dreams do come true - i finally attend a taping of the colbert report

My friend Jenny 8 Lee was making the New York rounds this week promoting her new book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. I've had the pleasure of watching this book go from a proposal on her laptop, which I first read while in the middle of a Halloween party back in 05. I was sober enough to enjoy what I read and make a good impression -- we hit it off.

Along the way, I've gotten to read drafts of chapters and build her blog, along with a few other design tasks here and there. So I'm getting quite a bit of pleasure from watching all the success it's had so far.

And when Jenny told me she was going to appear on the Colbert Report, I immediately started drafting dialog and one-liners for her in an effort to solidify my chances of attending the show with her. It was absolutely worth it. Shaking Colbert's hand was akin to shaking the hands of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Hetfield all at once.

Colbert does a bit of Q&A before the show to humanize himself for the audience, revealing an man as affable as he is witty. The show went quite well -- even though he had to redo The Word segment -- and his interview with Jenny got quite a few laughs. And she even used one of my lines (comforting me with the knowledge that I nearly earned my attendance).

the great dungeon master didn't have a paladin/cleric nearby

I only played AD&D, but I still remember going over to my friend's house to play -- with his entire family. It was remarkable; he, his father, mother, brother, step-brother and his wife all played D&D.

Granted, a bad DM could make the experience a two hour affair that ended with cursing and spilled Mountain Dew -- the great ones created campaigns that could span over days, weeks, and even months.

I always played a Paladin, which I suspect a "defender of the light" like Stephen Colbert would have also chosen. I didn't get a chance to ask him during the pre-taping Q&A portion of last night's Colbert Report (more on that later), but as an avid D&D fan, he did express his dismay about the recent death of creator Gary Gygax.
The reddit community suggested a D&D-themed logo in his honor and I couldn't have agreed more. It's a game that I believe helped cultivate any storytelling prowess I have today. Pity that of all the legions of WoW fans, I'm sure few of them have ever even held a 20-sided die, let alone would play a pen & paper game.

Oh geez, now I sound like that old guy at the Wizards of the Coast store (since shut down)...

redesigning resigned gamer

I'm not a very fashionable guy when it comes to design. I don't even like rounding the corners in my handwriting (although I did spend a full day trying to render a div with rounded corners in only CSS [no images] back in Summer 05). I failed and never looked back.

That said, when two buddies wanted to shed the Blogger-look of their game review blog, Resigned Gamer, I told them I'd be happy to help.

I don't have a 'before' photo, but I tried to keep the rough look and feel they originally had but still move away from the dreaded blogspot-first-impression.

Maybe one of these days I'll finally post something for their site. I keep telling myself I won't buy anymore games and then I end up with a GameFly subscription. Like that's a compromise...

LOLpresentation - the dream becomes a reality (and it actually works?)

Ever since I did my "1/2/3 Rule" parody of Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, I've thought about doing an all-LOLcat PowerPoint presentation. Granted, I wish it were a "Keynote" presentation, but what can you do?

Friends of mine know that I'm not one to speak idly, so it was only a matter of time after I said "one day, I'm going to do an all LOLcat presentation -- a LOLsentation (because it also kinda looks like LOLsensation." That time came earlier today at the Magazine Publishers of America Magazines 24/7 digital conference.

I was given the opportunity to speak on a panel with Tariq Krim (Netvibes) and Chris Cunningham (appssavvy), moderated by Adam Sherk. Our section was called "Letting Go of Your Brand: The Rewards of Untethering Your Content," which prompted me to title my 6-min presentation, "the hardest part is letting go (OH NOES! I HAS LET GO!)"

Plus, the LOLcats were actually relevant to the discussion, in that they're the epitome of user-generated content, wholly organic and the result of a bunch of strangers collaborating over the Internet. No marketer could have ever dreamed up something like this.

It'll hopefully make some more sense when you see the slides, but without my voiceover, you probably will be as confused as those poor conference hosts when I sent them my slides in advance.

Frankly, I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, but as the laughter faded after the first LOLcat, I knew things were going to be OK. The kind folks at mediabistro seem to have liked the unorthodox presentation medium as well.
from "LOLCats Ease Pain of Pushing Mag Content Online"

Even though most mag execs in the room likely didn't know what they were looking at when the first image of the popular online meme fusing strange pet pics with preposterous POV-cat captions hit the magnum-sized screen at Manhattan's New World Stages, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian's slides of the infectious online felines in his presentation within the "Letting Go of Your Brand" panel hopefully helped some attendees take the bitter pill of unmonetizing and better distributing magazine content online in better humor. His was easily the morning's most engaging presentation, making life a bit more difficult for co-panelists...
To be fair, Tariq and Chris nonetheless gave great presentations (Tariq even brought an adorable < $200 Chinese laptop; his only mistake was not etching a cat riding an invisible bike on the lid). Cats are amazing creature. I cannot stress that enough. If Da Vinci could have painted in cats and if Michelangelo could have sculpted in them, I think they would have. Thus, I strongly encourage you to include just a couple LOLpictures in your next presentation. You won't regret it. Please feel free to gank slides or ideas -- they weren't really mine to begin with anyway. If a video version of the presentation makes its way to me, I'll be sure to post it. Thanks to the venerable Icanhascheezburger for the images and Scribd for their magic paper.

<script>document.write('<noscript>');</script> </noscript><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/view.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> var scribd_doc = new scribd.Document(2184250, 'key-2j7gdwlocu1ggv80vovg'); scribd_doc.addParam('height', 500); scribd_doc.addParam('width', 450); scribd_doc.addParam('page', 1); scribd_doc.addParam('mode', 'slideshow'); scribd_doc.write('embedded_flash_2184250_1grccm');</script>

vote for the world's worst dictators

I've been doing my best to spread nifty reddit polls throughout Condé Nast and I keep getting surprised with what folks come up with. Most recently, Parade has been dabbling with our polling tool. I certainly never would have imagined it'd be used to vote for the worst dictator, but sure enough, there's Kim Jong-Il holding a solid #1 spot with an up-arrow beside him.

Mugabe certainly made headlines in 07 for the appalling conditions in Zimbabwe as the country's economic collapsed. He holds the current number 2 spot.

I feel like King Abdullah has gotten a bit robbed, he deserves bonus points for combining dictatorship with such a close friendship with the U.S.A.

Perhaps too busy hunting down bin Laden to help with campaigning, Musharaff now has some "democratic obstacles" to deal with in Pakistan now that his party got flogged in this recent election. Maybe '08 will be a bad year for military-backed rulers? Let's hope Bhutto's death wasn't in vain.

(Kudos to Parade defending the decision to run the interview after her death -- exposing a number of new people to her life and legacy, I'm sure.)

exposing the secrets behind how to get a story on the reddit front page

There's no shortage of SEO and online marketing tutorials out there for website-owners who want to reap all the traffic that comes with being high on the reddit front page. But none of them know what I know -- the secrets I'm about to share with you. Behold!<script src="http://flash.revver.com/player/1.0/player.js?mediaId:702470;affiliateId:114419;backColor:#000000;frontColor:#ffffff;gradColor:#000000;width:480;height:392;" type="text/javascript"></script>

keep your eyes on the threat level

I'm an unabashed fan of the Wired blog, Threat Level. And when I found my third consecutive baggage inspection notice, the idea for this ad popped into my head.

The reddit community seems to have liked it. Hopefully it'll convince a few new readers to take a look at this fantastic blog.

Really, if you're in any way interested in (like the tag line says) privacy, security, politics, and crime online -- subscribe the RSS feed now.

feel good friday

You may remember the OLPC ad I designed to run on reddit last December during their Give One Get One campaign. If not, here's something to jog your memory:
The ad did pretty well:
299K Impressions
1200 clicks
.4% click thru rate
Hopefully every single one of those 1200 clickers were so compelled by the gleeful alien that they bought & donated a laptop for the campaign. Unfortunately, we don't have accurate metrics on that.

All in all, the Give One Get One campaign raised over $35 million and over 100,000 laptops are on their way to kids in poor countries.

And here's a heartening article on the effect these laptops had on a Peruvian village. Good thing we're finally translating reddit's UI...