Sunday, December 9, 2007

I'm a microcelebrity - get me out of here!

Ben Casnocha links to a Clive Thompson article in Wired.

Microcelebrity is the phenomenon of being extremely well known not to millions but to a small group — a thousand people, or maybe only a few dozen. As DIY media reach ever deeper into our lives, it's happening to more and more of us. Got a Facebook account? A whackload of pictures on Flickr? Odds are there are complete strangers who know about you — and maybe even talk about you....

Some of the newly microfamous aren't very happy about all the attention. Blog pioneer Dave Winer has found his idle industry-conference chitchat so frequently live-blogged that he now feels "like a presi-dential candidate" and worries about making off-the-cuff remarks.

And a later quote in the article indicates that my use of an alias shows I'm young at heart:

If you really want to see the future, check out teenagers and twentysomethings. When they go to a party, they make sure they're dressed for their close-up — because there will be photos, and those photos will end up online. In managing their Web presence, they understand the impact of logos, images, and fonts. And they're increasingly careful to use pseudonyms or private accounts when they want to wall off the more intimate details of their lives.

And it should be noted that Thompson himself takes care to project an appropriate online persona:

When the backlog of unanswered messages in my inbox grows too huge, I'll post a message to Facebook or Twitter pleading "Snowed under by work!" in the hope that my audience — including, ahem, my Wired editor — will cut me some slack.

In essence, I'm sending out press releases. Adapting to microcelebrity means learning to manage our own identity and "message" almost like a self-contained public relations department. "People are using the same techniques employed on Madison Avenue to manage their personal lives," says Theresa Senft, a media studies professor and one of the first to identify the rise of microcelebrity. "Corporations are getting humanized, and humans are getting corporatized."

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