In a week when the mainstream press focused on health care reform, the economy and the war in Afghanistan, the conversation on both Twitter and blogs was dominated by a very different set of problems-zombie attacks and cocaine on U.S. currency. For the week of August 17-21, the top story for bloggers was about Canadian researchers who conducted a mathematical exercise to see if a zombie attack would lead to the collapse of civilization.
One-third (33%) of the top news-related links from blogs were to a single BBC story about the study, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The study authors claimed a serious purpose, saying a zombie “plague” might resemble a lethal spreading infection that could help scientists model what such a disease would look like.
And while much of the online commentary was critical of the research, and even sarcastic, the attention to the topic seems to reflect an ongoing interest in social media in what might be called, for want of a better phrase, weird science. Over the past month, for example, some of the most linked-to stories by bloggers included an article about a meat-eating plant, research about the healing powers of blue dye found in M&Ms, and scientists who discovered that some cats have learned to manipulate their owners’ emotions.
Another study that attracted social media attention last week came from a professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth who discovered that 90% of U.S. paper money contained traces of cocaine. Beyond the zombie study, the second-largest story on blogs (with 17% of the links) was the health care debate-the topic that dominated the mainstream media last week.
Most of that attention focused on an August 16 Washington Post column by Rick Perl stein who compared the outrage expressed by opponents of health care reform to other historical examples of “right-wing rage.” Fourth (7%) was a report that Michael Jackson’s physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was going to face manslaughter charges in the pop singer’s death.
The next most popular stories were about the zombie simulation (at 14%), the first ever video ad to appear in a print publication (11%), and a warning from the World Health Organization that people with conditions such as HIV, TB and malaria should not rely on homeopathic treatments (7%). Last week was not the first time that zombies have made an appearance in the New Media Index, although the previous instance was dramatically different in nature.
“Perhaps this is why the Canadian health system is allegedly on the ropes-research is being diverted into zombie research rather than more immediate threats to the population,” suggested PARALLEL. On the morning of August 18, more than 875 tweets contained a link to the CNN story about the presence of cocaine on a significant portion of U.S. currency.
Many of those tweets that linked to the story included the same message-”RT CNN 90 percent of U.S. paper money contains traces of cocaine.” “Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point-of-view, most bills contain amounts too small to pose any health risk…” wrote Philip at.
A 2002 study published in the Southern Medical Journal found that 94 percent of bills tested contained potentially disease causing organisms like staphylococcus aureus, so it’s probably a good idea to just get into a general habit of washing your hands after handling money. For the third straight week, the most-viewed news videos on YouTube demonstrated the abrasiveness of much of the country’s health care reform conversation.
The top three videos all involved recent town hall health care meetings and the anger they spawned. The top clip was from CNN’s Larry King Live which aired a confrontation between Representative Barney Frank and a constituent at a town hall meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
Frank gave a pointed and mocking response when he replied by asking the woman, “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” The second video occurred during a town hall meeting in Las Vegas where a woman yelled “Hal Hitler” at an Israeli man who was describing his support for health care reform.
A woman at a town hall meeting in Las Vegas yells “Hal Hitler” at an Israeli who supports health care reform The expansion of online blogs and other social media sites has allowed news-consumers and others outside the mainstream press to have more of a role in agenda setting, dissemination and interpretation.
PEN aims to find out what subjects in the national news the online sites focus on, and how that compared with the narrative in the traditional press. PEN measures the topics that are of most interest to bloggers by compiling the quantitative information on links and analyzing the results.
Similar to Ice rocket and Technocratic, Tweet meme measures the number of times a link to a particular story or blog post is tweeted and retweeted. Then, as we do with Technocratic and Ice rocket, PEN captured the five most popular linked-to pages each weekday under the heading of “news” as determined by Tweet meme’s method of categorization.
*For the sake of authenticity, PEN has a policy of not correcting misspellings or grammatical errors that appear in direct quotes from blog postings. PEN’s New Media Index of blogs typically utilizes data collected from two different Web tracking sites, Ice rocket and Technocratic.
From start to finish, Michael Myers mercilessly pounds the humanity out of his victims and his audience. As the coroners prepare to load Michael Myers corpse into the van, Sheriff Bracket, played with tempered mania by Brad Dour if, stops them.
Bracket tries to warn the drivers of the danger even a dead Michael Myers poses. Things are dark and grimy, and notes are spray-painted on the walls of the house.
Laurie, struggling to regain her sense of humanness, works at a heavy metal coffee shop run by a “Berkeley in the 60s” hippie played by Howard Hesse man. Hesse man, the rebellious talk radio personality from television’s past reprises the same role here.
It is a hole in the wall heavy metal hang-out for society’s outcasts, social philosophers, and thinking artists with empty pockets and bleeding hearts. The man doing all the speaking in H, however, is Dr. Looms, played with a wink and a smile by Malcolm McDowell.
When Weird Al Monrovia asks Dr. Looms on national television, “Are we talking about Austin Powers Mike Meyers?” Zombie slams his bloodied blade into the heart of the Hollywood machine.