Join Petrula Vrontikis for an in-depth discussion in this video Dave Bullock, CrowdRise, part of Real-World Design: Live Presentations from Creative Leaders.
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(electronic music) - Next presenter is a huge nerd. He's been hacking computers for roughly three decades. He calls himself a huge nerd, so I can call him a huge nerd. He's been hacking computers for roughly three decades. And along the way has architect and implemented a vast array of diverse interactive ecosystems. Dave takes a high level view on complex problems and drills down to the minute details in order to convert abstract ideas into tangible results.
More specifically, Dave builds web and mobile applications and systems. Dave helps save the world everyday at Crowdrise where he's the lead developer. He's also an editorial and fine art photographer. And in addition, Dave teaches here at Art Center and we are so happy to be able to hear his story and give him an opportunity to be introduced to those of you who didn't have an opportunity to take his course. So please welcome, Dave Bullock.
(applause) - So yeah it's true you guys who know me know I'm a huge nerd. I've been playing with computers since I was a little kid. But today I'm not really going to talk too much about computers or my kind of path here. But I am going to talk about one thing that you guys know is close and dear to my heart. And that is Internet Memes. So I'm going to give kind of a history of Internet Memes.
And I'm gonna start from the beginning with just memes in general. So a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. That's right out of the dictionary. So you know it's true. Here's probably a more relevant description of it. Memes are used to give a bit of pseudo-academic gravitas to stupid viral shit. So that's out of Urban Dictionary which is, that's way better than the regular dictionary. So the actual Etymology of meme is a shortened version of the Greek word mimeme, something like that, meaning imitated thing similar to mime.
It was actually coined in 76 by Richard Dawkins in his book "The Selfish Gene" as a way to explain the evolutionary spread of ideas and culture through society. He actually, this guy right here, he liked memes so he actually made the word for it. So before internet memes, there have been memes through culture for a long time. So some examples of those are melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and arches.
So arches are things that were created by one culture and copied and changed and we still see them today obviously, right? So you have all kinds of Greek arches, you have golden arches, right, so that stuff kind of keeps going through society changing. Humans put their spin on it and make it their own and change it. So catch-phrases, here's here's an old black figure piece in the Louvre. And it has a little catch-phrase on it, it's a little advertising slogan, "buy me and you'll get a good bargain." We still hear that today, right, on billboards and cheesy advertising on radio and stuff like that.
It's like a cultural whisper that lives on in our heads and we pass down into the work we make. So memes, the original idea of memes are kind of like genes. They're this kind of base thing that make up our culture and they evolve. And they reason why they evolve, it's cause of you guys. Because we as humans, we're not perfect, we're always kind of fucking things up. We take something, we change it a little, we try and copy it and make it perfect, but we add our own little spin on it and that's how things evolve and grow and turn into really cool stuff.
More modern versions of memes is this kind of graffiti right here, that I don't know if you guys seen this before, but this is popular in the 40's, the "Kilroy Was Here!" And it ended up all over the place in different languages, in bombers, and in popular culture and magazines and newspapers. Put together a bunch of little examples of it. You can see that everywhere, someone had it on their tombstone here, you got it on different tanks. This guy, maybe didn't really have it on his head like that, I'm not sure if that's real or not. But you can see that on a bomber there.
Ya know, people took their spin on it. So another form of memes are Emoticons. And so this is kind of getting close to the internet meme, but this is definitely predates the internet and computers even. So original one was sending Love and Kisses in morse code shortened to 88. And that kind of has, we've seen that evolve to XO, that's kind of hugs and kisses. Another emoticon, which this is questionable, whether it's true or not, But in, oh, I forgot to put the date on here but I think it was 18 something, a transcription of Abraham Lincoln's New York Times speech had a little smiley face but it's probably a typo, probably not an actual smiley face.
And then of course Harvey Ball's smiley face from 63 that we've all seen before. And we've seen this one has changed many ways. We've seen it with a bullet and all kinds of weird stuff happened to it. And then we get to kind of a more, the pre-internet that we know today, which is the World Wide Web, that was Usenet. The first documented smiley was from, in September 19th 1982. And this was actually lost for a long time and it was kind of like this urban legend until someone actually pulled up this off an old back up tape and found the original email sent to, I believe it's on Usenet, by Scott Fahlman, on the Carnegie Mellon University science, they had a general discussion group.
Here it is, So I dunno if you can see that, you probably can. But he was saying that, because you know, when you type something, especially on the internet when we're sending small bits of text, it's easy to misunderstand what your point is. So he wanted a way to make it really clear when you were being sarcastic or joking, or if you were sad. So specifically a sad face if it's not a joke, right? This is for real. And a smiley face to say it's a joke. Now we use this obviously in much different ways. We sign our email with it, and now we have emoji on our phone, which is much more expressive in little pictures, that we can send each other.
So getting back to actual internet memes, this is one of the first real memes on the internet. And it started in 97 by Dino Ignacio, and he took Bert and he photoshopped Bert into all these like pictures of evil. And he posted it on somewhere and it became really popular and he ended up, you know, you got him with the Ramsey family you got Bert in jail, Osama, you got Bert with Hitler. Of course that was all before Godwin's Law. But you know, Bert ended up everywhere evil.
So that was one of the first kind of internet memes. Another popular one, now this is still around, someone actually made a version that works without Flash now so you can see it on your phone. But Zombo.com, it was a site that became really popular for doing absolutely nothing. They have this voiceover and some weird music and it just played music and sang something about like this is going to be the most amazing site and the only thing that's holding you back what you can do here is you. But it literally did absolutely nothing. So that was a big hit in 99. That was the internet that I grew up with, so you guys have a slightly different internet going on now.
Here's a really famous one that I've always been a big fan of and it's from a video game, And it was a cut scene in a video game So it's like when there's not dialogue and it's this guy talking and it's basically All Your Base Are Belong To Us. And this guy in 91, sorry this guy in 2000, DJ Jeffrey Ray Roberts remixed it into this techno song and now it's been remixed tons of times. And so that meme has evolved just not even to pictures, without the pictures the text has turned into all kinds of weird random stuff like George W. with All Your Base and weird random stuff.
That's an early meme that still has legs today. You'll see this one around, and I'll probably mention it in class. I didn't mention this, but for those of you who have taken my class before, I always offer extra credit if your project involves either memes, or cats, or both. So just keep that in mind. That's not a joke. People have gone from like B+ to an A- with that extra one point of credit right there. Seriously. No, I'm kidding around. So Tourist Guy, this guy Peter Guzli, he shopped himself, shopped a plane, he had been on the Trade Towers. Obviously, you know, this didn't happen when he was on the actual, on September 11th, but he shopped a plane into the photo.
It went completely viral. And then now, Tourist Guy, well maybe less popularly now, but for a long time is was super cool to Photoshop him into random pictures. You got him JFK assassination attempt, the Hindenburg, KKK rally, Loch Ness Monster, All kinds of, He got in the cave there. So good times, good times. Badgers, this was annoying Flash animation. Does anyone here remember Flash? That was the stuff, It was a thing for awhile. It was the thing that you could do all sorts of cool stuff with.
Now we have HTML5, we can do all that cool stuff without flash, which is great. But it was kind of an imitation of the HampsterDance site, which was like, that wasn't even Flash, that was just like a thousand .GIFs of random hamsters dancing. and some banjo music playing in the background. A MIDI file. It was amazing. That was like the best thing ever. I still enjoy that. Okay, another really good one, Do not want. Just that phrase, "Do not want", but especially when coupled with a picture of an animal in like Woah! Terror! So really good, that's 2005.
Can't believe it's been that long. This one just has, this one has legs. I mean any picture of an upset animal, especially like a cat going like this. It's perfect, you know. So Do not want. Really good. Good stuff right there. Advice Dog. So never under any circumstance ever follow any advice from Advice Dog. Don't do it, seriously. Keep in mind that the whole idea of Advice Dog, the whole point is like, don't take advice from a dog. Okay so then here, I must admit, when it come to memes, LOLCATS.
I mean a cat saying something funny that maybe slightly off bad spelling, there's something about that that's just like really engaging and powerful. It's a seriously a wonderful thing. So 2006 we had "I can has cheezburgers." Spawned a whole site called "I can has cheezburger." And now it's like, you know, no shortage of cats saying funny things. And they are really funny. So Trollface. now here's where we start getting into kind of the more 4chan stuff. Never, ever go on 4Chan, just avoid it at all cost.
Reddit's pretty good, but 4chan just avoid. Just don't do it. Carlos Ramirez drew the Troll Face on his MS Paint webcomic in 2008 and then this one is still very popular. Where I work, we use an app called Slack where you can message each other, it's kind of like IRC but just for one company. And you can upload different little icons to use when you're talking, and of course Trollface is a very popular one. So this one's good . Here's like, the rainbow background is really popular.
It goes well with any meme. The Rage Guy. This is another 4chan one. Crude comic, and this one is awesome because you can have some kind of mess up thing, and then Rage Guy comes and it's amazing. So it's a really good one. Beautiful art. I should have researched it a little more, but it's very nice. So this one's interesting. so the Y U NO guy, actually the little face, not the round part, but the little face in the middle. So 4chan, they actually did something cool.
4chan sometimes does good things for the world. Very very infrequently, usually they just screw things up. In this case, they found where the original comic was, that that guy's face comes from. It was something like some Japanese comic, Gaintz chapter 55 Naked King, and someone pulled that out and turned it into a really popular images macro on little Tumblr wallpapers. And so that's still a super popular one. Oh here's everyone's favorite, right? Nyan Cat. This was started out as a, as a little GIF animation by Chris Torres.
And this one, I think some made the endless Nyan Cat, like a 24 hour Nyan Cat video with a techno song playing in the background. So this is a really, and it's a really, pretty nice illustration based on this cat. So that's good. Extra credit in my class if you'd done that. And this one, you know, you've got the American Nyan Cat. And then, I've never actually noticed the smashing through the Windows logo one, that's pretty good. Of course the Nyan Cat costumes. It's probably a little late this year to still be doing Nyan Cat costumes. If you're going to do that, change your costume. Oh, Bad Luck Brian.
Poor Brian. He just could not win. I mean this guy, nothing good comes of it. Basically for those who don't know, everything he does goes horribly wrong. So, you know, has a pet rock, it runs away. It's not going good for him. Okay, so Grumpy Cat. Here's another favorite of mine and probably everyone's cause Grumpy cat is a real cat, and it's like a dwarf cat, which is why it looks like it's always sad. But he's not really sad, he's a happy cat. Very nice cat. But now he like a total celebrity, and he goes on TV, and probably has a movie in the works.
I think he actually does have a movie in the works. That's really happening. That's crazy, right? And of course no shortage of funny things. I think that really is a picture of him with Peter Dinklage right there. I think I actually started following Grumpy Cat's Instagram feed, which is hilarious of course because the cat just looks sad all the time. It's not sad though. And then a more resent one Doge. This is a really good one. So for those who don't know, Doge is a Shiba Inu, and again I think either Reddit, Reddit tracked him down.
They actually met, it's like a school teacher in Japan who owns this dog. Put a couple pictures up on the internet like four or five years ago, someone found them and then made it, turned it into an image macro. But poor Doge has trouble using such, much, and many, and always mixes up the right ways to use them. So it's very embarrassing for Doge, but very funny for us to read those things. So it's things like such good, many happy, I don't know there's tons of them. Lost Doge, much reward, you get the idea. We all love Doge, right? Come on, Doge is great. Oh, and here's a recent one.
So poor Beyonce. So this actually probably wouldn't even have been a big deal, but then it kind of had the Barbra Streisand effect. You guys are all familiar with that right? When someone makes fun of you on the internet, then you sic your lawyers on them. That is never the way to do it. Don't do that because that's just going to make everyone want to make fun of you more. So that one just like, she just ends up everywhere. And it's, you know. Poor, poor Beyonce. Well she's not poor, but she's-- Oh we got an Ermahgerd in there. But that was an accident right there.
Okay then finally, a really, a recent one from this year. This is like double meme right here. This is like a meta meme. So Tim Howard, amazing goalie, right? And he can save anything, right? so that's a whole meme of like all these different things that he's saying like, He's like "No Miley, not the wrecking ball!" And saving the dinosaurs up here, and saving, no that's too soon for a September 11th joke. Oh, he saved Blockbuster and Game of Thrones. I mean, that would be a lot of saving, Game of Thrones.
Oh look, he's saving Kanye's embarrasment there and stuff. Good stuff. So yeah, so why am I giving this presentation? You know, honestly I was like, "Oh, the power of media. Memes! "I'm just gonna talk about memes. "Why, why not?" Cause really, I mean, what I do is I write code and that's kind of underlying media. But memes are kind of this like, this viral code that's in our society, so memes are powerful. They're funny, but they're really expressive, and they say lot about us as a culture.
And if you can figure out a way to harness them you can really speak to you guys, the youth. And you guys know this, right? When you see memes, especially if it's something that's like funny, it's like, you kinda get, you kinda feel it. They're deeply rooted in our popular culture. And what's nice about memes is just like any kind of art, you can just take it, you can remix it, you can apply it, and you can keep doing cool stuff with it. It's endless, you can, The farther you go back in reference memes, especially if it's something that, that's still in the cultural psyche, people get that and then you can do really cool stuff with it.
So what's next? Actually, I know you guys, this is a talk, but I'm assigning you guys homework. Sorry about that. I'm not sorry. So this is the easiest part of the homework. There's tiers of difficulty here. So the easiest part is to pick a meme and remix it. Do something funny, make fun of yourself, make fun of the school, make fun of whatever, make fun of me. There's a bunch of really easy ways to do it. You can use meme generator, meme dad. You can use Photoshop. The most difficult way is MS Paint though. So you guys all use MS Paint, right? Yeah, okay.
Another easy thing is to keep up with the latest news. You guys probably do this anyway. But go on Reddit, Reddit's awesome. It's not just weird geeky guys, there's all kinds of cool stuff. Whatever you're into, there's Reddit. There's a bunch of stuff that I guarantee none of you are into, avoid those things. 4chan, you can do that if you're feeling adventurous and not afraid of going to jail. But I would avoid 4chan probably. Knowyourmeme.com is great, it's a great resource. If you see a meme and you're like, " what is that?", you can get the whole history, the breakdown of it, it's really fun.
Obviously, I just touched on a very small slice of the memes that are out there. And then of course, we all see memes on Facebook. But the memes on Facebook, it's like six to eight months after they were popular. If you want to be up on memes, don't wait for them to be on Facebook, for your cousin in the Midwest to repost it. So here's an actual challenge. So I want you guys to create a meme that becomes popular. This is going to be impossible, right? Cause I mean, think of how many memes there are and think of how many people on the internet there are.
It's a very small percentage of stuff that actually gets popular. But you guys are amazing creative geniuses and I think you can do it. So when you come up with a really good one, post it one Reddit and we'll see what happens. Thanks! (applause)
The second round of the series, recorded in late 2014, features Erich Joiner from the design firm Tool, Dave Bullock from the crowdfunding site CrowdRise, and Peter Lunenfield from UCLA talking about the power of media in design. The first panel features the 3x3 group: YO | LAI | DO event, featuring Yo Santosa (Ferroconcrete), David Lai (Hello Design), and Chris Do (BL:ND). This transmedia trio presents projects from the fields of branding, web, and motion design, touching on the challenges of running their own firms and the importance of story, inspiration, and constant evolution.
Art Center professor and lecture series leader Petrula Vrontikis guides both panels in round-table discussions about managing client expectations, overcoming professional uncertainty, and much more.