Digital life reporter Katie Humphrey covers all things Internet and culture, from apps and social media to goofy memes and studies proclaiming tech will doom/save us all. Chat with her on Twitter: @HumphreyKatie.

Monica Lewinsky joins Twitter, wants to end cyberbullying

Posted by: Katie Humphrey Updated: October 20, 2014 - 11:51 AM

Monica Lewinsky joined Twitter this morning.

In her Twitter bio Lewinsky, former White House intern and mistress of President Bill Clinton, describes herself as "social activist. public speaker. contributor to vanity fair. knitter of things without sleeves."

Lewinsky's first tweet came shortly before she spoke at Forbes' 30 Under 30 summit in Philadelphia, where she told the crowd she wanted to launch a "cultural revolution" against online harassment.  According to Forbes:

“I was Patient Zero,” said Lewinsky, now 41, to an auditorium full of 1,000-plus high-achieving millennials at Forbes’ inaugural 30 Under 30 summit in Philadelphia. “The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”

“There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then,” she said. “But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded. Of course, it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial up. Yet around the world this story went. A viral phenomenon that, you could argue, was the first moment of truly ‘social media’.”

Her account quickly attracted thousands of followers and lots of comments. Predictably, not all of them nice.

Teens lead the way as more people talk to tech

Posted by: Katie Humphrey Updated: October 15, 2014 - 11:08 AM

Typing is so old school. People are increasingly talking to their smartphones, and chatty teens are leading the way.

Mobile device voice searches doubled in the past year, according to a survey commissioned by Google. Fifty-five percent of teens and 41 percent adults use voice search more than once a day. Asked why, "it's the future" was the most popular answer. (We explored the topic in a Star Tribune story this summer.)

So what are people asking their devices?

And when are they talking instead of typing?

But the gadgets can't do it all on command just yet. What do users wish voice search could do? Order pizza, find the remote and find the keys.

(Images from Google.)

Dating app Hinge matches friends of Facebook friends

Posted by: Katie Humphrey Updated: October 14, 2014 - 11:23 AM

Scan the photos. Interested, swipe right. Not interested, swipe left.

It's a familiar game for singles looking for a date (or a hookup) in the digital age, thanks to the popular app Tinder. Two people in the same vicinity swipe right -- match! -- and meet up.

Or not. Afterall, you don't really know that person. Maybe your friends don't either.

Hinge, a dating app launching in the Twin Cities today, pitches a friendlier connection. It's similar to Tinder, but draws from friends of Facebook friends (and sometimes friends of friends of friends) to suggest matches in your geographic area. In the words of the Hinge's marketing, "No randos."

"Most people would prefer to meet someone new through friends in the real world," said Karen Fein, director of marketing at Hinge. "You've got this validation. You have people who can vouch [for him or her]. You can get the scoop in advance."

The free app sends users a list of potential connections each day, which they can dismiss by swiping left or express interest in by swiping right. Profiles show a potential match's photo, full name and some biographical data, like interests and where the potential date works. It also explains the link between Facebook friends.

It's all about making the initial meetup easier, Fein said.

"One of the most common openers is, 'How do you know so-and-so?'" she said.

There were about 2,000 Twin Cities metro area residents on a list to be notified when Hinge launched, the longest waiting list of any metro area in the country, Fein said. The average user has 36 Facebook friends on Hinge, she said.

Hinge started in Washington, DC, in 2013, and has since spread to other cities across the country. It's now based in New York. The company won't share total user numbers, but claims it's made 8 million matches. The app draws more young professionals than college students, Fein said, because it "is a way to keep meeting people through the network you have" once you've left the college -- and it's active social life -- behind.

According to a Hinge survey of about 200 people on that Twin Cities waiting list, the local dating scene  is parochial (78 percent said it was "spot on" or "somewhat true" that people tend to date on their own side of the river) and not helped by Minnesota Nice (the perception that it's easy to meet people is "way off" according to 56 percent of respondents). The most commonly dated types of people? Corporate yuppies and marathon runners.

How to find something you like in a sea of podcasts

Posted by: Katie Humphrey Updated: October 13, 2014 - 11:11 AM

The podcast universe is huge and still expanding. Where to start?

Local enthusiasts who shared their expertise for yesterday's story about podcasts' growing popularity offered some suggestions. For starters, iTunes Podcast and Stitcher, where the most popular podcast rise to the top of the rankings. Many of those shows are very well done, slick productions from public radio.

But there's so much more, and fans and podcasters I talked to said the variety of independent shows is one of the best things about podcasts. It takes a little more digging and patience -- quality varies greatly -- but maybe you'll find a new favorite. Here are some places to start:

TC Podcasts for a compilation of shows produced in the Twin Cities

Podmass from The AV Club for podcast reviews

Infinite Guest network, recently launched by St. Paul-based American Public Media

These are shows on a variety of topics recommended by people I interviewed: Streets.MN, Strong Towns, Gleeman and the Geek, The Kunstler Cast, 99 Percent Invisible, For Immediate Release, Social Pros, The BS Report with Bill Simmons, The Memory Palace, How Was Your Week with Julie Klausner, Death, Sex & Money with Anna Sale, The Flop House, and The Dork Forest with Jackie Kashian.

To spotlight a local podcast, my colleague Lee Svitak Dean wrote yesterday about Dishing Up Nutrition, a weekly radio show that had more than 2.5 million downloads last year in podcast form.

And there's so much more. Want to recommend another podcast? Share it in the comments.

(Photo above by Richard Tsong-Taatarii: Local podcaster Danno Klonowski interviews local cartoonist Zander Cannon for The Wayne Gale Variety Hour.)

Friday fun: Kangaroos box to YouTube stardom

Posted by: Katie Humphrey Updated: October 10, 2014 - 3:30 PM

Not something Minnesotans typically have to deal with, but consider this video a warning should you ever pick a fight with a kangaroo.

The video, shot on a suburban street somewhere in Australia, has nearly a million view on YouTube. Fascinating stuff, especially for those of us better aquainted with raccoons and squirrels and maybe the occasional black bear.

Did you know kangaroos are that big? Or that they could balance on their tails like that? I didn't. And those kicks. Watch out!

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