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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Comics 1226-1228: I Go To Extremes

1228: Prometheus

'I'm here to return what Prometheus stole.' would be a good thing to say if you were a fighter pilot in a Michael Bay movie where for some reason the world's militaries had to team up to defeat every god from human mythology, and you'd just broken through the perimeter and gotten a missile lock on Mount Olympus.

The third xkcd of the week is pretty damn good, albeit not enough to redeem the other two. It makes a point, makes it concisely, with just the right amount of subtlety. Now obviously I'm biased because it's a point that I agree with. But it caters nicely to the xkcd crowd. The artwork carries the point perfectly. There is plenty of good stick figure body language. The little splash of colour is a nice touch. And the caption below works well as a second punchline, without explaining the joke. This is a rare good xkcd. You heard it here first - well - last.

A for the concept. A+ for execution. A- for the alt text, because it was only tangentially related to the comic, and I feel it was good enough to make into its own comic.

1227: The Pace of Modern Life

Oh shit, I forgot how bad this one is. It would actually make a point if the quotes were gathered from a wide range of history, rather than just an arbitrary 44 years. And it really should make its point alott more concisely than that, and the quotes should be linked together. Instead it manages to be preachy without even saying anything.

Furthermore, the bits he's emphasised in black are not the specifics, or the generalisations. They seem to be highlighted pretty arbitrarily.



F for artwork, since there isn't any. F- for humour*. F-- for actually going somewhere And F--- for wasting our time. And yes, the guy who's already spent an hour writing this tat, is complaining about timewasting.

I also think it scores Over 9000 on the Ravenzomg Scale Of Wordiness, though I'd have to check with the hell-bird herself for that one.


1226: Balloon Internet

Am I missing something here, or is the balloon just annoying the guy by giving him internet? Is that the entire joke?? Really??? There is so much wrong with this comic - let's make a list
  • I can't tell if the balloon is supposed to be really small or really far away.
  • And if it's giving him free internet, he should be fucking grateful.
  • If it's giving him internet that looks free but isn't, then he has a right to be annoyed, but the comic fails to make this clear.
  • The guy isn't even on the Internet. He's reading a fucking book.
  • Why would he drop the book if there was internet nearby? I don't think he can sense radio waves with his nose.
  • Unless the balloon is audibly shouting the word internet. But that's too dumb for words. That can't really be what this comic is about.
  • Oh God, it is.
  • The balloon really is tiny, and it is literally creeping up behind him to shout 'INTERNET' in his ear.
  • This would serve no purpose for the team controlling the balloons. It's not even funny in a classhole-ish way.
  • Is internet supposed to be an onomatopoeia? I don't fucking know anymore!
  • The first three panels are copy-pasted.
  • The alt text has almost no relation to the actual comic, and is 100 times better than said comic.
  • He's sitting on a giant arse. And now you can't un-see it.
The saddening potential is what this comic could have been. No I don't mean he could have conveyed the point by drawing it better. Scrap all five panels. We're starting again.

In case you don't know, the context of the comic is an actual project by Google to develop balloons that bring internet access to rural areas, so it was a rare opportunity to be topical. And the idea of getting internet coverage from a balloon is pretty damn cool. Already I'm thinking of airships, steampunk goggles, and sysadmins fighting it out in the sky with crossbows, and Google's hidden sky fortress.

Randall has explored these themes before with his depiction of Cory Doctorow, which would have been a perfect match for this context. Internet balloons are the stuff of classic xkcd. He had every reason to bring that character back, and he wasted the opportunity. At very least he could have made a cloud computing pun. But instead we get a little balloon that shouts internet for no reason.

I have nothing more to say to this, except: G



I think I'm going to call it a night.

*Don't you fucking dare correct me, yanks.

6 comments:

  1. Now those are reviews. My faith in you has come back.

    Not to mention I tend to agree with them. Except I still found 1227 interesting, regardless of all of its flaws. Yes I know people have always thought Life Was Better Back Then, but a few of these quotes were pretty lulzy. I changed a little the way I view xkcd: as long as a comic is enjoyable in any way (other than for being so bad it's good) I should probably consider it 'good'. The extent to which Randall should be credited for its goodness can be debated, but in the end, I don't ask him much more than making his comics enjoyable. ...okay, 1227 was a little boring. But yeah.

    I would've given 1228 a bonus point if the guy with the fire had a beard.

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    1. Perhaps I was a little harsh on 1227. I just feel it's a point I have heard many times before, in my experience anyway. I maintain that it could be improved by a simple image cropping tool.

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  2. The point of 1227 is further undermined by the fact that, in addition to only selecting clippings from a brief historical window, Randall also chose them all from a period in which technological advances really were having a serious impact on the rapidity of communication and the pace of life. Railroad networks, massive newspaper distribution, the telegraph, the telephone, the automobile...

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    1. You can say that about any time period since about the renaissance. Randall had the ability to strip-mine history for various quotes to that effect (granted, it would have been a little harder to find some from the 1600s) right up until the present day.

      Everything changes, and yet nothing ever really changes.

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    2. I always find it funny how even in the Bible for instance, people were already complaining about how we were heading the wrong way. The other day I read a quote by some Muslim theologian that went something like 'change is impure'.

      The point Randall and pretty much everybody else makes isn't so much about new technology as it is about change. What people are afraid of is change; a known evil is often more reassuring than whatever good might be lying in the unknown.

      In 3:13's defense though, that moment in history probably was the biggest turning point in terms of how the daily lives of people in general (as opposed to the elite) changed. Well, the Digital Revolution sure is a big game changer, but I don't know. And anyway, in the textbooks of history students in a million years from now, I don't think they'll see that much an improvement from the steam engine to the taming of electromagnetism to smartphones. 'Educated' people today are pretty intense about the technological leap from e.g. Paleolithic to Neolithic tools, and for good reasons, but the significance of it might be lost with time. But one thing that I think will remain is that the Industrial Revolution is the point where things started to change fast, regardless of the relative or absolute technological level of that time.

      But I'm digressing. Also if it hasn't been done yet, I'd like to coin the word 'chronocentric'.

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    ReplyDelete