- Internets, Kittens, and How They Make the World go 'Round
Three years ago, University of Michigan Professor Sheila Murphy gave a public talk entitled, “New Media, Cats, and Toilets,” in which she argued that, while scholars have been quick to speculate about the democratizing potentials of new media and the Internet, they are far less likely to discuss how people actually use such media. As an example of such under-theorized usage, she cited the YouTube video, “Gizmo Flushes”, a three-minute video of a cat repeatedly flushing a toilet, which has been viewed over 5.7 million times and was shown on Good Morning America in 2006. Professor Murphy reminded her audience that such an astoundingly high volume of viewers cannot be ignored, because responsible scholarly speculations must be driven by empirical observations. In other words, if we are to ever make sense of the Internet, we simply cannot keep avoiding all the kittens.
The Internet is overflowing with kitten-related content: videos (e.g. Keyboard Cat), parody videos (e.g. Keyboard Cat Redux), animated .gifs (e.g. Nyan Cat - caution, unstoppable nyan music), games, Lolcats, Kittenwar!, and numerous other media and websites about cats continue to directly shape popular internet culture. Web development itself is now driven in part by kittens, through popular tools like Placekitten. Some people have even begun speculating that the Internet is made of cats. “The Internet Is Kittens” aims to reveal the truth behind such speculation.
“The Internet is Kittens” (TIIK) is a browser-based artistic intervention that exposes the hidden kittens behind every webpage. When the TIIK browser extension is activated, images and selected words and phrases are replaced with kitten-related content, fundamentally altering webpages in an absurd but somehow familiar and comfortable way. Articles about current events; editorials on politics and the economy; discussions of popular television shows and sports; Wikipedia entries; blog posts; Facebook, Twitter, and social media; even e-mail is revealed to be resting upon a feline foundation. “The Internet is Kittens” is certainly a cuddly and comical intervention — after all, who doesn't love kittens? — but it is also a rhetorical framing device that proposes a thesis about the nature of the Internet.
About This Project
We are currently working to develop native plugins for Chrome and Firefox, however if you are impatient and wish to let the cat out of the bag early, feel free to install our pre-alpha developmental build bookmarklet*.
(V.0.01a-dev) To Install Bookmarklet: Drag bookmarklet icon to your bookmark toolbar. If you cannot find your bookmark toolbar, view your browser's help page.
*While the chances of a catastrophic failure due to this bookmarklet is extremely unlikely, we provide no support for this version of The Internet is Kittens - this is only for the hardcore feline-affectionados out there, that need 'moar kitteh' in their Internets immediately.