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Archive for May 30th, 2013

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

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I am reviewing this book from the standpoint of a Christian worldview though the book is not Christian. This is a book about the internet and internet sensation, what today people refer to as something “going viral.” The author was the founder of “Flash Mob” and his account of how it began, his planning and reflection was an unexpected part of the book–and I think this alone is worth reading the book! What I took away from this book is the fact that things on the internet can come and go at a much more vicious cycle than in other past culture–one can overnight be an instant celebrity mentioned as a household name and searched on google by millions of individuals in a manner of hours, only to have people forget about you just weeks later, as the internet moves on to other “nanostories.” At the time of this writing, I wonder if a few years from now people will know of Susan Boyle of “Britain Got Talent” fame and Charles Ramsey who freed Amanda Berry (or even in a few weeks!). The book reminded me of the theme from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible about “vanity” and how everything moving on and fade like a mist which accurately capture our internet viral age. Even one’s legacy is something one can’t control especially in the viral culture since events and individuals can easily get imposed upon with a story or spin online to fit a larger narrative something the author discusses. The book also talks about how this viral culture on the internet has allowed a level playing field of regular people to blog and become a celebrity of sorts in their own rights, and also individuals to be pundits whom in the day of traditional media would have not been able to make an impact of hundreds and thousands of people. Think of blogs. Think of twitter. Sometimes the mainstream media end up covering the news of what’s going online on social media! And no doubt this very review online is an example of that. Very interesting work. The author is quite insightful, witty and makes you reflect about the age we live in. I highly recommend this work–and I don’t want to take away from this work, but this book got me thinking about “The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion” by Tim Challies which is an attempt at a Christian theology of technology.

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