The ProtoViral Posts, So Far

I made some changes to my sidebar and I noticed that I’ve started to build up a decent number of posts on my weird take on history, sociology, psychology, memetics, viral marketing and social media (I like to call it protoviral). So I decided to go ahead and make one big roundup post so that if you missed something you can read it from here, and so that I (and you will too) have a link to send people to help them understand exactly what I’m trying to do with my work.

It would be very awesome if you all suggested something I haven’t written about yet (I’m working on a few posts about religion as memetics already).

Intro to Memetics: What is a meme?
A brief overview of the science of memetics, specifically focusing on understanding what a meme is, how it behaves and what its characteristics are. I also wove in some cultural and historical references that I think help to elucidate the concept.

Applied Memetics
A study of the work of scientist Francis Heylighen and his theory of the stages of memetic “infection” and success/fitness criteria for memes.

How memes encode themselves on our brains
A closer look at Heylighen’s first stage, assimilation, and the possible psychological mechanism of memory at work.

Tipping Points do Exist: Informational Cascades
A look at the economic theory of informational cascades and how they support one version of the “Tipping Point” concept. I also detail the evolutionary pressures that cause humans to be pre-disposed to informational cascades.

Ideas do not spread because they are good
Debunking the myth that product or idea “quality” has very much to do with how “viral” something will go. I look at the “bad idea virii” called toxic memes.

Urban Legends
A survey of the study of urban legends and some key concepts that I think are particularly relevant to social media and viral marketing. Including communal recreation, the Goliath effect, warnings and the social conflict theory.

The Goliath Effect
A deeper analysis of the Goliath effect and how it manifests in social media.

A Box of Crayons
A short look (and cheesy graphic) at how marketers can leverage the concept of communal recreation in their social and viral marketing efforts.

Why people forward chain letters
An answer to the age-old question: “Why do my friends keep forwarding me these email chain letters?” I look at the social proof and evolutionary imperatives of email forwards.

An overview of a feminist take on the female oral tradition of gossip and how it relates to social media. Gossip is broken down into 4 distinct types: scandal, bitching, chatting and house-talk.

Homeric poems and the oral tradition
A look at the poems of Homer and the greater study of oral tradition. I focus on what traits are common to successful stories and poems and what we can bring from the oral tradition to social and viral marketing.

How to make and spread rumors
A survey of the history of rumor-making as a weapon in WWII, focusing on the work of scientist Robert Knapp. I look at his criteria for a successful rumor and the methods British and American forces used to disseminate them.

How to stop rumors
The other side of rumors. The science of memetic immunization, how rumors are stopped or neutralized including a nod to epidemiology and herd immunity mathmatics.

The science, history and how-to of contagious laughter
I look at the history of contagious laughter (including a serious outbreak in 1960s Africa), the science and I make a few suggestion as to how you can create your own giggling epidemics.

Link Attraction Factors
I gathered data on 30,000 stories that went popular on Digg in 2007 and studied which factors correlated to these stories getting more or fewer links once they reached Digg’s frontpage in an effort to understand what factors attract links. Using this data I released a report, a few tools (including a WordPress plugin) and an API designed to help you create content that will attract more links.

Content Sharing Survey Report (Viral Triggers)
An ambitious survey I conducted that studies why people spread certain pieces of content to their friends. The report is still in the works (yes it is coming) and it details some triggers and motivations I discovered that often lead to people sharing web content.