February 18, 2005

Griping About Blog Storms

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 11:50 am

By now you’ve probably seen the Gary Brolsma Numa Numa video, and either found it hilarious (me) or just shrugged (my brother.) Apart from the comic value of lip-synching to Hungarian techno pop, what fascinates me is the nature of this blog storm. Think of this from poor Gary’s point of view: he makes a video and puts it on his blog for the amusement of a close circle of friends and visitors to his blog; the video sweeps exponentially through the blogosphere for reasons that are hard to pin down, other than its funny (kind of); Gary (I’m guessing) sees his web hosting bandwidth cap obliterated, and has to turn off his blog to avoid paying huge overage charges; NBC Today picks it up, and he is on national television, reaching people that have never heard of a blog, don’t know what techno is, and can’t find Hungary on a map. The sad thing is that, most likely, this 19 year-old has already peaked. His 15 minutes are over, and he will never again experience anything quite like this again. Ten, twenty years from now, his video will get 15 seconds in a VH1 nostalgia retrospective.

And all of this is over a few minutes lip-synching to Hungarian techno.

Think about recent blog storms: Gannon/Guckert, Eason Jordan, SpongeBob, RatherGate, Swiftboat Veterans. To this list, we can add the humor storms that sweep the web: Numa, JibJab, or that dancing baby animation a few years back.

The blogosphere, and the web as a whole, seem to gravitate to the lowest common denominators: humor and rumor. The most viewed post on this blog is a rather silly one on the fact that sponges are hermaphrodites. Not social security, gay marriage or world hunger, but sponges. In fact, this post will now probably take the lead because search engines will pick up the words “Gary Brolsma” and “Numa Numa.” (Of course, visitors looking for a link to the video won’t bother reading through all this text. But I’m not bitter. Really.)

I would bet that Nick Lewis gets a lot more page views for his posts on kitten-eaters than his post on his own dire personal situation.

What bothers me about the blogosphere is this: there is no blog storm (outside this progressive Christian corner of the blogosphere) regarding AIDS in Africa, third world debt forgiveness, global warming, or growing poverty and homelessnes in the US. There was a wonderful outpouring of calls for aid to the Asia tsunami victims, but now that the crisis is over, its off the radar for most of the blogosphere.

So how do we create a blog storm dealing with any of these issues? Taking a cue from Nick, it will take a post about a kitten-eating gay masquerading as a homeless climatologist that survived the tsunami only to become infected with AIDS while advocating for debt forgiveness in Africa. Sung to Hungarian techno.

Update: I have had far more hits today (2-19) than in the history of this blog, mainly due to searches for some combination of the words G*ry, Br*lsma and N*ma (I don’t want to make it any worse by including these words yet again.) QED.

Update: Thanks to Nick’s comment below, I now know why this occurs (for his post on the topic, see here.) Of course knowing the cause doesn’t keep me from getting frustrated by it. But I feel better now that I’ve blown off steam via this post.

13 Comments

  1. FYI — it’s not Hungarian but Romanian. 😉

    Comment by Gary — February 19, 2005 @ 1:25 pm

  2. I stand corrected…thanks Gary.

    Comment by Bob — February 19, 2005 @ 1:56 pm

  3. Dire is a big word… perhaps overstating it, and actually thanks to the blogosphere, I’m now a lot less worried. Anyhow, here is a thought for you:

    The vulgar and dumb does not attract readers because people are vulgar and dumb.
    Rather, people tend to be very similar in their vulgar and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined, artistic, moral, and intellectual interests.

    Food for thought.

    Comment by Nick Lewis — February 19, 2005 @ 8:08 pm

  4. Griping About Blog Storms
    … , Eason Jordan, SpongeBob, RatherGate, Swiftboat Veterans. To this list, we can add the humor storms …

    Trackback by PajamaHadin — February 20, 2005 @ 3:05 pm

  5. Nick – glad to hear things are looking up.

    Comment by Bob — February 20, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

  6. Couldn’t be bothered reading your post.
    Where’s the video.

    Just kidding.

    Comment by mick in the uk — February 21, 2005 @ 8:37 am

  7. It’s called the “slashdot-effect”. It’s been a well-known phenomenon for nigh-on 7 years now, but the angle that’s new, is that about 5 years ago, webhosters started charging extra for bandwidth, which is what ended up causing sites to shut down. This aspect really only started to come to light when the blogging phenomenon started to really take off about two years ago. The phenomenon is a result of human nature. The technology (both the nuts-and-bolts aspect, and the webhosting/blogger contracts) simply hasn’t caught up with the realities of the business.

    I suspect that things like bit-torrent are the first generation of nuts-and-bolts ways of approaching this problem. Some kind of distributed hosting technology may ultimately be the technical answer. At least until the lawyers and bean-counters catch on, and start offering more flexible agreements that can handle the whole “15-minutes of Internet fame” thing.

    As far as the “vulgar and dumb” aspect goes; Steve Jobs, when commenting on media convergence, said that “people watch TV to turn their brains off. people get onto the internet to turn their brains on.” – He said this BEFORE the iPod. I think he realizes the mistake now. SOME people connect to the internet to turn their brains on. But sometimes they want to turn their brains off – so why should they have to buy a separate piece of hardware, or get up and sit in a different room, when a single piece of hardware can do both?
    The only thing holding back media convergence (TV on the Internet) is the technology. It’s nearly here now. When we can distribute and watch HD video via our computers as easily as we presently can with MP3s, convergence will hit us all, hard and fast. The emergence of DVI as the standard video connector for both computers and HDTV is the sign that it’s coming. Will the Internet devolve into the wasteland that is currently Cable TV? I don’t know. I guess it depends on the amount of control the big media companies can gain in Internet distribution. It’s well known that Vulgar and Dumb is profitable.

    Comment by Osama_Been_Forgotten — February 21, 2005 @ 10:42 am

  8. Osama –

    Thanks for the info and commentary. The good thing about the blogosphere is that it can’t be controlled by a small number of media companies, and I don’t see that changing. We can only hope that enough people will continue to exercise their brains by exploring the blogs instead of (or in addition to) partaking in the dumb and vulgar.

    Comment by Bob — February 22, 2005 @ 6:20 pm

  9. (Of course, visitors looking for a link to the video won’t bother reading through all this text. But I’m not bitter. Really.)

    Yes I did. 🙂

    Comment by someone — February 23, 2005 @ 11:34 am

  10. Let’s Get Jesus Back
    There is increasing discussion among progressive and liberal writers and bloggers to take religion, specifically Christianity, back from the conservatives or Christian Right, as they’re often called. Bob, over at

    Trackback by faithCommons — March 16, 2005 @ 5:44 am

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  13. just thought i would point out that Numa Numa is NOT a hungarian
    song but it is acctually Romanian..soo if ur going to poke fun
    atleast do it to the right culture.

    Comment by Bogi Antal — May 3, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

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