Thursday, September 10, 2009

Viral Culture

Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s and one of the architects of the flash mobs phenomenon, has written an interesting account of viral culture – a culture based on four attributes: “incredible rapidity”; “shamelessness” – attention; “duration” -- “it is a success generally assumed to be ephemeral even by those caught in it.” “sophistication” – interactive, media mind (p. 8). Here is a snippet related to one of my own interests, blogging as a form of virtual archive: “Bloggers, mashup artists, YouTube videographers, political ‘hacktivists’ – these people aren’t sitting in their bedrooms spinning out moony personal diaries, hoping that someone will come long and recognize them. Aware they’re always being watched, they act accordingly, tailoring their posts to draw traffic, stirring up controversy, watching their stats to see what works and what doesn’t. They develop a meta-understanding of the conversation they’re in and how that conversation works, and they try to figure out where it’s going so they can get there first.” (p. 11). His book is And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture (New York: Viking, 2009).

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