with Gavan Reilly
As we saunter into the second new decade that will inevitably lead to more moments where the world decides that the internet is both Better Than TV and Slightly Better At Allowing Wholescale Piracy Than TV (and we all remember how radio killed music in the 1980s, don’t we???), it seems appropriate to devote the first WebWatch of the year to showcasing the sheer breadth of content online at the moment.
The internet is going to see some gigantic changes in the coming years – it’ll finally become considered the mainstream source of breaking news, overtaking TV channels; it’ll likely end up being subject to a degree of formal ownership or regulation in one way or another; and the Chinese tactic of subjectively blocking individual content that a country might find objectionable (or “dangerous”) will, sadly, become more widespread as panicked governments pass prohibitive knee-jerk laws in reaction to the inevitable cyberterrorism that will pervade the era. So – while nobody knows for how much longer the internet will be so free and easy, let’s enjoy what’s there for the time being.
And what a variety there is. It’s a rare surfer who hasn’t, amid a fit of frustration or bloodlust, done a quick Google for inspiration on a decent prank. Admittedly, The Bat Prank (http://short.ie/uo81 ) isn’t a particularly vengeful stunt to pull on someone, but if you have a spare Halloween costume around and can cope with the rush of blood to the head, you might be onto a winner. Of course, if you’re a more hardcore prankster, then CollegeHumor’s now legendary Prank War series (http://short.ie/uo81a ) will be far more up your alley.
Now for something completely different: meet Charlie Wilks. He’s 14 years old, and an aspiring high school American Footballer. His grandfather played in the very first Super Bowl, so sporting pedigree runs in the family. He’s popular amongst his team mates, and he has the slightly overweight body of a pedigree jock. There’s just one hassle: Charlie had a brain tumour when he was five, and it flattened his optic nerves, so he’s now totally blind. A remarkable documentary that perfectly showcases the internet’s ability to change your perception of the world, through manageable ten-minute chunks. Have a look at http://short.ie/uo82  and prepare to clear a lump from your throat.
Which – bafflingly quickly – leaves just enough time for a sobering look at, in the scale of the universe, just how small you really are (http://short.ie/uo84 ), a collection of Lady Gaga’s most baffling outfits to date (http://short.ie/uo85 ), a remarkable speech that really will convince you about the urgency of climate change (http://short.ie/uo86 ), and the most futile video game you’ll ever waste three minutes by playing (http://short.ie/uo87 ). Hey, we TOLD you it was going to be a mixed bag.
As ever, if you find any decent links, share them with firstname.lastname@example.org.