When computers, digital information, the internet, and all that jazz came in, a number of efforts were made to humanize them by drawing analogies between the mysterious strings of ones and zeroes, and the electric networks that underpinned them, and more familiar aspects of living organisms. One of the most popular was the description of pieces of computer code that could be attached to existing programs in such a manner as to be copied onto other programs as viruses. This usage seemed particularly appropriate in cases where the copied computer code interfered with the intended usages of the existing program, in a way analogous to that of living viruses infecting organisms, bring reproduced in other organisms, and hurting or even killing the host organisms.
By an odd quirk of language, the sudden and very rapid popularity of a video or bit of text which is accessed and reproduced quite rapidly by thousands or even millions of end users is described as the text or video going viral, although there really is little connection between the two neologisms.
As I have reported here before, my first lecture on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, recorded and posted on YouTube, has been unexpectedly popular. It has now been viewed more than 68,000 times, and is racking up new views at more than 2000 a month. This is small potatoes compared to a clip from The Big Bang Theory or a classic Monty Python sketch, but considering the topic, it is still rather remarkable. It can hardly be said to have gone viral, but I do think it might plausibly be described as having