Some Friday Video (Very) Awesome

God love the internet.  Seriously…

You might not have heard of Keenan Cahill but chances are, you’ll recognize him. This fifteen year old kid with the MacBook Pro in his Chicago bedroom has racked up nearly 70,000,000 hits on his YouTube channel, mostly by lip-synching to hits by Katy Perry, Bonnie Tyler and Michael Jackson.  And now, in a bit of meta, he’s featured in the video for Fifty Cent’s newest release “Down On Me.”

This is a kid with a rare genetic disorder called Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome.  But he’s not known for that.  He’s known for this.  Known for this enough that Fifty Cent sought him out for his latest video.

God love the internet.  Seriously…  Happy Friday.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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Tiger Woods’ Problems Do All Kinds of Good for Yahoo!

Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz has a well-earned reputation for being atypically blunt as a corporate leader.  Yesterday, she spoke at a UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, where she addressed the topic of recent site traffic surges and how that will help her company reach their quarterly revenue targets.

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“God bless Tiger.  This week we got a huge uplift…Better than Michael Jackson dying.  Kind of hard to put an ad up next to a funeral.”

Now she said this because apparently, the golfer’s had some sort of trouble at home…

Better still for Yahoo! the Tiger stories around these revelations extend far beyond the sports page to include front page news, media and gossip.  When it comes to analyzing embarrassing, salacious details of one of the world’s highest profile celebrities, we can’t get enough.  And so we all watch the legacy of the world’s greatest golfer crumble down to the level of say, Jon Gosselin.

The news business has long leveraged our appetite for mucking about in humanity’s seamier topics while keeping our own hands clean.  Fox News’ famous “If it bleeds, it leads” philosophy behind it’s early nightly newscasts still sounds horrifyingly sordid some twenty years later.

We may be in the world of new media, but the song remains the same.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

On Twitter, Social Immediacy, and the Recurring Non-Death of Jeff Goldblum

We seem to have hit a rough patch for celebrity deaths this past week: Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and just yesterday, pitchman Billy Mays.  The demise of Michael Jackson in particular captured worldwide interest and led to all sorts of tributes and memorials, from BET to the cover of every major newspaper.

As is now the case with any breaking story with such magnitude of human interest, online usage spiked as people sought to learn what happened as it happened: for a short while, Twitter actually shut down and Google returned error messages for searches related to “Michael Jackson,” assuming that the volume of inquiries indicated some sort of automated attack on its servers.  For one hour last Thursday night, over one of every five tweets referenced Michael Jackson.

The interval between when TMZ announced his death and when more reputable outlets followed suit will provide fodder for journalists to debate for years; what caught my attention–courtesy of our ever aware planner Lance Hill–was the corresponding rumor that Jeff Goldblum had also died.  Oddly, Mr. Goldblum seems to be a more modern version of Abe Vigoda: rumors of his death first popped up ten years ago.  Picture 3If you check the chart at left, courtesy of the Twitter trend monitoring service  Twist, both Goldblum and Harrison Ford shared temporary obituaries late last week.  The ever-useful rumor-quashing site Snopes reports that these rumors originate via an automated prank; some ‘comedy’ websites encourage you to enter a celebrity’s name into a ‘fake news generator’ and then spread the story–similar rumors spreada few years ago about both Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks.  And apparently these fake story generators favor Hollywood deaths that involve the ‘victim’ falling off a mountain during a location shoot in New Zealand.  Go figure…

Social Media provide untold value–not only to enable us to connect more frequently in our time-starved culture, but also to provide a first person outlet for critical news as it breaks.  The recent coverage of the massive post-election protests on the streets of Iran would have been far less-comprehensive without the first-person details passed along via Twitter.  But as author and social media commentator Clay Shirky points out, having this vast distribution network accessible to everyone makes it all but impossible to define what constitutes a ‘journalist’ anymore.  Further, without being bound to the principles–and legal ramifications–of traditional journalism, false stories spread much further, much faster.  On the upside, ‘wiki’ principles hold true in these case as well; the majority of social media users want to know the truth and will quickly rise up to correct erroneous stories as they find them.

It takes a village indeed.  And online, that village is very, very large.  And loud.  And occasionally wrong.  But inevitably corrected.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79