Tag Archives: Memetics

Pranks 2, Applicant, and And Your Point Is?

Twenty years later, Vale Vale and Company finally return to the land of pranksters with Pranks 2 (RE/Search). These interviews, mostly done by V. Vale himself, illustrate just how deep pranks run in our current cultural milieu — and how far they’ve spread since the last volume (RE/Search #11: Pranks). From the spread of culture jamming and parody to the mainstays of satire and social commentary, pranksterism is standard fare. Heck, just the mainstreaming of the lyrical spoof, which has nearly put Weird Al Yankovic out of business, is proof enough. All of this makes it that much more difficult to shake things up with a good prank. Well, the time has come for the O.G.’s and the current reigning few to get their due. (more…)

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Sticker Nation by Srini Kumar

I don’t know how most people feel about stickers, but they make me get all smiley. Sticker Nation (Disinformation) contains over 400 stickers emblazoned with subversive themes. Classic slogans like “Let the good times roll,” “Express yourself,” and “Power to the people” are peppered amongst “I just changed the world,” “Listen to Marshall McLuhan,” “Eat more veggies,” and “Talk nerdy to me.” My personal favorite is “When I hit the drum, you shake the booty,” but it’s difficult to have a favorite when there are so many good ones in here. (more…)

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Why Societies Need Dissent by Cass R. Sunstein

In Why Societies Need Dissent, Cass R. Sunstein illustrates the powers and dangers of dissent through a clear and concise exposition of three basic phenomena: conformity, social cascades, and group polarization. His epistemological view of conformity shows how we tend to learn less first-hand than from what others think and believe. Social cascades occur when […]

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I Want That! by Thomas Hine

Columbus killed more Indians than Hitler did Jews, but on his birthday you get sales on shoes — The Goats

What at first might seem mundane subject matter is made illuminating and interesting by Thomas Hine’s engaging narrative, personal and historical examples, and downright deep digging. Excavating our culture of consumption from the perspectives of power, responsibility, discovery, self-expression, insecurity, attention, belonging, celebration, and convenience, Hine unearths the desires and rituals that have made us all shoppers in one sense or another. In the spirit of the quote above, I Want That! (HarperCollins) points out the fact that we “mix up reverence with consumption.” Our every holiday is tied to purchases and a subsequent sale of some sort. (more…)

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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell has put together what is easily one of the most readable books about social phenomena out right now. Borrowing by analogy from epidemiology, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Little Brown & Company) is a clear, concise analysis of social epidemics and why they “tip” (“The Tipping Point” is the name given to the moment in an epidemic when a virus reaches critical mass). Gladwell says, “If you talk to the people who study epidemics – epidemiologists – you realize that they have a strikingly different way of looking at the world. They don’t share the assumptions the rest of us have about how and why change happens.” (more…)

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