Skippy recently wrote a post about internet celebrity, personality types, and life balance in which he makes several great points about folks that live and breathe technology and the intarweb.

I’ve noticed people in my local circles who, even though they’re not A-list bloggers, have a mass in terms of their presence in the IT community. Recently, and renewed again as a result of Skippy’s post, I’ve asked myself whether these folks are really worthy of such adoration or reputation. For the most part, my local friends are also content producers of significance, although I think some of them have brushed up against fame enough to think they’d enjoy it, even if they don’t actively pursue it. Still, I think there is a serious problem in the way celebrity and popularity works on the internet, perhaps mirroring the real world.

For one, many of the people who produce the content, many of the people who make the web go, are not on the A-list. You wouldn’t even know who they were if you heard their names. For example, if Vint Cerf let a comment on your blog telling you you’re breaking the web, would you listen? If Dries Buytaert left a comment saying that your idea for content management was unique and could probably make money if fleshed out, would that matter to you?

Maybe you know those names, but I imagine that most people don’t. I also imagine that there are many more people who make the net go whose names you don’t know. Then, pull a name out of the air, any reasonably well-known internet celebrity. Sure, they do work, they do produce content – I’m not saying otherwise. I’m just saying that the relative value to the world of the type of product such a well-known celebrity produces versus that which someone like those hidden stars of the internet has created is comparatively inverse to their celebrity among the common folk.

I think part of the problem is that people who produce content don’t have the time to promote themselves. I have personally been trying to increase my writing frequency here on this blog and on RedAlt. But as it turns out, written content that I create is largely tied to the code content I produce. If it was as simple as standing in front of a camera, being handed a script, or even if I had to write a script myself, I’d have these things churning out twice daily, would have a pagerank the size of Gibraltar, and would be rolling in the ad revenue. But I produce actual output, and that takes time, and that time is not spent on promoting myself or even often talking about what content I do produce.

And the people, like Skippy says, who are Type-A and suggest that simply throwing yourself upon the cow-catcher of the train to your destiny is going to get results, well, they make me sick. None of the people I’ve met like that have any depth beyond what re-aggregated content they produce. On their margins, there are people who produce their own content and are otherwise soulless. I certainly don’t want to be empty just to make some dollars. If all I have is the topic of the content I create, what would I even spend that money on? And if it’s merely subsistence, that’s not how the modern man is meant to live.

On one hand, I see a value in people who report on technology, because if it wasn’t for them we’d never know about the unsung workers in the bowels of what makes technology great. On the other hand, they are not the celebrities. While many developers and designers I know are humble, the aggregators of their content are largely blowhards. They’re like movie critics. We all feel disdain for movie critics, right? A necessary evil?

I have all the more respect for people who create product and also write about it. That takes a lot of work. I don’t know how they do it consistently, but I would love some pointers. I think it’s a shame that they’ll likely never build themselves up as high as people who have given up creation of product entirely (if they ever did any) to promote their personal brand alone.