Not all that is called ‘viral’ is viral.

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Not all that is called ‘viral’ is viral. 50,000 downloads of a YouTube video in one hour is certainly an achievement, but not necessarily a viral achievement. Unless we know what the mechanism behind a certain phenomenon was, the word ‘viral’ could be misleading or simply a synonym for massive. Picture this. A front page news article prompts people to go to YouTube to see a video clip (something funny, extraordinary, curious, unexpected or appealing) and hundreds or thousands of people do so. That produces a massive peak of downloads. So far, so good. But the peak is not viral, not yet anyway. It only becomes viral if I send you an email with the link, suggesting you go to YouTube AND asking you to send the link to your friends. The level of infection goes up when you do send the link to your friends AND ask them to send it to their friends, etc.

 

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