Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rave: The web as the mother of random creativity

The web really is the source and birthplace of some weird acts of creation. And the more bizarre the acts, the funnier I usually find them. Without the web aid its easy-publish technologies, it is likely these things that have become popular culture may never have happened; for me at least, that would have meant a little less laughter.

The first example of funny meets bizarre that was born on the web that I would like to share is All Your Base Are Belong To Us. Someone created this little video out of some weird text and speech in a Japanese video game, and a whole lot of hard work in Phtotoshop, and it spread around the web like wildfire. Why did they create it? Who knows. I guess the obvious answer is too much time on their hands. But even for something where a person has too much time on their hands that is a lot of work. Whatever the reason behind it, it captured the imagination of a whole lot of people. And as far as I can tell, apart from the t-shirt sales, which may or may not be making enough money to cover web-serving costs, the people who created this have not made any money from it. Nonetheless, this is a little piece of flash that had the whole world going, even if just for a few days. And it is tremendously funny.

The next thing that is funny, creative, and more than just a little random is the specifically web-designed flash technology End of the World. I don't know who sees the world this way (and in the current political climate, it would most likely be somewhere in the Middle East that the US started a war with), but it is damn funny. Somehow, having a web to put it on inspired this random act of creativity that has gone on to make any number of people smile. Not only that, it shows an inherent understanding of something researchers took a long time to come to terms with -- users hate to wait. Even the load screen is designed to both warn and entertain "Sorry, long load time.... STFU already!". Whoever created this deserves a medal.

The most recent (and perhaps the most attention grabbing) act of random creativity, though is the Crazy Frog. Love the crazy frog or hate him (and we definitely know it is a him just by seeing the video, unlike real frogs) on first viewing, it is hilarious. The frog and his moped noises were created by a pair of crazy Swedes and put on the net for fun. Jamster picked up on it, and created the ringtone that is the first ever ringtone to go to number one. And if you don't think the Crazy Frog is funny, think about how funny it is that someone is making a fortune out of it -- people will pay for this stuff. It's just a shame that the Crazy Frog's parents are not the ones making the money.

So, here are just three examples of web-based culture that have swept the world as crazes (All Your Base made it into the Google Zeitgeist for February 2001, the Crazy Frog for May 2005), made people laugh, made people angry, made money for people, and sent a ringtone to number one on the UK charts (even beating out Coldplay, much to my surprise and pleasure). The web is offering the creative among us (well, and even the plain broring like me) the opportunity for instant, near-free publication. Is it a good thing? Who knows. But these things are funny, and my life is better for them. It should be the slogan for the web "try and find something funny that makes your life better today"., or better yet "create something for someone to enjoy today". Now if only Google can solve the indexing problem...

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