Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Silent Raving & Rick-Rolling. Humour in Technology

Over the past few months, I keep hearing about these funny, yet interesting ways that technology is getting masses and masses of people to gather together, either virtually or in real life. And I don't mean in the traditional sense that you'd expect, nor am I referring to virtual worlds like Second Life. Let me explain.

Most recently, I was made aware of something called a "silent rave", where people gather in a specified location, break out their iPods (or other MP3 players) and dance about to their own music via headphones. It's supposedly a very popular thing in Europe, and a "silent rave" just took place in New York's Union Square this past weekend where reportedly more than 1,000 people showed up! What's the point? I guess it's one part shock value, one part being able to express oneself in a unique way while still banding together with others. Is this an indication that we're moving toward another decade of hippies and social activism? I'm not sure, but I can't help but hear the song Age of Aquarius while seeing clouds of smoke above my head as I write this.

Then, there came about a new phenomenon called Rickrolling. Anyone who was around in the 1980s (or loves '80s music!) will know who Rick Astley is: the baby-faced, pop singer that released a few number-one hits, catered to some screaming gal fans, than disappeared into oblivion. Over the past few months, "Rickrolling" has taken the Internet by storm, with several Websites hijacking real videos or links (knowingly, not maliciously) in place of Astley's cheesy music video of the popular song Never Gonna Give You Up. Often, what would happen is that the site would advertise controversial or enticing content to pique a surfer's interest. When the person clicked the link, despite what the site said the video (or story) would be about, the viewer would be Rickrolled; i.e. directed to the Astley video instead. On April Fool's Day, the folks at YouTube showed their sense of humour by "Rickrolling" the entire YouTube.com homepage. No matter which video you clicked on, it would automatically direct to Astley's cutesy face dancing about to his tune. Don't believe me? Just run a "Google" search for Rickrolling, and you'll see almost a quarter-million responses on the term, showing how quickly one, juvenile prank can spread!

In many ways, both events are indeed juvenile. But on the other hand, they're both great examples of how people can use technology to freely express themselves in a way that's not only innocent, but can even put a smile on your face. A little dose of humour never hurt anyone.

So what's the next phenomenon? Perhaps a large group should convene for a silent rave during which every person listens to Astley's tune through headphones and does his best 80s dancing impersonation. Maybe that's taking things a bit too far...

Bookmark and Share

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it rolls off the tongue nicely Christine you've just got Rick-Rolled, do these kids wear the requisite black turtlenecks and beige trench coats when they do their silent rave?