BOB GARFIELD: Carlos Eduardo dos Santos Galvao Bueno is a play-by-play announcer who calls the World Cup matches on Brazil’s largest TV network, Rede Globo. Last weekend, someone in Brazil offered a blunt critique of Galvao’s broadcasting style with a three-word Tweet in Portuguese: “Cala Boca Galvao,” or, in English, “Shut up, Galvao.” The phrase quickly became one of the top worldwide trending topics in the Twittersphere, and what happened next, says Ethan Zuckerman of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, was the result of a wired world eavesdropping uncomprehendingly on one another’s conversations.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: For the last three or four days, “Cala Boca Galvao” has been absolutely at the top of the topic list. And so, what happened was a lot of non-Portuguese speakers saw this phrase, didn't know what it meant and started Tweeting, what does Cala Boca Galvao mean? If there’s a new topic trending on Twitter, there’s probably a significant chance that it has something to do with Lady Gaga. So some of the Brazilians grabbed that idea and started telling the non-Portuguese speakers that Cala Boca Galvao is the new Lady Gaga single.
BOB GARFIELD: [LAUGHS]
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: You know, the problem with this is that eventually you have to come up with a single for people to listen to. People start searching for it and they figure it out very quickly.
BOB GARFIELD: Because, just to clarify, there is no single by Lady Gaga called Cala Boca Galvao. They just made it up.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: To the best of our knowledge, Lady Gaga has never consciously recorded a single called Cala Boca Galvao. But this is, of course, the wonder of the Internet. It’s that if you now go onto YouTube, you will find half a dozen purported Lady Gaga Cala Boca Galvaos.
[MUSIC UP AND UNDER] The real tour de force in all of this was someone realizing that you can't go wrong on Twitter coming up with a worthy, well-meaning cause for people to get behind. And so, you started to have some very clever Brazilian saying that Cala Boca Galvao is an international campaign to save the rare endangered Galvao bird, and that if you were to join in and Tweet “Cala Boca Galvao,” 10 cents would be donated to the Save the Galvao Foundation. And quite rapidly, Brazilians started to come up with some wonderful supporting materials for this. So you can find a poster that declares “Help Us Save Galvao Birds. One Second to Tweet, One Second to Save a Life.” And perhaps most wonderfully, you can find this minute-long public service announcement:
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ANNOUNCER: - which focuses on spreading the word about Galvao, a very rare kind of bird native to Brazil. Every year, more than 300,000 Galvao birds are killed during Carnival parades. Their colorful feathers are sold on black markets.
[CROWD HUBBUB IN BACKGROUND] And if this slaughter doesn't stop, they will become extinct much sooner than you can imagine.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: A campaign to raise money to create hermetically sealed birdhouses to allow the birds to survive.
BOB GARFIELD: [LAUGHS] So this is a hoax built upon a hoax, stemming from an insult, at this stage.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: Look, in seriousness, what’s so amazing about a space like Twitter is that one click away are all of these conversations that you don't know anything about.
BOB GARFIELD: It’s the Twitter version of the media echo chamber, right, where you’re exposed only to ideas of people you have self selected. But with the trending topics, we can really get an instant look at kind of the Zeitgeist.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: And what trending topics does, by giving you this small slice of Zeitgeist lets you see at least what are some of the other big conversations out there. In cases like Cala Boca Galvao, where you get led in the wrong direction, I think those are probably the rare cases.
BOB GARFIELD: Uh-huh, so this episode is actually significant for being the exception that proves the rule.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: One of the great functions of sport is that it gives you common ground where you can talk to people from countries all over the world. The World Cup becomes this sort of wonderful excuse for conversation across national lines, sometimes even across language lines. And a lot of that conversation has to do with taunting one another. So I view this as a very well-constructed taunt.
BOB GARFIELD: Okay, Ethan, as always, many thanks.
ETHAN ZUCKERMAN: As always, great to be with you, thanks, Bob.
BOB GARFIELD: Ethan Zuckerman is senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Igor Ribeiro is executive editor of IMPRENSA, a magazine about media and communication in Brazil. We asked him if he thought that “Cala Boca Galvao” was a typically Brazilian stunt.
IGOR RIBEIRO: Yeah, yeah, kind of. The translation of it is simply “Shut up, Galvao,” a sports announcer from one of the most powerful TV broadcasts in Brazil. And everybody, if they make a little research on the Internet on Google, they will find out that there is no such a thing as a Galvao bird or a movement to save it.
[BOB LAUGHS] I think it’s something that became bigger than the people who started it ever thought of.
BOB GARFIELD: Okay, I've got to ask you one thing.
IGOR RIBEIRO: Uh-huh?
BOB GARFIELD: Galvao, has he had anything to say about this episode?
IGOR RIBEIRO: Yeah, he said that he doesn't care. And even some comedians who work in the same broadcasting TV where he works made a kind of opposite joke. They boast in their blog movement called Fala, Galvao, means “Speak, Galvao.”
BOB GARFIELD: All right, well Igor, good luck saving the mythical bird, and good luck on the Cup.
IGOR RIBEIRO: [LAUGHS] Thank you a lot. Good luck for U.S. team too.
BOB GARFIELD: Thanks. Igor Ribeiro is executive editor of the Brazilian media and communications magazine, IMPRENSA.
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"Kick The Stones"
by by Chris Whitley