Some Dis-Assembly Required: A look at the Wikipedia IKEA article

IKEA has become a worldwide standard of affordable, build-it-yourself furniture and housing needs, and just as recognizable as their modern, seemingly randomly named products is their behemoth style warehouse stores and winding shopping routes. The massive blue and yellow monuments of interior design and Swedish meatballs are found around the globe, so it is to be expected that the company’s Wikipedia entry would cover much information with depth and reasonable accuracy. The Wikipedia entry for IKEA includes their history, structure of both the stores and businesses, products, positive and negative community impacts, criticism, and awards.

Readers of the page are immediately notified that the page could need additional citation to support its content.

Readers of the page are immediately notified that the page could need additional citation to support its content.

In the discussion of IKEA's environmental performance, three consecutive statements are tagged as needing confirmation.
In the discussion of IKEA’s environmental performance, three consecutive statements are tagged as needing confirmation.

Though the page is very thorough and cites 150 links and sources, at the top of its page is a statement by Wikipedia pointing out the need for additional citation within the article. The crowd sourced encyclopedia seeks to maintain transparency with its users, and notices like this one the site remind reader’s that the information presented is not hard fact or written in stone, but is instead the temporary result of an ongoing process (Jenkins 1).

Aside from the absence of a citation, within the article is found at least one instance of a cited link which is at best only loosely related to the claim made. Seen here, the linked site is only a search engine used to find employment opportunities with IKEA in Canada, rather than to a statistic regarding the presumed popularity of the company’s budget friendly goods with college students.

IKEABADLINK

IKEA BAD LINK 2

The quest for verification of popular opinion ends in a strange urge to relocate to Canada and become a full time furniture builder.

Since its creation in 2001, the IKEA page has been expanded, edited, corrected, or vandalized over 5,000 times, and most recently was amended 5 days prior to this post, according to the number of entries found listed on its Revision History page. Here and on the Talk page, users are in united discussion with one another to keep the article correct, up to date, and robust. While vandalism may hinder Wikipedia’s goal to gather and present the broad scope of facts and knowledge, its easily accessible platform is intended to allow for different points of view to be addressed.

IKEAVAN

Here a user has deliberately changed the credited founder to a false name. The edit was immediately noticed and reverted.

IKEATALK

A user’s addition to the list of topics being considered for improvement. The opinionated post has not been addressed since it’s appearance on the Talk page.

Through discourse and the pooling of knowledge, seen in the constant revision of IKEA’s Wikipedia entry are individuals collaborating, evaluating and negotiating to acquire and combine information as a social group entity which can be shared with all who are interested in learning about the questionable business practices of the fabulous some-assembly-required furniture provider (Jenkins 2).

Works Cited:

Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us about New Media Literacies (Part 1).” Web log post.

Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. N.p., 26 June 2007. Web. 21 Mar. 2015.

Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us about New Media Literacies (Part 2).” Web log post.

Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. N.p., 27 June 2007. Web. 21 Mar. 2015.

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Kermit the GIF

Kermit the frog, an original muppet by Jim Henson, is a much loved character known for his hosting of The Muppet Show, appearances on Sesame Street and his many big screen endeavors. The kid friendly frog is also enjoyed by adults, and online he features in many gifs, both those true to his character and completely repurposed.

Kermit the Really Excited Frog (Giphy)

Human viewers see the felt amphibian and relate to his stress from managing his variety show, exasperation with colleagues and friends, and generally emotive character. As recognizable as Miss Piggy’s ‘HIIYYAAAA’ karate chop, Kermit’s wildly excited exclamation of ‘YAAAY’ accompanied by over the top flailing has been used for gif material across the internet.

With added text, the meaning has shifted from celebration to panic with the original context overwritten

With added text, the meaning has shifted from celebration to panic with the original context overwritten. (Know Your Meme)

In this mute format, makers and users of this gif are able to apply it to a variety of instances, and it is often appropriated to be representative of madcap panic on an endless loop. This gif usage, a wordless addition or punchline, adds another layer of meaning to be interpreted by the viewer or reader with Kermit acting in place of the speaker’s nonverbal gestural or emotional cues. According to Social Presence Theory, more presence in an interaction will achieve more intimacy, so by including a reaction gif in mediated conversation, the content of the message can be made more affective.

In addition to his presence in reaction gifs, since early 2014 Kermit has taken on his own meme, where he is shown sipping tea or milk and making cutting observations before the statement, and subsequent hashtag, “But that’s none of my business.” This meme started circulating as image macro’s on Instagram before spreading to Twitter and tumblr. As with the shift from excitement to panic with the arm-flailing gif, here the lovable frog is pulled from a tea commercial to passive aggressively judge someone or something. Used as a ‘sarcastic post-script to an insult or disrespectful remark’, the macro and gif have been remixed and responded to, so that Kermit can be a sign of the joke even without the hashtag or his beverage.

Attribute by Know Your Meme to be the first Instagram post with the hashtag #Butthatsnoneofmybusiness

Attributed by Know Your Meme to be the first Instagram post with the hashtag #Butthatsnoneofmybusiness (Instagram user @kermitbelike)

The previously Macro meme is giffed (Giphy)

The previously Macro meme is giffed (Giphy)

From fashion faux pas to a friend reuniting with an ex, Kermit can help you shudder at the scene.

From fashion faux pas to a friend reuniting with an ex, Kermit can help you shudder at any scene.

For my contribution to Kermit’s gif culture, I combined elements of these two popular gifs by focusing on his relatable emotive body language and finding a clip which, out of its original context, would be relevant to the judgmental persona of his meme. It depicts Kermit looking over his shoulder as he grimaces and shudders at what might be off screen. I chose this moment to emphasize because of its many applications, and for the same reason I excluded adding text.

References:

Baym, Nancy K. “Communication in Digital Spaces.” Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. N. pag. Print.

“But That’s None of My Business.” Know Your Meme News. Cheezburger Network, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2015.

Shifman, Limor. “When Memes Go Digital.” Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge: MIT, 1974. N. pag. Print.

 

The Amazon Kindle- When it was New

Tom Gunning’s essay, ‘Re-Newing Old Technologies’, explores the transition from wondrous to ordinary by revisiting the moment of an item’s newness. In looking at the discourse around the first generation of the Amazon Kindle when it was first introduced in late 2007, the cycle of ‘dazzling’ novelty to ‘transparent’ familiarity described by Gunning is seen to have been accelerated to the point that in one review or article, praise and interest subsides into acceptance and an attitude of wondering what will come next (Gunning 39).

Commonly agreed upon by early adopters and tech reviewers, the first e-reader put forth by Amazon was not sleek, nor would it be the final word in digital reading platforms, but it was thought to revolutionize the book industry as the iPod did for music (Perenson). Both impressive and imperfect, the device was most interesting because of the digital possibilities and changes it represented in a decidedly analog industry. Its functionality was still praised along with the predictions of the Kindle to be the start of a ‘great new chapter’ for the reading experience, but before being released was already being criticized as clumsy in appearance and design (Pogue). This bright, suggested future caused as much if not more public interest, and as Gunning describes, with a device’s ‘relegation to second nature’ is the subsequent forgetting of that offered possibility as the next new things present their own (Gunning 56).

The uncanny element of new tech also discussed by Gunning permeates much of the hype regarding the release of the Kindle. Many considered it to represent the beginning of the end for the printed word, as it added subscriptions to newspapers and magazines to the digital reader realm, and this ‘uncanny foretaste of death’ contributed to drawing the public eye to the unfamiliar device (Gunning 48). A 500 year old practice represented by the printing press was faced with imminent replacement by a 10.3 oz bookshelf, bookstore, and readers became nostalgic for an industry that was not yet gone, only threatened (Schonfeld, Rothman).

‘As a guy who enjoys amassing a vast library of books and displaying them in bookcases, I am a little frightened of the future, but inevitability is the name of the game, and fear of change isn’t a good enough excuse. Will I continue to buy books or will I jump into Amazon book buying mode? That remains to be seen, but you, o early adopter, should not share my fears. The Kindle is a quality invention…’ –Wilson Rothman, from his ‘Amazon Kindle Real Life Review’ (Rothman)

A device more impressive as a stepping stone towards a possibly radical change in the reading experience, the first Amazon Kindle drew people ‘…ready to take their reading digital’, and drew attention as both a spectacle of technology and tentative possibility of an end for physical books (Perenson).

 Kindle Poster

References:

Anderson, Sam. “The Victorian IPod.” NYMag.com. New York Books, 3 Dec. 2007. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.

Gunning, Tom. Re-Newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature, and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of- the-Century. PDF.

Perenson, Melissa J. “First Look: PC World: First Look at Kindle E-book Reader.” Macworld. N.p., 21 Nov. 2007. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.

Pogue, David. “An E-Book Reader That Just May Catch On.” The New York Times. N.p., 21 Nov. 2007. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.

Rothman, Wilson. “Amazon Kindle Real-Life Review.” Gizmodo. N.p., 23 Nov. 2007. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.

Schonfeld, Erick. “Liveblogging the Amazon Kindle E-Reader Show with Jeff Bezos.” TechCrunch. N.p., 19 Nov. 2007. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.