My brain is broken today. I need more coffee, have all sorts of stuff left to write yet, it’s too hot, and the rent’s too damned high. But I have to write something.
Therefore, I’ll fill in some space here with some words of wisdom from Mr. Michael Goldhaber himself. This excerpt here is about the difference between attention and popularity:
I am not a big fan of the numerical sociologists of the Internet , Fang Wu and Bernardo A. Huberman., but I thought for a bit they had finally come up with something interesting with their paper “Persistence and Success in the Attention Economy”. Their data reveal a seeming paradox: the more videos a person uploads on YouTube, the less likely the video will be an attention success, that is will garner more than 1% of all downloads for videos uploaded in that week. They make it seem that persistence in continuing to upload new videos in that situation is foolish at best.
What they ignore is that seeking attention does not automatically mean seeking the widest possible audience. Given the popularity of Youtube overall, there are probably many specialized audiences, and it could well be that persistent up-loaders are seeking and even have found a substantial niche audience, even though it be less than 1% of the undifferentiated total. They also ignore that uploading a video takes very little effort, is free, and may be intended just for friends or relatives. What this study really demonstrates is only that individual motivation cannot be determined just by numerics. An actual look at the videos of the “persistent” up-loaders would probably offer more insight into the aims behind them.
What Goldhaber says above is quite right: attention will become more important than popularity. Popularity is what we know now as ‘celebrity’. It is the ‘oh is that so-and-so?’ phenomenon. It is the delight of ‘instant recognition’, and supposed adoration by the masses at large, for an individual they don’t know personally. I addressed this in discussing the demise of the pop-star in the near future. Despite being popular,the mega-stars created by late-stage consumer Capitalism, are increasingly being otherwise ignored. Many more people know who Lady Gaga, or Miley Cyrus are, than what exactly these two stars are up to at any given moment. They’re popular, but- apart from making appearances or being spotted out and about at random – they don’t grab much attention on a continuous basis.
Which is unlike Youtuber, KSIOlajidebt, the 261st most-subscribed Youtuber on……Youtube. KSI is a rising star on Youtube, a genuinely talented video producer, and comedic talent.
But KSIOlajidebt will never crack the top 10 of Youtube subscribers, and join the ranks of these folks below:
KSIOlajidebt is a niche-star, with a devoted fan-following on his channel, which has a very narrow focus: the FIFA soccer video game. KSI built his Youtube fame over one year ago, uploading mashups and highlights of himself playing FIFA soccer. Since then, KSI has broadened the scope of his uploads markedly, from videos of primarily video game footage, to clips of the star appearing in front of the camera himself. You can see how the view-count has risen steadily over the past year, with KSI uploads now averaging about half one-million views recently. KSI’s content is a give-and-take with his attents, who are able to communicate directly with him through various channels. KSI is likely to give at least some consideration to the various desires of his fans, because their attention (views) are his bread-and-butter. KSI’s stardom is directly linked to the attention he receives, and his constant evolution to improve the ways he aligns minds to himself. For this attention-era star, popularity and attention are more closely-linked, than they can ever be for the ‘mega-stars’ like Gaga and Miley. The niche star – something like a tribal chieftan – is the star of the near future.