This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Oh. It's National Snark-Free Day

Posted by: James Lileks under Gripes, Technology Updated: October 22, 2013 - 12:41 PM

You may call them a dreamer, but you're not the only one. Via Hypervocal:

Wouldn’t it be great to have one day when people go out of their way to be polite, kind, and considerate instead of rude, sarcastic, and snarky?
A group of public relations professionals aims to make a single day, October 22, 2013 “Snark Free Day.” The nationwide affiliates of PRConsultants Group (PRCG) are committing to a kinder way of communication and encouraging others to get on board.

Oh look their website uses the Lobster typeface. That’s such a great choice because it makes everyone feel young again, because, y’know, they’re thinking about 2012.

“Instead of taking the cheap shot, take the high road,” said Toni Antonetti, a director of PRCG. “People have been emboldened by the anonymity and immediacy of online commenting. On October 22, we’re asking others to commit to taking just a moment before speaking, hitting send or posting to think about the effect our words have on those who receive them. Be snark free for one day.”

The video that accompanies the effort defines snark as basic jerkiness. I think it’s more of a bitchy, passive-aggressive hit-and-run thing. Jerky, yes, but with wit. Still annoying, but if “snark” was the main characteristic of unsavory internet comments we wouldn’t mind so much. It’s the brutal, unimaginative stupidity that makes some threads the equivalent of a Roman sewer after a dysentery outbreak.

Need some suggestions for nice things to say? Here you go.

FULL STRENGTH HATERADE As long as we’re hoovering up content from Hypervocal, here’s how they describe a video that goes to town on BuzzFeed:

Maddox, nom de plume of George Ouzounian and proprietor of The Best Page in the Universe, took his shot at doing what many have tried before: listing the reasons why BuzzFeed is terrible for everyone.

There are naughty words, so I’m not embedding, but here it is. Hypervocal extracted this rich, moisty chewy center from the philippic: :

These articles are designed to mine clicks from a specific demographic so BuzzFeed can use these metrics to sell sponsored content to regional advertisers. Nobody at BuzzFeed gives a (bleep) about you, Michigan State University or the problems Hawaiians are suffering from. You’re a pawn. They’re using you for clicks to sell you to the highest bidder. You mean less than nothing to them.

It’s the stuff after three minutes that I like - it’s not just the sloppy thievery and lousy sourcing that plagues the listicles, it’s the meretricious captions that yell at you in 36pt type.

BTW, Maddox unloads on the pronunciation of GIF after the credits. He’s absolutely right and it doesn’t matter, as we’ll see in a bit. But as long as we’re on GIFs: here’s “Buzzfeed Articles Without the GIFs,” a tumblr that extracts the deathless prose from those annoying images. As the description says: “I love Buzzfeed's writing, but couldn't stand those pesky GIFs getting in the way.” Example:

It’s neither candy nor corn. Well, it might technically be a candy and includes corn syrup as an ingredient, but honestly, it just doesn’t count. Candy corn leaves kids feeling sad and unfulfilled. Wax is an actual ingredient in candy corn. The other ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, salt, egg whites and colorings. When trick or treating, it is almost always distributed in a homemade bag. Oreo couldn’t even make candy corn work. If you hand out candy corn on Halloween, you will be lame. You will end up with a lot of leftover wax-candy.

I tell you, it’s as if S. J. Perelman came back to life.

Maddox points out the shoddy, lazy sourcing of the GIFs. Let’s take a look at a GIF used to illustrate the candy-corn piece:

Buzzfeed file name: “anigif_enhanced-buzz-19537-1381987403-0.gif.” Do they rename everything they rehost as “enhanced” to suggest they’ve added value somehow? There’s nothing enhanced about it. The source is “giphy.com,” which is like quoting Shakespeare and citing the source as “the Public Library.” The GIF at Giphy is sourced to this tumblr, Roxanne Blue, which posted it on March 17. It’s not reblogged from elsewhere. Searching for the file name shows no entries before March 17. That took me about 2 minutes.

What is going on at the BuzzFeed offices that’s so time-consuming no one has a spare moment to source a GiF and throw a little link-thanks?

Which brings us to the question of the pronunciation of GIF. Again. All the experts say it’s a soft g, despite the hard G in the very word it abbreviates. This article puts you in your place: “If you pronounce GIF with a Hard G, You Must Be New to the Internet.” He has credentials; he was making GIFs in 1996, and worked at Adobe.

Very few people have their first exposure (or even early exposure) to the word come through verbal communication. Usually, it's just reading the abbreviation (which stands for graphics interchange format) online. So if you had to guess how to pronounce it, a guess that it's a hard G isn't irrational, particularly since it is short for a phrase starting with "graphics." We do this all the time as we age — we read a word we're not familiar with and then guess how it's pronounced. That in and of itself is perfectly fine.

But what's not OK is to defend that mispronunciation in the face of countervailing evidence, any more than it would be to argue with your English teacher about how you pronounce another word you might have read and then mispronounced.

One more thing, near the end:

I would not go so far as to say that pronouncing GIF with a hard G indicates your newness to the file format or exposes your ignorance.

Except that’s what the headline says, isn’t it?

MARIMBA KILLER Who made the new sounds in iOS7? 9to5Mac says it’s Minnesota native Adam Young, better known as the founder and singer of Owl City. An authoritative critical assessment of some new tones can be found here. He gets “By the Seaside” wrong, though. By far the worst ringtone in the entire OS, it’s straight out of a 1974 “Love Boat” episode starring an old-time movie star who hooks up with an old fan from his silent days. Starring Burt Mustin, maybe.

VIDEO It’ll be snowmobile season soon. Here are some pointers on how to get the snowmobile on the truck, and by “pointers” I mean A) don’t do this, B) throttle back early if you must do this, and C) don’t do this.

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