Would I want to be Robert Scoble?

Of course, a lot of me wants to say yes.  Scobleizer interviews some pretty high-profile people in the world of technology.  He also gets to fly all over creation.  He has a multitude of eyes and ears hanging on his every word.

Unfortunately, I feel that being fully immersed in the startup world and the ever-changing landscape of the web has put him out of touch with those who will make or break many of these ventures; the every-day guys and gals.

That isn’t a knock on Robert at all.  I’m totally envious of what he gets to do, and if things go my way, maybe one day I’ll have as many eyes and ears on me.  You can call my BS if you want, but if I had to choose between being a voice among tens of thousands of voices in the Valley or being one of just a few here, I’d choose here.

I’m located within spitting distance of a state capital that is severely lacking in web presence.  There are not many people on Twitter in Harrisburg – how else would a college student be able to chit chat with local news reporters at will?  We have very few serious bloggers, but these bloggers consistently scoop our newspaper writers on a regular basis.  There aren’t many people here who get it yet, and to me, that’s exciting.

Those few of us bloggers/early adopters that do exist here have the opportunity to do something great, something not a lot of people can say they’ve done.  We have, in our hands, the opportunity to transform an entire city.  We have the chance to completely change the way this city communicates, consumes media and sees the world as a whole.

I would guess that 97% of Harrisburg’s citizens have never heard of Twitter.  They’ve never heard of FriendFeed.  Some might think that Google is the only search engine in existence.  These people use email, AIM, Myspace and Facebook.  They read their favorite sites using bookmarks, not RSS feeds.  They find new music through the radio and word of mouth, not sites like Last.FM or Pandora.  The early adopter pace is just too fast for them to keep up.

I do not look down on these people at all.  Many early adopters seem to think highly of themselves for having been on something “first”, before it was cool.  I do not think that way.  For me, these people are not a heavy anchor holding us back.  Instead, they are the sails.  When they flock to a service, then you know you have something special.

I look foward to helping introduce them to this new world.  And Robert, next time you go to Tel Aviv, save me a seat?

17 Responses

  1. rorowe May 10, 2008 / 6:40 am

    Coming from another Twitterer near Harrisburg, I agree with you. I got into blogging when I was a freshman in college (I've deleted and restarted a number of times since then, but never “quit”). As a teacher/orchestra director, I get to see “the future” and for most of the students I come in contact with, *I* am their source of upcoming technology. No longer do we have the “geeks” watching TechTV (G4), reading SlashDot, etc. My favorite question, which only comes because students are friended to me in Facebook is, “What's Twitter?” To answer them, I pull out my cellphone (prohibited during school hours, btw), and show them. :-)
    I'd rather evangelize locally, though, than have to be an internationally known voice of what's new.

  2. aharden May 10, 2008 / 6:52 am

    Hey Shawn, glad you found me on Twitter. Aim for the fences! I've been blogging around here for years but I've done very little local blogging and no news gathering to speak of. It's obvious the local MSM isn't tuned into the online world very much. Aside from a list of local bloggers on the Patriot-News' PennLive site, Harrisburg-area social media is not acknowledged. I was at a local bloggers meetup a few years ago when a P-N employee attended; the jist of his conversation was how we could provide them news as opposed to them listening to us. It was stupid.

    I'm tuned into the tech space, particularly in virtualization, where I make part of my living. There are techies around here. There just doesn't seem to be much of a nexus between the techies and the bloggers.

  3. andrewbadera May 11, 2008 / 10:05 am

    This expresses some thoughts of my own as well. Scoble's a smart guy. He's been in the thick of it since the beginning. He's been an agent of change and an opinion leader for some time. Unfortunately, as you've noted, he's completely out of touch with the community at large. Silicon Valley is its own sort of echo chamber just as much as Web 2.0 itself. A large majority of the world community does not live a lifestyle anything analogous to Scoble's daily experience. He can no longer understand context and application of the average person.

    Of course the upcoming generation of digital natives will have their own perspective, so even if they're digitally immersed as much as, or more than, Scoble, he still won't be relevant.

  4. rambn May 11, 2008 / 12:10 pm

    Does he even care about the average Joe? sure, he's an “evangelist” (tho I despise that term, should have left to the wack-jobs that initially claimed it, I say) and all, he's living the life he loves. To me, that's the point. Technology will spread regardless.

  5. Scobleizer May 11, 2008 / 4:59 pm

    I care about the average Joe, but not in the context of my online life. I hang out with a lot more “average Joes” than I ever talk about. I also meet a lot wider variety of people than anyone who is commenting here does. Have you been to Amsterdam, Israel, NY, etc lately?

    As for my “relevancy,” I'll leave you to argue about that cause I have no control of that.

    And, yes, I'm not supposed to be on the computer today but Maryam is taking a nap so I snuck a peek online.

  6. Scobleizer May 11, 2008 / 5:02 pm

    I keep hearing about this “Silicon Valley” echo chamber. Yet when I look at http://www.twittervision.com and also at my own reading behavior I have only a small percentage of people I read who live inside Silicon Valley. The real divide I'm seeing is a divide between people passionate about technology and those who just don't give a crud. Anyone here is — by definition — in the “passionate” crowd. So, if I'm not relevant, neither are you to any of the “non passionates.”

  7. andrewbadera May 11, 2008 / 5:20 pm

    I don't need to be relevant — I'm not an evangelist, I'm not a podcasting, vidstreaming tech-celeb. But you make a good point — neither you nor I shares the perspective of an overwhelming majority of the world's population. It's a simple fact. And sure, as you note below, you probably meet a lot more people than those of us commenting here do … problem is, that population is guaranteed to be skewed toward tech, business, trendy types. An overwhelming majority of the planet does not live in NYC, LA, Israel.*, Redmond, London; you and I aren't relevant to even a majority of those in the developed world, but in this globalizing economy, we're not even blips on the radar of the great host that struggles to put food on the table every day.

  8. GeekMommy May 11, 2008 / 7:37 pm

    I wouldn't want to be Robert simply because of the amount of crap he has to sift thru in order to stay relevant in his field. It's a matter of being a bigger fish in a more competitive pond.
    Personally, I like being the sort of person that Valleywag ignores, who has time to putter about the house with my child, and whose inbox isn't always full to brimming with people who want something from me.

    Robert has my respect and admiration – not many could survive and thrive in the pressure cooker that is his day-to-day – but yeah, there's something to be said for not being “in the Valley” and having a smaller pond to swim around in. I for one, appreciate fewer sharks! :)

  9. GeekMommy May 11, 2008 / 7:39 pm

    You're selling Robert short when you ask that question – the reason Robert is where he is in the scope of things relies a LOT on the fact that he does care about the “average Joe” and goes out of his way to make sure that what he's doing is still relevant to A.J.s all over the place.

    His uses of Social Media to make sure he's still got his finger on the pulse of “Average-Joe-ville” when so many of his contemporaries aren't even listening should indicate that.

  10. Judi Sohn May 12, 2008 / 5:09 am

    I agree, it's an echo chamber for sure, but it has nothing to do with geography.

    I think the real divide is not about passion as much as it's about utility. Most of the world views technology simply as a means to an end which has nothing to do with the technology itself. Those of you who live in this world (and I think I consider myself one of those people, even if I'm on a distant not-so-in-the-know fringe) embrace technology because of its answers to “Why is this cool?” before “What problem does this solve without creating additional problems?”

  11. gregory May 12, 2008 / 8:57 am

    i am in india, on a usb modem, maybe 7KBps, and youtube, twitter, they are but dreams, even though i crave being plugged in to the leading edge of the global zeitgeist…. one needs a lot of patience in most of this world, and i am in short supply

  12. JCunwired May 12, 2008 / 1:18 pm

    So what does Robert Scoble's life online have to do with the slow pace of internet technology adoption in Harrisburg? From what appears to be a totally irrelevant series of topics, you have singled him out to criticize, while placing yourself above those poor farmers around Harrisburg who just can't cut it as an early adopter.

    Let us know who those serious bloggers are, maybe they have something to say.

  13. Shawn Farner May 12, 2008 / 2:11 pm

    Ok, I think you might have SLIGHTLY missed the point, and by slightly I'm being sarcastic and wondering if you actually read the post. No one else missed it that badly.

    I choose Robert Scoble because I actually look up to the guy. If I didn't think highly of him, I wouldn't follow him on Twitter, I wouldn't subscribe to him on FriendFeed and I certainly would not read his blog. I love his work. What I am saying though, is that, while the Bay area is heavy with early adopters, Harrisburg is not. Instead of being there, where it is more saturated, I'd rather be here where it is just starting to take hold. It's an awesome thing to watch.

    That's all I'm saying.

  14. gregory May 12, 2008 / 2:57 pm

    i am in india, on a usb modem, maybe 7KBps, and youtube, twitter, they are but dreams, even though i crave being plugged in to the leading edge of the global zeitgeist…. one needs a lot of patience in most of this world, and i am in short supply

  15. JCunwired May 12, 2008 / 7:18 pm

    So what does Robert Scoble's life online have to do with the slow pace of internet technology adoption in Harrisburg? From what appears to be a totally irrelevant series of topics, you have singled him out to criticize, while placing yourself above those poor farmers around Harrisburg who just can't cut it as an early adopter.

    Let us know who those serious bloggers are, maybe they have something to say.

  16. Shawn Farner May 12, 2008 / 8:11 pm

    Ok, I think you might have SLIGHTLY missed the point, and by slightly I'm being sarcastic and wondering if you actually read the post. No one else missed it that badly.

    I choose Robert Scoble because I actually look up to the guy. If I didn't think highly of him, I wouldn't follow him on Twitter, I wouldn't subscribe to him on FriendFeed and I certainly would not read his blog. I love his work. What I am saying though, is that, while the Bay area is heavy with early adopters, Harrisburg is not. Instead of being there, where it is more saturated, I'd rather be here where it is just starting to take hold. It's an awesome thing to watch.

    That's all I'm saying.

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