Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blog-on-hold to be resumed


Thank you for your readership and interest.  I have loved all the reader input, ideas, contributions - I couldn't have found all these excellent meta-isms on my own.

I took a several month break from blogging but now am back in the game!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

In which hackers hack hackers!

In a fractious free-for-all, rival hackers engage in tit-for-tat attacks on each other, often for no better reason than to outwit the other guy.

This is a NYT repost.

Hackers Select a New Target: Other Hackers
In a war of egos, it's one hacker against another.

The hackers, calling themselves the A-Team, assembled a trove of private information and put it online for all to see: names, aliases, addresses, phone numbers, even details about family members and girlfriends.

But their targets were not corporate executives, government officials or clueless bank customers. They were other hackers.

And in trying to unmask the identities of the members of a group known as Lulz Security, the A-Team was aiming to take them down a peg — and, indirectly, to help law enforcement officials lock them up.

The core members of Lulz Security “lack the skill to do anything more than go after the low-hanging fruit,” the A-Team sneered in its posting last month.

In recent weeks, attacks on companies like Sony and government sites like have raised concerns about increasingly organized and brazen hackers. On Monday, a Twitter account for Fox News was hijacked.

But much of the hacking scene is a fractious free-for-all, with rival groups and lone wolves engaged in tit-for-tat attacks on each other, often on political or ideological grounds but sometimes for no better reason than to outwit — or out-hack — the other guy.

The members of Lulz Security, or LulzSec, have been at the center of the sniping lately. The group won global attention through attacks on the C.I.A., Sony, the Arizona state police and other organizations, putting at risk the personal information of tens of thousands of people in the process. Even as they attacked, the LulzSec members craftily concealed their own identities, all the while articulating an ever-changing menu of grievances, from government corruption to consumer rights.

LulzSec’s provocative attacks and flamboyant style made it a tempting target. Other hackers, equally adept at maintaining their anonymity, have been seeking to penetrate the online aliases of the group’s members.

Late last month, LulzSec announced that it was disbanding, and that its members would continue their activities under other banners. But the F.B.I. and other agencies are continuing their pursuit, aided by information unearthed by other hackers. In fact, the Lulz Security members face the real possibility that if they are caught, it will be their fellow hackers who led the authorities to their doorsteps.

“This unfortunately represents one of few ways law enforcement gets good inroads into this community,” said Bill Woodcock, research director at the Packet Clearing House, a nonprofit group in Berkeley, Calif., that tracks Internet traffic.

In hacker parlance, to be unmasked is to be dox’d, as in documented. And by hacker logic, to be dox’d is to be put out of business. An online alias is an essential weapon: it conceals a person’s name and whereabouts, while allowing the creation of an alternate identity.

Indeed, the handbook for new recruits to Anonymous, the global hacker collective from which Lulz Security sprang earlier this year, contains tips on safeguarding one’s identity — from how to steer clear of Web sites that track online activity to masking one’s Internet provider.

One of the tools it suggests is Tor, a network of virtual tunnels originally developed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory to protect online government communications. “In our world,” the handbook concludes, “a good defense is the best offense.”

Despite the detailed profiling by the A-Team and other hacker groups including Team Poison and Web Ninjas, no professed Lulz Security member has admitted to being dox’d, and some have merrily denied it. But the campaign seems to have had some effect.

The A-Team’s supposed outing of seven of Lulz Security’s members coincided with the group’s announcement that it was disbanding. And a spokesman for the group, using the alias Topiary, bid a public farewell in typically impish language: “Sailing off — watch your backs and follow the north wind, brazen sailors of the ’verse.”

The A-Team posting about LulzSec included mundane personal details. The sister of one purported LulzSec member, it said, was a bartender in a bowling alley in a small British town. Another member was described as “very ugly.” A third, the group railed, cannot hack at all: “He doesn’t actually do anything except give interviews.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

REISSUE: Every office needs a tiny office

In honor of Lisbeth's departure from my office - but not from my life - I thought I would reissue one of my favorite blog posts of all time.  Au revoir, Lisbeth and Lisbeth's tiny office within our office!

Dear world, meet my coworker Lisbeth. Lisbeth runs a blog about tiny things, so for her birthday, her boss got her a very comprehensive office suite playmobile set. A secret admirer got her a tiny piano for her tiny office, but that's another story altogether.

We set up a meta photo shoot so that it could be seen by all as not just a small toy, but also an office within an office. We think we got some good shots - enjoy!

The side-by-side; notice the leg anglementation and the white notebook in the right hand:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Huddle about Huddle

Guest post by Maria.

It turns out Google isn't just awesome, it's meta, too! One of Google+'s new features is called Huddle, which is a group messaging feature.  As far as we can tell, it has no real purpose.  However, two of our friends were caught putting their heads together to try to figure this feature out - in other words, they were huddling over Huddle!  Thanks, Google.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Justin Bieber was Saved by the Bell!

Your mind is about to be blown, what with this 'mind blowingly meta' post from Jade!  Once again, we see an instance of celebrities enjoying their spot in the meta limelight.  This might just be a pattern.

Tiffani Thiessen And Justin Bieber Create A “Saved By The Bell” T-Shirt Vortex

It all started when Justin Bieber wore a Kelly Kapowski T-shirt to the MuchMusic Video Awards. Shortly after, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, who of course played Kelly on “Saved by the Bell,” decided to wear a Justin Bieber T-shirt to the premiere of “Horrible Bosses.” “I’m just trying to show the love back,” said Tiffani. “He’s adorable.” [NY Mag]

Tiffani Amber-Thiessen in Justin Bieber t-shirt

But things got way, way, way more meta from there…

Over the weekend, Dustin Diamond, aka Screech, showed up to an event wearing a T-shirt of Tiffani wearing a T-shirt of Bieber wearing her T-shirt.

Then Mario Lopez rocked a tank top featuring Dustin wearing the T-shirt of Tiffani wearing the T-shirt of Justin. [Buzzfeed]

Then, Dennis Haskins, better known as Mr. Belding, showed up to an event wearing a T-shirt of Zach Morris wearing a T-shirt of Mario Lopez wearing a T-shirt of Dustin Diamond, etc, etc, etc. [Buzzfeed]

And in the final level of meta—maybe?—we get Max of The Max wearing a T-shirt of Mr. Belding wearing a T-shirt of Zach Morris wearing a T-shirt of Mario Lopez wearing a T-shirt of Dustin Diamond wearing a T-shirt of Tiffani Amber Thiessen wearing a T-shirt of Justin Bieber wearing her T-shirt. [Buzzfeed] And thus a meme is internet meme is born.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cartoon meta!

First of all, XKCD is amazing.  Second of all, if you don't know, Douglas Hofstadter is, like, the captain of all things meta.  Thereby making this cartoon funny:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quintessentially Meta

The CAP cap has finally arrived.  (I work at CAP; it's a baseball cap.  It's a CAP cap!  Please tell me you didn't need that explanation, but someone did earlier today.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Story on the Story: Reporting on the Reporting

The Story Behind the Story
The New York Times

How The Times scrambled to report
on Osama Bin Laden’s death.


Mitchell is the weekend editor of The Times and was the hands-on
editor closing the paper and ramping up the Web site on 5/1.

    It was just before 10 p.m. when Doug Mills, a photographer in the Washington bureau, got a call from the White House press office telling him that President Obama planned to address the nation in 45 minutes. The message was brief and urgent: “Be there.”
    In New York, it had been a more or less normal Sunday. We had picked six stories for the front page and had closed the first national edition. On a Sunday night at this late hour there are not often big changes.
    I was just putting on my coat to call it a weekend when David Geary, the late editor on the news desk, shouted that the president was making a statement in a half hour. From my years covering the White House, I knew presidents don’t often show up in the briefing room at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night. Whatever this was, it was going to be significant. I took off my coat.
    So did people all over the newsroom whose shift had just ended. We speculated that it might be about Qaddafi. Ham Boardman, a producer whose shift had ended and who had settled in at a nearby bar, came back to the office. Without being asked, rafts of Times journalists flooded in. We counted 103 journalists
involved in the coverage that night. Usually, we’re operating with a skeletal staff this late on a Sunday.
    Back in Washington, our bureau was moving into full gear. The bureau chief, Dean Baquet, had rushed to the office, calling from a taxi to say that his reporters thought the announcement concerned Bin Laden. Captured or killed? Helene Cooper, a White House reporter, worked her sources from home. At 10:37 p.m., her first, spare, report made it to New York: “WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden has been killed, a United States official said. President Obama is expected to make an announcement on Sunday night, almost 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”
    We posted that first bulletin as a news alert on The Times home page at 10:40 p.m. — the beginning of a night of reporting that brought forth the riveting story of how a team of Navy SEALS deployed by the president had killed the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, ending history’s most expansive and exasperating manhunt. With adrenaline pumping and no time to spare, everyone swung into action.
As one editor, Vanessa Gordon, said the next day, “It was sort of fun in an agonizing way, with everyone doing exactly what they do well, very quickly.“
    A crucial step was to stop printing the early edition of the newspaper. It is rare to stop the presses and only the publisher, executive editor or managing editors can authorize it. The last time anyone remembers doing it was election night 2000 around 2:30 a.m. when the paper briefly reported that George Bush had defeated Al Gore — a notion dashed by more reporting. I reached Managing Editor Jill Abramson, and with her okay Mr. Geary told our plant in College Point, Queens, and our national satellite plant to stop the presses. The step ensured that 70 percent of Monday”s papers or roughly 833,000 copies contained the Bin Laden news. At our College Point plant, 7,700 copies of the early edition were destroyed.
    The killing of Bin Laden was historic and it required an entirely new front page. When I asked Jill which of the front page stories we had selected only hours earlier should be pushed inside the paper to make room for the Bin Laden report, we concluded all of them needed to go. That had a substantial ripple effect,
as other stories and advertisements were killed outright to make space for the Bin Laden report. It was now 11 p.m. and a wave of senior editors came into the newsroom — everyone from Susan Chira, the foreign editor, to Jim Roberts, an assistant managing editor.
    Because our print deadline was so tight, our first thought was closing the newspaper, but our planning and thought was focused equally on the Web, where many Americans would be staying awake to absorb this seismic story and want new details throughout the night. In Washington, we asked Dean Baquet to call in Peter Baker, one of our White House reporters, who was away on book leave. Peter would be the perfect person to keep fortifying the main news story on the Web. He gladly volunteered. Even after filing a story for the newspaper, Mark Mazzetti, The Times’s intelligence reporter, had enough reporting filling his notebook to write a reconstruct of the mission. He wrote through the night and filed a graceful and highly detailed story for the Web. He also managed to record a video report, which was produced
overnight by Ben Werschkul and others on our video team and published on the Web shortly after 4 a.m.
    Elsewhere in the newsroom, several producers put together an elaborate, interactive timeline of Bin Laden’s life, while Robert Mackey, who runs the news blog, The Lede, was running a live account of developments and reaction from our reporters and other publications on the Web. Michael Shear, the lead writer for the Caucus blog, contributed audio for the home page, while Sasha Koren and Bassey Etim prepared a scrolling collection of reader comments for the home page.
    Even with the presses stopped, we had little time to put out the newspaper. Minutes counted. So it became unnerving as the president failed to appear at 10:30 or 10:45 or 11 p.m., finally speaking closer to 11:30 p.m. With only a half hour to write, Ms. Cooper teamed up with Mr. Baker on the main news story. Jeff Zeleny, one of our lead political reporters, wrote an assessment of what the news meant for the president, presaging the bounce he received
in national polls. Liz Harris, the night rewrite person, ran to Times Square for 20 minutes and anchored a story about the spontaneous and raucous midnight celebrations that included reporting from colleagues at the White House and Ground Zero.
    An obituary of Bin Laden had been in hand for years and required just a little updating. One last-minute change was made when Ms. Abramson and Bill Keller decided that he should not be referred to as Mr. Bin Laden, the usual Times style, but simply Bin Laden, treated as The Times treats figures like Hitler and Stalin.
    Usually the front page is designed after the pictures and stories arrive. Because of the time pressures, we reversed order. Kyle Massey, a master headline writer, composed the six-column two-deck headline carrying the president’s declaration that justice had been done. Jim Quinlan, the front page designer, sketched out a new front page with four stories and room for a large photo of Bin Laden, another of the president and an iconic photo of the Twin Towers burning,
which we had published in the newspaper on Sept. 12, 2001. There was some poetic symmetry in that choice. The crowds at the White House became the last picture.
    At 12:45 a.m., amidst screaming that we were not making the deadline, the paper went to bed, about 15 minutes after the time we had hoped for. While all that was going on with the printed newspaper, another small squad led by Web News Editor Jonathan Ellis was hard at work producing an unusual presentation for the home page of In many ways breaking out of normal design templates is more difficult on the Web than in print, which made the HTML and CSS skills of Ham Boardman and Seth Carlson so valuable in creating this striking piece of history:

    Then it was time for the editors to plan our stories for the Web, for overnight and early morning. As morning broke overseas, new stories were commissioned from Jane Perlez, our Pakistan correspondent, who was out of the country but raring to report and Alissa Rubin, the Afghanistan bureau chief. Mark’s reconstruct
was done by 3 a.m. Given the fact that our Web traffic was more than double the usual numbers for a weekend night, the work was well worth it. We were determined that Times readers would have every important element of one of the biggest stories in recent history.
    In New York, reinforcements — a whole new graphics team — arrived at 5 a.m. As for Doug Mills, he went to bed after 4 a.m. But not for long. He was heading back to the White House two and a half hours later.

—Alison Mitchell
For complete coverage of the death
of Osama bin Laden, click here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Introducing: A Very, VERY Bad Idea.

IPABI: "It's Probably A Bad Idea."

#IPABI is meta because it's a bad idea (probably) about bad ideas (probably - vote on them to find out if they are actually bad!).


From: Alex Harris
Newest Project: IPABI

Hi Friends and Family,

I am writing you to tell you about a fun website I have just launched. It is called which stands for Its Probably A Bad Idea. It is a site for doing exactly what you would think, sharing bad ideas. Every bad idea begins with IPABI. For example....IPABI to assume that he knew he was adopted. There are many categories to choose from ranging from Relationships to In the News. My hope is that many people will use the site and get some good laughs from it. The ideal user joins the site, reads bad ideas and votes on them and shares their own.

I would really appreciate you taking the time to look at the website, vote and maybe submit some bad ideas or join the site.

If you are extra motivated you can follow IPABI on Twitter at or like it on Facebook at

I'm hoping this can catch on so if you have the time spread the word to your friends and become active with it I would really appreciate it. And of course I would love to hear your feedback.

Thank you so much!

Go Team!


PS Sorry to those who may be offended by any bad ideas....that means you Mom!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Mess We're In: Reviewing the New York Times Review of the Documentary About the Times

This story is a repost.

In his review in the New York Times today, Michael Kinsley calls Page One, the documentary about the New York Times, “a mess.” He’s right, but not in the way he thinks it is.

This is a movie about the news industry: of course it’s messy. Director Andrew Rossi leads his audience across the wasted media landscape, with stops along the way, writes Kinsley, at “WikiLeaks; the Pentagon Papers; more WikiLeaks; the survival issue; Gay Talese and his famous book on The Times, ‘The Kingdom and the Power;’ Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal; the impact of Twitter; the danger of not sending reporters on trips with the president; how ABC has had to lay off 400 people.”

Apart from the messiness of the topic itself, there’s something nice about a sprawling approach, especially when our stories so often come in the form of Tweets, updates and headlines designed to be clicked on. It’s satisfying to see a fly-on-the-wall account of the business (and one of its epicenters) at a moment when transparency is king, but it’s also nice to be reminded about how good stories can be told. It can be hard to remember in the chaotic ecology of the Internet, where we follow links down their rabbit holes towards not wisdom, not opinion, not reporting – but information that’s crowd-sourced, aggregated, liked, and thus given a stamp of “relevant,” “important.”

By Kinsley’s account, the movie, with its impressionistic, rambling portrait of the news business, sounds a lot like the Internet too, born of a style that “keeps things moving but requires some discipline.” Discipline is what serious journalism has, and this, he’s clear, is not it: “It flits from topic to topic, character to character, explaining almost nothing.”

But the movie is a portrait of chaos, and a compelling one at that. It’s not a newspaper article or a well-structured op-ed. It’s a testament to the sort of journalism that still matters, that still separates Page One from the Internet’s homepages. It’s proof that in whatever medium you’re working – and there are a lot to choose from now – stories matter, and so do their sources and their subtleties. “Page One” may explain almost nothing, but some things aren’t so easily explained. Some times they have to be seen, and thought about, and discussed.

Kinsley’s bitter assessment then serves as proof of precisely the kind of journalism that the movie documents. In the interest of avoiding a “conflict of interest,” here’s the Times striving for as much distance as it can on a documentary about its own newsroom. Kinsley (who works for Bloomberg) goes out of his way at the start to indicate there is no conflict here, which was presumably why he was asked to write it (despite not being a film critic at all) and why he sounds nearly indignant at the film’s emphasis on “a media columnist and reporter named David Carr,” who is guilty, apparently, of loving the Times.

Given all of its (defensive) sense of self-importance – one stoked now more than ever, by, for instance, what some indignant Times partisans in the movie call “stupid” rumors of the newspaper’s demise – it’s not surprising to see a writer in the Times flaunting the paper’s concerns over integrity, like the righteous golden boy that new media expects it to be. “The Times deserves a better movie,” writes Kinsey imperiously, before adding the exortation, “and so do you. See ‘His Girl Friday’ again.”

Nerves have been touched clearly, and Kinsley’s review is only further proof, again, of a point that the movie is trying to make: if it’s not fighting for its life, good, level-headed journalism is on a mission to prove itself worthy in the heady, loud age of the Internet.

Carr is a fantastic spokesperson for that mission (and for the paper in general) and for the meta concerns at the heart of a shrinking newsroom. “There was just this sort of decades of organizational hubris about, you know, our own excellence and our own dominance,” he tells the camera early on in the film. “And then in a matter of like 18 months, all of a sudden…everybody started like asking a question: could The New York Times, like, go out of business?”

In an effort to remain balanced and fair and critical, papers like the Times aren’t competing against a “new media” boogeyman. They’re already deeply and often smartly embedded in the Internet themselves, and that’s where things get messy. Struggling with new modes of reporting, Internet economics and increasingly fuzzy lines between the demands of advertising and the demands of editorial, the corporate structure of news – “the muscles of the institution,” as Carr calls them – presents its own challenges to the newsroom. Through the collapse of the Tribune company and the Comcast NBC merger, the film points at these challenges, without making any claims. The story is still developing, is the point, and it’s complicated.

If “Page One” is ultimately a meditation on a shift between old and new technologies (Twitter and the iPad both make prominent, almost ominous appearances), what’s mostly missing is the story about the message that those technologies carry. When the tools effect the content, they’re really inseparable. But the content – what goes on Page One – gets little screen time here.

Still, in one of the film’s best scenes, when Times’ editors argue over whether to cover a made-for-TV ending of the Iraq war, the film shows why we need an editorial system that can still vet stories, not just pass them on. For outlets like Gawker, the bottom line may be “all about the story, and it doesn’t matter where the story comes from,” as Gizmodo’s Brian Lam said after a screening at Gawker HQ last night. That may mean eye-grabbing headlines (Nick Denton says in the film that no one wants to read the Times). But as the Judith Miller fiasco famously taught us, focusing on stories over sources is precisely how journalism can get us into trouble, and precisely why people like Judith Miller represent an even more formidable threat to the Times than the Internet: without reptutation, accurate information, and good reporting – no matter how hard the story is to get or to tell – no one would be worried about losing the Times to begin with.

David Carr gets to defend these journalistic rigors when he pays a reporting visit to the offices of VICE (the publishers of Motherboard), and announces that he’s not going to get fed a line about the relevance of “new media.” “I don’t do corporate portraiture,” he tells VICE’s Shane Smith. Smith says he doesn’t do stories on surfing in Africa, implying that’s what the Times does, preferring instead to show cannibalism and war-torn waste lands. (VICE, it’s worth noting, produces a number of videos about snowboarding and skateboarding.) But brutal images captured in travel documentaries don’t count as news gathering, Carr reminds him, with a bit of old media brutality.

“Before you ever went [to Africa], we had reporters there reporting genocide after genocide. So just because you put on a [expletive] safari helmet and look at some poop, that doesn’t give you the right to insult what we do.”

Pause, as he stares down the VICE men. “So continue.” Tape recorder back on.

As good a badass character as Rossi has found in Carr, he’s certainly an unlikely spokesperson for the Times, which in spite of its peerless status, can still be accused of stodginess, of arrogance, of obnoxious trend stories. But the triumphalism of new media mavens like Jeff Jarvis, Arianna Huffington and Michael Wolff ultimately rings hollow against an even more compelling argument by Carr, the one he makes, remarkably, without even opening his mouth. At an old vs. new media debate, he shows the audience a print out of the front page of Wolff’s kaleidoscopic Then he picks up another copy, this time with the stories aggregated from “old media” torn out of the page. It’s full of holes, like some stale Swiss cheese.

The debate is much more complicated than that of course – new media and old media exist in a growing symbiosis – and much more interesting too. With David Carr as the film’s Ulysses, we get a neat metaphor for the messiness and interestingness of the moment: a baby boomer with a complicated past who manages to keep one foot in social media and the other in the kind of media still made by calling people up on the telephone. Here’s a man who is capable of covering not just what’s going on inside the newsroom or on the web, but covering the newsroom and the web itself. “The media equation,” as David Carr’s column calls it, is a messy and tough and sometimes dull-sounding story. But it’s a mess we’re all in, and no matter how unsolvable it can seem, in the hands of good journalism, it can make for fascinating reading, and watching.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Museum of museums

My friend Sara reports from her Eurotrip:

"They had museums for everything in Amsterdam. (They even had a museum museum, Susan Lyon!)"

I'll take it!  

If you say or read the word museum a bunch of times fast, it starts looking really weird.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Meta Weiner Leak

On the betrayal of Anthony Weiner's private photos.  This is so wrong but it's happening.  It's not my fault the author characterized the situation as meta!

"But since Breitbart is a liar and keeps his Weiner cock shot on his person at all times (wouldn't you?), he shared it with the guys on his phone. Then they took their own snapshot and put it on Twitter. A meta leak, if you will."

More on Weiner at Gawker (where else?).  Apologies for any offended sensibilities.

Submit snail mail via email

"Is this meta, or just stupid?"  LK asks.  I don't know.