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If this post gets 1 million favourites, I'm getting a puppy.
January 29, 2013 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Ryan Cordell told his kids they could have the puppy they were asking for...if their Facebook puppy request page got one million likes. You can probably guess the result (cute children + plea for cute puppy = viral gold). Cordell says that although he did expect the page would get several thousand visits over a couple of weeks, "I just thought it would kind of peter out at that point," and in a month or two, he and his wife would congratulate the kids on their project and get them a puppy anyway. He didn't anticipate that it would take only seven hours to reach one million likes. Perhaps he should have seen it coming: Cordell is an English professor at Northeastern University whose research in digital humanities includes the study of "viral media" from the 19th century. [Audio interview with Cordell on CBC Radio--starts at 1:01:00 into the episode.] Most importantly, though: photos of Millie, the shelter puppy they adopted!

From the Atlantic article:
What makes something go viral? For example, [Cordell] and his colleagues, computer scientist David Smith and English professor Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, are currently mining the Library of Congress's collection of 19th-century newspapers, using an algorithm that automatically finds reprinted texts. They've created an index of 45,000 such reprinted texts, and now they're sorting through it to find out which pieces were the most viral, and identify qualities they share.

So the question becomes: What can studying viral culture from 200 years ago tell us about viral culture online today? As it turns out, the impressions Cordell has formed studying a period so long ago are exactly those that would lead you to believe that Twogirlsandapuppy would have a chance at catching on, but would at the same time lead you to dramatically underestimate the velocity and degree to which it would do so. Nineteenth century viral culture is quite like today's Internet culture. And then again, it's something totally different.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (40 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm this is a very interesting study in digita_-------AAAAA LOOKIT THE PUUPPPPPYYYYYYYYYY AWWWWWWWW
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


The best part of this is that they are now using their viral fame to raise money for the North Shore animal league. Seriously, good on them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


This "1 million likes and I'll ____" thing is new and terrible. I'm glad they got the puppy they were going to get anyway. Harumph.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


Has this man never heard of Craig Shergold?
posted by bondcliff at 12:47 PM on January 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Looking forward to the video: 2 Girls 1 Pup
posted by brain_drain at 12:51 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you don't like this post, we'll kill this dog.
=ε//"" ˁ˚ᴥ˚ˀ
posted by demiurge at 12:53 PM on January 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Buy this issue, or we won't shoot the cat".
posted by MartinWisse at 12:55 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's still more to be learned from the project of two girls and their puppy. What exactly did that rapid seven-hour spread look like? What can we learn about how the social graphs of Cordell and his wife tied into those of a more than a million people around the world? We don't know yet

Bah. This is basically the only thing I'm interested in with this story.

Did the link get posted on the front page Reddit, Pinterest or whatever? Did some celebrity tweet it?

I doubt very much I'd be able to accomplish this, even if I could share something people were interested in 'liking'. I don't think I know the right kind of people. I could be wrong, though.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:56 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait, wait. So those "If I get 1 million likes" posts aren't all fake? Next thing you'll tell me is that it is possible to post inspirational and/or passive-aggressive thoughts without first putting it into an image.
posted by mysterpigg at 12:57 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


This "1 million likes and I'll ____" thing is new and terrible.

It is neither.
posted by Etrigan at 12:57 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


2010 is newish at least.
posted by Mister_A at 12:59 PM on January 29, 2013


squeeeee~!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 12:59 PM on January 29, 2013


Nineteenth century viral culture is quite like today's Internet culture.

Sepia-toned daguerrotypes of cats or it didn't happen.
posted by bl1nk at 1:00 PM on January 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Viral blooms are neat. And puppy pictures are certainly better than, say, norovirus.

I also find it neat how the story jammed a virtual electrode right into what is apparently my brain's curmudgeon center. Because it instantly made me want to wave a cane around and shout about how in my day the "great project" would be the kids getting A's on the next test or the like because when my family joined the '80s and got a VCR that was exactly the delaying tactic plan they used instead of a virtual popularity metric and you kids get off my lawn! It's like a reflex hammer tap.
posted by Drastic at 1:01 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's the German word for admiration of a clever idea intertwined with self-loathing for not thinking of it first?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:07 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unless I'm reading it wrong, the page is now down to only 247k likes... Facebookers are a fickle bunch...
posted by HuronBob at 1:11 PM on January 29, 2013


What's the German word for admiration of a clever idea intertwined with self-loathing for not thinking of it first?

I'm going to start calling it cockerhamming, because that's the feeling I get every time I read about what Rob Cockerham has just done.
posted by bondcliff at 1:13 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


If this comment gets 1 million favorites, I'll put on some pants.

Or get a puppy. Puppies are soft, aren't they? And warm? Yeah, that's probably better than pants. Forget the pants. Puppies all 'round.
posted by ook at 1:14 PM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Puppy pants!
posted by benzenedream at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This "1 million likes and I'll ____" thing is new and terrible. I'm glad they got the puppy they were going to get anyway. Harumph.

No, it's an old idea, and an annoying one. I don't care how 'cute' this 'puppy' is (I haven't looked at it) but I'm sick of Facebook turning into Tumblr with less hipster porn. Everyone is constantly sharing stupid 'inspirational' quotes over pictures of sunsets and half-baked conspiracy theories. I don't understand why Metafilter is giving this Facebook spammer attention.

At least it's not another cat.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:32 PM on January 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's the German word for admiration of a clever idea intertwined with self-loathing for not thinking of it first?

Selbstverabscheuenanderebewunderung

Just spitballing here.
posted by found missing at 1:33 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's the German word for admiration of a clever idea intertwined with self-loathing for not thinking of it first?

Austria.
posted by perhapses at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


The best part of this is that they are now using their viral fame to raise money for the North Shore animal league. Seriously, good on them.

In addition to their fundraising Indiegogo webpage they have a website: Millie's Millions.
posted by ericb at 1:42 PM on January 29, 2013


Sepia-toned daguerrotypes of cats or it didn't happen.

Will you accept illustrations?
posted by Fnarf at 1:44 PM on January 29, 2013


Unless I'm reading it wrong, the page is now down to only 247k likes... Facebookers are a fickle bunch...

The "million likes" was for the original photograph posted on January 15th.

Currently: 1,699,972 'likes.'
posted by ericb at 1:46 PM on January 29, 2013


I found it interesting that, according to the research the dad is doing, there are parallels between viral media today and things that "went viral" in the 19th century. The more things change, the more they stay the same; i.e. people use the medium they've got to achieve the same ends, whether it's to garner support for a public cause or berating each other over food choices and recipes.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:17 PM on January 29, 2013


Don't be so grouchy. Hopefully fb is putting an end to people sending glurge over email; instead, they just post it on their wall where if you like you can hide it from your feed.

(And to all the people who post a gazillion shelter animals needing adopting-can you maybe do one a day instead of twenty at a time? Then I don't have to hide your stuff from my wall, kthnx. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:37 PM on January 29, 2013


Cordell is an English professor at Northeastern University whose research in digital humanities includes the study of "viral media" from the 19th century.

He really needs to up his research skills. On the other hand, this will be a great slide in his next talk.
posted by jeather at 3:21 PM on January 29, 2013


Wow... quite viral.

It's almost like twogirlsandapuppy, one cup.
posted by markkraft at 3:34 PM on January 29, 2013


Unless I'm reading it wrong, the page is now down to only 247k likes

Yeah, I was thinking 750K people UN-liked this? What trendy asses.
posted by msalt at 5:16 PM on January 29, 2013


Sepia-toned daguerrotypes of cats or it didn't happen.

Old-school anon in scratchy wool clothes delivers!
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:35 PM on January 29, 2013


My expectation when they came to me was that they would post it and maybe they would get several thousand people who would come to the site over a couple of weeks. It would be family and friends. And then I did expect that friends of friends would find it and would come. But I just thought it would kind of peter out at that point," Cordell told me.

Are you fucking kidding me??!!! It's the Internet and cute animals! Where has he been for the last few decades to think this wouldn't happen immediately?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2013


Seriously, it's one thing to deliberately do that for an experiment, but...the naivete astounds me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:51 PM on January 29, 2013


Is there a study that explains WHY the Internet likes 'cute animals'?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:53 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, it's one thing to deliberately do that for an experiment, but...the naivete astounds me.
Naivate? Do you really think it's that easy to get a million likes on something on facebook? This guy happened to get lucky.
posted by delmoi at 6:06 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I knew she was a tease.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:26 PM on January 29, 2013


Is there a study that explains WHY the Internet likes 'cute animals'?

Yes, surprisingly. This BBC article is quite informative. Apparently a Yale University study found that humans are disproportionately interested in animals (in general, not just on the internet).
posted by primatology at 2:29 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


When this started up I had my finger on the Like button faster than my dogs can snaffle a cheese nibble but I was (genuinely!) shocked to see no mention of the word please on the sign.

I'm happy they've got a puppy, doubly so that it's a shelter pup but am I the only curmudgeon to get all eye-rolly at the "I want" entitlement?
posted by humph at 3:47 AM on January 30, 2013


I think the Internet has finally served its purpose. We can turn it off now.
posted by nowhere man at 5:59 AM on January 30, 2013


Is there a study that explains WHY the Internet likes 'cute animals'?

because they are awesome. this is my professional opinion as a tenured professor of puppy cuteness.
posted by elizardbits at 12:01 PM on January 30, 2013


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