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May 31, 2005

The Register Falls For A Contagious Media Project [7:49 am]

The Contagious Media Project nets another victim: Cheating wife? Try GPS panties. You’d think The Register’s editors would at least check out story URLs — yes, it’s funny, but the Contagious Media Project WWW page raises some interesting ideas

Global capitalism has produced hundreds of millions of bored office workers who sit in front of computers forwarding emails and surfing the web, inadvertently creating the Bored at Work Network (BWN). The BWN has become the largest alternative to the corporate media. Activists, artists, and hackers can reach millions of people through the BWN.

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

These experiments illustrate the practical application of concepts like emergence, 6-degrees of separation, and tipping points. The work 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 work 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 and activists in the networked age.

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