Social media & networking

Stop saying viral

Rachel Botsman posted this via Twitter today, and I suspect it would be of interest to readers here – an excellent examination of “viral” and an argument against using that term (which I wholeheartedly support).

There’s many quotable quotes in the preso, but one that caught my attention:

“When we say something is viral we focus entirely on the content itself and not on the needs of the people that we are asking to spread our ideas” @Faris

To me that cuts to the core of the argument. I often say (and I think I once read it somewhere, though I’ve long since lost the reference) that viral is something that happens, not some attribute we can design into a communication – i.e. you don’t “make a viral”, you create something that “goes viral”. @Faris’ comment sums this up beautifully.

The preso also hints at something Duncan Watts covers in his book 6 Degrees, which is that for something to spread through networks successfully, it needs to cross different community network boundaries.

This is the power of connectors in networks – often we focus our attention on the hubs (i.e. targeting a-list bloggers, or people with large follower counts) but the connectors, the people that enable memes to jump between disparate networks, are key to the spread of ideas.

Social media & networking

Network effects

Late last week I was flicking through ABC’s iView service and stumbled across the documentary (under the ABC Docs section) entitled ”
How Kevin Bacon Cured Cancer“.

I figured it would have something to do with the 6 degrees of separation concept and decided to set aside any misgivings I had based on the title and watch a bit of it to see if it had anything of interest.

It turned out to be a great program, focusing in part on Duncan Watts’ academic work on social networks. I’d thoroughly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in social networking.

As an aside, I’m with iinet for my home broadband, and iView is “free” (i.e. bandwidth consumed watching iView is not counted in my monthly download allowance).