The other week, Time Magazine made "You" the person of the year in reference to growth of social networking, blogging and general user generated content. Yesterday, as anyone who wasn't under a rock will know, saw the execution of Saddam Hussein in Iraq for just one of his many crimes.
The mainstream media outlets all reported that scenes from the pre-execution had been broadcast on Iraqi television, and, to my knowledge, few of the western mainstream oulets has carried that footage at all, instead simply reporting on it. Matt Drudge has linked to footage of not just the pre-execution but also, taken by a camera phone the execution itself.
Not surprisingly (to me at least) the video is freely available for all to see on Google Video, and given that it was first leeched by someone on the Something Awful forums, it's undoubtedly also been grabbed, mirrored, and cross-posted to alt-binaries.gore and all the other Net sub-culture sites out there that enjoy that sort of thing.
Now... we don't do public execution in the West, and yet the viral spread of Hussein's execution video (it's been viewed a lot) suggests that, at least in terms of sheer morbid curiosity, if such things are available to see people will view them. Saddam Hussein not only appears to have gone viral (at least in the interim), but his execution - as user-generated and distributed content - is truly "Web 2.0" too.
Kind of creepy huh?
Update: I've been watching the referrers and monitoring the search engines over the past hour or so and it looks like the viral nature of the full execution video has gone absolutely crazy. The search term "Saddam Hussein execution video" appears to be very popular right now. What does that say about us?