I was happy to see an article about I can has cheezburger recently in Business Week. I knew about the site years ago, probably in middle school. It was back in the day where internet nerds like myself could communicate in the new language of LOLCAT speak, as invented by founder Eric Nakagawa. In a way, Nakagawa practically invented the modern meme. A meme is a reoccurring joke/image/saying online, that users share to communicate specific feelings or inside jokes about things. Examples include rage comics, trolling, nyan cat:
and characters to relate to like the Socially Awkward Penguin:
His site is successful not only because it’s so funny, but because people are allowed to share jokes and submit their own to the blog. It became participatory and easy. Anyone can upload a picture of their pet and put a funny caption on it to share with friends.
See, I made my own just now:
I love sloths. No joke.
While his website may have been started as a joke without the intention of growing so much, it has. Cheezburger, as it’s now shortened to, now owns various other hilarious websites. If you visit the original site, you will see links to Know Your Meme (a website dedicated to just explaining memes), The Daily What (a popular new short-form news and entertainment blog that I personally read every day), Failblog and more. These sites were all strong and popular on the web independently, but are even stronger linked to Cheezburger in a collective community. According to the aforementioned article, “Cheezburger now gets 500,000 page views a day from between 100,000 and 200,000 unique visitors”, which is also great traffic for partner sites. And with all the best sites in one place, why would internet users go anywhere else?
Another great element about I can has cheezburger, that it has also passed onto The Daily What, is posting at key times of the day. Posts in the morning, during lunch breaks, and in the evening, make sure readers don’t feel too far behind on the blog — whether it’s funny cats or serious news. The Daily What calls its first post “the Early Bird Special of the Day”, often followed at some time by the “This X That of the Day” with categories of links titled “Read This”, “Look at this” and “Know this.” The “OMG! Adorbz! of the Day” is the random post with something cute to cheer readers up. But the site isn’t all giggles. The Daily What also covers “Hate Crime Investigation of the Day” (the “of the day” title is used loosely) and the site is often known for calling out media and internet gaffs. There’s no faster way to critique and correct incorrect stories or call out people on lies than on a blog. TDW jumps on stories, updates them quickly if changes are made, and keeps its following by reporting honestly and ethically. This is an excerpt from an interview I did with creator Neetzan Zimmerman last year:
“I believe accuracy in news is more important now than ever. There is a rush to get content up as soon as possible, and often times accuracy is sacrificed in the name of celebrity,” said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, a professional full-time blogger, strives for accuracy in his blog, which constantly competes with other news blogs and the new trend of dissemination of information through social media.
“With Twitter taking over as the main source of news reporting for many fast-paced stories such as the popular uprisings in the Middle East, sifting through the rumors to find the truth is fast becoming a very arduous task. Unfortunately, at a time when people need to be increasingly vigilant in their information intake, they are, for a variety of reasons, becoming increasingly negligent in discerning between fact and fiction,” said Zimmerman.
Neetzan and Zimmerman’s success gives me hope that someday I can also create a successful blog. People are creating new genres through independent media sources and filling niches that people didn’t know needed to be filled. These two examples have gone about creating and monetizing their blogs very successfully, though they had no idea how far their audience would reach. New journalists and people with great ideas can learn from these movers and shakers so that they may also have cheezburgers one day.