Bill Wasik Explains How Stories Live & Die in Viral Culture

Bill Wasik, author of And Then There’s This

Bill Wasik revealed himself in 2006 to be the inventor of the “flash mob,” having anonymously organized the first recognized examples in New York City during the summer of 2003.

In case you didn’t know, a flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, and then disperse.

A journalist himself, Bill points out that viral culture surrounds us. Look at news cycles where a story is hot for one or two days and then disappears into obscurity. In today’s world, big blogs carry more weight with the public than news organizations.

Bill’s latest book, And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture, describes a set of experiments Bill performed to evaluate social media. The first story is about flash mobs. Flash mobs have several interesting characteristics. First, it shows we are social beings. Despite all the digital connectivity we have, we need to be with other people. Second, it reveals how curious we are. Third, it shows we seek connections, no matter how fleeting. Flash mobs also show a darker side. We react to flash mobs out of boredom. Flash mobs also reveal our herd behavior.

Overall, Bill thinks we are more connected as a result of social media, but it comes at a price. Bill believes the price is worth paying, however.

Listen to the other experiments and their results in the interview below: