Going viral

Accidentally reaching a million people

David A Roberts

My previous post received a lot more attention than I had been expecting. This is a short debrief of my experience.

Vimeo analytics.

A few weeks ago I published a brief technical description of a simulation I had created several years earlier. I had been meaning to write this up for quite some time, mainly so that I could have something to direct people to on the rare occasions that I've been asked about it. When I published it, I posted a link to the procedural generation subreddit, as I'd received some positive feedback from this community when I originally created the simulation, so thought they may be interested in the explanation of how it works. It's a bit of a niche interest, so I had thought I'd be lucky if a hundred people read my post.

Netlify analytics.

Overnight I received a message from a friend telling me that I'd made it to the front page of Hacker News. This has only happened to me once before, over a decade ago for my LLJVM project, so I was quite humbled that so many people were interested in my work. In the following 24 hours my post was visited just over 50,000 times. (At the time, this site was hosted on Netlify, and I burned through half my monthly bandwidth quota that day, so I decided to migrate to Cloudflare Pages going forward.)

The VICE Motherboard article.

The following day, science reporter Becky Ferreira sent me an email expressing an interest in writing an article for VICE Motherboard. She asked me a few questions about what drove me to create the simulation, and what I intended for people to take away from it. This was followed by some coverage in the Daily Mail (which I found surprisingly thoughtful, despite the usual quality of the comments section).

National Geographic Russia.

Over the few weeks since, it has been picked up by a number of international news websites, and it's been interesting watching my words being translated into various languages:

All in all, my video has been embedded in pages visited a total of 1.1 million times so far (and re-uploaded to several other websites), and watched by over 300,000 unique viewers.