Friday, February 29, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words. Really?

The new online dating site says "to hell with words we have pictures." In my mind I am flipping through the ridiculously plentiful profile pictures of myself littering the web. What am I saying with them I wonder? I would never ever ever put a picture of myself anywhere that wasn't flattering. In fact flattering is an understatement the only pictures I post are exceptional (for me.) So exceptional in fact that they fail at being accurate representations of me. Even the pictures that I am not physically in tend to serve the purpose of constructing my idealized life. So,, the new image based dating site made me raise an eyebrow. Can you meet someone in the idealized image world and fall in love with the non-idyllic real them?

Here is the basic idea: You select 9 mate wooing photos from your Flickr account to represent you on Jiffr. Then you browse the photo selections of others and decide who you want to date. Then, if anyone you selected as date worthy also selects you, you'll receive an email on Thursday that schedules a date on Saturday at a preselected location. The emailing is all automated, so if you change your mind or need to reschedule its over-- your chance with that person is gone.

I haven't tried it out yet but plan on bullying one of my single friends into giving it a go. I just wonder how well the matches will work. On one hand it sounds like fun. Sort of like a mystery- where you leave little image clues about yourself and try to decipher someone else's. But then again its superficial nature makes me cringe. When the tag line of the site is "get a date without words" I have to wonder what in the world will you talk about on the date.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Texting 4 Health - Stanford

Half of ISIS will be in Palo Alto tomorrow sharpening our brains at the Texting 4 Health conference hosted by The Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University.

Deb will be speaking about SexINFO (text sexinfo to 61827) and how text based programs can reach low income urban youth.

I'm psyched to test out all the applications I haven't heard of, especially what's going on in developing countries where text is king!

I <3 txt.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Zizi Sexuel

I know, I know, here I am again snuggling up to The French. Call me a Francophile if you will. But the fact remains that they seem to have a completely different approach to talking to their kids about sex. Check out this LA Times article about the Paris exhibition Zizi Sexuel. The exhibition and accompanying website seem to be a frank exploration of what really goes on with a penis and a vagina, including the physical and emotional mechanics. (The exhibition looks to be strictly hetero, but every gem has a scratch- right)

Zizi Sexuel seems to try and pick up where parents leave off. The LA Times article quotes one mother who brought her daughter to the exhibition as saying "We talk about some things," the 42-year-old mother said, hesitantly, "but penetration -- that I had trouble with."

She has trouble talking to her 8 year old daughter about penetration?!?! I thought that was a really refreshing problem after glaring at the new cover of Cosmo in line at Walgreens. I mean seriously... do we really have to infantilize the vagina in order to talk about it directly?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Conquering dating violence - Flash game contest

The challenge: Create a flash game to raise awareness about teen dating violence, and here's the caveat ... without using violence. Wrap your game creating brains around that one.

Entries will largely be judged on the game's ability to educate in creative, non-violent ways as well as playability and uniqueness. This top prize is $1000 and entries are due by April 15th, 2008. Read more about the contest rules and find dating violence resources at is dedicated to the life of Jennifer Ann Crecente and to educating others about teen dating violence and its warning signs. Jennifer Ann was murdered in February 2006 by a classmate she was dating.

It's sad to me that I can't imagine many games without violent consequences. Characters fall off cliffs, get hit by fire balls, speared by swords or die in car accidents. The pervasive gaming model is to have 'lives' and losing a certain number of 'lives' then equals the end of the game. In Mario it was three, in Nibbles just one.

I'll be looking forward to seeing the tactic of the game makers that enter. Perhaps characters could be playing to avoid depression or loneliness rather than death. Perhaps as they work towards creating friendships in the game they learn the warning signs of someone likely to be violent.

Ultimately, games can be sticky. Good games are hard to walk away from and players develop strategies in their head even while they're not sitting and playing. An anti dating violence game that can do this would be stupendous.

Thanks to Ian Bogost who led us to this contest. I'm staying tuned.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

KOKH FOX Oklahoma gives inSpot a nod.

Something about being call the "disease website" is kinda funny. Thanks KOKH FOX Oklahoma for spreading the word.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

inSPOT NYC gets a boost

Michael Bloomberg himself, New York City's Mayor, cited inSPOT/NYC as an important tool to help stop the spread of syphilis. The city is experiencing a hike in cases, and has been for the last few years. Check out Reuters Valentine's Day coverage.

Inspot is an easy way to tell your partners that you care about them and that they should get tested. Sometimes its not easy to tell people face to face, or you may not know how to find someone except by email. That's why there's inSPOT!

If you live in New York City and want to find a place to get tested for syphilis, the inSPOT website includes a map that is searchable by zip code.

There are free testing services available in all burroughs, so don't delay. It's just a little stick, but it makes a big difference.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A letter to Planned Parenthood Golden Gate

Dear Planned Parenthood Golden Gate,

I heart your new "Mile High" add campaign! Steven, the contraceptive dispensing flight attendant, is the picture of perfection in his role as master of this disco/airplane domain. For some reason the whole thing reminds me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. Steven is Mr Wonka in this world where contraceptives flow like chocolate rivers and teaches everyone that safe sex is normal and most importantly fun.

In closing I have but one word for you Planned Parenthood Golden Gate and it is : HOORAY!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Abstinence Only!? You could even pay me...

Ok, I admit it, I am a "perfect-world" Libertarian. By that I mean if we lived in a perfect world where there was mutual human kindness instead of greed and abuse I would be a card carrying Libertarian. Being that it is not a perfect world I have buried these leanings deep inside. But recently my little internal libertarian has been chomping at the bit as I read about all the states that have said "Thank you, but no" to abstinence only federal funding. I like to fantasize that the refusals of these14 (possibly more) states was not so polite and involved a certain taboo finger waving in the air and a song that said "take your 50+ mil and shove it" but I digress. It is so exciting to see states stand up for their citizens and refuse federal bulling to support a program that just doesn't work.

And why doesn't the abstinence-only-until-marriage approach work? Besides the obvious that it fails to give teens medically appropriate information about birth control, STD prevention, and the option of abortion. After watching a recent PBS Frontline Documentary called Kids Online I have a little fledgling, not quite fully formed hypothesis as to why this approach is doomed to continual and repeated failure. One of the ideas brought up by the documentary is that this generation of kids grew up with the internet and are used to and expect immediate access. They never racked their brains all day trying to remember that actor's name that was in that movie.... or, the next lyric after "my girl wants to party all the time..." or who is buried in Grants Tomb? They can just look it up. They probably never had to listen expectantly to the sound of a dial-up modem while waiting for it to grant them access to the world wide web. These kids have had constant and immediate access to all the information they have ever wanted a suddenly we adults want to try and deny them access to information about the one topic they think about all the time. Sex. It just won't work.

Hats off to the 14 states so far that have turned their collective backs on $50 million.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

As ET once said "Be Good"

I firmly believe that we are living in the future. Think about it for a moment. True there aren't flying cars whizzing through the air and we can completely exist on chocolate bars (although I bet I could live a pretty long time maybe even thrive on Cliff Bars alone.) That being said, a lot of this tech stuff that these 'future' kids of today casually wield would have amounted to a super-power when I was a wee-one (and I'm still clawing away at my 20s.) They have the power to instantly communicate and organize en masse. All they need is a cell phone touch pad and a rudimentary understanding of a growing system of code (OMG, LOL, ROFLOL, QFT etc) I love using urban dictionary as my rosetta stone to translate this new tech language.
I love the idea of relatively a simple cipher created out of the need for speed and brevity having this much power. Its like watching a language being born. As with every super-power there is always a dark side. What would Superman be without Bizzaro. The dark side of text messaging reared its ugly head as cops in Tokyo and Saitama broke up a ring of junior high and high school girls that were selling sex online via their cell phones. Apparently one of those arrested was in the 6th grade. Wow! What really makes my jaw drop and drag on the floor is that they developed an intricate text/SMS friendly code to advertise their services.


Ikeb = Ikebukuro. The neighborhood that the girl is in.
LURV = "I will have sex with you."
1700 = Time: 5PM
Yukichi2 = Yukichi Fukuzawa, the guy whose face is on the 10,000 yen note x 2 = I cost 20,000 yen
JC = Joshi Chugakusei (Junior high school girl. JS would be elementary school girl, JK would be high school girl)
1 = Grade 1. In Japan, 1st year of junior high = 7th grade.

I got this break down from

So, wow I say! As our advances in technology continue to bestow upon us futuristic powers I have but one bit of advise - Always, Always use your powers for good not evil!