From Publishers Weekly
Focusing on the phenomenon of viral culture, Wasik, senior editor at Harper's
magazine, reflects on his own Internet experiments, beginning with the creation of flash mobs, a pop phenomena of 2003. Wasik asked hundreds of people to gather in public for no apparent reason, and news of these gatherings that mysteriously coalesced and disbanded spread rabidly through blogs and e-mails. The groups were created by Wasik to explore the growing world of memes, ideas that spread through culture, colonizing all as widely and ruthlessly as [they] can. He examines other Internet sensations—the meteoric rise and fall of pop bands, guerrilla marketing and political blogs—relating how such nanostories contribute to growing cynicism in a media-saturated and consumer-savvy public. He draws on the work of Steven Levitt and Malcolm Gladwell to demonstrate that the desire to interpret the analysis of culture has outstripped the desire to understand the culture itself. Wasik's examples are culled from the trivial—e.g., ephemeral indie bands and forgettable ad campaigns—but his deft style and provocative insights keep the book significant. (June)
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"This is an exceptionally smart, witty, subtle, enlightening book about our daffy, discombobulating cultural moment. Bill Wasik plunges headlong into the twenty-first century media funhouse, yet manages to keep his moral compass in good working order. Bravo."
- Kurt Andersen, author of Heyday and host of NPR's Studio 360
"Bill Wasik is a guerrilla mischief-maker, a mad scientist of the meme. Irreverence is not a bad starting point for making sense of the web, and Wasik takes full advantage, pushing buttons and pulling puppet strings. The combination of his restless mind and the explosive new medium yields insights that are provocative and, often, hilarious."
-Ted Conover, author of Newjack
"I was the guy who got Bill Wasik's first flash-mob e-mail but was too lazy to put on pants and go. It was a mistake. Bill understands not just how viral culture spreads ideas and scams and energy- drink-purchasing opportunities; it's also a completely new way to tell-and experience- stories."
-John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise
"This book will last far longer than its allocated fifteen minutes of fame. It's well researched, funny, irreverent, and addictive. Useful, too. One of those rare books that dissects a cultural phenomenon in a way that resonates."
-Seth Godin, author of Tribes
"What if the revolution was what Bill Wasik calls a 'nanostory'? It would begin with a flash mob disrupting business as usual and then die the following day, at a Ford Motor Company 'flash concert' echoing through Boston's New Brutalist downtown. And Then There's This is deeply troubling, but it's also the wittiest book I've read in years-an ingenious and, in the end, hopeful response to the sound and the fury of our twittering times."
-Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family and co-author of Killing the Buddha
"As to the engenderings of the new and newest media-when to YouTube and how to viral, where the microtrend begins and why the nanostory ends-I know of no more reliably informed source than Bill Wasik's And Then There's This. An epistemological wonder to behold."
-Lewis H. Lapham