5 SHINY QUESTIONS: Staying on target with the battered mind behind shootpaul.com

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Yet more indication that the Internet is proof of the duality of man - our ability to be brilliant and moronic at the same time.

Case in point: The Shoot Paul Cam. It's a site that allows you, via live, streaming video, to blast away with paintballs at this guy, Paul Jackson, as he lives a "normal" life, 24/7 in front of a camera.

In a room filled with exploded paintballs.

And strangers trying to shoot him.

Right.

Sounds a bit loopy on both the shooter and target's part, right? But like the site advertises, "you have nothing better to do..."

The creator says he's offering a way for you to get some stress out at work to keep you from taking aim at your fellow cube dwellers. It's just meant as a bit of fun to break up the day that also serves as an essential tool for ensuring workplace safety.

Like a crack dealer, he doles out a couple free shots to start, but then have to pay for more trigger time and options like rapid fire once you're sucked in. And that's the brilliant part. He's turned being essentially a live video game character into gainful employment.

So who is this Paul guy and why is he choosing to have complete strangers blast away at him several hundred times a day? Let's find out, in a lightly edited interview, after the jump ...

THE SHINY Q&A

I'm from St. Louis, Mo and my full name is Paul Jackson. I went to Southern Illinois University and earned a Bachelors in Economics and Finance. I guess you could say I'm self employed? I run Great Dog Site and, of course, ShootPaul.com and of course. I don't really have a ton of hobbies. Mostly I just like doing things with the family and traveling. Are Dave Matthews Band concerts considered a hobby? I travel to Alpine Valley, WI and to the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State every year with my friends. Those trips are definitely the highlight of my summers.

SHINY OBJECTS: 1) This is one of the more interesting revenue-generating Web ideas I've seen lately. How did you come up with human interactive target as a profession?

PAUL JACKSON: I was out of my mind when I came up with this site. I don't know what I was thinking. Everyone kept saying, That's going to hurt! I didn't really think about that part. All I could think about is how funny of an idea it is. To answer you question more specifically, I thought of ShootPaul while day dreaming on an over caffeinated road trip. I mentioned it to some friends at a bar to test their reactions and of course they loved it. So bam, here I am, a human target.

SHINY: 2) On first blush, this is just goofy. But there really is some impressive tech going on it seems. How did you wire up your room of yellow pain? Tell us a little about the magic behind the camera.

PAUL: I've use some great programmers I from the Ukraine, http://goBehemoth.com. They are really great guys and put in a lot of long hours setting this up. The site is programmed in .php ajax and javascript. On the local machine that controls the robot we setup a python script and I hand built the robot using some servos. I'm using a Bob Long Intimidator which is capable of 23bps even though it only spits out about 6 balls a second on the site. It probably seems more complicated than it really is. It was a lot of fun to setup and oddly rewarding.

SHINY: 3) What's your goal here? Surely you don't intend to make your life pursuit line on the resume read: "Target." What life-affirming goals are you getting out of this stunt?

PAUL: As the sites slogan implies, the site has no point, because you have nothing better to do I've always wanted to create a viral product for the internet and I figured the potential for word of mouth advertising would be enormous. Its really just a fun place for users to let off some steam and help me recoup some of the development cost. People really seem to enjoy hearing me scream in agony. As far as affirming my life's goals, this site has helped realize how many great friends I have, something I value very much.

SHINY: 4) How has the interest been? It looks like you have some interaction with the people aiming at you. Is there a community evolving?

PAUL: There is a ton of interest and it grows every day with interviews like this. My favorite stories come from friends who hear other people talking about it at local bars around St. Louis, You guys have to check out this site.

There is a definite community developing. Some people have spent well over $100 shooting me from work and are getting quite good at aiming. A few of the more dedicated members are going to visit and offer up their bodies for some punishment. My luck, a freak accident will happen and I'll end up getting sued.

SHINY: 5) How sore are you at then end of the day? Those paintballs aren't exactly soft at 200 mph. How often do you get hit?

PAUL: I'm starting to numb to the pain. The first 8 days were horrible and I would have given up long ago if so many people weren't wrapped up in the project. The paint gun is setup roughly 18 feet away and is very accurate. I pretty much look like a leopard when I take my shirt off. Most days I'm hit close to 200 times on average out of the 3,000 balls fired. I knew what I was getting into and even though sometimes I regret it, I still get a little joy from making people laugh.

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    This page contains a single entry by Craig Newman published on June 4, 2009 9:44 AM.

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