At a time when the success or failure of most phenomena seems to be measured by the number of clicks, likes and shares they elicit, the Haute École d’Art et de Design (HEAD-Gèneve) has initiated a project dedicated to virality, buzz and their consequences in the field of design.

“Creating a buzz” is the established expression for describing a phenomenon that has gone viral. By using the dynamics of virality, a team of researchers has created a set of media-based tools that will enable them to raise public awareness about social causes more effectively.


Virality denotes the degree of effectiveness with which a piece of information is relayed by passing from one person to another, in the same manner that a virus is transmitted. “Buzz” (derived from the buzzing of a bee) is a term originally used in marketing to refer to the generation of rumor by word of mouth often even before the official launch of a product.
An immense quantity of messages are now shared in proportions that are exponentially superior to traditional media’s capacities for dissemination. The Internet is also the place where discriminatory speech is now widely disseminated, and hostile messages, trolling and cyberbullying are now commonplace.
By creating a presence on social media in areas where information is not relayed effectively, or, on the contrary, vulnerable to misinformation, researchers have invented new avenues of social communication to fill the gap where “traditional” communication strategies have fallen short and are not effective. Consequently, this project is based around two current themes, virality on the one hand, and the question of social commitment on the other.

To accomplish this, the project has been divided into three main phases:
OBSERVATORY : The Observatory brings together interviews, publications, talks and round tables with designers, sociologists, and influencers.

LABORATORY : The Laboratory examines all of the viral experiments performed within the framework of the project.

DIRECTORY : The Directory is a glossary that includes the key notions that come up during the research process.

Projet de recherche, financement RCDAV 2017–2019
Haute école d’art et de design – Genève


This talk is an overview of the main issues of the research project, both in terms of the Observation phase and the Laboratory experiments.

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