Who’s Famous Right Now? (a cheat sheet)
Heads up, this content is 17 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

The Experiment…
People throw around a lot of names at conferences; sometimes you recognize them, sometimes you don’t. I went into my week at SXSWi 2007 with a mission: to write down every name that was dropped on me (see my pre-trip mission statement, Namedropping 2.0, for the back story and the rules).

The end result, in theory, would be a list of everyone who is Internet Famous in my spheres of interest as of SXSWi 2007. This is, of course, an oversimplification, an overdramatization, and a gross generalization, but hey, let’s look at the list anyway.

The Disclaimer…
This project was truly impossible and this list is incomplete. For many, many reasons I know I’ve left off significant people whose names were dropped at the conference. It’s really not on purpose — I just couldn’t keep up. So I invite you now to review the list and comment below with your own additions to it. Who is Internet Famous to you?

The Results…

Jay Allen – Product Manager for Movable Type and blogosphere expert.

Heather Armstrong – Personal blogging pioneer.

Michael Arrington – aka Techcrunch. Internet company profiler.

Scott Beale – Aka Laughing Squid. Tech event photographer and blogger.

Yochai Benkler – Yale Law Professor and open-source/blogosphere commentator. Coined the term “commons based peer production“.

danah boyd – Social media researcher and blogger (see also: my personal idol and hero).

Susie Bright – Sex blogger and well-published writer and editor.

Jason Calacanis – Tech entrepreneur blogger.

Emily Chang – Strategic interactive designer and editor of eHub — a database of Web 2.0 tools.

Frank Chu – A guy who lives in San Francisco and walks around with gibberish protesting signs and has an entire bar named after him. (Okay, this one’s totally random, but I swear someone mentioned him!)

Shannon Clark – Tech/food blogger and entrepreneur (newest venture: NELA: Never Eat Lunch Alone — still in early beta).

Amanda Congdon – Actress and videoblogger.

Anil Dash – Tech blogger and vice president of Six Apart.

Grace Davis – Mommyblogger with an attitude and a following.

Nick Douglas – Video blogger and Valleywag gossiper.

Caterina Fake – Writer and co-founder of Flickr.

Ze Frank – Online performance artist and blogger.

Seth Godin – Marketing blogger (I love him) and founder of Squidoo.

Yoz GrahameFounder of Developer Advocate at Ning and tech blogger. (edit: woops. my bad.)

Liz Henry – Personal and social tech blogger.

Joi Ito – Internet activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist with at least some responsibility for just about everything that is good on the web, including Creative Commons, Technorati, the Open Source Initiative, and Mozilla (bow down before the master!).

Min Jung Kim – Blogger, Web 2.0 marketer, intratechconference trendsetter

Dan Kennedy – Marketing strategy guru.

Nicole Lee – Technology writer at CNET and elsewhere.

Om Malik – Tech analyst blogger.

Ross Mayfield – CEO and co-founder of SocialText — the first wiki company.

Mary Anne Mohanraj – Published sex writer and founder of Clean Sheets.

The Ninja – The guy with the answers.

Annalee Newitz – Tech blogger and contributing editor for Wired magazine.

Chris Pirillo – Tech entrepreneur, blogger, and media personality.

Robert Scoble – Tech geek blogger (and also by far the most frequently dropped name at the conference).

Kathy Sierra – Speaker, user advocate, and lifelong student of the how the brain works. (Also, at the time of this writing, the victim of a major scandal involving anonymous death threats).

Jason Schultz – Law blogger and staff attorney at EFF — a resource for the protection of legal rights in the digital world.

Richard Stallman – Free software activist (“Free as in Freedom”), Founder of GNU Project and Free Software Foundation.

Bruce Sterling – Science fiction author and tech opinionist. (is opinionist a word? if not, i think Bruce Sterling necessitates its coinage.)

Lisa Stone – Co-founder of BlogHer — a blogging network and conference with an emphasis on women.

Gina Trapani – Editor of Lifehacker, a geek productivity tips blog.

Dave Winer – The man who pioneered and evangelized RSS (thus opening a big door to the connected blogosphere as we know it today).

Will Wright – Game designer. He created SimCity — the reason you failed out of college.

Jeffrey Zeldman – Publisher of A List Apart, one of the primary online publications guiding web development standards.

The Conclusions…
We’re inundated with talented and brilliant minds, and the list above represents just a small handful of them. But let’s be real here: it’s not so much a big deal to be famous on the Internet. Anyone can do it. Well, sort of. You just need to be persistently and flagrantly useful, naked, loud, or rich.

To put all this in perspective, allow me to direct you to A-List Blogger Jason Calacanis’ poignant rant: More proof that that there is no A list (or at least, if there is, it means NOTHING!).

You may now return to your regularly scheduled surfing.

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5 Responses to “Who’s Famous Right Now? (a cheat sheet)”

  1. semaphoria Says:

    i would add heather champ, tantek celik, and john gruber. zeldman’s wife carrie. and my personal sxswi “wow – i can’t believe i’m meeting you” were helenjane and bluishorange.

  2. dan Says:

    you forgot me! i am totally internet-famous. everyone i know knows about me

  3. sarah Says:

    semaphoria: nice list! awesome, thanks!

    dan: you’re absolutely right, everyone know who you are. now that you’ve commented, it’s etched in stone. be careful opening your door this morning — there are press photographers hiding under your doormat…

  4. dan Says:

    joke’s on them; we don’t have a doormat!

  5. Alan Bostick Says:

    Jason Calcanis is being disingenuous. It was a lot easier to get to the top of the heap five to seven years ago than it is now; and once at the top of the heap it’s a lot easier to stay there. He doesn’t mention how many of the people on his rags-to-riches list are his (or Nick Denton’s) employees, which makes them rags-to-rags stories, considering how little they get paid.

    This article that ran last year in New York Magazine — “Blogs to Riches — The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom” — has a lot to say about how and why it’s so much tougher now to make a splash than it was five years ago. It now takes money wisely, connections, PR know-how, and so on, to make a splash.

    There aren’t good systems for driving blog-reading traffic down the long tail — and Jason Calcanis doesn’t want traffic to go there. Weblogs, Inc. blogs only link to each other. So do Nick Denton’s Gawker Media sites.