The Facebook in Pittsburgh 10 years ago: PG covers new online phenomenon

Written by Ethan Magoc on .

The Facebook Ashleigh Kuhn Pitt 2004 Post-Gazette John Heller

Ashleigh Kuhn, then a Pitt student, sits at her computer in fall 2004 with a nine-month-old version of The Facebook on her screen. (John Heller/Post-Gazette)

Ten years ago, exactly on Feb. 4, Mark Zuckerberg and a group of his Harvard classmates founded The Facebook (as it was known until 2005).

Back then was open to Harvard students only. Other Ivy League students were permitted to join in the summer that year and, soon thereafter, all college students could become members. Anyone with an .edu email address could sign up.

Pittsburgh-area students started getting access to it in the fall.

And to report on this exciting new phenomenon, the Post-Gazette assigned Bill Schackner to cover The Facebook locally.

His story from Nov. 28, 2004, began with an anecdote about Pitt senior Brian Kelly evaluating a friend request -- a novel concept at the time.

Kelly weighs the online request for all of two seconds, then uses a single keystroke to give his classmate the thumbs up. In the parlance of The Facebook, Kelly has just "friended" him. "He's a good kid. He was in my freshman studies class. I'm going to confirm it."

The article ran on the Sunday front page's top right column. The Facebook had clearly caught on by that point, even if high school students (and their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.) would not be able to join for another year or so.

Schackner described more of the nascent Facebook behavior that is now common.

Why, for instance, do people with seemingly endless chances to socialize face to face on campus flock to such a site? Is having half as many Facebook friends as your roommate any reason to think about moving back home?

And he noticed the already-shifting meaning of being friends with someone.

Adding a Facebook friend to one's tally doesn't necessarily imply intent to spend time with that person. At Pitt, Kelly has amassed 345 friends in just over a month [...] but a few he has never met. "Nobody really rejects friends unless you really hate somebody," he said. "It's all pretty non-committal."

Julian Dunn, a Carnegie Mellon freshman from Harmony, predicted one of its enduring purposes, saying he used it most often "when I'm on the Internet and I'm bored."

For more on poking and other outdated features of The Facebook, here's a copy of the page from that Sunday.

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9 celebrities you didn't know had Pittsburgh roots

Written by Nicole Martin on .



Pittsburgh is no stranger to big budget film-making. Just recently it served as a primary location for "The Dark Knight Rises," "Jack Reacher" and "Out of the Furnace." To many celebrities, Pittsburgh may have been a temporary home during the movie-making, but there are quite a few celebrities who once lived here; David Conrad, for example, still lives here and recently talked about his affinity to Pittsburgh on WQED. But there are other, perhaps more surprising names you may have never associated with Pittsburgh.

1. Julie Benz

Benz is most recognizable from her roles as Darla in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” In 2006, she won Best Supporting Actress at the Satellite Awards for her role of Rita Bennett in “Dexter.”

Benz grew up in Murrysville, Pa., and graduated from Franklin Regional High School. “I remember the teacher telling me I should not even try acting,” she told TV Guide. “I still have the report card where she was like, ‘You will never be an actor. Your voice is horrible.’ That was the best thing that ever happened to me because I was like, ‘I’ll show you’.”

2. Joe Manganiello

Best known for his character, Alcide Herveaux, on “True Blood”, Manganiello is a heart throb to all “truebies.” Manganiello graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School, and he attended Carnegie Mellon's acting program before moving to Hollywood. As many actors with ties to Pittsburgh, Manganiello hasn’t forgotten his roots: he remains a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and in 2007 produced and directed a short documentary “DieHardz,” about Steelers fans that meet at bars in Los Angeles. He also stays involved with UPMC Children’s Hospital charity events.

3. Zachary Quinto

Another CMU grad, Quinto started his acting career in the Pittsburgh Theater. Quinto grew up in Green Tree and graduated from Central Catholic High School. He landed a role on the hit show “Heroes” before getting his big break as Spock in the very successful remake of “Star Trek” alongside Chris Pine. Quinto is currently working on a 10-part TV series based in Pittsburgh about college students returning home on their first break.

4. Jeff Goldblum

Just a simple boy from West Homestead grew up to be a big star. Goldblum starred in the box office hits, “Jurassic Park” and “Independence Day.” In 2007, Goldblum played in “Pittsburgh,” a witty variation on a Christopher Guest mockumentary that combines fiction, reality and an irregular cast including Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr., Illeana Douglas, Moby, Conan O’Brien and many unsuspecting Pittsburghers.

5. Cherie Johnson

Born right in the heart of Pittsburgh, she is best known for her role as Cherie on “Punky Brewster” and Maxine on the long-running TV series, “Family Matters.”

6. Dennis Miller

With a resume ranging from a stand-up comedian and talk show host, to sports commentator, actor and more, Miller is a curious Pittsburgher. Miller grew up in the South Hills and graduated from Keystone Oaks High School. He then attended Point Park College — now Point Park University — where he majored in journalism. “When I went to college, I lived on campus, and the guys I hung out with made me do some things I’m not proud of, although they made the characters in Revenge of the Nerds look like the Rat Pack in 1962. I myself made that kid Booger look like Remington Steele,” Miller wrote in his book, "I Rant, Therefore I Am."

7. iJustine

Justine Ezarik grew up in Scenery Hill and graduated from Bentworth High School. She started her career from a YouTube video about a 300-page iPhone bill and quickly became an online sensation. Since then she has been an Internet celebrity and made many guest appearances on popular network television shows such as “Law & Order,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and was a guest host of “E! News.” Ezarik graduated from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute in 2004 and started her own business that she ran out of Pittsburgh until 2008, the year she moved to Los Angeles. While living in Pittsburgh, Ezarik also worked as a spokeswoman for Bill Peduto, then a city councilman.

8. Christina Aguilera

Though originally from Rochester, Pa., Aguilera moved to Wexford after her family received threats stemming from jealousy of her talent; it was obvious even then. She attended Marshall Middle School and North Allegheny High School. Aguilera was discovered when she sang at a Pittsburgh charity banquet and started receiving offers to sing the National Anthem for the Pirates, Penguins and the Steelers. She got her break on the “Mickey Mouse Club” along with other stars of the 1990s like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Her singing career took off from there. In her song, “I Will Be,” she says, “all the things that you never expected to see from little old me, this Pittsburgh girl.”

9. Melina Kanakaredes

Kanakaredes was not born in Pittsburgh, though she moved here to pursue acting after high school. She attended Point Park and earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts. It was in Pittsburgh where Kanakaredes began her acting career in the professional theater scene. One of her earlier roles included Mary Magdalene in “Jesus Christ Superstar” at Pittsburgh Musical Theater. She eventually got her break as recurring characters on popular shows like “CSI,” “NYPD Blue,” “Guiding Light,” and, prominently, as Dr. Sydney Hansen on “Providence.”

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Ten Super Bowl commercials to look forward to this year

Written by Nicole Martin on .

The Steelers will not be playing in the Super Bowl this year, but Pittsburgh will have a reason to tune in for the big game on Sunday because this will not be just about the Broncos and the Seahawks. It's about which company will come up with the most amusing ad so that we consider buying its product.

So much for betting on the teams, I've got my money on capitalism!

Here are the best ads to keep an eye out for this coming Sunday.


1. Dannon Oikos — Spill

In a teasing teaser, John Stamos is doing what he does best, making women swoon... until he takes his pants off.

2. Budweiser Puppy Love

When I think of beer I always think of heartwarming moments and sappy love songs, don't you? Adorable puppies and horses and how they become friends, that's what Budweiser is all about, obviously.

3. 2015 Hyundai Genesis Dad’s Sixth Sense

It's sentimental, OK? The super dads preventing disasters... still wondering whether featuring supermoms and calling it Mom's Sixth Sense would be closer to reality.

4. Jaguar British Villains ‘Rendezvous’

"Have you ever noticed in Hollywood films that all the villains are played by Brits?" Well, Jaguar has, and they want you to know --“It’s good to be bad.” I would have to agree.

5. Bud Light Arnold Schwarzenegger Ping-Pong

Anything involving Schwarzenegger is a must see. He is not quite a Terminator in this one though, a bad rug, stilted moves and not a very attractive pair of legs. Is that what Bud Light does to you?


6. Cheerios And a puppy..

OK, so this is basically an ad selling you cardboard rings for breakfast, almost as terrible as rice cakes. (But seriously though, who actually likes rice cakes?) This kid is pretty darn clever though.


7. New Castle Anna Kendrick non-commercial

Well done, New Castle. This clever satire on a “cancelled” Super Bowl commercial is very well played. You can decide whether Anna Kendrick is just hot or beer-commercial hot?


8. Ford Rob Riggle

The teaser for this James Franco commercial is enough to intrigue. I just hope it’s not another copycat Old Spice commercial theme.

9. Doritos Finger Cleaner

This will be just one of the many Doritos commercials that air during the big game. But this one is a Yikes.... makes me cringe.

10. SodaStream 'Sorry, Coke and Pepsi’

This commercial may or may not be airing during the Super Bowl, but it is definitely worth mentioning. This controversial ad has rumored to be banned due to the line, ‘Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.’ The network seems to be a little scared of the consequences of calling out two of their biggest sponsors. You may see a censored version of the ad, but here is the better version.

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Why is Pittsburgh so... great? And Portland so...?

Written by Mila Sanina on .

Why is Pittsburgh so great? Why is Baltimore so... bad? And why is Harrisburg the capital of Pa.? 

A recent piece in The Atlantic explored how Google autocompletes results for 50 states "Why is [insert the state] so..." 
So when you type in Google, "Why is Pennsylvania is so...." Google will greet you with "Why Pennsylvania is so haunted...."
The Atlantic made a tongue-and-cheek claim that Google Autocomplete is one way to explore collective psyche.
So we thought, "OK, let's take a look at the collective psyche apropos cities in Pennsylvania and other cities."
How about Pittsburgh?
Why is Philadelphia so....

Why is Harrisburg so...


Let's take a look at Pittsburgh's rival cities...

Why is Baltimore so...


And lastly, why is Portland so... Weird, right? 




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Military aircraft fly over Pittsburgh before Obama's visit to West Mifflin, Pa.

Written by Ethan Magoc on .



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