Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

I am Billy Madison, high school graduate by the back-room dealings of my father.

That’s sort of how I felt – after an initial jolt of self-absorbed glee – about getting verified by Twitter on Monday.

That’s right – there’s a little checkmark to the right of my name on my profile. A quick search of the UltraNets shows that the social media site has 645.75 million users and roughly 54,000 are verified. If that doesn’t convey a level of pretend importance nothing does. (more…)

Serenity now

Posted: May 7, 2013 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
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Bill Walton must be spinning in his grave at the level of earnest overreaction that seems to be sweeping the nation. And by the nation I mean the people who yammer about sports in the media, social or otherwise. (more…)

I almost went to bed on time Thursday. Almost. But then I checked my Twitter timeline, a move that’s become as much a part of the nighttime routine as brushing teeth. (more…)

I’ve never been a guy who likes watching sports in large group settings. If it’s a team I care about — if it’s the Lakers, in other words — I need to be alone, where no one will get hit when I fire a pen or a pillow across the room. Listening to my fellow bar patrons complain about Kobe Bryant’s off-the-ball defense doesn’t interest me. I want to be able to turn the game off if I have to, whether out of disgust or in an attempt to change the fortunes of the game. And if they’re winning I want to celebrate alone, silently, with dignity.

Super Bowl viewing parties have never interested me much, my fellow guests overanalyzing the famous commercials proving just as annoying as the six-hour pregame that overanalyzes the game. One tragic gathering, which doubled as a sort-of going away party for me the first time I moved to NYC, found a group of us watching the 2002 conference title games. The night ended with me faking a hamstring injury so I wouldn’t lose a sprint down the streets of Sartell, Minnesota, and with our host for the festivities — who won our race — vomiting under his wife’s disgusted watch. Also, the Patriots and Rams won and later that night I watched Black Hawk Down in the theater.


Welcome to this week’s edition of The Tapes. There’s a chill in the air. Or it’s 75 degrees out where you are. Either way, it’s 12 days until Halloween. Be prepared. On to the links.

* Newsweek announced it will stop its print edition by the end of the year. It’s a shock in some ways but not surprising in many other ways. The magazine has been struggling for a long time. It will continue as a digital-only production. Here’s David Carr. Conversely, TVFury will become a print-only edition starting next month. Sign up for our newsletter or fax.

* TV geeks might enjoy this ongoing thread on The best single episode in TV history. One from The Sopranos? The Wire? Seinfeld? Mary Tyler Moore?

* I didn’t agree with parts of this Rafe Bartholomew Grantland story, but it was really interesting. Bartholomew was a childhood teammate of Smush Parker, who has been in the news recently because Kobe Bryant has taken lots of verbal shots at him, even though the two last played together six years ago.

* Dan Wetzel on John Calipari’s dream of having a 40-0 season.

* Wetzel again, this time on why it was wrong for Nike to ditch Lance Armstrong at this time.

* Grantland’s Zach Lowe looks at what Kevin Love’s injury will mean for the Timberwolves. Man, wish they hadn’t gotten rid of Darko now.

* Pretty informative (if not exactly literary) piece from Taxi breaking down Twitter stats. Among the findings: The average user is female, American, has an iPhone and boasts 208 followers. I feel like we should be able to use this information for good, but I’m not sure how.

* In other tech news, the BlackBerry is officially uncool. Frankly, I think we’ve known that for a couple years, but The New York Times makes it official. Still, I wish the iPhone handled email as well.

* And, finally, the prestigious podcast of the week award goes to … the College Basketball Podcast. I checked it out for the first time the other day and came away impressed on several fronts: There are multiple personalities and therefore multiple viewpoints; those viewpoints come from folks who are certified hoops junkies (the kind that watch practices and follow the summer circuit); and there’s a general easiness. The humor seems genuine yet present and I didn’t sense anybody trying to do anything flashy in an attempt to create buzz. Seems like it might be worth adding to the rotation now that the hoops season is upon us. Check it out here.

One of the icons of everyday sports journalism, Mr. Bob Ryan, is calling it a career. He announced the decision last week, his final full-time assignment for the Boston Globe being the London Olympics. Not a bad way to go.

Ryan is 65, has had a long and distinguished career and made more bank than most of us ink-stained wretches could dream of. End of story, right? Not exactly.

See, before riding off into the sunset, he took a couple parting shots at the state of the industry (and not the failing financial part), hinting that this played a part in him hanging ’em up. Turns out, he’s not entirely on board with blogging and tweeting or the audiences who enjoy those formats. (more…)

A few hours ago I sat at our table on the top floor of our six-floor building in northern Manhattan. I was eating lunch with my wife. Suddenly, the paintings on the walls moved. The table shook. A six-foot-tall medicine cabinet rattled. Weird.

I looked at Louise, she looked at me.

“What?” I asked.

“What did you do?”


She refused to believe me. “You look guilty.” Apparently she was convinced I’d managed to move our furniture and caused our apartment to shake through some type of psychic ability, or I’d been violently pushing the table with my hands under the table cloth. A few minutes later she went online and saw the news of the East Coast earthquake and she was finally convinced of my innocence.

It hasn’t even been two hours since the quake hit. And already it’s sort of cycled through the new media world. It’s pretty much the same cycle of any breaking news event these days: Confusion; instant news; confirmation; jokes; people sick of it; people sick of others being sick of it; accusations of hysteria; the who cares? brigade; the stop-talking-about-it-already segment; East Coast people are wimps for being worried or even talking about it; have we already forgotten about Libya?; are the power plants safe?; yes they are, shut up already; do you realize people are starving?; if this happened in Fargo no one would care, especially those New York City elite snobs and on and on and on.

And all that in 90 minutes, or the typical running time of a disaster movie about a 10.0 earthquake hitting New York City.

It’s all predictable. Some points.

* “STOP FREAKING OUT! GOD! IT’S AN EARTHQUAKE! THEY HAPPEN MILLIONS OF TIMES A DAY!” True. But are people really freaking out? Some are, sure. People who were trapped in large buildings in downtown Manhattan perhaps panicked a bit as their building swayed and security told them to evacuate down the steps. In about two weeks there will be a pretty big anniversary of a pretty big event in the nation’s history. You can maybe understand why someone in downtown NYC, in a tall building, might be a little concerned when they feel their office shaking.

But again, what does “freaking out” mean? People went outside from Baltimore to Long Island to see if there was any damage. They called their family to tell them, more with awe and surprise than concern, “Did you hear about the earthquake?” Is that freaking out? The TV networks, yes, covered it. Is that freaking out? People on the East Coast tweeted that they felt something, something they don’t feel every day or any day. Is that freaking out? People were reacting, people were living. That’s what happens. It doesn’t mean anyone thought the world was ending, except those who think that all the time.

* “Earthquake? Cha, who cares? Back in my day – and back in our home state – we deal with 7.0 quakes on a daily basis. You can’t even walk to the grocery store here without being knocked to the ground by a tremor. You get up, dust yourself off, and continue on your way. Deal with it, people.” Have seen tweets and message board posts from West Coasters that are, basically, taunts, as if they’re Lakers fans making fun of Knicks fans for the Isiah Thomas reign. “God, you people can’t take a 6.0 quake? Hilarious.”

Every section of the country has something they take strange pride in when it comes to weather or natural disasters.The South can take heat. Californians, earthquakes. New Yorkers – anything and everything.

For Midwesterners, it’s snow and cold. And I admit to doing this myself in NYC. Lifetime New Yorkers look at me with a combination of pity and awe when they read stories during the winter about 20 inches of snow, -25 degree temperatures and -50 windshield readings. They’re amazed that someone made it out alive. I play it up. Yeah, it’s wicked weather. Terrible things. The implication is that Minnesotans are somehow tougher than the East Coast effete who can, perhaps, handle a snowstorm, but not snow and cold.

And Minnestoans laugh – their hearty Midwestern laughs – when a storm hits the south or the West Coast. That’s when they get to make fun of others.

They watch TV reports of 50-care pileups or people slipping on the sidewalks. An inch of snow and they don’t know how to drive in it? Meanwhile, whenever I’m home during the winter, all I hear is people complaining about the weather. They hate it just as much as those who only get it once a decade. Sure, they ice fish and snowmobile and drive and live their lives but that’s because they have to. Humans adapt. If the south received weekly snowstorms, guess what? They’d eventually adapt too. They’d learn to live with it. Just because people in one particular region of the country are more familiar with certain weather patterns or disaster patterns does not make them better, tougher, smarter or stronger. It just means you’re used to it.

And if the East Coast received earthquakes on a daily basis, they’d deal with them with more nonchalance too.

Californians and snow? There’s the exception. They wouldn’t adapt. Those people are wimps.

* “If this happened in the Midwest, these TV cameras would be nowhere to be found! I’m sick of Washington and New York getting all the attention!” This is sort of the natural disaster equivalent of a swimming parent calling in to the sports desk to say that the newspaper is “costing my son a scholarship. Do you realize he finished fourth in the butterfly and third in the relay but your fishwrap doesn’t even write stories and only puts the top two finishers in the scoreboard section? If this was a basketball game, you’d write four stories on it.”

I agree that the media often blows things completely out of proportion. Everyone knows this, even the producers and executives and editors responsible for blowing things out of proportion. That said, the simple fact is there is a lot of media out here. When a quake hits and buildings start to sway and the White House, Pentagon and NYC City Hall are evacuated, there will be more cameras there to document it than there would be in, say, Mankato, Minnesota.

But this idea that somehow something like this would be ignored if it happened elsewhere is, well, ludicrous. Take, for instance, the horrific Minot flooding. The New York Times wrote numerous stories on the terrible events in that city. And they should have. The damage was much greater than whatever will eventually happen with this quake. it was a flood that completely altered the city’s present and will negatively affect its future. And the Times – and other East Coast media – wrote about those floods and others here and here and here and here. TV networks had their cameras ready. When Joplin, Missouri, suffered a devastating tornado, the TV anchors and their pretty hair descended on the town to cover the aftermath and tell the stories.

In today’s media world, everything will eventually get covered, whether it happens in New York or 2,000 miles away from Yankee Stadium. If an earthquake hit my hometown of Janesville, the Waseca County News would be there to cover it. But eventually, if a building fell or it became known that it was the first time in 150 years the town had an earthquake, someone from the evil East Coast media would write about it or blog about it or put a picture of it up on the TV screen. Of course, if the media would start talking about, they’d eventually be accused of blowing it out of proportion.

Bottom line: The media’s not set on ignoring your region’s disaster. There’s no grand conspiracy against small town folks in the middle part of the country.

But your local paper? Totally messing up your kid’s chance at a swimming scholarship.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Back to the overreactions, complaints about the coverage, taunts of regional superiority and expressions of boredom about an event that is – truth be told – unlike anything that’s happened in this part of the world in, oh, 130 years. And if you’re already sick of it? Don’t worry, by tomorrow everyone will have moved on to something new – only the reactions will be the same.

Social overkill?

Posted: July 13, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
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I’m not going to lie: I signed up for a Google+ account last week. Why? Not because I didn’t already have access to similar social media outlets – I’ve long used Facebook and Twitter to both interact and promote. No, I mostly signed up because it was an invitation-only process.

Of course, now I’ve become smitten with certain aspects of it – enough to keep checking in. My email and docs are in the same place as my friend updates. As lazy as it sounds because there is no physical movement necessary, it can get tiresome bouncing back and forth from three different email accounts and three social networking platforms, all of which I use on a regular basis.

That’s one reason that I’ve linked my Twitter and Facebook accounts. It allows me to update two sets of people with a single post. It seems reasonable that Google+ will have similar capabilities once it moves through this initial testing phase.

Regardless, isn’t it time that someone create a sort of blank social networking format, one that allows you to integrate all the sites that you use in one place? I have an app on my Droid that sort of does this, but not every platform is available.

One solution would be to choose one social networking site and stick with it. The problem with that is that not every person I want to reach (friend, family, reader, spam bot) prefers the same platform. However, that leads to another idea – that social networking sites are not nearly as pro-user as they claim.

Think about it: Facebook is a way for you to stay connected with people you love or at least tolerate. But that’s not really their goal. Their goal is to make money. And in that regard, allowing for seamless integration between competing companies is probably not in their best interest. They’ll allow sharing to an extent (linking Facebook to Twitter, for example), but not completely (Facebook reportedly already blocked at least one Google+ plus app that would have helped users switch sites).

So, for now, like so many others things in life (ahem, college conference alignments) the way it is won’t be as good as it could be.