Friday, April 25, 2008

David Weinberger: On Internet Fame

David spoke about how fame is playing yout online now. The following are snippets of what was very engaging and funny talk (these snippets don't do justice to his presentation, but they do give a sense of key points he raised):

Fame in the broadcast world is based on alienation; on a distinction between "us" and "them", where the "them" are a distant class of being that instill awe and trembling. The internet, however, has changed these old-style conceptions and practices of fame and stripped away a lot of broadcast gloss (e.g., by people posting pics of stars without their makeup on).

Very much of what’s on the web looks like it was done by the human hand. Perfection is now the enemy of credibility. It used to be that any imperfection was a sign of lack and care, rendering the "thing" less credible; now, things too perfect are less trusted.

It’s not just the homespun characteristics of what’s online, but the DIY nature of it that matters very much. For example Mahir’s “I Kiss You” website from 1999. There’s no clear reason for why the URL to his website was passed around, but he became famous nonetheless. Part of the reason why we passed around the link included the sense that we were making him famous: a truly “popular” celebrity. Celebrating the power to act outside broadcast media.

The star Wars kid was not our finest moment. But is emblematic of how the people can make people famous.

60,000 comments left in response to a YouTube video is not a conversation; but we’re clearly inventing new ways of expressing ourselves and engaging with something through comments.

We are still working out how to navigate abundance online. There are now more “sort of famous” people, following similar lines to Shirky’s long tail of the web. That is, people famous to a handful of people. Fame that mimics, mocks and does both. Fame that lasts for day, and fame that persists. Fame that’s stupid, and confusing, and funny, and flawed. Most of all and best of all, flawed. That is, it looks just like us. We are taking “fame” back and celebrating a sense of who we are. Fame is no longer the “property” of broadcast media to allocate and distribute.

Nice summary! I could have just handed out your post and saved everybody 20 minutes :)

Seriously, I know how hard it is to give readers an overall picture of a talk that you're live-blogging, since live-blogging usually mires the writer in the particulars of the "now." I'm impressed with how well you did this.

Thank you.

David Weinberger
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