kottke.org posts about memes
Not so long ago, on May 24th, IMDB message board participant beachedblonde coined a new phrase: nuke the fridge. Here's the definition from the Urban Dictionary...it's roughly equivalent to jumping the shark:
A colloquialism used to delineate the precise moment at which a cinematic franchise has crossed over from remote plausibility to self parodying absurdity, usually indicating a low point in the series from which it is unlikely to recover. A reference to one of the opening scenes of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in which the titular hero manages to avoid death by nuclear explosion by hiding inside a kitchen refrigerator.
Man, when Peter Parker started doing the emo dance in Spider-Man 3, that franchise officially nuked the fridge.
Since then, things have progressed quickly. The original posting seems to have been deleted but the phrase caught on, infected other message boards and web sites, and is now a full-blown meme on the verge of nuking the fridge itself. Google currently returns close to 16,000 results for variations on the phrase. Some participants in the IMDB forums have already grown tired of the phrase's repeated use. A Wikipedia page was created and has already been deleted (reason: "Protologism with no RELIABLE sources evidencing more than extremely limited usage"). A web site dedicated to the meme is available at nukingthefridge.com, not to be confused with the movie review blog at nukedthefridge.com. And of course, no meme these days is complete without the proper new media accoutrements: Facebook page, MySpace page, t-shirt, YouTube page, an auction to sell the domain name, and a post on a large-ish general interest blog way after the whole thing's already played out. I only heard it for the first time an hour ago and I'm already sick of it. Memes seem to be spreading so rapidly now on the web that they burn out before they can properly establish themselves. It'll be interesting to see if nuke the fridge makes it through this ultra-virulent phase and somehow slows down enough to jump to casual mainstream usage. (via cyn-c)
File this one under holy crap!
It starts with clapclap, goes by way of waxy, has a via clusterflock, on to Kottke (who has a guest blogger, no less), then designing god Michael Beirut puts it in Design Observer's column, bloggies like this one join suit....and...voila: "Hallelujah" is the number one song on iTunes. Awesome.
I just checked, and sure enough, Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah is the #1 single on iTunes right now. Not sure it's an exact cause and effect, but cool nonetheless.
Update: Jon writes:
I noticed the same thing and blogged a very similar post earlier today, but my guess is that the itunes ranking has more to do with the song being sung by the contestant on american idol this week and the judges subsequently mentioning their love for the buckley version -- thus driving the american idol traffic to itunes. not that we aren't the web of course but . . . .
It looks like humans are just as capable of forming bonds with robots as they are with dogs. Perhaps the robot dogs will comfort us while we propagate memes for our machine overlords.
Speaking of memes, Susan Blackmore theorizes that humans are just machines for propagating them.
Memes are using human brains as their copying machinery. So we need to understand the way human beings work.
Up until very recently in the world of memes, humans did all the varying and selecting. We had machines that copied -- photocopiers, printing presses -- but only very recently do we have artificial machines that also produce the variations, for example (software that) mixes up ideas and produces an essay or neural networks that produce new music and do the selecting. There are machines that will choose which music you listen to. It's all shifting that way because evolution by natural selection is inevitable. There's a shift to the machines doing all of that.
When asked what the future will look like, she says, "it will look like humans are just a minor thing on this planet with masses (of) silicon-based machinery using us to drag stuff out of the ground to build more machines."
Nomination for the most useless new word of 2007: beme. A beme is a meme that spreads via blogs and those that create and spread them are called bemerz.
Richard Dawkins answers some questions from readers of the Independent. "Terrible things have been done in the name of Christ, but all he ever taught was peace and love. What's wrong with that?"
A quick meme I found on Rivers are Damp:
Go here and look through random quotes until you find five that you think reflect who you are or what you believe.
Here are my five:
- Most advances in science come when a person for one reason or another is forced to change fields. (Peter Borden)
- The minute one utters a certainty, the opposite comes to mind. (May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, 1965)
- Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. (Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), Walden)
- It's asking a great deal that things should appeal to your reason as well as your sense of the aesthetic. (W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965), 'Of Human Bondage', 1915)
- Your best shot at happiness, self-worth and personal satisfaction - the things that constitute real success - is not in earning as much as you can but in performing as well as you can something that you consider worthwhile. (William Raspberry)
The Internet is going to be switched off tomorrow. What five things are you going to print out?
Six Apart recently launched a preview version of their new Vox blogging service. When you log in to Vox, one of the first things you notice on the front page is the Question of the Day followed by a quick posting box. Answer the question, press "continue", and you've got yourself a blog post. I asked Six Apart president Mena Trott how the feature came about.
Jason: Everyone loves the Question of the Day feature on Vox. The QotD cleverly formalizes the memes that travel through LiveJournal and the blogosphere at large, making it OK for the kind of people who hate email joke forwards to participate collectively in something on a regular basis. Who is responsible for generating these questions? Are they recycled memes from LJ or do you have some meme genius working for 6A?
Mena: Question of the Day actually started in a design comp I did -- meaning it hadn't been specified in any product requirements docs. I was creating the Vox dashboard and realized that the one thing really missing from the page was a call to action. So, I tried to think what would be the one thing that would make me want to post and the Question of the Day made total sense.
You're exactly correct in saying that we're wanting to legitimize the behavior we've seen in email (forwards). It's all about trying to figure out the behavior that would make my mom feel comfortable posting or make someone not feel overwhelmed by a big white posting box.
If you remember the Four Things meme that floated around a couple months ago, you'll recall that this simple meme got people (like me) to post on their blogs after significant absences. We wanted to capture that sort of motivator.
And of course, LiveJournal is the inspiration for all of this.
As far as who creates the questions, we have a scratchpad that is generated by various members of the staff as well as suggestions that come in from our feedback forms. We're still in such an early stage of Vox that these questions are evolving daily. One thing we've seen, however, is that the two topics that people most like to answer questions about are nostalgia (favorite childhood candy, childhood fears, etc...) and media-based (favorite movie, song that makes you happy, anything television).
Some questions, surprisingly bomb in an unexpected way. In April, I posed the question "If you had a time machine and could travel anywhere in time, where would you go and why?" It's a difficult question for those who don't obsess about time travel as much as I do. And, I have to admit, I made it question of the day since *I* had my own answer. Still, I'd love to try this one again now that more people are in Vox.
Thanks, Mena. Sometimes it's these little things, tiny addictive hooks, that make the difference between a product taking off, and Vox's QotD is a nice hook indeed. (Also, I'm totally with you on the time travel question.)
Update: Mena posted some more info about the QotD on Vox.
Lest we forget, Steven Frank reminds us that for quite a few years (which period roughly coincides with Steve Jobs' absence from Apple), the Macintosh experience wasn't all it could have been. In the midst of those dark times, I made a post about how frustrated I was with the Macintosh.
I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this 300 mhz machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.
At my first web design job -- at a company that used to sell and service Macintosh computers -- they had Macs on all the desks. When I left a year and a half later, everyone had Dells running NT 4.0 instead; the difference in speed, stability, and price was not even close at that time. I didn't use another Mac until I bought an iBook after the second coming of Jobs and the advent of OS X.
BTW, that Mac sucks post has become something of a meme on Slashdot. It's been used to call out Java 1.4.2 fanatics, TI fanatics, SGI lava lamp fanatics, Apple laywers, Mac Mini hard drive performance, cat fanatics, Google fanatics, Amiga fanatics, Pittsburgh professors, Apple I fanatics, trolling losers, and so on.
Matt used MacSaber and his new MacBook to recreate the Star Wars kid video. In related news, the Portland, Oregon area reported a huge nerdquake this afternoon.
Google Trend graph for "the" and "and". I would have expected them to be flatter.
Caterina tagged me and it's Friday, so what the hell?
Four jobs I've had:
1. Minimum wage worker, green bean canning factory
2. Tutor, in college physics
3. Web designer, for about 6 different companies
4. Blogger, kottke.org
Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Ocean's Eleven
2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
3. The Day After Tomorrow
4. Finding Nemo
Four places I've lived:
2. Rolla, MO
3. New York
4. San Francisco
Four TV shows I love:
1. Six Feet Under
2. Doctor Who (the original series)
3. Family Guy
4. Oh gosh, I dunno
Ten highly regarded and recommended TV shows that I've never watched a single minute of:
3. The Sopranos
4. Any reality TV show
5. Arrested Development
6. Battlestar Galactica
7. My Name is Earl
9. Desperate Housewives
10. The Wire
Four places I've vacationed:
1. Kauai, HI
4. Rapid City, SD
Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Bologna sandwich
2. Soup dumplings
3. Cinnamon ice cream
4. Just about anything on a tasting menu
Four sites I visit daily:
Four places I would rather be right now:
1. In a bathtub
2. On the beach
3. In space
Four bloggers I am tagging (but who won't do it because they're too old school...how's that for a taunt?):
1. Meg Hourihan
2. Matt Haughey
3. Paul Bausch
4. Anil Dash
 I added this question because I was thinking about it the other day. I know, such a bad-ass rule-breaker.
This one guy tried to get the word "sweatshop" printed on his custom Nike shoes and Nike wouldn't let him. "The Personal iD on my custom ZOOM XC USA running shoes was the word 'sweatshop.' Sweatshop is not: 1) another's party's trademark, 2) the name of an athlete, 3) blank, or 4) profanity. I choose the iD because I wanted to remember the toil and labor of the children that made my shoes. Could you please ship them to me immediately."
Hahaha! Look at all those hampsters dancing. Be sure to turn up the sound on this one!
As I was walking home this evening, a little girl was riding her bike in the middle of the street. She still had the training wheels on as she wobbled and struggled to peddle. It reminded me of when I was little and how badly I wanted a bicycle but couldn't get one. My parents wouldn't let me have a bike until I was 12; my mom was too afraid I'd hurt myself. I'd pass the bike section in the store and just look, having given up asking my parents about it long ago. I eventually did get one after much pleading and begging. Amazingly, getting my driver's license at 16 and the subsequent borrowing of the family car passed without incident.