There’s more to the Internet than LOLcats and dating sites. Sometimes surfing the Internet feels like swimming in an ocean of viral videos and vitriol. I’d like to say news sites are a tropical island in the middle, but too often they promote or fuel the storms. That’s why, Upworthy, seems refreshing and, well, worthy of sharing.
It’s premise? Find the things worth sharing and make those viral. The site, which David Carr of the New York Times profiled this week (Two Guys Made a Web Site, and This Is What They Got), makes no bones that it has an agenda — so while you may not lean as left as the founders appear to — the idea of making things worth knowing as shareable and visual as an Oatmeal comic, animated GIF or LOL cat is nice.
From Carr’s piece, because he explains it better than I can:
“Upworthy, a news aggregation site that began publishing on March 26, is serious news built for a spreadable age, with super clicky headlines and a visually oriented user interface. Eli Pariser, the former executive director of MoveOn.org, and Peter Koechley, a former managing editor of The Onion who also worked at MoveOn, noticed that much of the media that gets shared online is built on cute animals and dumb humans that are good for a laugh, but not much else.”
Or from UpWorthy’s site a, what else, graphical representation of what they’re trying to do:
By applying the same sorts of visual pow, social media acrobatics and SEO-friendly tactics news sites, and every site worth its salt online, tries to employ, the site attempts to make things that matter easy and fun to share. That gives you venn diagrams like the one above and headlines that beg to be clicked through, such as What Does Congress Spend Half Of Its Time On? (an infographic look at the fundraising necessary to run for office these days); Yes, Facebook Will Be On The Final Exam (another infographic, but about a new study on how time on Facebook doesn’t necessarily cause less study time); and Smoking Does WHAT To Your Breasts? 5 More Reasons Not To Smoke (a video describing reasons beyond the whole lung cancer thing not to light up).
It will be interesting to see how the site grows and what other innovative ways they find to promote causes or need-to-know information. Already it’s gaining followers, and judging from its Facebook wall, plenty of likes/shares. As a journalist trying to produce serious work (but with a soft spot for animal memes), I appreciate the attempt to raise the profile of stories, videos and graphics that make me think, not just laugh.