The goatse t-shirt, a year later

A little over a year ago, I wore a funny t-shirt while posing for a photo that was published in an article in the New York Times. The shirt‘s a reference to a popular (and rather offensive) internet meme, and the reaction was immediate and passionate:

  • “I can’t believe you slipped one over The Man.” – Grant Barrett, author The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English
  • “Rather than the scary fragmentation of our society into a nation of disconnected people doing their own thing, I think we’re reforming into thousands of cultural tribes, connected less by geographic proximity and workplace chatter than by shared interests.” – Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail.
  • “@$!%!” – Mena Trott, President and Co-Founder of Six Apart.

I’m 30 years old, and this is now the single thing I’m best-known for in the world. Now, I’m not worried about being a one-hit wonder, but I do see this as a perversely entertaining example of getting what I deserve. I’ve always said my sense of humor thrives on the absurd, and it doesn’t get any more absurd than having this stunt as one of the first things listed on my wikipedia profile. At this rate, my epitaph is likely to be something like “He told great fart jokes.”

I’m reminded of this absurdity because I’d been reading The Long Tail. It was inevitable that I’d like the book — I’m (briefly) in it. Page 182 has a nice nod to my Goatse t-shirt escapades, providing support for my hope that the in-joke worked on multiple levels. (Note to aspiring media hackers: You can’t go wrong with a nominally subversive t-shirt if you’re looking to gain a small degree of notoriety amongst your peers.)

As of today, 13 months later, there’s approximately twelve thousand mentions of the gag. To all those people, and to those whom I’ve had approach me at various events and conferences, asking me about the picture, I have one request. Can we please make sure to say I’m “the goatse t-shirt guy” and not “the goatse guy”? There’s a big difference.