Did you catch this exciting Apple *news* from the Onion?:

Apple Unveils New Product-Unveiling Product

At a highly anticipated media event Tuesday at San Francisco’s
Moscone Center, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs introduced a new Apple
product he said would "revolutionize" the process of unveiling new
products throughout the world.

"In 1984, Apple introduced the Mac," Jobs said to an overflowing
crowd as an image of the first Macintosh computer was displayed on a
giant screen behind him. "We changed the face of the music industry
with the first iPod in 2001. And in January, we showed off the
revolutionary new iPhone. Today, Apple is releasing a piece of
innovative new technology that will forever change the way innovative
new technology is released."

The iLaunch, as the new product is called, was then raised up from
below the stage, prompting the audience of technology journalists,
developers, and self-professed "Apple fanatics" to burst into a
five-minute standing ovation.

"Get ready for the future of product introduction," said Jobs, looking resplendent in a black turtleneck and faded jeans.

Resplendent. . . indeed.

For many of us, the Onion is a bastion, a shining beacon of hope, a life-giving fount of satire. Growing up as an omnivorous reader with the discriminating taste of a Kirby, I was something less than methodical in my explorations of literature. Most of the time I was happily and unsystematically awash in a sea of words, but did occasionally get tossed ashore onto a substantial beachhead, a piece of writing that was solidly grounding.  Usually something dark and satirical. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 was a revelation, with its elliptical logic, absurdity, allusiveness, and deja vu juxtapositions. But the real root of its influence, for me, was the way its structure reflects its themes. The transmutation from mere traditional story to something more complex—an artifact?—that has a self-aware, tangible presence outside the story. . . that felt and continues to feel deeply subversive and unsettling. But in a good way. Catch-22 does this; Tristram Shandy does it, too. There are many more examples of satirical literature that challenge our expectations about how stories are told; and, in a manner of speaking, break down the fourth wall.

And contemporary television, film, and print media is crowded with further examples: The Simpsons, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Office, South Park, Doonesbury. And new crops of satirical websites and blogs mushroom up all the time. One of the more prominent examples from a couple of years ago was Harriet Miers’s Blog!!!, a satirical blog written in the breathless voice of once-upon-a-time Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.   

What all this makes me wonder is how satire will push the still-developing boundaries of Web 2.0, and correspondingly how Web 2.0 might be used in the service of satire. What are the hallmarks of social networking culture that could empower a new brand of satire, and what aspects of that culture are crying out to be satirized? What will it look like? Whatever form it takes, I suspect it will increasingly blur the line between reality and fiction, a la the film Borat or the videoblog sensation lonelygirl15, and occasionally take on a life of its own that flows across media. Perhaps the first true satirical shot across the bows and into the Web 2.0 era—complete with viral video and blogosphere coverage—was Stephen Colbert’s in-character speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in April 2006.

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