“凤姐”们的时代

哈佛大学伯克曼互联网与社会中心学者David Weinberger近日在CNN撰文称,在过去,决定你能否"出名"的是媒介拥有者,而并不受名人自己控制,遑论观众了。

而在互联网时代,出名的所有要素都已经改变了,过去名人总是强加给我们的,而今天他们由网民靠发微博、转发微博而创造。过去,"媒介即讯息";今天,媒介即受众。今天的名人出名是因为我们这些自媒介想要传送有关他的信息,由此产生了两种奇特的Web现象:

1.我们在Web上时常因为一些莫名其妙的原因让人出名(如,“贾君鹏,你妈叫你回家吃饭”,原文的例子是Mahir Cagri);
2.我们令其出名的人常常是那些像我们自己的人,他们也有缺陷,他们会犯语法错误,他们也用手机发推,但他们用粗糙但真实的尊重对待我们(这里的例子是Louis CK)。

现在这一切都很复杂,因为我们处在一个由大众媒介和互联网共同形塑的文化之下。传统的主流造星机器仍在发挥作用,互联网名人业已层出不穷。但事实上没有任何事情是简单的,对于"出名"这样的事情尤其如是:如今受众自己便是媒介,而"出名"关于我们(?)、被我们创造,也为我们创造(fame is of, by, and for us.)

【文章摘要】How the web changed fame

A year ago, Kate Upton was a pretty young woman. Perhaps not typically model-pretty as The New York Times has noted, but certainly fetching. In the old days, to go from, well, hot to famous, Upton would have needed not just looks but a truckload of luck, for fame was something bestowed by capricious media out to sell their next movie or magazine.

But in the Age of the Internet, all it took was a YouTube video of Upton doing "the Dougie" at a Los Angeles Clippers game. It went viral, and now Upton is on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Fame isn't what it used to be.

In the old days, fame was controlled not by the famous and certainly not by the audience, but by the owners of the media. It was so foreign and artificial a construct that we thought that fame made you special. The rules didn't apply to you. You had a certain ethereal glow. A glow of fame.


Now that the Internet has pulled fame inside out, you don't need to be blessed by the mass media to become famous. To paraphrase Andy Warhol, on the Internet, everyone will be famous to 15 people. In fact, everything important about fame has changed.

To begin with, it used to be that the famous were foisted on us. If they wanted to make "Rosie the Waitress" famous for mopping up spills with a paper towel, they could. If they wanted to make talentless dream boys famous, they did. Now fame is something wedo -- we the audience, we the people on the Web.

There's nothing very complicated about how we do it: We create links, and we pass them around. That is the most basic and natural thing to do with a Web like ours.

So, if you happen to come across a video of a fan-made Harry Potter musical spoof, in which you are struck by the presence of a young man named Joe Moses playing Snape, of course you'll tell your friends using your social media of choice: You tweet, you post on Facebook or you might go old-fashioned and send out some e-mails. Some of your friends will share your enthusiasm, so they retweet, repost, resend.

With astonishing rapidity, the Harry Potter musical accumulated more than 3 million views on YouTube, and young Moses has41,651 followers on Twitter. Moses, a bartender in Brooklyn, is famous on the Internet.

After winning the Internet, Kate Upton takes SI's swimsuit cover

This is possible because the basic idea of media has been transformed. In the days of broadcast, a medium was a channel through which messages were passed, connecting the publisher with the audience. Not on the Internet.

On the Web, the medium isn't the message. The medium is the audience. So, when someone becomes famous on the Internet, it's because We the Medium decided to move that person's message along. And this gives rise to two odd Web phenomena.

First, on the Web we sometimes make people famous for inexplicable reasons. For example, one of the first Web-famous people was Mahir Cagri, a Turkish photographer whose home page(remember them?) welcomed viewers with a big "I KISS YOU!!!!!" message.

Mahir's page was the opposite of slick, and his enthusiastic explanation of his interests was in less than perfect English. There was absolutely no reason in 1999 for his page (which had been slightly "enhanced" by hackers) to go viral. But it did. Certainly some who passed around the link did so to make mean-spirited fun of a man who turned out to be something of a sweetheart.

But many who shared the link to Cagri's page did so in part because it asserted that we the audience could make an obscure person famous overnight. It was "sticking it to the old media" that had for so many years rammed commercial nonentities into our brains. And it'shappened countless times.

That we can now can make people famous also explains the deglamorization of fame on the Internet. The people we make famous and sometimes rich are usually people like us. They're flawed. They make spelling errors when they tweet from their mobile phones. They treat us with a rough but real respect.

They are people such as comedian Louis CK, who used the Web's power to bypass the standard marketing machinery and offer his standup video for download on his own site (he made $1 million in 12 days). He is loved by his fans not despite his flaws, but because those flaws show that he is one of us. And don't even ask about what happens when a celebrity ventures onto the Web thinking fame makes him not one of us. (Amirite, Woody Harrelson?)

Now, all of this is complicated because we are in a hybrid culture that is shaped both by the broadcast media and by the Internet. Internet celebrities cross over into the mainstream, and the traditional mainstream star-making machinery still works. Just look at the Web's complex relationship with Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black.

Nothing is simple, especially fame, now that the audience is the medium and fame is of, by, and for us.

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【文章作者】David Weinberger, Special to CNN

February 17, 2012 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)


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