ASPEN, Colo.—It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single news consumer in possession of a free minute must be in want of a cat video.
The whole Internet-and-cats thing—a meta-meme about the mystic makeup of the Internet itself—is one of the stickiest there is when it comes to discussions of the World Wide Web. The Internet loves its cats! The cats love their Internet! The kitty cliches write themselves: The greatest collection of knowledge that humanity has ever assembled—a collection of information and emotion that puts any previous effort to shame—is, on top of everything else, an enormous litter box.
Jon Steinberg is no stranger to this, um, purrfect storm of Internet memery. Steinberg is now the CEO of the Daily Mail in North America. He was formerly the president and COO of Buzzfeed. He knows his cat videos. And during a discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival, put on by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, Steinberg parted ways with the ultimate Internet cliche, imploring the audience to end their assumptions about a feline-ified Internet. It is more than cats! he said. It is also, while we're at it, more than GIFs! It is more than quizzes! It is more than all the other trivialities that those who enjoy criticizing the Internet as an epistemological entity like to offer as evidence for their criticism!