I’ve been doing lots of reading about the death threats that Kathy Sierra received. It’s hard to avoid in the blogosphere this week, and rightfully so. I wrote about it earlier in the week, but I’m afraid the events and culprits are no more clear in my head.
This whole despicable event has verified one of my (and lots of other people’s) pet theories: the social web has created a long tail of celebrity. I often use this example to explain the long tail idea, because it seems to both surprise and resonate with people.
I don’t write this post to, in any way, make light of Kathy’s situation. I write it to highlight a cultural trend that I think all bloggers need to be aware of.
In a pre-Internet world, here’s what fame looked like. A relatively few number of people were famous (click for larger version, long tail graphic borrowed from Alex Barnett):
However, the Internet came along, and made a bunch more people a little bit famous. There seems to be more fame to spread around, but I don’t want to get into a discussion of the attention economy. Even if you have, say, twenty readers who aren’t your friends and family, you’re a little bit of a celebrity. Here’s what that chart might look like now:
Sure, Robert Scoble’s more famous than a college professor, but I don’t want to quibble over the relative positions. The gist is in the broad strokes.
This new long tail of fame is a micro version of what A-list celebrities experience, and that comes with its relative blessings and curses. I’m sure that Angelina Jolie or Jodie Foster get a lot more death threats than Kathy Sierra has, but they’re a lot more famous.
What’s my point? If you’re a blogger, you’re more visible than the average person. Be sure to protect yourself as best you can.