Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pop Internet Culture: On the Internet, Memes and the example Fail!

Starting today I am going to replace the Tuesday Art and Architecture focused blogs with blogs of an entirely different sort.  I need to add a lighter side to my blog - seems like I am art and architecting it to death....  I have art and architecture focus to my Thursday blog even though it it Liberty Village focused as well so I have decided that Thursdays will be the domain of all art and architecture going forward.  Tuesdays will be something different.

If you want to skip the long monologue just skip down to the section Titled "The Failed Meme".  I wanted to provide a bit of an introduction and then ended up writing a major dissertation on the Internet and publicizing sites worth visiting and Internet pop culture. 

I often sit and surf and find some tremendously interesting and funny postings. Some of these are part of or go on to define pop Internet culture others are flashes in the pan.  It strikes me that as the months and years march on, we (I mean the Global We) are building this huge cultural archive of Internet content, the value of which is diminished by lack of exposure.  And yes, there is also a good deal of content which is not sufficiently deserving to gain exposure at all.  On the Internet, these posts sit, appropriately, gathering dust unread and unloved. 

What got me started on this line of thought was that I found this week several old and new sites which contain Toronto Outdoor Public art information.  Many of these are point in time contributions which are now out of date as the art which was written about sounded like a permanent installation but is now gone.  Other sites contained information which would be much of what I would have otherwise researched and written about.   All content I had to do a great deal of digging to find. This presented a dilemma.  Tuesday was Toronto Art and Architecture, but it seems to be a favourite topic of others.   I like to write but I value my time and don't want to re-invent the wheel.

Internet Content - The Global Library
Let me stand up for a moment on a soap box and make a speech about the value of the internet and the need for readers who comment and promote posts of others.

The defining characteristic of the Internet is that content is created in a large and increasing measure by its participants - those who blog, comment and create informational sites without renumeration along side with those who do it for commercial gain.  We both create content and voraciously read (and comment on) content on the web produced by others.  This is the new paradigm of journalism in a Web 2.0 world.   I have also found that those who create content without pay are sometimes as good as many of those who do it for pay.

The other characteristic of Internet content is that the type of content being created for reading or viewing by the "consuming public"  has changed and expanded.   Twenty years ago there were books, magazines, comic books, newspapers, recorded music and film.  We now have mash-ups of all those types of content compiled by us Internet trolls in appropriate measures for the subject at hand.  We also have our Internet participants who define what is interesting by the power granted to them through the tool of re-tweet (RT).  I am using this word in a new way.  What I mean is to describe the acts taken by Internet participants to expose interesting and noteworthy pages through use of social networking and other tools. In addition to Twitter (to which the word re-tweet really applies) we can re-tweet (in the broadest sense of the word) using email, Facebook, our blogs as well as print media simply by quoting the URL.  We can add to the content of the original author by commenting on the blog on in the location we embed the re-tweet.

It also helps that we have those useful Search Engines, the web crawlers that search out pages and index their content so that useful pages on any topic can be found.   (Aside:  Web Bots take this a step further but that is another topic).  Having the page indexed is not enough to actually be useful in promoting the page.  Do a google search on just about any topic and you might find  dozens or even hundreds of dozens of results for more common questions, ideas or concepts.  It has been estimated that less than 20% of sites are able to be visited by a web crawler in a given year.  So good web pages don't necessarily make it to or at the to of search results on their own - they also need to get to the "top of the hit list". The act of someone going to a particular web page can increase its ranking and cause it to be more visible which in turn can cause it to increase its ranking, etc.  Interesting web pages are promoted automatically by the Internet itself by search engines.

Lastly, Internet facilities such as RSS and the practice of "following" bloggists have allowed individuals to easily obtain new content from those who create content we have enjoyed in the past.  Internet tools facilitate participation and easy access by those who want to view specific content.

Of course, as time marches the collaborative nature of the Internet will only increase as those of the "Net Generation" mature.  I found this chart depicting on Google Images.  Click through for a larger image to show the details but it shows how large Internet participation is for NetGen students, also known as Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000).  They are immersed in technology, very social, prone to collaboration, skilled multitaskers, and heavy multimedia content creators and consumers.

I go back to my original thought as I wanted to replace Art and Architecture Tuesdays there are a lot of great Internet sites which no one hears about.  If no one hears about it the great collective "Global We" cannot collaborate on it and make it better.  Tuesdays will therefore be devoted to promoting things I find on the Internet.

The Internet Meme

Good web pages are promoted directly or indirectly by the readership of those pages, but more than that can happen if the page or the idea relating to the page is deemed to be in some way an item that calls out to be replicated or "re-tweeted with a twist".    This is Internet collaboration in action! A Meme can apply to all types of content in web pages and often includes an extrapolation into the real world.    If a concept catches on and "goes viral" - changing and evolving as it catches on from person to person - an Internet Meme is born.

Let me give you the 101 on the concept of a meme.  From Wikk (read more here about sociology of memes):
The term "Internet meme" refers to a catchphrase or concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based email, blogs, forums, social networking sites and instant messaging.
There are many types of memes and even a set of You Tubes which are devoted to explaining top Memes.  If you want to catch up on your meme's go here to see the list Know Your Meme You Tube Videos.

The FAIL Meme
Today's blog is about the Meme called Fail.  There is more to this meme than someone calling out FAIL as something is seen which has not been done right and the schadenfreude which accompanies this.  There are some nuances, for instance the difference between Fail and PWND and what makes for an Epic Fail.  I have included the Know Your Meme You Tube to explain what FAIL all about. 

There are many sites now devoted to ferreting out and promoting situations which have been deemed to be FAIL. There is even a Meme which came out of an Epic Fail - Boom Goes the Dynamite go here.   I noticed yesterday on a friends FACEBOOK that she was retweeting a site dealing with Failed Cakes - actually they are really funny - go here.
As the presenter in the above Video mentioned, if you want to chuckle at someone else's fails there are many websites devoted to such things (it is after all, a Meme) but one site has the position of leadership at the moment - Failblog.org .  Their catalog of fails  is endless and endlessly funny.   I have selected an item from this website for your morning laugh.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Epic Fails

This is a very funny story on many levels and is a great prelude to the numerous and humourous puns which have been added to the story.   The readers have actually made this initial story to be much more than it would have otherwise been by adding some great content. If you would like a good belly laugh it is well worth a visit to the page - click here. My favourite is
"Crime solved. Afterward, they sat around and chewed the fat." Comment by "foop".
LOL   This story and the ensuing puns are even funnier to my family  as we have a standing joke about bacon and a story that involves one of my children eating a full pound of bacon. 

More seriously, there are so many layers which illustrate the point of the Failed meme in the posting (and so makes a great example of FAILED in context of the meme)- as pointed out in another comment added as commentary to the picture. 
...Trust in relationship fail, snacking restraint fail, snacking size fail, health fail, appropriate amount of bacon to keep in a fridge fail (how much do they eat normally?!), policing fail (it took them a week to ask his wife?), journalism fail (because they clearly reported the story of the original theft as if it was genuine news)… Comment by "a".
Another meme, related to FAIL is Keyboard Cat.  Essentially this is a short video sequence of a cat playing a keyboard signature tune which should be included at the end of any video which involves FAIL.  

If you review the original Bacon Theft page on FailBlog.org and view it and the comments following as an example of promotion on the Internet by participants you will see how this meme is also a great illustration of my first topic in this blog. i.e. how the Internet is evolving into a collaborative content medium which allows its participants to contribute to and promote the content it deems deserving of others to visit. 

If you want to look at another interesting meme go here to explore the meme of autotune. I am going to see if I can find an iPhone app to allow me to produce autotune content!

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