Culture Bits: From Hamster Burritos to Hipster Cats

From Nik, in the “Idea” channel: “Blog post, ‘a week on the #random channel of our team communication’ from hamster burritos to hipster cats.”

I aim to please! Also, I apologize in advance for the massive brain fart that follows.


Feb 13, 8:19am

Melle: Per last week’s gifs, did you know there are now FIVE Sharknado movies?


Feb 13, 2:46pm

Melle: I’ll just leave this here http://theslot.jezebel.com/trump-tried-and-failed-to-pull-his-strange-trademark-ha-1792300523


Feb 14, 5:50am

Nik:

Steffi: “The things I do if I’ve got way too much time.” 

Nik: Would it include a Hamster soup kitchen for homeless hamsters?

Steffi: Or maybe a hipster hamster coffee club.

Nik: TEAM MASCOT! sorted

hamster coffee

Dave: THIS Or maybe a hipster hamster coffee club.

Nik: I was actually considering Hipster Cat originally.

hipster cat Hey same glasses :)

Melle: OF COURSE they’re the same glasses. Hipsters are nothing if not consistent. Also, I vote for hamster over cat. More original.


Feb 14, 7:49am

Steffi: Basti’s at University, writing an exam. So I had Eva, the cleaning robot, mop the floor. I forgot to put a rose or something on top of her, but she’s pearly pink. Guess that counts as a Valentine’s Day present.

Nik: they can mop!?! I think I need one, that could be our valentines day present

Melle: Where’ve you been? https://www.irobot.com/For-the-Home/Mopping.aspx

Steffi: http://www.gearbest.com/robot-vacuum/pp\_603425.html?wid=21 That’s Eva

Melle: She’s even pinker than I remembered. :)

Melle:

Tawny frogmouth Tawny frogmouth amuses me.


Feb 15, 8:08am

Steffi: Nik, what makes a bee a hipster bee? Bee beard? Bee bun?

Melle: Except that very few bees are male. Just a handful of drones who don’t do much. All the workers and the queen are female.

Nik: hipster bees don’t get hung up on outdated concepts of gender, like only male bees can grow beards

Steffi: touché 

Nik: or that you actually need glasses to see, just to wear them


Feb 15, 9:19am

Melle:

JT

Steffi: (facepalm)

Melle: The collected photos of world leaders and their female relations giving JT moony eyes is very entertaining.

Kevin:

ivanka

Melle:

original tweet


Feb 16, 4:09am

Dave: find the pugs!

pugs


Feb 16, 12:13pm

Chris: Article of the year - https://medium.com/@justaride/why-liberals-are-wrong-about-trump-c865b12c72a7#.1xner8tqj

Kevin: SO WRONG. SAD

Melle: I love raspberry scones!

You Can’t Buy Me Love, but You Could Fix the Internet by Buying Better Ad Placements

From a business perspective, it behooves me to tell people to constantly create things. More domains, more websites, more voices. But when I go to bed at night, the thought that consumes me is “how do we filter out the bs?” And how are we going to deal with the growing segment of society that can’t tell the difference between conspiracy theories and actual news?

One solution would be to somehow tag the internet. This site is good, this site is bad. This site spreads lies, this site has editorial standards. But how can that be done without damaging the decentralized structure of the internet? The internet isn’t run by a dictator who filters the good from the bad (although Google might come close?), it’s a place for all the voices. And for most of its history, the cream rose to the top. Dark corners have always existed, but they were dark. And in corners. But now those dark corners are mainstream, and the creme that seems to be rising to the top is pretty unsavory.

Not to be political, but actual governments of highly influential countries (cough, USA, cough) are spreading misinformation like it’s the real thing. And, if I’m going to be honest, most of the population that didn’t grow up with the internet is having a real hard time dealing with it. Everything seems authoritative, and it’s hard to know what sources are credible and which aren’t. One day Buzzfeed is a site for internet quizzes, the next they’re staffed with credible journalists and have White House press credentials. Then another day you have the Gateway Pundit writing tweets about Pepe the Frog, and the next they have White House press credentials. Sad!

Whether you like it or not, news isn’t news isn’t news anymore. If you’re just a passive consumer, picking the “right news” is a mess.

But there is one de facto filtering system that could fix it all: advertising. (Say what?!)


There’s a podcast I really like that said something very smart a few weeks ago. On Make Me Smart, Molly Wood said something to the effect of, if traditional government checks and balances are under attack, businesses might be our de facto last hope (which is scary because most businesses are purely self-serving). She was speaking specifically about direct business/government relations, but companies also have an indirect role to play when authoritarianism is on the rise and press freedoms are under attack. They get to decide what sites get their ad dollars.


Advertising on the internet can go one of two ways: businesses either work directly with the media or with agencies/ad networks that promise a certain “bang for your buck.”

The days of the latter may (should) be coming to an end (in its current form at least). There was a time when advertising was just something you did to get your name out, but today, advertising has to be seen as a form of endorsement. When your brand advertises on a site, your brand is paying that site’s bills. Put better, when you put an ad on an ad network that feeds to Breitbart, you’re paying for them to exist. Your brand is casting a vote for what makes money on the internet, intentional or not.


(Aside 1: Selective ad networks like The Deck don’t apply (they’re clearly on the “nice” list). Ads on The Deck only appear on invited sites, and the roster is very transparent. Still, if you’re planning to run an ad on a network like this, it’s good practice to check out all the sites involved.)

(Aside 2: Larger ad networks often give advertisers some control over the sites their ads get served to, but as a brand, you’re relinquishing your vote. At the end of the day, your ad dollars are funding who knows what. See: Rolling Stone (below) and Papa Johns (below that))

rollingstone papajohns

(Aside 3: There’s also a consumer aspect to this. We, as internet users, have to keep businesses accountable. When we see a brand openly endorsing a site spreading hate (remember, ads are usually what keep the lights on), the “I don’t know where my ads are going” excuse just isn’t going to work anymore. The internet – especially internet news – isn’t just some side show – it basically got the President of the United States elected. These things matter.)


All that said, I still believe free speech on the internet is important, and it’s ok for people not to agree with everything everyone says. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok to unintentionally fund their existence. Here’s a metaphor I think works:

There’s a guy on a soapbox on a street corner screaming about who-knows-what. Even if it’s complete nonsense, as long as he’s not screaming threats, it’s fine. But wait! Why is he wearing a t-shirt with your name on it? Oh right, because you gave a bunch of shirts to a marketing company that selected soapbox guy because he’s in a high-traffic area and hit the target age demographic.

That wouldn’t be acceptable in the real world, and it shouldn’t be acceptable online. But that’s what the majority of the internet is – brands funding websites they’ve never heard of because they can’t be bothered to take the time to see where their ads are going. If that unintentional money dried up, so would a lot of the noise.


There are a lot of TLDR’s here, but the main message is to businesses large and small. KNOW WHERE YOUR AD DOLLARS ARE GOING – whether you’re a giant pizza chain, an online tax prep site, or a local credit union, advertising on sites actively trying to destabilize the world isn’t a good look. And also, when you’re supporting a nonsense site that’s littering the internet with Taboola ad network ads, you’re not helping things either (H&R Block, I’m looking at you).

This:

step1

Leads to this:

step2

Culture Bits: All Puppies, All the Time

Sitting down to write this week’s culture bits, I mistakingly asked my wife, “This week needs a theme… what should it be?” “Puppies,” she replied.

My mind raced. Puppies? Where would I even start?

Most upsetting dog song: Who let the dogs out? I mean, when my dog gets out it’s a guaranteed panic attack. She could get lost! I mean, the entire plot of Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco was based on dogs getting lost. Can you believe Michael J. Fox and Sally Field were in that abomination?

I sat around muttering, “Woof, woof, woof, woof!” when my wife said, “I bet you could make a great dog website.” (I don’t think she understands what I do for a living.)

Your dog’s next domain extension: .dog. You could go with something like .pet, but is your pup really a pet? I consider mine my daughter (which will be super confusing for my human son in a few years).

Does your dog need a website? Let’s take a step back here. If your puppy is famous in 2017, it’s probably because he/she is Instagram famous. I’m not usually one to tout a social network, but if you’re looking for international fame, Instagram is the path (speaking of dogs on Instagram, Kevin’s pug, Ackbar, has quite the following). But… once you get followers, you’ll need a place for contact information and a slick press kit. Get on it!

“Emily, you know I don’t build websites for a living, right?” Her head tilted slightly. “Didn’t you build a Squarespace site for that brewery last year?” “Yeah, but Betty (our dog) could build a Squarespace site. They literally make it impossible to create ugly things.”

“… Are you calling Betty dumb?” Oh no.

Where to buy gifts for your puppy when you accidentally insult them: Fuzzyard is an Australian company that sells pretty much everything pet, but we especially like their winter apparel. And their dog bowls.

If your puppy is a little too fancy: I don’t know if Betty is necessarily fancy, but nevertheless, she likes to dabble in the finer things. And apparently her latest fancy is Harry Barker, and she keeps telling me that all the cool kids at camp are sleeping on Martello Beds. “Betty, that’s waaaaay too expensive.” “Ugh, you’re so unfair!” (Yes, Betty’s my dog. Yes, we have conversations… I am a remote worker after all.)

Betty turned seven on the seventh, but she’s been going to puppy school for a while now. And by puppy school, I mean puppy day care. And yes, your dog would like to go.

Best Valentine’s gift for your puppy: Take him/her to puppy daycare. Seriously, if you live in a medium-to-large city, you probably have a dozen puppy day cares to choose from. Ours is a converted house with a huuuge backyard that the dogs run around in all day, but even the indoor ones are great.

What… is this? How did I write 500 words about puppy nonsense? Kevin once sent me an extensive power ranking of instant ramen, so calling this nonsense might not be totally fair (note: I should be less hard on myself), but where exactly is this going?

In a panic, I thought, “Puppies. Internet. …Barkpost!”

Your new puppy blog/newsletter: You probably didn’t know you needed more puppy content, but you do. And Barkpost is the place to get it. I mean, check out their “Trending” articles:

Did you know that iwantmyname has a semi-official office dog? Her name is Coco. I snapped a picture of her last time I was in NZ.

Ok, this needs to stop… but how? With a song! Just like it started!

Song to end a blog post about puppies: Dog Days Are Over. “The dog days are over / The dog days are done / Can you hear the horses? / ‘Cause here they come.” Ugh. First dogs, now horses? I’m not about to start a horse post.

WHOIS Privacy Odds and Ends

If you haven’t heard, WHOIS privacy is now on by default (when applicable… more on that below). Hooray automatic free privacy! There are a few odds and ends though we should cover:

  • WHOIS privacy is now on all new domains, but current domains still retain their old settings. To add (or remove) WHOIS privacy, click Domains in the top nav > click on the domain > click enable privacy. screen 1

  • If you’d like to change WHOIS privacy to off by default, click Account in the top nav > select Account Defaults > change the setting screen 2

  • Privacy isn’t set to be on automatically for transfers yet, but we’re looking into it. If you’re transferring a domain over and want WHOIS privacy enabled, follow the first instruction bit above.

  • Again, not every TLD supports WHOIS privacy. This isn’t a blanket rule, but most word-based TLDs (like .com for commercial, and .dental for… dental) do support WHOIS privacy, while most country TLDs (like .es for Spain and .ch for Switzerland) don’t. That’s not a hard rule though, as a bunch of countries are starting to get on board (.uk for the United Kingdom and .la for Laos). Here’s the full list of TLDs that support it, just to be sure.

Life Upgrade: WHOIS Privacy is Now On by Default

Here’s a shortlist of the most annoying things on Earth: friends coming over without telling you they’re sick, people audibly biting their nails, and the spam you get when you don’t have WHOIS privacy enabled on a domain. As your domain registrar, we can’t fix the first two things, but we’ve done some (a ton of) work to fix the spam problem.

Starting today, all domains registered at iwantmyname that are eligible for WHOIS privacy will now have it on by default. So instead of your contact information going to the WHOIS database upon registration, all spammers will see is our information. (Previously, you could choose to turn WHOIS privacy on after registration, but on-by-default is clearly a better situation for privacy-minded folks.)

Two important things to note:

  • WHOIS privacy isn’t available for every domain (here’s the list of WHOIS-eligible domains), so there are instances where you won’t be masked. (We wish it were on every domain, but some domain registries choose not to support it.)
  • We realize there are some who’d prefer to have WHOIS privacy off by default, so you’ll have the ability to toggle it on and off.

To wrap this up, privacy is something we take seriously, and this is a feature we’ve been working on for quite some time. We’re sorry it’s taken so long to roll out, but we hope your overall reduction of spam makes the rest of your 2017 a little brighter.

Culture Bits: Kevin on Art

Kevin: Our artist-in-residence

What role does art play on the internet?: This is something I ask myself every day! Art on the internet serves as a reminder for its denizens that art still exists in the world? Maybe it serves no purpose beyond that. Art is highly subjective, and with the internet being completely saturated by visual media – advertising, graphic design, editorial art, etc – I find that it’s a little too easy for people to become desensitized to what art sometimes is or could be, emotionally. At this point, the internet’s “art” just serves as colors and shapes to balance content.

Is the internet good for the art world?: Ick. As long as people realize the internet is a vessel for promoting art, which tangibly exists in a very real, analog world, it’s fine. Maybe good. Example: I have a personal proclivity against artists using print-on-demand sites to produce their work on cell phone cases, shower curtains, and throw pillows, because I think this creates a dangerously impersonal barrier between artist and consumer, normalizing the process of art consumption without communicating with a soul. The internet always creates methods of allowing people to retreat from feeling anything, and art, to me, has no business being anywhere near that.

Artist people should know about: I’m really digging James Jean (so is the rest of the world); he recently inspired me to give illustration a shot with the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil — it’s wonderful. Seeing his work come to life through that particular medium is pretty motivating.

Best art supply purchase: There are several ways to get the job done without it, but transfer paper has been amazing. Lots of bang for the buck.

Favorite app for digital art: Right now, Procreate — cheeky name for an app, but it’s really powerful, and has a pretty incredible system in place for managing workflow, and specifically digitally rendering analog pens and brushes. Astropad has also been a huge timesaver; it mirrors and extends your computer’s desktop via wifi to allow you to use creative desktop apps. You would typically otherwise need an expensive tablet monitor for that.

iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface?: I’ve never used a Surface. I have a hard time readapting every time I come back to Microsoft’s OS, so I get stubborn and stick with what I know. It’s worked alright so far. I’m loving my iPad setup.

Do artists need a web presence?: It depends, I guess. If they do, it’s pretty minimal — Instagram has been the biggest tool for artists to utilize in connecting with their audience and building a new one simultaneously; having that single link in their profile makes it easy for young, early-career artists to point to their available works or representative gallery elsewhere on the web.

Another artist people should know about: Henrik Uldalen. The guy bangs out these really beautiful, surreal oil paintings in what seems like no time at all, and seems to balance his web presence and art career really masterfully.

Where should people start if they want to get into appreciating art? The same guy, Henrik Uldalen, also manages an Instagram account called @Paintguide, which gets handed off to a new artist every week to allow them to share their inspirations, and point to even more artists that are historically relevant or currently making beautiful work. Find artists you like online, then keep up with their solo and group shows, and eventually you’ll find a whole network of galleries, artists, and genres of work that you didn’t know existed. Also, if you’re looking to get off the internet and see art in person (this makes a difference), go to your city’s cultural monthly events, and talk to the people who run the galleries (gallerists). Literally ask them this same question, and tell them what you like. This is a great method for finding and connecting with local artists.

Underrated art city: Can I say Phoenix? We have so many artists who live here and are producing some of the most masterful mid-career contemporary art I’ve seen. The cost of living in Phoenix is low, so it allows artists to work unhindered by expensive studios, and remain pretty visible to the public. Unfortunately, to my understanding, Phoenix also has a bad reputation in the art world because of its historic inability to attract or showcase diversity, cultivate and retain strong artistic talent, and attract outside works and critics to become part of an international conversation about art. That’s been changing, though, and I’m excited to see what happens as the city seasons its cultural skillet, if you will.