This clip is edited together from the podcast Diggnation, hosted by Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht.DiggNation appears to be two computer geeks, sitting on a couch, drinking beer and reviewing the “hottest user submitted stories on the social news website” with an aesthetic sensibility reminiscent of Beavis & Butthead. However, its hosts have become what in the UK, and other mainstream US media have termed the web’s first “native” celebrities. Up until August 2008 Kevin Rose had the largest number of followers on – edging out Obama until the very climax of his much heralded . As the owner of digg.com, Rose is also a successful internet entrepreneur but one who has emerged from the “ordinary” user communities his sites/applications now appeal to and aggregate.
Rose’s fame thus comes not simply from hosting a successful podcast – with Diggnation having reached nearly 200episodes, each downloaded or viewed over a ¼ million times – but from managing an “authentic” and open personality, , across multiple digital media platforms. Whilst the intertextual nature of fame is not new – with film stars or television personalities having their fame confirmed and circulated by various subsidiary media, or perhaps crossing over between media (e.g. Lucille Ball) – Rose’s fame differs because it is a brand to be managed across multiple platforms simultaneously; and, unlike mainstream media stars, his fame is the product of self-promotion and self-surveillance particularly through web2.0 technologies and applications. Surveillance takes the form of exposure to, and control of, web 2.0 platforms that track his every move: from Twittering his current activities—“having a glass of wine with @kurtsmom”—to blog entries, updating his MySpace profile, documenting his life on Flickr to sharing his bookmarking, music and news interests via LastFM, del.ic.ious and, of course, digg.com.
recently proclaimed anyone can “get internet famous: even if you’re nobody” – but, in an era where millions of ordinary people might have blogs or twitter feeds, standing out from the crowd requires a degree of “vernacular skill” in marshalling technologies to garner attention. Whilst some scholars have worried that the economics of surveillance in an online digital culture erodes our privacy and produces only targeted marketing, this ignores the question of control and skill evident in the way Rose has created a mediated persona that is perceived to be constantly open and interacting with fans.
In the final part of the clip, the pair Google themselves – measuring their fame against one another by seeing how high their name appears in “Google suggests” in a way that confirms the success of Rose’s self-surveillance: much to Albrecht’s disappointment as he moves the show swiftly on once he discovers he’s “pretty far down there” compared to Rose’s multiplatform fame. The self-surveillance nature of multiplatform and online fame is worth remembering next time you go to Google yourself!