Cyberclinic: Baffled by Rebecca Black? You're not alone

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The Independent Tech

The competition for the worst music video ever is a hotly contested one, with several hundredweight of dubious emotional symbolism and bad lip-synching slung online every day. Last weekend, however, the internet made a final decision. The efforts of widely derided DIY artists of yesteryear such as Getu Hirpo and Reh Dogg (worth a Google if you're not familiar) were deemed to have been eclipsed by a song called "Friday" by American teenager Rebecca Black. It's hard to sum up the depressing banality of the video, tune and lyrical content, but suffice to say that your average five year old would sneer at its lack of sophistication. No awards will be heading Rebecca's way, but a whole heap of attention certainly has.

The video for "Friday" has had 38 million views at the time of writing. It's hard to know how many of those 38 million people considered the song to represent great entertainment but, judging by the anger that's been provoked, probably a couple of dozen. "I hope you get an eating disorder," was a typically cruel, unhinged response to the mild cultural offence that had been committed. But strangely, a crisis of conscience took hold online, which doesn't happen often. The focus of rage switched from a blameless 13 year old to Ark Factory, the LA-based outfit behind the video. Black's parents reportedly paid Ark $2,000 to have their daughter feature in the superficially professional but ultimately awful production, and a glance at their artist roster revealed that this was far from a one-off. They're repeat offenders, having attempted to harness the limited talent of budding child stars such as Lil Nay Nay and Jolie Adamson. "It's complicated," sings Jolie on one tune, before going on to outline her emotional state – which is, as you might expect, far from complicated. The true target established, renowned internet vigilantes 4Chan set about their task with vigour.

You'd think that Ark Factory would consider any publicity good publicity. After all, their whole business model is about reaction, not content, and the inanity of Rebecca Black's song got her a spot on American breakfast television. But Ark seem troubled by the invective suddenly directed at them. A widely scorned video of an Ark launch party has been made private, web pages about the company have disappeared – although their main site remains, as does an infomercial. The hysterically excited voice over describes Ark as "a place you can call your world," whatever that means. It's baffling – like pretty much everything connected to the "Friday" phenomenon.

* The new iPhone software upgrade brought with it a whole heap of personal strife as I battled with error messages and restore issues, but when it finally decided to obey my high-pitched screaming it offered up a new "Personal Hotspot" feature. Nearby laptops and tablets can now connect to the phone via wi-fi and use its 3G internet connection – but only if your network lets you. The question many are asking is "Er, why doesn't my network let me?"

You'd think that if your price plan allows you to download a certain amount of stuff per month, the way you do it shouldn't matter – any more than whether you use it up watching videos, streaming music or playing endless games of online Scrabble. But in the US, the AT&T network has been issuing stern rebukes to people who've bypassed restrictions and found a way of "tethering" their computers and phones, even if their download limits haven't been reached. The first reaction from customers has been "Blimey, how did they know I was doing it?"; the second a colourful variant on the phrase "up yours". But as many commentators have said, that's capitalism. AT&T can do what they like, and customers just have to vote with their wallet.

In the UK you have a choice if tethering is something you find useful. While Vodafone charge a £15 per month premium, 3's One Plan was launched late last year as an all-you-can-download, do-what-you-like, we-don't-care option. You'd hope that all networks would follow. For most, tethering is just an occasional convenience, and we don't choose to use a slow 3G connection on our laptop purely because we can. We've got better ways of spending our time. (I think.)

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