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Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "I sympathize with the TPP protagonist because I, too, have progressed through a surprising number of stages of life despite spending entire days stuck against simple obstacles."

Here's  some of the context you may need to follow this (meta-)conversation:

Patricia Hernandez, "The Miraculous Progress of 'Twitch Plays Pokemon'", Kotaku 2/17/2014; Megan Farokhmanesh, "Twitch Plays Pokemon captivates with more than 6.5M total views", Polygon 2/17/2014; Andrew Cunningham, "The bizarre, mind-numbing, mesmerizing beauty of 'Twitch Plays Pokemon'", ars technica 2/18/2014; Lily Hay Newman, "Here's What Happens When 80,000 People Simultaneously Play One Game of Pokemon", Slate 2/19/2014; Nick Statt, "'Twitch Plays Pokemon' is now a fight for the soul of the internet", C|NET 2/19/2014; Tom McShea, "Twitch Plays Pokemon Is a Fascinating Vision of the Future", Gamespot 2/20/2014; Mittal Mandalia, "Twitch Plays Pokemon breaking Twitch chat", Techie News 2/21/2014.

Or if you're even further behind, you might want to read Wikipedia's Pokémon entry, listen to the Pokémon theme songs, the Pokémon Rap, or watch some actual Pokémon episodes, …

Or you can just dive in and monitor TPP progress:

Marvin Minsky's Society of Mind in action? The start of an experiment in group selection, via Adam meta-Smith's Invisible Pokéball? The future of virtual society? Or evidence that history is not the only thing that repeats itself as farce?


  1. Adam said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 5:16 am

    Of all the amazing things TPP has wrought, including the emergent mythology and the insane amount of collective effort going into fanart like this, seeing the Pokérap linked on Language Log is the most amazing. Thank you.

    [(myl) It's my personal favorite piece of Pokéculture — nice to see that others agree. But then there's the extra-canonical version from College Humor ("Your dream of a new Pokerap is now a nine minute nightmare").]

  2. Irina said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 6:21 am

    Autoplaying video? Tsk tsk! I'd thought better of you, Language Log!

  3. Ginger Yellow said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 8:02 am

    Until the final panel, I though the comic was going to be about implicature.

    [(myl) Wait, you mean it wasn't about implicature?]

  4. Brett said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 8:47 am

    @Adam: I can't find it at the moment, but I'm pretty sure I remember an earlier Language Log post in which our host said that he had the whole Pokerap memorized at one point. And I too am a fan of the Pokerap.

  5. Svafa said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 10:11 am

    @Irina: It's Twitch, so it's a live stream and not a video. At least in my case it was auto-muted, which is the biggest issue I have with auto-playing videos/streams.

  6. Q. Pheevr said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 10:33 am

    Crowdsourcing will make a manic pixie dream girl of us all.

  7. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 10:44 am

    The comic was funny after I read the Wikiparticle on Twitch Plays Pokémon.

  8. Eurobubba said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 11:01 am

    A friend of mine once imagined a democratic bus, in which every passenger has his or her own steering wheel and the vehicle takes the average of all their movements to determine where to turn.

  9. Breffni said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 11:26 am

    Ginger Yellow: "Until the final panel, I though the comic was going to be about implicature"
    myl: "Wait, you mean it wasn't about implicature?".

    Is there a prize for the highest-order implicature in this conversation? If so, I think I'm in the lead.

  10. David Morris said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

    I thought it was about the maxim of relevance.

  11. Ellen K. said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

    Svafa, if it was automuted for you, you are blessed. That was a horrible assault on the ears. Which I certainly do NOT expect when I come to language log.

    Thankfully, it's not been changed (apparently) so that it doesn't autoplay.

    And video vs. live stream is really beside the point.

  12. peter said,

    February 21, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

    NYNEX ran a technical trial of interactive telecommunications in the 1990s, renting 15 minutes on a local Manhattan cable channel in the early hours of Sunday mornings, called Joe's Apartment. They had taken film inside an apartment, walking in every direction, and then cut the film into short discrete pieces. The film showed only the apartment, nothing more. A viewer could phone in and using the phone keypad, control the movement of the camera (left, right, forward, etc). This movement was only apparent. In reality, the viewer was controlling the selection of which discrete piece of film would be seen next. Any one viewer only retained control of the camera for a few minutes.

    Despite the simplicity of the set-up and the lateness of the hour, the program attracted thousands of viewers, all seeking to wrest control of the camera. (No doubt a large number of viewers were people who'd spent the evening in close proximity with alcohol.) Knowing of that experiment makes the TPP phenomenon not at all surprising.

  13. Ellen K. said,

    February 22, 2014 @ 10:07 am

    Correcting to above comment… that should be: Thankfully it's now been changed.

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