30 01 2010

For the last year we have heard more than we ever care to hear about the H1N1 virus and how easily it is spread among humans. The media and government managed to whip us into hysteria, and ever since we have been installing Germ-X hand sanitizer stations every three feet. The thinking is that clean hands equals healthy, happy people. Or something like that.

In the real of the web, though, it is unsanitized mouse-clicking hands that spread other kinds of viruses. You know, the ones that manage to catapult seemingly unknown average citizens into rock star status. The only thing missing is the rock star bus.

And even that might materialize if things go the right way.

Take Lauren Luke, the YouTube sensation from the UK who has taught countless women how to apply their makeup. Now being a guy does not afford me a whole lot of insight into this ritual, but at first blush (pun intended, thank you very much), Lauren has found the pot of gold at rainbow’s end. Her YouTube channel is a shrine to mascara, lip gloss and all things girly.

Which brings me to my point: The continued disintermediation brought about by the internet allows Average Joes to not only be citizen journalists, but also Subject Matter Experts. All you need is a video camera and broadband connection, which are about as common these days as a microwave oven. If you have an above-average level of insight or knowledge about anything, adding your own YouTube station is child’s play. And in the case of Lauren Luke, she is actually getting paid to do this, and now has her own product line.

How’s that again? You mean she’s not just doing this out of the goodness of her heart? Estee Lauder should have had it so easy. Max Factor could have retired much earlier.

This all loops back around to something I blogged about recently, that being the power of Word Of Mouth (and especially its power online). We simply trust other human beings more than we do paid corporate celebrities. And even if the Lauren Lukes of the videosphere go on to become paid spokespersons, we know that they started just like us. As Average Joes. Not as Cy Young Award-winning pitchers or Hollywood heart-throbs. This makes their believability quotient soar. We can identify with them, and so we feel perfectly comfortable embedding those YouTube clips in our own blogs and web sites, or posting the link to our Facebook page.

In the mean time, my colleagues and I are taking inventory of what we know and what we could share with the world. Because after all these years in the trenches, there has to be something we know a little about. Because our pedigrees imply some level of expertise. But mostly because we want to ride around in that rock star bus.

You know. The one Lauren Luke is riding around in right now.

Dr “Stars In My Eyes” Gerlich



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