Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Viral With a Purpose? Upworthy Finds Serious Web Content Worth Sharing.

Upworthy launched today, a viral aggregator that promises to find interesting and shareable content on important topics. That is, topics more important than your average cat video or nip-slip slideshow.

Upworthy’s output is a stream of curated daily picks via email newsletter, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Its first two featured items are both about the Trayvon Martin killing.

Upworthy was co-founded by MoveOn board president Eli Pariser, and former managing editor for The Onion, Peter Koechley. It is backed by Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder who recently bought The New Republic.

Pariser, who wrote the book “The Filter Bubble,” explained his justification for Upworthy today: “In the Darwinian environment of the hyper-relevant news feed, content about issues like homelessness or climate change can’t compete with goofy viral videos, celebrity news, and kittens … Hopefully, we can help bring attention and focus to stuff that really matters in a viral format that can reach millions.”

The intersection of virality and more serious content seems particularly timely, given the potency of Kony 2012 and other recent Internet activism, like the SOPA protests.

In an introductory post, Upworthy says it would like to run items about “something like planking or Tebowing but about climate change” and “17 Sexiest Pics About Income Inequality.” I guess it’s better to poke fun at yourself before other people can.

Hughes had previously pitched jobs at the prelaunch start-up for people who “love Facebook, hate Fox News, and are amazingly talented,” but as described today, the site says it’s not partisan.

Pariser said in an email today that the site is “very minimum viable product,” but it already has a privacy policy in the form of an infographic, so I’d say it’s ready for public consumption.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus