The Killer Jargon of #SXSWi, Part 1: WTH Are You Talking About?

South by Southwest, or SXSW, as it is more commonly known these days (or #SXSW, as it more commonly appears in online references these days) is now underway, with the Interactive portion of the festival, or #SXSWi, having begun this past Thursday. I attended this part of the event as a full-fledged badge holder in 2012 and 2013, and I may do so again some day, but there is also some value in observing the festivities from afar.

One aspect of SXSWi that particularly jumps out at me is the near-total inscrutability of much of its news and gossip, especially with regard to the quest to be this year’s “it” app. Take this headline, posted to Facebook by my friend Jen: “Twitter cuts Meerkat off from its social graph just as SXSW gets started.”

Literally nothing in that headline, or the comments to Jen’s post, makes any sense at all without heaping amounts of context. I initially just assumed that Meerkat and Periscope are companies, or apps, or websites, or programming languages, or something else tech-y. It’s just funny how the tech world has normalized jargon so much. Continue reading


That’s My Police Chief (UPDATED)

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo apparently enjoyed some ChiPs reruns on Thanksgiving:

Then this happened:

I’m glad to see Austin remains entertaining, if not always as weird as it used to be. I hope everyone had a good holiday, in whatever way they opted to spend it.

UPDATE (11/28/2014): This is somewhat related, and came up in conversation:


A Thought for NaNoWriMo Participants

We are eleven days into November, and I haven’t actually started on National Novel Writing Month yet. That doesn’t mean I’m out, just that I procrastinate proudly.

For those who are actively participating, and who might be feeling sone frustration, this bit of wisdom from Chuck Wendig might not make you feel better, per se, but hopefully it will remind you that all creative endeavors are painful at some point.


Just a Reminder that Social Media Can Still Be Extremely Lowbrow

We bring you “Motorboating on Vine,” via Twitter. No part of that sentence would have made any sense just a few years ago.

(Somewhat NSFW, obviously.)


At Long Last, Guys Who Play Video Games Have a Voice!!!

Lack of self-awareness at this level is just…….well, you can’t make this stuff up.

This is usually the part where most bloggers note that they haven’t written much about this GamerGate thing for one reason or another. I keep wanting to write about it, but then something new happens and it gets even stranger, and so far I’ve just ended up with an ever-growing list of links that I might one day make into an outline or history or something. The #NotYourScapegoat thing just seems too rich to pass up, though.

Here’s a bit of context, sort of:

For additional bits of awesomeness, see this Clickhole piece:

And this:


A Post About Updog

A glorious thing occurred on Twitter the other day. Behold:


What I’m Reading, May 13, 2014

Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsPatton Oswalt Brilliantly Trolls for Twitter Outrage, Chez Pazienza, The Daily Banter, May 7, 2014

If it weren’t so hilarious it would be depressing. A little earlier this afternoon Patton Oswalt began trolling Twitter and the rest of the internet, trying to drum up outrage over nothing. Literally, nothing.

What he did was simple: He started posting tweets that referenced and apologized for tweets he says he deleted because they were offensive, but of course the “deleted tweets” weren’t real. They never were.

Chris McDougall: I Never Meant To Start A Barefoot-Running Fad, Jon Gugala, Fittish, May 7, 2014

In 2009, Chris McDougall published Born to Run, an account of his adventures in the remote canyons of Mexico. From his travelogue was birthed an industry-shifting movement that re-examined everything once accepted as gospel truth about running shoes. Continue reading


Libertarianism in 4 Words

The hashtag #libertarianismin4words was trending on Monday, leading to some amusing critiques of what I will charitably call the political ideology, along with some breathless efforts to decry the ignorance of the mockers and some noble attempts to find four words to describe the libertarian worldview that weren’t all either “freedom” or “liberty.”

I haven’t exactly made my thoughts on libertarianism a secret around here, so I don’t need to rehash or go into any great detail here. I will note, perhaps gratuitously, that four words is probably a fair limit for defenders of the ideology, at least since my own experience suggests that it has nothing to recommend it aside from abstract nouns.

I took the liberty (see what I did there?) of Storifying some tweets that I found amusing. This is by no means a complete set of tweets I liked, but rather just the ones that came up on a quick search of the hashtag:

Here were my thoughts for those who, as always, claimed that the critics just. don’t. get. it:


The Art of Avoiding Breaking Bad Spoilers



(Nonspecific spoilers ahead.) In an era where almost everyone has a TV show marketed directly to them, AMC’s Breaking Bad has developed a remarkably widespread—and fanatically devoted—following. The show now only has two episodes left of its five-season run, and it has been building up to what is generally predicted to be a humdinger of a finale. Last night’s episode, “Ozymandias,” certainly hit many people in the feels. That, in and of itself, should not be much of a spoiler. A spoiler, in my opinion, would have been to say that nothing of interest happened, or that the entire episode was about Data learning to be more human. Oops, wrong show, sorry.



I’ll be honest here: I think Breaking Bad is an incredible show, perhaps one of the best in television history, but I don’t love it the way some people do. I don’t feel the same emotional investment that I felt in characters from The Wire, not by a long shot.

Getting back to last night’s episode: in the era of the DVR, not everyone watches a show at the same time, meaning that some people were not interested in discussing “Ozymandias” at the water cooler this morning. In the era of social media, the water cooler discussion has expanded far beyond the water cooler. This raises an interesting question. In social media forums like Facebook, it is relatively easy to post spoiler warnings, but not so much on Twitter. What sort of etiquette, if any, exists to guard against accidentally revealing key plot developments to people who are not ready for them. Conversely, what is the responsibility of the spoilee to avoid discussions that might lead to spoilers? It hardly seems fair to ask people who have seen the episode, in all of its [redacted], to wait to discuss it until everyone has had a chance to see it. Continue reading


SXSW 2013 Diary, Day 2 (March 9, 2013)

[Typed on an iPad with minimal proofreading.] Since it was a Saturday, I could use my fiancee’s parking pass downtown. No bus for me!

I almost immediately regretted trying to drive downtown. I got one of the last parking spaces on the roof of the garage, which I only obtained after a lengthy process of abruptly stopping to avoid rear-ending the driversnwho seem to think that you must close every 10-foot gap between you and the car in front of you at 20 mph or more.

Te first session I attended was entitled Tweets from the DMZ: Social Media in North Korea with Jean H. Lee, AP Bureau Chief for North Korea. While there was some interesting “slice of life” information about a Seoul-based journalist’s regular trips to North Korea, it mostly consisted, quite literally, of screenshots of tweets she has sent. I learned some interesting stuff, though. She said that the regime never stops her from taking pictures, but they always know what she is doing. They try to make sure she is “respectful” to her subjects more than almost anything else. South Korea has very strict limits on access to online material from the north. It is apparently illegal in South Korea to access North Korean websites, and the government has a strict firewall in place. It is illegal even to retweet something from North Korea. People in South Korea, she said, must be careful even following people in North Korea. North Korea has a few government-run sites, including Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram. The main goals of these government-run social media sites are propaganda, getting pictures of the leader out, etc. One person, during questions, basically suggested that she was a dupe of Pyongyang, doing their bidding by presenting their side of things, but she disputed this. He even suggested that North Korean agents might be in the room keeping eyes on her. She responding by inviting any North Koreans in the room to stand up and say hello. No one did, and I decided that would be a good time to leave.

Last year, I met some interesting people in the Samsung Blogger’s Lounge, so I headed there next. Let me try to be charitable here……while I recall that they used the room last year both to give bloggers a place to work and socialize and to do webcasts of interviews with people who are “buzzing” at SXSW, this year the interviews were harder to ignore. Impossible to ignore, actually. The host of these interviews is probably a very nice person, but her style is, I dare say, not suited to any room where anyone is expected to pay attention to anyone except her. She’s bubbly, goofy, and loud, is all I’m saying. I was able to finish my Day 1 blog entry, but couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone for long.

I hesitated to attend the next panel, for pretty basic social reasons of taboo and embarrassment. I’m glad I did, because it was one of the best sessions I’ve attended at any conference, ever. Not just because the presenter, Cindy Gallop, has an awesome British accent. The session was entitled The Future of Porn, and the line to get in extended out of the ballroom quite a long way. (She noted that nearly everything she was going to say in her talk could be a double entendre, andit was good to get that out of the way.) This was not a discussion of smut per se. In fact, she maintains that the sites she created, and, are not porn, but “real world sex.” I’m just going to paste some things from my notes (shout-out to Evernote here):

  • What happens when you combine easy access to porn online with societal reluctance to discuss sex at all?
  • MakeLoveNotPorn compares porn world to real world. Led to TED Talk in 2009.
  • Not anti-porn. Issue is lack of honest conversation about sex in the real world.
  • Social media platforms generally won’t deal with sex. She wants to “socialize sex.” Launched, where people can submit their own videos of real sex. Site is curated, so it’s not like YouPorn. $5 submission/curation fee, $5 rental fee for 3 weeks unlimited viewing, 50% of revenue shared with submitters. The “Etsy of Sexy.”
  • Not porn, not “amateur.” They are #realworldsex. Community tells them what real world sex is.
  • Real world sex is funny, while porn sex is “earnest.” Sexual equivalent of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
  • Real world sex is messy. Porn is “clean,” i.e. hairless, and you never see lube. No sex during periods [Ed. note: no judgment here. Whatever floats your boat.].
  • Real world sex is responsible. Porn either doesn’t have condoms, or they magically appear. More condom use if it seems sexy.
  • “Lazy person sex” – after long day, really tired, but horny. Don’t want to lift a finger to get off. No representation of that in porn or other media.
  • Thumbnails & copy are all SFW, so no one has to slam down the laptop when someone walks by.
  • You can make personalized playlists, send them to people. Lets you tell people what you like w/o awkward conversations [Ed. Note: I don’t get how this is less awkward than talking, necessarily, but what do I know?].
  • Could be the “Kinsey of today.” Had to design in-system scoring that is easy to use and one-handed. You hit the space bar to say “yes!”
  • Porn industry has been supportive. Gen Y in porn has reached out to her (entrepreneurial, ambitious, want to be part of the “new world order” of things.)
  • They’re not competing with porn. Most porn labeled “amateur” isn’t.
  • One viewer told her “Porn makes me want to jerk off. Your videos make me want to have sex.”
  • No bank in the U.S. will work with her because “porn” is in the name. No mainstream payment processor would work with her. Finally got PayPal challenger Douala (?) on board, had to go with a European bank and payment processor.
  • Porn is falling prey to the same dynamics as the music and publishing industries. Businesses play it safe by doing what everyone else is doing. Porn’s way of dealing with it is more controversial.
  • ***”It’s not that porn degrades women. It’s that business degrades porn” Pushing any business into the shadows enables bad things to happen. She’s trying to change the world through sex, make sex better for everybody. Business world is trying to stop her. She says the business world is driven by men who believe men are their target audience. She listed women entrepreneurs who are doing great work (Nina Hartley, etc.) “Women challenge the status quo because we are never ‘it.'”
  • She listed a few other products or sites she felt were worth mentioning:
  • Vibease – device for couples in LTRs.
    Offbeatr – website for sex projects
    They Fit – custom-made condoms, no FDA approval in the US
    Bang with Friends – launched about a month ago.

  • Average age of first seeing hardcore porn online today is 8. They don’t necessarily go looking for it.
  • Less than 5% of parents, she says, ever talk to their kids about sex. The talk has changed, as it needs to include discussion of what shows up in porn.
  • Legalities: 2 forms of ID, “no children, no poop, no animals.” Brought in adult industry lawyers to help.
  • Protecting privacy and IP: members-only site, no way to guarantee no piracy, though. They review everything submitted to the site before posting it. They remove videos on request if a couple breaks up.
  • Finance: adult industry-specific companies, payment processors, etc. She wants business partners who get their mission. AI-specific processors think they’re just porn, have extortionate rates. Even they though MLNP was too risky. Company like Manwin has $$$, has easier time with banking.
  • None of their videos have an “extraneous” cameraman. Spouse might record other spouse, or person might use webcam.
  • Difference between porn and sex ed. Teachers have asked to use MLNP dot com in their sex ed classes. So few people are willing to stand up for these issues, that everyone wants Cindy to do all of it.

A couple of questions stood out. Someone eventually asked if Cindy appears in any of the videos on her site. Less predictably, the questioner was a woman, and the question was asked very earnestly (as opposed to a pervy manner). A mother of teenagers got up and described how her kids have used the family computer to access adult content. She is worried about the false impressions they will get about sex, and so asked about how to use the MNLP video site to give her kids access to more realistic, perhaps even “educational” material. Mom of the Year? Quite possibly.

I could write for weeks about everything I think is wrong in the way we deal with the issue of sex. It’s prety screwed up in most of the world, but I’ll focus on the U.S. Her opening statement summed it up very well, though: we have unprecedented access to “adult” material, and not just through porn, but through an overall sexualization in our culture. At the same time, we still lack almost any ability to discuss it like rational adults, and we still attach ridiculous forms of stigma to people regarding sex. This applies to people who have sex a lot (cf. Sasha Grey), people who don’t have it at all (cf. Lolo Jones), and everything in between. And that’s only covering the conventionally-attractive young white woman demographic. Don’t get me started.

I went to a 15-minute session on copyright law after that. Blah blah fair use and so on. Then I went home to assemble more IKEA furniture.