On Memes, Payback, and Illogical Conclusions

The rise of the internet meme has been a largely amusing thing: keyboard cat, Hitler ranting on issues of the moment, and of course, Kanye.  Kanye, Kanye, Kanye/Hitler… But like anything that soars in popularity and finds a way to touch the masses, it can be turned and used…less positively.

Watch this video of Gilbert Gottfried roasting his friend Bob Saget in 2008…  It is only a minute–just watch it, I’ll wait…

Admittedly, that’s a harsh joke.  But it’s ragging between comedians–one of whom does a decidedly-filthy version of The Aristocrats joke–and it’s on a platform that’s intended to be outrageous.  Remarkably. this is the explanation used to explain what inspired one man’s response to something he believed to be outrageous–talk radio, specifically the Glenn Beck show.  This guy’s response? glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com

Teach Your Children Well

Teach Your Children Well

The site positions itself as a sort of social experiment, cataloguing and measuring the responses it generates.  And the author defends his intentions by claiming to be mirroring the same kind of willful, agenda-serving truth-bending that Mr. Beck regularly employs.  Further, he cites how the word ‘parody’ appears again and again throughout the homepage.  Yet the basic provocation remains, a snarky, one-sided smear along the lines of that classic unanswerable yes or no question: ‘do you still beat your wife?’

It will be up to the courts to decide whether an offensive domain name constitutes defamation, but the sad truth remains; we’ve become a society riven by shouting, by insults, by loud voices amplifying narrow perspectives. I’m not a fan of political commentary performed by anyone aside from maybe Letterman and Stewart–the opinions are too shrill, too strident, too focused on convenient framings of blame.

If this is how we disagree, maybe we all need to go back to school.  Or at least Sunday School.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

As The Web Hits A Growth Spurt, Filters Will Become In-Demand Apps

Earlier this week, the networking geniuses at Cisco released a white paper report that predicts global internet traffic will grow four times larger by 2013.  That means IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 40%.  To put that in perspective, that new traffic level equals ten billion DVD’s crossing the internet each month.  Said more colloquially, that is a damned crapload of data and content.  Moreover, nearly two-thirds of that content is predicted to be video.  By 2013, anyone interested in watching all the online video crossing the network in one day would need roughly twenty thousand years.  That’s a lot of keyboard cat...

Sure, We're Wired For That

Sure, We're Wired For That...Probably

And a whole lot of everything else.  Which quickly becomes a problem.  When you have that large an audience generating that much content, useful information gets lost in sheer volume.  We know this from experience.  Think of Twitter.  If you’re like us (@Element79), you compulsively follow everyone who follows you.  The problem with that philosophy is that some of your followers are officially spammers while others tweet so relentlessly they make themselves defacto spammers.  The net result is too much garbage in and a far less useful experience.  Easy access to high volumes of raw, unfettered data frequently leads to ‘analysis paralysis’ where whomever gathers the thinking becomes overwhelmed with the feeling that they are never done, that they never have all the best sources. Unless you turn data into information, it’s simply noise.

That’s why programmers should be obsessed with developing software that discriminates, filters, and discerns.  Too much information doesn’t inspire, it overwhelms.  Even worse, too much poor quality information actively turns people away.  As the volume of collective-thinking continues it’s exponential expansion rate, we will need more tools to strip away the extraneous and the irrelevant.

Growth can be incredibly awkward–and I have the teenage photos to prove that–but a little bit of advance planning can smooth the transition.  What’s needed now are the right brains on tools to intelligently judge worthy information and winnow away the chaff.  What’s needed soon is the grand promises of Web 3.0.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79