Morning Advantage: The Myth of the Viral Video

Remember the Harlem Shake? The viral dance meme you performed with your colleagues or friends to be part of something bigger than yourselves? It doesn't have much to do with Harlem, according to real people who actually live there, and it doesn't have much to do with the power of crowdsourced virality either. In this smart takedown of the meme in Quartz, Kevin Ashton recreates the timeline of the dance's popularity to reveal exactly how, in the wake of Oreo's Super Bowl "win," corporations pounced on the video's potential to make money. The Harlem Shake itself, writes Ashton, "originated with a drunken man named Albert Boyce dancing at Harlem’s Rucker Park basketball court in 1981." It then inspired an unsuccessful song, until a student named George Miller used it in a video. A few people copied him, and a version found its way onto Reddit, which prompted someone at Maker Studios to recognize its "pre-viral" potential. So began it's "rapid replication," which "was driven by media and marketing professionals, led and orchestrated by three companies: Maker Studios, Mad Decent, and IAC." And as more people clicked, money flowed from Google's ad structure, "where more searches and more views mean more dollars."

If the meme proved successful for these companies, argues Ashton, it wasn't exactly profitable for the originators of the dance itself. "Boyce, the no-collar black man on the corner who gave world culture a twist, gets a little credit and no reward. George Miller, the originator of the whole thing, gets nothing." In other words, even though it seems like personal creativity is driving viral content, it probably has more to do with creativity in capitalism.


Reinventing Employee Onboarding (Sloan Management Review)

We all know the drill: On a new employee's first few days, you immerse them in the ins and outs of how your company works. Paperwork, floor plans, benefits, etc. But new research suggests that it might be a better idea to target onboarding at their unique skills and how they can use them in their new role. When a business process outsourcing firm in India tested both models, employees were more than 32% less likely to quit their jobs during the first six months at the company if they received identity-focused onboarding. And these workers received customer evaluations that were more positive than their counterparts who received traditional onboarding.


Japan’s Answer to Jeff Bezos Sets Sights on Amazon, America (Wired)

In 1997, Hiroshi Mikitani founded e-commerce company Rakuten right around the time Amazon went public. His vision, however, goes against what he calls the "vending machine" model of sales, focusing instead on digital shops run by the people doing the selling. To put it mildly, Mikitani's been successful: "Rakuten now handles more than one-quarter of all e-commerce business in Japan — more than twice as much as Amazon’s share in the country." And with a 2010 acquisition of, he's planning on entering the U.S. marketplace with a focus on the human side of shopping online. "We are a bazaar," Mikitani emphasizes. "We are not a supermarket."


It's OK

The Manager Who Kept a Six-Year Diary of Her Mistakes (Wall Street Journal)
TED Radio Hour: Making Mistakes (NPR)
Why Deliberate Mistakes Can Be a Great Career Move (Fast Company)

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