American in Spain

Social Bookmarking and Viral Internet Memes

April 7, 2007

With 1337 hits at the time of this writing1, my most popular post for the month of March was one that I made on December 5, 2006, with almost all of the content being pasted from my clipboard. Quite a few of my blog posts start out as emails. I've found something or had a thought about something, and I want to share it with some friends and family. But if my recipients list gets longer than about 4 or 5 people, I usually decide to just make it a blog entry and stop spamming my friends. Such was the case with Whois Spam. It was an interesting (in an entirely geeky way) discovery that a coworker made, and I thought it interesting enough to pass along. But so did other people...

What happened was that someone found my post by googling "whois spam". He wasn't the first. But he was the first to save my post to his bookmarks. For those of you that are still living in a pre-RSS internet world, is a web service that lets you save bookmarks to pages that you find interesting on the web. But it's more than that. It lets your friends keep up to date with the links that you find interesting. And if they like the link and save it to their bookmarks, their friends will see it, and if their friends save it, see how it's a self-replicating recursive wave that will propagate out in all directions until interest for the given link has faded.

Although only 6 people saved my post on (after all, it wasn't that interesting!), several of them had blogs that displayed all their recent links. The main heavyweight, it seems, was a "blog" called A Whole Lotta Nothing. I put quotes around the word "blog" because pretty much all the content is made up of the guy's links. But enough people subscribe to AWLN such that any link posted there will get quite a few hits.

I just thought it was funny how such an old post that took me less than 5 minutes to write could become such a hit overnight. And it's all due to the power of social bookmarking and viral internet memes.

1If you got any significance out of the fact (I swear it's true) that there were 1337 hits, then you truly are a geek.