Sheik of Sheiks

Fame and Fifteen,” by Nellie Lide, New Persuasion, 13 August 2005, http://newpersuasion.typepad.com/new_persuasion/2005/08/fame_and_new_pe.html.

New Persuasion blog links to a Tom Asacker article on the new tribalism

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.

Today the game is all about going deep, with highly relevant products and services and particularly information, into a unique subculture. Forget about things like reach and frequency. The future of branding is collaboration with — and for — a passionate subculture of like-minded people. It’s no longer wise to be famous for fifteen minutes. Mass market celebrity is fleeting. Instead, become famous to fifteen people.

By “branding,” Lide just means the type of struggle that she is used to. Replace the word, and see what other sentences you get

  • The future of struggle is collaboration with — and for — a passionate subculture of like-minded people
  • The future of faith is collaboration with — and for — a passionate subculture of like-minded people
  • The future of war is collaboration with — and for — a passionate subculture of like-minded people

In other words, nothing that John Robb and Jeff Vail haven’t seen before.

The similarity goes deeper than that — even the concept of being famous to fifteen people is from tribal war.

Earlier, when answering a question on how the Scythians organized their army, John Robb replied

If Scythian tribal structures are anything like today’s (such as the Bedouin), every 5th man is a leader (a sheik).

The concept of “sheik” is very similar to the US Marine Corp idea of the strategic corporal. It is a recognition that the best way to lead a team of super-empowered individuals, who are free to act on their own as they see fit, is to break it down into one boss or “sheik” and four subordinates. Any tribal structure, from the Scythian barbarians to the Bedouin Arabs, should see a similar organization.

Because every fifth man is a sheik, the sheik would be to four men: his warriors. But because the sheik himself needs a leader, every fifth sheik will be a sheik of sheiks. And how many people will the sheik of sheiks be famous to?

sheik_of_sheiks_md

Count the boxes: sixteen strangers, and four friends. Not that far from fifteen.

Of course, the blogosphere has sheiks of sheiks too, because the blogosphere is another neotribal environment

This is very true when you think about our individual blogospheres as well. When I talk about Jeff Jarvis or Seth Godin or Hugh Macleod or Dave Winer (etc etc) to people who aren’t bloggers or into online marketing, I get blank looks.

“But they are FAMOUS!” I think…then I remember that they are famous to a very specific group of people, which is really, all that matters.

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