Goats, Gangnam and the Harlem Shake

For some reason, many of us internet folk seem obsessed with internet memes.

What are internet memes?

Okay, if you don’t know what an internet meme is, then my opening line probably didn’t mean that much to you. Who better to ask than Mr Oxford? A meme is “an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means” – basically something which becomes a phenomenon, usually in a very short space of time.

Recent examples of internet phenomena include music video Gangnam Style, the Harlem Shake dance (and its parodies) and all those songs that have been given the goat treatment.

Probably the most well known historical internet meme is Rickrolling. In April 2008 the BBC reported how “an estimated 13 million internet users have been tricked into watching the video for Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up” in the space of just a few weeks. The number of users online and the size of the internet has grown significantly since then, so when put into perspective, 13 million is a lot of people!

Rickrolling

Rickrolling is when you go to click a link, believing it is going to a certain resource, website etc. when in reality you are diverted to a video of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. Basically, rickrolling is a simple bait-and-switch, which is (usually) just harmless fun.

Rickrolling

Rick Astley dancing in his ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ music video.

If you find yourself on Rick Astley’s video, (when you didn’t intend to visit it) then you are said to have been rickrolled.

It isn’t thought that Rick Astley attempted to create the internet meme, or in any way endorsed it, however some argue that it the meme played a large part in reviving his musical career!

Some rickrolls were just done in a humorous style, with no harm intended, whilst others would cause more havoc, some making it very difficult for users to turn the video off, and others even using it as a way of installing malicious software on users computers.

Probably the most high profile rickroll was in 2011, when The White House rickrolled followers, adding a link to the video in a reply tweet.

%CODETWEETRICKASTLEY1%

YouTube hits 1 billion active users

I recently tweeted via @TechBloggers how YouTube now has over a billion monthly users.

%CODETWEETTB1%

This is an amazing achievement for the social network/video sharing site. Earlier in the month I reported how PayPal has around 110 million active users, which seemed like quite a lot, but it’s only 11% of YouTube’s figure!

YouTube is [arguably] the biggest beneficiary from internet memes, as more often that not, the memes are video based.

Probably the most famous internet meme that didn’t really involve YouTube was planking. Planking involves taking pictures of people lying face down in unusual places. Flickr and Tumblr benefited from planking much more than YouTube. Planking has a slightly more sinister history than many internet memes however, as there were deaths caused by people planking in dangerous locations.

It is a goat?

Last year Jonny wrote about mistaken identity, and how when something is adopted by the press, or the internet and becomes widespread, then it is hard to stop, even if it is wrong.

One of the current internet phenomenon is giving songs the ‘goat’ treatment. As I am sure you already know, this involves replacing parts of a song with a screaming goat. One of the first songs to be given the goat treatment was Taylor Swifts ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’. Have a watch.

%CODEYOUTUBETAYLORSWIFT%

Humorous right? You can see why there is a goat based internet meme! 🙂 But it isn’t a goat!

The goat treatment

The screaming sheep which features in the videos which have been given the ‘goat treatment’

The animal in Taylor Swifts video – and many of the other videos in the phenomena – is a sheep! One person posts a video, calling it a goat, and everyone else blindly copies. I too was a victim of this mistaken identity, and would talk to people about the goat video, that is until I was corrected by a Animal Behaviour Studies student!

The funny thing is, the original upload of the screaming sheep was named exactly that, ‘The Screaming Sheep (Original Upload)’.

Gangnam Style, the Harlem Shake, The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger, The New Old Spice Guy ads and LOLcat pics are also all internet memes.

So, what do you think about internet memes. Do they have a purpose? Should we all endorse them as we do? Your thoughts below 🙂

iPhotoCap App Review

I want to preface this review by saying that I have been creating memes for years on my computer, and just now started looking into going mobile with it. The iPhotoCap application came up as one of the captioning tools, so I decided to download it.

After downloading a score of applications that make you put captions exactly where they tell them to, it is extremely refreshing to have an application that gives some kind of freedom to put captions where you want, on any image that you have currently, can take or can download. I had originally just been looking for a meme editor, but after finding this I can think of more useful ways to use a captioning tool for creative and thoughtful messages.

Now before, I send off a picture of me giving a goofy face, I make sure that I accompany it with an equally ridiculous caption.

iPhotoCap - Let's Wok N Woll

Something doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. So many times I have come across applications that you need to study and dissect for hours before being able to do the basic functions that it has to offer.

The iPhotoCap is comparatively easy-to-use. It does all the heavy lifting so you can do all the fun creative work. Social sharing has become a basic feature for these kind of apps and iPhotoCap too has the ability to share your works via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Instagram.

It also allows you to email and text your newly captioned images for anyone you know to enjoy (or in my case, they are annoyed at 3am when they receive a message of the worst face I can make with a crazy caption).

iPhotoCap App

I did download this program with the intent of making memes out of it to post onto memebase.com, so I would definitely like to see some kind of ability to integrate to websites or something of that nature.

I have already sent it over to everyone I know using an iOS device and hope to find a similar app for Android so that I can get that on my tablet. Without a doubt, iPhotoCap deserves a try if you want to create creative captions for any of your images.

Is there really that much diversity on the internet?

The internet is big right? Okay it is massive. With that massiveness one naturally associates extreme diversity. Don’t get me wrong, across the entire internet, there is amazing variation, with billions of people adding their spin to the net.

What I am going to investigate in this post though is how diverse the ‘main’ internet is. What I mean by that is the internet that we use every day. How diverse is the most regularly used/visited content? Is there really as much choice as we think, or is the majority of the internet dominated by a few firms?


In order to go about this research I am going to use Alexa, who gather statistics on websites traffic. For most sites, the data isn’t that accurate, however for really busy sites, the numbers are so great, the reliability of the data is much higher, hence why I can use it.

Alexa's Logo

Google

According to Alexa, Google.com is the most visited site on the web. How could it not be? Alexa estimates that 50% of all internet users visited Google.com in the last three months. Second on the list for most visited sites is Facebook, which is trailing with just 45% of internet users visiting the site.

Remember however that is just Google.com, Google has a massive monopoly over the internet. In the 100 most visited sites on the web, 18 of the sites are owned by Google – 16 localised sites, Google.com and GoogleUserContent.com (the site you see when there is an error finding/displaying a page).

Google undoubtedly has reduced diversity on the internet, having such a monopoly on the sites we all visit. The thing is, it isn’t just 18 sites. Google also owns YouTube and (the third most visited site on the net) Blogspot which is ranked 10th, Blogger at 47 (Blogger and Blogspot are now one) and Blogspot.in (India) ranked 73. That means 21 of the most visited sites on the net belong to Google, meaning it owns more than one fifth of the ‘main’ internet.

Googlite Logo

Google’s dominance on the web suggests that a lot of us are Googlites!

Can you call the internet diverse, when in the top one hundred sites, one firm owns more than a fifth of all sites? Maybe, what does the rest of the field look like?

Microsoft

Unsurprisingly, the company that is arguable Google’s main rival is in second place. Yahoo and Microsoft are currently in a ‘Search Alliance’ therefore restricting competition, so I am going to count them in the list of sites that Microsoft owns/influences. Here is the list of sites that Microsoft owns/influences which are top 100 websites:

  • Yahoo.com – Ranked 3rd
  • Live.com – Ranked 7th
  • Yahoo.co.jp – Ranked 16th
  • MSN.com – Ranked 17th
  • Bing.com – Ranked 29th
  • Microsoft.com – Ranked 30th – ironic how it is lower many of the other sites it owns!
  • Flickr.com – Ranked 53rd and Yahoo owned

Therefore Microsoft own/influence 7 of the top 100 sites. Add that to Google’s 21, and 28 of the top sites on the net are owned by two firms. More than a quarter.

I am starting to think the ‘main’ internet is not as diverse as one may first assume.

Amazon

Next on the list of internet giants comes Amazon. Amazon.com is ranked 10th, whilst Amazon Germany (Amazon.de) is ranked 91st and Amazon Japan (Amazon.co.jp) is 95th. Amazon also owns the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) which is the 50th most visited site. Amazon owns 4 of the top 100 sites.

Amazon's Logo32 sites gone.

Alibaba Group

The Alibaba Group is a privately owned Chinese business, which owns Alibaba.com, Tmall (tmall.com), Taobao (Taobao.com) and Sogou.com. The group therefore account for four of the sites that make up what I am calling the ‘main internet’.

36 sites taken by just 4 companies. How diverse is our internet?

eBay

Next we come to eBay.com which sits 23rd on the list of top 100 sites. eBay International AG (ebay.de) is in 80th place, followed by eBay UK (ebay.co.uk) in 86th. eBay also owns PayPal (paypal.com) which is ranked 46th.

eBay steals another 4 sites, leaving just 60 of our hundred left, and so far only 5 firms are involved.

Time Warner

CNN (cnn.com) AOL (aol.co.uk) and The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com) are all sites owned by Time Warner. Time Warner is the sixth business involved now, leaving just 57 sites.

WordPress

The blogging platform WordPress (wordpress.com) is ranked 19th, and its brother, which allows users to host the content management system on their own site (wordpress.org) is ranked 83rd.

The Official WordPress LogoThere goes another two sites, meaning just 55 left, and only seven players so far.

Twitter

Ranked number 8 on the list is Twitter, however its URL shortener (t.co) is ranked 31st, meaning Twitter is also one of the big players in the top 100 sites, arguably with some form of domination over the internet.

Twitter's Logo47 sites of the top 100 accounted for and a mere eight organisations involved.

The Rest

Of the final 53 sites, 5 are adult only sites leaving 48 sites – although many of these either are a part of, or are a much bigger group.

Some familiar faces appear in the other 48 sites, Facebook (2nd), Wikipedia (6th), LinkedIn (11th), Apple (34th), Tumblr (37th),  Pinterest (47th), BBC Online (48th), Ask (54th), AVG (62nd),  Adobe Systems Incorporated (67th), About.com (81st), ESPN (82nd),  Go Daddy (85th), Netflix (89th),  The Pirate Bay (92nd) and CNET (97th).

Remove these very well known, well established, and massive brands, and we are left with 32 sites – less than a third. Of the remaining sites, around half are Chinese, showing the growing influence and usage of the internet in China.

My Verdict

In this post I have established that of the sites we visit most regularly, 47 are owned by just eight organisations. Does that really represent the freedom that we all believe the internet offers?

I was surprised by the type of content, and the limited number of different sites that there are in the global top 100. It would seem that the most visited sites consist of search engines, social media sites and news websites. Interesting statistics.

So, what is your verdict on how diverse the internet we use everyday is? I personally am not quite as convinced as I was before writing this article that the internet is quite as free and diverse as we all believe.

Please note these rankings are changing all the time, and all content was correct according to Alexa.com at the time of writing – the 6th of July 2012.

How to find images for your website

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a DIY approach to building your website. If you choose the right tools *cough* WordPress *cough* you can produce something that looks very professional without having to know web design in an out.

As with Creative Commons images, always check the usage rights of every image cautiously. You might be required to credit the photographer, or use may be forbidden in some situations.

Creative Commons Logo

Purchase cheap stock photography

It is all well and good looking for free pictures, but it’s often easier to invest a small amount of cash than to spend hours finding the right totally free image.

That is where websites like iStock Photo and ShutterStock come in. These vast repositories include thousands of pictures, most of which you can buy for just a few pounds. Sure, they can be frustratingly clichéd at times, but a bit of experimentation with what you search for can generally get outcomes. Expect to pay from £1 upwards for each image.

Ask permission

This is most likely your best option if you are looking for an image of a current occasion or specific individual to use with an article or blog post on your web site. Amateur photographers are often pleased to let their photos be utilised at no charge – if you ask nicely.

A good method to find pictures is through Flickr. For example, there are many David Cameron and Tom Cruise pictures to select from. As soon as you’ve found a photo you like, just use Flickr’s contact choice to send the photographer a message asking their permission.

Do be wary using photos of well-known individuals – whilst generally it’s okay to use them alongside news stories and other editorial, you will get in difficulty if it looks like they’re endorsing your item or service.

Take your own photos

With even cheap mobile phones able to create reasonable-quality pictures, you don’t have to be a pro to capture photos that are good enough for the web.

Even though the company is in all sorts of difficulty, you will find some good suggestions for taking better photos on the Kodak website.

Assuming you already own a camera, this method is practically free – and it holds other benefits more than stock pictures. For example, do you think website visitors would prefer to determine a generic image of someone on the telephone, or an actual member of your sales team at function in your workplace?

How do you discover photos for your website? Leave a comment to let us know.