Thursday, February 21, 2008

Do you know this guy?

His name is Momus, a Scottish artist. Why should you know him?
Because he moved us from Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame to famous for 15 people:

“The future will be a lot of musical shrapnel… The old unifying stars like Madonna and Michael Jackson will be seen as the last of their kind, global monoliths, relics of an age of monopoly capitalism which has been smashed to smithereens.”

Putting his own spin on Andy Warhol’s “fifteen minutes of fame” adage, Momus suggested a different dynamic. In the future, he wrote, “Everyone will be famous for fifteen people.”

This idea of microcelebrity is fairly new and Clive Thompson describes it really well in his December column:

"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.

You could regard this as a sad development — the whole Brand Called You meme brought to its grim apotheosis. But haven't our lives always been a little bit public and stage-managed? Small-town living is a hotbed of bloglike gossip. Every time we get dressed — in power suits, nerdy casual wear, or goth-chick piercings — we're broadcasting a message about ourselves. Microcelebrity simply makes the social engineering we've always done a little more overt — and maybe a little more honest."

In general, I agree with his small town assessment. Growing up in one myself, I remember those little social signals that turned into gossip and categorizing people.

There are good reasons for people to social engineer their social media experience: The mother that doesn't want to show pictures of her neighborhood, fearing possible stalkers. The entrepreneur who's fallen on hard times and doesn't share his problems with his audience because his blog was meant to be inspiring and uplifting. The social media blog that doesn't criticize specific clients because, well, they are clients.
That's social engineering.

But there's a fine line between social engineering and self-censorship. Sure, not everybody can be as open and honest asGeorge Parker (Is there a better word in the English language than Douchenozzle?) but are we censoring ourselves too often? I do. Often for good reasons, often for not so good reasons.

I think it's mostly a maturation of the blogosphere and social media space. We're still learning. And exploring how to interact with each other. And the world.

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