You may have seen the miracle sudoku video that spread this week–a good sort of virus, one based on an idea. About half a million people have watched Simon spend nearly half an hour solving a puzzle. No anger, no violence, no innuendo. Merely applied thinking about numbers.
How did it spread?
There are millions of people who aren’t doing important medical research, creating (or solving) fascinating puzzles or writing breakthrough Broadway shows–but who are eager to find and amplify these ideas.
Culture is created by these amplifiers.
“People like us talk about things like this.” A good idea isn’t worth much if it doesn’t reach people who can benefit from it.
Instead of the quack doctor who goes on TV in a craven attempt to be famous at any cost, they’re willing to be the patient, thoughtful doctor who reads the research and shares useful information, even if the ratings aren’t as high. This is the long-term influencer who earns the trust of a small circle of people. Mostly, it’s people who care enough to model the behavior they’d like to see from those around them.
Three days ago, Google once again used its monopoly power and opaque methods to shut down a much-beloved podcast app for ridiculous reasons. Only the outcry from smart-adjacent voices got them to back down. We get what we talk about and we talk about what we pay attention to.
Or consider this 14-minute documentary about how Harley-Davidson has relentlessly made bad decisions in serving its customers. Nearly a million people have watched it (that’s as many as a typical cable TV show) because people who didn’t make it cared enough to spread it.
We keep seeing proof that cable news and other media don’t simply report the culture, they create it. Each of us now has our own microphone and network, and we get to decide what to program and what to consume.
It turns out that spreading the news about things that are smart is, in itself, smart.