Viral - Or Is It?

The UK is in the grip of the spread of two 'viral's ... firstly the clumsy Polonium trail following the death of Alexander Litvineko and secondly the Thresher's offer.

The first is a murky subject that hints not at a slick KGB operation but of something rather more peculiar. The second seems even more suspicious, when is a viral not really a viral? I recieved my first copy of the PDF voucher at the start of the week and then saw it appear in both personal and work inboxes on a regular basis, each time doubting its' authenticity a little more. Of course the blogosphere couldn't resist and one of the first on the scene was wine site Spitoon - in effect giving the promotion some further credibility. The cynic in me thought, "could a national brand really honour a 40% discount spread so emphatically amongst the public?" Well, today's news reports suggest that they do intend to and, furthermore, that this wasn't intended for anyone other than family and friends. (Spitoon once again picked up the story).

I don't believe them. They must have known the viral power of sending out a voucher with no restrictive Terms and Conditions and in a portable format. Their mistake was not realising the scale of the distribution which -they freely admit - will hit their profit margins hard. There's loads of similarly cynical blog chatter about this. This is, however, one viral where monetisation is an obvious outcome. Contrast this with other successfully distributed but low-profit virals.

They do expect to make a profit so it will, nevertheless, remain to be seen how good a Christmas the directors at Threshers will have.


Iraq War Raises Statistical Questions

Some interesting data I unearthed today. The proportion of British forces deaths related to the size of the deployment is 1.58%. The US forces proportion is 2.13% (sources: About.com and icasualties.org). Does this reflect the danger of the theatres they are operating in or the quality of soldiering? It certainly does not represent quality of kit, everything you ever read about the war suggests the US have the world’s best equipment. But the highest casualty count by deployment is Bulgaria which has lost 3.25% of its troops.

What is also interesting is the proportion of deployment by population. 0.05% of the US population is in Iraq next is Georgia at 0.018% and then us at 0.013%. In this regard, the US has lost 0.0009% of its population in the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, the sketchy nature of the data means I am unable to comprehensively balance the picture with statistics on the percentage of Iraqi civilians killed, but some reports put this at 2.5% (source: BBC News article). Sobering stuff.