Photo Sharing Gone Wild
Sometimes it seems we are united by one common bond: the desire to humiliate ourselves in public. And if the producers of The Apprentice or American Idol won't return your calls, well, you can always post your pictures to a moblog (mobile blog) or swap them in a chat room. These new ways of sharing photos make "traditional" sites such as Ofoto look like Granny's picture album.
A Thong in My Art
Moblogs are weblogs that typically feature grainy, low-res photos taken with cell phone cameras. People e-mail the images from their phones to a site like Fotolog, Plogger, or TextAmerica, where their pix can be immediately seen and ridiculed (or praised) by complete strangers. Besides offering instant, if limited, celebrity, moblogs provide a unique form of spontaneous photojournalism. They can also be downright weird.
Take TextAmerica, the oldest moblog site and my personal favorite. Scanning TA's 100,000 moblogs is like viewing stills from a home movie shot by John Waters; it's mundane yet strangely addictive.
You can find blogs on virtually any topic at TA. In a disco mood, I typed "booty" into the site's search box. Up popped "Baby's Got Back!"--a moblog devoted entirely to shots of people's keisters. The page greets you with: "We want your booty shots...Please keep them relatively clean." (One assumes they're just talking about the photos, but it's good advice, nonetheless.) TA prohibits full nudity, so this blog is mostly a thong thing.
Rummaging through the trove of ephemera that is TextAmerica inspired me to create my own moblog. The process was both free and easy: From my PC, I picked a name for my blog, settled on a layout and background for it, and provided an e-mail address. When I submitted a JPEG file using a Samsung VM-A680 phone, the image showed up on my blog only a few minutes later. And while I resisted the temptation to capture my tush (the world isn't ready for that), I did snap some candid shots of squirrels, fire hydrants, and terrified pedestrians as I rode my bike to work.
Moblogs aren't the only way to embarrass yourself online. For example, Flickr.com is a chat-centered photo-sharing service. Click the site's FlickrLive button to open a Flash-based chat window in your browser; upload images from your PC and drag them into a chat room for all to see, or send pix directly to your Flickr pals.
Following a clever interactive demo, the site logged me in to a chat where people were swapping pix of their cats. I have a recurring nightmare about being trapped in a chat room where people talk about their cats, so I logged out and entered another chat. Here, a heated match of rock-paper-scissors was under way: One player would post a picture of a hand in scissors mode, another would follow with a shot of a fist ("rock"), and so on.
I surmised that Flickr users must be young, artistic, and chronically idle. But the emphasis is more on community than celebrity; sharing photos is just another way of saying "I'm strange. Are you strange? Let's be strange together."
Both TextAmerica and Flickr make picture sharing fun and tr
Next Up: A Mighty Mouse
Is precision mousing important to you? Razer--whose Boomslang mechanical mouse was once a favorite of gamers--now jumps on the optical bandwagon with the $50 Viper, which scans at 1140 dots per inch versus the 400 to 800 dpi of conventional optical mice. The Viper can home in on a target with great accuracy--making it a boon for first-person shooter fans, and an all-around ergonomic improvement. You can buy the Viper at Razer's Web site.