The Week 7th December, 2014

Hello again for another instalment of The Week(I know, catchy title!)
So, what’s been going on this week in the world? Well, same as always really, government underperforming. The British budget is still rubbish – PM still doesn’t know what he’s doing – low travel cost inflation, ‘what a brilliant move’ said no one – anywhere! People upset but yet fairly ambivalent to the world going on around them. An Isis leader is killed, although no surprise there, if you put yourself in a video murdering someone by cutting off their head you’re almost certainly going to end up being killed very soon after. Two young girls from Britain realised that Isis are not the freedom fighters and the amazing warriors they went out to meet and found out that they turned out to be crazed, blood thirsty men who are fuelled by zealot zeal, with little reason that any rational being can discern. They should have done their research before going, but that’s just news.

What has caught my eye this week is the internet (i know slightly broad topic!) Let me clarify. I have been thinking about viral campaigns and the like, as a budding author any time I see a viral campaign whizz past me there is a small pang of yearning for such exposure: to have my book be the topic of millions of people’s emails, facebook and twitter would be a miracle. The likelihood of that is slim to almost zilch. Let’s look at it this way. I was seventh in fantasy books on amazon no more than two weeks ago and most, if not all of you, have never heard of me which is interesting when you think about it. This concept of viral campaign or viral moments, what impact does it really have? I appreciate that there has has never been a time like this, where someone might make a spotify video or song and it just explodes, going viral, projecting that person into the ‘made it’ world. Meems are a good example. A few people actually make a living being meems. How? I hear you ask, well as with most celebrities, by appearing on things and keeping their face in the public eye – the difference being that some meems can be leap in from nowhere. For example, there is the recent football supporter who said “I don’t carry” in response to a question (I will be honest, I don’t know fully with happened as football is not really my thin, more a rugby man myself) any who…. one sentence is all that all it took and, bam, the man is an internet sensation with millions of people seeing him. In this instance his life will be changed and that’s just how it goes.

It is strange that we have got to a point where we have the collective human knowledge in our back pocket (phone) or on our tablets, or even on our watches, and instead of us celebrating truly astonishing things we use this to throw stardom at people for saying the stupidest of things or to manipulate information. It is a fascinating social response to an explosion in communication!

The main internet thought for the week is about Sony getting hacked (again!!??) Really hacked, not just crashed. Speculation is that it was North Korea – typical conspiracy theorists. This is where iI would like to put on my parachute and jump in to have a look. Whatever you think about this – it is interesting that a few films that haven’t even made it to cinema yet were leaked to torrent sites -apparently the new Fury with Brad Pitt and the next Adam Sandler, accompanied by a few others. Interestingly though, the film that apparently was the source of the attack was not leaked. Some would say this is due to North Korea not wanting it to be seen so they wouldn’t release it which might be true, and supports the conspiracy theorists – but, and far more interesting to me, is this thought – did Sony allow themselves to be hacked deliberately, with the crafty move of ensuring the Kim Jong-un film out of the distribution for a reason? It has to be asked, just look at the explosion of news coverage, media attention, air time the interview is getting which Sony don’t have to pay for. Of course Sony would deny and it is an extreme view – the whole thing is a little farcical to be honest but it’s not in the realms of the impossible. It could be that Sony wanted to run a viral campaign, which has worked, but maybe the hackers they used took more than they were supposed to – hence the other films! All of this of course is just pure conjecture but it helps the debate on power of the internet. It is an all consuming beast – a beast that can change any one’s life, at any time and that is astonishing, truly amazing, but it is also a vehicle where the rich and powerful can really use their power to control and convince people, and perhaps manipulate information – in ways that were stopped from doing a long time ago in mainstream media.

My thinking is that maybe we should stop jumping on the band wagon quite so easily, or at least the media stop creating stories that aren’t there – take the ice bucket challenge – with 468 million ice challenges completed but only 15 million raised! – Great there was 15 million raised but that is way below the number who jumped on. Viral can be a force for good but we need to stay objective – take a step back when we see something and ask why things might be going viral – is it humanity taking pity and helping each other, is it to discover new talent to e.g. writers(cough cough) artists, musicians and the like – all good things or are we being manipulated – forcing us to act just like cattle and parading the stupidest of us to the top for the rest to mock (whilst we fail to realise that by pushing them to the top we help them achieve a lifestyle most of us can only dream of – so who’s the fool?) Let’s do challenges that are worthwhile and help people – not just do a stupid video where we try to outdo each other. Just think how much good £465million would have done if all had done it for the right reasons and followed through.

As always, these are just my thoughts. I have no evidence either way as to whether Sony did it themselves or not but what I am clear on is that Sony has benefited from all the publicity and isn’t that what the internet has become – a massive PR machine – ‘I read it on the internet so it must be true!!!!!’

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