‚Things that Matter, Pass them on‘: ListSite as Viral Online Genre
Journal Article by Jana Pflaeging (Halle / Salzburg)
Is it just me or has the Internet been consumed by lists? Offering information on 25 Reasons Why Getting In Shape Actually Sucks or The 30 Teeniest Tiniest Puppies Being Adorably Teeny Tiny, such list-sites seem to have recently gained prominence on the Web. List-sites are typically provided by commercial media start-ups. In their endeavour to create valuable advertising space, they intend to produce content that goes viral on the web, i.e. reaching vast amounts of user within short periods of time.
This contribution is based on the assumption that professional web authors design content in such a way that it is likely to succeed in achieving virality. The recurrence of communicative practices (and, thereby, the likely emergence of a genre I call ListSite here) seems of vital importance in this respect. It allows for quick reception in accordance with users’ expectations and may facilitate their decision to curate the content by sharing it on social networking sites like Facebook.
By means of an empirical analysis of 50 ListSite-exemplars, I hope to shed light on how this genre works with regard to its communicative situation, multimodal structure, topical organisation, and textual function – and how these aspects relate to virality.
Jana Pflaeging is a doctoral candidate in English linguistics at Halle-Wittenberg and Salzburg University. Her research interests include the change of multimodal genres as well as the visualisation of linguistic theories. She teaches at Halle and Salzburg University and works as a freelance graphic designer. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of 10plus1.