Tag Archives: Ev Boyle

Ev Boyle: Reporting From 2 Conventions

If you’re like me, you spent the past couple of weeks processing everything you saw and heard during the Republican and Democratic conventions.

If you’re like Ev Boyle, you did that too — but with a special perspective. The 2001 Staples High School graduate was on the scene — including the floor — in both Cleveland and Philadelphia.

Ev’s official title is associate director, University of Southern California Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He organizes programs and events in government, journalism and technology.

Ev Boyle (left) never knew who -- or what -- he'd see next. This was outside the Republican National Convention.

Ev Boyle (left) never knew who — or what — he’d see next. This was outside the Republican National Convention.

But he’s also a political junkie. So working with Annenberg professors like David Eisenhower (Ike’s grandson, Nixon’s son-in-law) and Geoffrey Cowan (former director of the Voice of America, author of a recent book on presidential primaries) is a dream come true.

Ev brought 6 student-journalists to the 2 conventions. “We pushed our students to go in with open minds and hearts. We wanted them to talk to as many people as they could.” They — and Ev — did exactly that.

They reveled in breakfasts with delegates, the controlled chaos of floor sessions, and random sidewalk meetings with everyone from Katie Couric and Samantha Bee to Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson and UK Brexit leader Nigel Farage (who knew either of them were at the conventions?).

Ev realized that being on the floor was interesting and special — but it was also cramped, hot, and hard to know what was happening. “You could see and hear a lot better on TV,” he notes.

Marjorie Margolies — a former Pennsylvania congresswoman, and Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law — helped arrange a meeting with former presidential candidate John Kasich. The Ohio governor famously stayed away from the convention in his home state — but he met the Annenberg group for a long, insightful conversation.

Ev Boyle (3rd from right) and David Eisenhower (next to Ev) heard political insights directly from Governor (and former presidential candidate) John Kasich (4th from left).

Ev Boyle (3rd from right) and David Eisenhower (next to Ev) heard political insights directly from Governor (and former presidential candidate) John Kasich (4th from left).

Texas Republican congressman Pete Sessions — chair of the House Rules Committee — was especially “kind and accommodating” to the group, Ev says.

Delegate breakfasts were particularly intriguing. At California’s — on the 1st day of the Democratic convention — Ev and his students heard the thunderous boos from Bernie Sanders supporters that greeted Nancy Pelosi and others. That incident did not get a lot of press, but it presaged the California delegation’s actions through the rest of the week.

Ev and his group learned something everywhere they went. In Cleveland, 100 congressional pages — ages 15 to 24, from all 50 states — gathered. When asked how many had supported Donald Trump from the beginning, no hands were raised.

Two other questions: How many were Trump supporters now? How many were “Never Trump”? Ev says they were split 50-50.

Republican and Deomocratic symbolsEv helped his young student journalists seek out interesting stories. They interviewed hotel workers, female Trump supporters, a delegate who at 17 years old was younger than they, and Democratic officials who switched parties to vote for Trump.

The 2 conventions provided “an eye-opener into the process of politics,” Ev says.

And stories he can tell through the 2020 election.

40 Days And 40 Nights

Ev Boyle’s family got AOL in 1995, when he was 12.  Ever since, he’s been connected to the internet.

But don’t try to email Ev today.  Or any time until August 18, in fact.

The 2001 Staples graduate is in the middle of a 40-day, self-imposed internet ban.  He’s sworn off everything — Google, Gmail, Facebook, porn — and, surprisingly, he doesn’t miss it.

At least, not much.

Ev Boyle

Ev is a digital native, though he remembers back to the days when information came from Encarta, not Wikipedia.  Ever since Staples, he’s been immersed in bits, bytes and pixels.  He studied communications at Penn; did web work for non-profits; freelanced for Al Gore’s Current.com, and helped found 2 websites:  Glassbooth for politics, and Measy for gadgets.

After a year at the London School of Economics, Ev heads soon to USC, for a master’s in global communication.

Until then, he’s disconnected from all forms of global communication.

Earlier this year, Ev used an online program — naturally — to analyze his internet use.  He was online up to 10 hours a day.  60% of his time was on Facebook; 20% on Gmail.

And that was just his MacBook.  He spent more time on his phone and iPad.

“I knew I was wasting a lot of time,” Ev says.  “I love the web — it’s valuable in so many ways — but I wanted to see what life was like without socializing on it.”

So he chose to cut his wireless wire.  40 days seemed long enough to be significant — without being absurd, like 6 months.

Plus, Ev says, “it sounded biblical.  Wandering in the desert, if you want to get philosophical.”

He started on July 8.  And quickly logged back on.

So July 9 was his official start date.  Ev had his mother change all his passwords, so he couldn’t sign on.  He began life without the internet — and began a journal, to chronicle his saga.

In some ways, the web remained unavoidable.  “I’m exposed to it all the time,” he says.  “My mom is the worst.  She tries to show me YouTube videos, and pulls up Google Maps.”

For the first few days, he had a “Pavlovian instinct” to log on to Facebook and Gmail.  Without his passwords, he was stuck.

But in other ways, Ev’s exile is less difficult than he imagined.

“I thought I’d miss emails, but I don’t at all,” he says.  “My phone doesn’t beep, and I don’t have to reply to people all the time.”

He does text.  “My phone is critical for coordinating with friends,” he notes.

Ev adds, “I’m in a privileged position.  I don’t have a job.  Life would be a lot harder if I had emergencies to respond to.”

He knows he’s missing some things — he did not hear about the Norway shootings for a couple of days — but overall, Ev says, “I don’t feel like I’m missing much.”

What he misses most is porn.

“I’m not addicted to it, but for my generation, it’s really a part of life,” he says.  “I’ve watched it since I was 14 — like almost every guy I know.  There’s not a lot of literature written about it, but internet porn is huge.”

So what is he doing with all the extra time in his life?

“I was actually hoping I’d have more,” he says.  “The time seems to fill up on its own.”

He goes outside, and works out regularly.  “I feel good!” Ev says.

He reads “a ton” — 4 to 5 hours a day.  And he focuses better on his books and magazines.

“It’s hard to concentrate on a computer,” Ev says.  “It’s an ‘everything’ machine that always calls out to you to do something else.”

Still, he insists, “it’s not like I feel like I’ve got 8 hours more each day.”

Midway through his 40 days, Ev says he realizes the web “feels more like transportation than a drug.  Like a subway, it’s easy to use.  But if it’s not there, there’s other ways to get around.”

The internet, he says, “is so integrated into every facet of our lives, we don’t even notice it.  But if it’s not there, it’s not like we break down.”

Which is not to say that life un-logged-on is easy.

“I didn’t know how to pay my credit card without the web,” Ev admits.

“And I’m glad I got my plane ticket before I did this.  I’d have no idea how to buy one today.  Maybe go to a travel agent?  But I’d probably have to pay a lot more.  I just have no clue how to do something like that.”

So on August 18 — the end of Ev’s 40 days — what will do first?

“It’s a long list,” he notes.  “There’s a lot of stuff I’ve been wanting to get on Amazon.  Like a coffee grinder.”

Right now, that’s a problem.  “I know maybe I could call around to see if some stores have one.  But we don’t have a phone book.  My parents got rid of it.”

One of Ev Boyle's 957 photos on Facebook. This was taken a couple of months ago, following his London School of Economics final exams.

He does know that, post-40 days, his web life will be more controlled.  “There are great programs, like SelfControl, that let you turn off certain sites, or even the entire internet, for anywhere from 1 minute to 24 hours.  I’ll use that a lot, if I want to do work.”

At this point — the end of our interview — I’d normally ask Ev to send me a couple of photos.  By email.

Suddenly, I too had been sucked into Ev’s experiment.

So I went on the internet myself.  And found the shots I needed, on Ev Boyle’s now-very-quiet Facebook page.

Making Things Measy

Choosing a digital camera is one thing.  Selecting a president is entirely different.

Or not.

Staples grads Ev Boyle and Ian Manheimer see a similarity:  The more information you have, the more manageable your choice.

Building on the success of Glassbooth — their wildly successful website that provided tons of personalized information on presidential candidates, from Barack Obama to Bob Barr (!) — the duo recently unveiled Measy.

Measy.com

Operating like Glassbooth, the new site collects, aggregates and analyzes thousands of product details, reviews and consumer needs, helping users decide not the best digital camera, DSLR, netbook or HDTV — but the best one for your particular needs.

Next up:  smartphones and laptops.

One difference:  Glassbooth was non-profit.  Ev and Ian hope Measy will make money.

“It’s all about making complex decisions simple,” Ev says about both sites.  With Measy, he explains, “you don’t have know anything about megapixels.  Just tell us, ‘I want to take pictures of my kid’s soccer games’ or ‘I want to use my computer for games.'”

What sets Measy apart from other product-info websites is the human touch.

“We don’t automate our information,” Ev says. “We draw from trusted sources like CNET and PC Magazine.  Then we research like crazy, and aggregate expert reviews.”

Measy’s target audience, he says, is “everybody.  Well, everybody who doesn’t feel like an expert, or who needs an unbiased source.”  His parents and their friends — particularly women — find it very helpful, he says.

“It’s hard to find unbiased, well-organized sources of information,” Ev says.  “People really dig it.”

Which is more than you can say about the name.  “It combines ‘me’ and ‘easy,'” Ev says.  “Some people really like it.  Some people hate it. 

“But it’s hard to find a name that’s short, and has a domain still available.”

Little in life is easy.  Happily for anyone looking for cameras, netbooks and HDTVs, using Measy is.

(Ev and Ian have enlisted a host of other Westporters to help launch Measy.  Among them:  Alex Jacobs, Alex Wasserman, Rich O’Reilly and Will Cimarosa.)