Dave Powers is a charismatic character by anyones measure.  He runs a little site called RCPowers.com where he orginally shared his passion for R/C aircraft via the mediums of Video and Text and has healthy activity on his YouTube channel. This quickly turned into a fulltime career that branched off to a secondary activity, that being consulting (through web video) to those other hopefuls that are looking to make their mark on the “Web Cottage Industry”.

cottage industry

n.

  1. A usually small-scale industry carried on at home by family members using their own equipment.
  2. A small, loosely organized, yet flourishing complex of activity or industry: “The study of Gandhi has become a virtual cottage industry in the last 30 years, producing schools, museums, foundations and more than 400 biographies” (Jean Strouse).

Dave is not alone there are many people that share the passion of pushing there personal brand through the internet, some backed by larger corporations, some selling products they themselves produce, other’s making money from advertising and affiliate programs. These others include people like Gary Vaynerchuck, he who took his love of wine to the internet fulltime and managed to achieve huge success through his Wine Library TV.

This morning I receive a strange note through twitter from Dave (@RCPowers):
“The personal brand Internet gold rush is coming to a close. If you are not in it by now its gonna be 1000x harder to get in later.” — @RCPowers

This worried me, because like so many others I thought this cottage industry movement we where seeing online was really interesting and inspirational, here we could sense the real value of social media interaction, truly speaking to the brand and not just a figurehead for the brand. I too had starry ideals of providing niche products to loyal fans. So what does this mean, is Dave heralding the end of the opportunites?

Furthermore, RCPowers.com recently underwent a major overhaul, Dave introduced other channels like Outdoor/Survival and Fitness to his offering, effectively diluting his R/C brand (thats for another discussion), which was worrying as I felt that possibly the R/C stuff wasn’t bringing in the money any more or his growth rate had stalled.

So now I wonder, does the rapid addition of more and more “noise” even in niche markets started taking its toll on our attention, capacity? Perhaps. Or maybe its just the Economic Recession takings its toll, are people spending less money on their passions, and has advertising expenditure cuts meant that the little guy is suffering?

What’s our solution? Maybe going more and more niche? I hope their still is some opportunity out there for people wanting to be like Dave, I really do.

It was with much amusement that I read the post by SaulK on “the outlet” on 6 things you did not know of rafiq.

Two interesting things stand out for me, 1) This post is less malicious then tickling a puddycat and is clearly a clever ploy to attract some attention, which is by no means a bad thing (or are their some thinly veiled frustrations hidden Saul? 🙂 ) , 2) It presents a very interesting experiment as to whether the one provoked will respond quickly.

And yes .. he did. In fact he muti’d it himself within a couple hours.

This had me thinking .. let’s say you wanted to get hold of some lofty techy type celeb, fairly ensconced in the web, can this be a more effective means of communication than email? Email is so nasty nowadays, what with spam and the amount of it, that it has become a fairly ineffective medium through witch to get hold of the cognoscenti (eliciting that *damned spammer* response is easier than one might think) whereas a post on a blog or twitter referencing one name seems to not carry that same problem (perhaps the cognitive filters are differently applied, reading a blog post at ones one accord is different from having an email shoved upon oneself afterall).

As I’m writing this though I release that I have read these exact same thoughts somewhere else before, and I have found it. In July Doc Searls responded on a similar call via a blog by Rohit Bhargava.
Rohit has also seen and acknowledged this trend and his even coined it, “Egommunication”.

Ego Searches, also called Vanity Searches. Shallow or Human Nature? We like to know what people are saying, good or bad (we hope more good). We don’t like to feel people are talking behind our backs, but we don’t like getting sold to. Is this an opportunity for gold diggers and spammers employing clever tricks to have us view their wares? Perhaps.

To tack onto this idea I would like to add another observation, take a look at the number of comments at the end of Saul’s piece, normally he garners somewhere between null and two comments on a piece, this one had 9 comments at the time of writing this. What does this tell us? Link baiting works, lol. No but more importantly, people track themselves and those that they feel close, or involved with. Basically Rafiq’s groupies and enemies where also checking in. Thus sending out a certain proposition to a certain person might get you in contact with others with a similar interest around there, perhaps even a competitor in the space you never may have known about.

What’s your take on this? As a developer I have to ask, is there a place for a tool here? I reckon so, I wouldn’t mind a tool where I can slot in my name and have it feed me an RSS feed of new items found out there on the web, Facebook, Flicker, Twitter, Blogs, Web Searches wherever. Call it a vanity aggregator, perhaps one already exists? The idea of the Vanity Folder is not a new one.

A recent post on Techcrunch retells the story of one particular individuals “creepy” experience with a Like.com ad placed on his profile page that seems to “match” his sunglasses on the particular profile pic in current use.

Erick Schonfeld poses the question whether this is a coincident or Like.com’s previously demonstrated technology in play.

My gut feel is that unless there is some particular special reason why they want to/can match random things in profile pic’s and facebook has catered to them for this purpose, as the standard target ad builder which only allows you to use certain profile items (age, location, interest) as matches, then no.

In order to utilize the likeness search tech, that ad on facebook is going to have to have a pretty decent plugin to the facebook backend and you are going to start getting some performance issues as a likeness search can’t be a particularly fast thing to do.

No I rather suggest this is a massive coincidence based on some other interest expressed by Mr. Bearden in his profile. (Yes, they kinda know you better than you think) Perhaps he expressed an interest in the Topgun movie, Magnum P.I, or he is a fan of cocktails (which matches well with other topgun/tom cruise fans, which lead to aviation sunglasses). Lol