Boing Boing

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Boing Boing
File:Boing Boing logo.png
Slogan A directory of wonderful things
Commercial? No
Type of site Group blog
Owner Happy Mutants
Created by Mark Frauenfelder, Cory Doctorow, David Pescovitz, Xeni Jardin
Launched 1988 (zine)
1995 (website)
2000 (blog)

Boing Boing (originally bOING bOING) is a publishing entity, first established as a magazine, later becoming a group blog.



Boing Boing started as a zine in 1988 by Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair. Issues were subtitled "The World's Greatest Neurozine". Associate editors included Gareth Branwyn, Jon Lebkowsky, and Paco Nathan. Along with Mondo 2000, Boing Boing was an influence in the development of the cyberpunk subculture. Common themes include technology, futurism, science fiction, gadgets, intellectual property, Disney and left-wing politics. The last issue of the zine was #15.

1990 Boing Boing logo, from a t-shirt

Boing Boing became a Web site in 1995 and later relaunched as a weblog on January 21, 2000, described as a "directory of wonderful things." Over time, Frauenfelder was joined by three co-editors: Cory Doctorow, David Pescovitz, and Xeni Jardin. All four Boing Boing contributors are, or have been, contributing writers for Wired magazine.

In September 2003, Boing Boing removed their Quicktopics user-comment feature without warning or explanation. Bloggers commenting on the change at the time speculated that it stemmed from "identity impersonators and idiot flamers" pretending to be co-editors.[1] Xeni Jardin was also a guest on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer to discuss the Washington Post's decision to remove their comments section, and spoke from her experience at Boing Boing.[2] In August 2007, a redesigned site was launched, which included a restored comment facility, moderated by Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

In 2004, the project incorporated as Happy Mutants LLC, and John Battelle became the blog's business manager.[3] Boing Boing has twice won the Bloggies for 'Weblog of the Year', in 2004 and 2005.

The site added advertising over the course of late 2004, placed above and to the left and right of material, and, in 2005, in the site's RSS feed as well. Editor Cory Doctorow noted that "John [Battelle] said it's going to be harder to make a little money to pay your bandwidth bills than it will be to make a lot of money and have a real source of income from this."[4] Boing Boing is a prominent member of the blog network Federated Media Publishing Inc.

Boing Boing featured a "guest blogger" sidebar, then stopped the series in summer of 2004. In 2008, the "guest blogger" series resumed, with guests posting in the main blog for two-week periods. Guests have included Charles Platt, John Shirley, Karen Marcelo of Survival Research Laboratories, Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom, Rudy Rucker, Gareth Branwyn, Wiley Wiggins, Jason Scott of, journalists Danny O'Brien and Quinn Norton and comedian John Hodgman.

In September 2006, Boing Boing introduced a weekly podcast, Boing Boing Boing, intended to cover the week's posts and upcoming projects. The show's cast consists of the Boing Boing editors accompanied by a weekly guest. In the same month, Boing Boing introduced a second podcast called Get Illuminated, which features interviews with writers, artists, and other creatives.

The site's own original content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license, as of August 2008.[5]

In September 2009, Boing Boing refused to comply with a demand from Polo Ralph Lauren's lawyers to remove a post concerning a heavily manipulated image of model Filippa Hamilton, originally published by the Photoshop Disasters blog, which was itself forced to comply by its hosting provider. [6]. Ralph Lauren issued DMCA takedown notices to BoingBoing's ISP and Blogspot, which hosts Photoshop Disasters, claiming their use of the image infringed copyright. Blogspot complied, but BoingBoing's ISP consulted with BoingBoing and agreed that the image was fair use. As a result, BoingBoing issued a mocking rebuttal[7], using the same image again and posting the takedown notice. The rebuttal was widely reported, including on frequently viewed websites such as The Huffington Post[8] and ABC News.[9]

Unicorn chaser

A "unicorn chaser" is a concept created by Boing Boing editors as an antidote to blog postings linking to sites containing disgusting or shocking images. The antidote contains a picture of a unicorn and was launched first in August 2003 as a reply to a picture of a rash that editor Mark Frauenfelder posted in an attempt to get readers to diagnose it for him. The text posted with the image came with the title "And now, we pause for a Unicorn Moment." It was used as an antidote for pictures of a brain tumor, a man who pumped up the skin of his face with saline solution, many different ways to clean your earwax and a lengthy discussion of the internet video "2 Girls 1 Cup".

On May 18, 2007, Boing Boing announced that Virgin America, as part of its "Name Our Planes!" campaign, would be naming one of its new aircraft "Unicorn Chaser," after having asked Boing Boing to suggest a name.[10]

Boing Boing Gadgets and Offworld

In August 2007, Boing Boing introduced a gadgets-focused companion site headed by fomer Gizmodo editor Joel Johnson. Johnson left in July 2009, to be replaced by Rob Beschizza[11], formerly of Wired News. Other writers include Steven Leckart and Lisa Katayama[12]. Offworld, a blog covering video games edited by Brandon Boyer, was added in November 2008.[13]

Boing Boing TV

In October 2007, Boing Boing started a new component, Boing Boing TV, that consists of video segments, produced by its co-editors in conjunction with DECA, the Digital Entertainment Corporation of America. The episodes appear online, as well as on Virgin America flights[14].

Violet Blue controversy

Sex blogger Violet Blue has been mentioned, interviewed and once contributed at Boing Boing. On the June 23, 2008, Blue posted on her blog, Tiny Nibbles, that all posts related to her had been deleted from Boing Boing, without explanation [15]. The LA Times featured an interview with Blue that cast the silence on the part of Boing Boing on the matter as 'inexplicable', causing a controversy as Boing Boing "has often presented itself as a stalwart of cultural openness".[16][17] A heated debate ensued after a brief statement on the Boing Boing site regarding this action stated; "Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It's our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day".[18] In commentary attached to that blog entry, "many commenters surmised that they had something to do with Blue's suing to stop a porn star from also using the name Violet Blue," and many commenters found the removal troubling, but Xeni Jardin said that she hoped she would not have to make the reasons public.[19][20]

Notes and references

  1. Carnell, Brian (September 18, 2003). To Offer Discussion Groups Or Not.
  2. Lehrer, Jim (January 24, 2006). Post Web Site Silences Public Comments After a Flood of Complaints. NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
  3. Staff report (May 26, 2006). Who owns Web 2.0?
  4. Creamer, Matthew (October 10, 2006). Advertising Age, The Innovators: John Battelle. AdAge
  5. Accessed 21 August 2008
  6. "Ralph Lauren opens new outlet store in the Uncanny Valley". Boing_boing. 29 September 2009. 
  7. "The criticism that Ralph Lauren doesn't want you to see!". Boing_boing. 6 October 2009. 
  8. "Boing Boing And Ralph Lauren Clash Over Image Of Emaciated Model". Huffington_Post. 6 October 2009. 
  9. "11 Photo-Editing Flubs: Ralph Lauren Ad Sparks Controversy". ABC News. 
  10. Jardin, Xeni (May 18, 2007). BoingBoing names a Virgin America plane: "Unicorn Chaser"
  11. Farewell, Joel Johnson
  13. CNET (Nov 17, 2008). Boing Boing launches game blog Offworld
  14. Gannes, Liz. (October 5, 2007). Boing Boing to Fly on Virgin America
  15. Tomorrow Museum » Archive » William Gibson Completely Deleted from BoingBoing Archives
  16. LA (Jun 30 2008) Violet Blue scratches her head over BoingBoing purge
  17. Thomas, Owen (July 2 2008). "How Xeni and Violet's Boing Boing affair went sour". Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  18. That Violet Blue thing, Posted By Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Moderator, July 1, 2008 8:48 AM
  19. "Blog hits nerve in excising some old posts", Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune, fetched 8 July 2008
  20. Grant, Melissa Gira (Jul 1 2008). "Did the Internet's free-speech guardians try to hush up a girl-on-girl love affair?". Retrieved 2009-04-12. 

Referenced in: Eggers, D. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

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