I would’ve posted on this Shirky reading last week but we were supposed to post our audio clip, so this is a bit after the fact…
In last week’s reading by Clay Shirky, he discusses the concept of fame in relation to the Internet. According to Shirky, fame is “an imbalance between inbound and outbound attention.” A person who is considered “famous” has to receive a certain amount of attention that is too great to reciprocate. He continues to discuss this concept with the example of Oprah – if Oprah wanted to talk to every single one of her audience members, it would be impossible. These social limits, according to Shirky, are similar to those that are now experienced by bloggers. There has been a huge increase in the number of blogs that exist, and some bloggers are now even considered “famous.” For people that just blog amongst their friends, the social limits have not become an issue; on the other hand, bloggers with thousands of readers have to pick and choose who they will interact with.
I think that the connection between blogging and fame is an interesting one. I agree with Shirky that as a blog becomes more popular, social limits arise. For example, Scott Schuman, of the well-known fashion blog The Sartorialist, does not have the time to respond to the hundreds of comments that he receives on each post. However, I think it’s important to consider the beginnings of a blog and the open communication that can exist before the readership becomes too much to handle. I’d like to hear what Shirky has to say about people who start blogs and gain fame from them, rather than people who are famous to begin with.
I think it is the potential for open communication that has caused blogs to become “famous” – people like that they can actually relate a website to a person, and that the person can interact with them. For example, Knight Cat is a well-known fashion blog that is updated daily with photos for inspiration. I just looked back to the first entry in the blog, and in the comments section the author actually responded to people who left comments. Now that she has become more popular, or “famous,” I don’t think she responds to comments. Yet, I think the fact that she did in the beginning, and still could, is what keeps people interested. The communication is quick and easy, and even if the blog author doesn’t respond to you, there are plenty of other people leaving comments that have similar interests and intentions who are probably more than willing to discuss them.