Reading an article today talking about how a video of child abuse on YouTube had become popular by going from 300 views to over 200,000 views in two days made me think of what is a hit on the Internet and what makes something popular technology? I am no social scientist nor do I really have anything to back up these claims but I would like to think these are decent ruminations on the matter.
It used to be the case that people would have to get featured on the local news to get famous or do something spectacular to get attention past the local church bulletins. Now, the Internet allows for every funny video of your kid being on heavy medication after having some mouth work done be a international hit. But that is all large scale.
What really makes someone “popular” on the internet? Is it 1,000 views? 50,000 views? 500,000 views? Or is it even views at all? To be honest, I am unsure what it is. Just because something becomes popular on Reddit or is talked about on CNN does not mean it has actually stuck. To be popular on the Internet, a thing has to reach a wide range of people and simply views and discussion is not necessarily enough. To be a hit on the internet, something has to be interesting but the most important part is being simple.
Today people have increasingly short attention spans. These shorter attention spans means for something to be memorable, people who are making content have to worry about making their point succinct and quick enough that people get that hit of awesome while still having plenty of information to not be lost or be disinterested in the potential internet sensation.