It happened a few years back. Moriarty was on a business trip. At that time, Intel was going through a major reorganization and a lot of employees were unhappy about the way things were going, Moriarty says.

In 2006, Intel's corporate culture changed. Instead of focusing primarily on microprocessor production, employees were asked to tackle wireless communications, consumer electronics, and even healthcare.

"In particular, many high-level engineers working on PC products feel they've been stripped of their star status," a 2006 news report said.

Kimber Lanning uses social-media tools like Twitter to get the word out about new CDs at Stinkweeds or upcoming shows at Modified Arts.
Jonathan McNamara
Kimber Lanning uses social-media tools like Twitter to get the word out about new CDs at Stinkweeds or upcoming shows at Modified Arts.
Jeff Moriarty dressed as his alter ego, Dark Elvis, complete with removable chest hair and sequined outfit.
Wynter Holden
Jeff Moriarty dressed as his alter ego, Dark Elvis, complete with removable chest hair and sequined outfit.

Details

Phoenix's online community is constantly changing and growing. To find out more about how local people are using social media to "tweet-up" at various events around the Valley, follow these social media evangelists on Twitter (www.twitter.com):
Jeff Moriarty: Founder of Improv AZ, Ignite Phoenix, and Phoenix Innovation Foundation 
twitter.com/jmoriarty
Evo Terra: Founder of "East Valley Friday Nights"
twitter.com/evo_terra
Roger Williams: Founder of Ignite Phoenix
twitter.com/halfacat
Kimber Lanning: Chair of Local First AZ, owner at Stinkweeds Records and Modified Arts
twitter.com/kimberlanning
Brandon Franklin: Ignite volunteer and taiko drum enthusiast
twitter.com/brandonfranklin

Ignite Phoenix 5 will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. November 3 at Tempe Center for the Arts from 6 to 9. For information on attending or submitting your idea for a presentation, visit www.ignite-phoenix.org.
• Do you have the urge to drop your pants on the light rail? Improv AZ may be the right social circle for you. Check out the improvised fun at improvaz.com.
"East Valley Friday Nights" is just one of several Friday-night meet-ups happening every week. For more information about showing up and hanging out, visit the event's site.

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Moriarty felt it, too. And he created an outlet for employee frustrations in the company's internal blogging network. Taking a bit of inspiration from the recently released Lord of the Rings: Return of the King movie, Moriarty posted "The Lord of the Re-Org," a parody in which Intel executives were cast as Middle Earth villains Sauron, Soromon, and even Golum, and the employees cast as Hobbits trying desperately to avoid the impending doom of corporate restructuring.

"It was in a quiet corner of Middle-Intel that the peaceful Cubeitts toiled, working hard, playing harder, and enjoying an occasional puff of stock options," he wrote. "The Cubeitts were small in stature, barely coming up to the height of a badge reader, but solid of heart and mind. They lived and worked peacefully in the OfficeShire."

Moriarty published part one of "Re-Org" on an internal Intel blog between stops on a business trip. At one stop, he found his in-box bursting with comments from those who had read it. Part one of what was to become five blog posts drew more hits than the internal blog had seen in the past two months. By the time part five was posted, "Lord of the Re-Org" had amassed 22,000 hits.

"That was when I had my epiphany," Moriarty said. "Holy shit! Look at the power in my hands."

Colleen Minniuk-Sperry is a Phoenix-based professional photographer now, but when "The Lord of the Re-Org" was published on Intel's internal blogging network, she was working there as a program manager for internal software development. She was friends with Moriarty and had worked on various projects with him but had no idea he was blogging.

Minniuk-Sperry agrees that Intel is a progressive place to work, where employees' opinions are valued and are not weighed down by political correctness, but "Re-Org," she recalls, blew the doors wide open.

"Jeff said what we all were thinking but weren't willing to say at that time," she says. "I can't speak on behalf of upper management, but I really don't honestly know if they knew what to do with it."

Moriarty gave 22,000 people something to chuckle about on their coffee breaks, but he also initiated a corporate-wide discussion about the reorganization. As is the case now, blogging software and other social-media tools outside the confines of Intel's firewalls were plentiful. Blogger. Wordpress. Livejournal — each allows anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to publish a blog about anything they wish for everyone else on the Internet to see.

"I found, outside of Intel, that people have more power than they realize and they don't take it," Moriarty says.

But some of them do.


In January 2009, Jeff Moriarty was riding the light rail with his pants around his ankles.

Improv AZ did not yet exist, but Improv Everywhere, a New York City-based organization that Improv AZ would use as a model, did — and it had organized a nationwide public-transit pants-drop.

"It was, like, two weeks after our light rail had started and I was, like, 'Oh, my god, for the first time we're going to have a train that we could actually do that with,'" Moriarty says. "Somebody had a need, a patriotic need to drop their damn pants on it and represent Phoenix and show that they weren't ass-backwards and didn't have our heads up our asses as much as everyone thought. If I had to step up and unbuckle, I would."

Moriarty sent out a call on Twitter for those interested in dropping trou, but he wasn't sure whether anyone would show up.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is an online, public conversation in which users post their thoughts, links, and photos in messages limited to 140 characters or fewer. Anyone "following" a particular user receives that users messages and can reply or forward those messages to their own followers as a "retweet." Unlike the more popular Facebook, you can follow someone without him or her following you.

At the time Moriarty sent out a message looking for others to ride the light rail pantless, he had as many as 900 followers, he says. These days, that number is closer 2,500 — a testament to him and to Twitter's popularity.

In April, eMarketer.com said there were 12.1 million Twitter users, up from 6 million users in 2008, with a projection of 18.1 million users next year. Because users don't have to identify where their tweets originate, there's no accurate way to determine how many users there are in metropolitan Phoenix.

Back to January. About 100 people showed up and rode the light rail in their skivvies. To Moriarty, the turnout indicated that there were like-minded individuals who lusted after the same sort of social disruption that he did.

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4 comments
Seth
Seth

There's already a mass culture of stupidity and aggressiveness in Phoenix. The superhero fight lands on the stupid side.

Scott
Scott

What #1 said!!!

El Matho
El Matho

What I find most interesting is that that one dude is 33 and he was an engineer for 18 years. That's some Doogie Howser ish right there.

KarlBob
KarlBob

Interesting article, but there's a difference between an arts community and a civic culture. Getting people out of their houses and interacting is a great way to foster a cultural identity, but if that identity is going to reach beyond "CenPho hipsters" to "Valley residents", it will have to involve those of us who don't buy vinyl at record stores, or visit trendy bars to congratulate ourselves after "spooking the straights". As Kimber Lanning pointed out, third-generation cobblers are as much a part of Phoenix as trendy scenesters. Events attracting nurses and auto mechanics as well as Web designers and sculptors would stand the best chance of creating a cultural identity for all of Metro Phoenix.

 
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