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The Harlem Shake: Why Is This a Thing?

Oh Internet, you never cease to amaze me. Just when I feel like we get each other, you come out with something so inherently ridiculous, I can only shake my head, smile and say, "you do you, Internet; you do you." The latest craze in a long line of plankings, lip dubs, Call Me Maybes, horse heads, and Gangnam Styles (if you want more of these, check out our posts on ROFLcon) is The Harlem Shake.  The TLDR overview of this new trend goes like this: Normal situation turns into a weird rave-y dance party with this song playing in the background. But I'm not here to talk about "what" it is. I'd rather discuss "why" it is. Why is some video that started in a dorm room inspiring everyone from frat bros to marketing agencies (see below) to go nuts for, quite literally, 15 seconds of Internet fame? The question may be as simple as "there was a huge blizzard in the Northeast this weekend and a ton of people were bored." However, my guess is that it has something to do with this statement: Never underestimate the human need to be a part of the cultural Zeitgeist. Seriously, we even did one. In our study, "The Psychology of Social" (click here to download), we express that social media placates certain inherent human needs to fit in and have a role within the larger group. In 10,000 BC, each member of a group of prehistoric humans had a role - be it hunter, gatherer, or mammoth stylist (those were things, right?). While human roles and needs have changed slightly over the past few thousand years,  the group mentality remains. We are, and always have been, a species built on sharing, connection-development, and esteem building. While we no longer have the need for mammoth stylists (I swear those existed), with our Internet/information-driven society, being the one in your group of friends to find these things, create them, or share them allows you to fulfill your role in the larger group. So, why did THIS catch on? It probably has something to do with the group that the creators of the original video has around them. Things spread more easily when the content gets into the hands of influencers. Mix that with the fact that that there is almost no barrier to participate (a camera phone, a song download, a laptop, some friends) add a little absurdity and a lot of fun, and you've got yourself a engagement-driving concoction of excellence.

This Week's Buzz within the Digital Space (May 3rd-7th)

The iNews As usual, Apple was a dominant source of news this week. The company announced that they had reached and surpassed their 1M iPads sold milestone'all within a month of their product launch. Now the question, since all the early adopters have adopted, who will be buying their product next month? Apple also released more information about their anticipated iAd platform, a service which will allow brands to engage their consumers on Apple products while also surrendering their creative over to Apple designers. The company reported an entry fee of at least $1M for advertisers who want to be involved when the new platform roles out.  Marketers must weigh the hefty price tag against the positive PR that will surround being an innovative company who advertises on the new technology. Furthermore, these iAds will be built to support HTML5, and so, the Adobe versus Apple saga continues.  Since Steve Jobs' letter last week which sought to explain the company's many reasons for not supporting Adobe Flash on their products, the media has been buzzing about the transition from the Flash platform to more 'open'? alternatives. Online Privacy Outside Cupertino, there's other buzz to be heard. There was much discussion this week on legislation that could significantly impact marketers' use of consumer data online. As the Internet continues to make privacy scarce, lawmakers are attempting to secure users' identifying information'including their IP numbers which facilitate behavioral targeting. This could have implications on how marketers' deliver personalized advertisements. ROFLcon II And digital happenings IRL! The Internet gathered in person last week at MIT for two action-packed days of panels, lectures and keynotes on the ever evolving role of Internet memes and the larger influence of Interent culture in today's world. And of course, there was a little time for chatroulette bingo. What did we learn from two days of rolling-on-the-floor laughing? Internet culture, however loosely defined, is becoming an increasingly powerful influence on the mainstream. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Debate among yourselves within the comments section below, or within the comments on the next cat youtube video that goes viral.

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