Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Internet fads

One of the banes of my existence are the latest amusing emails doing the rounds in big offices being sent to me by friends. Let's get this clear, I don't have a problem with being amused. What I have a problem with is someone trying to amuse me with something that wasn't especially funny when I read it for the hundredth time ten years ago.

Since the dawning of the internet age I've worked in a big company only once (and that was a 3-month fixed contract) and was astonished by the amount of shit constantly flowing into my inbox to the extent that it actually stopped me being able to do my job properly. I am often quite grateful that I don't work in that kind of environment now.

Today I got two emails from completely unrelated directions with the same text (though formatted very differently). This got me wondering what caused this text to become trendy again, given that I've seen it several times in the last few years already?

A Google search on an extract unlikely to have beeen used in any other c0ntext resulted in 164,000 hits , a lot of them recent blogs reposting the same thing over and over again.

This also makes me wonder, not for the first time, how many bloggers ever consider, when repeating material they've read elsewhere, whether it's been reported before? After all, if it's doing the rounds as a "funny email", it's got history, doesn't it? And is NOBODY interested in what that history might be before repeating it, YET AGAIN?

Thanks to a tip from @fueledbyregret I discovered just now that you can sort Google results by date, which saved me the trouble trying to find earlier versions, and it got me to 31st January 2001 on http://www.lightbroker.com/. So this has been going on for nine years, is repeated on over a hundred thousand pages on the internet, and people are STILL repeeating it as if it's fresh news?

Is it any wonder that urban myths get spread around so quickly and easily nowadays when people don't seem to have the mental capacity to question what they read from some anonymous source and accept it as the truth and or/original? There are sites out there which specialise in debunking this shit, so use them, folks!

I understand that we all find stuff for the first time and want to share our enthusiasm for it. But links to previous iterations work just as well as presuming that nobody else has seen it before!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Review of the Year in Questions and Answers

Happy New Year!

I stole this from someone else's blog. Sorry, I'm not sure whose it was but some of the questions had American spelling so I doubt it was any of my close friends!

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
This is naughty, but it meant a lot to me at the time: I fulfilled a sexual fantasy by having a mutual sounding session!

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I've not made resolutions since I was kid cos I know I'd never keep them, so there were no resolutions to keep. However, I did manage to keep free of smoking and maintain my attempts at losing weight!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Two friends of friends, but nobody closer.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
The father of a schoolfriend - he was also my first boss after leaving university so although I'd not seen him for over 15 years his death hit me fairly hard.

5. What countries did you visit?
I was very badly travelled by own standards this year. France, a couple of times.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A sex life with a steady partner rather than random one-night stands which makes me feel just a little squalid.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
11th January: I met the Stigs for the first time (having known them online for almost 3 years)
8th May: release of the new Star Trek movie
15th December: spent a very pleasant day with @squawkbox. He might not thank me in the long run for introducing him to Pączki :-p

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I'm not big on achievements (or setting goals, hence lack of resolutions). I'm proudest of having not only signed up for introductory German lessons, but doing the whole course without missing a single lesson, and even arriving late (10 mins) for only one. (I got 100% in the exam!) I'm also pleased about losing more flab (dropped two trouser sizes) and not smoking a single cigarette (not even a single drag), despite being tempted very hard in three moments of crisis.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting ANYWHERE with the closest thing I ever make to a resolution every Christmas and every birthday, to finally get a driving licence.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a very bad year for dental problems and as I write this, my jaw is in agony from having a tooth pulled yesterday morning (it cracked in half on Christmas day). I also had two bouts of tonsilitis, which was extremely painful! (The first bout wasn't even diagnosed at the time, I just thought I had a particularly sore throat)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I'm not big on material possessions, but I finally got around to getting a modern mobile phone which includes internet capabilities, and a phone contract to go with it. I lost the handset, three months into an 18 month contract. I since bought an even more up-to-date one!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hmmm... not sure. Off the top of my head I can't think of any person or organisation which led a blameless existence throughout the year.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Alan Davies on Twitter.

14. Where did most of your money go?
I made two significant loans to people; in one case with the expectation that it will end up being a gift (I'm fine with that), in the other I hope it will be repaid over the course of 2010.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Lots of movies, but apart from Star Trek none of them lived up to the hype I'd built up in my head. More than that, meeting several online friends either for the first time, or for the first time after a long break.

16. What song will always remind you of this year?
Lady Gaga: Pokerface. I don't listen to music radio and my main exposure to current/chart music is at the gym and stuff my online friends talk about. Gaga was absolutely EVERYWHERE!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? The same
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner (YAY!)
c) richer or poorer? in terms of my current account, the same! In terms of my "life savings", significantly poorer, for the time being (see Q. 14)

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Very quietly. Apart from phone calls from family, most of the days over the holidays were just like normal ordinary days. And on Christmas Day I broke a tooth which meant I spent much of it in agony!

21. What was your favourite TV programme?
Nothing really stands out without thinking about it very hard, but I was impressed as usual with Doctor Who, and FastForward started well. I had high hopes for True Blood but it was much to soapy for my tastes and I lost patience.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't hate anyone; I find it a wasted emotion. Alan Davies has gone down in my estimation quite significantly.

23. What was the best book you read?
I've not read much this year and of what I did, nothing really stands out.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Nothing stands out.

25. What did you want and get?
Thinner and fitter, but not quite to the degree I'd hoped.

26. What did you want and not get?
A proper long-term relationship.

27. What was your favourite film of this year?
I think I'd have to say Let The Right One In, AKA Låt den rätte komma in. Creepy, heartbreaking and beautiful. I bet Hollywood remakes it before too long, and I bet they'll royally fuck it up.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
It was a day just like any other. I got two cards, both from close family members. Which leaves a lot of close family members who forgot. This has made me sad in the past and so I don't celebrate birthdays at all any more.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Someone to wake up alongside, just once, without a shadow of a doubt.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Clean clothes that don't have more holes in them than they are meant to have.

31. What kept you sane?
That question makes an assumption I feel is unwarranted. :-p

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I've never had any celebrity crushes but I can only answer the same way I answered a similar question once before: every time Eric Szmanda comes on in CSI I can't help but smile ;-)

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Too many to mention, but prevarication over climate change issues (including establishing whether or not it actually is our fault) angers me.

34. Who did you miss?
Nobody in particular. Just the lack of Somebody to miss!

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Lots. Most of the people I follow on Twitter, if "met" includes virtual meetings. If not, then I shall have to remain coy. ;-)

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
"People" as a nameless crowd are generally far more easily led than I ever thought it possible.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Talking 'bout my generation"

Please feel free to ask any other questions and I'll be happy to answer!