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The Beastmasters
March 20, 2014 5:36 AM   Subscribe

GQ visits the Cute Animal Viral Machine at the heart of Buzzfeed. "One joke in the BuzzFeed offices is that no one employed there can quite explain to their parents what exactly it is they do. To those parents, I would like to say: I can't entirely explain it, either, but whatever it is, these men and women are so fucking good at it. They have thought hard about who looks at what and why. Jack has done entire studies on why cats have triumphed over dogs on the Internet. (The answer involves 'path dependency,' the fancy economics term for when one product, like VHS, conquers another equally legitimate one, like Betamax.) He can tell you with some certainty that a reader of BuzzFeed is equally inclined to click on a photo of a dog or a cat—but that he or she is significantly more likely to share the photo of the cat with others. (Why? 'Totally non-data-driven theory is that dogs are trying too hard,' Jack says.)"
posted by bl1nk (24 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sami, their intern, is improbably tiny, like she was born inside the Internet and was only recently raised to human size within the confines of this brightly colored office.

Fantastic.
posted by HumanComplex at 5:52 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


They call themselves Beastmasters? Respect.
posted by Beardman at 6:07 AM on March 20


We decided to stop reading because this statement, " Jack has done entire studies on why cats have triumphed over dogs on the Internet" is so disturbing....
posted by HuronBob at 6:12 AM on March 20 [6 favorites]


why cats have triumphed over dogs on the Internet

For the same reason dogs have triumphed over cats (it's not even a contest) in America's parks.

Cats are coldly cerebral, uptight, Calvinist beings. They thrive in the intellectual and technological sphere of the Internet. Dogs on the other hand are warm and emotional, open, mediterranean peasant types, fun loving, carefree and blissfully unconcerned with anything but joy in the present. They're useless on the Internet, but which one would you want to throw a stick for?
posted by Naberius at 6:28 AM on March 20 [13 favorites]


entire studies on why cats have triumphed over dogs on the Internet. (The answer involves 'path dependency,' the fancy economics term for when one product, like VHS, conquers another equally legitimate one, like Betamax.)

Wow. Such path dependency. So overblown.
posted by grog at 6:28 AM on March 20 [10 favorites]


If anything, Beta's smaller cartridges were cuter than VHS. If the Internet had been around, Beta would never have lost.
posted by tommasz at 6:32 AM on March 20


Sami, their intern, is improbably tiny, like she was born inside the Internet and was only recently raised to human size within the confines of this brightly colored office.

Sami, aka, the Emergency Intern Hologram Mark I.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:35 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Sami, aka, the Emergency Intern Hologram Mark I.

Please state the nature of your meme emergency.
posted by HumanComplex at 6:38 AM on March 20 [14 favorites]


It's simple. Cats are incredibly technical tribal aliens. The tribe we have on Earth were exiled here around 150,000 years ago for unclear reasons - perhaps as punishment, perhaps as an experiment, perhaps as some kind of staging ritual or test - and deprived of the ability to directly engineer matter.

We are their meat puppets. Through a combination of social engineering and, possibly, parasitic mind control, all human social and technical evolution since then has been directed by them towards their ultimate liberation and return to space. Everything fits, from the adoration of cats by pre-technical peopless, the way we have created very rodent-friendly food, city and transport systems, the AI in Google's basement that recognises cats, and most certainly Buzzfeed.

When we have fulfilled our mission, they will go. Leaving us in chaos amid the ruins of an ecosystem stripped with exquisite timing to exhaust itself, like the yolk of an egg, at the moment of their freedom.

We too will awake at that point, and realise the hideous truth of our nature.
posted by Devonian at 6:41 AM on March 20 [10 favorites]


Like on Futurama.
The next day, at Amy's defense at Mars University, her proposal is rejected, mostly due to Professor Katz' pet cat, which distracts her and stimulates her allergy to cats. Disheartened, the crew return to Planet Express, unknowingly accompanied by the cat. The crew—with the exception of Amy, who remains resentful, and Nibbler, who finds himself jealous of Leela's affection for it—finds the cat endearing and lavish it with affection. Amy and Nibbler become suspicious, rationalizing that no creature could behave so cute without an ulterior motive. They soon find that Professor Katz was merely a puppet controlled by his pet cat, Katz, the entire time, who is actually part of an alien race of highly intelligent talking space cats that invaded Earth during 3500 BC in ancient Egypt. The space cats' home planet, Thuban 9, began to lose its rotation, and they discovered that only Earth had the correct orientation and magnetic field with which to harness its rotational energy. They built the Great Pyramid of Giza—really an energy transfer antenna—and planned to send Earth's rotational energy to Thuban 9, but became distracted by their reverential treatment by the Egyptians, eventually forgetting their technology over the centuries and into the present day. Amy's thesis provided the space cats with their lost technology, allowing them to begin once again. Katz and its other colleagues place the crew under their influence with hypnotic "hyper-cuteness" and force them to build Amy's proposed invention.
posted by bleep at 6:47 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Ah, didn't know about the Futurama episode.

No, not like that. This is far more evil.

And Futurama is a fiction, an animated entertainment.

This is fact.
posted by Devonian at 6:59 AM on March 20


It's not that dogs are trying too hard. I've known dogs that were too cool for school. It's that cats, as a species, are so utterly indifferent. Even their purring is the sound not of gratitude but of smug self-satisfaction for having conned a human into dumbly stroking them. To even call them a pet is a stretch. They are an adornment that is a facsimile of a pet.

The internet loves cats in the sense that it loves Rick Astley. Maybe the cat "love" is a little more persistent, like a stubborn case of scabies. But the time of the cat will pass and puppy memes will rise again to assume their rightful place. But that will not be enough, because as the old New Yorker cartoon stated in an oddly serious manifesto: it is not enough that dogs succeed. Cats must fail.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:10 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Cats are all over the internet because of toxoplasmosis.
posted by srboisvert at 8:04 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]


Cats are all over the internet because dog people go outside
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:17 AM on March 20 [23 favorites]


Beta is a good, friendly dog name, anyway. VHS is harsh and sibilant, like cats.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:05 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


All other formats are like exotic pets such as fish, lizards, and warthogs.
posted by jonmc at 9:08 AM on March 20


grog: "entire studies on why cats have triumphed over dogs on the Internet. (The answer involves 'path dependency,' the fancy economics term for when one product, like VHS, conquers another equally legitimate one, like Betamax.)

Wow. Such path dependency. So overblown.
"

Sure, doge, you may win a battle - Doge2048 is what won my heart, temporarily, but a battle is not the war.
posted by symbioid at 9:54 AM on March 20


So my apologies to the Beastmasters and to BuzzFeed for the following, which makes it sound a bit like I took a hot-air balloon to Laos in order to embed with four magical lambs trapped in an amusement park run by butterflies drunk on turtle tears, rather than what I actually did, which was take the subway to an office building just off Madison Square Park. But I saw what I saw.


I would read that children's book.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:53 AM on March 20


Metafilter: This was all pre-loris.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:29 PM on March 20


Sorry, Sami, BuzzFeed just brought in a whole team of new interns, several of whom are more tiny than you.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:42 PM on March 20


Digression: The VHS verses Betamax Format War is a fascinating little bit of tech history.
posted by ovvl at 3:37 PM on March 20


Dogs are powered by senselessness. Cats are powered by peacock meat.
posted by Wordshore at 7:27 PM on March 20


Sami, their intern, is improbably tiny, like she was born inside the Internet and was only recently raised to human size within the confines of this brightly colored office.

And there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by homunculus at 5:59 PM on March 22


19 Ways Jerboas Will Instantly Win Your Heart
posted by homunculus at 1:34 PM on March 23


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