How to define 'viral' for media studies?

Denisova, A. 2020. How to define 'viral' for media studies? Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture. 15 (1), pp. 1-4. https://doi.org/10.16997/wpcc.375

TitleHow to define 'viral' for media studies?
TypeJournal article
AuthorsDenisova, A.
Abstract

In this editorial for WPCC’s ‘Viral Media’ issue the author asks whether the metaphor of viral media has held up well since it was coined. Considering the debate she suggests a clear distinction – notwithstanding the major role of technology – of viral media, when compared to biological viruses, which is the role of emotions in driving virality. This is what ‘distinguishes the biological “virus” from its psychologically driven communication counterpart’.

‘Viral’ is indeed an ‘imperfect term for rapid spread of information’ but viral media items still have the potential to deliver ‘progressive ideas’. This editorial notes how the contents of the issue plays host to a variety of fresh perspectives in its themes such as corrupted play, journalistic choice, viral politics, voice and nostalgia. It also notes, referring to the issue’s interview with Kishonna Gray, the dangers of platforms simply standing aside to allow toxic viral messaging and racism. It may be impossible to counter ‘morally ambivalent’ memes with regulatory or any other kind of ‘vaccines’ though it might, the author concludes, ‘be reasonable to limit the expanse of the viral flows and to question the algorithmic patterns of digital platforms’ even as memes’ popularity and resistance to total marketing control preserve their continuing (if somewhat tarnished) reputation as a ‘digital darling’.

Keywordsvirality + emotions + communications + algorithms + viral + platforms
JournalWestminster Papers in Communication and Culture
Journal citation15 (1), pp. 1-4
ISSN1744-6716
Year2020
PublisherWestminster Papers In Communication and Culture
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.16997/wpcc.375
Web address (URL)https://www.westminsterpapers.org/article/id/284/
Publication dates
PublishedMar 2020

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