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Intense Interview: Alex by Alex M.

March 24, 2006 11:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

UB: Good morning Alex, let's get started...

Alex: Okay, I am ready. I have my ICED SOY MOCHA.

UB: Before Ultimate Blogger started, what was your blogging philosophy?

Alex: Well, I've been "blogging" since late 1999. By blogging, I mean writing stuff online. I started this website "Digital Hearth" in late 1999 as a response to a book I was reading at the time in a Television and Culture course entitled "Electronic Hearth" which was about how the television has replaced the fireplace as the gathering place for the family. I saw the computer as a logical replacement for the television, thus, Digital Hearth instead of Electronic Hearth instead of Traditional Hearth. Originally I wanted it to be a blog about media and cultural criticism. But since then, I've gone through many life changes and periods of not blogging and gaining other interests. So recently, I've been blogging lots about music, design, Mac, politics, technology, and the media.

I suppose if I had to boil my blogging philosophy down, it would be about decentralized, DIY publishing outside of regular media mechanisms of control and hegemony. And blogging is certainly not limited to writing - blogging includes video, audio, music, photos, etc. It's quite wide ranging, in my view.
Just a sec, I need to put headphones on. I'm in a coffee shop and the noises are distracting.

UB: So why apply for Ultimate Blogger? Isn't that a more centralized, less DIY form of blogging?

Alex: I suppose it is more centralized in the sense that there is somebody directing or asking a question in order to focus your blogging. But this is a contest, not like a regular blog post that I would just write on the spur of the moment. The posts themselves are still very DIY. I decide what goes in them. I create the content. etc.

I watched the competition last year and it was really intriguing and entertaining. So much amazing content created, so many people pushing the boundaries and writing deeply personal yet accessible posts. I actually applied last year but didn't put too much thought or energy into my application. I wasn't sure if I wanted to apply this year, because I've been so ridiculously busy lately, but my friend Aaron Flint Jamison encouraged me to apply, because he thought I would do a good job. I also thought it would be a really good way to PUSH myself to interact with content on a deeper level, like creating posts that included video, audio, graphic design, tutorials, and community. So I decided to go ahead and jump in, because I thought would encourage me to blog deep. even though it has really cut back on the amount of sleep/proper nutrition I get, it has definitely been worth it.

UB: Well, you had some amazing entries. Which do you think was your best?

Alex: I really liked the Anacortes entry, both because it enabled me to use a variety of skills in my post and because it is a subject close to my heart. I love Anacortes and the people here, it is a beautiful and amazing community. So I wrote a rap about moving to Anacortes and the ghost of the first mayor and the lakes here, and Karl Blau (thanks for the beats, Jay!), and made a cheesy "soothing video" with Enya as the soundtrack, and also included images and text that are meaningful to me from the area. The expert post was also important to me, because it was so damn long and in depth and I felt like it was actually helpful to people. Took me so freaking long. Zoe's expert post was more useful to people, though and more succinct and accessible... uh...

UB: You only had two days for each challenge, was there any entry you rushed to finish and weren't especially proud of?

Alex: My worst entry by far was the "use 3 images to describe yourself" entry. A continuing problem that I had throughout the competition was that my digital camera broke about a week before UB started, (a stupid e18 error on a canon) so I had to rely on borrowed cameras the whole time. This was really annoying, as some didn't have video, or I wouldn't have access to one, etc. The image entry corresponded with a time when I didn't have access to borrowing a camera, so I had to rely on images already in my iphoto library. Also, I had to finish up a freelance site around that time so I was a bit pushed for time and TOTALLY uninspired. So I just decided to go cheesy/funny and photoshopped my severed head into pictures of animals that I had in my iphoto library. They were REALLY BAD photoshop jobs as well.

I actually tried to vote myself off after that challenge.

UB: Let's switch gears and talk about the game itself. Strategy... Before you "met" any of the other players, did you have a plan?

Alex: I am going to copy and paste my strategy that I sent to you guys before the contest started, when you asked me "what will your strategy be?":
STRATEGY: - Avoiding sleep at all costs
- Blasting Enya in my headphones for the entirety of the challenge
- Writing often and writing with grace, passion, and unmatched wit
- Making deeply meaningful and/or hilarious movies
- Writing and recording special songs just for Ultimate Blogger
- Forsaking grad school preparation (for example, reading extremely difficult and dry books such as this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080701507…) in exchange for blogging
- Forsaking my regular blog, Digital Hearth - Forsaking my family and friends
- Forsaking my day job and freelance work
- Taking my laptop into the bathroom with me to blog (I poo four times a day, so I'm in there a lot)
- Subsisting for 4 weeks on TOFU dogs and Canadian rye whiskey - HAVING FUN!!!!!

UB: Any plans on making an alliance?

Alex: This iced soy mocha has a vaguely cheesy flavor to it. I knew that I would probably have to make alliances with people in order to get further in the game. but I didn't have any specific strategy for this. ICED CHEESE MOCHA... organic blue chevre. Sorry.

UB: Early in the game, there was a powerful alliance. Who did you align with, and how did that come to play?

Alex: I became online friends with Thom early on in the game. Even offline, as one of my bands was playing on UBC radio and he came and met me and videotaped me. He invited me to be a part of a big alliance he was forming with Zoe, Mike, Tim and Morgan, and Waferbaby. So yeah, it was a huge alliance: Thom, Zoe, Mike, Tim and Morgan, Waferbaby, and myself.

UB: This is what became known as the "Unholy Alliance", yes?

Alex: Indeed. The dirty alliance. The coalition of the filthy.

UB: Did you vote as instructed during the entire duration of the alliance?

Alex: No. I actually split the alliance later on. But let me digress. In the beginning, I felt a little weird about the alliance for two reasons: 1) it was mostly male and 2) we would just roll over everybody else regardless of merit until it got down to the final 6. BUT, the people I really liked the best were in the alliance and I knew that it would help me get further in the game (it is, after all, a contest) so I bit my lip and stayed in the alliance. I can copy and paste emails if you want juicy stuff.

UB: I'm always surprised about how riled up people get about being honest in a game like this. Do you think honesty in a "reality" game is a virtue?

Alex: Honesty is always a "virtue" (in the sense that it is a behavior that shows high moral standards) but it isn't necessarily an asset in a contest such as this. When I split the alliance, I was very misleading, but that was because I changed my mind about voting after saying I would vote one way. I will say that Tim displayed unwavering dedication to ethics and honesty during the game, and for this, he wins the virtue award. Especially because he never joined an alliance. He always voted according to merit.

UB: And made it quite far!

Alex: Yes, I am bummed that he didn't make it further. I tried my hardest to make it work but unfortunately, it didn't (or couldn't, with the alliance). I was very impressed by his posts and renaissance man skillset.

UB: When the Unholy Alliance crumbled, and you had to vote off one of your own, how did you make that decision?

Alex: Well, there was an alliance within the alliance. Thom, Zoe and Mike had an alliance and invited me to join after I joined the big alliance. So that alliance was Thom, Zoe, Mike, and I. And the plan was to vote off Daniel and Tim and Morgan once it got down to the nitty gritty. But I started feeling a bit weird about it, because it wasn't merit based AT ALL, it was just a group of people aiming to get far regardless of quality of post. Although we all had good posts. So when Tim won his second immunity, only the alliance was left, and we had to start voting off our own. The plan of the alliance within the alliance was to vote off Daniel and Tim and Morgan.

Thom sent out an email to the entire alliance saying "Well, it's finally come to this. Time to vote one of us off. My recommendation is to simply vote with your heart, no hard feelings. If we can vote tim off next time we will, unless they simply hand tim the immunity everytime. Good luck guys. thom "
BUt the plan was of our secret alliance was not, of course, to "vote with our hearts". Daniel and Tim and Morgan TOTALLY figured this out, of course, and they asked me to vote against Thom and Mike.

UB: So you were right in the middle!

Alex: So I had two options: vote with Thom and Zoe and Mike against Daniel and T & M, or vote with Daniel and T&T against Thom and Mike. Indeed, I was right in the middle. Swing vote. So I split my vote, and voted against Daniel and Mike. Very hard decision, but I wanted to really try and spice things up and split alliances to make things more exciting and interesting, possibly more merit based.

OH, before voting against Daniel and Mike, I tried to vote against myself and Mike, because my post was so crappy. but you guys wouldn't let me vote against myself. Just thought i'd put that in there.

After that challenge and split vote, the contestants left were Thom, Zoe, Tim, T&M, and myself and I told everybody I wasn't making any more alliances. and after that, I didn't.

Thom was really disappointed in me, and rightly so because I told him I was going to vote against Daniel and the kids and then I changed my vote. So I did mislead him. But in retrospect I'm glad I made that decision. The decision to split the vote wasn't based on me getting further in the game, it was to try and make it more interesting, voting wise. I think an unintended consequence was me getting further.

UB: Do you think you are more of an Ultimate Blogger than Tim and Morgan?

Alex: Well, if I said no, I wouldn't want to be the ultimate blogger, right? I think they are hilarious, smart, and precocious, and I am happy that I have two new friends. But I think I've demonstrated a more varied and complex approach to blogging. I like blogs that have a wide-ranging variety of subjects and media presentation: writing, humour, tutorials, songs, podcasts, etc. Although I definitely think that Tim and Morgan have it in them to be multi-faceted bloggers, it seems like this competition focused mainly on their video skills. (I HAVE TO TAKE A BATHROOM BREAK) Alex: I finished urinating.

UB: Let's say something happened and you got disqualified... Who of the eliminated contestants would you bring back into the game?

Alex: TIM. I would bring tim back. I was also really bummed that Tina got voted off so early. Her videos were so quirky and weird. That was kind of a mistake, actually, on the part of the alliance. Somebody jumped the gun and voted early without establishing consensus so the whole alliance had to vote as an evil bloc.

UB: Any last plea you'd like to make?

Alex: Well, it's understandable that there would be feelings of resentment toward me and other members of the alliance, because obviously it was a pretty harsh voting arrangement. Looking back, I wouldn't have formed an alliance with so many people, because even though it's a "competition," it sort of pushes the limits of fairness. I normally consider myself a pretty ethical/honest person, and it's weird how a survival-based contest such as this can test those boundaries.

UB: That is one of my favorite parts of reality shows. They create a new temporary reality.

Alex: That being said, I think I tried my hardest (with the exception of the "3 images post") to put together a creative, entertaining, multi-facted, and interesting response to each challenge. So I would hope that fellow Ultimate Bloggers would take that into account when making their vote. The "survival" thing is interesting. I've never seen any of those shows, cause I haven't had a TV (with the exception of for a few months) since I was 19. The only context I had for it was last year's blogging competition. and it got pretty intense! I can only imagine what happens when there's $1 million at stake.

My girlfriend Megan thought that this is more of a social experiment than a blogging competition. Like, how will people respond when put into this new temporary context of competition and voting against each other?

UB: Thanks Alex. I think that wraps it up rather nicely.

By: Alex M. | Challenge 07 | March 24, 2006 | Comments (9)

Intense Interview: Tim and Morgan by Tim and Morgan

March 24, 2006 11:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

UB: Hello gentlemen!

Tim: Hello!
Morgan: Hola

UB: So, let's jump right in!

Morgan: I'm already in it
Tim: Lets!

UB: How much blogging did you do before Ultimate Blogger started?

Tim: Not much.
Morgan: Well, I've had a livejournal for two years now, but I got totallymorgan.com about a year ago.
Tim: Oh yes, livejournal here too.
Morgan: I think it'd be a lot of fun to start blogging more though. More seriously.

UB: In the future will you still be known as "Tim and Morgan"?

Morgan: It's kind of fun being one person, but Tim and Morgan is kind of what we're all about.
Tim: Being one person has its flaws.
Morgan: We're funny by ourselves. But combined, I don't know, we're a lot funnier because we can like play off each other.
Tim: Morgan and I don't always agree on things, which makes certain projects... unexistent.

UB: How did the cut out films happen?

Morgan: Well, when we first started, we didn't have a video camera. So we were like, "Well lets just try this out."
Morgan: We saw it on the show "Tom Goes to the Mayor" so we thought it might work.
Tim: ... and the narration is just a factor of laziness. They turn out funny, but at the time, we both kinda just [let it] "flow".
Morgan: AKA, a 15 year old attention span.

UB: Let's talk about Ultimate Blogger. Was being 15 a disadvantage?

Morgan: Hardly... I think sometimes
Tim: In some aspects.
Morgan: People don't take us as seriously. But honestly, we're hardly serious.
Tim: About anything.

UB: You had a strategy going in didn't you?

Morgan: Yeah, we were planning on basically teaming up with everyone we could and then destroying all the alliances, from inside them. No one would suspect a thing.
Tim: And also make a bunch of friends, and try to keep them once they found out we turned on them.

UB: Reminds me of what happened on season one!

Tim: Welllll, James and Lyova are role-models of Morgan and I.
Morgan: We are... how you say, heavily in love with James and Lyova. That's why we called our alliance Molotov. There are easter eggs in the post. Molotov was a friend of Stalin
Tim: Tons of easter eggs in all of our posts say "LOVE IS MOLOTOV!"

UB: So you were part of the "Unholy Alliance" in the beginning?

Morgan: Yeah.
Tim: Yes!
Morgan: We first joined with Eric and then Tina and then we started asking everyone.
Tim: Unholy indeed. Everyone!
Morgan: We were like "Hey, we need to get in an alliance," but little did they know we where starting one with everyone.
Tim: By not telling Tina or Eric we had others we were able to say on our post "We only have 1 alliance but are looking for more."

UB: How did the "Align With Everyone" strategy work out?

Morgan: It's worked very well. Some people found out.
Tim: Well obviously pretty well! :)

UB: Won't people feel betrayed?

Morgan: Thom was always suspicious and Brittanie was pissed. But really, it was all about getting the big guys down.
Tim: She had a right to be. They all did.
Morgan: Making a fair chance for the little guys.
Tim: Us! ; )

UB: How do you feel about Alex? You had an alliance with him too?

Tim: Well he was in the Unholy. However, behind the Unholy Alliance was a even un-holier alliance with Thom, Zoe, Mike D, and Alex. Towards the end before Thom went out, Alex told us about the Un-holier alliance and voted against them, eliminating Mike D. and ruining their alliance.

UB: That was a big moment.

Tim: For sure. Every vote has been nerve racking.
Morgan: Mike D even instant messaged me, telling us that if we voted off Alex and if we got immunity and we picked Zoe over him he'd vote for us in the final round. Similar thing with Thom.
Tim: Whoa! I never knew that!!

UB: Everyone wanted to take you to the final two?

Tim: We had to ally with Thom and Zoe, to vote off Alex and Tim. We told Thom we voted both Alex and Tim, but actually voted Thom and Tim. We never wanted to vote Tim out regardless.
Morgan: But to stay in, we had to. We wanted Thom out from the beginning though. That was always the plan.
Tim: Tim, Alex and us all shared a dream of the top 3. Being 'The Mega 3 Dudes!'

UB: You guys being a pair always made it weird to call it the "final five" or "final three".

Tim: Ha Ha! Yeah, I thought that it was going to be either me or morgan sooner or later. "There can only be one Ultimate Blogger"

UB: It seems like you played a really strategic game. Have you watched a lot of reality television?

Tim: No. My mom does though.
Morgan: I HATE IT!

UB: Wow, I'm surprised! Some of the players get really hung up on the idea of playing a "honest" game.

Tim: Yes, they did.
Morgan: The point isn't to be honest, it's to be the ultimate blogger.

UB: Do you think you can play Ultimate Blogger in an honest way and still win?

Morgan: I don't think so.
Tim: No.
Morgan: It hasn't worked for two seasons now.
Tim: Ha Ha.

UB: So now all the people you voted off have to choose between you and Alex. What do you think your chances are?

Morgan: Well, I would hope they understand that the reason we voted them off was in the spirit of the game. They'd probably do it in a second to us. I know Thom was against us, and Zoe... everyone.
Tim: Yeah, I'm still trying to be internet buds with Thom. But he's not budging.
Morgan: It was nothing personal. I know Alex screwed a bunch of people over also, so it's hard to tell right now.
Tim: He did? I thought alex always played it as "fair" as it could be played?
Morgan: The unholy-er alliance.
Tim: True.
Morgan: We where talking about this in the car...
Tim: What car?!
Morgan: ... about how he screwed everyone over just as much as we did. We got sonic, I got a slushie.
Tim: I think Thom did the most "screwing".
Morgan: For sure. We stuck up for some people like Tim. We where supposed to vote against him, like the whole alliance was, but we didn't and he was close to getting voted off.

UB: Have you made internet friends with anyone?

Tim: Yes!
Morgan: Yeah, Tina, Eric, Daniel...
Tim: Daniel and Eric are still tight with the 'Layoof Twins'. Daniel especially.
Morgan: I think Alex is awesome too and when this is over I think it'd be cool if we stayed in touch.
Tim: We have some easter eggs that say "we love waferbaby". I'd like to stay in touch with Zoe, Maari, Lauren...

UB: Daniel helped you guys out once or twice didn't he?

Tim: Oh for sure, Waferbaby has helped us out lots. But the truth is, we wanted him gone the most in the beginning.
Morgan: Ha Ha. Yeah.
Tim: He was one of the best bloggers.
Morgan: Thom said he wanted us off, but we told him we needed in so he offered to let us stay if we voted with them. But we betrayed him.

UB: Do you really believe that you are the Ultimate Blogger? Better than Alex?

Tim: Well, no and yes. Alex is an amazing Blogger...
Morgan: Without sounding really big headed I think we had the funniest content. I think videos gave us an edge that the other players didn't have. [We're the] Ultimate Vloggers maybe.
Tim: Yeah, we'd have to fight Tina for it.
Morgan: I like Tina, but I honestly didn't think her pitch was that funny! It seemed like, "Oh look a break at work, maybe I'll film this."
Tim: I liked it. Short and Sweet
Morgan: No you didn't! I remember you telling me you didn't.
Tim: Lies.
Morgan: Don't lie to the judges Tim!
Tim: All lies.
Morgan: "We want a vote from Tina" -Tim Mahoney
Tim: Grrr...
Morgan: Be right back, I'm getting Girlscout Cookies. Don't believe anything Tim says.

UB: Okay, now let's get personal. Tell us a bit about a typical day for Tim and Morgan...

Morgan: Okay, well I wake up around 7 and I go to A hour which is an early class. So then I have school and after that me and Tim go to our bowling league.

UB: What are your bowling scores like?

Tim: 4 million.
Morgan: A million.
Tim: I'm better.
Morgan: By a bit
Tim: Well, I wake up around 8:30. I get on the computer till 8:50, then go to school. And then I meet up with Morgan at the bowling alley.
Morgan: Once at the bowling alley, we go raving. We like to get down on the dance floor with hot chicks.
Tim: After a typical day of bowling Morgan and I head to a fondue restaurant.
Morgan: No? Raving?
Tim: On Saturdays.

UB: Well, I think that about wraps it up. Any last thing you want to say?

Tim: I love Morgan!
Morgan: That we're sorry we screwed a bunch of people over but it was in the name of the game
Tim: That too.
Morgan: ... and everything is fair in love and war. This was kind of a war, right? And yeah, we really had fun, even if we do get voted off.
Tim: It's been really, really fun, we made some killer contacts!!
Morgan: And you can check Totallymorgan.com and timandmorgan.com for updates on our lives.

By: Tim and Morgan | Challenge 07 | March 24, 2006 | Comments (17)