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The Improbable is the New Normal
January 9, 2013 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today. The internet is like a lens which focuses the extraordinary into a beam, and that beam has become our illumination
posted by growabrain (26 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah, it's Kevin Kelly, Technopriest of the Great Cybernet!
posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:50 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


How many more improbabilities will we have to aggregate before Kevin Kelly learns to spell "lightning"?
posted by RogerB at 5:52 PM on January 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


I never understood the popularity of YouTube. It's so inconvenient to watch a video clip instead of reading an article but everything from gaming (Let's Plays) to movie criticism has been taken over by it. Who has the time and the attention span to watch endless videos? And why are so many about cats?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:07 PM on January 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


And why are so many about cats?

The internet is a virtual pet. It promises uncompromising love. But in reality demands your time and attention and makes you wonder who is the real master. That's why the Internet = lol cats.
posted by stbalbach at 6:16 PM on January 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


How many more improbabilities will we have to aggregate before Kevin Kelly learns to spell "lightning"?

I think being struck by lightening is what happened to Michael Jackson.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:19 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I figure the cats are part of a conspiracy to take over the world. The Internet is their weapon, with which they will turn us all into drooling idiots because we're all going "Cute! Cute!" watching ninja cat videos.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:21 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


To comment on the OP.. it makes a good point and could be commercialized into a book or something given all the available content to work with. I've been exploring Russian Dashcam videos recently in amazement - intellectually I know there are traffic accidents happening all over the world (perhaps a dozen while composing this post) but to see them happening - day after day, more than you could ever want to see - it changes ones perspective on Russia having never been there it seems like a country of drunken devil may care drivers on badly plowed roads. Is that true? No idea.
posted by stbalbach at 6:27 PM on January 9, 2013


Stalbach: The internet is a virtual pet. It promises uncompromising love. But in reality demands your time and attention and makes you wonder who is the real master. That's why the Internet = lol cats.

Holy crap. That's beautiful. I'm both touched and having some sort of epiphany here...

Where does the internet keep it's litterbox, though??
posted by Skygazer at 6:29 PM on January 9, 2013


Where does the internet keep it's litterbox, though??

Well, lol cats are often seen coming out of 4chan...
posted by jaduncan at 6:35 PM on January 9, 2013


Every minute a new impossible untrue thing is uploaded to the internet Facebook....
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:43 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: "I never understood the popularity of YouTube. It's so inconvenient to watch a video clip instead of reading an article but everything from gaming (Let's Plays) to movie criticism has been taken over by it. Who has the time and the attention span to watch endless videos?"

Dual monitor set-up, dude! Let's Plays, in particular, are one of my many guilty YouTube pleasures. I spend many a lazy Sunday arvo with a Let's Play about some game I always wanted to play/never finished/love on my right monitor while I'm doing work or reading articles on the left one. Sure, the LP isn't getting much attention, but it's getting about as much as it needs.
posted by barnacles at 6:47 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never understood the popularity of YouTube. It's so inconvenient to watch a video clip instead of reading an article but everything from gaming (Let's Plays) to movie criticism has been taken over by it.

I agree with the spirit but not the letter of this comment. How-to videos, for instance, often desperately need a video component.

The presenting of text info as video is stupid. But your examples are not compelling ones of obviously text-only info.
posted by DU at 6:57 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why I often yell at the TV when watching 'Mythbusters', it seems like many of their 'busted' episodes could totally happen as a one off, with random unaccounted fluctuations that don't happen on command.
posted by tatiana131 at 7:19 PM on January 9, 2013


The good news may be that it cultivates in us an expanded sense of what is possible for humans, and for human life, and so expand us. The bad news may be that this insatiable appetite for supe-superlatives leads to dissatisfaction with anything ordinary.

See: Men's consumption of pornography and their dissatisfaction with the size of their penises.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:46 PM on January 9, 2013


Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today. The internet is like a lens which focuses the extraordinary into a beam, and that beam has become our illumination

Most are of the one weird trick/tip/method variety.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:06 PM on January 9, 2013


Why just the other day I came across a Youtube video where a man actually bit a dog, instead of a dog biting a man! What unprecedented wonders this new era of the internet holds!
posted by XMLicious at 8:56 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's so inconvenient to watch a video clip instead of reading an article but everything from gaming (Let's Plays) to movie criticism has been taken over by it.

Hear, hear! Videos of talking heads make me tired. I'm taking an online course now--the instructor has gone from text to all video, at double the cost to boot. I hate trying to concentrate on a talking head--too much like sitting around listening to lectures in college. I can't just read (I'm a speed reader) and I have to try to take notes. Guh. If you're gonna talk to the camera, at least do something interesting with it, don't just ramble.

(Though I am obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries of late....)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:03 PM on January 9, 2013


See: Men's consumption of pornography and their dissatisfaction with the size of their penises.

Most are of the one weird trick/tip/method variety.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:50 PM on January 9, 2013


That beam has become our illumination.
posted by mazola at 10:55 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


intellectually I know there are traffic accidents happening all over the world (perhaps a dozen while composing this post) but to see them happening - day after day, more than you could ever want to see - it changes ones perspective on Russia having never been there it seems like a country of drunken devil may care drivers on badly plowed roads. Is that true? No idea.

But the videos you're watching aren't called "Nothing much happens while driving to the shops", they're all carefully chosen selections of mayhem. So while I'm certain many people have their dashcams filming perfectly uneventful stuff, the boring bits don't get selected for the latest TwistedNederlander comp.

Every time a camera is pointed at something, it's pointed away from something else.
posted by dubold at 2:04 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never understood the popularity of YouTube.
My daughter (now 5), literally grew up with YouTube. Whenever she hears about (or eat...) something she did not know before, she asks if she can see a clip about it on YouTube. Usually it's about animals (we've had sessions about wapitis and Guinea fowls lately) but it can be about anything ("What does it look like on the moon?" -> video of Neil Armstrong's first step, "What's Bewitched?" -> cartoon intro of the show etc.). It's like living in the future, really.
posted by elgilito at 5:53 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


a country of drunken devil may care drivers on badly plowed roads Hahaha I love this idea that you develop an image of a place when you overload on singular bit of media.

For a period in the 90's I imagined America as a place of continuous night, the darkness broken by flashing red and blue lights and the sounds of overweight, over zealous and out of breath law enforcement agents pursuing black men down infinite sodium vapour'd streets. One day at a time, one day at a time.

Back on subject. It's like living in the future, really. Yeah it totally is. I remember how my parents eventually answered all my persistent unanswerable questions; 'one day you can ask god.' I don't think they imagined god would make so much money from adwords.
posted by vicx at 7:28 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: where the internet keeps its litterbox.
posted by newmoistness at 7:41 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Um. No. We do not see a million improbable, impossible things on the intertubes before lunch. We see some wonderful things. We see some awful things. We might see one or two improbable things, but this will be highly dependent on our personal experiences.

I might be surprised at some amazing juggling that is barely believable, but to someone else it may just be reasonably recognizable variation on juggling performance.

Yes, the world is wonderful. And we have a chance to see more wonderful things. Ever has it been so.

But there is also the tiresome, the awful and the mundane.

The internet aggregates more, perhaps, of each. Which, at the end of the day, could mean we are exposed to more pointless noise, not unending wonder.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


We are confronted by the stupidest people in the world as well, doing the dumbest things imaginable.

Yep. Just yesterday it was the guy electrocuted while using high-tension wires for a jungle gym. (caution: graphic, loud) In the long run, some of these videos may save lives (what not to do in a tornado, near a bear, in a landslide, on a skateboard, etc etc).
posted by Twang at 9:11 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, at least that was educational.
posted by sneebler at 9:55 AM on January 10, 2013


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