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

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Length: 220 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Product Description


secretly entering it and creating a site that --aggregates all blog smears against the

presidential candidates - Bill Wasik ends up --conducting six experiments. He doesn't always get

the results he expected, but along the way he --meets a cast of characters who are capable of

About the Author

churning and rambunctious viral culture. Covering

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1107 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (15 April 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0026NBZE4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,287,492 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Funny Because It's Sad 30 July 2009
By Jeffrey Sharlet - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm sort of a ringer, because I got to read this book in manuscript and I contributed a blurb for its jacket. Moreover, Bill Wasik is my editor at Harper's magazine. But I'll win no points with him for this review. The irony of this book is that it's a brilliant examination of viral stories by a man who's proved himself a master of creating them -- consider the Flash Mob -- and yet has little use for them himself. He's not trying to sell you a business method. He's trying to understand why the "stories we tell ourselves in order to live," to paraphrase Joan Didion, have gotten shorter, shallower, and more absurd, from that of a high school senior who sued to be made valedictorian to the white noise buzz surrounding the amorphous ur-band -- one group of musicians interchangeable with another -- that has become the object of pop culture's Sisyphean self-consumption. In the hands of a lesser writer, this argument would become a scolding, but Wasik makes it brilliantly funny, without ever losing sight of the tragic dimensions he's exploring.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
More commentary on information overload and shortened attention spans 5 Sept. 2009
By S. Rogers - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Continuing with the social media overload theme in the news of late, Wasik's book examines the ever-shortening life span of stories in our culture - whether it's news, gossip, or the latest best-seller - among the onslaught of email, RSS feeds, blog posts, and Tweets. He describes a world in which we have become so accustomed to a constant stream of new information, and so wary of always-encroaching boredom, that we tell stories about our society and ourselves, even when there is nothing new to say.

Besides the information glut, shortening attention spans, and overall exhaustion this creates, the really good content gets lost after its fleeting 15 minutes of fame (if that). And despite the broader array of news and opinion available to us, we have not necessarily broadened our horizons, but rather self-segregate ourselves into smaller & smaller niches of like-minded individuals.

The same themes were picked up in a Financial Times article last week, which noted that for many, social media has become "a more personal filter to the infinite world of the Internet." Where people use to turn to traditional portals like Yahoo! or AOL as their entry point, they are now turning to Facebook or their preferred feed aggregator, reading just the news & information that comes in from friends or other trusted sources. Ray Valdes, a media analyst from Gartner is quoted: "We are moving toward a world of `snackable' news'that'can be shared like pieces of candy or a pack of gum...Unfortunately, we run the risk of losing substance and nutritive value."

Wasik closes his book with a brief look at some of the "solutions" to Internet fatigue. Among them:

* Writer & editor Jake Silverstein's proposed Internet Ramadan, where people go offline for a month
* NYTimes writer Mark Bittman's Secular Sabbath, an experiment in going offline for a mere 24 hours
* Chip maker Intel's Quiet Time, where employees are encouraged to go offline each Tuesday morning in order to think (and work) more deeply

Should we be concerned? Or is our fast-paced lifestyle just the new norm, and the attention-getting books & headlines just another example of the trumped-up crises we crave?
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A book on viral stories...and nobody's reviewed it? 2 July 2009
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There's a certain irony here. Bill Wasik has written a book about creating massive publicity for non-events. Yet the publication of his book - definitely not a non-event - doesn't seem to be attracting attention from reviewers.

Wasik's book is a collection of stories about the way he created online buzz. In one example, he entered a contest sponsored by Huffington press where websites competed for the most visitors. Wasik was supposed to cover the event as a reporter but ended up entering and winning. In another chapter, he tries and fails to stop the buzz on an indie band.

Wasik's point seems to be twofold. On the one hand, stories capture the imagination of the Internet world. While you're hot, bloggers wite about you and you're known everywhere. But these days stories have a really short shelf lne.

On the other hand, the stories don't get famous because they have such great content. Theyget famous because people like Wasik know how to spread the word. For instance, Wasik created the Mob scenes where hundreds of people descended on a particular place for no reason at all.

The book is enjoyable: fun to read with aIt would have been more satisfing if Wasik could explain why some stories go viral and some don't. How dos he know how to choose topics and create blogs that get attenton so fast? Is this a skill that others can learn?

Recommended for anyone interested in the Internet, the arts, communication theory or sociology. It's a livng lesson.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good Movie. Bad Ending. 7 July 2009
By SETI - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This was a great read until the last three pages, where Wasik leaps from analyzing the behavior and life cycles of online audiences into suggesting we all take a time out from surfing the waves and, for once, reflect on ideas, consider multiple views in topics of discussion, perhaps, read a book or two. Certainly not crazy ideas, but after 100+ pages of making the point that crowds gather online via human nature, to suddenly say, "Hey, stop doing that," kind of makes his plea destined to be ignored.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The first of many... 25 July 2009
By Ryan C. Holiday - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a weird book that is difficult to categorize. Not many of tried to do much thinking on how a new generation (the public) generates and consume media narratives and this is the first book to do a good job advancing the science. It is also one of the few books on the internet that I thought was both forward-thinking and intellectually honest. I'd like to think I am in front of this field a bit and seen some things that only a small group has thus far. Trust me, it's not all sunshine and kittens and I don't think many people have bothered to consider the consequences of what Jeff Jarvis calls "process journalism."

There is a blurb on the back that says the book has a timeless quality to it and whoever said it is totally right. It could be The Image for my generation. The notion of process journalism, which I think is a stupid rationalization for lazy reporting - a way for blogs to abdicate responsibility for their actions - the way that we consume the stories we created ourselves like some oblivious ouroboros; all these things are discussed thoughtfully by someone with actual experience in the matter. In fact, I think it's the first time someone who knew what they were talking about has attempted to do so. It's short, definitely worth reading. A peerless book thus far.

Bill Wasik digs himself well out of the whole he created by starting flash mobs a few years ago. He should be rewarded for this thoughtful, unique and important book.
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