Bill Wasik is an editor at WIRED and the author of And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture.
From a Q & A at his publisher's website:
And Then There's This takes a look at "viral culture." What exactly is "viral culture"?--Marshal Zeringue
It's the new way we find out about things, the new means by which we understand our society and our world. Instead of a small number of large media outlets and corporations telling us what the culture is about—what new music to listen to, or shows to watch, or books to read; which news stories are important and which aren't—we now have an explosion of sources, all vying to show us new things, to tell us new stories. The result is that we're bombarded by new stories, every day, all the time. Although it's the Internet that has made this change possible, I see "viral culture" as being bigger than just the Internet. The whole way we understand our world is being reinvented on the Internet model.
How did this book come about?
In 2003, I put together a social experiment in New York that used viral emails to create what I called "inexplicable mobs" of people for ten minutes or less. Within weeks, it spread around the world and became the fad called "flash mobs." I had meant the project as a joke, even as a sort of prank, but after it spread so widely I realized I needed to take my joke more seriously. I became really interested in the way that ideas spread through the Internet—not just silly trends like mine, but more serious ones too, in music, politics, business, and more. I decided that I wanted to write a book where I did more experiments of my own, but also...[read on]