gregpacker_small.jpg?w=450The little bonus text  at the bottom of yesterday's post, might deserve a post on its own. Here are a few disjointed thoughts.

Greg Packer is already camping out for the iPhone 4, which does not arrive in stores until June 24. BUT this time,  the guy who made himself famous by being first in line for almost everything and for offering man-on-the-street comments for almost everything else, is getting paid to sit in line. Gazelle, a company that buys used electronics has offered him all sorts of support in the form of food, camping gear, and clothes as well as $250 a day, totaling $1000. As far as I can tell this is the first time he's been paid for this kind of thing.

But before he was getting paid an  Columbia News Wire included a quote from a pop culture expert trying to explain Packer's desire to be first in line:

When told of the lengths Packer has gone to to be at major events and meet celebrities, Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor of pop culture, said Packer has turned a passion into an art form.
"If you're totally obsessed with Shakespeare and James Joyce and go to the ends of the earth researching them, we call you an English professor," Thompson said. "This guy has chosen his body of art to consume, it just so happens he can't make a living off of it. The only fundamental difference is he doesn't have tenure."

I've been curious about how the Internet has changed the way Packer is quoted. On the one hand, it's easier to find out that he's a serial quote-provider. Older articles and memos about Packer cite Nexis searches-- a database only available to institutions willing to pay for the service-- but now anyone can stick Packer's name into Google or Wikipedia, and find out that he's not so average after all. On the other hand, the advent of issue specific websites means that editors might not recognize the Packer waiting in line for a gadget as the same guy who cheers for the winning baseball teams.

That's obviously no excuse for the Times quoting him in 2008, when a search through their own archives would have revealed that the Packer is described as "ubiquitous" and Packer had been the topic of a New York Times profile. But it might be a fair excuse for a niche blog.

Still, in the end, I think that those blogs should take the extra two minutes to google Packer. This is different than googling every name you get for a man on the street comment. This is a guy who is first in line; wouldn't you want to know if his fanboy-ism is real?

(Click here to read the whole post, including choice quotes from Packer).

In the On the Media interview I linked to yesterday, the reporter, Amy O'Leary breaks down what makes Packer quotable:

After Packer explains why he's hanging around the Post Office on April 15, O'Leary says: "Okay. See what he did just there? He slipped in the phrase "right here in New York on tax day." You've got the time, the place, it's a totally usable quote -- Greg's specialty"

And, the guy certainly has a lot of usable quotes.
O'Leary highlights this one:

My favorite Greg Packer quote was something he said to the Daily News in 1998 about a Yankees game on Yom Kippur. Greg told them, "There's no way the Yankees will lose, but if they do, they'll certainly have something to atone for."
The New York Times quoted Packer when he was first in line to get Hillarly Rodham Clinton's autobiography autographed.

"Because, you know, I wanted a chance to see her on a more personal basis than saying `hi' to her at the Puerto Rican Day Parade"

That one is not as great as the other, but still usable.

The Times, which should have known better by 2008, also quoted Packer when the Phillies won the world series.

The parade drew fans from beyond the region, too. Greg Packer, 44, of Huntington, N.Y., drove in for Game 5 of the World Series and stayed for the celebration. He arrived on Broad Street near City Hall at 5 a.m. to secure what he considered the best spot.
"In New York right now, we have no Mets, no Yankees, no stadiums," he said. "I came here to represent and cheer our neighbors."

That's also a pretty good quote. But Packer might be losing his touch.

Here's a quote from a video interview he linked to on his very short-lived blog

"I want to see, you know, how it works, I mean it's supposed to be everything in one an ipod, telephone, internet, everything right at your fingertips...I'm an Apple fan, but I don't have an iPod, and I don't have a Mac."

That's a fine, quote, not as good as some of the other Apple fans who got quoted that day, but it works.

But then, here's what Packer told Endgadget about the iPad:

"It's like a mini laptop! I mean, you just, you know, click it on, just like you click the iPhone on. And you don't have to open it up, and you know, go through, you know, go through everything."

That quote is barely usable. I'd guess that that happened  because the iPad is kind of confusing, and Packer doesn't bother to make himself an expert on what he's getting quoted on. That's not the point, not for him or the media outlets who quote him. But, when it came to the iPad, a little bit of research about what it actually does, would  have helped. According to Asylum, which is according to Wikipedia, "a men's entertainment site owned by AOL," Packer didn't even know that the iPad 3G was not yet available. That's some pretty basic consumer research,

I'll be interested to see what his quotes sound like for the iPhone 4.

Also, at the release of the first iPhone, one of the people who interviewed Packer and posted a video on YouTube, asked Packer about the future of newspapers. Again, Packer, whose blog has four posts, is not an expert on the topic. The interviewer, Ryan Thompson, markets himself as a "social media strategist, and does not seem to be a professional journalist, so I am cutting him some slack.

Thompson: And, America being the land of the free, with, uh, we've got the flag out there, and the Empire State building, and the First Amendment, do you think blogging is going to replace traditional journalism?

Packer: I think so, I think it's well on its way. It's started.


Image from Packer's blog.

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