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And another thing about fame…

I was talking with Kate Raynes-Goldie of the CBC at the end of the first day of ROFLcon yesterday [live-streamed here] and had a small realization about another difference between broadcast fame and Web fame. A little connection that immediately seemed too obvious to blog about. Nevertheless, here goes….

I said in my talk at the conference yesterday that we are making fame our own, rather than an alienating effect of the broadcast regime, because we make people famous on the Web by passing around links, and that — especially when you watch people watching YouTubes together — it’s a lot like how people tell jokes together: one video reminds someone of another, and there can be a type of pleasant one-upmanship as people try to top the current video with one that’s even better.

Not until I was talking with Kate did the further obviousness occur to me: One of the differences between broadcast and Web fame is that in making someone famous on the Web, we are putting a little bit of our social standing at risk. We’ve got a stake in it.

For example, during the wonderful, impromptu videofest blogged by (and, to a large degree, led by) the wonderful and impromptu Ethan Zuckerman, during Fellows Hour at the Berkman Center last week, everyone was pointing to the next great video to play. In the midst of this, I lost the thread and pointed to a video that, when projected to the group, was out of place and not even very interesting. People shuffled uncomfortably, trying to figure out why I would suggest such a clunker. I was embarrassed. (At least the video was short.)

That we have something at stake in what we recommend is, of course, well understood and completely obvious. But for me, only last night did I recognize that that’s one of the reasons the Web famous feel more like ours than the broadcast famous usually do. Not only do we make them famous, but we do so at some risk to ourselves.

It’s a type of sweat equity, or, in my case during video night at the Berkman, it was more like a type of flop sweat equity. [Tags: ]

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