If you had to name a famous person, in a particular category of fame, just 20 years ago, there was a very good chance that all of us would have known the person named. The famous Television Host, Actor, Rock star, Author, Politician, Activist… we all had an understanding of who the ‘famous people were’ in the mainstream categories. It’s still true that we know who the super famous people are in most categories. But as every day passes, fame is starting to become less defined by media owners and more defined by media users. Those with the fame got handed the stage, the microphone, the printing press, the camera and held one of the few positions available. They got picked by the owners of the factors of influence. But now we can pick who we want to care about, and that means one thing:
Fame is fragmenting.
The word famous itself derives from the latin word fāma which means to talk. And now that we can all talk to the public, fame is decided by who we think is worth listening to. I recently had two such situations where I interacted with famous people – famous to me anyway. People whose opinions and work I value. A simple twitter interaction, albeit micro with Tom Peters and Marc Andreessen.
Guys like these are my Justin Bieber, and I hate myself for writing his name in my blog – but unfortunately he was the best example to make the point. And while I couldn’t name even one recording artist in the current top 10, or who is on Free To Air TV at 7.30pm weeknights, I still have my own set of famous people, or celebrities I look up to in my niche world. I also know that as time goes by this will be the norm, rather than the exception. Fame will become a community by community proposition. It’s not without some irony that high technology is reversing many of the social and economic structures back to our pre industrial reality.
For me this is another reason to be excited by the technology revolution. We are starting to get back to a more valid definition of celebrity – People who have a positive influence in our lives, not just those who occupy a limited number media channels.