Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Can Has Cheezberger Tips

I Can Has Cheezbergers has grown beyond a blog of funny lolCat photos into a utility for generating pictorial humor on any subject.

This is not just a matter of fun. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a cleverly captioned picture is worth an entire hour of arguing in plain text. Fair or unfair, that's how humans "reason" and those who master the visual reasoning style have an advantage.

You can start by captioning photos others have posted on a variety of subject matter areas (cats, dogs, news & politics, etc.) Alternatively, you can upload and caption your own photo on any subject in its lolBuilder.

Whatever your choice of materials, here are the Six Tips for building lols that rock!

1. Personalize

Don't be afraid to create specialized humor for a small audience. Why not? It's FREE!

For example, I quickly put together a joke for our Pilates instructor, and sent it to the entire class. They loved it - and (mistakenly) thought I'd worked hard to create it.

We may all want to create the Ultimate Joke that will start the whole world laughing, but lolBuilder makes more modest achievements easy.

2. Punchify!

Your captions must have PUNCH! Humor must be crisp; soggy, wordy, bloated humor is a bowl of cornflakes that sat too long in nonfat milk substitute.

1. Write your caption

2. Cut out the most useless word.

3. If it still makes sense, go to step 2.

4. Put back the last word you removed.

Now you might have shortened it enough ... but don't be shy about skipping step #4.

3. Punctuate

Don't limit yourself to the standard alphabet. Use special characters: @# and all the ASCII artwork you so love, e.g. a well-placed (*)(*) or *I* can be funny.

Sometimes the funniest caption is just "..."

4. Prioritize

This tip applies especially to the "advanced" builder - the one that lets you insert word balloons and thought balloons.

The lolBuilder titles your picture from the FIRST balloon you create, not necessarily the most prominent one. The title is important for attracting visitors, especially via search engine results. Therefore, you should think for a moment what you want the title to be, and ensure it's the content of the first balloon you build.

For example:
I first built this lol with the uppermost balloon first. It ended up with the decidedly unfunny title of "Billionaire Wall-Street Insider".

So I rebuilt it, with the punch line balloon (at the bottom) first.

The lol looks the same, but its page title is now: "Pyromaniac Firemen" - definitely funnier and more likely to stand out of a bunch of search results (...whether you think it's fair is beside the point.)

5. Preview

Always, always, always Preview before Saving.

What is more annoying that to discover misspellings, clever captions sliding off the edge of the photo, and so on? All your work becomes ridiculous.

The preview button lets you resize fonts, re-align and re-write before your boo-boo is immortalized.

(Note: this is for the basic builder only. The Advanced and Poster builders are WYSIWYG and have no preview.)

6. Plagiarize, Pirate and Play!

I cannot emphasize enough that this site is free to use, so you should play around! Think of all the hours or days you might spend on a good game; think of Cheezburger as a game! The reward is the fun you get from crafting humor; as with any game, you have to practice to improve, and make a lot of mistakes before you slay the bosses.

One training tip: Each existing lol has a small link below it: "View All Captions". See what others have done; often they will have had good ideas, but you see how you can improve them with a small change. It's totally o.k. to create a new lol based on previous work (...just don't copy exactly: have some pride!)

I Can Has Cheezburger has the potential to make everyone able to communicate graphically, almost in the same way that the invention of movable type made it possible for everyone to become an author. Where it will lead, who knows?

And who cares? It's fun. Play with it!

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Bush Does a 'Terrorist Fist Jab' [PIC]

Obama's fist jabbery seems to be catching on!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Smarter, Faster, Stronger: the Democratization of Information

I just finished reading the hilarious "An Interview with John Ziegler on the Zogby "Push Poll"". Nate Silver, of the amazingly accurate, had been called out by reichwing John Ziegler, who was flogging a video "proving" that Obama supporters were stupid. Per Silver:
"Ziegler was responsible for commissioning a Zogby International survey of Barack Obama supporters, which took the form of a multiple choice political knowledge test, stating a "fact" to the respondent and asking them which of the four major candidates (Obama, McCain, Biden, Palin) the statement applied to. Because I believe that many of the statements on the survey are questionable or false but are misleadingly presented as factual to the respondent, I characterized the survey as a "push poll" in an article posted early this morning.

Ziegler had contacted me by e-mail, asking if I'd like to interview him; the interview itself was conducted by telephone. Ziegler asked, among other conditions, that I post a full transcript of the interview, which I have...."
The transcript is wonderfully funny, as an angry Ziegler curses Silver, shows basic ignorance of math, and is generally an asshat; but the best part is that he demands Silver published the transcript! Read and Enjoy!

The funny thing is, he keeps daring Silver to print the transcript. Why are reichwingers such dolts, to think that their words won't get around?

It seems to me that this interview shows the crazy right wing has a basic problem: they haven't adapted to the internet's democratization of information.

In the "old days" they could spew their venom, feel good, and control its distribution. There was no penalty for being a jackass; in fact it was a virtue since you could selectively release material to fire up your base.

Today: the target of their idiocy simply posts the transcript (or, even better, YouTubes the interaction), the entire world sees who's the fool.

(It's sort of like Gutenberg's invention of movable type: information is a lot harder to lock down, thus the Protestant Reformation.)

The "Macaca" incident should've been a warning, but the reichwing's a fundamental opposition to democracy makes it hard them to accept the warning. I'm sure they'll eventually come up with something (internet astroturfing?) but for the meantime We, as a society, are getting smarter, faster, stronger.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sinfest: Web Comic


I completely enjoy and recommend Sinfest, a nicely drawn, but even better written, webcomic by Tatsuya Ishida.

Think of Calvin of "Calvin And Hobbes" growing up, trading the tiger for a girlfriend, and keeping his innate honesty while addressing an unsentimental adult world.

The first strip (January 2000) pretty much defines the concept:

I also like Tatsuyo's sardonic blogging on webcomics:

"... Here survive the lost, unsung warriors of comic strip art, the Not-Ready-For- Syndication misfits and rejects, broke but not yet broken, peddling their labor of love like cheap whores (or, to use more delicate parlance, discount whores), in a grungy, backwoods subculture of freelance burnouts and dreamers.

Sounds like my kind of place...

...Web comics is grass-roots, word-of-mouth, guerrilla-style 'tooning, where audience participation is key. Fans support sites by clicking ads, even if they haven't the slightest inclination to check out Whatevertheshit Online Enterprises. Still others stuff the ballot boxes at Top Site lists, or spam chatrooms with URLs.

The Sinfest readership has been exorbitantly generous in this regard, and I just wanted to let you know it hasn't gone unnoticed. It's damn cool to have that kind of support. Mad love and big thanks for all the pimpwork, you bunch of loony fanboys and girls!..."
Best of all has been his commentary of the Obama campaign, featuring the fabulous Samtron Imperius 200ZX

Sinfest gets on my daily-read list not only for its fun (...comics must be fun! otherwise they're mere Soviet Politikal Art...), but as an example of today's broad democratization of the art and science of political reasoning. Visual reasoning in particular is becoming available to the masses as the transaction costs of developing and promulgating visual reading falls. Formerly, a small number of postermakers and editorial cartoonists defined the visual thoughts of an era; naturally they were limited to the range of acceptable thought that could be financed. Webcomics opens the enterprise up to all by radically dropping the cost of publishing! The only limitation now is the content! Whoo-hoo!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Love the Haters; Hate the Hate.

What's the best way to respond to those who hate gays?

Love them.

It's good for you, and it either cures the haters .... or it annoys them ... a win either way!

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