Gangnam Style vs. The Bible

I had a great exchange on Twitter (see the Storify version) with @EliGlazier and @KevinHornePSU this weekend about the Gangnam Style craze.

As much as you may want to make fun of it, the video is approaching 900M views — an unprecedented feat in many ways. Forbes is trying to analyze it, thousands of YouTubers are parodying it, parents are using it to get their kids to eat lunch, and the rest of us are just in awe.

It’s hard to imagine that a video could take off so quickly. It was only posted on July 15, 2012.

This means that Hosni Mubarak has been imprisoned longer, Facebook has been a public company longer, and the Freeh Report has been out longer than the Gangnam Style video has been around.

This article from July 2011 marvels at the fact TED.com was able to reach 500M views in five years:

Since they first began appearing online five years ago, TEDTalks have been on a hockey stick-like growth curve. The site had only about 2 million views by the end of 2006, which was surely considered a success at the time. By the end of 2009, TEDTalks had served up more than 200 million views. And in the 18 months since, it’s served up another 300 million views, bringing total view count to more than 500 million.

Of course that hockey stick-like growth has continued, and TED.com just surpassed one billion views, but they will soon be eclipsed by Gangnam Style:

TED milestones

There can’t possibly be any type of media in the history of civilized society that went from 0 to 900M views in six months. Yes, defining “views” is difficult, but that type of reach is absurd. When Gutenberg invented the printing press (the first modern technology that allowed us to scale media) in 1440, the world’s population wasn’t even 500M people.

In addition to the fact that it’s the fastest growing media of all-time, might it also be the “most-viewed” media during this six month period? I think the only things that could compete would be religious texts. If we take the Bible, for example, and we assume that 33% of the world’s population is Christian, and we also assume that 25% of Christians are churchgoers, that’s ~580M “views” weekly, but how many spent 4:13 reading it?

I think it’s reasonable to assume that Gangnam Style is being consumed more around the world than any other media, including the Bible. What say you?

Either way, it’s clear that we now live in a world where it’s possible to get a message out to hundreds of millions of people. For free. If that isn’t turning two hundred gears in your head, you’re missing the boat.



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