More bad fans

Security Fix reports on this ugly incident:

… an apparently obsessed fan of the rock band Linkin Park is accused of hacking into Verizon’s computer system to obtain private information and records of the group’s lead singer and his family. According to documents posted online at FindLaw, 27-year-old Albuquerque resident Devon Townsend has admitted using her employer’s computer — a machine assigned to the Department of Energy on a U.S. Air Force base in New Mexico — to hack into Verizon’s network and obtain private records on Chester Bennington and his wife Talinda. The government also alleges that Townsend used the access to compromise the Bennington’s PayPal account and to steal photographs of the couple and their children. According to court documents, the Benningtons were tipped off to the compromise when they discovered that their Verizon and PayPal account passwords had been changed to “Who is doing this to you?”

It’s easy to forget the stream of digital traces we leave in our wake. Of course, in the old days it was crazy freaks rummaging through Bob Dylan’s garbage cans, so this isn’t totally new to the internet. Still, the more of ourselves we put online, the more vulnerable we are. I hope that in addition to the hacker’s punishment, Verizon takes some serious heat on this one.

Don’t JudgeOJ(.com)

Remember back in August when OJ Simpson was going to launch a website, where fans would be “able to watch Simpson conduct radio interviews, chat to fans at bus shelters and enjoy the company of lapdancers at clubs?” The site, “shot by one of Simpson’s longtime pals, was created to serve as a chance for the NAKED GUN star to clean up his image, tarnished by the 1994 trial into his wife’s murder.”

Well, as if that image needed any more tarnishing given the lashing his not-getting-published book has received (you know things are bad when Murdoch says it’s crossed a line of decency), the site doesn’t seem to have worked out either. It’s now being used to seek a partner (publisher? film company? download on demand?) to make use of the hours and hours of OJ footage that apparently never quite got going on the site.

Call me crazy, but this guy’s got some strange ideas about how to clean up an image.

The New Establishment or How to Make It Big On The Internet

CNN Money has a piece up about Downtown, the web-savvy record label that brought the U.S. Gnarls Barkley by working the internet for all it was worth. It focuses on their next big thing, Kevin Michael, which is kind of ho-hum (whether he is or not, I can’t say), but has a few tidbits about using the net to market bands:

The company’s web strategy is even more promising. Downtown is creating two tiers of Michael songs and video. There will be “premium content” with a pricetag, as well as free material – for instance, acoustic versions of the album’s songs – on YouTube, MySpace, and other sites frequented by young music lovers. “That’s one of the things we learned,” says Deutsch. “You have to continue to feed content to the audience on the Internet.”

Deutsch is also shrewdly seeking alliances with tech companies to ensure that his artist’s work doesn’t go unnoticed in the digital realm. In recent weeks he has taken Michael to Silicon Valley to perform at the headquarters of YouTube, Apple’s (Charts) iTunes office, and Linden Lab, the company behind the elaborate virtual-reality playground, Second Life.

“I think the idea of breaking a new act is exciting to a lot of these people,” says Josephson. “It’s a recognition that they are truly players in the music business now.”

Michael – who has the voice and Afro of a ’70s soul crooner but also a thoroughly up-to-date YouTube sensibility – is pumped about a possible upcoming appearance as an avatar in Second Life. “I’m going to start doing virtual concerts,” says Michael. “They are going to totally pimp me out with a big ‘fro. I can’t wait.”

So the secret to working the web, aside from using MySpace friends for something more than demonstrating popularity, is sucking up to the tech industry bigwigs. There was a funny sad piece on the net the other day about Lou Reed doing a gig at AOL that suggests these audiences might not be the most appreciative:

He begins playing a song to the buttoned down and sitting down Web 2.0 crowd. Meanwhile there’s an audible drone of people talking in the back of the large room.

Between songs Lou looks pissed, but I think that’s normal. He tells the crowd, “You can keep on talking, I’ve only got 20 minutes. Or I can turn up the music. I can turn it up so loud it will hurt. Do you want me to turn it up? Do you want me to make it hurt?” (rough paraphrase). How awkward.

Pimp me out and make me make it hurt, I wanna be a star! Or something like that…

When users are abusers

Running a fan board is a tremendous act of love and a helluva lot of effort. In the best cases, the site masters are adored and appreciated by the people who use the boards. In the worst cases, stuff like this happens:

THE SaintsForever website has shut down its popular message boards after the man who runs it was subjected to “a never ending stream of abuse.”

Over the last eight years Keith Legg has seen SaintsForever become one of the most popular forums on the internet for Saints fans to discuss everything from tactics and signings to the price of pies in the concourses at St Mary’s.

In a statement posted on the site to explain the closure of the forums, Legg said: “Unfortunately, this site has become more of a burden than a pleasure.

Here’s an excerpt from his statement:

Unfortunately, this site has become more of a burden than a pleasure to me and I have to constantly deal with issues created by a minority of people who have it in for the site, or me in particular.

I fully appreciate this is allowing the minority to spoil it for the majority and for a long time now, I’ve resisted my gut feeling to shut the site for the very reason that I “didn’t want to let the bastards win”. I have met many great people via this site and had some superb support over the years, which has made this decision all the harder.

But when I receive a never ending stream of abusive emails, threats, lies spread about my private and professional life, damage to my property, abusive phonecalls, anonymous letters to my employer and hacking attempts to the site and my emails… it really is not worth it when it effects me and most importantly, my family.

Of course, all the above is done by gutless anonymous cowards with little grasp on living in the real world and being able to act like normal human beings. Unfortunately the internet is a haven for these type of saddos and I can only see it getting worse.

I don’t know the backstory here, but it’s easy to imagine it happening in any fan site. I wish I had a magic solution to this kind of garbage. In this case, the board’s admin team decided to step in and pick up where Legg left off, but not without disruption:

As already stated, the Admin Team have been busy setting up a brand-new message board.

We are starting from scratch, so everyone will need to re-register – but, once you’ve created an account, you should be able to post straight away.

As it’s a brand-new board, on a new host, there is always the possibility of teething problems – if this happens, please accept our apologies and bear with us as we sort it out.

I guess it serves as a reminder of the fragility of fan communities.

The News Blogger Who Rules

The New York Times ran an article this week about a phenomenon I’d entirely missed: the 21 year old blogger who has become the go-to source about the TV News industry. We don’t normally think of news junkies as fans, but how else to describe reminiscences such as this:

Growing up in Damascus, Md., Mr. Stelter watched the news addictively. He recalls watching Mr. Williams, who was then at MSNBC, reporting on the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the revelation that President Bill Clinton was entangled with Monica Lewinsky. Meanwhile, Mr. Stelter practiced his “newscaster voice” and harbored anchor-size ambitions of his own.

“I always thought I would be the person who sat in the chair for 12 hours,” Mr. Stelter said. “Then I realized there are only three people who do that job.”

He finally got to meet Mr. Williams last year when he came to New York to attend a memorial service for Mr. Jennings. Mr. Williams invited him to sit in on his broadcast’s 2:30 p.m. editorial meeting, and the two talked privately for a half-hour.

So in 2004 he started blogging about the industry, and now if he turns off his cell phone to go to class, he turns it back on to find messages from major news networks ticked off that he was unavailable:

The network publicists generally know his class schedule — afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays — and barrage him with material, which they often expect him to post within minutes. While recording a radio segment for one of his classes — Mass Communication 381 — he turned his cellphone off for 15 minutes, then turned it back on to find one nagging voice mail message from an ABC publicist and another from CNN.

Fascinating example of someone who never could have had any influence pre-internet able to become a major voice because his passion and the technology combined to make him heard. His blog is here.