From his junior high lunch table to his clothing stores: Keeping the nerds out.

If you told me Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries was a bully in high school, I would definitely believe you. In fact, I definitely wouldn’t believe you if you told me otherwise. Jeffries has always been known for being edgy and controversial. For example he received a lot of heat for over sexualizing little girls. His response? “I still think those are cute underwear for little girls. And I think anybody who gets on a bandwagon about thongs for little girls is crazy. Just crazy!… I can see getting upset about letting your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs, but why would you let your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs?” This guy really irks me, not only because of what he says, but how he says it. He actually does talk like a paradigmatic high school bully would talk; between the plastic surgeries, vernacular and clothing, one would think it’s like he’s trying to relive the glory days. It’s likely because he gives of this bully impression that the internet has banded together through their singular loathing for this man, especially after his recent comments. The thing that caused the current stir, and has also brought all Jeffries past transgression back into the spot light, was this statement he made to an interviewer questions his the apparent prejudice reflected in his clothing store’s policy about plus sized apparel.

“ In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

He is also quoted as saying that he doesn’t want his core customers, aka the ‘cool kids’ to “see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing our clothing.” It’s like the man hasn’t matured at all since 10nth grade.

“Dude, I’m not some old fart”

Well said, 60's Spiderman.

Well said, 60’s Spiderman.

Actually ‘my homie’ you are. You are in your 60’s and you still can’t stop picking on the nerdy kids. How someone with such awful public relational skills could have even got to his position is beyond me. A CEO saying stupid things that hurt his company is not a new scenario, but social media has turned this into one of the biggest PR blunders in recent history. This man’s story is all over the web, and is an extremely popular topic in cultural hubs of the internet. Jeffries is also well on his way to being immortalized through meme culture, but not in any way the image-obsessed CEO would like. For all the work he’s put into trying to stay youthful, memes have been cropping up everywhere picking up on the fact that Jeffries himself has quite a disturbing outward appearance.  Don’t worry Jeffries, at least your beautiful on the inside…okay well at least you’ve got money. But you aren’t very popular right now. The Web is disappoint.

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The Very Best

I wanna be, the very best.

Like no product ever was,

Cultural phenom, it’s no jest

I’m in every medium

If you grew up in the 90’s and had a TV and a heart, you’ll recognize that above is a parody of the iconic pokémon theme song. Pokémon, which word thinks is a proper noun for some reason, is hands down the most successful product of all time in permeating, and succeeding in, multiple forms of media.

 

x, x everywhere meme

x, x everywhere meme

For TV, the pokémon anime has been a hit show around the world for over 16 years. For reference, that’s 5 years longer than M*A*S*H, and the series continues to make new episodes. In fact, with a fresh installment of brand new pokémon to be released this coming October, the series isn’t even beginning to slow down.  The show has also come out with 15 movies, making it the largest movie franchises by titles released in theatres to date. The first three of these movies had international theatre releases as well, the first of which grossed 85 million dollars in North America alone. The combined gross revenue of the first three movies worldwide was over 365 million dollars, which is more money than was generated by Toy Story. The films’ success is even more impressive considering that these are movies based off a television series.  For animated films based off of TV series, the first three films hold the titles 2nd most successful, 5th most successful and 10th most successful respectively, with the first movie being beaten only by the Simpsons Movie. The Gameboy games have been the series greatest success, being the third most successful game franchise of all time behind only Mario and Super Mario. Over 220 million copies of pokémon games have been sold worldwide. If there was a country comprised of one person for every pokémon game sold, it would be the 5th most populace country on earth. The lovable creatures, the engaging battle system of the games, the terrific artwork and mass appeal of pokémon will ensure that pokémon will only continue to grow as a cultural powerhouse. Hail Arceus.

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How to Win the Internet

In my new media class, we’ve spent a lot of time looking at how one presents their online identity, the structure of social networks, and the paradigm of web 2.0. To help understand such concepts, we’ve done a bunch of readings. Some were pedantic, some informative, some silly, and others were all at once. But the one question I kept having to ask myself was—has this person ever been online? To some, that may sound ridiculous. Everyone uses the internet, they might say. Even though people use the internet, it always amazes me how these users could go online every day and somehow be completely oblivious to the rich culture of the internet. Even my little brother, who spends hours on Facebook, was completely oblivious when I made an overly manly man reference. There are also people who still don’t know what a brony is, despite the fact that the brony fanbase has completely overrun all hubs of internet culture like Reddit, 4chan, Memebase, and Knowyourmeme. Whether you like them, hate them, or are them, how can you possibly miss them? They are the most active fanbase on the web hands down. That’s when I realized I was surprised someone could not know memes. Boy have things changed.

While meme culture is now everywhere and is now known (at least partially) by most college students I encounter, it wasn’t too long ago that meme knowledge was a rare thing known only among internet enthusiasts. It was seen as a mark of prestige to be aware of internet culture, and the more memes one knew the more savvy one was. The more popularity memes became however, the more the web masters had to guard their secret cat pictures. Much like the Indie music scene, once a meme became too popular, that was it. Like a parent trying to be cool, mainstream media attention only served to ruin a meme. Even though many people would consider Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block to be fairly removed from the mainstream, Adult Swim caused quite a stir when during one of their signature ‘bumps’ during commercials they showed an image macro of the meme Insanity Wolf. Many web savvy people were outraged that Adult Swim would drag such a popular meme out into the limelight, but this was far from the beginning. The worst case of this was when the extremely popular animated show Family guy featured a scene featuring Trololo Guy, who proceeded to sing his signature Trololo song. This was one of the most beloved memes in history, and here it was involved in a disaster akin to the ‘selling out’ of Fallout Boy. Then the whole planking disaster happened, where tons of n00b little kids thought they knew memes because they did stupid poses in Facebook pictures. At this point, the secret is out. Keyboard Cat even had his own pistachio nut commercial. Looks like the cat’s out of the bag says Lame Pun Raccoon.  At first the internetites were like ‘I don’t want to live on this planet anymore’ but then they were like okay.jpg. If you recognized any memes in that last sentence, you win the internet. If not…

 

welcome_to_the_internet_1193

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO- Darth Vader

If only we had known. We laughed and joked, we made image macros putting the EA logo on Darth Vader’s face and the cover of a franchise EA had ruined over a lieutenant.  We made EA’s CEO out to be Darth Sidious and drew comparisons.  Why? Because EA was the evil empire and we were Leia watching helplessly as our favorite titles and production studies were blown to smithereens by the main cannon. EA has garnered so much hate from fans by ruining all the games they produce, selling out quality to appeal to the lowest common denominator, fixing game reviews, sealing on-disk content away by DRM, and squeezing every last buck they can out of players through numerous post purchase charges. EA is huge, usurping other game producers all the time, and as they’re profits fall, they may be taking the gaming industry down with them. If they wanted our money, they could have just made good games. Instead they constantly serve as a reminder that making the games we are passionate about is nothing but a game to them. It’s through this commercialism and money grubbing schemes over good games that earned EA the title of evil empire, and so we mocked them, completely unaware that the empire was…about to strike back.

When Disney purchased Star Wars, geeks all over the web raved and ranted about what was in store for one of the greatest cult classics of all time. Not to be confused with Star Trek, which is also cool but not as good (come at me trekkies). Anyway, in Disney’s first major power play as the master of Star Wars, Disney pulled a scar and let the struggling Lucas Arts fall into the stampede of gazelle. Yes, I’m making too many metaphors, the lame is strong in this one. So after the initial shock and disappointment after losing the guys that brought us battlefield 2, we remembered that these were the same guys who then decided not to finish battlefield 3. So now we were all just hoping this wasn’t the end of Star Wars games.

Some said that this was the end. Some said that it couldn’t be so; Disney must have plans to have someone else produce the games. The sad truth is that they were both right.

From GammerBliss.com

From GammerBliss.com

 

Will EA surprise us all with a new hope, or has Disney thrown our hopes down the sarlacc pit? And what does it say about me that I didn’t have to look up the spelling for sarlacc? I guess time will tell.

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Do you even Internets Bro?

After reading Liu’s article called Social Network Profiles as Taste Performance, I couldn’t help but be slightly amused. There are certain things in this world that are hard to quantify. Things like love, freedom, justice and the like just sound far less concise, at least to me, when they are over analyzed. Last semester in my English 101 class, we all enjoyed a good laugh at a critical examination of rapper MIMS song “this is why I’m hot”. The song was examined in parody but trying to rationalize exactly what made MIMS so hot, and the relationship that shared to the state of being ‘fly’. Maybe it’s because of a generational gap and the fact that I grew up immersed in social media, but I really got a kick out of all the time, computing, and extensive research that went in to proving hypotheses that I considered to be obviously factual.  Take these hypotheses for example.

H2a: MySpace users will craft their SNP lists of interests so as to assert their prestige.

H2b: MySpace users will craft their SNP lists of interests so as to differentiate themselves from

their peers

To translate this into English, it’s basically just saying that people will try to make themselves look cool and unique in their profiles.

You don’t say?

I think the funniest part came in when Liu was synthesizing the dual roles of performance and coherence.

Since mindfulness about expressive coherence and self-censorship of destructive information signal that a performance is underway (Goffman, 1959), this slope suggests that users with obscure interests are engaged in performance (Liu et al 270).

Silly Liu, those aren’t a new species unknown to science. Such people have already been identified as hypovoidance mainstreamus, or ‘hipsters’ in colloquial terms. You know, those people who all dress the same to avoid conforming? Okay, so maybe these concepts haven’t been as fleshed out irl (egads, the language of the natives! STUDY IT IMMEDIATELY) but is this really much different than when someone walks around covered in brands, t-shirts and hats? Or when a varsity athlete wears a beret to show he has a sensitive side? Anyone with a grasp for the subtle nuances of high school should have picked this up from another school—the school of hard knocks. Any of these sound familiar?

“Samantha, you can’t wear that skirt, that’s my thing.”

“Wow Greg, could you look like more of a bro right now? Tone it down.”

Joey:“Hey Tom did you download the new (insert band Tom has never heard of) album?”

Tom: “Uh…duh man you know it!”

Joey: “What’s your favorite song”

Tom: “I like them all man but haven’t really listened to them enough to get that sense yet. The baseline in that one song is sick though, not gonna lie”

Spoken like a true champion of high school Tom. Well done. Anyway, my point here is that conveying an identity isn’t something new, we just have new ways to do it now. I guess that the reason I can’t stand Facebook and its ilk is that I always hated putting on that kinda show. I guess that’s weird, considering that I’m an actor/singer who loves attention, but I never felt like posting who I was. Coherent or not, I am who I am, and I don’t need 7000 random people to click my profile to feel validated. There is only one way to show that you don’t care about conforming or being cool or being unique or whatever. Just don’t care. Make friends. Wear clothes that are comfortable. I’m a whole lot happier after making that choice.

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So do you want to be friends on the facebook

First off all, let me just throw this out there. The phrase ‘the facebook’ is pretty much one of the funniest things old people can say. Wanna know what else is funny? A paper talking about the cultural significance of myspace. I’m 21 and my kids won’t even know what Myspace is. Facebook is a slightly different story, but I personally hate their user interface. As usual, the inspiration for this post is an article I recently read by one Danah Boyd. In the article she talks about the social structure of linked profile based “friending” sites, particularily Myspace and something called Friendster.

This is where things get a bit awkward for me. Normally, I’m about as big a supporter of technology integration and Web 2.0 as one can get. Remember that robot arm from the previous post? I want one, if only so I can attach a laser pointer that was activated by the phrase “go go gadget laser pointer”. I don’t listen to music I can’t get for free legally to spite the recording industry. I’m the last person one would expect to hate on the facebook. Yet, here I am, a guy who spends half his free time in front of a computer screen, with maybe .5% of that time going to the book of face. How is this possible? Truth be told, I’ve always hated facebook.

funny-Facebook-people-Fry-meme

I’ve found out about 2 break ups from facebook. I get friend requests from people I barely know nonstop, and in the off chance I do go on, I forget about it in another tab Then when I’m in the middle of a game/homework/nothing of any importance but still don’t wanna be bugged, I get a message from someone I haven’t seen or talked to in months asking me what I’ve been up to all this time.  I like my online communication the way I like most things. Fast, to the point, and not initiated without my consent. One quote from the text really struck a chord with me.

Finally, there are significant social costs to rejecting someone (boyd 2004). While it’s obvious why people would link to people that they know and like, it is sometimes difficult to explain why people Friend people they dislike, people who they hold power over or who hold power over them, and other awkward relationships. In short, it’s socially awkward to say no. When a Friend request is sent, the recipient is given two options: accept or decline. This is usually listed under a list of pending connections that do not disappear until one of the two choices is selected. While most systems do not notify the sender of a recipient’s decline, the sender can infer  negative response if the request does not result in their pages being linked. Additionally, many systems let the sender see which of their requests is still pending. Thus, they know whether or not the recipient acted upon it. This feature encourages recipients to leave an awkward relationship as pending but to complicate matters, most systems also display when a person last logged in on their Profile. Since it is generally known that the pending list is the first thing you see when you login, it is considered rude to login and not respond to a request. For all of these reasons, it’s much easier to just say yes than to face questions about why the sender was ignored or declined.

It’s this type of awkward social dynamic that I can’t stand. A past girlfriend once ignored me for a whole day because I hadn’t accepted relationship request on the facebook (ironically, this wasn’t even one of the relationships I knew ended from facebook). I didn’t even know I received such a thing, and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to accept it. I still am not ‘facebook official’ with my current girlfriend in no small part to the fact that I don’t know these things.  It’s ridiculous how many real life social awkwardness I’ve encountered because of things I didn’t do on facebook.

MEME-Grumpy-Cat-vs.-Facebook

I feel like Grumpy Cat sometimes….

That being said, I’m a huge fan of anonymous forum type interactions. Not really the 4chan type (can you imagine if I linked to 4chan here? [4chan has bad things on it, look it up if you really don’t know what 4chan is]) where users don’t have accounts or usernames, but the type of anonymity where they know I’m a guy, and we share an interest in this forum’s subject. I’ll even skype with friends I feel attached to after a while, but when I think of interacting online, I think of freedom: freedom to grab any facts I want, freedom to go anywhere I want, to watch and talk to and interact with whatever I want, and to do so whenever I want. What I don’t get excited about is entering into some type of unexpressed verbal contract with someone who I barely even know to constantly receive spam about their bands upcoming performances. Honestly, I don’t want to be hurting people. I know what it’s like to see that someone saw your message days ago and has since posted a dozen status updates and posted on some buddies walls. That’s why I try as hard as I can to distance myself from that scene, and just facepalm at all the duckfacing girls and underage people with beers in their hands.

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Who wants to help me write my blog?

Just read an article by Kleeman, VoB and Rieder called “Un(der)paid Innovators: Commercial Utilization of Consumer Work through Crowdsourcing”. The article was pretty repetitive; I guess they really wanted to get the point across that consumers were now acting like employees. The word consumer was used 130 times in the article, and nearly every time it was used the authors mentioned something about the modified role of consumers in web 2.0. I didn’t learn many new things that I didn’t already know about croudsourcing, but i did benefit from the authors perspective on the topic.

For anyone unfamiliar with the term, crowdsourcing is when consumers are called upon to undertake tasks that have historically been handled by producers. Like many others interested in computer programming, I am a big fan of the idea, which stemmed from the open source community. I’ve always seen the setup as a win-win. Users get to enjoy a huge amount of user-generated content, and the producers benefits from the free labor of those who are just happy to contribute. That is the first thing that pops into my head when I hear the term crowdsourcing, the second being the paradigm where groups of intelligent, dedicated people are called together to provide solutions to difficult problems. See here for an excellent example that I personally get very excited about. The article brought forth this example, as well a few other examples that I was not as excited about. On a related note to my previous post, the article brings up the less exciting process of humans being used for mass computation to numerous simple problems that a computer has trouble with, like identifying an object in a picture. Obviously, such monotonous tasks have less appeal than seeing your own weapon model implemented into an mmorpg or helping to cure aids. When pride, enjoyment, competition and co-operation aren’t available as motivators, companies must either find a way to incorporate such elements into their product, or provide some small monetary compensation.

This leads into the darker side of crowdsourcing. There exists the potential that producers could manipulate consumers for the purpose of abusing their cheap labor. Crowdsourcing may provide producers with some ethically questionable tools, but let’s face it. This is America; where money is concerned, ethics don’t matter as long as it is possible to operate within the law, and in many cases even the law is ignored when there is money to be made. Producers will always be manipulative, but crowdsourcing also gives ‘consumers’ new ways to fight back. With cites like rotten tomatoes and meta critic, usre generated reveiws can help keep content providers from monopolizing how we consume media. While it has yet to be officially proven, game industry giants have often been accused of establishing their dominance over smaller producers by rigging the critical ratings for their games. This has never been more apparent than with huge difference between metacritic’s user and critic reviews.  Bioware employees have even been caught submitting biased user reviews for the game.

The more companies rely on ‘prosumers’ the more control they relinquish of the production process, and hopefully this will be enough to keep the balance of power in check. Ideally, crowdsourcing can continue to be an incredibly powerful resource in problem solving and quality control.

A Skyrim character holding the Warglaives of Azzinoth from World of Warcraft. The items were recreated by modders for use in the elder scroll's Skyrim.

A Skyrim character holding the Warglaives of Azzinoth from World of Warcraft. The items were recreated by modders for use in the elder scroll’s Skyrim.

At its purest and (in my belief) most productive form, participants of crowdsourcing will contribute to products with no more motivation than a desire to contribute to something they believe in. Hopefully, this paradigm can become more accepted, to the point where even more of the population realize the futility of trying to own knowledge with copyrights.  Copyright law is the biggest barrier to crowdsourcing today, as many corporations don’t want to deal with their ownership of fan generated material being called into question.  Naive as it may sound, why can’t things just be as simple as people helping people for the sake of helping?

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