From the Editors
Best in blogs: Mashable Sale Rumor, Goldman Sachs Exposed, Homeless Hotspots, and the Most Viral Video of All Time
So that "Kony 2012" video this week became the most viral video in history, hitting 100 million views in six days, Mashable says. Compared to how long it took other famous Web videos to reach that many views, Kony 2012 makes the "Laughing Baby" just look sad. There's nothing laughable about Joseph Kony, of course, Uganda's longtime horrific warlord whose violent LRA group had kidnapped kids and forced them into child soldiery. Hard to imagine there would be backlash against spreading the word on that, but hang on. Says Slate: "Some critics say that the film glossed over the context of the conflict and unfairly focuses on the LRA, while other groups in the region have used similarly atrocious tactics. Others, meanwhile, have criticized the nonprofit for spending only 30 percent of its proceeds to help Uganda's children." The Nation suggested the viral craze was getting ridiculous: "If you are looking for the precise moment when the viral campaign against Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony turned to farce, it was probably at 6:21 pm on Friday March 9. 'Have you heard of this guy Joseph Kony?,' asked the rapper-turned-reality-star Vanilla Ice, in a tweet from Dallas. 'America needs to send in the hero's that killed Bin Laden and take this killer out.'" Well, if you reach 100 million people, some won't be Winston Churchill.
The Nation says the video "perfectly demonstrates the urgent,
uplifting arc of successful web campaigns....[But] the film's largest
substantive shortcoming is because of the timing. Kony was already
indicted on war crimes in 2005; he already fled Uganda." Wow, the Web
Another "Internet sensation" this week was the scathing "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs" letter by now-former Goldman exec Greg Smith, printed prominently in the NY Times. "The Internet has been positively ablaze with chatter, much of it humorous," blogs Bottom Line. The Daily Mash responded with a resignation letter from Darth Vader, mimicking the original: "TODAY is my last day at the Empire. After almost 12 years, first as a summer intern, then in the Death Star and now in London, I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its massive, genocidal space machines." Borowtiz Report did a phony letter from Goldman's CEO reassuring clients: "At Goldman, we pride ourselves on our ability to scour the world's universities and business schools for the finest sociopaths money will buy."
Of course, the South by Southwest fandango, that multi-tentacled squid of a music/tech/film festival, is happening now. A dumb marketing campaign has become the breakout news from Austin. ReadWriteWeb reports: "South By Southwest 2012 can be summarized thusly: An impossibly-named marketing company called Bartle Bogle Hegarty is doing a little human science experiment called Homeless Hotspots. It gives out 4G hotspots to homeless people along with a promotional t-shirt. The shirt doesn't say, 'I have a 4G hotspot.' It says, 'I am a 4G hotspot.'" Epicenter says "This is my worry: the homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn't care anything at all about them or their future, so long as it can score a point or two about digital disruption of old media paradigms. So long as it can prove that the real problem with homelessness is that it doesn't provide a service." Yes, shocking, a marketing gimmick has turned out to be cynical. The other big news out of SXSW also has nothing to do with the hundreds of musicians, companies, artworks and gadgets on display down there but a rumor that CNN may buy Mashable for $200 million. Retuers columnist Felix Salmon broke the rumor, but there hasn't been confirmation or much solid reporting . "Not so fast," says PaidContent. "There are moments when deals can look very close--and when they might not be as close as they seem."
There was some music news from Austin. Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan talked about the Internet's ongoing destruction of the industry, Social Media Today says. Corgan stated: "Our aim is to turn the 'social' into a new way to experience an album. By taking the medium one step further we will create an experience with Oceania online and off-line that transcends the single and the single mentality in all ways." Get ready for... group earbuds? Also, Apple made a big splash at SXSW, but it was Fiona Apple, resurfacing after years away from the spotlight. Says Idolator: "It may not have been the home-run performance fans might've hoped for from Apple's first performance outside of Los Angeles in roughly five years. But it was enough to prove that Apple remains a fierce and fascinating pop singer."
And another era comes to a close as the people at Encyclopedia Britannica have announced "we will discontinue the 32-volume printed edition...when our current inventory is gone." It's sad, but just a sign of the times, says The Daily What: "Over the last decade, Encyclopaedia Britannica has seen online rival Wikipedia slowly eat away at its market share, with its high-minded notions of free information for all by all. By comparison, a complete set of Encyclopaedia Britannica books will set you back a cool $1,395." Says The Next Web: "I'm not quite sure what has taken the company so long to realize that it was losing money by continuing to print books, but either way, the time has come to say goodbye." Old hardcover encyclopedia sets can be donated directly to Vanilla Ice.