In pursuit of celebs with OMGICU
OMGICU is social networking for the star struck -- a Web site and companion mobile app -- that lets users report often breathless celebrity sightings (similar to the oft-criticized Gawker Stalker, but without the maps) and follow sightings for specific stars.
The usual suspects -- "Gossip Girl" cast members, Adrian Grenier -- are represented, but I was amused to see the unlikely inclusion of Sam Waterston (spotted once, dining alone and looking younger in person), Olympia Dukakis ("Foxy, old, diabetic.") and Paul Giamatti ("Shuffling along 6th & 20th.") The site is also partly responsible for bringing "30 Rock's" Tracy Morgan to Twitter. OMGICU founder Hugh Dornbush created this video and the Web site twacy.org to petition Morgan to take up tweeting. It worked -- Morgan is now a-tweet and OMGICU's traffic is up.
Last week, I corresponded with Dornbush about the site and celebrity stalking:
Liz Kelly: How (and when) was OMGICU born?
Hugh Dornbush: We just launched, but a couple years ago I was doing a lot of interesting work with text messaging and saw its potential to push a quick burst of info, such as a celebrity sighting, to a lot of people away from their computers. I also noticed that when New Yorkers cross paths with celebrities, a natural response is to take out a phone and call or text a friend. So there exists a desire to share these events in real-time and powerful technologies to spread the information. Plus, there seems to be unlimited desire to peek into celebrities' lives.
Liz: Are you worried about encouraging celebrity stalking?
Hugh: We haven't seen anything of the sort. We have been responsible for a few really positive moments between celebrities and fans, but no one ever asks about those.
Liz: Do you take any steps to ensure the accuracy of the reports on the site?
Hugh: We have a few techniques that we employ behind the scenes, but overall OMGICU is a place where people share real-time celebrity sightings with one another for the community's overall benefit. We don't do any more to externally monitor and filter users' behavior than any other site, although we do ensure that users stay on topic. No one wants OMGICU to be a platform for mass spam that's totally unrelated to celebrity sightings.
Liz: Has the site broken any news?
Hugh: Depends what you mean by news. Not the sensationalistic stuff you might be used to like so-and-so was spotted yelling at her children after a week-long bender, but did you know that Rudy Giuliani shops at Duane Reade? Or Helena Christensen shops at Bed Bath and Beyond? Or Michael Moore shops at (seriously) Casual Male Big and Tall? Or Uncle Phil from the "Fresh Prince" eats at Taco Bell. I could go on, but maybe they actually are like us.
Liz: Have you had any direct reaction or contact from any celebs (or their reps) about reported sightings?
Hugh: Nope, although we have had several aspiring celebrities text us about their own whereabouts. Ambitious people can smell opportunity a mile away.
Liz: How many registered users does your site have?
Hugh: We're in beta, so we're still pretty small, but growing. We grew 25 percent last week and site traffic hit an all-time high. You can use your Facebook account to sign in and start receiving alerts about specific people or neighborhoods. Maybe you should...
Liz: So it looks like Los Angeles and New York are the only cities being reported from... any plans for an expansion?
Hugh: It's possible, although there's a long history of people nationally who are interested in celebrity news from Los Angeles and New York, even though they might not live there. Why, you think anyone in D.C. would be interested?
| October 21, 2009; 11:33 AM ET
Categories: Extreme Fans
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