Mark Frauenfelder launched bOING bOING, an ink-on-paper zine, in 1988. He did the artwork for Billy Idol's 1993 Cyberpunk album, using a Mac instead of a photo studio. Frauenfelder joined Wired when that was considered a foolish move by media professionals. Later he resurrected Boing Boing as a website, then again as a blog in 2000. He's now editor-in-chief of Make magazine. Does this guy have an unlimited supply of cool? Not unless he learns to say no to advertisers who co-opt him.When Frauenfelder appeared in an Apple TV spot a few years ago, his fans loved seeing their fringe-culture hero take over the boob tube. But today ads are jammed full of Internet hipsters. Boing Boing's "band manager," John Battelle, has turned old-fashioned host endorsements into an online art form at Federated Media, his advertising agency. He's holding a conference right now in San Francisco's Presidio, telling eager brand managers that endorsers like Mark Frauenfelder make them part of a conversation with Internet consumers. Battelle builds sites whose ads feature authors on whose blogs he also sells ads. It's a reputational Ponzi scheme far more complex than a George Foreman grill. Maybe that's why I flinch when Frauenfelder's face pops up on my screen with an Adobe logo and a button that says Grab Widget. Mark, if I want a widget, I'll open your magazine and make one myself.
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