Blogging, Communication, and Fame

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.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Blogging, Communication, and Fame

  1. Great post. It reminds me of the facebook pages dedicated to bands and rock groups. The pages of Young the Giant (formerly known as The Jakes) and Kate Voegele are constantly flowing with comments from the fans. For a while, they were very personable with their audience–responding to what they could and it seemed like it was REALLY them, too. I commented on Kate Voegele’s MySpace once and thought it was really cool that she replied a few days later. I thought the same could happen with YTG, but months later I got nothing 😦

    Do you think that commenting back to fans would help artists and public figure become more “famous” than they already are? I wonder how many hits a page has to get before being considered “famous,” and how much people have to talk about it in order for it to become popular.

    • That transition from being able to respond to readers and then not is the transition from blogging as a communications medium to a broadcasting/publishing one. It’s a fascinating change and I’m glad you picked up on it. We should also be wary of faux familiarity: There are people who are paid to update celebrities’ social media profiles and answer comments and emails.

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