Upworthy Rising Up

For the past several weeks, perhaps longer, my Facebook timeline has been spotted by posts from something called Upworthy.  Usually I’m very annoyed when advertisers/spammers crowd my ‘private’ space but Upworthy often catches my attention — more, it must be said, than some of the ‘here’s me and my cat’ posts left by friends.  Not always, but often, I click the offering and not always, but often, I remain to read or listen to what is said.  Good news, yes.  But relevant good news to my mind.  People doing things outside the norm on behalf of others, pushing back against the cultural tide of selfism, adrenaline-porn and cynicism.

It turns out this is not just happenstance.  Upworthy.com is a start up, like many others in the techno age, and one of the founders has a familiar name to all those who were attracted to MoveOn.org, among other grass-roots efforts, raising a banner and a place to gather against the tide of ignorance and vitriol of the last decade: Eli Pariser he is.

…Upworthy.com, whose goal is to make more serious content as fun to share as a “video of some idiot surfing off his roof.” Surfing idiots are tough to beat, of course, but Upworthy has shown that by selecting emotional material and then promoting it with catchy, pretested headlines, it can fulfill its mission: to direct Internet audiences to what it deems socially worthwhile subjects. Already the site has drawn millions of people to share videos about sober topics like income inequality and human trafficking. A video featuring Patrick Stewart discussing domestic violence was uploaded more than six million times after it was posted in May.

Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley, Upworthy’s 32-year old founders, say the effects have gone beyond simply tugging at the conscience of viewers to inciting them to action. The two point, for example, to a 20-minute biography of a young musician dying of a rare bone cancer that persuaded Upworthy viewers to donate about $100,000. A video by the founder of GoldieBlox, a company aspiring to make toys that will encourage young girls to be interested in engineering, was also a hit; Upworthy viewers bought enough toys to ensure a first production run.

NY Times

And be sure to check out Upworthy.com for more like this.

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