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Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virusby Bill Wasik
Synopses & Reviews
Breaking news, fresh gossip, tiny scandals, trumped-up crises-every day we are distracted by a culture that rings our doorbell and runs away. Stories spread wildly and die out in mere days, to be replaced by still more stories with ever shorter life spans. Through the Internet the news cycle has been set spinning even faster now that all of us can join the fray: anyone on a computer can spread a story almost as easily as The New York Times, CNN, or People. As media amateurs grow their audience, they learn to think like the pros, using the abundant data that the Internet offers-hit counters, most e-mailed lists, YouTube views, download tallies-to hone their own experiments in viral blowup.
And Then There's This is Bill Wasik's journey along the unexplored frontier of the twenty-first century's rambunctious new-media culture. He covers this world in part as a journalist, following "buzz bands" as they rise and fall in the online music scene, visiting with viral marketers and political trendsetters and online provocateurs. But he also wades in as a participant, conducting his own hilarious experiments: an e-mail fad (which turned into the worldwide "flash mob" sensation), a viral website in a month-long competition, a fake blog that attempts to create "antibuzz," and more. He doesn't always get the results he expected, but he tries to make sense of his data by surveying what real social science experiments have taught us about the effects of distraction, stimulation, and crowd behavior on the human mind. Part report, part memoir, part manifesto, part deconstruction of a decade, And Then There's This captures better than any other book the way technology is changing our culture.
An engrossing, lively history of a fearsome and misunderstood virus that binds man and dog
The most fatal virus known to science, rabies—a disease that spreads avidly from animals to humans—kills nearly one hundred percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. In this critically acclaimed exploration, journalist Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy chart four thousand years of the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies. From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh and often wildly entertaining look at one of humankind’s oldest and most fearsome foes.
"An odd but happy marriage of sociological observation and Gonzo- style adventure."
Journalist and new media provocateur Bill Wasik journeys to the edge of our churning and rambunctious viral culture to illuminate how anyone with a computer can initiate a small ripple of a story that can turn into a tsunami. While exploring this fascinating landscape, Wasik (who organized the very first flash mob in 2003) conducts six experiments himself. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in journalism, business, technology, and how cultural information spreads. Wasik's tour is great, stimulating and fun.
About the Author
Bill Wasik is a senior editor at Wired and was formerly a senior editor at Harper’s; he writes on technology, media, and crowd dynamics. Monica Murphy holds degrees in public health from Johns Hopkins University and in veterinary medicine from the University of Minnesota. They are married and live with their son and whippet in Oakland, California.
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