Archive for the ‘These modern times’ Category

Two New Yorker cartoons

October 9, 2015

Two recent cartoons: a Zach Kanin on the male body in cartoons (in the 9/28 issue), a Liam Francis Walsh on social media (in the 10/5 issue):




Digitally disseminated folklore

July 22, 2015

Back in 1975, Alan Dundes and Carl R. Pagter published the first in a series of Urban Folklore From the Paperwork Empire books, in which they catalogued an assortment of material — drawings (most with captions or other text on them) and slogan signs — created by office workers, photographically reproduced, and distributed through office mail. In addition, “dirty” drawings and pictures were passed from hand to hand, just as “dirty” jokes spread by word of mouth. All of this material cycled informally, and (like classic folklore) no one had any real idea where it came from, beyond the person who gave it to you, nor did people care about that.


This dissemination of subterranean cultural material continues, but now mostly by digital means. And at a vastly increased rate. And a fair amount of it is the same stuff that used to be passed around the office.

In any case, few people care about the source of the stuff that comes their way — an attitude that distresses me with respect to cartoons and obvious artistic creations and makes me uneasy in lots of other cases. Meanwhile, some of my friends treat my attitudes as charming academic eccentricities that don’t, and shouldn’t, concern ordinary people.


Monster on the Internet

June 9, 2015

Yesterday’s alarming Dilbert:

Dilbert finds himself enmeshed in a relationship with the Internet monster Dick, who hacks at the underpinnings of cooperative conversation.

Kids these days

May 29, 2015

Today’s One Big Happy, in which Joe seems not to be fully plugged in:

What comes at the end? A top-level domain name, of course, or so thinks a child in these modern times.

And then, as an bonus, Ruthie mistakes her dad’s Y (the letter name) for why (the question word).


February 27, 2015

Today’s Zippy:

Resistance to modern communications technology, both hardware and software, is a recurrent theme in Zippy. This time it’s social media under fire from our Pinhead.


December 31, 2014

From the December/January issue of Details magazine, in “The Wonderful, Wordless World of Emojis ;-): Navigating the complex and subtle intricacies of the digital language du jour” by Bret Begun, Laura Bolt, and Jon Roth:

Begrudgingly, but inevitably, we’ve let emojis infiltrate our lives. And while communicating with them doesn’t always feel right or good, omg, they’re so addicting. We furiously thumb our favorites to friends and those we hope to be more than friends with. At this point, if you don’t use them, you’re being purposefully pretentious, like the kind of person who brags about abstaining from Facebook.

Call me purposefully pretentious, but I’m not fond of emojis, though I’m offered a broad choice of them all the time.


The lure of the Internet

December 26, 2014

Today’s Bizarro:

Notice that you’re seeing this on a blog.

Facebook vs. texting

October 1, 2014

Today’s Zits, returning to a frequent theme in the strip, means or modes of communication across the generations:

In earlier episodes, Jeremy rejected the idea of face-to-face talk (and even e-mail) in favor of texting. Now we discover that social networking is a step too far.

Annals of community and conversation

August 22, 2014

On Slate on the 20th, a piece by David Auerbach, on “The First Gay Space on the Internet: It was called soc.motss, and it anticipated how we use social networks today”. Framing the piece:

Since the early 1980s, there have been many LGBTQ spaces on the Net: newsgroups, bulletin board systems, or BBSs, mailing lists, social networks, chat rooms, and websites. But the very first LGBTQ Internet space, as far as I’ve been able to find, was the soc.motss newsgroup. And it hosted conversations that had never been seen before online — and that arguably remain in too short supply even today.


Party of five

May 10, 2014

Five cartoons from recent days. Not one of them seems to have anything to do with (US) Mothers Day (but maybe tomorrow, on the day itself, Mom will surface). A daydreaming Jeremy in Zits; a Calvin and Hobbes on following rules; a Rhymes With Orange with a groan-inducing (but learnèd) pun; and a Bizarro and a Zippy on different aspects of modern communication.



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