Thursday, November 6, 2008

Memes versus Manufacturing

To foster our conversation on viral videos, let us have a discussion on what pushes their spread. "Viral videos" already implies one interpretation, but our readings from Wired and Techcrunch suggest alternatives.

"The Selfish Gene"

The Tipping Point, notes, notes,
The Rise of Crowdsourcing
The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos
The Low-Tech Election

In the terms of the articles, are viral videos selfish, self -propagating memes or are they manufactured fads? What in these articles (pull quotes) speak best to your video?

8 comments:

Brian said...

Viral videos, at least in my experience, seem to exhibit both qualities. They seem to behave as a meme in that people typically either find a video funny or interesting in some, usually superficial way (i.e. gross, good singing, cool sounds), and then suggest these videos to friends. Living in a dorm with all guys on my floor (marks tower represent!) this experience is daily. Somebody will find a video of kids being hit with exercise balls or a skateboarder falling very hard and then try to show it to the whole hall. However, the fact that most of these videos made it on the internet suggests at least some level of manufacture. Sometimes it is more obvious than others that the video was clearly manufactured to look spontaneous but in fact was orchestrated by a group of people. Likewise, these same groups of people are going to try to get their movie seen and maybe become stars out of it as has happened with others (my viral video catapulted Tay Zonday to popularity). Thus I am sure that many of the tactics that Dan Ackerman-Greenberg brings up in his article are utilized by a multitude of the producers of the most common videos we see. Zonday, in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel acted innocent enough and suggested that he was just fooling around when he uploaded "something silly" onto youtube that just blew up. While I actually believe Zonday on that point, his composition of the video clearly demonstrates some knowledge of what people like and might attach to or find "sticky" to use our buzzword. He uses a catchy 1980s piano beat that has been popular in essence in contemporary society as well as performs in a bizarre fashion, in my opinion, to fetishize certain aspects of the video and thus cause them to stick in peoples minds. In this way Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain" demonstrates both the aspects of man-made manufacture as well as exhibit the phenomenon of a meme. There are all kinds of videos all over the spectrum. I happened to find one in the middle.

emily town said...

I would have to agree with Brian in the sense that my video isn't exactly self-propagating or a manufactured fad, but somewhere in the middle. This is so because it was done as a comedic act in a venue and turned into a YouTube phenomenon. I'm sure there have been many tactics used to create this phenomenon on the internet, but it wasn't some kid creating a music video with the hopes of striking it famous. There were professionals, as refered to by Dan Ackerman in his article "The Secret Strategies Behind Many 'Viral Videos'" that probably worked on creating this wide known skit. Using certain techniques such as creating conversations on comment reels and also making sure the title of the video is catchy create viral videos such as these. And because of that, along with Brian's video, mine is in the middle of the two as well.

matt mccormick said...

All videos can not necessarily be fit into one category or the other. Some, such as my video "Time for Some Campaignin'," are manufactured simply for the purpose of becoming viral. Human control over the video's content and distribution are what lead to it being considered viral. Just like Dan Ackerman Greenberg suggests, videos can be manufactured to be viral, but they still "must have a decent concept" in order to be effective. My video fulfills this requirement because it is significant to the current election. Other videos, such as "Charlie bit my finger," have some element about them that makes the video self-propagating. These videos support the "meme" characterization of viral videos because they latch on to the minds of individuals, who then spread the videos to friends, family members, colleagues, etc.

Barron said...

Viral videos can not be labeled as one or the other. As stated in the "secret strategies behind many viral videos," there is a strategy to make a certain video viral if a company has the means. The "Most Viewed List" on YouTube is the first step, then the video will continue to grow exponentially. Other videos such as "Dramatic Chipmunk" exhibit meme characteristics due to the fact that no one benefits from their spread except for the viewer. My video was definitely a manufactured ad that was made into a viral video. Although the content is amazing, it is a commercial and it has many of the secrets to viral videos that the article explains.

David said...

Arguably, some if not most videos can be called a "fad." In Dawkins article, they make reference to a study in which P.F. Jenkins observed the saddleback birds in New Zealand, and found that their "song patterns were not inherited genetically." This is an example of knowledge not being hereditary, and thus having to be passed down. Depending on the strength and relevancy of majority of these videos, they will be virtually forgotten in the next two to three years, let alone never reaching the next generation. The perfect example of such a meme is "All Your Base," an old Genesis game that was chosen for its' horrible translation and made into a flash video in the early days of the internet. Most youth are unaware that this video exists, and it is rarely spoken of outside of nostalgic purposes. Thus, I conclude that these videos are a fad and we should enjoy them for the time being, before we ultimately forget about them and move onto the next one, almost like a bag of chips.

Marissa D said...

I think viral videos are manfactured fads and eventually they will become less popular because a new fad will come along. I think its like how tapes were popular until CD's were invented and now mp3s are the fad. They are all ways of listening to music that will fade once something better comes along.

James said...

In terms of my viral video, "Wassup 2008", it makes effective use of some of the techniques discussed by David Ackerman in "The Secret Behind Many Viral Videos." For example, there are over 20 tagged words and phrases on my video, some of which have nothing to do with the video clip itself. Many of the terms are political, such as "McCain," "Obama," and "election," all of which are heavily-searched terms pre-election. Additionally, it provides a forum for comments, because people take the opportunity to launch into serious political debates. Overall, it seems, the "Wassup 2008" is a very effectively manufactured video.

Megan Funkhouser said...

I don't believe that viral videos are memes, or that memes even really have an impact, because at every level viral videos are manufactured and affected by human involvement. When they are first put on the web, either friends try to impress each other by being the "first to find the coolest new video" or unfairly marketed by Ackerman's viral video making machine. Viral videos become popular because everyone wants to be known as the one to start a trend, to finally be the one to think of something interesting. This drive fuels the growth of viral videos, which I talked about in my essay, specifically relating to political affairs.