Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The Return of Merton, the First Chatroulette Celebrity

What’s the half-life of a YouTube sensation? We may get to find out in real time. Here’s the second video from Merton, the guy who became Internet-famous by playing piano on Chatroulette. It went up over the weekend, and by Sunday night, it was approaching 500,000 views.

The first video, as best I can tell, has done around five million views over a few weeks, so that’s encouraging for the still-anonymous musician. Less encouraging is that this clip isn’t nearly so much fun as the first. I don’t know if that’s because Merton put all the best stuff in his first one or because we’re all used to the joke at this point. Maybe both.

There’s also a chance that the footage in this clip was recorded after Merton had already broken big. As he noted in an interview last week, he went back on Chatroulette after his first video was already a sensation and “my experience was very different because everyone knew who I was…it’s more fun one way, and a little less fun another way.”

As with the last one, there’s some swearing here, so view accordingly.

Ben Folds, meanwhile, has yet to release another Merton tribute. Probably on to something.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald