Boing Boing on GOOD: "All the Web's A Stage"

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For our continuing "Boing Boing on GOOD" series, I wrote a brief essay about the possible psychological dark sides of Twitter, Flickr, and lifecasting that may go beyond amplified narcissism. Are the Truman Syndrome and Abraham Biggs's live suicide on canaries in the coalmine? From my article, titled "All the Web's A Stage" (above artwork by Imaginary Foundation):
In 1968, Andy Warhol famously forecasted, “In the future, everyone will be… famous for 15 minutes.” Of course, he was right. Personal computers and the Web have democratized the tools of media so that most anyone can create and distribute their own content without the need for deep-pocketed middlemen. Can’t get on TV? Start your own network. Create your own reality TV show starring you. Flickr already abounds with users who unabashedly post steady streams of self-portraits shot with phonecams held at arm’s length, and fans who praise them. And at microblogging hub Twitter, there are thousands of people delighted to share what they’re eating for dinner or that they’re stuck in traffic, and many thousands more who seem to care.

At Institute for the Future, where I’m a researcher, we’ve been exploring the idea that “everyone will be a channel,” and how that experience might inform and change the way we relate to each other, and ourselves...
"All the Web's A Stage" (GOOD)


  1. My version of that famous quote: “On the Internet, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.”

  2. David @2: Not a prob.

    In fairness I’ve only been using that since 1998 or thereabouts, so I might not have been the one to originate it. It probably depends on whether David Weinberger or Doc Searls used it before that, because I could easily have picked it up from ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto or something else they wrote. I would have to go look.

    (I did a quick google and found the quote attributed to Weinberger.)

  3. I think it should read “Even if you want to be famous all you’re going to get is 15 megabytes”.

    I have no blog,second life avatar,twitter feed, facebook profile, website or Flickr account and nor do I care for one. Hence I will cruise along in permanent obscurity to the netted public.

    Also unless there is some compelling reason, even those that really stick themselves out there will rarely get more than a smattering of attention. You really do have to kill yourself otherwise no-one cares.

  4. In the future… there will be more short-term limited range celebrities than there are now, but it won’t be anywhere near “everyone.”

    Even in very wired first world countries, most people don’t have blogs, and most people use the internet for only very specific purposes.

    The barriers to having an audience have been reduced, but there’s still more people outside the theater than sitting in the theater. And there’s still more people in the audience than on the stage.

  5. I was using “In the future, everyone’s web server will be down for fifteen minutes” as a Usenet sig line in 1997.

  6. #6: You really do have to kill yourself otherwise no-one cares.

    Nope. What happens then is that people will laugh.

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