Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cameraphones and Moblogging

My article on MSNBC

Ok. I know I'm going to hear some criticism. People yelling at me for sparking irrational paranoia over the dangers of cameraphones, as well as for causing global warming. But before you do, keep in mind, the article as it appears is never the author's original draft. Things get cut and tweaked. It's part of the process. And us writers, in the end, don't get final say. I set out to write a balanced article looking at all the issues involved with camera phones and moblogging. And I think I did that. So it's not my fault if what got published (especially that hot picture they decided to lead with) isn't as well balanced as I thought my original draft was (Quick and Dirty??? Hmm, that wasn't my choice). But you be the judge.

The Outtakes (to be released on DVD):
“A picture tells a thousand words,” says Shawn Conahan, the creator of Rabble. “There’s a big trend in self-expression now. We just want to make it as easy as possible.”


What makes these moblog sites so unique and appealing is the spontaneous quality of the often-grainy images, says Sarah Lane, host of G4TV’s “Attack of the Show,” who started up a moblog on TextAmerica in 2003. Since then, it’s become the most viewed moblog on the site. “I’m a girl, I carry small purses and don’t always have my digital camera, but I always have my camera phone,” Lane says.

“When I first got the phone, I found it was perfect for capturing weird things I came across,” she says. “Crazy people on the street, weird cars, beautiful sunsets. I could take the picture, upload it directly to the internet and share it within a minute. It’s a way for people to look through your eyes.”

“I’m addicted,” says TextAmerica user Cliff DeMartino, 30, who started moblogging after seeing one created by TechTV host Morgan Webb. “It’s more than just a web site, there is an actual community.” He says he’s met many people through the TextAmerica site. “I post some pretty wild things, and I think everyone keeps checking in to see what the hell I am going to do next.”


Marc Brown, co-founder of Buzznet, says that while they have staff who are on the look out for inappropriate material, the users primarily police themselves. “Our community moderates itself. People notify us when something is inappropriate. Nudity, hate crimes, personal attacks are taken off.”

“We differ from MySpace in that our emphasis is more on sharing content rather than ‘hooking up’ with another individual,” he says.


Last month, the mistaken-identity shooting of New York City police officer Eric Hernandez by another officer was captured on a bystander’s video phone. It was broadcast on WNBC-New York and used in the police investigation into the incident.


“Camera phones allow you to easily document events in real time,” says Anthony Batt, Buzznet’s other co-founder. In April, Buzznet is bringing together a group of picture-phoners to cover the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Palm Springs. They’ll be able to post pictures from the concert onto the web instantly, without having to lug around a laptop. “That type of documentation is a great example of the power of the camera phone,” Batt says.


“You don’t carry your laptop with you everywhere,” Conahan says. “The one device everything should converge on is the mobile device.”
Batt agrees. “The moblogging trend will take off even further as video popularity increases on phones.”
Hope you enjoyed the article. And if you're in NYC, check out the Sickabod Sane concert on Friday. It'll be awesome. Here are, fittingly, some camera phone pics of him recording at Brown Sugar studios:
Sickabod In Da StudioSickabod In Da Studio


Just A Reader said...

In your article, you write:

"mourners use their camera phones to take pictures of the diseased."

Don't you mean the "deceased?"

Hunter's Sister said...

Hey Buddy,
Well even with the edits, I love your article. Though I'm sorry that the quote that says, "I’m a girl, I carry small purses and don’t always have my digital camera, but I always have my camera phone" got cut. That's just so true; I never really thought about how convenient it is to have your camera and cell in one. Anyway, miss you a lot!!

Adam said...

I've alerted MSNBC to the mistake. I won the class spelling bee in 4th grade, but alas, spellcheck has since ruined me.

Hot Mama said...

Most people fear the loss of our privacy to "Big Brother" and tend to fear government, but it seems that in terms of our loss of privacy "we have met the enemy and he is us"! Thanks for another terrific article.

Anonymous said...

So we removed her text messaging ability . . . now we have to craft something to blind her cell phone's eye? Great article - again.

Anonymous said...

Adam: Yes, i know its now in the public domain, but did you really have to mention the poor girl in the beginning of the article? As far as I know, most of the searches have been done over in singapore/malaysia, but now your article will likely spread the searches over here to the mass american market. She's 17! Her phone was stolen! Yes, she should have been more careful, but she's 17! Her boyfriend, who filmed it, is 21 and will come out of it ok, but she's 17!

Adam said...

Dear anonymous,

What happened to Tammy is unfortunate, but it was a widespread story before I mentioned it in my piece. I feel bad for Tammy. But her story is very relevant to the discussion about camera and video phones (telling it may even save others from a similar fate.) Her full name is withheld; "Tammy" is in all likelihood not even her real name. As for increasing the visibility of her video... it's pretty hard to top #1, #2, and #3 on one of the most viewed sites on the web. Hopefully U.S. law, and common decency, would deter people from searching for her video. I hope I'm not being naive in thinking most people who read my article will not be inspired to search for child porn. The discussion about what reporters should report and what they should withhold from the public has been going on for years-- and there are many veins of thought about it. I personally believe that the public can be trusted with information.

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