Skip to main content

The Day The Internet Died

It all started innocently enough. Sally was enjoying a cup of sustainable coffee at the corner cafe when she spotted it. ZOMG. Cutest. Cat. Ever. An explosion of uncontainable fluff wrapped in a hamburger bun sweater with a toy iPhone 4S hanging around its neck. My friends have to see this, thought Sally. And thus it began. Not with a virus, nor a worm, but a cat. An insanely cute cat.

The picture that brought down the Internet was captured at 12:21PM on December 21, 2012 with a slightly abused white iPhone 4S. It went vintage before going viral, cause honestly, sepia makes everything better. And off it went.

Sally's Instagram auto-posted to her Facebook, where 237 of her closest friends (she has 1,649 friends, but I mean, at least 400 are just, you know, on there) immediately saw The Cat. Sally's above-average hotness meant that her re-share rate hovered around 10%, and sure enough, 26 of the initial viewers re-shared to their combined total of 4,013 friends.

The Initial Post also cross-posted to Twitter, and within minutes, #HamburgerCat was trending worldwide. The analysts would later note that had Ashton not been 5 minutes late from brunch with the mystery girl, he likely would have missed TC's retweet of CNN iReport's #HamburgerCat coverage. But alas, the Fates conspired against the Interwebs on that day, and Ashton saw The Cat. And within a few minutes, most of his ten million followers did as well.

Like the Great Flood from Biblical days of yore, The Cat and its photogenic cuteness rushed through The Pipes with a ferocity unlike any that had befallen Time. It was the Auto PhotoMods that sparked the inevitable cascade towards darkness. As the Historians of Shoreline Road would recall, society had collectively unlocked an epic laziness whereby modifying photos by hand was an unheard of feat, but re-sharing unmodified pics had lost most of its appeal. And thus arose a proliferation of Auto PhotoMod apps that would extract a picture from the Stream, add a silly prop customized for the user (that December, personalized hipster wireframe glasses auto-positioned with the eye finder were especially popular), and re-publish the picture anew. Simple idea, but entirely destructive to the anti-replication schemes put in place by the Networks years before.

TwitPic fell over first, followed soon after by Facebook Photos, which might have been the end, had the tipping point not already been breached. Fifty some-odd million accounts were automagically regurgitating new versions of #HamburgerCat to all corners of the globe at breakneck speed. The Akamai edges tried to keep up with the new pics, but soon began to fail in unrepentant desperation. They had been running above throughput specification for months and were consistently on the verge of overheating, but the drastic spike in Cat traffic was enough to make them give up altogether.

As luck would have it, Sally had geo-tagged her photo and checked into Foursquare, which crowned her the unfortunate new mayor of Internet Apocalypse Ground Zero. Twenty thousand Relevant People Nearby were alerted, activating all of their GPS sensors to see if they were close enough to retake the Mayorship. This lit up the Auto GeoTumblrs, which shamelessly spewed out well-shortened links to 200,000,000 people whose precise minute-by-minute locations made them pawns in the largest location-based game in cyberspace. Yet when the GPS Sats started crashing, only a few thought to look up.  But that was nothing new.

Screencaps of the failures rushed onto YouTube in a river of Meta, instantly overtaking every spot on the Day's Top Videos, and due to the massive upload numbers, ironically began streaming immediately back down to a half billion passively-watching devices worldwide. A few isolated souls feared that the outages portended worse than the Ten Second Blip of that summer, but unfortunately, their comments were unanimously and unhelpfully reduced to a solitary word: "This."

And so it was, at 12:27PM on the Day of the Internet Reckoning, that all went metaphorically black. There was no singularity, no evil artificial intelligence plotting humanity's destruction. No, it was far simpler.

All it took was a cat.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Korean Is Hard For Native English Speakers

A couple of days ago, as an experiment, I wrote my first blog post ever in a non-English language. It was an attempt to explain some of the reasons that Korean is hard to learn for native English speakers, so I figured I might as well try to write it in Korean. Those of you who actually read Korean can see how awkward the attempt was =).

In any case, the post came from an email conversation I had with The Korean from Ask a Korean, a fantastically well-written blog about all things Korea from the perspective of a Korean who moved to the United States during high school. Since I tend to geek out on language things, I figured I might as well post part of that conversation. An edited version follows.

---------

Out of the languages that I've attempted to learn so far, Korean has been the hardest. I've done a lot of meta thinking about learning Korean, and I think there are a number of reasons it's difficult for non-Koreans (and especially Westerners) to learn:

1) Obviously, the…

영어가 모국어인 사람들은 왜 한국어를 배우기가 어려운 이유

이 포스트는 내 처음 한국어로 블로그 포스트인데, 한국어에 대하니까 잘 어울린다. =) 자, 시작합시다! 왜 외국사람에게 한국어를 배우기가 어렵다? 난 한국어를 배우고 있는 사람이라서 이 문제에 대해 많이 생각하고 있었다. 여러가지 이유가 있는데 오늘 몇 이유만 논할 것이다.

1. 분명히 한국어 문법은 영어에 비해 너무 많이 다른다. 영어는 “오른쪽으로 분지(分枝)의 언어"라고 하는데 한국어는 “왼쪽으로 분지의 언어"이다. 뜻이 무엇이나요? 예를 보면 이해할 수 있을 것이다. 간단한 문장만 말하면 (외국어를 말하는 남들은 간단한 문장의 수준을 지낼 수가 약간 드물다), 간단한 걸 기억해야 돼: 영어는 “SVO”인데 한국어는 “SOV”이다. “I’m going to school”라고 한국어로는 “저는 학교에 가요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I’m school to go”이다. 두 언어 다르는 게 목적어와 동사의 곳을 교환해야 한다. 별로 어렵지 않다. 하지만, 조금 더 어렵게 만들자. “I went to the restaurant that we ate at last week.” 한국어로는 “전 우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당에 또 갔어요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I we last week went to restaurant to again went”말이다. 한국어가 왼쪽으로 분지 언어라서 문장 중에 왼쪽으로 확대한다! 이렇게 좀 더 쉽게 볼 수 있다: “전 (우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당)에 또 갔어요”. 주제가 “전"이고 동사가 “갔다"이고 목적어가 “우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당"이다. 영어 문장은 오른쪽으로 확대한다: I (S) went (V) to (the restaurant (that we went to (last week))) (O). 그래서 두 숙어 문장 만들고 싶으면 생각속에서도 순서를 변해야 된다.

2. 첫 째 점이니까 다른 사람을 자기 말을 아라들게 하고 싶으면, 충분히 …

Don't Take Korean Language Advice From Kyopos

I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure this out, but the last people you should take Korean language advice from are kyopos (foreign-born or raised Koreans). That being said, if you do follow their advice, you will get many laughs from Koreans. Some of my personal favorites, all of which actually happened to me:

- When I first got to Korea, I was at some open-air event, and during a break I started talking to one of the hosts. He said he was only a part-time host, so I asked him what his full-time job was, and he said "백수" (which is slang for "unemployed guy"). I asked him what that was, and he replied, "Comedian". So then the next few people I met, I proudly told I was a baeksu. (Edit: Actually, this guy was Korean Korean, not kyopo.)

- Next, a kyopo who lived in the apartment I moved into back in 2010 asked me what I was doing in Korea, and I told him I was starting a company, and asked how to say that in Korean in case people ask. He told me…