"Couch potatoes don't matter on the Web, crazy people do."
Buzzfeed founder (and former HuffPo-er) Jonah Peretti's talk slides on how to craft viral hits read like an Anarchist's Cookbook for traffic-monkeys; a sort of SEOnomicon. This is the single most interesting thing I've read all week. It is evil, and it is true.
What struck me as most interesting is Peretti's assertion that the best way to engineer "viralness" is to appeal to your target's pathologies: for instance, the self-obsession and narcissism one might associate with HEYLOOKATME YouTube vloggers, or the sort of rigid fixation on rules and standards often written off as "aspie-think" (hello, Slashdot forums!)
I grew up thinking of journalism as a profession that served a high, noble purpose: the pursuit of truth, and knowledge, and making the world a better place. But Peretti rightly nails a disturbing fact about the "post-journalism" world of web publishing: if maximizing traffic is your primary goal, you'll be more successful if you instead focus on feeding the dark beasts of human id. I'm lookin' at you, Jenny Whiteboard.