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).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Comics 1250-1252: Brought to you by Gizmodo

Before I start the regularly scheduled reviews, I just want to rant for a second about something that annoys me. First, let me say that I never really sympathised with the idea that No One Is Forcing You To Read It (ah, for the days when Rob would bang out 356 words, but I digress). I read xkcd three times a week because I like to watch the slow-motion train wreck, not because my friends are incessantly recommending it to me (I don't have any friends, so I can't personally verify this fact).

But I can't fucking stand it when Gizmodo dot com reposts an xkcd comic with a few hastily written lines of text below it basically explaining the joke, and links back to xkcd, in lieu of an 'article'.

I'd link to an occurrence of this happening, but Gizmodo makes money from every ad view. Reading Gizmodo is my dirty habit, and I don't want anyone else to get addicted.

Why is this bad? I already checked the xkcd feed in my Google Reader Feedly today. I don't need to see it twice. Why waste all the pixels and kilobytes by downloading the same image twice?

Moreover, it's the epitome of lazy journalism - taking someone else's content and adding nothing to it. And yes, the articles they write (quoted in full below) really do add nothing. The headline of the article usually telegraphs the punchline, so if anything they are taking away from it.

And worst of all, it causes more people to read xkcd. They're acting as if xkcd is That Obscure Indie Webcomic that more people need to know about. Linking to a webcomic is a dangerous power - use it responsibly, like io9 does.

No wonder the Gizmodo editors love xkcd - with its faux minimalism, repeated pandering on a familiar theme, and its ability to make people feel smugly superior - it's just like a typical Apple product.

1252: Increased Risk

Surprisingly, the last xkcd comic of the week was actually quite good. The second paragraph would have been a fine punchline all by itself. But then Beret doubles the amount of stupid in the room, and gives us an even better punchline. A well deserved A for humour.

But surely this is just like a typical smug xkcd comic? And I hate smugness, so what's changed? Well, this one doesn't come across as smugly mocking a bunch of idiots, because the idiots are being real smart-asses about it, and therefore deserve to be mocked. There's a chance the one in the middle is being sarcastic, and the other two are taking it seriously, which if anything makes it better. A* for multiple interpretations.

The caption below ruins it a bit, but only a bit. D for explaining the joke in a smug way. But I kind of like the way it sounds. It sounds like the sort of thing I'd say. So B+ for self-affirmation.

And the alt text doesn't get a grade, because I care a non-zero-but-still-pretty-small amount about it. It would be so much easier if I was allowed to say 'could care less', but anyway...

1251: Anti-Glass

Before I say anything, let's see what Gizmodo's own Jamie Condliffe had to say about it.

"For all its promise of being the Next Big Thing in tech, when it comes to Google Glass, haters gotta hate. Still, if you're gonna object to it, you may as well do it properly.

Of course, this might not be strictly ethical. Or even legal for that matter. But, hey, someone is looking at you with a camera strapped to their face. They had it coming."

Fascinating. /s Think about that for a second. Does Mr Condliffe really believe this is the proper way to object to Google Glass, or is he just looking for something, anything, to say? My money is on the latter.

And the second paragraph... that's basically the punchline. Thanks for explaining it. /s

D- for art. The cops hardly move in the three panels they are in. Their hats look too similar to Black Hat's hat. Randall could have easily avoided this ambiguity. One need only reach into the RGB colour space, and colour them blue. Don't be a pussy, Randall.

C- for Black Hat's scheme. It seems to be in his usual style. But I have to question the effort and resources it would have taken to make something that will cause a handful of Google employees momentary annoyance at most.

The dialog in this comic is so fucking bad, I can't even begin to explain how bad it is. But maybe a letter will do. F for stilted dialog. But that's not all - DETENTION for Gizmodo repost.

1250: Old Accounts

I don't see the point of this comic. I really don't. Do our accounts get lonely without us? (that would be dumb) Is removing friends somehow a necessity because otherwise those friends will expect us to still be contactable through an old account? (that would be dumber) Is it suggesting that we abandon those accounts before we stop using them? (stop, stop, my brain can't take the stupid!)

F for poor premise. And D for not communicating it very well to the audience. It took me a few read-throughs to 'get it', although I almost wish I hadn't. And all this despite that it would us no good to clear out old accounts that we might still want to use, Randall manages to be smug and preachy about it.

F- for smugness. F-- for preachiness. DETENTION for Gizmodo repost.

Here are Mr Condliffe's fine words about this comic:

"Next time you leave an online community, spare a thought for your account, which will sit there accumulating messages, news and all other kinds of crap which you'll never, ever see again.

Maybe you should do something about it. After all, it's like forgetting to get mail sent to your new address: there's a constant stream of information and news, slowly building up at your old place, that you'll never be party to ever again. And while it may mean nothing to you, it could be breaking somebody else's heart. You're better than that, right?"

That's exactly what the comic said, except in more words. The mailbox analogy doesn't even work, because closing a Blogger account would not somehow redirect its news and updates to Wordpress, hence why we are still here.


  1. 1251 and 1252 have potential conceptually, but in all his years of doing this stuff Randall still hasn't worked out how to edit his work and make it effective.

    The information provided by Mr. Beret in 1252 needs to be seamlessly worked in earlier on. It is clunky where it is. Dialogue at that point needs expand on the joke more effectively, like "I've already packed the bulletproof wetsuits" or something even better that a talented writer would have thought of.

    Black Hat's cheekiness in 1251 is excruciatingly tiresome, as tiresome as the contrived attempt at wit in the quoted article, but I feel the strip could have been the best of the three if it were totally rewritten by a talented writer.

    1. Your suggestion for 1252 works on the suggestion that Beret is a recurring character. If Randall has proved us anything over the years, it is that he can't do recurring characters. Thus I conclude that it is a different person wearing the beret, and a different person wearing the black hat each time.

      As for 1251, I've seen xkcds that could have been improved by better writing. To name a few recent ones, Council of 300 (1224) and Snare (1243). But this is not one of them. It just comes across as an attempt to produce topical humour by jumping on the Glass bandwagon. And it even fails at that.

    2. I hate your reply. You don't even understand me! NOBODY DOES!

      *runs to room, slams door, plays a Smashing Pumpkins album really loudly*

  2. Jon I have the utmost respect for you but you have grown soft. In particular, the whole "percentage increase on a miniscule baseline is irrelevant" meme is middle school level observation and completely old meme as far as mathematical humour goes. I don't know whether you're some sort of highfalutin liberal artist but it is just further evidence that xkcd is a comic of manchildren, dorkish snorts and cunnilingus.

    1. You take that back! I have not gone soft. *Takes off belt* I will show you that I haven't gone soft.

    2. Do you intend to flagellate, autoflagellate, or merely drop your trousers?

    3. I'm gonna leave that one open to interpretation.

  3. **pukes**

    1. Why do you do this, io9? I like you, and then you do that.