How Skanky. Model Blogger Sues Google for $15M.

Once an anonymous blogger, Rosemary Port now faces the interesting dilemma of having her identity revealed. Perhaps her Skanks in New York blog is something she wanted to keep as her own little secret, but that’s a rather impossible option now. Stripped of her Internet veil, Port is feeling a little vulnerable and victimized. How could her identity have been revealed?

After posting an unflattering photo of cover model Liskula Cohen, she found her registration information being handed over to Cohen by none other than Blogger owner Google itself. Cohen had sued Google in order to have the identity of Port revealed in an effort to have the photo removed from the website. In an CNN interview, Cohen insists that she didn’t want the photo being posted online and accessible to the public forever.

Now Port is suing Google for $15 million, claiming that her right to anonymity was violated. That’s a pickle.
Where does the true problem lie? With bloggers being treated like tabloid publishers and Google being placed in the middle, we find ourselves in the midst of an interesting social debacle that truly highlights the way in which online publishing is interacting with our culture.

Should Port be able to sue Google, seeing as Google was merely complying with the court ruling based on Cohen’s initial lawsuit? And should Cohen be able to sue Google merely to find the identity of an individual that was publishing anonymously because she was caught doing something she now regrets? Ultimately cases such as these will determine the way in which companies like Google extend features to their users because of the level of legal risk and involvement from the government.

When it comes down to it, there isn’t really a right or a wrong answer as far as privacy, web anonymity, and the right to free speech goes in the cases of Port and Cohen. In a sense, everyone got caught red-handed and Google is the medium by which the world discovers the skeletons in people’s closets. We just have some more fodder for privacy advocates and celebrities alike to use towards their own goals with the publishing industry.

Bloggers, take this as a lesson learned. Your anonymity is not guaranteed. Models, remember that portions of your life are public and that tangible evidence of your life (i.e. photos) are very easy to publish online.


Social Media is Killing You. Take These Pills 4 Times Daily.

drugsHave you ever noticed how many diseases have seemingly cropped up in the past few decades? You know, those illnesses that sound a little too specific to be believable, like Restless Leg Syndrome. Not to downplay anyone that has circulatory problems, but there are a lot of diseases out there that sound made up, yet they’re shamelessly curable by drugs sold by large pharmaceutical companies.

Even if they don’t sound made up, there are some diseases that don’t have to be applied to everybody just so certain sects of the drug and medical field can prosper. Not every female is depressed, and not every kid needs to be on Ritalin.

You have to admit that some conditions simply become medicalized.

But if you take a historic perspective on the types of conditions that become popular in a way, there’s a correlation between the number of people that think they suffer from that condition, the number of doctors that prescribe medication, the amount of money pharma companies pour into research, development and marketing, and the amount of press that condition receives in the media. So you can make a fairly educated guess as to which condition will become medicalized in the future.
I just wonder when it will be social media’s turn.

We already saw it with television, and we’ve actually seen it with Internet usage as well. You’ve all seen the news reports of child obesity, violent behavior and several forms of social withdrawal linked to watching too much TV or spending too much time in front of the computer. But the true test of extreme medicalization of a given condition is how specific can you get, while still making it applicable to nearly any member of the general public. Social media? Bingo.

It fits all the criteria. Everyone partakes in social media, and some doctors working somewhere for some drug company can do enough research to convince other doctors, the media and the world at large that online social media is the very bane of our existence. Now take these pills four times daily.

There are already studies out there measuring the actual level of social interaction that can be carried on in an online environment, and how those interactions vary from the interactions witnessed in person-to-person interactions. This will eventually link back to a person’s mental health, liability towards antisocial developments and the general fear for the well-being of future generations.

They’ll lose out on all the value of, you know, the things we grew up with. Sonic the Hedgehog and Animaniacs. Things of that nature. And we’ll worry that their brains will melt and their muscles will atrophy. We’ll then turn to Pharmacia, Baxter, Glaxo Smith Klein and Eli Lily to tell us what to do about it. We’ll take pills that make us adverse to Internet socialization by speeding the headache-creating factors of staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Then we’ll return to the drug companies for something that will alleviate our headache so we can get right back to posting pictures on Facebook.

Oh, the vicious cycle of medicalized conditions.

As someone who sits in the house all day, in front of the computer and on the Internet, knee-deep in social media, I can give you the cure. Go outside and get some fresh air. Take a dip in the pool, eat lunch at an outdoor cafe (without your computer companion), walk your dog at the park and have a drink with some friends. Make sure your life is balanced.

Are You Excited about Xbox Integration with Facebook and Twitter?

Xbox Live announced its upcoming support of Twitter sign-in and Facebook Connect this week, which just reminds us all of the power of social networking and its impact on so many aspects of media–traditional or otherwise.

I’m a believer in the ability of social networks to make an impact. So I’m quite interested to see how Microsoft will be leveraging Facebook, one of its investments, for promoting its services and adding value to its end users. From marketing to better competing with casual gaming, Microsoft is taking steps towards effectively leveraging existing social networks.

Nick has a great post about Xbox’s Facebook Connect integration on AllFacebook, and I expounded on my above points on a Bublicious post. Let me know your thoughts on Xbox’s announcement!

The Nicoles Rock SXSW 2009

Dayna Nicole Kristen Nicole

Dayna Nicole Kristen Nicole

My best friend and cousin Dayna Nicole came to SXSW with me this year and I think we both had a great time. I can’t speak for Dayna, but I really think she got everything she was looking for from the trip to Austin.

You see, last year was my first time attending the SXSW conference and I enjoyed myself but I also worked really hard to get the stories, interviews and exclusives I got. While waiting 3 hours in the rain for the Facebook Developer Garage, which was featuring a follow-up Q&A session with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. And in my soggy state, I found myself complaining on the phone to Dayna. She responded that she was a tad jealous she wasn’t there and that she really wanted to go to SXSW next year.

Seriously? Seriously. If hearing laments of standing in the rain for hours sounds like a good time to anyone, then you know they’re serious about attending a conference such as SXSW.
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Chris, Kris and Kristen: Why Does Social Networking Grow?

Kristen Nicole on WTTW

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited by Christian Farr to participate as a social media commentator for his technology segment at WTTW’s Chicago Tonight program, covering recent social media growth.

I was also lucky enough to sit alongside Kristian Hammond, a professor at Northwestern University as well as the Co-Director Intelligent Information Laboratory Department of Computer Science Northwestern University. Hammond, who also spoke on recent social media growth, is a regular on the Chicago Tonight program and was a fun and gracious co-commentator!

Being on Chicago Tonight was also a great opportunity to promote The Twitter Survival Guide, the book I co-authored with Bob Walsh, which can be purchased here (email me if you’d like a discount!).

I can honestly say that my first experience on a live television news program was thrilling and I can’t wait to do it again! If you’d like to see the segment in its entirety, click here.

So I Wrote a Book…About Twitter!

So I wrote a book! I co-authored a book, actually. In partnership with Bob Walsh, the man behind 47hats, I spent a good portion of this past year working on The Twitter Survival Guide. It’s a downloadable ebook that covers the gamut of hings you’ll need to know as a new (or veteran) Twitter user.

All the basics are covered, so The Twitter Survival Guide is an excellent starting place for newbie Twitter users. We’ve got a brief history of Twitter, some pointers on how to get your profile set up for personal or professional purposes, and a short list of some of the most powerful third party applications that will help you get the most out of the Twitter service.

Also important to note are the interviews we have with some heavy-hitting Twitter users, including Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuck, and more.
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Can We Really Blame Arrington? Sure.


So, Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, has denounced embargoes. That’s silly. I’ve been blogging professionally for a long time, and admit that delving into the big league after becoming Mashable‘s first employee was a rude awakening as to the ugly politics of blogging. And from working with one of the most professional men I know of in the business (over at VentureBeat), it’s safe to say that such ugly politics aren’t unique to the new media sector. A stunt like Arrington’s however, is.
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