I don't really know what to teach this week.
So what is it about blogging and humor? Many of you probably know this site dedicated to mocking the political elite. But do you know this site dedicated to mocking ...everything? Especially, this week, bloggers. (You have to read a lot of Three Bulls to really get it.) Do you go to the internet for humor? If so, what kind of humor do you get there that you couldn't get anywhere else? What doesn't work? Share.
Here is a passage from The Cluetrain Manifesto, referencing laughter on the internet:
So here comes Joe Six-Pack onto AOL. What does he know about netliness? Nothing. Zilch. He has no cultural context whatsoever. But soon, very soon, what he hears is something he never heard in TV Land: people cracking up.
"That ain't no laugh track neither," Joe is thinking and goes looking for the source of this strange, new, rather seductive sound.
So here's a little story problem for ya, class. If the Internet has 50 million people on it, and they're not all as dumb as they look, but the corporations trying to make a fast buck off their asses are as dumb as they look, how long before Joe is laughing as hard as everyone else?
The correct answer of course: not long at all. And as soon as he starts laughing, he's not Joe Six-Pack anymore. He's no longer part of some passive couch-potato target demographic. Because the Net connects people to each other, and impassions and empowers through those connections, the media dream of the Web as another acquiescent mass-consumer market is a figment and a fantasy.
The Internet is inherently seditious. It undermines unthinking respect for centralized authority, whether that "authority" is the neatly homogenized voice of broadcast advertising or the smarmy rhetoric of the corporate annual report.
And Internet technology has also threaded its way deep into the heart of Corporate Empire, where once upon a time, lockstep loyalty to the chairman's latest attempt at insight was no further away than the mimeograph machine. One memo from Mr. Big and everyone believed (or so Mr. Big liked to think).
No more. The same kind of seditious deconstruction that's being practiced on the Web today, just for the hell of it, is also seeping onto the company intranet. How many satires are floating around there, one wonders: of the latest hyperinflated restructuring plan, of the over-sincere cultural-sensitivity training sessions Human Resources made mandatory last week, of all the gibberish that passes for "management" — or has passed up until now.
Step back a frame or two. Zoom out. Isn't that weird? Workers and markets are speaking the same language! And they're both speaking it in the same shoot-from-the-hip, unedited, devil-take-the-hindmost style.
This conversation may be irreverent of eternal verities, but it's not all jokes. Whether in the marketplace or at work, people do have genuine, serious concerns. And we have something else as well: knowledge. Not the sort of boring, abstract knowledge that "Knowledge Management" wants to manage. No. The real thing. We have knowledge of what we do and how we do it — our craft — and it drives our voices; it's what we most like to talk about.
But this whole gamut of conversation, from infinite jest to point-specific expertise: who needs it?
Companies need it. Without it they can't innovate, build consensus, or go to market. Markets need it. Without it they don't know what works and what doesn't; don't know why they should give a damn. Cultures need it. Without play and knowledge in equal measure, they begin to die. People get gloomy, anxious, and depressed. Eventually, the guns come out.