Contagious Media Experiments
Hundreds of millions of bored office workers sit in front of computers forwarding emails, blogging, IMing, and playing on social network sites. These distracted corporate employees have accidentally created the Bored at Work Network (BWN) -- a huge people-powered network with greater even reach than traditional networks like CNN, ABC, or the BBC.

Solo and in collaborative groups, I create media for the BWN, including email forwards, joke web sites, phone lines, and weblogs. These viral projects are examples of what I call "Contagious Media" and this site documents five examples that have reached millions of people: the Nike email, the Rejection Line, Black People Love Us, Fundrace.org, and the Contagious Media Showdown.

These experiments illustrate the practical application of concepts like emergence, 6-degrees of separation, and tipping points. Each project starts small and spreads virally to millions of people without any promotions, advertisements, or press releases. In the end, the mass media picks up the story as a trend, and the project is able to permeate the culture at multiple levels.

This low-budget, bottom-up approach makes it possible to create a global cascade that begins with a small group of friends and extends to the set of CNN or the Today Show. These Contagious Media Experiments suggest new opportunities for artists, activists, companies, and entertainers in the networked age.

My current project is a company called BuzzFeed. Each day, we detect the newest, most interesting things that appear on the BWN. Then we track them as they spread through word-of-mouth around the Internet. You can see the latest by visiting BuzzFeed:

BuzzFeed.

--Jonah Peretti (email)