a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Friday, July 25, 2008

iJustine is at it again

Justine Ezarik, the so-called "Internet it girl" who was raised in Scenery Hill, Pa., has again made the yahoo.com home page for her devotion to the iPhone.

Her bio follows:

WASHINGTON, Pa. – The media buzz began swirling around Justine Ezarik after she received her first iPhone bill, one that itemized her text messages and calls across both sides of 300 pages.

Stories about the young woman and her fascination with mobile technology were picked up by USA Today, CNN, Fox News and CNBC, as well as hundreds of other media outlets, after she posted on her Internet blog a self-made video about the $274 bill so thick it came in a box.

“A friend of mine was in Spain and opened up a newspaper, a Spanish version: the iPhone bill with my picture on it,” said Ezarik, 23, a Scenery Hill native who is the current “It girl” on the Web.

The digital world took notice of Ezarik, who uses the screen name iJustine, in a big way in August. The short film about the bill was subsequently viewed more than 3 million times in 10 days and earned her $5,000 in ad revenues from her online host.

“Now I’m signed up for E-billing,” she said.

But the Internet never dies and iJustine is along for the ride while building a huge fan base.

She was the lead story on Yahoo’s home page two weeks ago because of the popularity she has gained from lifecasting her daily chores on two Web sites.

Whether capturing her travels from a mini-camera attached to her ball cap or pointed at her face from a table, Ezarik has become the star of justin.tv.

The new media company is the brainchild of Justin Kan, who is among the first to use mobile technology to stream live videos to a Web site. Broadcasters have free access and personal control over the look of their pages and the ability to chat with viewers.

There were more than 400 people tuned in when Ezarik showed up Monday to meet a reporter and cameramen from the Observer-Reporter at the Crazy Mocha coffee shop in Washington.

Most of her viewers say nice things, and some periodically dare her to perform the Chicken Dance polka in public places. She usually complies and breaks into the dance that requires hand signals to suggest duck quacks. She was drawing as many as 4,000 viewers at any particular moment after the Yahoo story hit.

“This is crazy. Why am I doing this?” she said.

Others have not been so nice, and complained that she has odd eyebrows, wears too much makeup or is too self-centered to think that anyone with a brain would want to watch her sleep.

“Many of her critics urged her to ‘get a life,’ ‘read a book’ and cease her ceaseless self-promotion,” a writer noted Aug. 29 on the popular news blog Pittsburgh Dish.
“People like to hate for whatever reason,” Ezarik said.

While some viewers think she is surfing the Internet while running her fingers through her hair at a coffee shop, Ezarik said she actually is editing videos or designing Web sites for her business.

The graduate of Pittsburgh Technical Institute now lives in Pittsburgh and also is spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto. Through her blogging, she has landed a job with Xtrain, a company that offers online expert training. Just this week, Warner Brothers was trying to track her down to invite her to appear on “The Tyra Banks Show.”

She’s unsure just how much longer she will be sharing her life with the digital world as a lifecaster.

“A lot of my friends don’t like it when they’re around. It’s too invasive,” she said.

But her father, Steve, of Scenery Hill, said he is beginning to like lifecasting in a era when many children Justine’s age forget to call their parents.

“At least we can follow her around,” he said.

Watch our video of iJustine
at www.youtube.

(Story first published in the Observer-Reporter)

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