“Seth says (and notes that he does not say anything about virality in his set of criteria for message sending):
"No one 'sends' an idea unless:"
"a. they understand it"
Not true. People send things when they think they understand it but don't and when they don't understand it but think they should. An example of the former is the Sokal Hoax. In fact the Nietzsche example given is perfect proof to the contrary - Nietzsche does propagate but without understanding.
This is important as it explains the mechanism of mutation of an idea into a better propagating one, if people had to understand an idea as the sender intended, the mechanisms of natural selection on ideas would be vastly different).
"b. they want it to spread"
Not true - People can actively spread an idea to solicit opposition to suppress it later - you could argue that anti-porn campaigners raise awareness of porn.
Consider Fred Durst forwarding a link to a web page showing him having sex and instructing his lawyer to sue the website to stop it spreading.
"c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind."
This can be rephrased as - nobody deliberately sends a message unless there is a reason - so what. However, importantly, people do send messages by accident - someone accidentally sending emails because their computer contains a virus does not meet any of the above criteria.
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits.
Not true - while it is true that people will make personal sacrifices to spread an idea e.g. martyrdom, it would be difficult to argue that all martyrdom like suicide bombing is 'beneficial'. It is true that suicide bombing may be effective in spreading an idea, but there are also martyrs that fail to propagate ideas despite huge effort. In fact the only thing that is important is perceived benefit for the sender.”
My own personal feeling is that depending upon the situation either David or Seth could be correct. If you follow Seth’s guidelines your viral efforts will be effective most of the time.