How to Make It Big on the Internet

Two visions from writers who have already "made it."

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Are online artists like the bohemians of yesteryear who flocked to New York for their shot at 15 minutes of fame? Two writers, each with some degree of Web celebrity, part ways over the mechanics of Internet notoriety.

Bill Wasik, an Internet evangelist and Harper's editor, thinks the Web is as cruel and inviting as New York:

In their scope, both the Internet and New York are profoundly humbling: young people accustomed to feeling special about their gifts are inevitably jarred, upon arrival, to discover just how many others are trying to do precisely the same, with equal or greater success.

The rules of creative fame have changed, he says. Now the barriers are lower, access to an audience is direct, and success--if it comes--is instantaneous:

"The "big break" arrives when, with lightning speed and often to one's own surprise, the inscrutable pack decides to start forwarding one's content around....Microcelebrity is now the rule, with respect not only to the size of one's fan base but also to the duration of its love."

But Choire Sicha, a former trailblazer at Gawker (and now a founder of The Awl), begs to differ. He thinks the one-minute blow up is an outdated model of success. Now, consistency is key:

'It's not actually how things work: there are long-standing institutions on the Internet...The Internet rewards constancy, and how constancy provides a platform for these things to "blow up." For those of us who have been working on the Internet for more than a decade, in different forms and at different outlets (think of an Ana Marie Cox), living and working online has nothing to do with micro-celebrity or making a quick hit.'
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.