For this lecture, Hugh discussed the the presentation and operation of viral media; how viruses physically and digitally spread was the central metaphor used to create an understanding of how networks operate and how throughout time it has been able to adapt from a physical illness to a global obsession created over the internet.
The Black Death was history’s most devastating virus, wiping out an estimate of 75 to 200 million people during the Middle Ages onwards, from Europe to America. It was both a transformation of the understanding in religious and political beliefs, and how contagions spread and could be avoided. It was believed to have originated from central Asia, and further travelled beyond by the Silk Road and across the ocean. This can be interpreted of how networking doesn’t always spread good information.
Viral media has become the prime example of how people have learnt the trick of selling something with both creativity and the media; it either creates or jumps onto a bandwagon (such as a meme), which both could spread easily and adapt rather quickly into popular culture. The Old Spice television advertisement has accumulated over 50 million views worldwide through Youtube alone. This statistic alone is the equivalent to a quarter of the people wiped out in the plauge, showing how the evolution of network is basing itself off the the Black Death, intertwining the physicality of history, with the digital evolution of the network culture.
The spread of individual opinions and information has adapted into the global connectedness gathering information; the Ted conference videos were created for that single purpose as their tagline suggests (Ideas worth spreading). They are usually presented in a small amount of time and usually packaged to be ‘family-friendly’, allowing almost everyone to be able to view and understand this.
The sub-genre of Zombie films have always been a popular topic to adapt, as starting from the pioneer film of this genre George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). It allowed the concept of the spread of a virus happening in a rapid timeline, which was a critique on the belief that capitalism and consumerism are plundering us into a state of repression and un-renewal. Recent films such as Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011) elaborates on how modern civilisation’s belief in celebrating our networks, that when a certain global crisis happens, we are paralysed by the lack of collective networking information that would usually be presented to us, establishing the faults of dependence on the viral media and spread of information through the internet network.