The Internet, New Media, Old Media and Fame

academy-awards What is fame?

When you use the word the majority of people would start rhyming of names like Angeline Jolie, Rock Hudson, JFK and even now with Barak Obama. Fame is often thought of as being the thing that actors, musicians, politicians and in very rare cases regular people can achieve through their actions. Old Media thrives on famous people because of their ability to get people to fork over their money time and time again. This type of fame though is what I would refer to as global fame. It is a fame that can cross generations and oceans but it isn’t the only kind of fame there is.

Today Chris Brogan brought up the idea of something he calls Microfame, the idea being that in our Internet Age people within niches can become famous. Not the global fame like the one that keeps Old Media afloat but rather fame that comes from being exceptionally talented within your sphere of influence. As interesting as the idea might be I don’t believe it is anything new. Sure it might be more widespread because of the areas that the Internet and New Media opens for us but I think microfame has always been with us to some degree.

After all how many people know the name Banting, or James Naismith, or even Carl Bernstein?

Those are all very famous people who have had an effect on our world and society in one way or another yet their fame really is limited in scope. That doesn’t change the fact that they are famous or diminish the things they have done but I do think they would fit into the idea of being microfamous. The same applies to our world of the Internet and New Media which could be considered to be full of microfamous people.

After all how many people on Facebook know who Tim Berners-Lee is, or how many people in your church group now who Kevin Rose is- or care for that matter. Then there is Robert Scoble who outside of a narrow sphere of the blogosphere doesn’t probably carry the same cachet, that doesn’t change the fact that within the tech blogosphere he is one of the most recognizable names around. Even Chris is consider to be a social media guru and is one of the most recognized names in the social media world but chances are that outside of New Media and the Internet he doesn’t have the same name brand recognition.

While I don’t think our overall idea of what fame is but perhaps in the Internet Age and the proliferation of New Media our understanding of it’s depth has changed. In the end though I don’t think this idea of microfame is really anything new.

How about you – what do you think?

2 Comments

  1. 10/02/09 at 13:36

    Good point. First off, there is nothing new under the sun, and second off, if you find yourself working in a particular industry or discipline, you're going to find particular people who are famous within that small group. For example, I'm more apt to read Oracle's Tom Kyte than, say, Cory Doctorow.

    But, after reading the comments to Brogan's post, it seems that people are hung up on the term that he used, and not on the implications of the term. When I read Brogan's post, this was my take-away:

    But fame isn’t trust, and the real goal, in my estimation, would be to develop trust, build relationships, and earn the attention of people in our circles of interest. That’s what matters.

    So for anyone kind enough to call me famous, I appreciate the mindset, but I’m hoping to be trusted, respected, and to be worthy of your time. That’s my daily goal.

    So, if I may bandy two more stupid terms about, it's better to have microrespect than it is to have microinfamy.

  2. 10/02/09 at 13:36

    Good point. First off, there is nothing new under the sun, and second off, if you find yourself working in a particular industry or discipline, you're going to find particular people who are famous within that small group. For example, I'm more apt to read Oracle's Tom Kyte than, say, Cory Doctorow.

    But, after reading the comments to Brogan's post, it seems that people are hung up on the term that he used, and not on the implications of the term. When I read Brogan's post, this was my take-away:

    But fame isn’t trust, and the real goal, in my estimation, would be to develop trust, build relationships, and earn the attention of people in our circles of interest. That’s what matters.

    So for anyone kind enough to call me famous, I appreciate the mindset, but I’m hoping to be trusted, respected, and to be worthy of your time. That’s my daily goal.

    So, if I may bandy two more stupid terms about, it's better to have microrespect than it is to have microinfamy.