The Death Of The A-list | Unskippable - Marketing Keynote Speaker - Jim Kukral

The Death Of The A-list

It’s July 2008. Robert Scoble walks the early morning iphone3G line yelling “you’re live on the internet” while broadcasting live on his Nokia phone via Qik.com. But does anyone care what he’s doing or knows who he is? From the looks of the dreary eyed people in line, the answer is no, they just want to get their iphone and go home.

Later that same day, Jason Calacanis decides to tell the world he’s quitting blogging in a dramatic long-form blog post. Six months ago, this might have caught on and made the front page of Techmeme (for those who still read it), but right about now, most people are calling drama or bullshit.

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Are you catching my drift? The thing we like to call “the a-list” is fading away. In fact, I think it might be already dead. Guys like Scoble and Winer and Calacanis and Arrington, and the rest, well, someone stole their mojo and they’re trying really hard to get it back by grasping at straws by trying to build the hugest Friendfeed list, for example.

But they’re not going to be able to get it back, even with a biggest list of subscribers. Their mojo has been stolen.

The a-list, if you ever believed there was such a thing (there was), is dying. No, let me clarify, it’s dead. It’s been eliminated. Not because those are bad people or they did anything wrong…

But because it’s just not needed anymore.

Years ago I was the publisher of a group “meta” blog called Revenews.com. When I took over the blog, we were still at a point on the Internets when it wasn’t common place for everyone to have their own blog. Because of that, Revenews was a sought after place to blog at because of its reputation and reach. It was needed by many.

But guess what happened to Revenews after a while? It was no longer needed. Why? Because at some point in time the bloggers who once needed Revenews to get their name and thoughts out there figured out that they didn’t really need Revenews anymore and they could simply do it on their own.

It was about that same time when the a-list was born. These titans of tech and attention weren’t stuck working on “meta” blogs like the rest of us. They instead stood out and took risks and put themselves out there and made personal names for themselves.

They were needed.

In fact, it can be argued that we, their audience, created the a-list out of a want of leaders and innovators. It became our own Frankenstein, and we loved our baby Frank. We coddled him and praised him and wiped his ass, and yes, scolded him when he made a mistake, but like any child, we forgave him in the end.

So here we are, years later, watching our Frankenstein grow up, grow old, and fade away into oblivion. It’s not because we don’t love him anymore, but simply because we just don’t need him anymore.

So why did the a-list die?

I’m sure you’ve got your own reasons. I don’t presume to have the right answers, but I have opinions. Here are some.

The a-list died because of social networking tools. It used to be that connecting with thousands of people could only be done if you had massive reach like an a-lister. However, with tools like Friendfeed and Twitter, anyone can reach out and “friend” up with anyone, causing millions of new connections of regular people.

The a-list died because the sharing of information became easier to do. In the past, the a-list was in charge of spreading the virus, but today is no longer needed, we can do it ourselves.

The a-list died because we used to have to rely on them to innovate and guide us to the new things. But we don’t need that anymore. We’ve reached a point where we have the knowledge and the tools to try things ourselves.

The a-list died because we’re tired of them and their incessant drama and posturing for attention. We all just decided enough was enough and called bullshit. It was bound to happen.

The a-list died because guys like Loren Feldman exposed them and made them just regular. You may or may not like Loren or his shtick, but there’s no denying he was a big part of satirizing them and bringing them crashing down to the ground.

It’s over. The revolution happened overnight and we didn’t even know it. We’re all now in charge, together, as one big group collective.

The a-list is dead.

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