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I Can Haz Douchebag Move?

Filed Under Douchebag | 2010-03-30, 20:30

So I run Geeky Tattoos. It’s mostly a labor of love for body modification and geek culture. Awhile back I started watermarking images as I noticed that photos get posted and reposted around the internet and sooner or later attribution just stops. I watermark images so people know at least one place they can go back to in order to track down the original owners of the tattoo. I do my best to find the tattoo owner, the artist, and if there’s a different photographer and include it in every post. If someone wants to find the original owner/photographer for say an article or to reuse the photo, it’s possible.

The Cheezburger network, a group of sites that makes a large sum of money off of tacking text onto images and reposting them, has a site called Ugliest Tattoos. Arguably some of the stuff I post on Geeky Tattoos could also pop up on Ugliest Tattoos depending on your opinions on geeky ink. That’s cool, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. What’s not cool is this post on Ugliest Tattoos. It’s using an image that I originally posted back in June 2009. What’s wrong with it you ask?

1. They’ve cropped the watermark out of the photo. This image is available elsewhere without a watermark, but they’ve obviously used the one posted on Geeky Tattoos. If they’d used the original image, I’d have no qualms, but “erasing” my mark to replace with theirs? Douchebag move.
2. They’ve added their own watermark to the image. I wonder how they feel if someone takes that image, removes their mark, and reposts?
3. They’ve lied and said that I submitted the image. I alone run Geeky Tattoos, there isn’t anyone else that has permission to represent GeekyTattoos, and I never submitted this image.
4. Their “attribution” is simply mentioning “GeekyTattoos.com” without any sort of linkage. This is just poor manners in the web world. When you find something cool, you give a nod to wherever you found it.

In this case, I sadly don’t know the original owner of the tattoo or the photographer. The closest info I’ve gotten is the tattoo artist. But like with many of the “unknowns” I post, the hope is that some day I’ll find the owner and be able to update the post with that info. The watermark helps in that info collection and removal of it prevents that from happening. In addition to that, there’s also the impolite failure to attribute properly. The Cheezburger Network gets a lot of traffic, and to use content from sources without at least a small favor of link love shows a lack of care for the online community. It’s like removing links from a article or erasing all but a book title from the references section of a paper. In today’s Internet of sites like FFFFOUND! and Tumblr, proper attribution seems to be disappearing.

UPDATE: I contacted Cheezburger and they got back to me. They’ve updated the post to link directly to my site, but not the original post. They’ve also left the cropped image up on the site and did not comment on that aspect of things.


How To Not Be A Douchebag at SXSW Wrap-Up

Filed Under Education, Personal, SXSW | 2010-03-18, 20:06

Image by Scott Beale

The first ever “How To Not Be A Douchebag at SXSW” session went incredibly well! Violet Blue, John Adams, and I led a Core Conversation this year at SXSW Interactive with the hopes that we would raise awareness and help with douchebaggery reduction. We had a full room with mostly newbies, but a few SXSW veterans and even some reformed douchebags showed up. The core conversation was the perfect format and really encouraged discussion and some debate.

You can listen to the talk or download it.

In preparation for this session, I realized that a lot of being a douchebag could be boiled down into three realms:


Douchebags generally act like they are entitled and that the world should stop for them because they are so important. Take a second every now and then to reflect on how you may be acting. Don’t be that self-entitled douchebag arguing with the doorman, “Don’t you know who I am?!” Douchebags also have an “undue sense of accomplishment” that they think entitles them to something even though they’re just riding coattails.


Common sense manners are huge! Please, thank you, don’t cut in line, etc. Oh, and the biggest thing when we’re guests in Austin? TIP! Tip your waitresses, the bar staff, and especially those working open bars. Not only is it nice, you never know when it might come back around and help you out, i.e. quickly getting drinks for that important business client. Treat the volunteers well and thank them for their hard work!


Check your motivation when interacting with people. Are you genuinely interested in them and what they have to say? Or are you just trying to gauge whether or not they are worth your time? According to Google we’ve come up with a new term: “badge surfer”. A badge surfer is someone who is constantly checking people’s badges, even before getting introduced to them to see who they are and what company they work for. It’s fair to check badges later when you may have missed a name or something, but don’t use them as a measurement of whether you should talk to someone.

I think if you keep these three things in mind (EMM), then you can avoid a lot of douchebag behavior at tech conferences like SXSW. But that wasn’t all we covered in the conversation. Some other great points were brought up:

  • Douchebags use terms like expert, guru, ninja to describe themselves and have “MAS
  • Douchebags hand out unsolicited business cards before engaging in the conversation with someone. Respect someone’s approach to business cards. Some people love them, some hate them. Also respect that not everyone wants to instantly hand out their contact info.
  • Douchebags are allergic to transparency
  • Douchebags use their sexuality to sell you a product. (“There’s a thin line between douchebag and booth babe”)
  • Don’t game and cheat on social media. In a douchebag move, Adobe had claimed several mayorships on Foursquare at SXSW.
  • Douchebags lack empathy. Many rules are meant to be broken, but in a way that doesn’t screw anyone over.
  • Know what you’re talking about when trying to pitch your product or service. Admit when you don’t know what someone is talking about.
  • A douchebag act doesn’t instantly make you a douchebag. Make an effort to politely call people on douchebag moves, but respect that some douchebags might be beyond saving.
  • If you’re going to take a picture or video, ask someone first!
  • When asking questions at a panel, don’t pitch your company/service. If you want to promote your own company, do your own panel to share your knowledge.
  • Don’t start off with “This may sound redundant” and don’t monopolize the microphone.
  • Try not to monopolize people’s time after panels. Make a personal connection and pass on your contact info. Email a panelist after the craziness of SXSW to reconnect.
  • It’s acceptable to ask Twitter and friends for invites to parties, but don’t overdo it and spam your followers.
  • Don’t anonymously be negative on the backchannel at sessions. If you see chatter on the backchannel that’s not being addressed, stand up and bring it to the panelist’s attention during questions.
  • Don’t tweet every other sentence at a session. Highlights are good, but constant chatter is useless.
  • Don’t do multiple check-ins at the same place. Don’t connect everything (Foursquare, Gowalla, Twitter, Facebook, etc). Duplicate information cross-posted to multiple services is annoying.
  • Don’t tweet at the urinal. Don’t take calls in the stalls.
  • Let people know you might be tweeting at a higher rate than normal while at SXSW. In the past TwitterSnooze was handy but they’re down. It looks like Muuter might be a good solution. Other’s have expressed success using lists.
  • When trying to get a personal introduction or someone to make a blog post about your stuff, overwhelm them with your passion and recognize that you’re asking someone to use their social capital for you.
  • “It’s South By Southwest, not Girls Gone Wild”
  • Be careful when talking with someone you’re trying to make a more personal connection with. If you’re asking for contact info they may think it’s for business.
  • You can’t have a real date at SXSW. There’s too much going on, people have work and networking to do. Try to grab coffee or lunch.
  • When we got done discussing douchebaggery we handed out some buttons and stickers. (Big thanks to Snarky McF for making the buttons!) It was great to do this panel on the first day as we got to see all sorts of impact over the rest of the week via Twitter and blog posts:

    “Finally, I think I understand not only what a douchebag is, but why douche bags flock to the tech and media scene. I am writing from the blogger lounge at South by Southwest (Interactive) 2010, where people laugh at the pin I’m wearing: “Not a douchebag.” Thanks to a pivotal panel I attended the first day of the conference, I am a proud owner of this pin.” (Read Bernice Imei Hsu’s full post: I Am Not THAT Douche Bag (And Other Related Blurts))

    Chris Pirillo:

    @DavidReeves tweeted “You didn’t attend the “How not to be a douchebag” session at #sxsw. Participate in the conversation before you give me a card, a-hole.”

    @KatherineD tweeted “Wow, people at mic in @garyvee presentation can’t seem 2 avoid plugging.They didn’t go 2 the “how not to be a douchebag” panel I guess #sxsw”

    Barry Moltz shared some of the things covered in our session in his post How Not to Be a Douche Bag at a Trade Event

    And even Robert Scoble chose a “douchebag” pin when I gave him the choice:

    image by Rod Begbie

    All in all we had overwhelmingly positive feedback from people and it was brought up several times over the week. I’m considering doing this again next year and would love to hear people’s feedback (both positive and negative) on the session. I know next time I’ll remember to introduce us and what we do (*facepalm*) and will try to keep things more SXSW specific.


    How To Not Be A Douchebag at SXSW – Friday, March 12th, 5pm

    Filed Under Geek, Personal, SXSW | 2010-03-09, 18:28

    Ok, one last warning! Our “core conversation” on How To Not Be A Douchebag at SXSW is only a few days away. Violet Blue, John Adams, and I (along with insight from Ben Metcalfe) have put together what we think will be a a great panel.

    We’re scheduled for Friday, March 12th at 5pm in Courtyard Rio Grande B. Come early to grab a seat as 99 people have already said they’re coming! Official page is over here if you want to add it to your schedule on my.sxsw.com.


    Video of San Francisco Before and After the Earthquake of 1906

    Filed Under SF Bay Area, Video | 2010-03-08, 12:56

    I love old footage of the early 1900s, especially of San Francisco. You may have recognize part of the above video with an unknown filmmaker’s trip down Market St from the Prelinger Archives. But I didn’t know there was a second film taken of the same trip down Market St a year later, after the Great Earthquake of 1906. Matt Lake combined these two films into what you see above, highlighting the significant change in Market St.


    No BME World Tour For Me

    Filed Under Body Modification, Personal | 2010-03-08, 00:23

    For those that hadn’t heard through the Twitters and Facebooks and whatnot:


    I just wanted to say I think that you did a really awesome job and I really wanted to take you along but it just came down to my gut feeling on who I thought would work really well together and I think that my final four really did. The other potential final four that was going to go, you were a part of it. It was just a totally different dynamic and one that was more of a “traditional BME” cast of characters.

    Unfortunately I’m trying something different with this group and this challenge. Who knows though, I hope that you can kind of be “on call” almost in case it turns out that I need a back up member. You’re definitely #1 on my list. You were one of the finalists that I was trying to make a 5th position for but I just didn’t have the funds to pull it off.

    Thank you again for applying and I hope that if I do this again in the future, that you’re willing to apply again.


    Oh well, guess this means I get to spend the next three months planning a wedding, helping organize another international fire art run, getting 2pir rebuilt, giving a talk at SXSW, revamping my business (or finding a new job), and enjoying San Francisco. A huge thanks to everyone’s support and words of encouragement through the whole process!

    You can check out who won over on the ModBlog post.


    A Day in the Life of Ed: 2pir Testing

    Filed Under Body Modification, Fire, Fire Art, Personal | 2010-03-02, 20:27

    The following is my “extra credit assignment” for the BME World Tour. Thanks to everyone for their support, I’m one of the 9 finalists!! We were asked to do a video, photos, and blog post of our day in order to pick the final 4 (or 5!) people who get to travel the world.

    When I got word that I was in the top ten finalists, my heart skipped another beat. Closer and closer to a trip around the world. I could feel my passport tugging on my sleeve, “can we go!? can we go!? please please please!”, but I calmly explained to my anthropomorphized government document that the decision was not up to me. I still had one more assignment to prove I was worthy of such a trip: a blog entry, video, and photos of a day in my life. Luckily the next day had potential to be interesting enough to share with the Internet.

    My day started with my fiancée, Heather, waking me up early with the video camera rolling. It was one of those cherished beautiful San Francisco days where the sun was shining and it was actually warm. In between my half-awake grunts, she said goodbye as she was off to hike around Alamere Falls with friends. Shortly after she departed, I crawled out of bed and made myself a gourmet breakfast of Lucky Charms and soy milk. A quick shower and shave and I grudgingly sat down in front of the computer to do some work. The curse of working for yourself is that every day is a possible workday. Luckily addressing my emails and other chores only took about 2 hours this time and I was soon out the door.

    Down the three flights of stairs with a laptop, camera, and flip video in tow; I jumped into my car and trekked across the Bay Bridge to Oakland. I was headed to NIMBY, an industrial art space in south Oakland, to work on one of Interpretive Arson’s fire art pieces, 2pir.

    For those not familiar with it, 2pir is “a blisteringly interactive large-scale fire toy”. It consists of two circles: an inner circle fitted with motion sensors and an outer circle comprised of 16 large flame effects. When a participant waves their hands, feet, or any other body part over the motion sensor it triggers a large column of flame. While on the inner platform, many people perform their best sorcerer imitation, summoning fire with their hands, while others choose to dance and twirl around, flames following their movement. The beauty of the piece is that the performance is different everytime.

    2pir was designed and built by Interpretive Arson, a Bay Area fire art group that I’m a member of. It was originally built in 2006 and has since undergone several upgrades. This year it’s time for another one of those upgrades as the ignition system was no longer up to our standards for reliability. In addition, several components needed to be upgraded in preparation for our second international run in Denmark later this year at Smukfest.

    The previous day we had spent some time finalizing a design for new flame effects and built a single prototype for testing. We wanted to make sure one new flame effect worked successfully before building the other 15. Today it was time to actually test this prototype and see how well it performed.

    Fire against the sky

    We dragged the prototype outside, hooked all the plumbing up to a tank of propane, plugged in the electronics and hit the switch. The resounding sound of combustion echoed off the walls of the warehouse. Success! But it wasn’t perfect. Ignition wasn’t 100% reliable and we wanted the best shape of fire we could get. After a period of tweaking, adjusting, and experimenting we were mostly happy with what we had. We made a quick run to Home Depot to grab a few materials and then stopped off for some burritos to refuel ourselves.

    Back at NIMBY, the sun had set and the darkness of the seemingly deserted industrial section of Oakland was just asking for some noise and light. We fired the flame effect back up and enjoyed lighting up the yard and bouncing the percussive sounds of explosive propane combustion off the walls. After a bit of fun it was back to work: grinding, cutting, drilling, and welding the frames for the new effects.

    Tom grinds

    The work went late into the night before we all decided to call it a day and I headed home. The late night drive across the Bay Bridge on the way back into San Francisco is always one of my favorites times. The bridge is relatively empty and all lit up, as are the downtown skyscrapers and streets of San Francisco. It’s a great time to turn up the music, coast over the water, meander through the empty city streets and clear my mind. My ritual-like return home always includes a hot shower before sleep and this night was no exception. After climbing into bed with Heather, the echoes of our controlled explosions rang in my ears as I drifted off to sleep.

    A selection of photos: 20100228-2pir Testing