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After being sent home from work the first thing I did on getting home was to check outside the back door to see if there were any cat paw prints. There weren't, so I thought I'd introduce Fletcher to the snow and film the results..
(thanks, Joe Sabia!)
That is a high claim, I know. But over Labor Day weekend, a combination of dedicated curation and popular vote resulted in Henri 2, Paw de Deux being named the best Internet cat video.
The Internet Cat Film Festival, sponsored by Minneapolis' Walker Museum of Art, drew a live audience of more than 10,000 people last Thursday night. Videos were curated from a massive collection submitted online, and were grouped into thematic categories— foreign films, for instance, or comedies. Henri 2 took home the Golden Kitty, a People's Choice award.
Bonus: If arguing about the merits of Henri 2 weren't enough of a gift to your procrastination tendencies, you can also check out a full list of all the films screened at the festival, including links.
In my latest Guardian column, "The internet is the best place for dissent to start," I look at Ethan Zuckerman's recent talk on the Internet and human rights, and the way that cute cats create the positive externality of a place for dissent to begin and flourish, and look at the problems this causes:
Zuckerman's argument is this: while YouTube, Twitter, Facebook (and other popular social services) aren't good at protecting dissidents, they are nevertheless the best place for this sort of activity to start, for several reasons.
First, because when YouTube is taken off your nation's internet, everyone notices, not just dissidents. So if a state shuts down a site dedicated to exposing official brutality, only the people who care about that sort of thing already are likely to notice.
But when YouTube goes dark, all the people who want to look at cute cats discover that their favourite site is gone, and they start to ask their neighbours why, and they come to learn that there exists video evidence of official brutality so heinous and awful that the government has shut out all of YouTube in case the people see it.
GirlieMac, aka Tomomi Imura (Twitter) just won the internet with her deftly conceived and Photoshopped series of HTTP status message "motivational poster" images, featuring cats. A bunch of them are featured above and below. The full set is here at Flickr. She's taking suggestions for more, if you can think of any she missed. (thanks, Bonnie Burton)
On Submitterator, Musicman pointed me towards this great presentation on LOLspeak as a form of language play, and why people engage in that play. According to Lauren Gawne, who gave this speech last week at the Australian Linguistics Society conference, the choice to use LOLspeak has a lot to do with establishing identity—the playful identity of "cat", and the serious identity of "knowledgeable Internet user".
Includes an explanation of why LOLspeak is language play and not some language mashup "kitty pidgin".
You can read more about this on Lauren Gawne's blog Superlinguo.
The video, by the way, is 20 minutes long. It's also got a little bit of weird, warbly feedback in the audio, but that doesn't get in the way of hearing what Gawne is saying.
Kitten hugs! What do they mean? Amanda Fiegl at National Geographic News has the hard-hitting answers you've been waiting for. This is why I love the Internet.
Folks who've commented on this video seem convinced that this kitten is having a nightmare. But do kittens really have nightmares, or dreams at all?
Well, the kitten's clearly dreaming. It may not be a nightmare, it may be running after a mouse; we'll never know. Naysayers will say: You can't prove cats dream. But if you measure brainwaves in cats, dogs and several other animals, it's clear that they go through a period of rapid-eye movement, or REM sleep, when the brain is very active. In humans, exactly the same thing happens--and that's when we dream. I read a study that kittens do a lot of this kind of sleeping in their early life, as their brain is developing. And I believe it makes sense that REM sleep is not only associated with the maturation of neurons in the brain, but also with dreaming processes. As kittens begin to sense the world around them, those things can be regurgitated in sleep in the form of dreams.
Cat Hugging Video: What's Really Going On? — National Geographic News Watch