Mystery Guest

Mar 2, 2018

Amanda Brennan's job title is "Senior Content Insights Manager." Ophira and Jonathan ask yes-or-no questions to figure out what on earth she actually does.

Heard On Derek DelGaudio: Sleight Of Mind

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

While LaGina and Mark get ready for the final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is Mystery Guest. A stranger is about to come onstage. Jonathan and I have no idea who this person is or what makes them special, but our puzzle guru Art Chung does.

ART CHUNG: That's right, Ophira. You and Jonathan will work together as a team to figure out our mystery guest's secret by asking yes-or-no questions. Mystery guest, please introduce yourself.

AMANDA BRENNAN: Hi, my name's Amanda Brennan, and my official job title is senior content insights manager.

CHUNG: Your job is to figure out what the heck that means.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Here's my first question. Were you ever a junior insights content manager?

BRENNAN: No.

EISENBERG: OK. So this only existed at the senior level.

BRENNAN: At the time.

JONATHAN COULTON: Does this job involve social media?

BRENNAN: Yes.

COULTON: It sounds pretty social media-y (ph).

BRENNAN: (Laughter).

COULTON: And you are - you are - now I forgot what it is. Senior what?

BRENNAN: Senior content insights manager.

EISENBERG: Insights.

COULTON: Insights into the content.

BRENNAN: Yes.

COULTON: You're getting - you're managing insights into the content.

BRENNAN: Yeah.

CHUNG: At a senior level.

OPHIRA EISENBERG AND JONATHAN COULTON: At a senior level.

(LAUGHTER)

BRENNAN: You got it (laughter).

EISENBERG: Would you say the content that you have insight to, is it for entertainment purposes?

BRENNAN: It can be.

EISENBERG: Can be. Is it for educational purposes?

EISENBERG: It can be. All right. Does it have a prime purpose?

BRENNAN: No.

COULTON: It's the Internet, man.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: Forget about it.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Are you looking at trends? Are you sort of examining trends in data?

BRENNAN: Yes. We're getting hotter.

COULTON: We're getting hotter.

EISENBERG: OK. But we're - so we're looking for what trend specifically.

BRENNAN: Yes.

EISENBERG: All right. Are we looking at trends - pop culture trends?

BRENNAN: Yes.

COULTON: Are you a cool hunter?

BRENNAN: No.

COULTON: Are you a meme hunter?

BRENNAN: Yes.

CHUNG: That's very close.

COULTON: Are you - are you a person who watches for memes and does something with memes?

BRENNAN: Yes.

CHUNG: I think you got it. I think...

COULTON: Oh.

EISENBERG: Whoa.

(CHEERING)

CHUNG: Also Amanda is Tumblr's librarian of memes and meme culture, specifically she runs the site's fandometrics, which keeps track of what pop culture topics people on Tumblr are talking about.

EISENBERG: So how does someone get this job?

BRENNAN: So I'm actually a librarian. I have my master's in library and information science from Rutgers. And when I was there, I focused in social media because I knew I wanted to do something with information that wasn't just a traditional job. So from there, I studied Tumblr and the way people tag way back in 2010. So I've been doing this for a while.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

BRENNAN: And before I was at Tumblr Proper, I spent some time at the website Know Your Meme.

EISENBERG: And just for our listening audience that might be like, I kind of get what a meme is but, like, I don't know how to describe it.

BRENNAN: Yeah. So a meme is a piece of culture that can travel from person to person and change along the way. So a lot of people think of a meme as like a picture with words on it. A meme can also be a gif. It could be a video.

EISENBERG: OK. So what are people talking about right now, Amanda?

BRENNAN: Right now, there's a lot of K-pop. A lot of Olympics is still seething out. Also Tessa and Scott, the Canadian ice dancers...

EISENBERG: Yes.

BRENNAN: ...People love them and want to ship them. Are you familiar with shipping?

EISENBERG: Shipping.

BRENNAN: Yes.

EISENBERG: Like...

BRENNAN: Like not boats.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Like stamps.

BRENNAN: Not stamps.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) OK. No, tell me. Tell me.

BRENNAN: So shipping is the act of when you really want two people, whether it be real-life people or fictional characters, to kiss. So people really want Tessa and Scott to be in a relationship, which is where shipping comes from. Shipping is huge on Tumblr. People will ship anything. You can find it. It's there.

EISENBERG: So they will pick even inanimate objects.

BRENNAN: Oh, yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So where do you think your job can go? Like, how do you think your job can benefit humanity?

BRENNAN: As meme culture becomes popular culture, people in 50 years are going to look back and be like, what is this weird thing that happened on the Internet? And I feel like a lot of the time now people aren't taking it as seriously. And this past year alone has been a great example of how meme culture can really affect real-life things. And I think there should be more people doing research into this weird stuff that's happening on the Internet and growing and, like, pay attention to it.

EISENBERG: Yeah, because it's both reflecting and influencing culture.

BRENNAN: Yeah.

CHUNG: What's a trend or meme that will never die?

BRENNAN: The rick-roll. Are you familiar with the rick-roll?

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Can you explain what that is to our audience?

BRENNAN: Yeah. So the rick-roll - you may know this song by Rick Astley, "Never Gonna Give You Up." People will use it as a bait-and-switch link. So they'll be like, hey, have you seen this trailer for "Infinity War" that no one's ever seen? They're like, yeah, I want to see it. So they'll click that link and then it'll be like (singing) never gonna give you up, never going to let you down.

And that's a rick-roll. It's not a bad song, and the video is pretty good. So it's like, man, you got me again.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

BRENNAN: People don't get mad about a rick-roll.

EISENBERG: No, it's fun. It's nice.

BRENNAN: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I like it. I do. I do like it. I think it is a positive expression of just...

COULTON: It is. It's a nice thing. I agree with you it's never going to die because it feels like if somebody rick-rolled me tomorrow, I would be like, oh, my God, that is so hilarious.

BRENNAN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Everyone give it up for our mystery guest, Amanda Brennan.

(CHEERING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.