Nokia N97: The Truth is False



While checking RSS feeds yesterday, I came across one of John Gruber’s many cuss posts. By cuss post I don’t mean bad language but his cussing out something or someone, often with one word and link to source. John used “What a turd” to describe a video comparing Nokia’s N97 promo video against supposedly real world experience (Post title: “Nokia N97 Promotional Video vs Real Life”).

About an hour after seeing John’s post, Betanews founder Nate Mook IMed a link. Someone had IMed a link to him. The video has started to spread across the Web. A search for the video’s title, “Nokia N97: The Truth,” conducted this afternoon brings up more than 40 entries just within the last 15 hours—before appearing links to other stuff. But by quick scan, I’d guess the number of links to the video is quadruple that. When I accessed the video at 2:26 pm PDT today, there were 58,001 views. Right before I posted, the number had jumped to 61,360 (but slowing from yesterday).

The video has gone viral, but it’s strange timing. Why? The video isn’t the least new. YouTube user “nokiatruth” has posted just this one video, and that was on Sept. 5, 2009. Not yesterday, but nearly seven months ago.

The video’s sudden viral spread follows a concept I introduce here for the first time but will make an ongoing topic: “Mob Journalism.” It’s news generated by the mob, or crowd (not the Mafia). The mob gets ahold of something one of its members deems interesting and widely spreads it. I’ll explain the cultural, sociological and psychological aspects in my first full post on the topic. But suffice to say somebody spreading this stuff searches for acceptance, recognition or money.

There’s a different quality to Mob Journalism—a unified sense of rightness, but not always by everyone, about what’s shared. In this one example, most of the linkers to the video share John Gruber’s disdain. The chain of spreading connections highly influences opinion. Of course, most of the people ridiculing the Nokia N97 have never used one.

I IMed Nate yesterday about the video: “I owned a N97 and that wasn’t my experience. Sure the Nokia promo was exaggerated, but I found the phone plenty speedy. If I hadn’t switched from AT&T, I would still use the N97. Sure, it’s no iPhone.” There are plenty of positive reviews about the N97, and negative ones, too, of course.

Just because many people agree on something doesn’t make it true or news. Mob Journalism is where the crowd rules the news.