Back in 1992 a national newspaper interview referred to me as being the first virtual celebrity, which wasn't really true. Sure, I had managed to build something of a high profile in the emerging world of the Internet courtesy of my Wavey Davey persona and a disregard for the traditional convention. However, that profile was helped along by my also writing some of the first books about the Internet to be published in the UK, helping launch such well respected (even at the time) magazines as .Net and PC Pro, and perhaps more than anything plentiful appearances on TV and Radio. Fleeting 'celebrity' status thanks to being on the tube is nothing new and presenting first a music programme and then a technology one played its part in my very fleeting indeed brush with fame.
Today it's a different type of tube that is helping create a culture of celebrity, and one where the virtual or online only tag is much more apt: YouTube. Who could forget the rise, and fall, of Gary Brolsma the Numa Numa man or the Sneezing Baby Panda for example? But every now and then someone finds virtual fame through YouTube for something perhaps a little more deserving than an ability to be stupid or finding themselves being filmed during an unintentionally funny incident. Someone like Justin Sandercoe, perhaps the first real virtual celebrity worthy of the moniker. Sure, many of you might now be saying 'Justin Sanderwho?' but if you have anything other than a passing interest in learning to play the guitar the name will be all too familiar.
Justin has tutored such famous musical artists as Katie Melua and Cathy Dennis to play guitar on tour, Brian May of Queen fame has invited him to jam in the afternoon, this is no wanabee guitar tutor just looking for publicity. Which makes the story all the more incredible. This man on a mission to teach the world to play has become a YouTube celebrity with fast approaching 60 million hits on his videos because he's giving something back. Justin is teaching people to play the guitar via YouTube for nothing, gratis, totally free of charge.
Of course, whether it was ever his intention or not when starting these free online video courses, the end result of those millions of hits and a devoted fan base with word of mouth about his rise to fame spreading so quickly is a waiting list as long as your arm for his paid for in-person services. Finding YouTube fame can, it seems, be a pretty guaranteed road to commercial success if you have a talent that people will pay good money for. Sorry, sneezing panda and fat naked dancing man, that probably does not apply to you.
From the first moment I decided that I wanted to be somebody, I knew that the only way to make it happen was to get personally involved and build a profile. For me that route involved the emerging world of the Internet combined with traditional media such as television and publishing. Today I'd probably just focus on the Internet part of the home-made-fame equation.
If you want to find fame online, although fortune is never guaranteed, YouTube would seem to be your starting point in 2010.