Posts Tagged ‘internet’
At The Conversation, Jessica Gall Myrick considers the case for the cat video.
According to ReelSEO.com, a website about video marketing, there are more than two million cat videos on YouTube. People have watched these videos more than 25 billion times, which equates to an average of 12,000 views per cat video.
The statistics speak for themselves, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a dog lover with a cat allergy, but the staggering amount of cat media available to internet users came as a surprise to me. With numbers like that, I couldn’t help but wonder: who, exactly, is so drawn to this type of content? And what effects do cat-related media have on viewers?
These were the overarching question that spurred my initial quest to gather empirical data on the internet cat phenomenon. I scoured academic databases to see what the literature could tell me, but found no existing data about why people watched so many cat videos online, or what effects these videos might have on us.
So I decided to find out myself.
The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas has an extended meditation on photography in an era of superabundant memory. Is there any way, he wonders, to get around the risk that to have memories so readily preserved and invoked will be to diminish them?
(I have more than three thousand pictures on my Flickr account and hundreds on Instagram, to say nothing of the thousands more I have saved on my computers. Should I worry?)
I’ve been thinking, recently, about the past and how we remember it. That this year marks the 20th anniversary of my high school graduation accounts for some of my reflective reminiscing. Flipping through my senior yearbook, I was surprised by what I didn’t remember. Seemingly memorable events alluded to by friends in their notes and more than one of the items I myself listed as “Best Memories” have altogether faded into oblivion. “I will never forget when …” is an apparently rash vow to make.
But my mind has not been entirely washed by Lethe’s waters. Memories, assorted and varied, do persist. Many of these are sustained and summoned by stuff, much of it useless, that I’ve saved for what we derisively call sentimental reasons. My wife and I are now in the business of unsentimentally trashing as much of this stuff as possible to make room for our first child. But it can be hard parting with the detritus of our lives because it is often the only tenuous link joining who we were to who we now are. It feels as if you risk losing a part of yourself forever if you were to throw away that last delicate link.
“Life without memory,” Luis Bunuel tells us, “is no life at all.” “Our memory,” he adds, “is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.” Perhaps this accounts for why tech criticism was born in a debate about memory. In the Phaedrus, Plato’s Socrates tells a cautionary tale about the invention of writing in which writing is framed as a technology that undermines the mind’s power to remember. What we can write down, we will no longer know for ourselves–or so Socrates worried. He was, of course, right. But, as we all know, this was an incomplete assessment of writing. Writing did weaken memory in the way Plato feared, but it did much else besides. It would not be the last time critics contemplated the effects of a new technology on memory.
I’ve not written nearly as much about memory as I once did, but it continues to be an area of deep interest. That interest was recently renewed not only by personal circumstances but also by the rollout of Google Photos, a new photo storage app with cutting edge sorting and searching capabilities. According to Steven Levy, Google hopes that it will be received as a “visual equivalent to Gmail.” On the surface, this is just another digital tool designed to store and manipulate data. But the data in question is, in this case, intimately tied up with our experience and how we remember it. It is yet another tool designed to store and manipulate memory.
Last Friday, it took two phone calls and thirty minutes for me to cancel the landline I had with Bell Canada for the past decade. I had not used the line in months, I even tossed away the old broken telephone at the beginning of this billing cycle, and there was no reason for me not to opt for an Internet-only package with Bell. I have my cell phone on a different provider, and Skype if I want to phone from my apartment. What else do I need?