Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ze Frank

Ze Frank is the stage name of Hosea Jan Frank, best known for his quirky nerdcore personal website. He is a blogger, Interwebs guru and spastic entertainer extraordinaire. Ze studied nerdoscience at Brown University, then quickly put his talents to better use on the Interwebs.

Back in March of 2001, in preparation for his 26th birthday, Ze put up an online birthday invitation on his personal website featuring himself dancing to Madonna's "Justify My Love*," and sent the link to 17 of his closest friends. Who then sent it to their friends, who sent it to their friends' friends, and soon his dinky site had over 1 million visitors. Ze then got a letter from his web hosting service (Earthlink) stating that, "due to a 10 cents per megabyte overcharge, you owe us $30,000." And thus, Ze was thrust into doing online shenanigans full time.

Ze slowly added to his website, and in its present form it features videos, games, humorous writings, and interactive toys. One of his most popular website features, a daily** video blog called "The Show with Zefrank," ran from March 17, 2006 through March 17, 2007. It included commentary on world events, songs, observations, and occasional games or challenges for his viewers to participate in.

Another perennial favorite is the Scribbler. The way it works is, you draw crappy outlines with your mouse, click "done drawing" and "start scribbler." The computer fills in scribbles making your chicken scratch look "artsy" and "purposeful" or "studied." For example, check out the moon to the left. It took 6 seconds to sketch, and scribbler polished it into a much improved 12-second sketch. Eh? Eh? Bravissimo.

For those of you who believe websites are made exclusively for reading, Ze also has short writing pieces like this:

The Brighter Sides of Breaking Up By Ze

  • Dieting is easier when you don’t have an appetite.
  • Boggle is easier to win when you play by yourself.
  • You get to experience what its like to be a depressed, tormented artist… just without the motivation or talent.
  • You get to hone your marketing skills by attempting to sell “beauty on the inside” in noisy bars.
  • Crying at movies no longer makes you feel stupid, since it’s the only place where its okay to do it in public

As a whole, Ze is hard to categorize or explain. He thrives on stream-of-consciousness ideas. Everything he touches is understated, gritty, and raw. It's a little spastic and a lot nerdy, but most of all it's unique. Watching him speak at TED 2004, you get the distinct feeling that someone forgot to give him his ADD meds. His intensely distinct point of view and complete disregard for segues nevertheless indubitably fuel his success.

*The song is not audible.
**To get technical, it was posted Monday-through-Friday-ly... but that doesn't sound as good.

PS: Part 5 is obviously the most beautiful part of the page.
PPS: I'd give this site a grade, but I'm pretty sure Montessori school grads like Ze don't believe in grades.

(From Wikipedia, and Mefi )

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