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A Brief History of the Harlem Shake

Posted on : 14-02-2013 | By : Chikodi Chima | In : Media Criticism, Social Media

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Tyrone-Biggums Harlem Shake

I just saw the Harlem Shake video that put me over the edge. Path founder Dave Morin filmed his team in their office cafeteria doing the Harlem Shake, and I couldn’t hold back.

For the record, I haven’t seen that many Harlem Shake videos, but the Internet is abuzz with them. After the Grammys on Sunday I had no idea what people were talking about, and it was a little disconcerting. As someone who lives on the Internet–and by it–I take trend spotting very seriously. Either on my client’s behalf, or for my own edification, I appreciate knowing the scoop.

The Harlem Shake is the new Gangnam Style according to New Media Rockstars, whose opinion on all things Internet I value highly. In the YouTube era, dance crazes like the Harlem Shake are part of a global conversation. Millions of Gangnam Style tribute videos have been produced, and their proliferation adds to the popularity of the original. See below:


The original video that spawned the craze was posted to YouTube on Feb. 2, 2013 and has racked up a respectable 5 million views. The song itself was released by Baauer more than one year ago on his SoundCloud page, and published to iTunes on Jan. 8, 2013. According to NMR more than 11,000 tribute videos have been uploaded, as of Monday. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of new uploads has tripled or quadrupled this week. That’s just how things go on the Internet.

Harlem Shake Uploads on Feb. 11


The digestible, 30-second length and semi-predictability are no-doubt triggers for the rapid proliferation of the meme. It’s also a pretty damn cool song.

D’Vo, a UK-based producer who has quickly become one of my favorites, first exposed me to Baauer’s Harlem Shake as part of his Winter Warrior Mix, which I’ve embedded below. I like to listen to it when I jog.

Going back further in time, the real Harlem Shake dance, was a street style that was laughed out of existence after being popularized by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs of Bad Boy Records fame. If you tried to break out your best Harlem Shake moves on a dance floor I think you would still get seriously clowned. I’m including the quintessential video of Harlem Shake moves, from G Dep’s ‘Let’s Get It’ so you can just how far the dance has come in the last decade.

And ¬†in case you’re still interested in reviving the lost art form, here’s a handy tutorial. Shine like a diamond!


The Queen of Versailles: A Succulent Dollop of Schadenfreude

Posted on : 24-12-2012 | By : Chikodi Chima | In : Media Criticism

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As Americans we have a thing for watching how the other half lives. It makes us feel better about ourselves. When we watch reality shows about down-and-out 16-year-old moms, it reminds us that we’re doing ok, in spite of any hardships. Equally, we enjoy watching shows about the ultra wealthy, because when seen with all their warts, it’s clear they’re tacky, unsophisticated people who happen to have tons of cash.

Such is the case in The Queen of Versailles, a movie watched tonight on Netflix. Timeshare magnate and billionaire David Siegel is building America’s largest house, a 90,000 square foot monster outside Orlando, FL, when the global financial crisis erases his fortune overnight. The dream house Siegel and his wife designed has an indoor ice skating rink, a bowling alley, a grand ballroom, 17 bathrooms and $5 million of Chinese marble. I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out, but the point is made. Right?

The Definitive, Must-Watch Wikileaks Explainer Video You Simply Can’t Miss!

Posted on : 12-12-2010 | By : Chikodi Chima | In : Media Criticism

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There are good reasons to support the actions of Wikileaks. Transparency in government is something we should all support, as our daily lives are affected constantly by the decisions that lawmakers enact, supposedly on our behalf. Our government should be accountable to the people it serves. Far too often this is not the case.

I also fundamentally believe that multinational corporations should be subject to intense scrutiny, especially where product safety, business ethics and environmental impact are concerned. When the rumored trove of Wikileaks documents about corporate malfeasance break, I will gleefully await the day corporate America’s feet are held to the fire. I think that large enterprise has too much power and should feel the heat from time time.

There are also, however, reasons why Wikileaks is an unmitigated disaster, and Cablegate is both irresponsible and potentially dangerous both to America’s national security interests and global stability.

It’s true that the contents of the pilfered cables were accessible to 2.5 million people, which hardly classifies them as “secret,” but no one had gone as far as the alleged perpetrator Army private, Bradley Manning, in undermining the classified nature of the State Department cables.

The information, suspicion and banter contained within them may have been common knowledge in diplomatic circles, but it is one thing to suspect people are talking about you behind your back, it’s another when you know it, and it’s there in official correspondence. Furthermore, now that news of the leak has circled the globe many times, what is or is not in the cables is starting to cause a bit of a fuss. In Pakistan, which enjoys a special, but tense diplomatic and military relationship with the U.S., fake cables have been circulating in the local press which paint India in a a very bad light, as an intentional instigator in Balochistan and Waziristan, conflicts which are beyond the control of the the Pakistani army and very relevant to the Pakistani people. One cannot help but wonder what other fake cables may arise, and what their impact may be. The toothpaste is out of the tube, so to speak, and it won’t be going back in.

Ultimately, I think that Cablegate is an irresponsible headline grabber because as the video above makes clear, Americans know little about the world in which we live, and they clearly could care less. Most average Americans couldn’t find Libya on a map, so why would they care about Gen. Muamar Qadafi, except that he gets botox. The tabloid nature of the revelations is the only reason why anyone cares. Juicy gossip about Saudi princess hosting lavish parties with alcohol and prostitutes makes for interesting water cooler talk, but it will quickly be replaced by the next Kanye mishap, Monday Night Football, or the suicide of Bernie Madoff’s son Mark over the weekend.

The Arrest of Julian Assange Does Not Threaten The Future of Journalism

Posted on : 09-12-2010 | By : Chikodi Chima | In : Media Criticism

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Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Yesterday’s arrest of Julian Assange and the escalating harassment of his organization, Wikileaks, has proven many things, among them, the power of information, and how nasty things can get for those whose business it is to pry the lid off closely-guarded secrets.

While pundits, commentators, bloggers and the Internet as a whole debate the efficacy of the latest Wikileaks bombshell, Cablegate, one thing can be certain, Legacy Media benefits tremendously from the document dumps, while the journalists of the future have already sprinted ahead.

Wikileaks will not change journalism. Instead the fracases over Cablegate demonstrates how the economics of journalism have already changed the business of reporting, and the resultant product. If the 251,000 documents being released were originally pilfered as early as May of 2010 by Army private, Bradley Manning, as is suspected it is somewhat laughable that a group of distributed volunteers could keep such a juicy secret bottled up and away from the professional press for so long.

Organizations like Wikileaks, or groups with a similar agenda will have a role to play in the future of journalism, regardless of what happens to Wikileaks founder Assange, who is now in British custody, awaiting extradition to Sweden. However the future of journalism belongs to those who can use social media, devices like the iPad, location technologies and a suite of tools that make storytelling more rich, more communal and more locally relevant, while simultaneously empowering millions to join the conversation. That is the future of journalism, and the aim of the documentary and website of The Future Journalism Project is to capture the transformation that is underway. The future of journalism is being shaped by the convergence of tools and tales, both the medium of expression, what is now possible to express thanks to technologies that are becoming ubiquitous.

Aside from a few clever infographics and word clouds, little has been done with the information from the cables which demonstrate the power of new media story telling tools. (The term ‘new media’ is somewhat of a misnomer, as many of the tools and techniques are not new, but there are many mashups of existing technologies, as well as new tools that are being created every day that bring with them tremendous potential to change how stories are told and consumed)

Cablegate wordcloud from Fast Company

Julian Assange’s Death Will Look Like an Accident

Posted on : 28-11-2010 | By : Chikodi Chima | In : Media Criticism

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Today’s Guardian headline says it all; “US cable leaks spark global diplomatic crisis,” and demonstrates why Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is not long for this world.

Like a fly buzzing the ear of the world’s most powerful nations, Assange is bound to get swatted, and it will look like an accident when it happens. Surely the day is not far off.