Book Reflection: Going Viral by Karine Nahon and Jeff Hemsley

Last Updated April 5, 2016 7:34p.m. EST

Source: Book Review: Going Viral by Karine Nahon and Jeff Hemsley. Nikki Soo

The whole concept of viral content means different things to different people. Most see it as a source of entertainment while others condemn it for being a example of human’s connection to every other person on the planet. This book tries to formulate a criteria for what gives information virality, as well as the biological tendencies our species has to this content.

Virality was defined as…”A social information flow process where many people simultaneously forward specific information over a short period of time, within their social networks, to other distant networks, resulting in sharp acceleration in the number of people who are exposed to the message.”

This is a definition I can definitely get behind however reading on I found their definition to be inconsistent and the criteria changed.

One part that constituted a disagreement on my part was their stance on memes. According to them all memes did not qualify as viral because the context of the meme can change. The example they used was Lt. Pike who pepper sprayed some activists from the Occupy Movement.

Source: Lt. John Pike UC Davis Pepper Spray Victims Filing Lawsuit, Lalate News

This is a popular meme that had been dubbed throughout the years.The context does change significantly as illustrated from the original above and the parody below, however the integrity of the original idea lives on through these remixes. The scientific definition they use is not the one society follows. To most of us, this is viral.

Source: Lt. Pike Pepper Sprays Everything!,

Other concepts like gatekeepers were discussed as well. Gatekeepers are information barriers between information senders and receivers that decide what is allowed to pass through and reach social networks. Facebook is a popular example because of it’s widespread use. Facebook has a big say in what information gets posted and how far it’s allowed to travel. When cases of information censorship/deletion doesn’t occur, they can rank information and position certain things high or low on people’s news feeds.

Other honorable mentions in regards to concepts include; weak ties, information overload and it’s role in traditional vs social media, Sigmoid Curve and the slow-fast-flow model, among others. Overall I did think this book was an interesting read and it comes highly recommended. Some things don’t resonate with people when make things into a scientific formula.It was sort of tough to comprehend this perspective but nonetheless interesting.

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