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Author of Yale Zombie story

March 5, 2013

The recent ZombieLaw post about Chinese zombies at Yale cited to Associated Press but neglected to mention the reporters — It’s Justin Pope. Last August, ZombieLaw mentioned Mr. Pope for his Zombie University students who need sleep.

Sorry for neglecting authorship the first time. ZombieLaw doesn’t always have author names but tries to include them when available and when citing directly to that article. And particularly when it’s a recurring author – so welcome back Mr. Pope.

Authorship and author function are important for what it means to be a zombie. Zombies and #Anonymous and Borg, devalue author function. All the reporters merge into the voice of the Associated Press. But that is obviously not really true, there are individuals along the way who mediate the action in different ways. Despite feelings to the contrary we are not anonymous drones, we are individuals and our identity is relevant (consider zombie voting and zombie privacy) but also zombie government workers and zombie social security recipients. Each has their own unique version of the world.

The Mystery of the Chinese zombie Yalies might be an SEO operation. Who knows what other “mystery zombie Yalies” would have come up in a search yesterday, once the story is out, the quotes abound and the words are slowly redefined by the search engine space – as ZombieLaw wrote earlier, Big Academia is trying to rig the digital space to attempt to survive.

Redefining brands for search optimization is sort of like how cultural knowledge is formed through conceptual blending. Individuals represent different arrays of concepts. The author function is important for setting limits on conceptual fluidity. Sometimes it is enough to know that the source is Associated Press. It is richer information to know that it came from Justin Pope, but also explains away some of the “mystery” of the “zombie” – we already know he likes the word – still we don’t know why he likes it (of course, don’t we all!). Does it matter? Should it matter?

What if he is being paid by AMC – not directly of course, but AMC as metaphor for Big Cable (See NyTimes: “At AMC, Zombies Topple Network TV” by David Carr) – Network TV and the Associated Press seem like they are related industries. Dying against the digital backdrop.

Education is also an attempt at conceptual blending. Education is not much different than marketing except that marketing implies selling what isn’t needed and education is about providing information about the options. Educators use marketing tricks to hold student attention.

Why buy followers when you can buy whole botnets of PC machines – “Need an army of killer zombies? Yours for just $25 per 1,000 PCs” by John Leyden – which begs the question of whether Academic marketing (and/or political campaigns) are doing this kind of thing too.

We live in a post-facts environment. See “The public ombudsman (or Facts don’t work the way we want)” about the controversial NYTimes Tesla test drive. John Broder’s story pitted against the company’s tracking data and investigation by the Public Editor — except even this controversy seems designed to create buzz for their brand.

This is the way conceptual metaphors are made these days. It’s what appears to be a gaffe or something unusual, so it gets attention (or appears to because of botnet activity) and then it causes change. Zombie-like – and kind of like the movie Inception - plant the idea so you think the audience came up with it on their own.

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