And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture

Bill Wasik, Author . Viking $25.95 (202p) ISBN 978-0-670-02084-3

Focusing on the phenomenon of viral culture, Wasik, senior editor at Harper's magazine, reflects on his own Internet experiments, beginning with the creation of “flash mobs,” a pop phenomena of 2003. Wasik asked hundreds of people to gather in public for no apparent reason, and news of these gatherings that mysteriously coalesced and disbanded spread rabidly through blogs and e-mails. The groups were created by Wasik to explore the growing world of “memes,” ideas that spread through culture, “colonizing all as widely and ruthlessly as [they] can.” He examines other Internet sensations—the meteoric rise and fall of pop bands, guerrilla marketing and political blogs—relating how such “nanostories” contribute to growing cynicism in a media-saturated and consumer-savvy public. He draws on the work of Steven Levitt and Malcolm Gladwell to demonstrate that the desire to interpret the analysis of culture has outstripped the desire to understand the culture itself. Wasik's examples are culled from the trivial—e.g., ephemeral indie bands and forgettable ad campaigns—but his deft style and provocative insights keep the book significant. (June)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-101-19481-2
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