Archive for the Rant Category

How I Accidentally Created A Meme, Nearly Didn’t Get Credit For It, And How Everything Worked Out In The End (Sort Of)…

Posted in Rant, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by Bjorn Grainger

You know how you go to the cinema sometimes, take a photo of a funny poster you see, post it unthinkingly online, and it goes viral all over the Internet? Yeah, well that happened to me exactly a month ago.

I went with my brothers to see 127 Hours and in the main foyer of our local cinema/theatre, the Wyeside Arts Centre, was this poster –

Psychic Fail

For those of you who don’t know who Joe Power is, he’s a manipulative, exploitative Liverpudlian gobshite who preys the gullible and the naïve. In other words, he’s a “Psychic Medium”. Derren Brown did a documentary with him and pretty much dismissed his act as cold reading. My Mum had been to one of his previous shows and described him as “shit”. Any rational person would delight in seeing him taken down a peg or two, so seeing a poster where his supposed powers of clairvoyance had alluded him? Sheer joy. But enough about him…

I pulled out my iPhone and took a quick snap. The staff behind this ticket desk were laughing too so it was obviously a deliberate choice of words on their part. I went up into the theatre, posted the pic on my Twitter account before the film started, and thought no more of it. It was when I got home and looked at the picture again I thought to myself that it needed a bigger audience so I started posting it to some of Twitter’s bigger hitters. This was in no way a desperate, cynical, and selfish act in order get new followers. Oh no. I passed it on to a few of my favourites, the likes of Graham Linehan, Charlie Brooker, Derren Brown, Dara O’Briain, Ben Goldacre, Robin Ince, those with a skeptical nature who may enjoy a laugh at the expense of Mr Power, and things went crazy.

As far as I can tell it was Glinner who was first to have retweeted my picture, and such is his influence that it soon spread quickly over Twitter. My @reply feed was clogged with retweets, people passing on their lols, and questions to whether the poster was genuine. This lasted for almost a day, then almost as quickly as it started, the interest dried up. My fifteen minutes of Twitter fame were up and all I gained was three measly new followers! Pfft. What’s the point? And with that I slowly slinked back into obscurity.

It was later that day that I received a link on Facebook from a friend asking if this was my pic. Sure enough, a blogger he had been following had posted it. I was quite thrilled and honoured at first. This blog is run by a person who handles the websites/admin for two very big celeb types. But when I checked the page my heart sank a little. Yes, the pic was posted, but with no link back to me or my Twitter account. I thought it may have been overlooked so I found this person’s Twitter and said something along the lines of “Hi, I’m glad you liked my picture, but is there any chance you could credit me, Twitter-quette and all that”. The next morning I received a reply saying “Sorry, a lot of people sent me this picture. The first was so-and-so”. Oh. I re-read my tweet and thought I hadn’t been clear that it was MY photo. I replied again, pointing out how it was my pic, showing the tweets where it was first posted and everything. Nothing. Nada. I left it a few more days and tried again and still got no response. And even now a month on, the pic is still up, and there been no attempt to give me credit for the pic.

If I had written this blog a couple of weeks earlier, I’d still be red raw and would probably be naming and shaming this fellow. Now I feel there’s very little point. The most disappointing thing is this person SHOULD know better. They run some big sites and should be aware of the netiquette in such situations. Maybe if they happen across this blog it might show them the error of their ways…

Anyway, in-between that nonsense, I received another link on Facebook. It turns out my picture had ended up on Failblog. And then I got another link pointing it out on Funny Or Die. The thing was running out of control! I was experiencing at first hand what it is for something to go viral. Neither Failblog or Funny Or Die had linked back to my Twitter account. It was such a strange mix of emotions. I was proud that the pic had taken off, that it was making people laugh around the world, but I was distraught that I wouldn’t get credit for it. That’s all I wanted, just for people to know it was me who had put it out there. Is that really so much to ask?

Luckily, Failblog had recourse for such action. I clicked a little button and it gave me an email address on which to contact them. I wrote them a polite mail pointing out that it was my picture. I pointed to the original tweets in which it was posted, included my original photos (one of which I haven’t posted online) along with the original metadata saying when and where it was took, and sent it. After my last experience I wasn’t holding out much hope. I received an auto-response saying they would look at it and get back to me within two days…

Funny Or Die doesn’t have seem to have a way to contact them in these types of cases so I went to the blog they claimed was the source of the picture. It was a science blog run by PZ Meyers, a professor at the University of Minnesota. He did have a contact address but wrote that he would try to read every mail he received, he didn’t have the time to reply to them all. I wrote pretty much the same thing I did to Failblog, clicked ‘send’ and crossed my fingers…

Within eight hours of sending my mail to Failblog, I received a reply from Katrina, one of Failblog’s researchers, saying “Thanks for letting us know the photo was yours. I’ve added a source and linked it to your Twitter account”. I checked PZ Meyers blog and he had added a little via link to my Twitter just under the picture. It was as simple as that! This renewed my faith in the online community. It wasn’t every blog that used my pic, (I’ve found it on Boing Boing and The Huffington Post too) but it was enough to have my name linked to those two, just so somebody out there knew I was the one who had taken it. This is not the end of the story, though. Life had kind of got in the way in the days after that, so I could no longer spend the time trying to chase up every blog and get them to credit me for the photo. But it turns out what I did was just about enough…

It was a Monday and I was getting ready for work. I turned on my computer and had a quick check of Twitter. I had one new follower and an @reply waiting. It said “Please could you get in touch about your photo” and left an email address. An address with Avalon in it. I knew I recognised it but couldn’t quite place it. I wrote them a quick reply “Yep, it’s my pic. How can I help?”. They replied very quickly. It turns out they were a researcher working for Avalon, the TV production company. They wanted to licence my picture for That Sunday Show on ITV.

I was a bit weary at first. After all the time I spent chasing up sites to get credited for the photo, I didn’t want to give the rights up just like that. The researcher assured me I would still retain all rights to the picture, but apologised that they couldn’t give me credit because it had already been shown the previous night. It was an oversight on their part that they hadn’t got in contact sooner because the person who had sent it in had suddenly disappeared. It’s only when they did the research that they realised the photo belonged to me. I could accept that and they forwarded some documents for me to sign. The price they pay for licensing my pic? £150.

That’s my story, really. The advice for anyone out there who should stumble upon a funny poster, vid, situation, would be BLOG IT FIRST. It would have saved me so much hassle. If you feel you deserve credit for something, don’t be afraid to chase it up. Most big blogs/sites have methods in place to deal with these things, it’s the smaller, individual blogs you’ll probably find more difficult. Always keep the original photo/vid just in case, and make sure you know where and when it first went online. And definitely don’t expect to profit from it. I got extremely lucky.

So, £150 for seeing a funny poster and posting it online. A funny poster that was meant to please the two thousand or so people who populate the tiny Mid-Wales town of Builth Wells. A poster that has now been seen by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people all over the world. It blows your mind, doesn’t it?

I don’t expect anything more interesting to happen with this from now on, so with your help, I’d like to list/document the sites and places where my pic shows up. Here’s where I’ve found so far –

Failblog

Funny Or Die

Boing Boing

PZ Meyers Science Blog

The Huffington Post

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Fuck You, I Won’t Do What You Tell Me… Lazy Internet Campaigns!

Posted in Rant, Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by Bjorn Grainger

Hello, yes, I know it’s been awhile, but I’m back and ready to grumble.

Okay, so a couple of friends have invited me to join this “Fuck you, Cowell, I won’t buy what you tell me” thing to get Rage Against The Machine to Christmas number one. I’m not sure I see the point.

I get the intentions behind it. Having a band who write their own songs and play their own instruments is infinitely more preferable to Cowell’s bland covers by the year’s most marketable face. I also concede that if exposure to “Killing In The Name” opens a few folks ears to musical experimentation, that is a good thing.

If this is a middle finger to the establishment, though, a rage against the machine if you will, you’ve backed the wrong horse. R.A.T.M. are to a big label, just like Simon’s plastics. Any money you spend will go the very same companies whose artists dominate the charts already. It is self-defeating. How much better it would have been to support a wholly independent artist. And if you want to be truly radical, what are you doing supporting this old and broken business model? Away to the P2P file-sharing networks where every thing is free!

Then there’s the “It’s a laugh, innit? It’d be funny for them to be number one!” argument. I admit seeing granny’s teeth fly out as she sings the chorus whole playing Guitar Hero would be right larks, but I wonder how Zack de la Rocha feels about being part of the joke? And if it is all just a laugh, then why get so worked up about Cowell’s cronies having a Christmas number one anyway?

Finally, aren’t Christmas number ones meant to be shit? Or do we really hold Cliff Cloth’s “Mistletoe and Wine”, Mr Blobby, and Bob the Builder in that high a regard? The biggest danger is we’ll take “Killing In The Name”, an anthem of rebellion, and turn it into just another Christmas novelty.

But, hey, what do I know? I’m probably just being deliberately contrary in order to appear too cool for school. There is a third option, if you’re interested. Why don’t you give Tim Minchin’s “White Wine In The Sun” a go? He’s Aussie and wears tight trousers!

I should of let it go…

Posted in Rant, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by Bjorn Grainger

I was tired after my fun London trip. I was grumpy at having to work, and bored mindless with having nothing to do. Still, I shouldn’t have answered back. I should have let it lie, if just for the easy life. I didn’t, though.

It had been a fairly quiet shift, Saturdays usually are, especially now the evil conglomerate, Co-Op, has opened opposite. In between the customers, I had been mostly reading the paper and thinking about blogging about my London time. Then in came an older, white-haired man to pay for petrol…

The best customers, for me, are the ones who are nice and polite, maybe exchanging the odd pleasantry, but are efficient enough to want to get in and out. Turn offs include rudeness, stinkiness, queue-hoggers, cheque book Charlies, conversationalists, people who call me “butt”, people who call me “mate” (who don’t know me), drunks, idiots, religious types, racists, and the Irish.

The older man was pretty much in the first group. He paid by card and was fairly pleasant. That was until he asked if our air compressor was working as he needed to fill a tyre. I said yes it was, but it needs a twenty pence coin. For some reason he took this to be more evidence of “Broken Britain”. He went off on a mumbley rant, saying how air should be free and such. I wasn’t really listening. He turned around and started to leave, only to turn back and say “In a year things will be a lot better once we vote the Tories in!”

This is the point. This is where I should have left it. I should have just smiled and let him walk off on his way. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I have this confrontational part to my personality. Regardless of my own beliefs, political views, or in most cases, any kind of knowledge on the subject, I must take the contrary stance. In short, I love a good argument.

It started with a sarcastic “Yeah” from me. The man walked back to the counter.

“I could never vote for that privileged Eton boy.” I said, doing my best impression of the working class hero. “I thought we meant to of done away with these ruling classes, not be actively voting them in! Anyway, Cameron is just clone of Blair.” (Okay, I was more stuttery than that, but this is my story and I want to appear super sexy).

“Tony Blair is one of the biggest conmen in history, and that one-eyed idiot Brown!” the white-haired man said poking the counter. “Look at what they’ve done to the country!”

“Yeah” I said, “it’s terrible. I bet the poor starving African child feels really sorry for us(!)” I regretted it the moment I said it.

“I was a unversity lecturer and I taught a lot of dark people. Some of the blacks were good people, hard workers, but most were lazy.” he said “And I tell you what, the darkies all said the same thing. They were better off when we ruled them. Things were fairer.”

I was obviously shocked. I had clearly stumbled upon the Daily Mail’s core demographic.

“When the black man gets a bit of power and wealth, he just uses it on building palaces” he said.

Trying to drag the argument back to politics for fear of somebody wandering in and hearing the racist ravings of a mental, i asked “How is that any different to here when 10% of the population control 90% of the wealth?” (I plucked those numbers out of the air, I have no idea whether they’re true or not. They sound good, though).

“That’s the free market” he said, “we wouldn’t be where we are today without the free market.”

“What?” I said, “in a recession?”

He didn’t like that and started walking towards the door again. He reached it and said “I’ll come back in three years and we’ll see if anything has changed.”

I asked him if he had seen Cameron’s speech. He didn’t answer. I asked again. No answer. A third time.

“No.” he said.

I had. And I had him. He said “The problem with your generation is you don’t think for yourselves” and mumbled something about Peter Mandelson before leaving.

This is the kind of director I want to be…

Posted in Movies, Rant, Thoughts with tags , , , on June 4, 2007 by Bjorn Grainger

(This blog was originally written on Myspace)

Anyone wanna work with me?

God is a number…

Posted in Rant, Thoughts with tags , , , , on February 26, 2007 by Bjorn Grainger

(This blog was originally written on Myspace)

So, it was midday and I was at work. I had just served a man, a fairly pleasant person with a Liverpudlian accent, he was walking towards the door and I went to listen to my iPod when the man stopped, turned around, and walked towards the counter.

“Can I ask you a question?” he said.

“Sure” I replied, expecting a question on how to get somewhere, or what the area is like.

“Have you ever thought about the existence of God?” he asked.

I was a little taken aback, it’s not something I’m asked every day, but I answered. “Well… Yeah, I have. I don’t believe in God. I’m an atheist.”

“What about creation?”

“What ABOUT creation?” I asked back.

“Surely that proves there’s a higher power.” the man said.

My job isn’t exactly taxing on the ol’ brain, so I’ve be known spend many an hour daydreaming and to think over stuff like this on occasion. “For me…” I said “the idea of a God creating life actually detracts from its wonder”

At this point a customer comes in and I’m unable to continue with my thought. If you really want to know the rest of what I was going to say then you’ll have to ask, I’m more than willing to throw my ill-formed ideas at you.

The man hung around while i served the customer and then asked “So do you believe Jesus Christ existed?”

“Well, I remember watching a programme ages ago that said there was a Roman document that made note of a person creating a lot of trouble in the middle east and that document was around two thousand years old. Now, whether that person was Jesus and he was the son of God is a completely different question.”

Happy that I didn’t dismiss Jesus outright and hooking on to whether he was the son of God, the man said “Jesus said there were three explanations. Either he was who he said he was, slightly misguided, or insane. No insane person would tell you to love your brother, would they?”

Another customer comes in and the man says “I better go. It was nice talking” and then mentions something aboot Armageddon and the West Bank which I didn’t quite catch or understand. As he walks through the door he says “Remember that Christ died on the cross for your sins” and left.

Funnily enough, i watched The Passion of the Christ on thursday. It’s affecting, but then surely you’d be an inhuman monster not to be affected by watching the prolonged torture of an individual over an hour and a half? My problem is that it tries to guilt trip you into believing. “Gosh, Jesus went through Hell for us. I ‘spose we better follow him”. I feel that faith should come from somewhere else, in this case Jesus’s teachings and what he said, not the way he died.

Another thing that passed through my mind while watching was that if you take away the religious content of the film then there wasn’t a lot (other than fancy slo-mo shots) to separate it from a cheap exploitation flick. Also, can you imagine the shitstorm if someone made a film with same amount of horrific torture and the victim was a woman?