I’m on The Vergecast!

As pre-millenials, The Vergecasters are ancient enough to remember when an IM was no more ruthless than a little yellow man that said “ding” a lot through a crusty ol’ 2400-baud Sportster. Now, all the IM’s come through FiOS and look more like D-grade Bollywood stars…or do they? Hear the complex story of the modern Internet Marketer unfold before your ears here, in this, the Thirtieth Vergecast of the twenty-first century.

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Scamworld: ‘Get rich quick’ schemes mutate into an online monster

From Boing Boing: “The Verge’s Joseph L. Flatley delves into the world of Internet marketing scams (those stupid spam pitches you get for “lead generation” and such) in eye-watering detail. Fundamentally, these things are exactly what they appear to be: con artists who suck money out of desperate people by lying to them about the money they can make with “work from home” businesses. They’re pyramid schemes. But Flatley lingers on the personalities, the histories, the motivations and the unique innovations that the Internet has given rise to, providing insight into the feel of being inside one of these desperate, sweaty scams.”

The New Yorker calls it: “[a] fun piece… about the dark, wacky world of Internet con men.”

Kiplinger’s says: “In the age of internet marketing, ‘get rich quick’ scams have evolved way beyond the point of fruitless envelope-stuffing and fake work-at-home jobs. Now national syndicates trick their victims out of tens of thousands of dollars before disappearing into the digital ether.”

O’Reilly Radar: “amazing deconstruction of the online ‘get rich quick’ scam business.”

And Andy Jenkins says: “I’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake… stung by a scorpion, and attacked by an asp.”

Read it at The Verge

Two Interpretations of Timothy Leary

The following review first appeared in The Final Incident, the Deek Magazine anthology edited by Joseph L. Flatley, Matt Stroud, and Jesse Hicks.

The first exhaustive look at Leary, Timothy Leary: A Biography by Robert Greenfield, begins on a poignant note, where the young Leary hides on the roof to escape from his drunken father; and it ends on a note of righteous indignation. In between those two poles lay a phone book’s worth of vitriol. Greenfield obviously has some kind of searing hatred for Timothy Leary, which he may be too much of a gentleman to mention, but which nonetheless bleeds onto every page.

One could read the entire Greenfield book and think that Leary never had an original idea in his life, let alone author over thirty books. The Annotated Bibliography of Timothy Leary itself weighs in at over three hundred pages! True, some of Leary’s work can be difficult — and not in the good way; but even that stuff will often teach you something if you let it.

Continue reading on Medium

5 Minutes on The Verge: Irin Carmon

Irin Carmon is a journalist and commentator whose work has appeared in publications including Jezebel and Salon, where she’s a staff writer. She was kind enough to take five minutes (give or take) to talk to me about the panel she moderated at SXSW, “Curing a Rage Headache: Internet Drama & Activism,” as well as the general theme of changing the world in the age of trolls. Her most recent article for Salon, “White Male Nerd Culture’s Last Stand,” addresses the ways that the conference has tried to encourage diversity “in a still-segregated world.”

Continue reading at The Verge

David Carr and the Curator’s Code


The ease with which folks are able to blog, reblog, and otherwise reproduce (as well as remix) other people’s work is definitely among the revolutionary powers of the internet — at the heart of which is the reduction of everything to ones and zeros, which lends itself not only to obscuring the provenance of a particular work, but also to reducing the perceived value of content in general. This is a concern to anyone who values quality content, of course: if people and organizations aren’t getting paid to create, their ability to create is severely limited.

Continue reading at The Verge

From the vaults: I’ll side with the vandals


Timur was a fellow security guard at the art museum. A couple of times a week, he and I would grab a beer after work. He was exceedingly average in some respects: twenty-six years of age, a few inches shy of six foot tall, dishwater-blonde hair. He lived with his girlfriend, who was pregnant. Yet Timur was exotic in some ways, as well: he moved to America at thirteen, spoke a heavily accented English, and his demeanor reminded me of the sort of desperate teenagers that perform death-defying stunts on foreign-language YouTube videos. The way that he carried himself, his body might have been made to soak up tension. He spoke very little about his life, and his infrequent flashes of extreme rage made me wonder if he wasn’t spiritual cousins with Gary Gilmore.

Security work can make one batty. Imagine standing up straight in an airtight room, twelve feet square, for days on end. The tedium can have a violent impact on one’s mood.
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Why is Snooki trying to sell me headphones?

Journeys on the outskirts of the celebrity C-list: A product like the mRobo Ultra Bass dancing audio player is pretty marginal by any standard, so it was somewhat odd to head over to Tosy’s booth at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) only to find hundreds of people massed, mostly being polite about having to stand for 45 minutes while gruff private security with Secret Service-type earpieces barked at them from time to time (one of the press photographers on hand referred to them as “jabronis,” which seemed rather apt). Of course, even in the consumer electronics world there is a very good chance that many of those present weren’t aware of the company, which is notable for being the first Vietnamese robotics company and the makers of a ping-pong playing humanoid robot. But that’s OK. That’s not why I was there. I was there for the Bieb.

Continue reading at The Verge

5 Minutes on The Verge: Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music

Peter Kirn is a composer / musician, media artist, educator, technology writer, and the creator and editor of one of our favorite websites, Create Digital Music. When not busy making music (and writing about it for various publications), he’s somehow found time to author Real World Digital Audio from Peachpit Press and edit our current favorite airport read, Keyboard Presents: the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music (Backbeat). We’d like to thank him from taking time from his current move to Berlin to answer a few questions.

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5 Minutes on The Verge: R.U. Sirius

Ken “R. U. Sirius” Goffman first gained substantial notoriety as the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mondo 2000 in 1989. Since then, he’s been in movies, a band (Mondo Vanilli), podcasts, and authored a number of books (including Counterculture Through the Ages and Design for Dying with Timothy Leary). He also ran for president in 2000 as the candidate for The Revolution Party — sadly, he lost. Currently you can find him at Acceler8or, a website that bills itself as “your thoroughfare to all the best transhumanist bits and bytes, with a side order of strangeness and charm.”

Continue reading at The Verge

On the new breed of survivalists

Joseph Flatley, Features Editor with The Verge, discusses his recent article entitled, “Condo at the End of the World.” Flatley first gives an overview of The Verge, a new website dedicated to in-depth reporting usually seen in traditional media such as newspapers and magazines. He describes The Verge as a website dedicated not only to what technology means, but also to how it affects our lives. The discussion then turns to Flately’s article on survival condos, which have attracted the attention of wealthy citizens concerned about end of the world calamity and economic collapse. According to Flatley, the interest in survival condos has increased after 9/11, and after the recent economic downturn. The “condos” are abandoned missile silos that date back to the cold war. Flatley describes his interviews with different people who are carving out a market for high-end survival real estate, turning these abandoned missile silos into luxury living. He describes how survivalists might live in an end of the world scenario, including what they will eat and how they will stay properly hydrated.

Listen at Surprisingly Free