Report from the Contagious Media Showndown Launch Thing

Thursday night Jill and I attended the launch party for the Contagious Media Showdown and produced this report on the event.

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Download/Play 4.1MB Quicktime
Download/Play 0.8MB Quicktime

I should be clear about a couple of things. One is that while the 60 second story competition is an entry in the Contagious Media Showdown, the project doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning any of the prizes, and that’s ok. I entered the 60 second story site in the Contagious Media thing in the hopes that we’ll draw some traffic away from farting flying saucers, slurpee brain freeze videos, stock trader soft porn, and the like, to get some people listening to stories instead, and hopefully to inspire some people to write, record, and submit 60 second stories of their own. Have you yet?

I wrote, recorded, and published my first 60 second story in about the space of an hour. I’m hoping that enough writers will find this a fun activity, and one that’s not too time consuming, that we can create an archive of quality moments of story on the web. I’m sick of the sight gags and utterly sophmoric humor that typify web video. It’s time for the stainless steel rat of story to crawl its way into the cesspool of contagious content.

The other thing I should make clear is that I don’t think all of the entries in the Contagious Media Showdown are complete shit. For stupid video projects, both Crying While Eating and Ring Tone Dancer are good for a few minutes of amusement, and is actually a useful web application for sending Creative Commons flickr photo postcards. Sadly however the collection of entries includes almost no content of even half-serious literary or artistic merit. Maybe art and literature are simply not contagious.

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  1. I did not know that the ability to laugh at something required an ability to read. The flying farting saucers did sound a bit ridiculous and I’ll give you that but isn’t that what was expected of the event? A “silly and ridiculous” time? Laughing at “shit” doesn’t translate into a lack of intellect. You sound a bit pretentious in the video.

  2. Well, shit, Peter, you don’t gotta read to laugh. Maybe I am a bit pretentious. Don’t get me wrong, I think that laughter is good, as is reading. I just got a little creeped out by this panel of people flipping past anything that took more than three seconds to get and praising anything that farted or bled when you clicked on it. My point wasn’t that we can’t laugh at shit, my point is that they were right about what gets sucked up quickly. Shit is what most people use the web for. Shit wins. The Eyebeam event was this weird juxtaposition for me: a kind of high art atmosphere, a well-funded arts organization in a well-equipped space, with a panel including the hot or not guy on the stage debating whether or not the farting flying saucer will make it onto college humor dot com where it will gather laurels. I guess I’m getting curmudgeonly in my old age. I like funny, I like strange. I just don’t like watered-down-to-the-point-of-moronic funny, easy knee-jerk funny. The contagious media showdown is interesting for a lot of reasons, and I think that things like the crying while eating video are funny for the fact that they make something ordinary strange. As far as lamenting the death of reading, I teach literature and I write fiction for the network. What do you expect?

  3. I think that’s harsh—-calling the stuff that wins shit. Look at the top 5 contenders as I write this:

    Crying while eating—-OK, you can’t deny that there’s something interesting here.
    Ringtone dancer—-OK, yes, this is fluff.
    Blogebrity—–This is actually substantial, looking at the idea of celebrity in the blogging world, making fun of it, but also harnessing our natural affinity for celebrity.
    Ms. Beazely—-There is a very developed site behind this with tons of satirical writing. OK, it’s not Jonathan Swift, but this is a fairly serious effort behind the curtain of the game.
    Autoblogger—-There was significant writing that went into this. There is some story here.

    I think calling them shit is off the mark. Maybe partially digested food, but not excrement.

  4. Jonny– I don’t want to diss any sites specifically, or to denigrate the work that people put into their effort. Of these five, though, I think only the first two are serving much of a purpose than gathering traffic. They intend to be odd web moments, and so they are. Blogebrity is the type of satire that doesn’t do anything more than mirror what it’s making fun of. You would need to unpack the tons of satirical writing behind Ms. Beazly, with its liberal-eating dog (that for some reason doesn’t work in Safari) before I could appreciate it. Is it pointing out the irony behind the fact that so many people pass it on as a form of sly hipster sarcasm? Or is it just a safe way to piss on liberals? Or, ah-hah, is it both at the same time? Autoblogger is the type of idea that you can say in one word and probably already did before they made the site. It’s like the paper-grading robot I always fantasize about at the end of the year. If they actually built the application I’d be impressed.

    Of course, this is all beside the point, which is not about the entries. My hat is off to whoever wins. Nor is it really about the contest, which is an ingenious idea. It is fascinating to see what types of material quickly garner massive traffic over a compressed period of time. The point is really about the nature of how and what we appreciate on the web, what we feed to the Romans in the circus maximus.

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