The Internet and the Virus
Information travels fast these days, and nowhere faster than the internet. There's even a word for it now – when something surges across the web so fast and so thoroughly that it becomes almost impossible to avoid its omnipresence, we say it has gone viral.
And few things on the internet went viral in October 2014 quite like the dangerous virus Ebola. As Ebola leapt from West Africa out to other patches of the globe, the globe lit up in interest about Ebola. And while the spread of Ebola certainly sparked the viral global interest, the spread of the global interest has in turn shaped the spread of the virus itself, as Steven Johnson points out in the quotation at left.
Below is a visualization that tracks the global spread of Ebola together with the online response to it as measured by Google search activity for the term “ebola”.