Lauren Out Loud
We chat all things geek with laugh out louder, Lauren O'Nizzle.
Lauren O'Nizzle aka Lauren Out Loud is the geeky best friend everyone would love to have on their social-media friend's list. Talented and hilarious, it's almost impossible to spend a quick five minutes browsing her blog without being pulled deeper and deeper in with quirky links and dancing cat videos. A self proclaimed blondbot and smart-alecky Canadian media kid, Lauren is a "Professional Internetter" for CBC News. We caught up with her to find out what it's like to live the digital dream.
"I wanted to be... pretty much everything, at some point", explains Lauren, who's job title today includes digital journalist, web culture scholar / addict, television personality and video blogger. "The first career I can remember wanting to pursue was "garbage man", because I loved watching those trucks go by my house in the morning. The men riding on the back of them looked like they were having so much fun and I wanted to do that. I also wanted to be "a famous movie star" and "an author" and, when I got older, a web designer. I thought seriously for a long time about going into medicine - I still wish I had sometimes. I love science, but my passion for media and writing won out. It kind of makes sense now, looking back at what I was into as a kid."
"The best tip I can give anyone - blogger or otherwise - is to register your own domain name NOW. It's less than $10 usually, unless your name is Nike or Google or something, in which case, you're going to need a new name (try adding some "Z's"!)"
The internet would have just been starting to creeps it's way in to homes around Canada as Lauren was growing up and we were curious about her earliest memories of it. "IRC! Forums! Yahoo groups! ICQ! Things you had to dial into with a supahloud 14K modem! It was all magic to me back then. Shortly after we got our first computer (an Apple Macintosh) I saw an episode of Ghostwriter about hackers (starring whatsername from Save the Last Dance) and my obsession grew. I couldn't figure out how to hack into the mainframe (glavin!) so I started building my first Angelfire page instead. It was horrid and filled with poems and photos of myself, mostly. I also had an entire section dedicated to my favourite cartoon characters (seriously) and lots of unironic, crappy animated gifs. I started to keep a daily diary where I simply over-wrote the index page every day. Then I realized that I should probably keep the old entries too, like a diary. Hence, my blog was (kind of) born, before I really even knew that blogs existed. I taught myself HTML by reading other peoples' code and some tutorials. I would dream about the internet all day in school. I got really into some different online communities in my teen years - I made friends from around the world. Some, I still talk to. I always felt like it was my special little secret cyber world -- until, ya know, it wasn't... As much as I love "social media" as it is today, I kind of resent it for bringing so many jagoffs online :p"
Today LaurenOutLoud.com is high-tech and awesome, updated daily with dancing gifs and hilarious links. "I'd say Ebaum'sWorld, Newgrounds and Something Awful were pretty influential websites in my younger years. I also liked Funny or Die, College Humour, Sissyfight 2000, Toothpaste for Dinner and just... thousands more. The following are websites I've been frequenting for some time and am currently still in love with (and probably always will be: Geekologie.com, Neatorama.com, Thought Catalog, The Oatmeal, The entire Gawker network, Laughing Squid, Buzzfeed (of course), Reddit, Refinery 29, Hyperbole and a Half, The Mary Sue, The Frisky, Geekosystem, Mashable -- so many more. I like the smart, the nerdy, the weird and the girly. I've got a seriously beefy RSS garden that I've been building up for years, constantly pruning back and adding new links. I also visit about 40-50 different websites at least weekly, and often they lead me to other websites and yadayadayada it's 4:00 a.m. and I'm 30 tabs deep with a pile of gold in my notepad. I'd say my style of hyper-sharing is more about the skill of hunting and curating than it is about finding a particular place to look. Some of my best finds are completely by chance - like a lulzy stock photo in Google images when I'm looking for a mushroom soup recipe. Knowing how to recognize what's funny is an essential skill for me. A lot of my gifs date back years and years to old Internet forums and message boards. Some, I make myself. Many are found within the Tumblrverse these days. Tumblr is just the best thing ever. EVER."
"My day varies based on what's going on in the city and with work that week, but I generally wake up an hour and a half before I need to be at work to get ready (at least 45 minutes of that time is spent eating breakfast and watching TV). Then I hop on my bike and ride to work (which takes another 12 minutes or so.) At work, I... well, I work pretty freaking hard the entire time save for a wee break when I can squeeze it in. News is fast-paced - no lollygagging about or pedicure breaks - but I like it that way. My shifts fly by and I feel very accomplished at the end of the day. After work, I go to the gym near my condo almost always. It's my de-stress / treadmill reading / socialize-with-hotties time. I like it there. Post-gym, I get groceries or buy an outfit or anything else I need to get done (if the shops aren't closed yet) and then, if I don't have any social plans or events to attend, it's home to eat dinner, hang with my boyfriend for a sitcom or two, and get down to the blogging bizz. I work on teh internets in my little den until 2 or 3:00 am most nights. I try to blog almost everyday, but it's difficult with such a busy life. Sometimes, I'm doing it on my iPhone in a cab or while I'm waiting for the streetcar. Bed time is always the best time. I cuddle up with Sean and the cat and zzzz."
Vblogging regular and presenting for CBC News, Lauren seems like a natural in front of the camera. "Haha, thank you for the compliment, but no - I'm definitely not a natural. I have a VHS tape of my 11-year-old self singing along to No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom album in my soccer uniform to prove it. It's a funny performance, for sure... but for all the wrong reasons. Hosting skills are like any other skill -- with practice, you'll get better. I've always liked being in front of the camera, but it can be quite nerve-wracking too. Maybe that's why I seem funny? Much like Chandler Bing, I crack jokes when I'm nervous :)" Working on MTV Creeps was a really cool experience. I'd never been part of a pilot like that before and had no idea what the show was going to end up looking like. None of us did. So to see the concept come together and to be part of its launch was just incredibly interesting. I love performing and being on TV, but this show in particular got me really interested in producing. If I get rich one day, some how, I'd love to create my own pseudo-reality TV show called "Not-so-crazy Cat Ladies dot com" or something."
"Some of the more traditionally "geeky" things I'm into include science (talking about, writing about it, reading articles and studies for fun), collecting cute toys, Simpsons trivia, Americanized late-90's anime, studying communication theory, nerdcore hiphop, unboxing videos, shopping for gadgets and popping allergy pills." When she's not on her computer, Lauren can be found hanging out with my friends and loved ones, partying, working out, rollerblading, riding her bike, working or shopping. She also confesses to being a little bit crafty. "I'm no where close to where most of the talented crafters on CO+K are, but I loved arts & crafts as a kid and when I get the chance, I still like to tackle little projects. I've got everything ready to put studs on a pair of old Converse All Stars when I get time. I made candy sushi a few years back, which was cool - and chocolate-covered football strawberries for the superbowl. I like food crafts, I guess, because they disappear and don't take up space. I did make some art for my brother's wall and a mousepad for my mom one time... you can see them here. Looking to the future, she hopes for her "I'm not really sure, yes, to be honest. I'd like for my career to soar, but not so high that it consumes my life (any more.) What I hope for, more than anything, is health, happiness, and zillions upon jillions of dollars :)"
With so much on the go, we figured this girl must have a pretty awesome tech set-up. "I alternate between my 15-inch Macbook Pro, my pink Dell Studio 17 and my slim-but-powerful Dell XPS13 Ultrabook. All have Intel Core i7 processors and, most importantly for my multitasking self, loooads of RAM. I've got a few external HD webcams that I never use, because I prefer the one built into my big pink Dell. I also have a Samsung Galaxy tablet but I prefer to use the ultrabook over a tablet, ya know? It just feels faster. Better. As far as external gadgets go, I use a Canon Digital Rebel T1i with a versatile Tamron lens (and a few others) for good photosl I've also got a Canon Powershot but never use it... and I have a Canon Vixia HF r300 camcorder that I afore. My microphone is a Sennheiser. If you had asked me one year ago which tools I couldn't live without, I would have said "all of the above" -- but, truth be told, I could get by these days with just a laptop and my iPhone (+ a few external iPhone gadgets). In fact, I often do. The iPhone is a powerful, powerful gadget, and it allows me to be instant with my coverage because it's connected. I wouldn't want to live without my iPhone. Could you imagine?!?! "
"DON'T FEED THE TROLLS! Nothing frustrates them more than an impenetrable wall of smiling, happy, "I don't even know you exist"ness"
Finally, we were keen to find out what her tips for newbie bloggers were. "Always be learning, exploring, discovering... and don't try too hard, ya know? Be authentic! Be yourself! Share what makes you smile or chuckle, if you've got the inclination. Follow and friend like-minded superstars, don't be fake (people can tell) and please, everybody, stop bragging about every little thing. My pancakes are TOTALLY better than yours anyway, psha. Blog about what gets you excited. If you're not passionate about what you're writing, you won't write and that shiny new blog will join the zillions of abandoned ones out there. Frequency and regularity are important. Niche blogs can actually perform quite well and build up solid audiences if you tap into the right communities. But don't worry about the numbers -- blog for yourself, and for fun. That's how I started, and the readers found me!" Sadly the internet isn't always fun and games, so we wondered how she deals with haters. "DON'T FEED THE TROLLS! It's tempting to fight fire with fire, but trust me - haters want your attention. Nothing frustrates them more than an impenetrable wall of smiling, happy, "I don't even know you exist"ness :) Also: watch this!"