My favorite keynote at the Web 2.0 Expo last week was from one of my favorite bloggers — the Forbes columnist Daniel Lyons, aka “Fake Steve Jobs.” It’s an amazing story, how a joke turned into an Internet sensation and then a book deal. And the way Lyons tells it, it’s uproariously funny. The 25-minute video is embedded below:
As I mentioned above, FSJ started out as a joke. “It came out of two things,” Lyons said. “Really it was a stupid prank. I can’t believe I’m here giving speeches about this stuff. I really thought I would do it for a couple weeks and then shut it down. But the first factor was boredom. I had this job at Forbes covering enterprise tech — IBM, Sun, EMC — I know that sounds like a scintillating, exciting job to deal with those guys all the time, but believe it or not it sometimes gets dull, and I had a lot of free time on my hands and not much to do with it. The other big thing was fear. Basically I saw my business getting disrupted. The funny thing about being a tech writer is we cover all this disruption and we’re really fast to tell companies like Sun, “You’ve got to embrace the destruction of Linux,” but suddenly when the cannons are turned at our own business — at the media business — we freak out. What will happen to us? I realized that I had to learn about the Internet, I couldn’t be in print the rest of my life, and I was too young to retire.”
Fake Steve wasn’t always in favor of blogs — in fact, he laments his much-maligned 2005 “attack of the blogs” piece on Forbes.com, but admits that blowback from the article caused him to see the power of blogs and bloggers.
If you’re short on time, you can zip ahead to the 7:30 mark in the video, where it starts getting really funny. Lyons covers three primary points about the Fake Steve Jobs blog: why he got into blogging (fear and boredom), why he chose Steve Jobs (he’s narcissistic, Apple has bad PR, and Apple fans tend to be so, well, fanatic), and why it works (it’s the audience!).
“I think what’s happening in media is profound and interesting. This thing [Fake Steve Jobs] is all very wrong, obviously very stupid and primitive, right? But it’s a great way to learn about how new media might work. I think the biggest change we’re going to have is the involvement of the audience. Where Internet media is going to get interesting is when we start really exploiting the uniqueness in it rather than paving a cowpath. First generation Forbes.com was: take the print magazine and put it online. Hulu was: take TV shows and put them online. But when we start involving the audience, and having people form a group to entertain themselves, I think that’s going to get really interesting.”
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