand. So by all means, test your street-diction on Dope or Wack?, the Urban Dictionary-powered word game. Right and wrong answers yield both positive and negative reinforcement, so you’ll get the definitions down in no time flat.

You may want to try out DoW? soon. Not only is it a five-year-old Flash app, but the site it’s hosted on has been abandoned for years, so no telling when the plug gets pulled. Which would be wack for us, although probably dope for whoever’s still paying the webhosting bill…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/31/2009 11:54:59 AM
Category: Comedy, Pop Culture, Wordsmithing
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Thursday, July 30, 2021

I’ve been harping on this for a while now (since 2006, in fact), and now I find an ally in Sky Road Consulting’s Kevin Mannion: We both think that online advertising metrics are unduly obsessed with the actionable clickthru.

Advertisers know these things, yet because of the promise of clickstream metrics, they have continued to hope against hope that somehow their Omniture server logs, their agencies and their online publishing partners will show them the metrics that their advertising is indeed working…

Let’s stop the insanity of trying to make display advertising something it is not. It cannot even win when display advertising is the primary reason a customer goes to a site and buys something. Display advertising has always been aimed above the sales funnel — to attract people into a brand engagement that begins with awareness. Using online search to find a product is seriously down the funnel, and searching for a specific vendor is near the end of the whole process.

It’s pretty simple: An eye-catching online ad doesn’t need to generate a click to be effective. The numbers that ultimately matter are the ones that end up in the cash register, and that’s impacted by enough advertising wherever consumer eyeballs are trained. There’s a certain degree of imprecision in the big picture, even with ever-improving datamining; and that’s something that new-media mavens are going to have to accept, like it or not.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/30/2009 07:59:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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done garees
Combine sado-masochistic bondage headgear with the soft, comfortable fit of blue jeans, and you’ve got… Well, you’ve got a Wranglers ad that just screams “only in Japan”.

A muffled scream, by the looks of those masks. Good thing denim is a breathable fabric, or else the lack of air-holes for the nostrils might be a problem. Or not, depending on the kinky context. I also like how the mouth area is occupied by a back pocket with the Wrangler patch dead center, conveying the impression of an oral cavity. Not that I’d be brave enough to stick my hand into that pocket…

Just one more fashion-design observation, before my mind gets completely blown: Do you think there’s a zipper in the back of those things — standard sex-wear flourish — or, in keeping with the relaxed-fit motif, a button-fly?

Before you get too weirdly excited, the buzzkill: These gimp-inspired cowls are not for sale. I’m sure these print ad props are proudly displayed as conversation pieces in some studio apartment in Tokyo right now, though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/30/2009 01:55:49 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Fashion, Pop Culture
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If you’ve copied a chunk of article text off of Politico or the New York Daily News websites lately, you might have noticed a surprise: An accompanying “read more” hyperlink appearing at the end of that pasted excerpt (and it is just an excerpt, I hope — not an entire wholly-swiped article). That JavaScripted magic is courtesy of Tracer, an audience-participation measurement tool from start-up Tynt.

And it’s just the tip of the iceberg in what Tracer tracks:

In truth, it’s annoying, if not a dealbreaker, to find unwanted text attached to what you’ve copied. And the referral traffic from such links is, by all accounts, modest. But I’m much more impressed by Tracer’s backend, which allows publishers to see which pages — and, even better, which parts of those pages — are most frequently copied. In a creepy twist, Tracer also counts how many times text is highlighted on a page, even if the user never reaches for the ⌘ and C keys. (Or ctrl and C for PC types.)

I’m not sure precisely what that’s measuring, but it feels like engagement. Readers who are moved to copy a passage are likely sharing that content with friends — in an email as much as a blog. (I first discovered the “read more” link some weeks ago when a friend quoted a New York Daily News article in Gchat. “whoa,” I wrote. “that is weird! i could probably wring a post out of that. thank you!”) Dayton Foster, Tynt’s chief operating officer, told me that on news sites, widely viewed content like stories about Michael Jackson aren’t copied as much as less popular but more focused articles. “Niche stuff that’s really good quality will get copied the most,” he said. “Sports is a really great example.”

(And no, that blockquote above from Nieman Journalism Lab did not have a Tracer link on it.)

No surprise on that last bit. The big-big-big news is so widespread over numerous sites that people know they don’t have to do the keyboard-clicking gruntwork. But more targeted, unique content stands out. I’m betting that the sports example Foster is citing above is fantasy sports columns, which are so decidedly singular in tone and customized content that they prompt roto-heads to go the extra mile when disseminating (usually on forum boards, which flow better without links).

The stated purpose of this tracking is to lower page bounce rates and encourage referral traffic back to the original sites. What’s not mentioned: Plagiarism and digital-rights management. Obviously, that appended link is easy enough to delete, so anyone getting busted via this method would be strictly the low-hanging fruit of the content-theft world. It would be nice if it exposed blatant content-scraping bots and such; if it also appends that link to RSS feeds, it would help shut down those vultures.

Otherwise, it’s a harmless enough tool. I’m not going to be thrilled about doing a backspace-delete every time I copy a snippet of news-story text, but I can live with it; I probably fuss more with copy-and-pasted excerpts than most bloggers do anyway. It’s not enough to dissuade me from using that site, and I already link back to the article permalinks when I cite them. Actually, those Tracer-encoded links might even save me a step.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/30/2009 01:19:06 PM
Category: Internet, Publishing
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Wednesday, July 29, 2021

When I made note of scientific research that equated compulsive skin-tanning with addiction, I thought the title “Sun Junkies” was pretty spot on.

It never occurred to me that the term “tanorexia” was a possibility, as well.

At first glance, I didn’t think over-tanning and anorexia were similar enough to warrant the pun-based equivalency. But thinking about it, I guess both afflictions are rooted in body-image obsession, leading to physiological and psychological damage. If someone’s an anorexic, there’s a good chance they’re tanorexic too. The only upside of which is the nutritional absorption of Vitamin D from the sunlight — unless they get all their UV rays from a tanning bed…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/29/2009 10:22:27 PM
Category: Science, Society, Wordsmithing
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The headline above sums up just what the new 10-year search deal reached by Yahoo! and Microsoft amounts to:

Under the pact, Microsoft will provide the underlying search technology on Yahoo’s popular Web sites. The deal provides a lift for Microsoft’s recent overhaul of its search engine, renamed Bing, which has won praise and favorable reviews, after years of falling further and further behind Google.

Running such a search system proves expensive, and Microsoft can now filter more searches through the Bing technology infrastructure. It expects to deliver better answers to search queries over time as well by learning from more peoples’ queries.

In other words, eventually the search boxes on all of Yahoo’s sites will carry a “powered by Bing” tag. There’s a chance that Yahoo! Search could disappear altogether, both as a brand and a technology (although Y! has to keep a backup plan in place for whatever happens when its partnership with Microsoft ends).

While everyone’s focusing on the sexy search technology, I find the doubling-down bet made by Yahoo here to be more interesting:

For Yahoo, the move furthers the strategy under [CEO Carol] Bartz to focus the company on its strengths as a producer of Web media sites, from finance to sports, as a marketer and a leader in on-line display advertising that accompanies published Web sites.

Yahoo’s decision to develop and host content has been criticized as too old-media for a user-generated/aggregated Web landscape. But it’s sticking to that approach, because — surprise! — it works. Something has to actually draw those eyeballs to the screen, and search is just a bridge, i.e. you have to be searching for something. Yahoo is going with being that “something”, and leaving the dirty work of search algorithms to Redmond and Mountain View. Personally, I think that will pay off, longer-term.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/29/2009 11:21:00 AM
Category: Business, Internet, Media
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Tuesday, July 28, 2021

Even if someone had anticipated William Shatner ever doing a sequel to his infamous spoken-word interpretation of “Rocket Man”, I doubt they would have guessed the source material would come from the Republican Party’s newest ex-Governor. Or that Conan O’Brien would be the facilitator of this politico-artistic synthesis.

So if that alone isn’t mind-blowing enough, here’s Sarah Palin’s farewell speech, as channeled through Shatner:

Poetic verse doesn’t make that rambling goodbye to Alaska any more coherent. But as they say, at least it comes with bongos.

Let’s just hope that this is where it ends. Because if Palin does, indeed, make it to the White House, and at the same time Montreal native Shatner fulfills his ambition to become Canadian prime minister, we’ll know where the future North American Cold War will have started…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/28/2009 10:46:25 PM
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, Politics, Pop Culture
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not s'real
How can someone not have thought of this before: A videogame starring Salvador Dali, set in a level-based world of his surrealistic imagery like melting clocks, spindley-legged boss elephants, and more?

Alas, such a pixelated dreamscape does not exist. Except in the mind of jalonso, who mocked up this theoretical Game Boy title, dubbed “Ledali II: The Crystal Egg”:

Lead Salvador through 12 exiting worlds in search of the Crystal Egg in this sequel to “Ledali: Sir Reel’s Adventure”. Collect eggs as you race the clock and battle new foes and many old ones. New Salvador abilities include slowing time and speed warp.. you’ll need them too if you are ever to collect the Crystal Egg Leda has demanded in return for everlasting love.

An inspired idea, especially that theme of “everlasting love”, which factors into Dali’s body of work. What’s more, Dali practically looked like a videogame character, with that wild moustache and those bugged-out eyes. I think it’s a safe assumption that he’d have been all for this, if he were alive today. He had a penchant for making his mark in other media, including film; as cinematic as games have become nowadays, he’d probably have insisted on designing his digital homage himself.

Accordingly, in keeping with the surreal touch, I don’t think the Salvador character should use weapons, per se. I mean, instead of firing some projectile like the slingshot pictured above, he should, I dunno, rub a dead fish or something as a combat move. The unconventional action agent to fit the in-game reality.

As for matching the iconic Super Mario motif, I think the real-life characters are all in place: Dali as Mario, his wife Gala as the princess (referenced as “Leda” above)…

…And, somewhat grimly, the part of Mario’s brother Luigi would be played by Dali’s older brother, also named Salvador, who died prior to the artist’s birth. I can only imagine how that phantasmical presence would be incorporated into two-player gameplay… (Hey, no one said a Dali scroller would be all fun and whimsy…)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/28/2009 08:52:35 PM
Category: Creative, Videogames
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Monday, July 27, 2021

signaling
If The Batman’s M.O. is to be a dark, shadowy figure, who matches his blue-black-grey costume with the cover of night to gain a tactical crime-fighting advantage — why does he sport that bright-yellow Bat-Signal insignia smack-dab on his chest?

True, classic iterations of the Bat-suit don’t include that yellow circle. In fact, the way I heard it, the only reason that that spotlight made it onto the Bat-chest was because it was popularized by the 1960s campy TV show, and migrated from there to the comics.

That’s the real-world explanation. An in-narrative justification was best expressed 23 years ago, by Frank Miller in the seminal graphic novel “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”. The scene is the showdown with Two-Face, when Batman takes a shotgun blast in — you guessed it! — his chest:

…Magnum load, has to be… Hits me like a freight train… The plate holds… Why do you think I wear a target on my chest? Can’t armor my head…

In other words, Batman’s in-action dialogue reveals an ingenious diversionary tactic: Rather than have assailants firing wildly at him, he gives them a conspicuous, eye-drawing bull’s-eye to aim for, which is bulletproofed. Thus lessening the chance of his other body parts getting hit by bullets, and preserving his bread-and-butter movement and agility. Perfect fit with the character’s overall use of subterfuge.

I’m satisfied with this superhero fashion statement. So long as Bruce Wayne doesn’t further accessorize with gold chains or something…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/27/2009 11:44:43 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Publishing
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Not only is Home Box Office pay TV — it’s also gay TV! According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which should should know about these things. GLAAD’s third annual Network Responsibility Index ranked HBO as the leader in television programming incorporating a diverse depiction of gay characters and themes.

And yes, that “H” in HBO now can be re-christened to also mean “homosexual”. But I like “gaytch” better, for snappy-headline purposes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/27/2009 01:23:00 PM
Category: Society, TV
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I’ve got two testicles too many to have taken part in this past weekend’s BlogHer conference in Chicago. But enough of my Twitterstream was attending, and tweeting updates, that I got the gist of it.

Attendees go to these things as much for the peer-to-peer contacts as for the sponsoring product/services presentations (and giveaways, naturally). For brands that want to associate themselves with outspoken new-media women (and thus pick up a good deal of women-centric business), BlogHer is the place to be. One participant, Kathy Casciani of DeVries Public Relations, identified with this product-consumer outreach so much that she actually requested additional corporate pitchers to sell to her:

Sponsors I’d personally like to see at next year’s #blogher: Advil, Red Bull, Metronaps, Dr. Scholls, Band Aid

The request for Advil, a pain reliever, in this X-chromosome context reminded me of another woman-targeted pharmaceutical: Motrin. An over-the-counter drug that’s still somewhat on the outs among a notable segment of the BlogHer community: Mommybloggers, who famously triggered an online “Motringate” backlash over some patronizing advertisements.

I’m sure the Motrin folks have been making amends ever since that episode, but here’s how to complete their atonement: Become a sponsor for next year’s BlogHer conference.

Having the Motrin brandname so intimately linked with the same consumer segment that they formerly offended would do wonders for repairing the damage. And the media buzz, both online and offline, such a move would generate would be priceless, for both Motrin and BlogHer. Both sides would get a boost from such a reconciliation (no matter how self-serving it would be).

I know Motrin’s corporate parent, Johnson & Johnson, was already a sponsor for BlogHer ‘09. But it’s not the same thing. Planting the actual Motrin brandname into that list of sponsors makes this visible, and signifies the intent. Since J&J has an existing relationship with the conference, it shouldn’t be hard to get Motrin into the lineup for BlogHer ‘10. It’s just a question of whether or not J&J wants to take that step; if nothing else, it would shut out the competing Advil (which, like Motrin, is basically just ibuprofen).

I see big potential for this, and fully expect to be reading about this “twist” in consumer-retail/online PR damage control a year from now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/27/2009 11:33:28 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Business, Women
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Sunday, July 26, 2021

Contentiousness between advertisers and TV networks over ad rates is par for the course, particularly in a recession. Still, the stalemate over this year’s volume of unsold airtime inventory is especially acute when considering the tactics on the ad side:

For years, networks showcased their new shows, and advertisers lined up to buy into the programming. An early buy typically provides audience guarantees and better prices than advertisers can get when they buy on the fly. If they don’t buy in the upfront, they may face higher prices for whatever ad inventory remains in the so-called scatter market.

But advertisers are increasingly turning the tables on the networks and doing the pitching themselves. Rather than hear what great shows the networks have to offer, advertisers present their brand plans and ask networks to come up with ad solutions.

This boldness in calling the shots — really, attempting to define the context, i.e. programming content — stems from advertisers’ success in exercising more complete creative control on the Web’s social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Those “ad solutions” requested from television amounts to an emulation of the malleable content advertisers enjoy online.

And that wouldn’t be possible without the acknowledgment that more eyeballs are online, instead of in front of the TV screen. Which revives the debate over just how close the Web is to supplanting TV as the chief mass medium for the American consumer.

I haven’t bought the hyperbole that claims the Web is already the place to be. TV is still far more accessible and impactful for the wider population, and therefore more powerful; that’s reflected in much of what fuels Web content and activity. But certainly, the sands are shifting among key demographics: Tween and Gen-Y behavior is making it a zero-sum game, with television losing the viewership numbers there. With the ad dollars following them and influencing cross-media, I’m wondering if this is the year when the shift from one medium to the other doesn’t truly begin in earnest. The set of possibilities:

- Will we look back at the 2009 Fall/Back-To-School season as the moment when the Web really took over as Americans’ prime media outlet?

- Does TV begin a decade-long transformation, similar to what radio went through in the 1950s, with various shows and other programming migrating online, leaving behind… What? Infomercials and pharmaceutical ads on the boob tube, branding it as something that only “old people” watch?

- Do online ad rates finally scale upward in response, or does the Web’s boundless content keep such monetization permanently in check?

All things to check back in on in, oh, about five years or so.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/26/2009 10:38:51 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Social Media Online, Society, TV
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I’m sure the Peacock Network intends to squeeze a couple more years of running-on-fumes revenue out of “The Office” before canceling it. Instead of unceremoniously dumping it in mid-stream, here’s how I think the ideal series finale should fade to black:

There’s one last documentary-camera confessional from one of the characters (probably Michael Scott), at which point there’s a pan-out to reveal a TV monitor in some other office, being watched by a couple of suits. Close-up on one of the suits reveals that he’s none other than Ricky Gervais.

Gervais has a dumbfounded look on his face. He turns from the now-dark monitor to face his companion, and says, “That’s it? That’s what we filmed in bloody Pennsylvania, for six bloody years? How are we supposed to make a movie, or a show, out of any of that? It’s all rubbish, innit?”

Closing credits. Goodbye.

Really the only way to play it. Not only does it provide a perfect inside-joke connection with the BBC Britcom original series, it also somewhat salvages the now-untenable premise of a documentary film crew chronicling the Dunder-Mifflin workplace (although that’s been out the window for a while now, unless you believe that the cameraman’s tailing employees on trips to Canada, home dinner parties, etc.). It would also put a nice stake in the heart of the comedy verité milieu that’s been overplayed on American television.

Do the right thing, NBC! And hit me up for my PayPal account info for my creative-consultative fee for this…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/26/2009 12:50:30 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, TV
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Saturday, July 25, 2021

heart start
As improbable as it is that the title of the Bee Gees signature song could be taken literally, that is indeed the case in cardiopulmonary-resuscitative terms:

Stayin’ alive,
Stayin’ alive,
Ha…ah…ah…ah

(this part is exactly 100 beats per minute)
Stayin’ a-li-ive

This tip helps rescuers keep the proper rate while doing CPR. Going too slow doesn’t generate enough blood flow, and going too fast doesn’t allow the heart to fill properly between compressions. Humming along with the Bee Gees is one way to stay on track.

Too bad it’s not the ’80s, or else the band could produce an appropriately re-lyricized version of the song: Ha, ah, ah, ah, Pump-and-revive, pump-and-revive!…

What’s that? You’re still harboring that “Disco Sucks” backlash anger? No worries, you can still save a life to the proper beat, albeit with questionable lyrical accompaniment:

For those of you less optimistic folks, Queen’s classic, “Another One Bites the Dust”, also has the proper beat.

Yes, the Bee Gees have been on my mind-slash-iPod a lot lately. What of it?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/25/2009 12:51:29 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Science
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Intercollegiate Quidditch games, schemes for a “Saved by the Bell” reunion, and comeback concert tours — Generation Y is already nostalgic for its childhood trappings, and it ain’t pretty:

Even though nostalgia hits every generation, it seems awfully early for 28-year-olds to be looking back. One possible explanation, say authors who focus on generational identity, is the impact of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The political and economic climate of the late ’90s had been as soothing as a Backstreet Boys ballad: no wars, unemployment as low as 4 percent, a $120 billion federal surplus.

Neil Howe, an author of several books on what he calls the Millennials (another term for Gen Y), draws a parallel between this nostalgic wave and the one boomers embraced with the film “American Graffiti” in 1973. That movie depicted the recent past, the early ’60s, which seemed to have vanished forever.

Still, why now, when many twentysomethings are just now developing a grown-up persona? To borrow a Presidential campaign slogan from that very same retrospective era, it’s the economy, stupid:

Jeff Gordinier, the author of “X Saves the World,” a book last year that looked back at the early-90s formative years of Generation X, said, “It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Generation Y is burrowing into nostalgia in the middle of a severe recession. Nostalgia comforts people and the Millennials are probably craving comfort right now.”

I think this nails it, more than any lingering 9/11 anxiety. Maybe I’m out of touch, but I don’t see the terror attacks as still being top-of-mind influencers, nearly a decade later; and I’m in New York, where you’d think that event would hang on to the local mindshare especially long. It’s always about where your next meal is coming from. Past recessions spawned nostalgic sentiments, so it’s par for the course. The only difference is that, by now, the culture industry anticipates the waves better, and have ready-made packaging for selling old stuff as renewed commodities.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/25/2009 12:07:38 PM
Category: Politics, Pop Culture, Society
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Friday, July 24, 2021

Do you have to be crazy to live without air conditioning at home?

At the risk of putting my own sanity into question, I’d say no. I actually prefer no A/C to the typical meat-locker temperatures most people keep during the summers, both here and in hotter climes like Florida. Dress accordingly and drink enough fluids, and you’re fine. In fact, you might even benefit from the physiological adaptation:

[Southeastern Pennsylvania resident Martin] Focazio, 44, said that before the family stopped cooling their house, they tended to wait out their summers rather than participate in them.

“We found that going in and out of air conditioning always made you feel like it was too hot outside, so you ended up sitting in your easy chair eating pretzels,” he said. But being uncomfortable indoors forces them out — onto their 1,000-square-foot multilevel deck and beyond.

“When it’s too hot to just sit here we might go swimming or ride our bikes or walk along the canal path,” said Mr. Focazio, who noted that he usually loses about six or seven pounds each summer, which he attributes to an appetite diminished by the heat, and an increase in exercise.

No need to sell me. In fact, when I lived in Tampa Bay, I’d go weeks without turning on the A/C, in the face of 90 degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity. Friends would wonder how I managed to stay so thin; in effect, I’d sweat it off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/24/2009 06:21:12 PM
Category: Society, Tech, Weather
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public twit-lations
Built on the premise that tweetstreams have supplanted RSS newsfeeds and other media-outreach channels, Muck Rack is pitching a Twitter-optimized press release:

Launched in conjunction with their one-line PR partner PepsiCo, Muck Rack’s now monetizing by offering a new service for PR pros to publish one line press releases, up to 130 characters long, that can include links to other media and press kits, at a rate of $1 per character with a $50 minimum.

Short attention span theater has an inflated ticket price these days. I’m failing to see the real value being added here: Even assuming that PR pitches delivered via Twitter are likelier to get noticed, these get special notice only if you follow @muckrack. Basically, Muck Rack is selling itself tweet-by-tweet. The hope is that Muck Rack’s tweetstream becomes a centralized clearinghouse for PR info — that’s not the case now, and there’s no reason to think it ever will be. Anyone hoping for pay-per-tweet ROI is going to be disappointed.

On top of that, who ever said that a full-blown release doesn’t get results? True, no one actually reads all those cooked quotes and boilerplate, but when they contain enough skimmable keywords, they catch the attention they’re supposed to. Tweet-formed pitches might be easier to scan, but they’re that much easier to dismiss too; they knock down the odds of getting noticed to an undue degree. Not to mention that the one-liners aren’t much good without a hyperlink leading to a full-fledged release for more info anyway.

All in all, an opportunistic scam, designed to cash in on Twitter’s up-trending cachet. Far from the last one to materialize.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/24/2009 01:10:56 PM
Category: Internet, Media, Social Media Online
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tweeting is sexy
It took a few days of botched FedEx delivery attempts, but today I finally received the HP Mini 110 Netbook that I won last week at Masquertweet.

A nice, shiny new tech toy to tinker with over the weekend. I still don’t see how I’d use this even semi-regularly — my notebook computer is portable enough most of the time, and my iPod Touch suffices for when I really need to travel light, i.e. something pocket-sized. So the netbook is a classic ‘tweener. But again, a freebie is a freebie, so I’ll find some use for it!

Thanks again to the Masquertweet crew for the fun time. And related to that, here’s a video artifact from the party, courtesy of Nicole and her Socolite “Philanthropy Is Sexy” series:

Yup, I’m in there somewhere, both behind and in front of the camera (I shot only the good parts, of course). Overall, not a bad result from far too many minutes of Twittering…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/24/2009 11:48:32 AM
Category: Fashion, New Yorkin', Social Media Online, Tech
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Thursday, July 23, 2021

runnin' bear it
I cannot look at this photo and not crack a smile. The ursine-headed road-runners are, of course, Sweden’s own Teddybears; and judging by that M7 Harlem bus behind them (are they fleeing the front-loaded display ad of Katie Couric?) and the surrounding buildings, the road they’re running must be 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas.

Why the Teddys are jogging in full hitman-like black suits and oversized bear heads is beyond me. Possibly, they just finished laying a remix on some song, like the electro-guitar treatment they gave to the Bee Gees classic “Stayin’ Alive”, and felt the need to blow off some steam. Better than the usual bearish outlet of mauling someone, I suppose.

I’m thinking a natural fit for a future Teddybears collaboration would be a remix on their musical-motif cousins, Grizzly Bear. Veritable bruin-brewin’ in the recording studio.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/23/2009 11:53:40 AM
Category: Creative, New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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