A seed is better than a virus

spreadable media semi jenkins

by Virginia Fiume

Ok, let’s start with this idea of having a bilingual blog. If you find any mistake, just help me in the editing phase leaving a comment. (Per chi preferisce leggere in italiano, una traduzione del post è stata pubblicata su Bloom)

It was recently published the Italian version of Spreadable media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial Pop), last book written by Henry Jenkins with the help of two digital strategists, Sam Ford and Joshua Green. Since there is a rich website entirely dedicated to the project, I am sure that I will have something to read until I’ll find a bookshop here in Vancouver where I can get my copy (in english, of course).

What made me insert the book in my personal wishlist was a review published on one of the most interesting Italian cultural websites, Doppiozero. For once, I make the other-way-round, translating from Italian into English a quote from the review, in order to let my (hopefully) new readers, understanding why I believe Spreadable Media sounds like an interesting reading. And not only for media analyst. Digital strategists and social media managers can consider to buy it, as well.

The difference between a virus and a mediated text is that a virus has written in its genetic code the aim of replicating itself as fast as possible, while a text is a cultural product that can replicate itself just in virtue of human agency. It’s not an irrelevant issue. In the concept of media as viral there is an implied vision of users as consumers, that are passively infected. And, of course, consumers that can’t do anything else than infect people beside them.(Tiziano Bonini, Henry Jenkins. Spreadable Media, Doppiozero)

I remember discussing with an Italian startupper that wanted to hire me for a consultancy about this concept of “viral”. He had developed the core business of its startup perfectly, but he wasn’t working on the communication strategy. All our conversation was based on him asking me for creating “something viral”. I hardly tried to tell him that it would be impossible giving him the “viral idea” in a half-an-hour conversation in front of a beer. “You need to spread some seeds before getting a viral result. And maybe you will never get it, if there are no favourable circumstances”.

Of course that specific consultancy didn’t went well. Actually, I fired myself even before starting. But I am very happy to know that Jenkins and his mates had worked on this path. When I will have finished the book, I will probably be able to argue better why I do prefer seeds than virus.

spreadable media jenkins The book

english version
Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, Joshua Green
Spreadable media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial Pop)
NYU Press, 2013

versione italiana
Spreadable Media. I media tra condivisione, circolazione, partecipazione
Apogeo, 2014

una cantastorie vagabonda, antropologa dei media e camminatrice seriale.

5 comments: On A seed is better than a virus

  • I personally think viruses are not an option but just virus to be fight because they bring infection, that is something that we don’t desire nor like. In term of Ethics viruses should be prohibited so we could eventually concentrate in what it matters Seeds.

    • I believe that viruses can’t be prohibited. They are part of nature What human beings can do is to shift to a “seed” approach. I believe it is more intelligent and more sustainable on a long-term period.

  • It is an interesting analogy- virus and seed. Virus spreads, seed grows! Virus has a negative connotation whereas a seed is seen as positive. Besides the process is of spread (Diffusion!) is very different from the process of multiplication and replication. Virus ultimate aim/purpose is to kill/destroy and the seed, on the other hand is creation or change. the process by virus is not in the control of the reader though the viralness can sometimes be manufactured or generated artificially as in the video/new got viral. But for the seed to grow it requires some precondition and dispositions and it takes time differentially in different people and settings. The see is also a code but the code has to be liked, linked and then interpreted and assimilated to make sense to the reader for call to action. this process has several elements/steps that are not in the control of the seed sower! the seed does not have the power to take that forward without the help of the user. So interesting and quite intriguing why we are going the viral way and seeding is getting left behind or bypassed.

    Thanks, Dr Sanjeev Kumar, India

    • Dear Dr Sanjeev Kumar, first of all thank you for your contribution to the discussion. You exactly got the point that I believe is highlighted in the book. I actually agree with your last interpretation, that there is a tendency toward a complete-viral web ecosystem. However I am also convinced that new phases are coming, where people are more and more careful in tailoring their contents and finding best ways to distribute it, in a participatory manner. I suggest you this small insights http://blog.upworthy.com/post/69093440334/what-actually-makes-things-go-viral-will-blow-your It is a post published on Upworthy’s blog. Upworthy is a platform that live because of virality of its content. However it is interesting to read how long it takes for them to find out contents and presenting them in the best manner.

  • Pingback: Meglio un seme che un virus | Bloom! ()

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