Kevin Smith is an online god

You know Kevin Smith as a very successful movie director, despite the recent box office disappointments. He’s also become quite a force online, with a huge Twitter account and a very popular podcast – called the SModcast.

Wired recently caught up with Smith and he gave them a very funny interview in which he discussed his social media popularity.

Wired: But online, you can do just that, right? You seem to have amped up your Web presence since that movie.

Smith: Oh, I’m online all the time now. I’m not an outdoorsy type. Everything I do that’s not related to filmmaking or child-rearing or trying to fuck my wife is online. The medium of Twitter is built for me. I recently did a 24-hour tweetathon, and people asked me how I did it. I said, “The only difference between this and my normal regimen is that I let you know I was doing it.” I have 1.6 million followers—this army of people who think like me. There aren’t enough of us to invade a whole country, but we could probably take Quebec.

Wired: They’re numerous enough to put a book-length collection of your blog posts on best-seller lists and fill auditoriums to see you talk about whatever pops into your head.

Smith: Yeah, I used Twitter to sell out Carnegie Hall. My dream is to never have to take a real job again. If my next movie bombs and nobody ever gives me another dollar to make more, I wouldn’t care. I don’t need to do it anymore. I was never convinced that the film thing would last anyway. It just made me interesting enough to have a Web site.

Smith also discussed the tweetathon recently with Will Harris on Bullz-Eye.com.

I thought it was awesome. I’ve been training for it for, like, 15 years, though. We’ve been on the web since 1995, so I guess that’s actually 14 years. But I was ready. I was always curious, because I’ve spent hours upon hours on the web answering questions over the years, but the one that I’d never done was do it for 24 hours straight. I was kind of curious: “Can I pull it off?” And, alas, I could. (Laughs) It’s a mean feat. It’s not like someday my kid’s gonna be standing over my grave, and somebody’s gonna hang her a folded flag and say, “You know what? This is ‘cause he did 24 hours straight on Twitter.” But it’s just one of those little personal victories, like, “I wonder if I can do this.” And I did it. A stupid goal, but I accomplished it. Life’s all about…for me, at least…having very stupid achievable goals. That way, you always feel like a winner.

This interview also goes into great detail regarding Smith’s Smodcasts. The guy really gets this stuff.

Google search tips

I found some good tips on this list. Get more Google search tips here and here.

Guarding the app store

Is Apple going too far with some of its restrictive policies surrounding the approval of apps, or is Apple just having a hard time setting the rules for something that exploded in popularity? I guess we’ll find out in due time as Apple’s policies evolve, but in the meantime Apple is on the receiving end of some tough criticism.

An app store lets companies tap into ideas from third-party innovators while retaining firm control over their brands. And that’s both its charm and its flaw. “The way Apple runs the App Store has harmed its reputation with programmers more than anything else they’ve ever done,” wrote Paul Graham, cofounder of the venture firm Y Combinator, on his blog.

The central problem is Apple’s heavy-handed management: Nothing gets into Apple’s store without the company’s express approval. Its restrictions have pushed several high-profile developers to quit the iPhone, and have bred ill will with the programmers who’ve remained. Apple may feel it has room to misbehave. No other phone can offer developers anywhere near the number of customers to be found in the App Store, so what choice do they have?

That’s a miscalculation, because the App Store’s true rival isn’t a competing app marketplace. Rather, it’s the open, developer-friendly Web. When Apple rejected Google Latitude, the search company’s nearby-friend-mapping program, developers created a nearly identical version that works perfectly on the iPhone’s Web browser. Google looks to be doing something similar with Voice, another app that Apple barred from its store. Last fall, Joe Hewitt, the Facebook developer who created the social network’s iPhone app, quit developing for Apple in protest of the company’s policies. Where did he go? Back to writing mobile apps for Web browsers.

Apple’s app bonanza won’t end anytime soon, but you’d be a fool to ignore the long-term trend in software — away from incompatible platforms and restrictive programming regimes, and toward write-once, run-anywhere code that works on a variety of devices, without interference from middlemen. As different kinds of mobile devices hit the market, from phones to tablet PCs to smartpens to e-book readers and beyond, developers will find that trend harder to ignore. They’ll need to create programs that can work not just on iPhones but on everything. Fortunately, there’s an app for that: It’s called the Web.

Apple is riding an incredible wave of success with iPhone apps, and things will only get more hectic with the introduction of the iPad that goes on sale tomorrow. Apple needs to redouble its efforts to control this situation in a manner that is fair to all participants.

More disaster stories for pay sites

Here’s another story of a newspaper making the grave mistake for charging for news content online. We’ve addressed this issue time and again on this blog – most people will not pay for news online when there are thousands of resources giving away content for free!

Of course, some won’t listen and instead follow Rupert Murdoch’s silly advice, but with more horror stories like this most will finally get the message. If one wants to sell a traditional newspaper subscription, of course you make that a viable business. Just cut some of the ridiculous costs you’ve built up over the years. You might even be able to entice them with special features or services available online only to subscribers. But, don’t be foolish and expect to turn your entire news operation into an online subscription model. Free content is here to stay.

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