Author(s): Karine Nahon
We live in a world where a tweet can be instantly retweeted and read by millions around the world in minutes, where a video forwarded to friends can destroy a political career in hours, and where an unknown man or woman can become an international celebrity overnight. Virality: individuals create it, governments fear it, companies would die for it. So what is virality and how does it work? Why does one particular video get millions of views while hundreds of thousands of others get only a handful? In Going Viral, Nahon and Hemsley uncover the factors that make things go viral online. They analyze the characteristics of networks that shape virality, including the crucial role of gatekeepers who control the flow of information and connect networks to one another. They also explore the role of human attention, showing how phenomena like word of mouth, bandwagon effects, homophily and interest networks help to explain the patterns of individual behavior that make viral events. Drawing on a wide range of examples, from the Joseph Kony video to the tweet that spread the news that Osama Bin Laden was dead, from the video of Homer Simpson voting in the US elections to the photo of a police officer pepper-spraying students at the University of California Davis, this path-breaking account of viral events will be essential reading for students, scholars, politicians, policymakers, executives, artists, musicians and anyone who wants to understand how our world today is being shaped by the flow of information online.
Karine Nahon is associate professor at the Information School, University of Washington, where she is also director of the Virality of Information (retroV) research group and former director of the Center for Information & Society. Jeff Hemsley is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington.
List of Figures List of Tables Acknowledgements Prolog Cover Art 1 Introduction: Virality of pets and presidents 2 What Virality is: I know it when I see it 3 What Makes Something Viral I: The control of networks through Gatekeeping 4 What Makes Something Viral II: What is everyone looking at? 5 What Makes Something Viral III: Caught in the Viral Net! 6 Networked changed societies 7 Afterlife Bibliography Notes