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Online Fame Will Get You Nowhere

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Deleted by topic administrator 03-20-2006 06:07 PM
08:14 PM ET (US)
I'd like to try and temper my last post about Justin. It was incredibly judgemental. He is a growing creative force, regardless of what I say. Check him out
12:14 AM ET (US)
Justin's site and his writing is great. He's definitely a pioneering blogger. It's just that it's so obvious that he impresses himself to no end with his own cleverness. And, I think, careful study of his site reveals that he gets easily threatened by anyone smarter or more clever. He seems like a bit of a snob to boot. All of that combined, is a little alienating. Then again, who the hell am I to judge?

Justin is way ahead of most because he realizes that technology *can* mix with art and fashion in a culturally significant way. And I think he visualizes this idea in a way most can't or won't. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to develop a thesis from all of this, so he tries to use silly anecdotes about popping zits and penis diseases to fill in the blanks.

I don't mean to pick on Justin. It's just that he's a perfect case in point as to why I don't think most bloggers will become famous. The general public (mostly women) just wouldn't like J-dog.

I suspect though, that Justin just needs a good agent, a good venue, and perhaps some kind of profound life experience that will snap him out of his self-centered views. Irony suggests that the minute Justin stops wanting attention, his dreams of fame might come true.

Currently he's stuck in a rut; addicted to ego-stroking from Japanese people. He'll snap out of it though.
10:17 PM ET (US)
What about justin at links.net?
06:47 PM ET (US)
Why hasn't the internet made anyone famous? I think one obvious reason is that as wide-spread as the internet is, it's not yet ubiquitous enough to garner the mass appeal needed to produce an internet version of Brad Pitt, if you will.

Most bloggers would settle for being perceived as the "Dick Cavett" of the internet, but that hasn't yet emerged either. Why?

Because secretly, people don't like bloggers. (Of course, I think Hunkabutta and its author are great.) However, bloggers are, for the most part, self-serving ego-filled individuals that get joy from trying to show the world how many clever thoughts they can have in one day. The small portion of the public that is exposed to blogging, is savvy enough to realize this. Bloggers and other internet personalities simply don't exhibit enough raw talent to break the barriers of the Internet. And that's the key, isn't it? Are you talented and respected enough to be appreciated in more than one form of media? Obviously, some internet personalities have a great deal of talent, but try as hard as they might, fame still demands paying one's dues, struggle, pain, and a whopping amount of luck. If your talents can't survive outside the confines of the internet, then it stands to reason you'll never be a star.

People with the talent, the motiviation, and the ability to succeed to the extent that they are perceived as being "famous", fight their fight on many fronts - not just the internet.
06:53 PM ET (US)
Don't mind my ramblings, but why should fame be an issue for netizens? Part of the internet's benefit is that a viewer can also be a participant, and early on most things like IRC, MUD, Usenet, email, etc were popular because everyone was on the same level. With the coming of the WWW, things started to move towards viewer/viewee. Dividing up people into the 'famous'/'not famous' classes may diminish the value of the internet.

On a different topic: like jkottke said below, there doesn't seem to be a meta-mass-media like Entertainment Tonight singling out the internet-stars and packaging little stories about them. The internet IS the meta-mass-media, with fan-sites, weblogs, IRC, email newsletters, etc. How many writers for People Magazine, Seventeen, Entertainment Tonight, etc, do you know? Readers are attracted to People magazine & Entertainment Tonight for the content, not because the content creators are famous. kottke.org becomes famous because it's a repository for links & info, not because Jason Kottke has ever done anything fame-worthy (what HAS Jason Kottke done besides his website, anyways? :) j/k). Kottke as 5,000 sites linking to his (according to Google) because his site is a place to find out information about content set up for entertainment. Even his oft-mentioned 9/11 entry was mostly a collection of links to other sites.

For fame to occur online, there probably has to be someone who regularly creates their own original content, recieving mass discussion on the 'blogs & other central sites. It seems the people who have been getting attention (like Stile or AICN or Drudge, and most of the others listed here) are just commenting on other things, rather than creating things themselves. Maybe the reason that musicians & writers online (or even oddities like Emotion Eric or Robot Frank) don't have more fame is that there aren't enough kottke's writing about them.

The attraction to weird news articles seems to me the bulk of most blog's contents, and things move so fast online that once a few sites write about Emotion Eric, it's left in the dust and quickly becomes old news. Actors & Musicians are always putting out new albums, performing new roles, etc. There isn't much of that online.

Sidethought: Famous people in traditional media have media engines behind them, and they have a large support system which keeps them moving, creating new things, writing new scripts, performing new songs, etc. The people we think of as famous online just create things themselves, and publish on their own. If you're an actor and you start getting famous, you have an agent who'll keep you creating new things, hooking you up with other directors & writers who want you to continue be famous so that they succeed in their jobs. Famous people are the pinnacle of a bunch of other people's work. There's not that kind of structure online - everyone is on their own, creating their one or two interesting things, and if they get noticed, they get noticed. If you're OddTodd, what do you do next? I don't mean give ongoing interviews talking about oddtodd.com; I mean, what's the next thing he creates to keep the fame moving? If you've written a dozen songs and put them online, and one got a bunch of downloads, how do you funnel that interest into downloading the next songs you write? To address a previous reference; Jack Nicholson isn't famous today because of his role in the Shining -- while a great role, Jack has progressed, with new roles & new projects and new art being created over the decades. If anything, wilwheaton.net isn't famous because of Wil Wheaton - it's just another step in his much-larger fame, the fame of Wil Wheaton. If all he did was wilwheaton.net, despite his history as an actor, there'd be stagnation and he'd cease being famous.

Phew; blah, blah, blah, blah....after re-reading my ramblings, I considered deleting it all, but I think the original post was asking for brainstorming ideas, so I'll leave it as is.

(grrr...and I promised myself I would change my name this time yet forgot, but again I'm not Powazek. I should make a t-shirt that says that. That'd rock. Meta-reference to a media icon in the meta-mass-media environment.)
Edited 03-20-2002 06:54 PM
Matte Elsbernd
05:08 PM ET (US)
I think the problem is that the web still has little real mass-market coverage/awareness. I wouldn't even say someone like Danni Ashe or Drudge are someone that if I asked 10 people on the street, whether 1 or 2 might have heard of.

When the other media do look at the web, it's still seeing the web as a hodge-podge of novelties and personalities. And in most cases, this media is either directed at or consumed by "the converted" (people already in the loop.

The web is a wide-open space for anyone to do anything, but it's an amazingly closed world still, because it's still so unknown to those outside of it.

In addition, various elements of the web allow for a situation where one can get caught in (at least) two traps:

1) The time-warp: things don't always die on the web, they just sort of grow old and moldy making it virtually impossible for someone who logs on to the web today for the first time to know that Site X or Personality Y actually dates back to a phenomena of 3-4 years ago, rather than something new. So Site X and Personality Y will become "new" again and again to a new group of people with their popularity perhaps widening in scope but never really developing or growing in depth.

2) The self-referential loop: people tend to link to the same people who link to the same people and so people go 'round and 'round in this circle thinking that's as large as the web gets.
david gallagher
04:44 PM ET (US)
Derek P: I'm not sure I agree with you on Nicholson etc. People build huge Web shrines to record every scrap of info on their favorite celebrities, and fans eat this stuff up. I think this ends up strengthening their fame, not hurting it, no?

The other Derek: Yes, media crossover is key here. Why hasn't there been more of it? There is so much creative output on the Web right now. Why didn't someone post such a moving essay on 9/11 that they ended up getting invited to the White House and signing a huge book deal? Why hasn't one of those thousands of unsigned bands started a huge sensation with an MP3 file and ended up in the top ten? Is the power of online word of mouth really that puny relative to the power of corporate marketing? Yes, the sheer quantity of info makes it hard to find good things, but it also means there's got to be some good things out there to be found.
04:26 PM ET (US)
It's difficult to compare having a famous presence on the internet to having a famous presence in other forms of media; the ratio of viewers to content sources is very low online, and very high for TV & movies. Even with hundreds of TV channels, there are still millions of TV viewers; people & ideas are funnelled down into a very small space which attracts many people simultaneously. The internetizens who we'd consider famous became so only because of media crossover (Mahir being interviewed for magazines, TV, etc.), becoming introduced into the many-to-one media market.

On the internet, there are almost as many websites as there are people online; I know it's somewhat of an exaggeration, but the numbers are closer in that respect than in the other media that's being compared. There's no way to have the internet's focus put directly on yourself, unless you're lucky enough to have many major websites link to you simultaneously, and even then your link will slowly fall off the radar as new links are found. Nobody gets their website viewed by millions every single week for 5 years, while sitcom actors are paid big bucks to have that sort of attention. If you're lucky, a website develops a crew of devoted fans, but because there's so MUCH out there it's not possible to have constant and massive attention over the internet.

(oops -- I'm not Powazek; I'm a different Derek. Sorry for any confusion :)
Edited 03-20-2002 04:28 PM
12:10 PM ET (US)
I'm not a big fan of any of them, but AFAIK Linkin Park, Alien Ant Farm, and Drowning Pool all got their break because of their immense online popularity.

TV/Movie celebrities tend to be born of a culture that is very unlike the web culture a lot of us have grown to know. That is to say, in a passive medium like tv, we are force fed our celebrities. In an interactive, many to many medium like the web, we choose those who represent and interest us.

With the web, you can afford to be specific. You don't have to be the everyman. But, being the everyman, while offering new and exciting (read: exclusive) things on the web will get you noticed in the mainstream.

Mahir: Everyone identified with his vulnerability and desire to be loved. His accidental celebrity was too good a press story too miss.

Danni Ashe: Very simply one of the first online porn folks to personally identify with her audience. Very exclusive at the time, and well, porn is universal. The combination of the two made for a b-level, underground celeb

Knowles: Loud mouthed and brash, Knowles really hit on one of the web's best uses: Trading insider information and trashing famous people. Also, this amount of inside information scared traditional media, thus ensuring coverage.

Drudge: Well, when you have exclusive information on the celebrities/politicians people love/hate, you're going to garner a small amount of fame. I wouldn't say he's more famous than a syndicated gossip columnist though.

That's my two cents. josh
Edited 03-20-2002 12:11 PM
Derek M. PowazekPerson was signed in when posted
02:32 AM ET (US)
Andy Dehnart wrote an excellent piece on fame online for the Chicago Tribune a few months back. He's reprinted it on his website: http://www.andydehnart.com/media/words/ess...ry.shtml?onlinefame
Steven Garrity
09:21 PM ET (US)
Singular and huge fame like we've seen on in pop culture is a result of the medium - TV, radio, print. The web doesn't work that way - we're not all watching the same thing at once.

When you are dealing with few-to-many medium (TV, radio, print), you get a few people known by many: fame.

When you are dealing with a many-to-many medium (the web), you get smaller groups of people who are known by eachother.
Derek M. PowazekPerson was signed in when posted
09:19 PM ET (US)
Michael: What I mean is this: Show me where I can read Jack Nicholson's journal online. Show me where I can read what he thinks of the new iMac, or what he had for lunch.

It seems to me that scarcity of information is a central ingredient in the fame recipe. That's why famous people pay publicists to control the flow and spin of the personal information that gets out. The less information you have about a famous person, the more you can like them, because reality doesn't interfere with the fantasy.

That's why I think the internet is bad for traditional fame. Here you can find out so much about someone, it kills all the mystery. It's almost as if, as soon as you put up that personal journal, you're guaranteeing that you'll *never* be famous.
07:39 PM ET (US)
Currently there is no Web site that offers enough of an advantage over traditional methods.

There aren't any sites that have the "right people" reading them (a few have tried this, like iam.com [which folded last year] and http://www.musician.com/mcom/).

Let's say I made a feature film. Why would I choose the Web over submitting to festivals and smaller studios? Sure I might make a site to promote it and offer downloads, but the gatekeepers don't visit those sites.

I think what's more important is that the cost of production is coming down. I can make films or record an album now without dishing out as much cash. That may get me noticed. Or once I've been noticed and have an audience/fanbase, I could do it Prince-style and use this stuff to be independent.

Above all else, anything that makes a lot of money for mostly white, privileged folk isn't going to change.
david gallagher
04:20 PM ET (US)
Thanks for all the great posts. I'm not sure Bezos and Andreesen really count in my mind. I'm talking about people who, taking advantage of the supposed level playing field of the net, used it to get their writing or music or whatever out there, and moved on to household-name status. This was the original promise of MP3.com -- it was supposed to let unsigned bands bypass the record label machinery and reach the masses. I don't think any of them really did. Harry Knowles is a good example, but he's not quite a household name -- probably 1/25 as big a name as Ebert. I agree that the Web's architecture encourages microniches, which discourages stardom, so it's the opposite of Hollywood. And I like the point about the lack of video. If everyone gets broadband, and it becomes cheap to post video, will that change things? Another question: How do you account for the exceptions, like Drudge, Mahir, Knowles, Danni Ashe?
03:17 PM ET (US)
one must do something that is picked up on the radar of the mass marketing machine that jkottke mentioned. and on the web, the most complicated it gets is a 5 minute star wars parody. a web log or a photo gallery is easy, and people off their ideas in these formats every day instead of combining them into larger, more interesting pieces like novels or films or albums or _____. and as the means of production become more and more accessible, well, what was once easy or simple can become thoughtless. it ain't enough to market. not to dismiss the personal stories and all, there is a value in that, but i don't think we're gonna sell collections of links and thoughts on those links
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