Monday, May 27, 2013

Class in Session

My roommate back in college passed on some advice that helped get through our studies: Use your resources. That meant using your available TA sessions, your provided solutions manuals, your network of peers, your professors' phone directories, and so on.

"I'm not telling you what's on the test tomorrow. How did you get this number?"

Resources these days are a lot farther-reaching. The Internet is populated with lots of people aged 24 and younger, so the subject of school has popped up here and there. It has manifested itself in ways that have radically changed the learning process for students. These new resources are poised to change the way we think about education.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The '90s Really Weren't That Great

Microsoft released a commercial earlier this year, continuing its desperate campaign to convince us to return to Internet Explorer. Clearly, someone down at Microsoft thought '90s nostalgia was the way to go.

What would inspire this theme choice? As it turns out, the Internet is crazy about the '90s. To an embarrassing extent. There is no shortage of '90s callbacks, '90s nostalgia, and '90s references online.

And, when you think about it, it's pretty depressing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Great Ad Problem

A couple years back, McDonalds ran a banner ad, presumably to promote their dollar menu. It didn't quite have the intended effect.

Pictured: what 20-somethings say when they want a burger.

For a blip of time in the mid-2000s, an animated banner ad with those three frames proliferated around the Internet. It even came out that the advertisers had no clue that "I'd hit it" had any sexual innuendo associated with it at all - they sincerely thought that it was like any other throwaway slang from the younger generation. By the time McDonalds could redact the banner ads, it had already been mocked to hell and back.

This gaffe is best explained by assuming the advertisers were out of touch with their audience. In a lot of ways, this is a problem with online advertisement in general - they're out of touch with their audience, and everyone suffers for it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Digital Language

The Internet has given us a new symbol in our lexicon: The "like".

Not to be confused with "thumb war".

It is a staple of the Facebook experience. If you see content on Facebook that instills positive emotion in you, then the provided way to express that emotion is to hit the 'like' button. It streamlines the entire response process - you get to state your approval of something and everyone else gets to know it.

The symbol has since evolved to take on independent functions in online context. 'Liking' things on Facebook moves them up higher in the home feed, exposing it to more viewers. 'Like's on YouTube function as ratings, with high-liked content being recommended more often to other YouTube users.

Reddit's upvote/downvote system functions similarly to this, where users can vote content up and down if they personally approve of it. What's more, sometimes people on Reddit will physically post 'upvoted' or 'downvoted', so as to communicate their approval (or lack thereof). On, approval of individual users can be expressed by voting to increase their reputation, or 'repping' them. Just as in Reddit, people will often respond to things with 'repped' in order to make their approval known. On 4chan, posting 'sage' functions in a way so that the thread doesn't get brought up to the top of the page, and is used to express disapproval of a thread's content in the same way that saying you 'downvoted' something does.

This is the new language of the online. Abstract concepts and functions are becoming recognizable and commonplace terms.