It’s easy to believe that the Web has transformed over the last few years into a high tech Grand Slam, where the only contenders are the mega-corporations with Internet superstars providing the pre-match entertainment. There’s still plenty of action away from centre court.
I was a huge Deep Purple fan when I was about 14. Please keep in mind hip-hop, electronica, R & B or grindcore had hardly been invented. Three choices: Rock, Pop or Country & Western. Besides that, I was trying to learn guitar and Smoke on the Water enabled me to instantly play a hit song with no lessons …or practice!
In those days, Rock superstars were about as inaccessible as today’s celebrities, not because they had a wall of agents and publicists protecting them, but simply because there were no means of communication. If you didn’t find them in the local phone book, they were out of reach. You could join the fan club, but that meant becoming the pen friend of the band’s single most obsessed and deranged follower and still never meeting the band.
This could become a column about how to follow your favourite artists online, but I only have one page, so I’ll get back to my point: I recently contacted the bass player and keyboard player from Deep Purple and they both emailed me back personally. This got me thinking…
According to www.internetworldstats.com, there are around 2 billion people using the Internet. If you can imagine applying any ‘bell curve’, or ‘long tail’ graph to this population, you will find a massive swell around the YouTubes, Mashables and Lolcats, with thronging hordes milling around Internet superstars like Ashton Kutcher, Justin Beiber and Community Channel. These destinations are largely one-way streets, more like mass media. Huge audiences eliminate your opportunities to interact personally with the object of attraction. It’s out in the ‘burbs where the real action is.
Every has-been, wanna-be, could-be, also-ran, did-run-once-or-twice and going-to-do-it-again is out there – you and me included. We don’t get a million hits a day to our blogs and videos, but maybe 10s or 100s, even 1000s. We get a couple of emails a day/week from people who stumbled across us while Googling something else. Think about it – everyone is out there! And the ones who aren’t being bombarded with attention are more than likely quite happy to get some.
Scientists, musicians, sportspeople, business owners, charity workers, teachers, inventors, builders…. need I continue? Whatever you want in life from the Internet is available and it is extremely likely that it is not happening in a high-traffic supersite. Network science dictates that, like the deeply profound and effective work our subconscious does all night (and all day, for that matter), the less clicked regions of the Web are where we are going to find the answers, make friends, collaborate, instigate and activate.
Think of exactly what you would like to know, do and become in your best-lived life and I bet you will find the people to help you if you start looking and asking. For me, it begins with old rockers like Deep Purple’s band mates and probably ends with me inviting a whole bunch of them to guest-feature on my concept album by simply emailing me their contributions to my tracks as MP3s. For you, it might be a super-talented 3D artist who can render your invention so you can win your pitch to those venture capitalists to get it made. Or perhaps a massive niche market in a non-English-speaking country accessed via a local bi-lingual micro-blogger.
Your ultimate personalised network is out there. Get off the beaten track and start clicking.