La La La I'm Not Listening…

I do not, for the record, believe in celebrity. Maybe because I grew up in NYC surrounded by famous people, it’s a pretty meaningless concept to me. I can tell you that Tom Cruise rents movies like everyone else, that Isabella Rosellini eats at restaurants like everyone else, and that Cher goes to the grocery store like everyone else, too.

As a result, I am probably hard to impress. The people I admire, I admire because of what they have to say or what they’ve done, not because of who they are. I mean, even the most amazing people are just people – mostly people who wish you’d buy them a beer.

After all, everyone poops.

But if the internet excels at anything, it’s making celebrity out of molehills. It is very, very easy to get sucked into your own PR, and to start believing everything you read about yourself. I’ve watched, and continue to watch, many people trip over their own internet egos in spectacular fashion and it is, frankly, embarrassing.

A little over a year ago, when I noticed my online profile escalating rather sharply, I made some fairly rash decisions about how to manage my internet ego. This is what I decided to do:

  • Stop Reading Web Stats: While it’s nice that when I write a blog post, a big bunch of people turn up to read it, that’s just weird for me. I started blogging when there were like 300 blogs online, total. I blogged before there was blogging software; I hacked a guest book script to do it. I still write for an audience of 50, and that’s how many lovely people I like to pretend are reading.
  • Turn Off Twitter Notifications: Lots of interesting people turn up in my @replies or are re-tweeted by the small, trusted circle I already follow, and I find them organically. I don’t need the ego pat of knowing when someone new finds my Twitter account.
  • Turn Off Google Alerts: Likewise, I don’t need to know every time someone mentions my name. Often what’s said is wrong, offensive, or just so weird it’s more harmful than helpful. When I want fucking moronic, I read 4chan.
  • Say No to Blog Interviews: Like newspapers and magazines, one has no control over what comes out on the other side, but I’m sad to say that in my experience bloggers are more problematic. Often the result enrages me. Very rarely does it make me happy.

I feel compelled to point out that the Smashing thing angered me not because of anything Lee Munroe did, but because of editorial choices on the part of Smashing. Not a single site of mine (and Lee sent in several) made it to the showcase part of an article called Showcase of Web Design in Ireland. Either I’m good enough to make the cut, including the showcase, or I’m not. Keeping my words but cutting my work smacks of tokenism, and I’m done with that.

Granted, I am sensitive to this issue because the context in which I am most likely to be mentioned is as a “Top Female Web Designer.” The web is awash with female web designers; I do not understand the compulsion to gather us together and stick us in a special little ghetto. I don’t want to be praised for my gender; I want to be respected for my work on its own merits.

Having said that, I’m perfectly cognisant of my abilities. I punch solidly in my weight class, but I am not a top-tier web designer. I create very nice, very usable sites for great people at nifty companies at an accessible price, and that is good enough for me.

No matter what Google Alerts may try to tell me.

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media in Four Tweets

Hint: This image is NOT from Shutterstock. And never will be.

Exhibit A:

My Tweet

Super Glue's retweet

Exhibit B:

My Tweet about iStock

Shutterstock's reply to me

I sincerely think that is everything you need to know about social media in four tweets.

Alternatively, you could just watch @shutterstock shill on Twitter for an object lesson in what not to do.

(I did try to illuminate the path for them, just because it pains me so to watch these companies vomit all over their expensive branded shoes. Not surprisingly, the PR muffin or graduate intern or highly paid Social Media Expert™ or whoever they have working that account totally did not get it.)

How To Gain 100 Twitter Followers a Minute

The 100K Challenge

Late this evening I found the above at the top of my Twitter page – a tweet from Bernie Goldbach, my esteemed partner in expatriate crime and @topgold on Twitter.

Now, 19 minutes is a very long time in the land of the fail whale, but the man has a toddler and a full-time job and needs his sleep. So I clicked over to @Scobleizer to double-check Scoble had indeed already achieved Twitter Nirvana – and saw that he had exactly 99,999 followers.

“Oh,” I thought. “Twitter has capped follow counts at the five digit ceiling. What a good idea.” And because it is a good idea (for all kinds of reasons) I clicked Follow just to test that there was indeed a newly implemented count cap.

And there wasn’t. And I became Robert Scoble’s 100,000th follower.

That was moderately amusing for about 30 seconds. What was far more amusing is that in the 30 seconds following this:

Robert Scoble's 100K

…I picked up 100 followers.

I’m sure these followers will depart shortly, for the same reasons I’m sure I’ll eventually un-follow the mighty Scoble (see FAQ). But it was interesting to observe first hand the flood effect of a high-profile Twitterer merely mentioning a @name – particularly now, when the concept of buying Twitter followers has so many people debating the raw value of pure numbers.

For what it’s worth, I’d advise any client who asked to flush the “Twitter procurement fee” directly down the toilet and consider it money well spent in preserving their credibility.

As for my own 30 seconds of Twitter fame, I’m happy to have these new people following me – it’s always nice to see numbers go up – but I’m not going to be mailing Scoble a cheque any time soon.

The FAQ (yes, already):

1/ OMG, you weren’t following Scoble?!

No. I like Scoble just fine, but Twitter is a social space for me and I limit the number of people I follow to 125. I can’t actually track and converse with more than that – an issue Scoble himself has addressed. I generally follow people I know and people with heavy design streams. When I feel the need for a dose of Scoble, I go read his blog.

2/ Holy SHIT you use the web interface for Twitter?!

Yes. I have tried and used a ton of Twitter apps, but the problem is that they all work. They conveniently push all my tweets to me in near real-time, and I don’t want that. I prefer pull over push for Twitter because it allows me to step into the stream when I have the time and attention for it. Realistically that is several times a day – just not all day.

3/ Do you get anything for being the 100,000th?

I wouldn’t have thought so, no. Since I wasn’t raised in a barn and am not a member of Generation Entitlement, I didn’t ask. If anyone is wondering, however, I would quite like a pony.