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Born Digital Folklore
February 25, 2013 7:43 AM   Subscribe

"Its not like we all sat in silence and stared blankly at our TVs waiting for the Internet to show up. We have probably always had vernacular webs of communication." Digital studies scholar Robert Glenn Howard talks about vaccines, the Christian right [PDF], AC/DC guitar tutorials and other "born-digital folklore" on the "vernacular web."
posted by Miko (13 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a series of rubes...
posted by chavenet at 7:48 AM on February 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's a seeker born every minute. - Happy Harry Cox
posted by tommasz at 8:13 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's Dr. Happy Harry Cox ... he's happy because he is happy. He was right about the comet.
posted by philip-random at 9:12 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Its not like we all sat in silence and stared blankly at our TVs waiting for the Internet to show up."

I hate to say it, but to my recollection it was actually a quite a lot like that.
posted by mhoye at 9:12 AM on February 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think there are STILL a lot of people staring blankly at their TVs, unaware that the Internet has shown up. At least judging by the number of people who still insist on using broadcast-like synchronous communication (i.e. phones) rather than the much more flexible system of email.
posted by DU at 9:16 AM on February 25, 2013


Each medium has its advantages, DU. But that's coming from a guy who used to stare blankly at the TV. (Now I stare blankly at the computer screen.)
posted by Longtime Listener at 9:20 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a great article, but would it have hurt them to proof read? There's a mistake every three or four sentences.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2013


I like that they started off by putting modern web communities in the context of folklore. Sometimes I feel like all that separates the various extant internet fora from old-school sewing circles and water-cooler congregations is how well their archives are maintained (or not) and how easy (or not) it is to search those archives.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:32 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder what digital folklorists think of things like alt.folklore.urban or Snopes? There's a "born-digital" version of folklore scholarship, too...
posted by RogerB at 9:45 AM on February 25, 2013


It's true. But there's an interesting (sad) schism in the world of folklore - some training programs and individuals really object to electronic media on principle. I strongly think that's a mistake and think that certain definitions and frameworks in the field are just plain failing to recognize folk interactions and processes for what they are, where they happen, whether they are on or offline. I'm glad there are some outspoken folklorists like this person who recognize that expressive communication in informal/extra-institutional groups is a lot of what happens online and always has been. Wherever people go they take their folk productions with them, and the internet is no exception.

I hate to say it, but to my recollection it was actually a quite a lot like that.

And he discusses that, and says that there was an "odd" period where people were fascinated with the dominance and power of one-way broadcast media. But even during that time, there was, of course, still folklore. There were Xeroxed puzzles and jokes passed around, there were urban legends, there were schoolyard games and play traditions, there were 'old wives' tales,' there were skills and sports practiced and taught informally. Folklore never totally goes away, but for a while our orientation to media was passive and so we were mostly unable to bring those interactions to those media. They had to remain outside of it.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on February 25, 2013


Fascinating article, but god is it ironic that an article about language and communication contains nothing but the wrong "its" and "there"s.
posted by Mooseli at 10:45 AM on February 25, 2013


(I suppose you could even say "There's no 'their' there'")
posted by Mooseli at 10:46 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Its a art.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 3:24 PM on February 25, 2013


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