Selfie is not a dirty word

Roanna Gonsalves, UNSW Australia

Unidentified woman taking her own photograph using a mirror and a box camera, roughly 1900.jpg More details Unidentified woman taking her own photograph using a mirror and a box camera, roughly 1900, Scanned from the original 4x5 inch glass negative.

Unidentified woman taking her own photograph using a mirror and a box camera, roughly 1900, Scanned from the original 4×5 inch glass negative.

Three years ago, on the 18th of November, 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary named the term “selfie” as their Word of the Year.

It was a term coined by an Australian, who took a photo of himself. He then posted it on an ABC online forum, saying, “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie”.

Today the term crops up with the regularity of death and taxes in news feeds across the world, and like death and taxes, it releases myriad conflicting contrails. (more…)

Science deconstructs humor: What makes some things funny?

Alex Borgella, Tufts University

Think of the most hilarious video you’ve ever seen on the internet. Why is it so funny?

As a researcher who investigates some of the potential side effects of humor, I spend a fair bit of time verifying the funniness of the jokes, photos and videos we present to participants in our studies. Quantifying the perception of humor is paramount in ensuring our findings are valid and reliable. We often rely on pretesting – that is, trying out jokes and other potential stimuli on different samples of people – to give us a sense of whether they might work in our studies. (more…)

No, Bob Dylan isn’t the first lyricist to win the Nobel

Bob Dylan isn't first Nobel Price lyricist

Bob Dylan

Alex Lubet, University of Minnesota

There’s been a great deal of excitement over Bob Dylan winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s rare for artists who have achieved widespread, mainstream popularity to win. And although Nobels often go to Americans, the last literature prize to go to one was Toni Morrison in 1993. Furthermore, according to The New York Times, “It is the first time the honor has gone to a musician.”

But as Bob Dylan might croon, “the Times they are mistaken.” (more…)

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