Spotted: taking celebrity stalking to real-time

As if being able to see what your celebrity was up to on Twitter and what they were thinking about on their Facebook status, was not enough for us, now we can literally hunt down our favourite stars – in real time.
A news item published on The Age raises the criticism surrounding the impending opening of the website The site uses data published on social networks such as Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook to collate the whereabouts of celebs and pin point their location on a map. The database of targets/celebrities currently stands at 700.
The main concern with the emergence of this website  is the long standing debate over privacy in celebrity culture. “the job of a celebrity is to be in the public eye and therefore there’s no such thing as off-duty in this job” is one of the key views surrounding this debate. But when is enough, really enough?
I must admit that I conduct a bit of celebrity snooping on a few of celebrity idols here and there, but logging onto the JustSpotted website, and seeing a map with pop ups of celebrities, tracked to a location, by the hour and minute, really, really, freaked me out.
How do you feel about this? Is this merely a step forward in the evolution of web 2.0 and consequently the new model for celebrity culture?
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Cat-Bin Lady: The Outcome

Following on from an earlier post which discussed the global outrage and debate over the ‘Cat-Bin lady’ incident, this week we saw the matter resolved in court.
To the surprise of the world, Mary Bale (aka the Cat-Bin lady) dodged a hefty maximum penalty that would involve six months in prison or a £20,000 fine, and was instead slapped on the wrist with a mere £250 fine.
Caroline Goulborn the district judge in charge of this case, justified her decision by acknowledging that “The media interest in this case has resulted in you being vilified in some quarters and I have taken that into account”.
As cruel as subjecting an animal to being placed in a wheely bin for a prolonged period of time for reasons (which the woman herself still cannot justify) is, is the personal villainization stirred up by social media outlets around the world an appropriate, rational and just response?
Bullying has, and continues to be a relevant topic of social discussion in classrooms and offices, but is the creation of social media groups such as “Mary Bale is worse than Hitler” and “Cat Lady should do time in bin” bringing out the underlying potential of the social media monster?

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Social Media:1 – Crooks:0

The role of social media as an authoritative body for has taken one giant step forward this week.
While the use of social media as evidence of criminal behaviour has been a prominent topic of online commentary, a news item from this week shows us the unstoppable evolution of online social media as not only a tool in criminal investigation, but the physical realm that enables criminal intervention.
In an Australian first, a Victorian police officer served an intervention order against an accessed cyber stalker. What makes this intervention order an unprecedented first is that it was served directly on the social network website Facebook, via a video recorded by the Constable in charge of the matter.
The Facebook- enabled intervention really puts into perspective the role of social media as an entrenched part of modern society. While skeptical views and debates over the ability to enforce and control privacy on Web 2.0 remain valid, this particular news item brings to our attention the distinct power of social media to do what traditional means of maintaining law and order have failed to conduct. After all, it was only after the accused man could not be contacted via traditional means of communication, that the power of the social media stepped in as a knight in digital armour.
What are your thoughts on this? When it comes to matters of a criminal jurisdiction do you see yourself as a digital optimist or pessimist?
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The Cigar Guy – 15 seconds of fame?

Forget Where’s Wally, The Cigar Guy is the latest viral sensation, that has inevitably spilt over to the mainstream media. In case you are not aware of who this guy actually is or what this online phenomenon is actually about, it all began with a photograph captured by Mail’s Mark Pain. While the photograph which shows Tiger Woods’ golf ball heading straight towards Pain’s camera lens is an amazing shot itself, the spotlight has been grasped by the rather random guy in the background who is wearing a turban and smoking a cigar (…as you do). In the comments section of this Mail article a user makes an uncanny prediction: “This is a classic photo. Should be in every pro shop in the country! ” – and this is exactly what is currently happening in the cyber-sphere.
Like the others who precede him, The Cigar Guy is the online celebrity of the week. His ‘appearance’ in the Mail’s photograph has led to a frenzy of new Internet Memes. defines a ‘Meme’ as “a cultural phenomenon that spreads from one person to another online”. Notable Memes of the past include LOLCats and Rickrolling. The Cigar Guy has followed this trend and has been photoshopped into hundreds of iconic photos ( I have included some below). Whether the celebrity status of The Cigar Guy will last in the long term remains to be seen.
The interesting thing about the Meme Celebrity is that it is totally accidental. Unlike reality and D-grade celebrities who directly place themselves in the spotlight of the media, the Meme celebrity comes as a surprise to the subject in many cases is unwanted. In an interview, The Cigar Guy, Rupesh Shingadia has revealed that he is “embarrassed and overwhelmed. Never in a million years could I have expected anything like this”.
Is the notion of ‘accidental celebrity’ here to stay? Is the growing presence of citizen journalism and social networking pointing the lens towards real people, in real situations?
The original Photograph –

…And some of the Memes that followed –

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Not another top 10 list!

While working on the first component of our third assessment task I came across a handy list of pointers on writing online articles that complements the extensive list of useful secondary resources already provided by Sarah.
For your viewing pleasure, a list of  ‘Top 10 tips to writing excellent articles’ by Deepesh Divakaran.
Point number 3: “Valuable Information” definitely resonates with me as I find choosing a topic the most difficult step of any writing exercise. As Divakaran points out, this step is particularly vital in web writing, after all, unlike a hard copy publication that becomes a part of an archive as soon as the newer edition is set to print, an online article that can be picked up by a search engine has an element of immortality. As digital writers, we should use this element to out advantage and choose topics that will resonate with online audiences for weeks, months and hopefully many years.
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Is technology really man’s new ‘best friend’?

Fellow Bloggers,
I would like to start off by sincerely apologising for the lack of new posts over the last 3 weeks. But i assure you, I have very good reasons for this.  Following a semi-quiet night out on the town i lost my identity: both metaphorically and literally speaking. To cut a long story short, i left my iPhone and Wallet (containing ALL my identification documents including my passport) in a cab. Yes, the two are merely inanimate object and material possessions, but i soon found out that these objects formed a momentous part of my daily life and existence. While my assumptions were correct in regards to the lacking notion of the ‘good samaritan’ and ‘good karma’ in today’s world and age, and my belongings were not returned by the taxi driver or any other party, I was somewhat disappointed that my smartphone didn’t help me in this situation by well…being smart?
Maybe it’s my ignorance or unnecessary optimism but i held an expectation that my iPhone could actually be tracked to its present location (it was actually ON for the entire day after i lost it) and find me. With the number of functions, applications and capabilities of an $800 Apple product, you’d think that a function that allows the user to keep track of this expensive and prized possession would be a given. But no. As i found out mobile phone tracking is possible, but at an additional cost and only before the fact of losing one’s phone. A little pointless? I think so.
Apart from the massive inconvenience and feeling of loss, this situation has led me to question our reliance on technology as a whole, as well as the capability of technology to  meet our expectations.
Re-issuing all my lost documents, identification, cards and phone list not only felt, but was the rebuilding on my social life.
But even after my ‘traumatic’ ordeal i still haven’t made the move to save a back up copy of my phone list or documents. The sole use of technology as a method of communication and organisation is so embedded in my dailyness that i have forgotten about the alternatives.
Have you ever found yourself in such a situation? And if so, did it lead to you question your reliance on technology?

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The case of the Cat Bin Lady: a lesson in social media authority

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or a stack of mid-semester research papers over the past week, you would be aware of the Cat in Bin Lady controversy. While cases of animal cruelty have occurred in the past, what is interesting about this story is the way that through intense online debate and social commentary on multiple social networking sites, the ‘Cat Lady’ has been moulded into the villain of the week. It was online social debate which pushed this viral story into the realm of traditional media channels. It shows us what we as media students are aware of – the power of digital social media cannot be undermined.

provides an in-depth review on how this social news story played out on the online sphere that is worth checking out.
In the meantime the following parody of this news story (which has also found its way into mainstream media channels) is worth a look and laugh –
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