Media timeline on 2004 Christmas Lights Webcam before the Hoax was Revealed
Since I kept track of the
media coverage (with corrections) after
I approached the Wall Street Journal to break the news that my
christmas lights webcam/webcontrol was a hoax, I've
had several people ask what happened before then. So I've cobbled
togather things from some various Emails, notes, and memory. There is
inbound traffic data
for most of the online resources listed below.
As with anything,
Email me with any corrections.
2004_11_05: The Halloween "warmup" is over and it was outa
control as there were over a million hits from almost 150,000 web surfers - I'm a little worried about what is going to happen at Christmas. I've taken all the Halloween stuff down and packed it away for next year, but starting work on my Christmas Stuff - come back after Thanksgiving to see that extravaganza!
Thanksgiving: Happy Turkey Day!
My folks flow into town (and brother Myke
surprised 'em) today. Fed 'em a buncha turkey and fixings ... and after a
walk, they all decided football/naps were "better" than putting up Christmas
Lights ... so hopefully I can put 'em all to work tomorrow - looks like the
weather will stay decent for a few more days. Here's a picture of the
christmas helpers ... and SOME of the lights! ;-)
2004_11_28: Got the lights up before the big cold front
came in ...
so my Pink Flamingo's are a bit chilly in the snow.
Webcam was turned on.
2004_12_01_2017: The folks at MajorGeeks.Com (true recognition!) have linked to the site. The
admins over there think it's a great story, and even funnier when they
find out it is a hoax.
I was wearing a MG T-shirt in the
photograph that ended up (literally) going around the world in the AP story.
USA Today Hot Sites Crew like it too - maybe because
The HULK was caught
reading USA Today by Christmas Lights? These guys did a followup after the hoax broke that was pretty funny
and seemed to get a chuckle out of the whole thing.
Kim Komando mentioned
the christmas webcam to her (claimed) 3.5 million fans.
Ernie's House of
Whoopass (mature content) mentions "See the Hulk and other cool
sh*t on Komar's controllable Christmas webcam!" which sends a ton of visitors.
2004_12_11_0312: Wil Harris from the British Inquirer wrote a
funny article about
my Christmas Lights/Webcam. He does a followup story on 2004_12_29_0336
where he expresses his displeasure with the hoax.
Al's Morning Meetings mentions that it is pretty cool. This is actually a
"feed" for media folks, so maybe this is what stirred the Boulder Camera to
action the following Monday (?)
2004_12_11_1032: Heise.De from Germany has a short piece that sends a bunch of visitors over.
writes "Alek's Christmas Lights Webcam is back that sends a ton of people
over. The 4th time it's in Slashdot -
Xmas/2003 , and
And the 5th time is when
Slashdot posts about the hoax itself two weeks later.
Up until now, most of the reporting had been in the new/online media, but things
were about to change as the story crossed over to the old/traditional media.
Back in 2002, the local Boulder Daily Camera newspaper had written a front
page article about my lights/webcam, but it hadn't gone any further.
This time, Associated Press sent it (inter)nationally and there was a
media frenzy for the next 36 hours or so as it was mentioned in bazillions
of print outlets, I did over 30 radio station interviews (over a dozen
the morning of 12/16 alone - phone was ringing non-stop), and 4 TV interviews
that cumulated in the ABC-7 guys taking me up in their helicopter for a live
report of the flashing lights
2004_12_13: Tech TV Video has a one
minute snippet about my lights/webcam - I found out about this the next day
from a co-worker.
2004_12_13_early_afternoon: Boulder Camera reporter calls over
about the lights. I asked if she has looked at my web page - nope - and
she starts asking quuestions all answered there. I'm kinda busy with
work stuff, so I suggest she look at the web page and call me back
if any questions.
2004_12_13_4'ish: I wonder outside to wait for my wife
and kids to come home and notice a women talking to the neighbor Traci - after
a few minutes, I notice the small notebook she is writing in - and it dawns
on me that this is probably the Boulder Daily Camera Reporter. We end up
chatting for a while before/after my wife and kids show up. It's not dark,
but I gladly demonstrate how the remote control and turn the lights on and off.
A photographer comes out to shoot a picture, but neither stick around until
6:00 when the "show starts" plus they don't ask to look at the webcam.
BTW, I ask Traci (who knows the webcam is a hoax) how the interview went
and she says she was never asked a "difficult" question and answered truthfully
to everything - she ends up being quoted:
"I just think he has a lot of Christmas spirit ...He is entertaining."
and her daughter Jordon is quoted saying:
"They are the Griswolds of our neighborhood" - I do have that rep! ;-)
I had told a handful of neighbors that the Press might come knocking (and
informed 'em about the hoax), but did not put any "pressure" on them besides
to say answer however you want to answer. Despite all of the media
attention which then ensued (including 3 on-site TV stations),
no other neighbors were quoted until after the hoax was revealed.
2004_12_14: Boulder Camera article shows up on front page with nice picture of the kids ... and then the AP sends it out and EVERYBODY picks it up around the world
9News links) and the media tornado begins late that morning.
I leave work early. I end up trying to track if the
Associated Press (traditional media) is "stronger" than Slashdot (new media) in terms of traffic generation.
2004_12_14: Fox and NBC-9 video interviews on my front lawn - but I had previousely noted that the webcam was
"broke" and informed them of this ... but I offered to do a show-n-tell
with the remote control which I did. ABC-7 wants to take me up in their
helicopter but I'm too busy on Tuesday, so I say lets do on Wednesday.
2004_12_15_morning: Dozens of live radio call-ins to various
stations around the country and subsequently in other countries.
The guys over at Alice 105.9 offered me
$10,000 (on-the-air!) to put an ad up for them on my site - I said I'd
prefer to keep Christmas commercial-free (except for the
targetted/helpful Google stuff I put on all
of my pages) but it did get me thinking - that would buy a LOT of Christmas
Lights ... and as I've said publically, this is a LOT more than I ended up
making from the Google Ads - so money certainly wasn't the motivator here;
despite some of the press reports to the contrary! ;-)
2004_12_15_evening: ABC-7 takes me up
in their helicopter for a live report on the 6:00 Evening News - hey, they
were itching to do it, so I wasn't going to turn down a helicopter ride! ;-)
Today (Friday, December 17th) is my wife Wendy's 40th
birthday. Instead of making her breakfast in bed, we did a live interview
for the Channel 2 Morning Show on the front lawn - yea, where are my
priorities, but she insisted. She is truly wonderful to put up with the
Christmas extravaganza and I love her dearly - she's a great mother
and wifeee ... and without her, I'd just be a ... buncha Christmas Lights!
And after a month+ of planning and work, my wife and I are walking out the
door to the "Book Club" Party ... little does Wendy know it will be a
SURPRISE party (was a HUGE success!)
for her ... heh, heh! ;-)
David Pogue from the New York Times has a short complimentary writeup
his technology blog. His
followup piece on the 30th is not so
complimentary as he does not appreciate the hoax ... although I got a
chuckle out of reading his bio
that describes how he is an accomplished magician ... and don't
they hoax people?!?
The folks over at EarthCam.Com have informed me that I made their list of
25 most interesting webcams of 2004
but despite this new fame, my wife reminded me that Wednesday is again
trash day, and that
it is still my job to take out the garbage.
I continue to do radio interviews (although not as crazy as before)
including not one, but two down in Perth, Australian - turned down the
morning shows in England, since that's 0230 here here - sorry chaps!).
I ended up getting Email from
every continent including Antarctica. And
some major web sites
in England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, and Norway are talking about it.
Initial contact with Wall Street Journal - I Email 'em there's a side
to the story that everyone has missed and I'd like to chat with 'em
over the phone about it - they give me a call, and when I explain that
despite all of the media attention, the webcam and controllable lights are as
real as Santa, they are interested. Discussions are ongoing the next couple
of days with the biggest "problem" being
how do I prove that the hoax is really
a hoax! ;-)
The Wall Street Journal reports
High-Tech Holiday Light Display Draws Everyone But the Skeptics.
Click here to read about the second tornado of media interest!