As we struggle to deal with the wide ranging effects of the Internet on our society it helps to keep in mind who is being affected the most. While companies are being transformed and entire industries are being created, the most dramatic changes are happening to individuals.
For example, a company like the New York Times has a website where they get thousands of readers every day. While this is a lot of influence, they had thousands of readers of their print newspaper anyway. They were already influential.
What is different is that an individual can create a blog and theoretically get more traffic than the New York Times. Seth Godin is a good example of this. I’m not sure what his traffic is, but he is very influential. What is also interesting is that in the past authors like Seth Godin were influential in bursts that peaked when they published a book. Now, they can run a blog and create waves every day. He’s not influential because of his education, or his money, or a political office. He’s influential solely based on the strength of his ideas. (by the way I do suggest reading Seth Godin’s blog)
The Internet is the first forum in human history where everyone is truly equal. Race, education and wealth are pretty much meaningless concepts there. Instead, people have to stand on the strength of their ideas.
Here’s an example of somebody who is nobody special (no offense Mr. Masters). Blake Masters is a student in Peter Thiel’s Stanford computer science class. He’s teaching it in a very cool way by inviting leading entrepreneurs as guest speakers. Mr. Masters is a student in the class. What makes him different is he is writing up detailed blog posts about each lecture he is witnessing. His blog now has over 188,000 hits and has been mentioned in the New York Times. The best part is, the blog is hosted on Tumblr and is free.
While the ideas discussed aren’t Mr. Masters’, he is the one who is distributing them. This content will now be available for free on the net, thus having a much wider impact than just the students in that class.
One individual did all that. That’s the power of the Internet.
Here’s Mr. Master’s blog. Check it out, it’s well done!