1711: Snapchat

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For obvious reasons, the prize is awarded at a different time of year from the others, while it's still fresh in the committee's memory.
Title text: For obvious reasons, the prize is awarded at a different time of year from the others, while it's still fresh in the committee's memory.


Snapchat is a photo-sending app that allows the receiving user to only view the photo (known as a "snap") within 24 hours of its posting, and for only 10 seconds before it is deleted. The Pulitzer Prize is famously awarded for exceptional journalism and photojournalism (there are many categories; see here).

Cueball reads that the Snapchat Pulitzer Prize has just been awarded but then, when Megan states that she heard the picture was really good, Cueball becomes disappointed because he realises he has already missed out on the chance to see the prize winning entry due to the temporary nature of Snapchat. Note that Megan also missed the opportunity to see the snap.

A given snap can be sent to a semi-public "Story" and the user decides how long any user can see the snap in a range from 1-10 s. In principle, any specific snap is only accessible for 24 hours even if it is a story. A committee of users could have more than 10 seconds to access the snap, by viewing in sequence. Given the time it might take for a committee to decide which snap wins the prize, it is realistic that Cueball learns about the winner after the 24 hours is up; Thus even a user following the outcome might not be able to see the winning entry after that time. In practice it is possible to circumvent the Snapchat rule and take a screen shot or in other ways save the content of the snap. In the case of a Pulitzer Prize winning photo, someone would probably have saved it, if it was in real life. On the other hand, the only way for the photo to be recognised as a snap, eligible to win the prize, would be if no one could see it for more than 10 seconds. So one of the possible rules might be that any picture which was saved would not be able to win the prize.

The title text extends this ephemeral nature of Snapchat's content to the prize awarded for it: The other Pulitzer prizes are announced annually in April and awarded in May (except for 2016, the centennial year, when an awards dinner will be held in October). The Snapchat Pulitzer Prize alone must be awarded as quickly as possible after the winner has been decided, before the prize committee forgets what the winning picture looked like. This of course underlines how silly this idea is, because only images seen during the assembly of the prize committee can be seen and remembered, and it is not possible to arrange this based on any knowledge of when a Pulitzer Prize "worthy" snap will be released.

Randall could be making fun of Snapchat (see the title), and the idea that you cannot save the images for later; As mentioned regarding screenshots, it is actually very easy to save pictures from Snapchat - to many a user's regret after having sent something very personal, such as naked pictures of themselves. The comic could also be seen as mocking the Pulitzer Prize for having too broad a spectrum of categories. Alongside the (photo)journalistic and prose awards, the Pulitzers also honor a variety of artistic pursuits, including Poetry, Drama and Music.

The new medium of Snapchat is certainly a hybrid form of art and information/opinion dispersal, both at its best and at its worst, but it is too ephemeral for awarding prizes to be logistically possible even if it were taken seriously enough for someone to want to award them.

The very next comic, 1712: Politifact, features an organization which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2009.


[Cueball and Megan standing together. He holds a smartphone in his left hand and looks at it.]
Cueball: Oh, the Pulitzer Prize for Snapchat was just awarded.
Megan: Yeah.
Megan: I hear the photo was really good.
Cueball: Aw, maaaan...

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"No, it's because I'm ignorant." Is Snapchat the one where photos last ten seconds only, then they're gone? And the Pulitzer prize is some American thing, right? (As opposed to Pulletzer prize, some chicken thing.) 11:43, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

Pulitzer prize is a worldwide prize for Journalism (amongst which Photography is a category) and arts (drama, etc). (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Its for published items from the U.S., not worldwide.~d (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Should there be some level of explanation that in spite of Snaps "self destructing" people often save screenshots of Snaps meaning that the picture is probably out there somewhere? Possibly even saved by the Pulitzer committee? 15:49, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

Probably should somehow work in the reference to the fact that you can permanently save screenshots, as a counter to the title text. Also, it's not a few seconds but 24 hours. -- Trlkly (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
That has been done. --Kynde (talk) 14:49, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure in the title text ("...while it's still fresh in the committee's memory") the "it" is referring to the picture, not the name of the person who took it, as stated in the above explanation. I'm not sure though, and do not like to change these things, so if someone else could look it over and, if necessary, change it, it would be much appreciated.--Snewmark (talk) 18:46, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

I agree with your assessment. I've changed the text to only refer to forgetting what the picture looked like; after all, the winner's name can simply be written down, whereas few committee members likely have the skill to sketch a decent reproduction of the snap from the memory of 10 seconds or less of viewing it. Dansiman (talk) 21:05, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
For sure, great that it was corrected. --Kynde (talk) 14:49, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

There's some hole in the logic here. Cueball has not yet viewed the picture, so a limit of a few seconds view for each viewer would not prevent him seeing it. His few seconds hasn't started running yet. (Quite apart from the issue of honouring that on the client side.) His reaction implies that he's missed all chance of seeing the picture, which would require there to be some other restriction, such as the picture only being available for a very limited time from when it was posted, or there being no way to select a specific picture to view. The Wikipedia article on Snapchat doesn't mention any overall restriction of those kinds, but does describe the harsh per-viewer time restriction on actual viewing. What am I missing? 06:31, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

You're missing the time lag for a committee to make a decision and release a press release on it. They may not have looked at the photo before 23 hours were up. Normally this takes months. Possibly this has taken just under 24 hours and by the time Cueball has looked, it's gone forever Kev (talk) 06:55, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
So there *is* an expiration a limited time after the picture was posted? In addition to the ten-seconds-of-viewing limit? If there is, that would be what I missed, not decision-making lag. 08:59, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
I have tried to include more content on the function of Snapchat. Having never used it myself but just read on wiki someone might improve. But it was some valid points made in this thread and it needed to be addressed in the explanation, and now it is. --Kynde (talk) 14:49, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

"The awards were always intended to include the Arts, as well as reportage, but not so many people may realise that Poetry, Drama and Music also get rewarded" -- does this imply that poetry, drama, and music aren't part of the arts? 14:02, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

No I think this implies that many people did not realize that arts like drama poetry and music gets award. I personally only knew that it was for writing, for sure journalism. Did also not know they awarded Snapchat :-p --Kynde (talk) 14:50, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

Snapchat is a stupid piece of garbage and the only people that use it are brainless idiots who can't convey what the fuck they're trying to talk about in words so instead they have to take shitty pictures like pretentious douchebags who wave around plastic crap everywhere. I make it a hobby to paintball iphones in public because fuck that noise. Fight me, internet. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It won't even be a "fight". It will be either a "squelch" or a "drown out". It's you against 100 million people. You and your language don't stand a chance. If only Black Hat were real. I'd call him and Joanna in to ban you, just like in 322: Pix Plz. Oh well. I guess the best thing to do is forget you exist. And possibly tell you to shut up. So shut up!
No thanks, we're good here Donald. No need for your darkness here Kev (talk) 21:22, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

The article shouldn't so authoritatively assign political commentary to the comic. We know as fact that Randall often does things for no other reason than that he found it funny. Modal verbs to the rescue!!! 06:21, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Perhaps I'm the only one, but I saw two interpretations, and actually came here to see if there was a consensus view. Clearly the winner is that he missed his chance to see the snap. The alternate explanation for Cueball's reaction that I considered as "Aw, MAAAAN..." with the unspoken thought following of "...look at those huge..." or "...she has the most perfect..." or even "...that has got to be the most impressive display of 'acrobatic' snapping I've ever seen!" Just thought I'd see if anyone else considered that interpretation. 17:02, 28 July 2016 (UTC)