Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comic 918: GoogleD=

Good evening, this is Ravenzomg of Ravenzomg fame here to review another mediocre comic! Mediocrity draws us together in a greater pact of apathetic dissent.

Title: Google+ . Tooltip: On one hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch. On the other hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch!

So there's this new site that's a social-networking thing, and it's not Facebook! But it's still in a beta mode, and you can only get in if you got a special invite, or if you know someone who got that invite. Randall, trying to champion the bizarre geek quality of liking non-mainstream, difficult, and obscure methods to do their shit, told us about it very subtly in his comic. The comic is called "Infrastructures", the number is the 743rd, and the site is called "Diaspora", and it is May of 2010.

Please read a few lines of that article. In fact, nevermind, you're not going to so let me copy/paste like some sort of first-year university student the night before an essay worth 25% of his final mark is due.

One of my favorite sites is XKCD, which features brilliant tech-related comics drawn by Randall Munroe.
By the way, if you haven’t visited XKCD before. You should. It’s good eaten’ for your mind.

I'm just going to let those comments sit on their own without commentary.

Let me begin by restating that XKCD #918 is mediocre. It inspires neither mirth nor rage in yours truly, and honestly the flaw is again the medium. I don't know who these two Void Creatures are, and I don't care. But if this were, say, Saphalia and Grim what the fuck did I just say there why didn't i just make up real names then I'd be more intrigued by this discussion and perhaps touched by panel 3's admission. Instead, all I get is two awkward stick figures puppeting Randall's thoughts. Characterization is essential in separating yourself from your creations. Hell, even WhiteHat has a distinct voice and I don't revert to saying, "It's Randall", but instead say, "It's goddamn bakery man" or whatever. The point here is that by virtue of their not possessing any recognizable traits except for the implicit ones in this comic, we don't really care at all and this may as well be a text update in the form of a chatlogue.

SP: you should join Google+! =D
GR: What is it?
SP: not facebook!
GR: What is it like?
SP: facebook!
GR: ...
GR: Oh, what the hell.
GR: I guess that's all I really wanted.

Please tell me what we lost in this transition. Well, besides crappy art.

To be positive, I'll admit that the joke is structured correctly. Panel 1 introduces the setting, panel 2 is a beat panel, and panel 3 contains the "joke". Panel 1's dialogue is awkward and stitled, but that is pretty well the point -- to illustrate how ridiculous the idea of switching to any other social-networking site is becoming and mocking the incentives geeks are willing to take to be more hipster. Going back to my awful transcription, the girl's dialogue really sounds more like a chat log to me. But maybe I'm just biased. But the stiltedness completely fits the concept of online chat.

And perhaps that's an issue here -- these are based on real conversations, but by "real" I mean "in a chat client", and Randall hasn't rewritten it to be a natural conversation, instead copying it nearly word-for-word.

But this is just supposition and cannot reaaally be confirmed one way or the other except hyperbolicly through repeated confirmation that this sounds valid.

Let me say upfront that I have a Facebook account that I check daily and do use. I managed to get rid of my old account bogged down with a hundred+ people I didn't give a shit about in favour of about 14 "friends". Let me also say that if I get an invite to Google+, I will bail like a rat on a sinking ship. Why? I don't even know anymore.

I AM THIS GEEK. That's me. In panel 3. I made a Diaspora account just because it wasn't Facebook, and it was awkward and clunky and I spent maybe 2 days using it before letting it fall into decay. I still have a Myspace profile full of angsty poetry dating back to like 2005 (although I only use myspace now for music purposes).

I distinctly remember, when Facebook was new and weird and not popular, telling people, "let's get in on this Facebook thing." Why? Because it was new and different from Myspace.

This is the geek sickness, the desire for the new, the shiny, the different.

And in these barely creative scrawls Randall has captured this idea.

However, this does not make this a good comic. This is not funny, this is not entertaining, and this is not new. Everyone knows about this geek attitude, and he's just using a recent example to illustrate a point that everyone knows. We're talking syndicated newspaper comic level of humour.

"It's entertaining!" No, not really. "It's deep!" No, it's pretty shallow and uninventive. ....So where does that leave us? A mediocre sketch that is intended to illicit what we used to call "Agreement Chuckles".

This is exactly pandering to someone like me, someone who thinks Facebook is devilish but cannot switch until a viable alternative occurs. And yet here I am, saying that it's mediocre. It's not awful, it's just not INTERESTING in any way.

In other words, it's another XKCD update.



  1. Nice review, and good catch on the chat log bit. I knew there was a reason I let you take the boring ones!

    Oh, except never link to praise of xkcd again. The "brilliant tech-related comic" part would have made me wail openly if I wasn't at work.

  2. Could you let Raven do all the comics? No offense, Gamer, but you and your reviews are incredibly dull.

  3. Disagree. Gamer is great.

  4. Intended to illicit?

    What a naughty typo.

  5. "....A mediocre sketch that is intended to illicit what we used to call "Agreement Chuckles"......"

    You mean we are no longer allowed to call them as such - that is, and still be cool?

    @ santiclause:

    It was not a typographical error.
    It was a clever near-homophonic malapropism designed to elicit Agreement Chuckles.

  6. Can't have a two author blog without authors patting each other on the back. I mean... get a room!

  7. @Santiclause: Just wait until the comic is so boring I'm forced to cram sex homophones into the review wherever possible, and also a few other places.

  8. Which is to say don't write a review while tabbing between an XKCD comic and a page about legislation changes unless you are more competent than I. ...which is probably not that exclusive a group.

  9. BP would like you to know that while perusing, presumably Canadian, 'legislation changes', the word 'illicit' is to be found often and he understands.

  10. Looking a bit closer, I noticed that the desk and laptop are different in each panel. Why would he draw each one on its own? It's triple the workload for triple the shitty artwork, for what is claimed to be a minimalistic style.

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