The Pros and Cons of Viral Media
Bill Wasik, Senior Editor of Harper's Magazine, discusses electronic media.
The Pros and Cons of Viral Media
Question: What are the pros and cons of viral media?
Bill Wasik: Well, in terms of pros, I think that it is amazing how much the
internet has leveled the playing field for people who want to find a
large audience and to find it very quickly. You know, all of the
clichés about, the sort of amateur explosion in the way in which
that the little guy can compete with the big media, all of that is
essentially true in the sense that somebody can throw up some
YouTube video that took them 20 minutes to make using just the
tools that were available to them in their basement or their garage
and if it’s good enough or if it’s grabby enough then it can get
millions and million of hits in the span of just a few days and so
that’s just remarkable and you can’t help but be…you can’t help
lose sight of how revolutionary that is, and also the pros are the
way in which the internet allows us to find things that are very,
very specifically relevant to us, the long tail idea that Chris
Anderson gets into, that having sort of infinitely accessible culture
allows us to segment ourselves in ways that can be very satisfying
and very useful.
If you’re a particular fan of a particular band or particular actor, or
a particular style of music or anything, you can very quickly,
through the internet, find communities of people who are like you,
you can find recommendations for other things that you might have
not have known about that you would like because, people who
have similar taste to yours like them to. The internet can be very
useful in helping people feed very niche passions and thereby to
create market opportunities for people in a very mass culture
would have a hard time getting by, if you play a particular obscure
kind of music then, you might have had trouble finding the 5,000
people out there in the world that would be inclined to buy your
CD but over the internet. You can have a growing business for
anywhere in the world, taking orders and mailing out CDs and that
can be very useful.
In terms of the cons though, I feel like the technology both on a
personal level and on a cultural level encourages this relentless
distraction. It encourages short-term thinking in the sense that the
internet is always dangling in front of us these incredibly sort of
viral, contagious, little bits of culture, whether they’re videos or
songs or little pieces of political news that sort of thing that we
become obsessed with, in any given day then that sort of drowns
out any more boring kind of, but like more important than longer-
term considerations that we might have. That to me is the
fundamental downside and it’s to me the thing that we really need
to come to terms with, because right now I feel that for a lot of us
the level of distraction in our own lives and the level of distraction
in the sort of media ecosystem has become unsustainable
Question: How can today’s media companies make money?
Bill Wasik: I think that the Kindle is a really interesting device and a great
thing to keep your eye on. One of the things I love about the kindle
is the fact that it separates the act of choosing the information from
the act of consuming it and that I think is more valuable than a lot
of people think. I think part of the reason why people hesitate to
pay for any content online is that it slows them down. They want to
be surfing from this thing to this thing to this thing and just the
idea of having to stop and pay for something feels like too much of
an intrusion in this kind of like hyper-textual surfing through
what’s going on in the world.
The thing I like about the Kindle is that you either through the
Amazon store, you buy a book of there’s an email address through
which you can send yourself say a long article or even your own
word document that you want to read and then it beams down to
your device and then you are able to take your device to some
other place. It’s not connected to the internet, you sit there and you
read in a more leisurely way to things that you picked up for your
self. That I think contains the seeds of a sort of possible business
model because it seems to me that the kind of content that it seems
clear that short stuff is inherently going to be free in part because
there’s so many people making it in part because it’s going to be a
part of this big, churny conversation but that the longer stuff even
if you’re aren’t getting in the physical form I think you might still
be able to convince people to pay for especially if what you’re
essentially giving them is an experience away from your computer,
away from your BlackBerry, away from your iPhone where it
comes into a special device that’s designed to, to be a respite for all
So, I’m hopeful that the Kindle might represent a way for not just
book publishing companies but also for…for magazines and sellers
of long form journalism to potentially make money off of their
work. For the shorter stuff, I don’t really know what the answer is.
There is just never been…there’s just hasn’t been a successful
business model where they’ve been able to get people to open up
their wallets to pay for access to these, these streams of
information. Maybe after somebody’s company start to fail and
information becomes scarcer that then the value proposition
becomes clearer for consumers, you know, that if you’re local
paper shuts down then maybe you start to see value of letting of
giving New York Times some money or else it’s going to go out of
business, you know.
I think I agree with people also who say that the nonprofit business
model looks pretty good to newspapers right now in that maybe
it’s may be even the best way to think about newspapers a sort of
public trust that we don’t expect them to turn a profit. We don’t
expect them to be used as profitable corporations, which is what
the big companies that have bought them like have expected them
to be over the past decade or so but then instead they can mostly
make back what they spend meanwhile, they’re providing us some
incredibly important public service. That I think is going to
become a really big model in the future as well.
Question: What are your favorite media sites?
Bill Wasik: Well, the New York Times is certainly number one and, they, by
the way, I think have done a great job in the past few years of
reinventing themselves on the internet model and integrated blogs
and multimedia stuff. They’ve gone big on to twitter -- they
haven’t figured how to make it pay yet, but certainly they’ve been
nimble on the editorial content side of figuring those things out. I
really like MetaFilter, which is a group blog that’s been going for I
think ten years now. It’s motto is, “best of the web” and it’s
essentially just a bunch of members who go out and find really
interesting stuff and post them for other people and it’s to me a sort
of constantly fascinating way to find new and interesting stuff
There’s another sect called BuzzFeed, which is run by Jonah
Peretti, who I profiled in part in the book, which is another great
site that’s out there. They actually have sort of automated engines
that call through blog statistics and everything to find interesting
trends and what people are doing and talking about online.
BuzzFeed definitely give me lots of great stuff. I think I’ll leave it
at those three.
The Pros and Cons of Viral Media
Viral strategies make use of viral content and one of them is the use of viral audio. Viral audio allows people to listen to your music, sound and recorded content. Recorded contents can be advertisements that promote your product or service offering. They mention your product or service offering and \"links\" listeners to your website for contact information; therefore, it is a mode of free traffic....
Some few years ago, everyone used to say ‘we have a blog\' and that sounded super cool as maintaining blogs during those times was considered as a great activity for both personal and professional purposes....
Everybody knows that trends are actually the best ways to get some attention online. They mostly come as viral videos, photos, and pages that people will become interested in, enough to force them into checking out what all the fuss is about and forward it to their friends and acquaintances. This is the great thing about the internet, and user knows it....
Biofuels have become talk of the town these days....
Ok, I am a guilty media multitasker. I can\'t help it! In my own little way, especially in how I manage my personal effectiveness, I juggle a number of things all at the same time. While on the phone, I sometimes send a text message, send an email, and surf the net, simultaneously....
You are examining your sites and found that it is generating many clicks every day on its different links. Now you are thinking that how should to use Ad Sense for advertising to make some form of income....
Biofuels have become talk of the town these days...
Few investments generate as much confusion and controversy as indexed annuities, both pro and con. Indexed annuities have made main strides in recent years even so and are well worth considering. The......
If you're a senior and are need of income you may be interested in the reverse mortgage. Here's a look at what's a reverse mortgage along with the reverse mortgage pros and cons....
Of late, ‘pros and cons of bilingual education’ has become a topic of critical scrutiny among educators, scholars, parents, teachers and various educational organizations...