Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Black Hat was hired by the Cable News Network (CNN) to increase its popularity, presumably long-term. However, all he did was text one million people implying that a huge, unbelievable event was happening. While this technically did increase viewers of CNN, this was most likely only for a few minutes before the viewers realized nothing had happened. Because of this, Black Hat did very little to help CNN.
The title text is spoken by the offscreen character who, after saying that division of CNN was firing Black Hat, told him that the online headline writing department wanted to hire him. This is because the message Black Hat texted to the million phone numbers is very similar to link bait, which are headlines or titles that, like the text message, promise highly interesting articles without being very detailed as to their nature. Thus, perhaps online, Black Hat could bring clicks up long term through this unscrupulous practice, as opposed to mass unsolicited texts. The practice of link bait has also been mentioned in 1283: Headlines.
- [Black Hat sits at a desk. A voice speaks from off panel, in front of Black Hat.]
- Off Panel Voice: CNN hired you to improve viewership.
- [Black Hat continues sitting at the desk.]
- Black Hat: ...yes, and?
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- [Next panel, conversation continues.]
- Off Panel Voice: You texted "Holy crap, turn on the news" to a million random phone numbers?
- Black Hat: It sure did work.
- Off Panel Voice: Not what we meant!
The sad thing is that when I saw the name "CNN", and then the title text, I knew exactly what this comic was referring to. https://twitter.com/waxpancake/status/426390907038887936
And ohhhh dear, looking at the latest news/results for this, they've somehow messed up even WORSE than before. https://www.google.com/search?q=cnn+the+news+will+shock+you http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/02/05/dear-cnn-please-be-careful-about-copying-our-headlines-sincerely-upworthy/
But, I think ironically the best part is how practically everyone that's piling onto CNN for this is also doing the same manipulative, emotive, Upworthy-style headline bait tricks as well. (Looking at you, Slate, Salon, Washington Post, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, ThinkProgress...)
Mudkip3DS (talk) 07:24, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
- BTW I'm not sure how exactly I would phrase this, so I'm not going to add it, but I think one of you should add a reference to those two incidents (the "murder shock" and "rape surprise" ones; though the first one is what I remember making more news, the latter is very recent). It almost seems clear, looking at the comic and text, that it's referring to them. Mudkip3DS (talk) 07:28, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
Ah, and from the first panels, I thought it was going to refer to NBCNews.com's new site redesign. CNN hired Blackhat to redo NBC's website to drive visitors from there to CNN... I mean, who /watches/ the news anymore? 22.214.171.124 07:30, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
It is also worth noting that sending a message to turn on the news to random numbers is very unlikely to drive people to CNN in particular as there are many other competing news channels that they could choose. 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)