The Web's 'Contagious Media'

It might not be time well spent, but if you use the internet you've probably spent considerable time on sites like Ring Tone Dancer, a silly site with a dancing masked man in a funny costume.

Because people pass along links to this stuff so quickly, it spreads through cyberspace like a disease, and now sites like this have earned an appropriate name -- contagious media, reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger.

"You start it. You tell your friends. You tell some bloggers. And you see how it spreads," said Jonah Peretti.

Even though most of the sites are fake, or funny, or both, Peretti believes contagious media cannot be ignored.

"It's reaching millions of people," he said. "It's an important way that ideas spread."

He's running a contest -- tracking roughly 50 sites to see which ones generate the most hits. The winners get a little money and a lot of notoriety among a certain crowd.

Peretti believes there is a sort of captive audience for this material -- mostly in the corporate cubicle culture.

As he walks among a typical office of cubicles, Schlesinger wryly observes those workers are surely not surfing on company time, but clearly a lot of people are.

"They're creating this thing called the 'Bored At Work Network' which reaches as many people as a major network, but it's powered entirely by people who are just sharing things,'' says Peretti.

Things like Hire-A-Killer with close to 50,000 hits.

"We should point out that this is fake, right?" asked Schlesinger.

"Correct," said Peretti.

This site pretends to offer consumer advice in a highly specialized area.

"I think if Hire A Killer was actually a real business it would be pretty successful," said Natalia Smirnov.

Smirnov and Gabriella Fishman, nice young ladies with a killer sense of humor, created the site and have gotten a lot of requests.

"For people to kill their co-workers, ex wives, boss," said Fishman.

When last we checked the number one site had to do with make believe high tech underwear, with Ring Tone Dancer not far behind.

You can't make this stuff up. Although, whoever's behind this, apparently did.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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