We Are The Disease

Spreading the Viral Phenomenon

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Too Much Information

Classmate, blogger, and tweeter – Hillary Heck recently tweeted from the blog, Mind Shift linked to KQED homepage where you can find endless amounts of information through radio, television, blogs, articles, and so on. The particular blog post was titled – How Are Students Roles Changing in the New Economy of Information?

The title stood out to me while browsing through Twitter being as I am still a student and agree that the amount of information out there today is endless. The article stated that; “For students, this abundance of information means not only a changing role from the traditional classroom, but also a drastically different set of skills and expectations.”


A reading done in class by Kevin Kelly claimed we are changing from book fluency to screen fluency and our students will need to learn and adapt to that. Many of which are already adapted perfectly fine and school is a bore to their daily lifestyles full of technology. But having all of the information at our fingertips and a click of a button away can be dangerous.

Students need to learn how to handle all of the information given to them. This is one of the main questions posed in our discussion of how writing is changing based on technology – how we handle the amount of information. We need to learn what to research, the correct way to do so, credible and non credible sources, and the consequences.

The article makes a point aside from the general idea of information, Shawn McCusker, author of the article writes; “At the core of finding and evaluating information from a wide variety of sources is the need to question and evaluate its validity to determine its true usefulness and worth. The student who actively challenges sources, as well as the thoughts and opinions of others in class, perches at the center of information processing. Social students excel in this environment as they collaborate and commingle ideas from individuals into greater community ideas, making them a potential asset to other students in their class rather than an interference.” As a future teacher, this could not have been worded any better.



How many iPhones will there be!?

Fellow tweeter and blogger, Shhannon Cahill recently tweeted from a popular site known as Zite – an article about the new and upcoming iPhone 6! Yes, iPhone six, already. According to Apple, the new iPhone will be their most massive iPhone launch yet! Personally, I think they say that about everything they launch but that’s just me.


The above picture is the general idea and make of what an iPhone six will look like – similar to every other iPhone on the market. The article states, “In calendar year 2013, Apple sold 153.4 million iPhones, according to data the company revealed in quarterly earnings results.” Put that into perspective for a second.

Not much will be different with the upcoming iPhone other than the processing system, phone chip, and possibly the quality of the glass and camera. The usual stuff, as is every year. But this goes to show how dependent we are as Americans on technology and will do anything to have the latest and greatest out there.

When thinking of the newest iPhone, I automatically recall the Ferguson videos, Everything is a Remix. A remix is created from something that was preexisting and made to be better. An iPhone is just that, a remix of the previous version with new updates appealing to the target audience.

So why do we care, why do we have to have the remix of what we already have. We care  because we are dependent on technology and feel as though we need it on a daily bases to do just about everything. Checking emails, typing whatever it may be, texting, communicating, and so on. All of these things are done on a smart phone, an iPhone which was once done with paper and pen.


What will the slogan be for the iPhone 6?

How many iPhones will there be before there is no more to remix?

A Letter From Fred

In today’s society the music that floods our radio stations are often top 40 pop songs. Past popular songs such as Thrift Shop, Timber or We Can’t Stop grow go viral in minutes, but think about their meaning. Most of out popular songs today talk mostly talk about parties, sex or alcohol. A new song that came to my attention was featured in a short documentary that has just gone viral called A Letter From Fred. This 9 minute documentary captures a glimpse of Fred Stobaugh’s journey at 96 to write a heartwarming love song for his wife.

Jacob Colgan and Green Shoe Studios had a singer, songwriter contest open to the public, which is how he came across the letter from Fred. The only mailed letter in the contest, Colgan was touched by the sweet lyrics and heartwarming story of Fred’s love for his recently deceased wife, Lorraine. Fred and Lorraine met in 1938 were married for 75 years, the best years of Fred’s life. When Colgan called Fred with the good news of making his dreams come true and told him “we’re doing this together”, the elderly heartbroken man began to cry.

The song was recorded, using Fred’s lyrics by a professional singer and instrumentalist. Touching lyrics such as “sweet Lorraine, I wish we could do the good times all over again” and “but the memories always linger on, oh sweet Lorraine, I don’t want to move on” touched the hearts of over 6 million viewers on YouTube. When hearing his song for the first time, Fred broke into tears, uttering that the song was wonderful. These are the kinds of videos that should become viral, because this true love story reminds us of what is important, and that music can touch the lives of many when there is great meaning behind it. It is that kind of passion and meaning that we are missing in popular songs today, and it is nice to see a video such as this go viral, sharing Fred’s love and story to the world.


Disney > Pixar


Pixar Animation Studio’s partnership with Disney has created the highest grossing children’s movies around. Pixar was founded by George Lucas, Ed Catmull and John Lasseter in 1979 to take computer graphics and create a whole new way of experiencing feature-length family films. Joined By Steve jobs in 1986, Pixar was able to fund their first minor films such as Luxo Jr., Reds Dream, Tin Toy, and Knick Knack before partnering with Disney in 1991 to make a computer-generated animated movies. Disney-Pixar’s first real hit was Toy Story, released in 1995 made 30 million dollars,nearly breaking even their budget, and just under 362 million dollars worldwide.

In the popular documentary, Inside Pixar, John Lasseter tells the audience that it takes Pixar about 4 years to create an animated movie. Between Toy Story’s release in 1995 to 2009, Pixar has released “ten feature-length motion pictures: Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredible’s, Car’s, Ratatouille, WALL-E, and UP” according to, Is Pixar Out of Ideas? by Jason Bailey. Since then, 3 of the 4 films released were sequels to the previous movies such as Toy Story 3, Cars 2, and Monsters University. Rumor has it that Pixar will also be releasing a sequel to Finding Nemo called Finding Dory. The only original movie since then was Brave, which was not as popular as past movies.

Is it that Pixar is out of ideas? Disney strayed away from their classic cartoon look of Lion King or Snow White, and started making animated films like Princess and the Frog and Tangled which were released in 2009 and 2010. These movies have a similar animated look to those of Pixar, taking away the special style of those movies. Princess and the Frog and Tangled were also released right around the decline of Pixar. With Disney Animated Studio’s cranking out such popular movies, Pixar doesn’t stand a chance.

The newest Disney Animated feature-length film, Frozen was released in November of 2013, and since its opening, the songs and characters from the movie went viral. The craze has not only surfaced with children, but also adults all around the world. The movie was just named the highest grossing animated film ever bringing in 1.072 billion dollars worldwide.  The movie features two sisters, one with magical snow powers. Between the captivating characters, extraordinary talent and catchy songs such as “Let It Go“, it was no surprised that this animated film captured the hearts of people all over the world. It is possible that the success of Disney has contributed to the decline of Pixar’s movies. With extreme hits like this, how can Pixar compete?

Less Ink, More Money



14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani came up with a brilliant idea on how the government and generally anyone who prints save tons of money. As many students know, when turning in a paper – most teachers generally as for Times New Roman font. Right? Right! Why, who knows  – because they can read it, it looks professional, who knows. But in reality, who cares what font you type in as long as it is done and people can read it but that is just my personal opinion.

Anyway, according to CNN Suvir’s idea started with the following, “interested in applying computer science to promote environmental sustainability, Suvir decided he was going to figure out if there was a better way to minimize the constant flurry of paper and ink.”

His study consisted of testing four different popular fonts; Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. Through his findings –  Suvir figured out that by using Garamond with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually. Pretty amazing right!?

Through our class, we have been focusing on the impact technologies have on writing. Typing is done through a technology – the computer. As a college student, I type at least one paper a night and end up printing it in Times New Roman per professor request, so I could be saying myself millions (well maybe not millions but close)! This idea of changing from handwritten to typed and now from typed to printed but in a better way.

Bolter expresses the concept of writing in the late age of print and how the remediation of print is occurring. Typing and printing documents is something that is not foreign to us, we do it all the time. But when we do it, do we really think about what we are printing and if it is necessary? Speaking from personal experience, I work in an office where paper is endless and comes from every direction – we are trying to get away from that and move to online, emailing, and so on. The amount of pointless information we print is a joke and if we are going to do – lets save some money!

I think this concept of changing something so simple as a font type to save the government millions is brilliant, and it only took a 14 year old to figure it out! If the government could save that much money by changing something so small – what else can they save money on and put to better use?

Next time I get asked to type a paper, I will happily type it and print it not in Time New Roman but in Garamond. Just saved myself a few bucks! Think about it the next time you need to print something – is it worth printing, do you need it, if so save some trees and save yourself some ink and doing all that saves YOU money. Woohoo!

Your Ad Here

The Tea Party Republicans have produced some colorful characters.  Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and Rick Perry among others have caught plenty of airtime with their personalities, whether for better or for worse.  Mitch McConnell is not one of them.  His low monotonous voice almost puts people to sleep.  But that all changed over night with one ad.


The ad is already weird enough.  It has no words.  Instead it is a slideshow of McConnell going through everyday tasks for a politician and sometimes simply giving a creepy smile into the camera.  It is enough to make anyone do a double take.  Then along came Jon Stewart.


Stewart mocks McConnell’s ad, which comes as no surprise given that his job is to mock (usually Republican) politicians.  But then he gave his loyal viewers some homework.  He says the video can work with any song and with a week off next week he tells his viewers to create their own mash-ups, with the hash tag #mcconelling.  With 1-2 million viewers on any given night, this hash-tag went viral.  As we learned last week in our readings, copyrights do not cover parodies, so McConnell’s ad is free to use by anyone wishing to make a hilarious mash-up with McConnell’s ad.

When Strangers Make-out

What is trending in the world of viral phenomena? Make outs! The latest viral sensation took place on YouTube, in a video about 20 stranger’s first kiss. The short film was written and directed by Tatia Pilieva in hopes to illustrate the raw emotion of a heart racing first kiss. The 20 strangers selected, consisted of a diverse group people. Gay, straight, old, young, Black, Asia and more took on the task was to kissing a total stranger for the first time.

This was not a task for many. We know that first kisses can be nerve racking or awkward. One couple even asked if they could turn the lights out for their kiss. Aside from the pre-kiss jitters p witnessed in the first few minutes if the video what happens next is magic.

Besides from the staged strangers kissing in this short film, the reality is that many people in their late teens and twenties have these kinds if experiences frequently but without the magic. One night stands or random make outs have become very common, and often have similar effects to the video. After the kiss, one girl turned to her guy and asked “what was your name again?” Although this film was tastefully done, showing the cutesy intimacy and awkward jitters, what was displayed in the film is just showed the cute facade of the dark reality of random hook-ups.

What’s so Funny?

When I think of viral videos in the past two years, three videos come to mind; Gangnam Style, The Harlem Shake, and What Does the Fox Say?  These videos went viral for one reason; they were weird.  What else was there to them?  Other than the sentence “Hey sexy lady” Gangnam Style is completely in Korean.  The Harlem Shake, well what on Earth was that?  What Does the Fox Say?  Imagine if that video was a serious educational video.  Nobody would watch it.  Personally, it disturbs me that being creative doesn’t count, it’s just got to be weird.

Think back to the days of sitcoms.  From the early days of Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy to the glory days of Full House and The Fresh Prince ofBel-Air, the shows had one thing in common that made them funny: good writing.  They had well timed jokes and odd moments that fit the script.  Today, we complain about the cartoons of the current generation vs. our cartoons.  We complain that theirs don’t have writing, that they are just odd and senseless.  And yet, we have fallen in love with the senseless videos of YouTube. 

What substance is there to a man pretending to ride a horse?  Most of us don’t even know what Gangnam Style is actually about.  It’s almost entirely in Korean.  We just pay attention to the goofy dance moves of Psy.  We’ve produced parodies that we can understand and probably dwarf the creativity that went into the original video (I believed I have watched a 30-second mass-up of Gangnam Style and Bill Nye the Science Guy more than the original video).  Personally, I despise The Harlem Shake as a waste of my time.  If I wanted to watch bad dancing I could look at myself in a mirror.  And What Does the Fox Say? contains some of the most obnoxious sounds I have ever heard.  The producers that made it have a hilarious series of elevator pranks that I find much cleverer than What Does the Fox Say? 

As a culture, we need to re-educate ourselves on what true comedy is.  We need to remind ourselves that a good video needs good work.  Yes it’s funny to occasionally laugh at someone wiping out on a skateboard or crashing into a pole.  But there needs to be a much better tilt towards what is truly funny.  I admit I like Family Guy, but Family Guy will never come close to the magic of The Simpsons.  That’s because The Simpsons is a throwback to a time when you needed to work to produce a good show.

Trust through Viral Videos

“Trust is a confusing thing. It seems so simple, but when you try to pin it down, it can be so elusive.”

Over 200,000 views within a week of being on YouTube, this viral video generated by the acrobatic group Cirque du Soleil explains the power and luxury of trust. Realistically, we think what does acrobats have to do with trust and what is a video going to show us. We learn trust through our own personal experiences. Watching this video will better explain how important the concept of trust truly is. For an acrobat – without trust, they can not do their job or perform to standards.

The video is narrated by BuzzFeed EVP Ze Frank. Ze Frank does a sensational job conveying how the two acrobats rely on one another for trust and support throughout their routine. Cirque du Soleil is something people around the word pay good amounts of money to watch but do not know what effort it takes to produce such a thrilling show.

Trust is something we all know, some may have it, some may not but it is in our daily lives. We trust our cars to get us to and from everyday right? I trust that my cell phone will work whenever I need it to. Regardless of the situation – trust is there.

An anthropological introduction to YouTube by Michael Wesch explains the idea on YouTube and the communication between sharing information. He states in the video that the web is not just to share information but to link people together, in ways never thought of before. This video about trust links people together from all around the world because it is accessible on YouTube and now multiple other sites from sharing it. Trust is an idea we all have, as I said before and this video can help connect people that may have not been connected before.

Someone with trust issues could have easily watched this video and realized how important trust is in a relationship, friendship, etc. and grow from watching it on the Internet and move forward as a better person. We don’t normally think of that when we click something do we? We click it because we like the content or our friends shared it or we have to because of an assignment or work. The internet and viral videos that get shared amongst people are more than just videos.


Selfie_CaptureSelfie? Taking a picture of oneself and uploading it to social media. You can’t admit that you have never taken a selfie!? Everyone has by now, even if it was with your dog – he needs to be in the selfie world too! Anyway, selfie was Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2013 and has taken over the internet and social media sites one by one.

So what is the big deal with people taking selfies? Selfies became so popular that two artists joined forces with the help of a marketing firm to create a song and video that has taken the radio by storm. The video represents the idea of a “selfie” and our world we live in today that is taken over by social media. This video also represents how engrossed we truly are with the social networking idea and getting people to “like” or pay attention to what we post. See my previous blog, The Perfect Post if you want people to notice what you write. Take a look at the popular video.

The song based off of pictures we take of ourselves is a general representation of the modern day picture. Rarely do you see people pulling out cameras and asking others to take photos for them. It is much easier to click the button on your iPhone to turn the camera around to front view and snap a selfie. Try it, you’ll be surprised how easy it is.

This idea of self portraits being the next big thing generates back to a video by Michael Wesch. The video explains how the machine, meaning the computer and the web is using us. Towards the end of this video, he explains that we need to rethink a few things based off of what we do on the internet. Things such as privacy, identity, authenticity, and so on. All of these things play a major role in posting selfies to a social media site accessible to just about anyone, anywhere, at any time.

When you post something, regardless if you delete it within minutes of it being posted – chances are someone, somewhere may have captured that within those few minutes. We do have capability to screen shot anything on a smart phone without the person knowing. Therefore, next time you post a selfie, think twice as to what you are posting and who is going to see that… but wait …. let me take a selfie 🙂

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