« !!Japanese pee pee+poo poo! | Main | My new all-time favorite Twitter »

I started a joke


Where do I start with this minidrama? Nobody outside the tech world even cares - if that's you, I encourage you to watch the Bee Gees video at the bottom of this post.

There's a loudmouthed prankster named Loren Feldman of 1938 Media, an often funny guy, who made a fairly racist video. "TechNigga" caused a huge uproar and some vloggers called for the company that pays him for videos - PodTech - to condemn that video or get rid of Feldman.

PodTech is already in muddy hot water with vloggers for many reasons - see here and here. Add to that reports like this one saying "PodTech is literally falling apart" (nice misuse of "literally" there) and you have the best recipe for a cauldron of drama and intrigue this side of the Iron Curtain.

Where do I, your favorite-ish struggling Midwest vlogger, fit into this? I'm the court jester, the cynical prankster. I noticed some of Feldman's post-"TechNigga" videos were not presented in the PodTech video player. He was also completely schizo as to his intentions, lashing out at the videoblogger community, half-apologizing while insinuating it was all a social experiment we'd fallen for. Whatever. The world of PodTech/Feldman was ripe for some tomfoolery. I Twittered a couple of things, wondering if anyone would notice. A few people did, and it ended up posted on the Yahoo videoblogging list:

I've got Furrier on the phone now -- shit's gonna hit the fan
An hour later: Feldman's out

I was laughing maniacally. Why on earth would *I* be on the phone with John Furrier, the president of PodTech? Did I somehow get Feldman fired? I don't know, but I suppose it's remotely possible. I've been known to come to the defense of vloggers and mediate various situations. Anyway, I got IMs immediately from people like NewTeeVee's Jackson West. I told anyone who contacted me that it was just a late night Twitter joke, pay no attention. The next day I Twittered: never believe anything I Twitter after 1am CST. :-D

Friday night, I was longing to party with NYC vloggers, who raised a toast to me and I returned. A few minutes later, I posted the now-famous Twitter:

Just got off the phone with Furrier -- it's a shitbag salad over there... Scoble's out

I really cracked my drunk ass up at that one. First... "it's a shitbag salad over there" - that's just self-evidently funny. Second, that I would be on the phone with John Furrier again and that I, of all people in the world, would somehow be the first to know A-list tech blogger Robert Scoble had been ousted from PodTech. I mean c'mon... it's just ridiculous.

But - I don't expect anyone to follow the subtle nuances of my Twitter narratives. It's entirely possible that someone, in this case my man Andrew Baron, would see my Twitter out of context and post about it. That's exactly what happened, and it spread to other blogs briefly before everyone realized the source of this information was my dubious Twitter, and in fact a joke. Andrew has a legitimate critique of PodTech regardless of my Twitter joke - it simply gave him a spark.

The small fires and sparks should've been contained rather quickly. But no. Nick Douglas had to make a huge post about it on Valleywag, continuing his longstanding deathwish against PodTech, even though the truth of this rumor was plainly evident. Rex set him straight in the comments quickly, and eventually he got around to updating the post. This is shoddy even for a gossip rag like Valleywag. My comment there: A late-night Twitter joke becomes a huge post on Valleywag? That's fucking lame dude.

So that's how I started a joke, which started the whole world crying. My apologies to The Scoble.

What's it all mean?

• Be careful what you Twitter!
• It sure is easy to fuck with people!
• Our interconnected gossip-thirsty selves can spread bad info just as quickly as good info
How To Be Used By Your Social Network

August 13, 2007 at 02:34 AM in Media, Web/Tech | Permalink


Heh, Chuckumentary FTW.

Sad it takes an action to get the point across. I've been trying to get a stalking meme some attention, but no, it's a lolcat world.

No one wants to be THAT GUY who shows up at your house when your wife and kid are alone at home and you have Twittered everything. And flickrd. And blogged.

So boo hoo if it offends, but hey. This is the problem.

Wake up. Because it won't always be the good guys sending the message.

Posted by: Eric Rice at Aug 13, 2007 2:54:40 AM

I've been following some of your live videocasting/stalking ideas... yeah, there are a lot of ideas an boundaries we need to poke here because things could get scary quick in the real world.

Strangely enough, that may have been a point Feldman was trying to make. If so, it got lost in layers of ego and botched comedy.

Posted by: chuck at Aug 13, 2007 3:03:20 AM

What a read! It's like a fable 2.0

Posted by: Halcyon at Aug 13, 2007 3:06:21 AM

Dude - I <3 the Bee Gees! (Although I never did get what the chicks saw in Barry over a 14 year-old stud like me) Keep the twittering madness alive.

Posted by: tagami at Aug 13, 2007 3:09:27 AM

i hope everyone watches the music video at the end.
dont cry chuck.

This incident is a really good incident that we can point to when a rumor goes out of control. "He pulled a chuckumentary". Adds to our vocabulary.

It is interesting to see how a couple layers is all it takes for something to become believable. A late night drunk tweet from you...becomes believable on Andrew's blog.

I got to admit when I saw the tweet " Just got off the phone with Furrier -- it's a shitbag salad over there... Scoble's out"....I stopped to ask Ryan if she'd heard anything.

But then i imagined you on the phone with CEO John Furrier at 1am discussing VC strategy. Maybe giving some insight on what's happening in the Minneapolis scene for potential new territory. Please call me.

Posted by: jay dedman at Aug 13, 2007 3:12:48 AM

Also, you had me at 'shitbag salad'.

Posted by: Eric Rice at Aug 13, 2007 3:15:30 AM

I really do love that Bee Gees song. Low covers it, too.

Jay, I'm getting Furrier on the horn now to get you health insurance.

Eric: LOL!!1

Posted by: chuck at Aug 13, 2007 3:16:13 AM

Thanks Chuck. It did cause my Saturday morning to be interesting, to say the least. I appreciate you clearing this all up.

Posted by: Robert Scoble at Aug 13, 2007 3:25:39 AM

Thanks for not hating me. :-)

Posted by: chuck at Aug 13, 2007 3:30:41 AM

Chuck-Ism... :D

Interestingly enough, this situation re-raises the issue of accountability in a modular medium such as twitter or a video blog.

Can you post something and then say "psych" at a later time in a completely separate post and feel like A ) the "psych" actually mitigates or negates the original post, or B ) [mainly in the Feldman case] your explanation post is going to make the people that you offended in the original video/twitter/whatever feel any less offended or feel any better about you as a person (not that anyone's goal is to be "felt good about as a person").

I read your twitter, and first of all, I thought it was odd, because I didn't know that you and Furrier were friends. Second, I thought it was odd, because it was in the middle of the night, and I was like "Why the hell would someone that didn't have jack to say on the whole situation this whole time be talking to Chuck about it in the middle of the night on the telephone?" :D It just didn't make any sense. On top of that, I don't give a damn, because I don't do business with any of them, so I couldn't possibly care any less who gets fired and who doesn't.

Having said that... Not being familiar with people doing pranks that aren't obviously jokes on twitter, I assumed I was just misinformed, and waited to find out what the rest of the information was about this conversation you had with Furrier. It turned out to be a hoax, hahahaha so there was no harm and no foul and got Scoble even more publicity.

The question is whether your first post was negated by your "I was joking" post because of the "psych" post, or because your original post wasn't malicious to begin with. It's very easy to say "I saw Zadi riding a green bicycle in Kansas City last night", when, to my knowledge, Zadi wasn't IN KC, and I know FOR SURE that *I* wasn't in KC last night... and then post "psych" a few hours or days later. It's not so easy to disrespect a wide range of people with insults, caricatures and "calling people out they name"... then turn around and say "psych" and have people regard you as an artist rather than a jerk.


Posted by: Bill Cammack at Aug 13, 2007 6:33:43 AM


Posted by: Casey McKinnon at Aug 13, 2007 6:50:31 AM

Shitbag is one of my favorite words. Shitbag salad is a beautiful twist. Thank you for enhancing my life experience and upgrading me to Carl 2.0.

Ah, to be so famous as to have Chuck spread rumours about me... Wouldn't that be grand!

Posted by: Carl Weaver at Aug 13, 2007 7:03:30 AM

Forget "he pulled a Chuckumentary" as entering the lexicon. Chuck, you should sleep easy knowing that you aren't the first, nor the last, person to have a late night tweet/sms/im joke misconstrued as the truth. You're the last person in the blog/vlogosphere I could think of who would start a rumor like that on purpose. And I'm really glad to see Scoble chime in on this thread, too. Hopefully that'll put the end to this whole thing.

Besides, if any phrase should get preserved in our lexicon, it's gonna be "shitberg salad." Priceless, Chuck. And last I checked, the domain name is still available.

Posted by: andy carvin at Aug 13, 2007 8:24:36 AM

Not sure how I typed berg instead of bag. Either way, the domain name is still available as a .com - though it looks like someone just bought the .mobi version.

Posted by: andy carvin at Aug 13, 2007 8:37:10 AM

I never really understood how Andrew could have thought that you would have had any special insight as to what was happening at Podtech, much less could have thought that you would have actually been on the phone with Furrier (after 1am on a Friday no less). Either Adrew Barron incredibly naive to the point of being semi-retarded or he was just itch'n to get a post out about Podtech and your twitter was just the thing to hook people into reading it, which is highly irresponsible IMO. Either way this whole geek attack on Podtech is pretty sad no matter what you think of them. Yeah they made mistakes, yeah a lot of their content is boring as fuck, but Jesus they're hardly evil. I don't think we've seen anything close to truly evil behavior in this space yet. I say keep your powder dry for when real evil rears it's head. And I hate to speculate as to where we might see that happen, but I would keep my eye on another company with Pod in it's name that actually has enough funding to pull off some truly evil shit.

Posted by: Bill Streeter at Aug 13, 2007 9:01:58 AM

You are still the funniest person I know. I hope folks don't judge you as only as good as your last Tweet. ;)

Posted by: BrianR at Aug 13, 2007 9:28:33 AM

what have i learned from all of this?

shitbag salad. sounds good. doesn't taste great. but you sure would make it again.

Posted by: drew olanoff at Aug 13, 2007 9:33:55 AM

Wonder when they'll start marketing it at the Cheesecake Factory. Be sure to order the lunch-size portion, though, unless you want to share.

Posted by: andy carvin at Aug 13, 2007 12:20:09 PM

Funny, but I just had a large shit salad at Wendy's --- and I liked it... Which is surprising because I usually dont like corn on my salad.

Posted by: schlomo at Aug 13, 2007 1:03:50 PM

I think it's better to post the facts later than to post rumors earlier.

Posted by: steve garfield at Aug 13, 2007 2:46:00 PM

Looks like Steve and Rox are in the "not funny" camp. Respect.

Jackson asked if I had any particular inspiration for my "misinformation campaign."
You know what it was? Boredom.
Idle hands are the devil's tools!

Perhaps my credibility took a little hit in exchange for an educational adventure. With a side of ____ salad.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled boredom.

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at Aug 13, 2007 3:11:19 PM

No Chuck, I don't think you're to blame for this really. Anyone who wanted to could have read your twitter stream and figured out that you were joking. It was really pretty obvious. Basing the premise of a blog post on your tweets is like sourcing Weekend Edition from SNL or the Onion. Shame on those who didn't (or didn't WANT to) get that it was a joke.

Posted by: Bill Streeter at Aug 13, 2007 4:45:52 PM

Bill... yes you're right, at least two people who blogged about it (Andrew Baron and Nick Douglas) had pre-existing PodTech narratives. Andrew did email me asking if it was true, and I think went ahead and posted before I got back to him without digging further. Nick Douglas has no excuse, I'm pretty sure it was well-revealed to be a joke by the time he posted.

At the same time, several people have said it wasn't completely obvious it was a joke and I don't really blame anyone for thinking it was real. Of course, acting on that assumption is another story.

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at Aug 13, 2007 5:03:15 PM

Nice one Chuck!

My role?

When I posted on Dembot, in the first sentence I said that the idea was unconfirmed. I also linked to Chuck's Twitter and wrote that I had emaild both Chuck and Robert for further detail but had not heard back.

As Jay mentioned in a comment above, your post was believable. Especially having read all the same information you linked to above regarding conflicts with videobloggers, business, etc. It fit into this story, timing, etc.

The very moment I saw Scobles Tweet, I updated that it was not true and then emailed him and Furrier to apologize, offer best wishes and even collaboration.

I look up to people like Robert Scoble, Dave Winer and Jeff Jarvis as the heroes of our contemporary culture who set a precedence and inspire people to be critical and outspoken, in a way that is hopefully beneficial to society. My post was my own way of trying to be critical for the good of everyone, even knowing well myself how that hurts.

Consider the issue this weekend between Dave Winer and Jason Calacanus that also became apparent via Twitter. Jason accused Winer of harsh criticism, but Dave was not ragging on Jason, he was ragging on Mahalo and he was doing it to help. Not to help Jason personally, just to help in general I believe. This is a lot different than Jason attacking Dave personally.

When you look back on the entire chain of the Podtech Twitter events, it led to a lot of people stepping up to help Podtech by providing their best and most concerned feedback. Some companies pay high dollar to get user feedback. Here, people often speak up for free.

A toast to reason! Now, lets eat. . . .

Posted by: Drew at Aug 14, 2007 1:08:42 AM

All good points, Andrew.

I think the most unfortunate part of the whole thing is that Nick Douglas used it as a way to attack PodTech yet again, as opposed to your very valid critique.

Winer and Calacanis... clash of the giant sensitive egos.

Let's eat? No... let's call Furrier!

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at Aug 14, 2007 2:10:56 AM

I'm the other dumb schmuck duped by this. For those of you saying it should have been obvious from context, it wasn't to me. I followed a link to a Twitter message, which was the first I had ever seen (and probably the last). Not only was it not obvious it was a joke from context, it was not obvious to me that there was a context. If correctly parsing the message needed both an understanding of the workings of Twitter and the workings of Chuck, I had neither.

Posted by: Dave at Aug 14, 2007 7:30:53 AM

After getting Scobled many times, one can get frustrated and give them the wrap-around Chuckumentary style. This is a digital version of tossing the shitbag salad.

Posted by: taulpaul at Aug 14, 2007 9:23:45 AM

Au contraire; I think it's waaaayyy better to post rumors earlier and facts later! See, I caught the original tweets but totally missed out on the aftermath! I had no idea it spread that far past the boundaries of the twitterverse. That'll teach me to go to work, eat and sleep instead of stay online 24/7. Damn. I miss all the good stuff.

Shitbag salad. Big points, there.

Posted by: missb at Aug 14, 2007 3:18:59 PM

so is Twitter fun, or is it "important"? and if it's important, will it stlll be important a year and a half from now?

as usual, I'm amazed by (a) insular networks and (b) the power of misunderstood words to piss-off and alienate. I mean, I shouldn't even be sticking my nose in, except I happen to know the author of this here blog thingy (pronounced with a hard "g"). yet it's clearly important to chuck, and other people I'll never meet.

meanwhile, I'm seeking out really smooth music featuring electric pianos and the backing vocals of Michael McDonald -- so I have no relevant benchmark for determining the significance of things.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: if Chuck can get people fired from their jobs with jokes, then I should be making sweet, sweet love to his precious ass. also I'm an excellent on-camera weeper. please contact my agent.

Posted by: roytex at Aug 14, 2007 11:37:44 PM

holy christ, where can I get that andy gibb wig?!?!?!? oh oh oh oh oh oh oh...

Posted by: roytex at Aug 14, 2007 11:49:33 PM

I know! How could that hair have ever been cool? I think that will just start becoming stylish in like 2020 or so. Except it was the best hair to have in Australia 40 years ago.

In spite of this whole deal (which apparently contributed to Scoble's decision to stop blogging for awhile - gulp), I think Twitter is really fun and wish my Michael McDonald friends were on it. You should get on it dude. Tweet the fuck out.

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at Aug 15, 2007 12:24:26 AM

Also, Twitter/Flickr have become my personal blog. Mainly Twitter these days.

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at Aug 15, 2007 12:25:18 AM

I don't know what a Twitter is! Is that the one with e-mail? Invitate me?

Sorry, I don't know why I was being so bitchy in my comment. It was past my bedtime and I hadn't had my prune juice.

Posted by: roytex at Aug 15, 2007 7:53:23 AM

What you don't realize, is that Scoble's has been fired MANY times, Furrier only taking it back later, once the jealous rants die down. One of these days it will stick, or Scoble will get tired of Furrier's drunken antics and move on. A late night Twitter joke, but if you were closer to the fire, you know there's total truth here, in a Podtech alternate universe way about it. And shitbag salad "over there"? That still stands.

Posted by: Insider Scoop at Aug 16, 2007 4:51:00 AM

I sure hope this turns into an HBO drama.
Wouldn't it be great to watch it all unfold on the teevee?

Posted by: chuck at Aug 16, 2007 4:59:24 PM

OMG, and Loren Feldman really *is* out at PodTech.

Posted by: chuck at Aug 16, 2007 5:20:52 PM

Insider Scoop: I have never been fired from Podtech.

On the other hand the person who you won't admit to being WAS fired from PodTech. Thanks for playing this game.

Chuck: yeah, and Furrier is no longer CEO. Ain't life fun?


Posted by: Robert Scoble at Aug 17, 2007 12:53:37 AM

In your opinion, what's the best movie ever created?

Posted by: talapoku at Aug 6, 2008 1:18:43 PM