“Dissecting the Frog” — My Article on Humor Published by The New Inquiry

April 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

not bad

Today The New Inquiry ran my article “Dissecting the Frog,” which considers the cultural significance of humor. My primary focus is Gabriella Coleman’s analysis of humor within Free and Open Software (F/OSS) circles, but I also discuss my own work with trolls and the mainstream media tragedy-mongers who (are) troll(ed) (by) them. Here’s the overlap between both projects:

What Coleman’s and my respective research projects highlight, then, is the complicated relationship between humor, community formation, and the larger culture. Hacker humor and wit, for example, gestures both to the borders of the F/OSS community and to the much more pervasive logic of neo-liberalism, while specific trolling jokes serve as subcultural scaffolding and draw attention to the connections between trolling humor and mainstream culture, particularly sensationalist media. This culturally holistic approach to humor is particularly helpful when attempting to understand the most upsetting kinds of jokes. When framed as self-contained artifacts, hateful or otherwise corrosive jokes don’t do too much, beyond casting aspersions on the joke teller. But when placed in the context of a specific community, and even more revealing, when that community is placed in the context of the wider culture, corrosive jokes often have as much to tell us about the latter as they do about the former.

For a good time, read the full article here!


Discussions on the Internet are “Funny”

March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment


I just finished reading this short article on Gawker about an anti-gaydar bit on Jimmy Kimmel (prepositions!). I nearly spit out my oatmeal when I read this exchange in the comments section:

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You’re….Trolling, Right?

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Yes, yes they are (click through to final slide of Gawker’s “The 20 Best Trollings in Modern History“).

I do of course vigorously agree that the media is every bit as skilled at trolling as self-identifying trolls, and that trolls and the media are almost identical in their behavioral and rhetorical tactics. But this is an inception-level metatroll masterwork, +1.

Ethnography Matters Post: Ethnography of Trolling, part 2 of 3

February 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

trolls on my message board

Today Ethnography Matters posted my second in a three-part guest post series. Here is the opening!

As promised in my last post, this post will discuss my role as a participant observer in the 2008-2012 troll space. It was weird, I hinted, which really is the only way to describe it. Because space is limited, I’m going to focus on three points of overlapping weirdness, namely troll blindness, real and perceived apologia, and ethnographic vampirism. There are other stories I could tell, and other points of weirdness I could discuss, but these are moments that taught me the most, for better and for worse.

The three points of weirdness include:

  • It’s Just a Death Threat, Don’t Worry About It
  • inb4 apologist
  • You’re a Vampire, Whitney

In other words, it’s a comedy. Click here for the whole article.

Media Trolls Trolling Media Trolls

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

wtf is this shit

Quoth the Daily Troll Mail:

A Gawker writer is being slammed by critics today after comparing the East Coast cold snap to the Holocaust.

Travis Okulski, senior writer for Gawker Media’s car blog Jalopnik, had been tweeting complaints about the cold weather Thursday when he compared the brutal slaughter of 6 million people to the bitter cold weather.

‘I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this cold weather is far worse than the Holocaust,’ Okulski wrote on Twitter at 9:41 a.m. on Thursday.

…And then the world exploded.

The full story –including an image of starved concentration camp prisoners, which really drives the point home that it is wrong to trivialize the Holocaust– is here , if you have nothing better to do and/or hate yourself.

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