photo Garance Doré
Click through to continue reading this post!
Medine's example is a friend of hers who declares himself the "CEO" of his Twitter account. Is this claim legitimate? And how? In my mind, this would represent a shift in the definition of the responsibilities of a CEO. I regard someone in that seat as someone in charge of generating and maintaining profit. A CEO would be the person who can develop a roster of wildly popular Twitter accounts that get turned into zeitgeisty franchises (turned into books ultimately destined for the Urban Outfitters' discount table, let's be real) and then repeat that success consistently. Simon Fuller is a businessman - the person tweeting "Can you pass me that blanket?" is potential talent waiting to be commodified.
Internet success is at its core fleeting (duh). The people running some of the most successful "moodboard" sites couldn't tell you half the reasons they're so popular. There are too many factors with the fickle beast that is the Internet that can't necessarily be accounted for. In an age where you can "like" and "unlike" something in the same breath, or tweet and delete in the hopes that Google cache stopped working for the five seconds that took (it never does), is the internet really the best tool for developing one's editorial skills? The almost complete lack of accountability necessitates a lot more self-control than most people would even think of exercising. (The Times had an interesting piece about the non-art of internet curation you could check out here.) And we're back to that question of definition - how do we define these skills in an internet age? Is it necessary to take responsibility for linking back to your image sources? Your inspirations? Is it required that you fact check? Blogging is not journalism and the web does not, it has been written time and again, provide the same financial means for laudable research as print. Even this blog entry is all supposition and opinion!
My biggest hang-up with the idea that one could be a self-made internet "CEO" is that many of the opportunities provided by the internet have to be taken offline to be truly monetized. Book deals and brand collaborations are crucial next steps for the most successful bloggers interested in building an audience and growing their nascent brand. Remember, five years is not exactly eternity - The Sartorialist releasing a second book does not a powerful CEO of a fortune-500 company make. This isn't to belittle in any way the success of these individuals - it is simply to say that this success is coming from a new, web-only marketplace and that the current necessity of developing the brand beyond the web is an interesting phenomenon. It is exciting to think that in the future we maybe could become an entrepreneurial generation to the degree that we can profit from web-exclusive intellectual properties. Until then, I'll choose my words carefully.
What do we think? How do you define your web presence? Am I talking out of my ass?
UPDATE: Just to clarify, while I'm thinking of it - my main contention is that declaring oneself "CEO" or editor of a social media account, be it a blog, Twitter account or Pinboard, is tricky because they are means to an end rather than ends in themselves. The fact that one has to develop an online brand in tandem with IRL promotions/deals is to be expected and my question is how business-savvy bloggers will maintain that momentum in the long run, i.e. if they will prove themselves to be truly CEO-savvy over time. Saying so as of right now is a bit premature, by my calculations.