August 4, 2006 | 6:11 PM ET

The Wall Street Journal looks into who made a viral YouTube video mocking Al Gore and global warming and finds a path (tracing the IP info in the e-mails with the clip's creator) leading to a D.C. PR firm that also happens to represent Exxon Mobil.  (Interesting comment from the Exxon guy given the relatively small number of views of this video, even with paid placement in Google and this WSJ article.)

Which brings me to my previous entry.  By using the headline "Four degrees of viral" I meant to point out that there's the essentially viral watercooler type talk, the more formally viral "did you see this?" type of online distribution, the amateur production with a fan base kind of viral, and then there's the cynical, commercial, viral-because-we-say-it-is type of viral.

I was content to let the video speak for itself, but I admit there's some joy in seeing it being torn apart by the online marketing community.  The folks at Coudal crafted their own video response.  And Steve Rubel pulled no punches with his headline, "'s YouTube Pitch is Lame."

There is the argument that if everyone is talking about it, it worked, but I think there's a limit to the "all publicity is good publicity" maxim, particularly when the publicity crosses the line into backlash.

Speaking of links in the last entry, that Colbert Report Wikiality video caused mayhem on Wikipedia.

Speaking of viral, check out the legitimately viral stars in this video from We Are The Web.

The Times has a well done before/after interactive of southern Beirut.  (Before and after the recent bombings, that is.)

Cool rainbows — but cooler still is that once you flip through all the rainbow slides, it has slides about the science of rainbows that are really interesting.

DV Labs DVD quality online video that loads wicked fast — We may have linked to it before.  The display is just a VW commercial, but still, you can imagine how the role of the Web would (will?) change if (when?) all online video is like this.

News agencies stand by Lebanon photos — Pretty fascinating that a blogger's conspiracy theory would be addressed by mainstream photojournalists.

"As Google becomes more crucial to the revenues of online news sites, its practice of withholding ads from edgy stories threatens Web journalism."  This sounded alarming, but having read the article I think I understand what's going on.  In fact, I was gabbing about something very similar today with regard to autopublishing wire stories and advertisements.  When ads are based on a story's keywords, it can sometimes result in poor pairing.  The article about the murderous slasher will draw an ad for kitchen knives.  For advertisers, their threshold for what content they want associated with their ads goes beyond the obviously offensive to more general kinds of content.  So while I don't know this for a fact, I'd guess that Google withholds ads on pages it thinks its advertisers won't want to appear next to.  As for threatening Web journalism, I'm not worried.

The Reddit folks have surfaced a photo that has had quite a viral life in e-mail and may now be poised to make those rounds on the Web.  Snopes says it's real.

YouTube highlights this clip of a tornado forming.  You may have seen it previously on Discovery Channel.  What I think is funny is the dynamic between Katie and Jim.  I can't tell if they need separate trucks or if they should stop pretending and go get a room.

Dear Hollywood producers, someone call Hillary Swank right now and book her for the movie version of The Scientists Whom History Forgot.  Amazing story.

How 'bout this lightning photo!  (Now that I've been studying the technique I now notice what the long exposure does to the lights in the rest of the picture.)

"When you hear the words “World’s biggest” there is always a frisson of excitement."  World's largest hedge.

I'm embarrassed to say, I don't hate this.  Something I've been discussing with people lately is whether there's an accepted vlogging style or whether there's just a lot of Rocketboom rip-offs.  To some extent, if you're working with limited resources the tools tend to dictate the format.  But presumably Yahoo isn't working with the same limitations, so is their thing a rip-off or simple "vlog style?"

"This post is part of the Avant-Garde Blog-A-Thon."  I clicked the one on Joseph Cornell.  Scroll to the end of the post for the list of participants.

Treadmill dancing — Coming soon to a health club near you.

Dangerous Beauty: The Art of the Shiv

638 ways to kill Castro — Doesn't actually list them all but does tell some funny stories about efforts and ideas by his enemies, particularly the CIA.  The title reminds me a little of those bunny suicide cartoons.

Speaking of animals dying, Chinese county clubs to death 50,000 dogs spawned some of the angriest Letters to the Editor I've ever seen.

Speaking of links on this site that showed up in my surfing elsewhere, Newsweek's explanation of what TMZ is was big.  Folks who've been paying attention to gossip blogging have been familiar with TMZ for a while now, but for many people, this Mel Gibson story was a first exposure.

Also from, Is heat wave a result of global warming?   I was expecting this to be one of those "global warming doesn't really mean it's hotter out" stories, but this is the closest I've seen to saying this heat wave is unique and likely tied to altered weather patterns consistent with global warming.  No mention of global warming in the South Africa harsh winter story, however.

August 3, 2006 | 9:06 AM ET

I'm blogging as I watch the much-hyped Project Runway scandal episode.  Without saying any spoilers, my vote is yes, the decision made was the correct one.  (I worked at a restaurant with Bonnie the contestant back when she was an F.I.T. student, hence my interest in this season's show.)

Stephen Colbert hits another one over the viral fence with his word of the day: Wikiality.  Wikiality is when something is true because enough people believe it.  I wonder if they know after writing a script if a segment is going to catch fire online.  They've probably figured out which topics draw that kind of attention.

Speaking of viral video, Chad Vader part 2 is out.

And still speaking of viral, sort of, is this movie by an ad agency trying to attract the attention of Subway subs in the hopes of landing them as a client.  The success of the video by viral distribution is meant to demonstrate their ability as an online marketer.

Really Ready — Which means, maybe you thought you were ready, but you weren't and now that you've read this site you are.  This is really jaw-droppingly nervy; revolutionary really, and I don't mean that in a bad way.  In short Homeland Security put out a site with advice on how to deal with emergencies and the Federation of American Scientists disagreed with either the advice or the way it was presented (or both) and made their own site, Really Ready.  Who do you trust more?

Buttermilk fried chicken recipe

Transparent Canoe-Kayak — What a great idea this is.  I wonder if they've done anything to keep from scratching it up when you pull it to shore.

" Remix the Ring is the first in a series of interactive features in the Compose Yourself zone of the CBC Radio Music Commissions website."

Television commercials from the 50s and 60s.  Lots of them.

Self Help and Personal Development for Lazy People

Knock-based commands for your Linux laptop — This link is way more technical than I usually post, but all that really matters is the headline and the video.

Essentially, this is a Fonzi hack.  You computer can actually feel you hitting it and execute a command as a result.  ( Not that hard.)

Heath Leger set to play Joker — I thought Batman Begins was the best yet, and really good even judged on its own, so the best news in this article is that Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan are sticking around.  I always thought Willem Dafoe would make a good Joker, but of course, he's already been in Spider Man (where they inexplicably covered his cool super villain face with a bulky mask!!)

Entries in a video game competition available for download for free.

"Whenever Congress passes a bill late on a Friday night, check your wallet."  A deeper look at the minimum wage bill that just passed the House.

A password for your credit cards — The idea is that it generates a random one-time password that you use as authentication when you order online.  The amazing thing is that they manage to fit a battery, chip, and display into a regular credit card.

Speaking of putting a lot in a small space, Sony has added even more new features to the Cyber-shot.  (I keep an early model Cyber shot in my pocket at all times.  You never know.)

And speaking of new Sony gizmos, not included with the camera, but working closely with it is a new GPS device.  You connect the GPS to the camera when you take a picture so it records the exact location of the photo as metadata.  From there it helps you plot your photo on a map.  It's only 150 bucks, which is cool, but I got a handheld GPS for Christmas a couple years ago and it's almost worthless if you can't see a good amount of the sky.  Caveat emptor.  (But at least it'll impress the ladies.)

Railway passengers generate electricity — I love this idea.  How much electricity could we generate if we wired up all the turnstiles and revolving doors?  I once suggested that we should harness all the moving vehicles to generate a little power too, but took a little heat for trying to violate conservation of energy.

Evolution's foes lose ground in Kansas

Start collecting your weatherblogger links now, Tropical Storm Chris may turn into something.

"Josh is in jail and this is his mom."  He has video of a protest march that a judge wants to see and he won't cough it up.

Bush Grants Self Permission To Grant More Power To Self

Juan Cole has been blogging the Israel/Lebanon conflict with zeal.  As have the folks at PajamasMedia.

Perry Farrell interviews Shepard Fairey — You probably know him without realizing it.  He's huge.

August 1, 2006 | 2:27 PM ET

As the popularity of Qana as a search term on Technorati indicates, the deaths there represent a significant turning point for a lot of people in their assessment of the situation.  If you pick through the list you'll also find some conspiracy theories developing about " what really happened" there.  Some are based on the timing of the bombing versus the collapse.  Others are based on the condition of the bodies in the photos from the scene (too terrible to link to).  For some, the events at Qana were clarifying.  For others, they only made matters murkier.

Speaking of links to the Jawa Report, we had a good watercooler buzz here at the cube farm this morning about the difference between an act of terrorism, a hate crime, and a deranged crazy person.  Some bloggers are advocating the position that the Muslim guy who shot up the Jewish center in Seattle should be called a terrorist.  Since surely terrorism is a subset of hate crime, what does it take to move a shooting like this from one category to the other?  Is it the pressure of political correctness that keeps out the terrorism label or the political stakes of the war on terror?  (Or is there a technical legal definition that I don't know and we need to get a lawyer to hang around our water cooler?)  UPDATE:  I see the shooter had recently converted to Christianity , but the overall question stands.  Do you agree that should have filed its story in the Crime and Punishement section or does it belong in the U.S. Security section with the terror related stories?

Speaking of terrorism, The Man Who Put Al-Qaeda on the Web — Interesting but pretty long.  It always surprises me that we don't hear more about the cyber side of the war on terror.

I don't know if I've ever seen as much positive link frenzy over a Microsoft product as there is for Photosynth.  It's a photo stitching software that figures out where your pictures overlap and puts them together into a navigable 3-D image.  It reminds me a little of the AutoStitch software I mentioned last week.  One really cool application that Adam Shepard mentions in this video is that they could use the photo recognition feature along with search such that you could take a picture of something and submit it to their database and get back information on what it is you're looking at.  The video on the official page talks about moving through the world as everyone contributes images that are woven together.  I also watched some of the Channel 9 video.  (They're always too long for me to watch the whole thing.)

Speaking of new Microsoft stuff, contrary to the disastrous live presentation of Microsoft's new voice recognition software, I've heard it works pretty well (in a relative, the-old-version-was-way-worse kind of way).  P.S.  Look for "Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all" to enter common geek parlance along with phrases like "All your base are belong to us."

Man lifts car off pinned cyclist — A quick scan of comments found one mention of Superman and strangely no mention of the Hulk.

Can you imagine the sheer awe when the skaters first found this rail?

I cheated and used Scoble's Blogher notes to find good stuff from the conference including, the Technorati tag category, and the official conference blog.  I'm less interested in marketing than Scoble is, but was still struck by his points about the broader interests represented at this conference.

Movies whose copyright has expired and are therefore free to download.  Nice if you like old movies.

Speaking of free downloads, How the Pirate Bay raid changed Sweden — To answer the headline's question, according to this piece it raised sympathy for filesharing to the point of creating an influential political movement.  I'm having a hard time imaging how a "Piracy Party" could have enough issue-depth to draw a following, but I guess it's an important cause in Sweden.  ( The Pirate Bay is a hugely popular BitTorrent filetrading site that was recently raided by police as the result of pressure from groups like the MPAA.

Malaysia outlaws unsuitable names — Given the examples, I thought they were talking about online screen names, but apparently there's a tradition in some Malaysian cultures to give children unusual names.  The Freakonomics blog pointed out the funny list of related stories at that link, which list all the things Malaysia has been banning lately.

Transponder car keys are billed as making the car unstealable, which looks like a false assertion.  However, because everyone believes that's the case, insurers are using it as the basis to deny claims when the car actually is stolen.  (An unstealable car can't be stolen and therefore you stole it yourself and are attempting to commit insurance fraud.)  This article is also an indictment of the security of RFID tags.  **The piece is actually two articles or else it's written backward because the cool part is page three and has nothing to do with transponder keys or insurance.  It's about a cheat code hidden in his car's emergency brake.  I know motorcycles have similar cheat codes to disable security systems without using the key fob.

The new Knitty, online knitting magazine, is out.

Speaking of cars, photos of a suspended Honda F-1.  By "suspended" they mean all of its parts are hanging from the ceiling by threads, so it looks like an exploded maintenance diagram.

The televised footage of the original moon landing was apparently actually a camera pointing at a screen that was playing the real footage.  This means there's a much clearer copy in existence somewhere.  The question is where.  I'm imagining the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Big Bang – Common Misconceptions

I'm not sure what has brought it to the fore now, but the Flying Spaghetti Monster hate mail blog is sheer hilarity.

Congress again demonstrates its poor understanding of the Internet.  They might as well ban kids from using the phone because a pedophile might call them.  That last paragraph is funny.

Jeff Jarvis reinvents the publishing industry in a single blog entry.

Speaking of publishing, a publishing tycoon apparently has a book out about how to get rich.  The review, however, seems to be more about how to be rich.  Favorite line:  "If it flies, floats or fornicates, always rent it — it’s cheaper in the long run."  Steal that and the screenplay writes itself.

The popularity dialer — Funny but also kind of creepy.  Not only can you schedule it to call you so it looks like your popular enough for someone to actually bother to ring your phone, but it plays half of a pre-recorded conversation.  So you could answer on speaker phone and use a memorized script to pretend to have a conversation with someone who likes you.

Since we saw fruit-ripeness stickers the other day, why not egg boiling indicator ink?  It changes color depending on how hard boiled the egg is.  Again, I see the utility in this but I'm reluctant to give up on simply learning how to do it.  You can use the magic ink, but aren't you cooler if you just know (by learning) how to make the perfect egg?

Commuter Click:  Amateur hour; Journalism without journalists — Looks like he throws some cold water on the enthusiasm for collaborative public journalism.


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