Pivot Patrol

The Diaspora Team Branches Out to Build Photo Remixing Tool Makr.io

(Photo: Makr.io)

After the tragic loss of one of its core members, the team behind Diaspora–a Y-Combinator-backed open source “anti-social network”–went underground for a while, privately grieving while attempting to keep the well-funded and highly hyped company running. But the startup show must go on: AllThingsD reported today that the Diaspora team channeled their grief into a new site–launched today and called Makr–that allows you to easily remix and distribute photos. Read More


Don’t Worry, Internet: That Rickrolling Video is Back Up


Did you think a little trademark infringement could obliterate one of the Internet’s longest standing memes? Think again, AVG Technologies.

TorrentFreak reported earlier that a copyright claim filed by AVG has led YouTube to pull one of the most popular uploads of Rick Astley’s famous “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video, which has been viewed over six million times. Ars Technica reported it, too. But when we clicked on the video, it didn’t appear to have been taken down at all: in fact, it worked perfectly fine. An editor from Ars Technica confirmed to us via email that the video appeared to be back up for him as well.

It’s unclear what exactly happened: perhaps YouTube pulls videos automatically when they’re reported for copyright violation. But what a terrible 24 hours (at least according to TorrentFreak) that must have been for all of you out there in Internetland!

We’ve reached out to YouTube for comment and will let you know if we hear back.


The New York Times Covers Rage Comics; Goodbye, Rage Comics


The Times has published a definitive Internet Culture Piece a Year Too Late.

The victim: Reddit’s infamous Rage Comic meme. Though you can still find Rage Comics posted daily on Reddit, the joke was probably on the downswing popularity-wise a year ago. The following is the paper of record unwittingly sealing Rage Comics inside vast and unquiet catacombs in the bowels of the Internet where the ghosts of all past memes roam, to float sadly in the ether alongside the howling phantasm of Rick Astley and his 80s bouffant: Read More

Meme Studies

A Meme is a Mirror, and When You Look Into It You See Yourself


“Are LOLCats Making Us Smarter?” asks a link-baity Atlantic headline that actually has nothing to do with the article it accompanies. The short answer: No, but that didn’t stop the Atlantic from writing a think piece about memes anyway.

As a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin school, where students design their own bizarre, mostly pretentious majors, this reporter is not really surprised that people are now writing dissertations about the cultural impact of LOLCats. After all, hasn’t social media researcher Danah Boyd essentially built an entire career around intellectualizing Internet topics otherwise deemed too 4chan-ish? Read More


New iPhone App Blurtt Helps You Communicate Entirely Through Memes

Ms. Cajide, cofounder of Blurtt. (crunchbase.com)

If a vision of post-apocalyptic America overrun with glassy-eyed teens communicating solely through image macros doesn’t sound appealing to you, you might not be a big fan of Blurtt, the new iPhone app that wants to help you “better express yourself” though memes.

The thinking behind Blurtt goes like this: sometimes words can’t express everything we want them to. In real life, we have gestures, facial expressions and vocal timbres to help convey meaning. But over digital communication, all of these physical cues become moot, and what remains threatens the very existence of semantic devices like sarcasm (see what we did there?). Read More

The Bad Kind of Viral

Embarrassing Viral Video of You Being Stupid in Public: Not a Violation of Your Privacy, Court Rules

youtube pic

Remember the 2004 clip of that pompous DEA agent who shot himself in the thigh in front of a community center classroom? It was like an awful deleted scene from Breaking Bad meets a bloopers reel, or so the millions who watched it seemed to think. The DEA agent wasn’t so happy, especially with the gossipy agency he worked for, who passed the video around enough to go viral. He’s since sued the DEA for violating his privacy, by letting the video get out into the open. The result? Read More


Sorry: Texts From Bennett, Your New Favorite Blog, Is All Just a Lie (Made Up By That “Look At Me Now” Kitchen Rapper)

Oh, Bennett: Destroyer of dreams, kinda.

Maybe you’ve heard of Texts From Bennett? It’s a Tumblr that’s blazed an incredible, viral trail through the internet over the past few days, made up of texts from some anonymous blogger’s younger cousin Bennett, described as a “17 YEAR-OLD” who “THINKS HE’S A CRIP, WORKS AT AMOCO, HAS A GIRLFRIEND NAMED MERCEDES, AND IS ONE OF THE MOST UNINTENTIONALLY FUNNY AND BRILLIANT SOULS ON THE PLANET.” They are also, as the site says, “100% REAL.”

Except, not. Read More