Reflection on Cute Cat Theory

Reflection on “The Cute Cat Theory Talk at ETech” – By Frederik Madsen

In this blog post we hear about the authors reactions towards a talk at ETech, about “The Cute Cat Theory”. Ethan, who is the author of the blog and the theory, describes throughout this post how the theory is supposed to be understood.

We are introduced to the Web 1.0, which is based in general on one way communication, and Web 2.0 which is the interactive World Wide Web we know today. This is the focus, and how the Web 2.0 should improve our scientific possibilities, but actually it has just created a media for us to post pictures of cute cats. This is a pretty hard accusation, as the internet brings us a lot of information, but leading to his next argument, it makes a lot of sense. What the post is really about, is how online tools like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and so forth, which is really made to share pictures of cute cats, or whatever, is actually being used in other ways by activists.

This is the true case which is being discussed, as he continues to name different online tools, and how they have been used in unpredicted ways by activists. He brings up different cases, one about how the Tunisians presidential aircraft were used for other things than the right purpose. This was documented through the use of a plane spotter site for plane enthusiasts, and maps from Google Earth. Both sites were used by activists in ways they weren’t meant to be used. As clever and smart this can be, it gave rise the blockage of DailyMotion in Tunisia, which were the site for the post of the video. It also raised a lot of questions about the presidential abuse.

“This is a good thing if you’re an activist. Most Tunisians don’t identify as activists and might not be engaged with politics. But, like Americans and Europeans, they’re interested in seeing cute cats being adorable online. When the government blocks DailyMotion, it impacts a much wider swath of Tunisians than those who are politicially active. Cute cats are collateral damage when governments block sites. And even those who could care less about presidential shenanigans are made aware that their government fears online speech so much that they’re willing to censor the millions of banal videos on DailyMotion to block a few political ones” (Ethan,, 20/10 2013)

For me, this is what the post is truly about. How the acts of activists, through regular online tools, make the Government block or change sites for everyone or specific users, and how this affects the peoples’ view towards the government or whoever creates the change. The everyday user feels the collateral damage of the activist’s doings. In a logical sense this should make the everyday user mad at the activist, but as we all feel the right to freedom of speech and our opinion, they are just exploring different tools to do this, and therefore we blame the government.

The post continuous with several cases about how the web is used by activists in groundbreaking ways, which is all very interesting, and then we end up at China which is well known as one of the most effective regulators of the web. This case is especially based on how users will always find a way to post their “cute cats” or whatever message they want to deliver. This is mostly done by high end users, but as the block of content spreads, everyday users start to take interest in how these things work, and how it is possible to go around the system. The attempt to control the people may in the end provoke the people to become what is attempted to be controlled in the first place.


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