Who knew Dylan was so much fun?

When they make lists of iconic music videos, if they do that (how could they not?), it would be remiss not to include Bob Dylan’s classic Subterranean Homesick Blues – you know, the one where he holds us the words on the signs and tosses them into the street?

To promote his upcoming greatest hits record, they’ve put up this site where you, yes you, can put your own words on the signs and send it as a little movie to your friends (they tack a plug for the cd at the end). Irresistable!


I could play with this thing for hours! And I don’t really like Dylan (can I admit that on the internet? guess I just did — I did see him this summer! He was good, though he didn’t say one word to the audience. I went with my mom, stepdad, and kids and thought the fact that this was a three-generational family rock concert was the best part.)

Update: Also available as a Facebook Application. Smart marketing gets even smarter.

Facebook Fakesters


As some of you know, long before — decades before — I was a Madrugada obsessive, I was an R.E.M. obsessive. We’re talking pile in the van and spend countless hours tooling around the midwest to see them. Now I did manage to stay in college and get good grades, so I guess I wasn’t as obsessive as some, but I was pretty darn hard core.

I was also very lucky because I met them very early on and got along with Peter and Michael very well. If I were to run into either of them walking down the street, I’m sure they’d say “hi Nancy!” and stop to chat. They’d recognize me in an airport and smile to see me.

So I was kind of tickled, and a little entertained, to see that they were on Facebook. Though I was a wee bit suspicious, I’ll admit, from the get-go. I could kind of see Peter doing it, but Michael? Last time I saw him, his assistant was checking his email for him, I couldn’t see him hanging on FB for kicks.

But what the heck, how could I not send a friends request? So I did. And for weeks nothing happened. Which was about what I expected.

Then both friends requests were accepted within 45 minutes of each other.


Over the next couple of hours I watched as they both joined lots of groups and became friends with the same people at the same time.



And I’m thinking, ok, I didn’t really expect it to really be you, but do you have to make it SO OBVIOUS that it’s not?

I assume it’s someone at WB. I have considerable respect for Ethan Kaplan, who started the REM fansite Murmurs.com and went on to become Warner Bros Records tech guy, who’s probably figuring they ought to have a web presence on the site-du-jour. He knows his online community management as well as anyone. But this was shockingly lame.

Of course these famous people will need help managing their online identities given the numbers of people who want a piece of their attention. I’ve seen it face-to-face, I know it’s exponentially worse online. But much of the magic of sites like MySpace, or increasingly Facebook, in fandom, is creating the illusion — if not the reality (which is better) — that the celebrity knows you, cares about you, recognizes you as an individual.

picture-6.pngWhen it’s totally obvious that the celebrity is really an intern clicking ‘accept’ on every friend request and group invitation that showed up, there’s no magic left. Just a cheap feeling of buying a faulty product. Better not to have them on there at all.

But I don’t think I’ll unfriend them, because it’s still a hoot to see their names in my friends wheel.

Update: I have been told that this is a WBR experiment that’s not working so well. I have a lot of ideas about how it could have worked I’ll expand on later. In the meantime I did adjust my minifeed preferences so I don’t have to see every stupid group they joined and every fan they friended every time it happens.

A Social Network just for Redskins Fans, and iPod Touch Kvetching

So it took a while, but it looks like the big leagues might be catching up to where David Bowie has been for years — giving fans a way to brand themselves as fans with their email addresses.

Perhaps trying to make themselves more relevant, AOL and the Washington Redskins have announced Redskins Connect, located at http://www.redskins.com and powered by AOL. Through this site, Redskins fans can get email @ ultimateredskinsfan.com; hail2theskins.com; skins4life.com; redskinsfancentral.com; or redskinsultimatefan.com, social network profiles, video upload (how is this going to mesh with the NFL’s new restriction on video uploads one wonders?), a photo gallery, video search, chat and a toolbar. All free (one edge over Bowie).

This is a super thing for die-hards, though as with all of these ultra specialized fan social networks, it’s not clear how sustainable all the energy going into creating profiles really is. Still, for the person who strongly identifies with the Redskins, this has got to have serious appeal.

On a totally different topic, I am so disappointed by the iPod Touch. I bought a used 60G iPod a few months ago figuring it would tide me over until the famed full screen model came out and then I would indulge. I woke up yesterday morning ready to whip out that credit card as soon as the announcement was over. Until Jobs got to the part about 16G.


It’s like a bad joke — especially paired with Jobs’s claim that the beauty of the new 160G iPod “classic” (makes me think of failed Coca Cola launches) is that we shouldn’t have to choose which things to put on there and which to omit. Sure the wifi is major cool, but come on, make it fatter and stick a hard drive in there! Guess I’m sticking with what I got. Meanwhile, they’re getting some major bitter backlash from all those Apple fans who bought the iPhone for $599 now that it costs $399 two months later…

Update: According to the BBC, Steve Jobs has issued an apology to early adopters of the iPhone and said they’ll get a $100 rebate. My husband says this is brilliant because so few will take him up on it. I say it’s good organizational crisis management, but isn’t it better not to have a crisis in the first place? Update Update: CNN says it’s a credit toward another Apple purchase. Shame on them.
And in another Update, sports blogger Scott Van Pelt thinks the Redskins social network is “a horrible idea” :

Many of the fans are not that die hard to invest in most of the benefits that this network offers. Buying a jersey, coming to the games, decorating a house or car, sure. Chatting with an email address ending in skins4life.com and downloading photos? I don’t think its that serious.

Sports fans? Your opinion, please?

Hooray for Charitable Fans!

I’ve been known to rant before about people assuming that others who spend time online being enthusiastic about a TV show can’t possibly also be active forces for good in the world (see the Slashdot reaction to the Jericho fans’ efforts to save the show). Fans are quite capable of doing both, and I got to see a very nice example of it live and in person this weekend.


Fandom-Rocks is a fan site set up by three fans of the TV show Supernatural with the sole aim of organizing the show’s fans to raise money for charity. The show centers on two brothers who are from Lawrence, Kansas. So when they voted on 2 charities to choose as recipients of their first fund drives, they chose one in Lawrence. That the fans have chosen to give money to my community — a place none of them lives — is really moving. On Sunday, Dana Stodgel, one of the 3 site founders, drove from Champaign Illinois to Lawrence (a dreadfully boring drive, let me tell you!) to present the Lawrence Community Shelter with a check for just over $1000 raised by about 70 people in 11 countries (click for a newspaper article that also features a video interview with Dana).

Dana and her two cohorts, Rebecca Mawhinney and Brande Ruiz were inspired by fans of the Joss Whedon shows who’ve raised thousands of dollars for Equality Now, Whedon’s charity of choice. The Supernatural fans wanted their giving to follow the fans’ directive rather than the producers’. Though the Supernatural producers are aware of their efforts, they have not responded (though I’m told they are very nice to their online fans, even inviting bloggers to their set at their expense).

I have known Loring Henderson, who runs this shelter for the homeless, for a couple of years. He is the kind of person who radiates enlightenment. He is calm, centered, grounded, amiable, and phenomenally giving of spirit. I once heard him say that when he was a child he saw a movie where a person was serving food in a soup kitchen and he knew right then and there that was what he wanted to do with his life. He asked me to come along because I had some clue what the heck a fan site was. To see how he shone when he said that out of the blue this ‘fan club’ had contacted him to say they were donating such a large sum was a beautiful beautiful thing. And it will be even more beautiful when he puts it to good use.

I just met Dana this weekend. She’s got a degree in Civil Engineering and works in IT at the University of Illinois. She seemed great. Here she is with Loring, who bought a nice new shirt for the occasion:


Fandom Rocks fans have voted on the recipients of the next round of fund raising to come, and the Lawrence Humane Society is one of the winners. My cat, Lola, who spent her early kittenhood there, and I thank them in advance.

Lola the Comfortable

I think it would be really cool if someday, Dana and the others expanded their wonderfully-named site so that any group of fans could raise money through it for the charity of their choice. But if they stick with Supernatural fans, that’s pretty awesome too.

See here for a story about boxing fans organizing for charity.

MySpace: Where Authors Meet Fans

Over the weekend, the NYTimes had a reflective piece by author Pagan Kennedy about using MySpace to discover her fans. She talks about the usual isolation of writers from their readers and compares them to musicians:

Usually, writers don’t interact much with their readers. Even at bookstore appearances, we may not run into the hard-core fans, who often are suspicious of group activities and would rather just meet on the page. When we write, we’re alone. We stare at the computer screen, picturing our imaginary audience as we type. Mine look like this: a horde of faceless yet well-educated drones sitting in rows of acrylic chairs in an all-white lecture room that resembles one of the sets in the old TV show “Space: 1999.”

In this way, we’re the opposite of musicians, who know their audiences intimately. A drummer in an indie band might gig five nights a week. Afterward, whether he’s in Cleveland or Culpeper, he sticks around in the bar with local friends, then crashes on a sofa supplied by a fan. For bands, social networking started long before the Internet.

Then she goes into ways in which authors and fans are interacting online – playing games, reading each others’ blogs, offering advice and support. And mostly, discovering that their readers are real people:

As for me, I’m still grappling with the revelation that my readers are carrying on lives in places like Brooklyn, Oakland and Portland. Somehow I had imagined that they slept in beehive-like pods in a space station just past the moon; they awakened only when I needed them to file into the antiseptic room to hear my story. These readers, however, turn out to be just the opposite of the drones of my imagination. They sell broccoli-themed greeting cards; they carve their own rubber stamps; they are pioneering new methods of fortune-telling that involve Smarties candies. And more than a few of them have ventures of their own to promote. In fact, if you want to buy Shakespeare-themed thong underwear, I know a guy who can hook you up.

It’s hard for me to imagine that MySpace is really the best space for authors and readers to find one another, but maybe it is just on account of sheer numbers. But here we are again with the fact that the net is transforming artist/fan relationships in ways that offer new rewards for artists. It’s ironic that the internet is so often accused of depersonalizing interaction and lessening the sense of presence amongst interactants. In cases like this, there’s nothing that enhances the sense of presence as much as the internet.

And how interesting to think of rock bands as the new model for all artist-fan relationships.