October 14, 2013

"Our generation wants to know what is going on, but we want it to be fun.... We think people get virality all wrong..."

"The reason people share things are not just because they are shiny and cute and crazy and fun, but because it is about something they are deeply passionate about. It can be about putting your best aspirational self forward."

Says Peter Koechley, on of the founders of Upworthy, interviewed in the NYT.
They began thinking about a site focused on what they considered noble causes, but it took until 2011, when [Chris Hughes, an early founder of Facebook] gave them $500,000 in seed capital, for both to start working on it full-time....

Upworthy produces none of its own content. Instead, it employs roughly 20 “curators” who find obscure video and graphics (but not text) in topic areas — like sexuality, civil rights or economics — that they feel are meaningful, but being passed over. The site repackages the freely available content with snappy headlines and content teases....
Disclosure: Koechley was one of the editors of a Madison high school humor zine, who used to meet at my house back in the 1990s.

Related fact: If only I'd taken my first husband's name, it would be more obvious — on the internet — that I am the author of a non-existent book titled "Post-Divorce, Pre-Death."

19 comments:

Strelnikov said...

Bangin!

Lem said...

Getting virality all wrong...

Sigivald said...

Ah, Upworthy.

Facebook is greatly improved by blocking its propaganda posts.

Rick Caird said...

As I recall, Upworthy was the province of the pro Obama forces in the 2012 election cycle.

rehajm said...

"Viral Content With a Liberal Bent"

Isn't that called 'The Internet'?

Renee said...

It isn't viral if there intent with marketing. How is up worthy vital?

For instance a book was accidently published on Kindle a month early and it went to #1 overnight.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher/2013/10/14/mother-of-nine-accidentally-launches-nfp-bestseller-needle-buried-on-irony-meter/

Popular blogger Simcha Fisher’s first book, The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning, became a bestseller overnight after Fisher accidentally published the e-book a month early.
“I freaked out when I realized it was live, but I couldn’t figure out how to take it down. The next morning it was a number one bestseller on Kindle,” Fisher said.  ”Apparently there was an option to set the release date, but I sort of glossed over that part, and now here we are.  Great news, obviously, and the whole family is very happy.  But we are scrambling with the logistics, because the timing was a little . . . unexpected.  Good thing we had already picked out a name.  For the book.”
Fisher added, “Yes, yes, book about NFP, accidental launch, irony, I get it.  I get it!”

MadisonMan said...

The fact that it's all videos means I never see them.

Give me text or give me nothing at all.

TosaGuy said...

The classic "internet + ???? = PROFIT" scenario!

TosaGuy said...

Evidently, people are passionate about Cat Copter and Gangnam Style.

Lem said...

Give me text or give me nothing at all.

Carlos Danger.

Lem said...

"It can be about putting your best aspirational self forward."

Henry said...

The site repackages the freely available content with snappy headlines and content teases...

Which are dead awful. Headline writing is a talent. These guys couldn't write ad copy for hair tonic.

"The Most Obvious Thing About Science That I Shouldn't Ever Have To Ever Explain Ever"

Smug is not intriguing.

"Congress Did Something So Spectacularly Creepy That It's Too Unbelievable To Make Up"

Neither is jejune.

"The Top 6 Things We Could Be Doing To Kick-Start This Country"

Enough with the lists.

Upworthy has managed to create a highly recognizable style. Nothing says smug and superficial like an Upworthy spot.

The sad thing is that sometimes the original content is quite good. The repackaging is pure clown suit.

Meanwhile my smarter progressive friends have begun to point out that repackaging other people's contents maybe doesn't necessarily align with hipster values.

Kirk Parker said...

Madman,

So you *are* my long-lost twin brother, then...

Lem said...

Repackaged Freely Available Content Unworthy of Upworthy.

Lem said...

ADDED: I've removed the embedded video, partly out of respect for Kanye West, but also because I've become convinced of what I was previously merely skeptical was the case: This is viral advertising.

The song used by the viral video Althouse took down, after posting, out of respect for the self professed genius Kanye West, has propelled the song back on Billboard top 20.

Question. If the viral ends up making Kanye money, does a disrespect tag still apply?

halojones-fan said...

"because it is about something they are deeply passionate about." So it's sort of a ready made setup for Eric Hoffman's "The True Believer". Your life is so empt and meaningless that you need ANYTHING to believe in, to be passionate about, to be excited by.

RecChief said...

yep, how to make leftist propaganda fun.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm with MM and Kirk. Text, please.

Rocketeer said...

The only Upworthy plump I ever saw had to do with this extremely shallow female engineer who was distraught that toy manufacturers marketed toys based on sex (pet peeve of mine - I mean female v. male - "gender" applies only to language). For some reason, she thought this meant she couldn't buy her daughter an erector set, or something. So she decided in the name of GRRRL PWR to paint an erector set or somethingorother pink, and market it to girls, because BLOW AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY!

I was told I was supposed to cry about how beautiful and awesome it was, but I could only muster thinking "Toys R Us is somehow perpetuating oppression by noticing little boys (generally) like toy swords and little girls (generally) like fuzzy animals, so you paint an erector set pink for girls????