The Microfame Game
Over the past couple months, I've been working with New York Magazine to develop some stories related to internet media. The first is "The Microfame Game", an analysis of how micro-celebrity is generated, with advice on how you -- yes you! -- can use the internet's self-publishing tools along with the new networked media machine to generate well-deserved acclaim. The eight-step plan is intentionally cheeky, but it's also probably helpful, if you're the kind of crazy person looking to create a successful online identity.
My original inspiration for writing about this topic was Kevin Kelly's essay 1,000 True Fans, which is a motivating take on how small amount of renown can be turned into a successful career. In thinking about the idea, I smacked out the three paragraphs below, which never made it into the story but can serve as the spark of the original idea:
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to stand in front of large groups of people and scream at them. I wanted to proclaim my love for their mid-size city and then show them my genitals. I had no interest in becoming a musician, because I wanted to be a rock star.
Before the internet, or before whatever weird historical moment we're in that causes us to overuse the phrase "before the internet," being a rock star used to signify something grandiose. As subcultures arose, the term itself became imbued with meaning beyond music: one could be the "rock star of sushi" or the "rock star of hedge funds."
And now, with an eroding mass culture, and with the internet slicing everything to tasty bite-sized morsels, the "rock stars of _____" are the only rock stars who matter. With subcultures now the dominant culture, the only solution is retreating to the fringes and joining these new niche rock stars, the microfamous....