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The Undead Thread

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People like things to make sense. As a species we tend to find comfort and security in order and the routine. Ironically, (or not) we also have a tendency to be fascinated, if not preoccupied, by the strange and the unknown. We delight in the bizarre and if nothing else, the Internet is chock full of the bizarre. Who cares, you ask? The magic 8 ball says to finish reading this article and ask again later.

Swing by WebProWorld and discuss Web phenomenon with us.

Today is the birthday’ of the longest running, most read and most replied-to thread on our WebProWorld forum. Given the fact that WebProWorld is an IT/SEO/Business forum of considerable substance, you might imagine the subject of such a thread to fall into one of those categories. Oddly enough, the thread in question is about well nothing. I don’t post there. I don’t even like reading through it. It’s a monument to the abstract, it defies any conventions of logic and it just plain weirds me out. It’s apparent immortality is as unsettling as it inexplicable.

As such, in commemoration of our little slice of madness in WebProWorld and in the spirit of Halloween, I thought it would be interesting to take a minute to look at some examples of paranormal’ phenomenon on the Web. These are the twisted little sites and concepts that, for whatever reason, catch fire and burn across the Internet. They are the things nobody’s ever heard of today but a week later everybody is talking about. They are the Things That Go Bump on the Web and they are the kinds of things plenty of marketers would sell their souls for.

The first good example of this type of thing I can think of is probably the All Your Base’ stuff from about 4 years ago. For no good reason anyone can think of, a badly translated port of a video game resulted in innumerable Flash and Photoshop productions from the geek glitterati. Some of them are mildly amusing but more often than not, they end up a little weird for the most part.

More recently we’ve seen the poor Star Wars kid. It started a smaller version of the All Your Base’ spoofing thanks in part to increased bandwidth to handle video. The mysterious Zombocom; I can’t decide if its some tacit jab at dotcoms in general or what. I’m ready to sign up though. I want to belong.

Spongemonkies anyone? These disturbing little things made the rarest of jumps from Web to TV. We actually had them in a ClicksToday newsletter a year or two ago. They made the web to TV transition and ended up featured in a Quizno’s commercial. Other web to TV transitions have seemed equally unsettling to me. That guy in MSN’s butterfly suit I dunno.

TV has gone to the net too of course. Bud Light’s Wassupp commercial gimmick was dubbed into countless pop culture satires. Widely available editors made it pretty easy to do and before long it was being dubbed into all manners of alternative scenarios’. This is one of a very few commercially driven manifestations that spring to mind. I almost didn’t count it since it wasn’t really all that disturbing or particularly scary. Then it occurred to me that the commercially spawned variation was plenty frightening enough precisely because it carried a commercial association.

These things get everywhere. They span cultures like sidewalk cracks. They’re emailed, instant messaged, blogged, posted, written up and phoned. And they are powerful. So what is the secret? Is it luck? Coincidence? Blind chance that these things explode like they do? Where is that fine line between the inane and the sublime?

If you would like, swing by the forum and share any examples of these paranormal giant meme-things you found particularly interesting (or frightening). Do you have a favorite and if so, is it uncool to admit it?

Mike is a manager at iEntry. He has been with iEntry since 2000.

The Undead Thread
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