Write Design Multimedia

Monday, March 20, 2006

'Hopkin Green Frog' by Nicole

In September of 2003 several fliers were posted around a district of Seattle. The flyers desperately appealed to anyone who had come across a lost frog. It seemed a young boy had lost his beloved pet. The plea was signed, ‘Terry’.

These fliers were noted in a couple of Seattle-based weblogs. On September 7th 2003, a blogger known as Samantha posted a picture of the flier at http://www.fotolog.com/gingerly/?photo_id=935490 . Several months later, on May 31st 2004, Jeff Sharman wrote in his online diary, ‘A poster next to the bus stop describes a lost pet, a frog named Hopkin.’


In November 2004, over a year after the flyer was initially seen in Seattle, people began commenting on the case of the lost frog on the community weblog, MetaFilter. Everyone seemed to have an opinion and, since these comments appeared in November 2004, hundreds of other comments have appeared on other sites. Terry’s little lost frog flyer created a blogstorm:
I've cried multiple times over this Hopkin thing, and have even considered sending him money.
posted by Ryvar at 4:14 AM PST on November 7

It's interesting that the kid chose to portray Hopkin visually in the style of a police mugshot.
posted by sklero at 2:44 AM PST on November 7

I say we buy like 100 hopkins and UPS them to Terry in Seattle. Someone here can set up a dropcash thingamajig; if anyone tells me where I can buy them, I'll be happy to pay for shipping.
posted by luriete at 6:14 PM PST on November 7

Around the same time a photo of the original flyer appeared on an online image sharing community. Others began to create unique and humorous images in reference to the story. The Hopkin saga had taken on a life of its own. A domain name – lostfrog.org – was registered by Harold Ike. Over 100 images are currently posted on the site.

This case is an example of the profound and immediate power of the internet and of blogging in particular.

Blogging began around ten years ago and soon became a popular way for online communities to share ideas and opinions on topics ranging from the mundane to the political. A derivative of online communications such as Usenet, email lists and bulletin board systems, early blogs were mostly in the form of diaries . In these online diaries, the blogger relates details about their life and posts it on a site for anyone to see. Today, blogs come in many variations. There are Political blogs, Cultural blogs, Educational blogs, Business blogs, Topical blogs, Collaborative blogs and the list goes on… Community blogs, such as MetaFilter, invite anyone to comment and lengthy conversations (‘threads’) regularly ensue. Photoblogs are often part of a Personal blog or online diary, where the blogger will take random photos, like Samantha did of Terry’s lost frog flyer, and post it on their site. The http://lostfrog.org/ site is an example of a purely visual blog site. Here, the postings are responsive but not in a written format. The site exists as a mystifying, absurd and amusing phenomenon unless you know the story behind its inception.

So, back to Terry and his poor lost frog, Hopkin. Mike Whybark posts an interesting development to the saga on his website, http://mike.whybark.com. A Seattle resident himself and frequent contributor to MetaFilter, Mike had become intrigued by the lost frog story. After learning (from another blogger on MetaFilter) that the frog was actually a free toy given away by McDonalds, Mike engaged in some investigative journalism. Bravely, he phoned the number on the flyer and, after several attempts, spoke with a David Chen, Terry’s father. David’s revelations were unexpected. Terry, his son, was, in fact, a 16 year-old boy with autism. When his toy frog was lost Terry was devastated. This explains the desperate and forceful tone of the flyer. When Mike offered a version of the toy he had bought on ebay, the father declined, saying the new toy would only stir up bad memories for his sensitive son. Mike had solved the mystery of the missing toy, but the bloggers weren’t satisfied.

Subsequent to Mike’s post on November 22nd 2004 , he received numerous comments on his site:
After thinking about this for a bit, i am annoyed that this couldn't be left as a fun mystery, a bit of absurdity.
Posted by: harold_ikes at November 22, 2004 07:33 PM

I think that it is more than absurdity which allows Hopkin G. Frog to attract us; I think it has something to do with the universal experience of loss… As adults, that loss is comparatively trivial, but as children, it's so powerful. How much more so it must be for Terry, that his father feels it necessary to protect him from the memory of it.
Posted by: onouris at December 3, 2004 02:40 AM


The father is wrong to think that "Terry has forgotten about the frog… I'd bet money that "returning" the frog would please Terry.
Posted by: clarifier at November 23, 2004 10:58 AM

The far-reaching effects of this tiny incident and the subsequent virtual buzz are amazing.

hi, i just want to tell you that Hopkin story came to europe, poland. i'm seating in a small mountain village in south-west of poland and wondering about Hopkin, Terry and whole this story... it's hard to belive how powerful internet is...
Posted by: michal stambulski at December 2, 2004 04:58 PM

The humble blog continues to evolve and develop in new and exciting ways.

Bibliography
Ps. I’ll find my frog, http://lostfrog.org/

Wikipedia – Blog, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog 18 March 2004

Jeff Sharman blog, ‘Lost Pet’ http://www.struat.com/here/002343.php 31 May 2004
and ‘Still Lost’ http://www.struat.com/here/002998.php 8 November 2004, at http://www.beansforbreakfast.com/

Samantha blog 7 September 2003 at, http://www.fotolog.com/gingerly

Mike Whybark blog, ‘Hopkin Saga Unfolds’ 8 November 2004 and ‘Hopkin Explained’ 22 November 2004, at http://mike.whybark.com

MetaFilter, ‘Him Name is Hopkin Green Frog’ 2 November 2004, at http://www.metafilter.com/

MetaFilter, ‘A Ribbeting Story’ 6 November 2004, at http://www.metafilter.com/

Punk princess: overly caffeinated, ‘ps. I’ll find my frog’ 19 June 2005, at http://www.punkprincess.com/

3 Comments:

  • Good bit of writiing both for and about blogs. Choosing subject matter that is immediately interesting to almost everyone... a lost frog oooohhhh...and then using that as a way to explore the power and reach of blogs works very well to raise some of the issues.

    Of especial interest is the role of 'truth' in blogging... he tension between the want, and ability, to find out and know all -- and wanting to go with the fantasy...

    By Blogger Administration, at 12:45 pm  

  • Aw, little Terry, I want to adopt him. This was great, love the examples of peoples posts, and the history of Terry. The way it was written was fantastic, almost like a story!

    By Blogger Leisl, at 3:24 pm  

  • I was ribbetted! And how fantastic that blogs are being used as the global equivalent of a telephone pole, a flier, and a lot of sticky tape.

    By Blogger Lara, at 3:43 pm  

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