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July 10, 2008

A Word of Mouse Virus

Marketing something over the internet, are you? (We are, kind of, we suppose. Say, buy a T-shirt.) Good news, then—you're participating in a new trend! No, really, you are, even though we're pretty sure the internet was used for marketing from the moment Al Gore invented it. But now, of course, it's different, because everything is 2.0 (we're currently taking bets on when the web goes 3.0), so you're using word of mouse.

mouse burial ground

Where a mouse goes to die; mouse-related catchphrases should go there, too.

"Word of mouse," far as we can tell, is kind of like that chain letter your great aunt sent you about Obama's secret Islamofasciterranarchocommunism, only it’s a lot cooler because it uses Facebook or LinkedIn instead of your great aunt's AOL account. Though the phrase has been around since the '90s, the New York Times tells us it's "the latest trend in online travel planning." At first, we found this puzzling—we've been reading online customer travel reviews since at least 2002—but the Times quickly informed us of the difference. It's social networking, like Facebook! This shit is viral, people.

According to Konstantin Guericke, who got $20 million from Lehman Brothers, word of mouse is "more powerful than word of mouth because each new user enhances the value of the network." Wrap your mind around that one, dude!

So the difference between this new word of mouse and the old way—which, we suppose, was maybe more like a billboard on the information superhighway—is that you can post a picture of yourself, if you want. And create a profile, and have friends you've never actually met. Well, if there's one thing we've learned roughly a decade-and-a-half into the internet age, it's that people love creating profiles. (Yes, we're no exception. Friend us!) Word of mouse's future looks pretty bright, then, though we'd prefer to call it "chain letter 2.0."

Photo courtesy James Gagen's Flickr.

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