Viral Video: World’s Toughest Job
The year was 1984 and in Spokane, Wash., Charlie Schmidt was “unemployed and destitute, but there were three things that [he] had: a cat, a camera, and a keyboard.”
Charlie made hundreds of videos of his cat playing a keyboard, now immortalized as Keyboard Cat. The videos lay dormant until he posted one on YouTube in 2007. Cat videos as we know them were born.
Yesterday, the Internet Cat Video Festival made a Seattle stop in its multi-city tour. Cat ladies and gentlemen gathered at Showbox in the Market to watch a series of the web’s most beloved feline shorts.
Everyone in the audience was palpably excited and had been eagerly anticipating the event for weeks. Everyone else was all, “you’ve got to be kitten me.” (according to Buzzfeed, cat people like puns…)
Love them or hate them (and you love them, right?), cat videos have become an industry, launching celebricats like Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat, Maru, and more. So what’s the appeal? Wired Magazine tried to get to the bottom of the phenomenon, but I think that Amber Armstrong, a Seattle-based software developer attending the event, sums it up nicely: “Because they’re funny and they make me happy, and they’re also cute.”
Just about everyone I interviewed shared the same sentiment. “Who’s not a cat video fan?” asked Beth Steinhouse, a volunteer with the Seattle Humane Society. “They’re fun and cute and just a nice little escape.”
But why pay $20 to watch cat videos in a theater when you can watch them for free at home? MC Will Braden, creator of Henri (winner of the Golden Kitty award at the first Internet Cat Video Festival), told the audience: “It’s not about watching cat videos. It’s about watching cat videos together.” Continue reading
Students on university campuses everywhere or learning online in massive open online courses (MOOCs) will be sad to hear that a federal appeals court has rejected key parts of the FCC’s Open Internet rules. If they aren’t, they should be, as access to online education and information for all is potentially disappearing behind a toll booth.
So, what are the FCC Open Rules? Here is the CliffsNotes version (I am a student, after all):
Essentially, FCC Open Rules ensure that data on the internet should flow equally from publisher to user without publishers or users being additionally charged by the internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver content in a reliable way. ISPs would not be allowed to discriminate in delivery of their competitors’ information or to only return results of a business partner of the ISP.
In their decision yesterday, the judges did not rule against the open internet rules themselves; they ruled against the FCC being able to enforce them. Currently, ISPs are not classified as entities the FCC can regulate. The FCC is empowered to regulate “common carriers” like phone companies and right now the internet infrastructure is not classified in the same way as public broadcast, radio, or phone lines, which are identified as common carriers.
Bottom line: as things stand today, ISPs can throttle speeds of certain sites, allowing them to push their own services or seek payments for preferential treatment. Cable TV, anybody?
When Drew Keller challenged our CommLead storytelling intensive class last year to create a 2-3 minute documentary, Dartanion London immediately came to mind. Dart is incredibly hard-working and super funny (which is important for a comedian). Above all, he takes risks to pursue his passion.
We collaborated on a few videos before, so I thought this would be easy. I was wrong. When we talked in his living room/studio, he stubbornly avoided honest answers. Instead he fictionalized stories about becoming a cult leader. Between questions, he opined that there is nothing more boring than comedians talking seriously about themselves. This frustrated me. I knew Dart had a powerful story because he told me about it before.
Dart was laid off from his part-time job. This job supported him while he did comedy on the side. Shortly after being laid off, his video “How Guys Will Use Google Glass” went viral. He took this as a good sign. It helped motivate Dart to pursue comedy whole-heartedly, without the safety net of a part-time job. I wanted to tell this story through the documentary, but I couldn’t pull it out of Dart. When the camera was rolling, he needed to be funny.
So I proposed a deal. I told him I’d shoot his comedy about his cult, only if he gave a genuine interview for this class project. This documentary would be screened to the class, and that if he disapproved of the final product, I’d refrain from publishing it online. Dart agreed.
We did the interview. Then we filmed his cult comedy video. It was a tricky challenge, and a valuable learning experience. I think it’s a fun little video, and hope you enjoy watching!
Special to Flip the Media by Claire Qin Li, Cohort 2013
Many people asked me how I found Umai Do Japanese Sweets in Seattle. The answer is Google and Yelp. I moved to Seattle in September 2013. Yes, only a couple of months ago. One of the most interesting things to do when coming to a new city is exploring delicious food. I am very into Japanese culture and have also learned Japanese for several years. A traditional manju shop with good customer reviews was bound to catch my attention. Later, I noticed that the sweets shop actually has a really interesting owner, which became a good story for me to tell.
It is always exciting to see people pursue their dream and passion. It is never too late to follow your heart, even after retirement. For him, making manju became a kind of art and he is always trying to make that elusive perfect piece.
Claire Qin Li is a passionate visual storyteller who loves art, photography and filmmaking. She is currently pursuing her Master of Communication in Digital Media at the University of Washington. As a multilingual professional with fluency in Mandarin, English and Japanese, Claire is especially interested in topics related to culture, travel and lifestyle.
Special to Flip the Media by John Hellriegel, Cohort 2012
I reminisce about the days I lived on Capital Hill. Everything was a short walk away. The parks, the food, and the entertainment could be reached by a wonderful stroll through the neighborhood. I felt more a part of the community. I felt healthier. I was thinner then too. Time moves on and I moved off the Hill. A car was purchased to facilitate getting to work.
I do not see my car as a status symbol or as a form of freedom. I walk out to my car every morning and see a pit – and I keep shoveling money into that pit. I get tired of the insurance, oil changes, and maintenance. I must feed the beast a fuel that carries with it economic and environmental disaster. It’s a vicious circle. I make smug and dark jokes about the over-all costs to distract myself from the fact that I am part of the problem. Then head off to work. I sit in traffic and listen to NPR stories about wars, famine and pestilence. Sigh.
Spending time in Paris I became accustomed to the outstanding rail system connecting the cities neighborhoods. So when construction began on the First Hill Streetcar I was excited. I know a Streetcar system will be successful in Seattle – not only because of a generational shift in cultural values and lifestyle, but also how convenient and effective it is connecting neighborhoods. I wanted to show how this updated transportation system can benefit the Seattle community in basic daily activities and needs.
John Hellriegel currently resides in Seattle. When not engrossed with his final year in the MCDM program, he pursues photography, videography, and all things aviation.