By DEBBIE GALANT
Did you hear it? The sound of America being happy? It happened Saturday night between 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. when Justin Timberlake hosted Saturday Night Live, joined by a series of SNL veterans ranging from Steve Martin to Martin Short. Was it JT doing a song-and-dance number dressed up in a tofu costume that killed? Or Bill Hader’s impression of Donald Duck having a Vietnam nightmare? Or Dan Aykroyd and Martin back together again as the wild-and-crazy guys?
Just two weeks ago, I felt like I needed a bath after joining in the lynch mob that hissed and scratched its way through the Oscars.
Now I’m back to say that this is what the Twittersphere looks like when it’s happy. Even Gary Vaynerchuk’s “secret wine party” at SXSW couldn’t top the party that was going on in living rooms all over America at that hour.
I’ve seen American happy. I see it every time I make it to Fourth of July fireworks. And the first real day of spring. And Saturday night, I saw it too. A great big collective group hug summed up best in this message from one coast to the other.
Debbie Galant is director of the NJ News Commons, a project of the School of the Communication and Media at Montclair State University. It resides within the Center for Cooperative Media and is funded, in part, by contributions of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. This blog post first appeared on The Dodge Blog and is reposted with permission.
By JOEL PENNEY
Recently, my friend Peter Micek of the digital rights organization Access alerted me to how internet privacy activists are using popular memes to get their message across about Data Protection Regulation in the European Union (learn more about this important issue here). At the Privacy Memes Tumblr page, you can view dozens of user-generated one-liners that attempt to inject some accessible humor into a rather dense and complex policy debate. Here’s another entertaining example…
By DEBBIE GALANT
As is often the case, TV’s satirists — Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers — do a better job of getting to the truth of things than those of us actually practicing journalism. A few weeks ago, it was Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein who managed this with their satirical sketch about the Portland Tribune being sold to an internet outfit called Link PDX. Armisen and Brownstein storm the newsroom, quickly explain the art of Gawker-like breeziness and get the Tribune editor, played by George Wendt, to think more of himself as a “linkalist” than a “journalist.” In the end, the editor sheepishly accepts his new publisher’s praise for writing the most popular post in Link PDX’s history, garnering 70 million hits: “Charlize Theron NSFW” (Watch that sketch here.)
Exaggeration of the state of journalism in America today? Perhaps, but not by much. Photos of a scary-looking lamprey eel found by a fisherman on the Raritan River garnered 1.2 million views on Reddit last week, and the story got picked up by the Houston Chronicle and the Christian Science Monitor. We at the NJ News Commons weren’t immune to the story either.
Meanwhile a report issued by New Jersey Watchdog about 45 New Jersey superintendent “double dippers” who get pension pay along with their salaries got a mere handful of pickups in the press.
By MERRILL BROWN
This story in AGU Blogosphere is one of the more startling and insightful pieces on the decline of US technological capability I’ve read in some time. The topic is the why the U.S. does so poorly in weather forecasting.
As the author Dan Satterfield writes:
…much of the inferiority of U.S. global numerical weather prediction can be traced to the third-rate operational computer resources available to the National Weather Service (NWS)’s Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), an inferiority that can only be characterized as a national embarrassment.
Plain and simple, it’s because the country isn’t investing in computing power while the rest of the world is making the right decisions on technology investments.
Merrill Brown is the director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State.
By DEBBIE GALANT
Like millions of Americans — and the two other humans in my living room — I watched the Oscars last night with my laptop at hand. I giddily contributed my social commentary to Twitter — about 40 tweets or retweets — during the course of the event. And in the new version of family interaction (parallel play?) we read each other particularly funny tweets that we encountered.
Tweeting the Oscars was great fun, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t bring out my higher self. It is, in fact, an exercise in collective cattiness that brings to mind those scenes in movies where a mob is laughing and shouting around a public gallows.
True, the objects of our derision, at least in this particular exercise, are usually the rich and beautiful, who become carrion for the masses when they’re not quite beautiful enough. This micro-commentary by comedian Michael Ian Black — Do you guys remember when Renee Zellweger had eyes? — was retweeted 2,178 times. Actress Kristen Stewart also bore a huge share of Twitter cattiness, at least partly because she looked like she was having trouble standing. The crowd was quick to attribute that to drugs. But then it turned out she’d actually come to the Oscars on crutches — and walked onstage without them. I don’t think I qualify for a Nobel Peace prize, but learning about the crutches made me feel that Stewart deserved a collective apology from the Twitterverse. Continue reading
By STEVE JOHNSON
One of the most striking features of the stories about the Russian meteorite was the volume and quality of videos capturing its blazing arc across the sky. You would have thought that half of the autos in the small town where the meteorite crashed had cameras mounted on their dashboards. And you would have been correct.
Because drivers in Russia don’t have a lot of faith in the ability of their court system to correctly assess who is at fault in an auto accident, many have mounted small cameras in their cars to record a few minutes of video into a buffer, which can be saved in the event of a crash — a persuasive bit of evidence in court. And as a result, video of car crashes is a popular subject on the Russian versions of YouTube. See here, for example, for some highlights.
You rarely see auto crash videos in the U.S., because they happen suddenly, before anyone can turn on a camera. The ones you do see are often from cameras mounted on police cars, similar to those in Russia.
But Google seems close to changing all of that, and in a way that may transform what we now know as commercial TV.