This is sort of a Viral Culture: How Does It Work. Also, Why Does It Work – how come I went from not knowing this OK Go video existed to seeing it literally everywhere over about a three-day span last week to probably never seeing it again until my dad emails it to me in a month? – and How Is It Getting Freaky With Us.
Ok. Wasik posits that we stew in a pot of nanonstories. The excess of information sources where everyone is looking for a fresh new angle = millions of bits of story rather than a sort of arc. On the one hand: freedom of speech! A voice for the proles! The printing press lives! On the other hand: holyshitallthethings.
Because of that, we have to start filtering, and we hunt and peck based on what everyone else is Digging so that popularity becomes the highest prereq for popularity. Does that make sense? Things are popular for being popular. It’s Keyboard Cat as Kim Kardashian.
For Wasik, this finds its ultimate expression in how we vote. He re-traces bits of the 2008 presidential election and the role Youtube (of all things) played, from the anti-Hilary Vote Different video made by some guy in his basement, to the hyper-produced but excessively heart-warming Yes We Can. This isn’t a primarily political book, it’s just that that’s the last chapter and I’m terrible at holding ideas for more than a few pages at a time. I blame the internets.
The book is a leeetle old (published 2007 and written [obviously] before then, so he references MySpace a lot), but don’t let that hold you back. I don’t understand things like graphs, or stats, or the ‘long tail’ and I haz a dumb when it comes to how trends work. Wasik’s book is savvy and intriguing but he holds my hand and helps me get it without talking down to me. Hard to do, y’alls.