Earlier today, during a semi-superfluous water break, I was speaking with a colleague (of sorts; he works for another site operating out of my office) about just what it is that makes something popular or, in our professional parlance (wink), trend. He writes about legal affairs and international law, and I'm here doing what I can to keep readers abreast of all things techie.
But, really, sometimes, we - and our sites (along with the infinite others out there with similar goals) - are just doing what everyone has been doing since Adam Smith had that grand idea of Capitalism: We're trying to sell, sell, sell. Which means, in this age of the Internet, get you to look, look, look. At us. But, again, how to do that exactly?
What does it mean to make something "trend," anyway? Why is this article higher on the trending spectrum than that article?
Perhaps, I mentioned to my blogger buddy finishing up his lunch next to the water cooler (or, this being 2013, the mini-electronic doo-hicky that dispenses ice cold water on one side and a piping hot alternative on the other) there was something of an incredibly insightful prescient stab at the question by monstrously prolific author Don DeLillo in his 1985 (!) novel White Noise.
The scene on my mind is that involving "THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA." The whole deal being that what makes the barn "the most photographed" is its being distinguished as such, and thus the tourist trap becomes what Bill Gates once called "the positive spiral," an entity that builds upon itself exponentially and ad infinitum.
All this getting to the point that today one big trending story involves that of New York-based artist Alfra Martini and her delightful array of kitties placed in artwork so meticulously as to represent famous record albums from our shared heritage. Now, there's no question - as my blog buddy and I agreed (and you probably do, too) - that nothing trends like kitties (particularly when they're sneezing or falling down or fighting or sleeping soundly on a canine friend on YouTube).
But, despite the fact that the kitty album covers were in fact released two years ago, they're suddenly the big hit on the Net once again. Why? Has it something to do with the metacognitive reality of the Web now pointing not at imagery and trends but rather itself, or their being a part of that vast continuum Emerson referred to as the "gaze of millions" decades before anyone even considered mass communication on the level we experience today?
Nah. Probably just because they're so darn adorable. I mean, come on!
Personally, I'm going to say the "Funniest Kitty Album" goes to the rendition of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On; the "Most Spot-On" goes to the Iron Maiden cover; "Most Explicit," of course, goes to The Strokes' Is This It; and "Best All-Around" must go to Michael Jackson's Off The Wall for multiple reasons (just too cool of an album cover to begin with).
For even more album covers with kitties on them (including an Honorary Mention: Grease), check this out.
Perhaps, if nothing else, it'll keep you from pondering those larger questions about what makes something "trend" and go back to doing what we humans do best: Simply checking out what does.