We Are The Disease

Spreading the Viral Phenomenon

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My Prezi

My Prezi is about how Facebook became the information ecology.  We spent a lot of time learning how to connect between different sites such as Twitter, Pocket, Feedly, and more.  But Facebook has already connected the internet.  We can do almost everything we did in class on Facebook.  We can share articles, share statuses, find articles, find news, and more.  It also discusses why we need to be technologically literate.  Speaking of technological literacy, I found out an easier way to sync the voiceover with the presentation.

Instead of recording a single voiceover, which you carefully have to sync with the slide times, you can record separate voiceovers for every slide.  When you click insert, instead of clicking “Add background music”, click “Add voiceover to path-step music”.  You also don’t need to set it to a timer; Prezi will automatically change to the next slide once the voiceover is done.  To watch my, simply start the presentation and enjoy.




Who’s List is it Anyway?

We learned about copyright laws in several videos made during class.  We learned about the exceptions to copyright; such as for critical review or parody.  Recently, Jimmy Fallon parodied David Letterman’s signature Top Ten List, complete with graphics and font that are almost identical to Letterman’s.  (Spoiler Alert) He even ends it with “Jimmy Fallon is stealing his bits.”  This parody has become a hit.  Fallon showed us why copyright exceptions need to be made for parodies; it provides for some great entertainment.

The exception to copyrights for parodies has provided us with some great entertainment.  In an earlier post, I mentioned a parody of Gangnam Style featuring Bill Nye the Science Guy.  The copyright exception has allowed Weird Al to make a living.  It allowed for the video A Fair(y) Use Tale, which we used in class.  And it allowed Jimmy Fallon to make a hilarious knock-off of Letterman’s Top Ten List.

As many of us have already heard, Letterman will be retiring as host of his long-running late night TV show, The Late Show with David Letterman, whose name gave rise to The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (now with Craig Ferguson).  Fallon paid tribute to the shows signature sketch, the Top Ten List.  Fallon presented the top ten reasons David Letterman is retiring.  His presentation wasn’t just a top ten list.   He stole every aspect of Letterman’s Top Ten List.  He read off of the same blue cards Letterman does (albeit with the Tonight Show logo), used a similar introduction, and used an identical font and background to what Letterman uses.  This identical copy of Letterman’s list made Fallon’s sketch a bigger hit; anything else would have been seen as a cheap knock-off, a half-assed try.  But Fallon played the letter of the law perfectly and has given us some wonderful comedy heading into the weekend.


One last note: David Letterman’s list is officially named The Late Show Top Ten List.  Why?  It was simply called the Top Ten List while Letterman was on Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, but when he moved to CBS, NBC claimed they owned the rights to the Top Ten List.  So Letterman changed the name and made the sketch his.

#CancelColbert: Racist or Not?

Stephen Colbert has made a living parodying controversial right-wing pundits.  Now he has his own controversy.  Last week, Colbert mocked The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation by creating his own racially insensitive foundationTheChing-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.  Shortly after the segment aired, @ColbertReport, a Twitter account not run by Stephen Colbert, posted this tweet:


The world took notice and the hashtag #cancelcolbert went viral last weekend.  People called for Colbert to be fired over the segment, claiming it was racist.  However, Colbert had a lot of supporters, with fans pointing out that the tweet was taken out of context and his foundation was mocking the Redskins for their hypocritical foundation.  So why did it go viral?

Today we live in a culture of sensitivity.  Every December, we hear the complaints that we cannot say “Merry Christmas” anymore; instead we must say “Happy Holidays” to accommodate for those who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanza.  The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux were forced by the NCAA to change their name, despite a lawsuit from the local Sioux tribe who felt honored by the nickname and wanted UND to keep the name (they lost the lawsuit).  Some argue that even the Redskins’ name controversy may be an overreaction; a poll by the Annenburg Public Policy Center in 2004 found that 90 percent of Native Americans do not consider the term “redskin” offensive and several Native America high schools use “redskin” as their nicknames.  Colbert aired his response last night, in which we defended the organization but agreed to shut it down, and brought Asian chief foundation officer James out to tell him he was being laid off. So was cancel Colbert and overreaction in an oversensitive culture, or do people have a legitimate point?


Source: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9689220/redskins-name-change-not-easy-sounds

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.

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.

From out of nowhere

We talk a lot about what goes viral on the internet.  Viral videos, viral trends, hashtags, etc.  But what about viral news?  We never think about news as being viral but it certainly is.  What makes certain news items catch our attention?  Important people such as the President or a celebrity make news.  They are names we are familiar with and people we care about despite having never met them or contacted them.  But what about the Malaysian Airlines crash?  Why has this captivated our attention?  How is it different from any other plane crash?  The answer is the search for answers.

Curiosity is in human nature.  We want to know where we came from, how things work, and what our place is in the universe.  And we want to know what happened to that airplane.  There is no trace of the airplane, not a shard of metal in the ocean, no last message broadcasted from the plane, and no eyewitnesses.  News outlets and reported that the plane “disappeared”. But things don’t just disappear.  The plane, or remnants of the plane, must have gone somewhere.  It is that mystery that draws us in.  All we know is that something happened to that plane.  We don’t know what happened, who did it, or where it is.  People are asking their friends, “What do you think happened to that plane?” knowing that their friend has no idea.  But they want to hear his or her theory.  The want another scenario in their head.  They want to solve this great mystery.

77 years ago, Amelia Earhart disappeared in her airplane over the Pacific Ocean.  Today we still talk about her, we wonder what happened, and we search for her wreckage.  Another plane has disappeared in the Pacific without a trace and we wonder, will we find the wreckage, or is this the Amelia Earhart of our times?

The Computer is Viral

            J.D. Bolter’s two articles, Writing in the Late Age of Print and Writing as a Technology sum up the new role of writing in the 21st century.  Writing in the Late Age of Print does a wonderful job predicting the future of the computer.  Writing as a Technology does a good job of comparing the computer and its revolution to the revolutions created by past writing technologies.  Both articles do an excellent job summing up the role of the computer.

Writing in the Late Age of Print, written in 2001, almost perfectly describes the role of the computer today.  He correctly predicts the future of e-books.  E-books have already been invented in 2001, but they were not as prevalent as today, due to their lack of portability.  Bolter says on page 8, “Machines have diminished dramatically in size and in price during the past 40 years, and computer screens are becoming more readable.  Some portable computers already have the bulk and weight of notebooks, and it is not hard to imagine one whose screen is as legible as a printed page.  Bolter also does a good job of predicting the role of printed books in the 21st century.  He says that role of books will diminish as more people use digital technology, but they will not completely go away for at least another half century, if not longer.  The worst case scenario for printed books is that the older generation will keep books around for a few more decades before dying away.  It is hard to imagine any other scenario for books.

Writing as a Technology compares the computer today to the technological inventions of the past.  He tells us how each writing technology made writing easier and eventually made the old way obsolete, but not before going through several changes.  He talks about how the printing press made books not only easier to produces, but lighter over time.  Bolter talks about how each technology shift is a “‘remediation,’ in that the sense that a newer medium takes the place of an older one, borrowing and reorganizing the characteristics of writing in the older medium and reforming its cultural space.”  For example, papyrus took the oral tradition of telling stories and allowed people to write them down.  The computer continues the tradition of writing down printed words the way a typewriter did, but it allows us to instantly publish it onto the internet. The technological revolution of the 2000s is going the same way that every other technological revolution has before.

Bolter’s two pieces about the computer do a create job summing up the role of the computer.  They predict where the computer is headed based up what Bolter observes as well as what has happened with past revolutions such as the printing press.  It seems every revolution plays out the same way, including this one.  Someday, a new technology will replace the computer and someone will write the same articles as Bolter about the new technology.

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