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May
31
2002
Jason Kottke is the Everyman of the internet. Long ago he started his online journal, the earliest of the blog genre, and his impact picked up speed. People emulated him, people whote about him, and he regularly appears on industry panels. I've never been certain of what sets him apart from anyone else, but his appeal comes from the lack of separation from the public. kottke represents the average internet user.

A look at his blog today emphasizes this -- there are two little pictures, submitted by readers of his website. At first glance, I thought they were pictures of kottke himself, what with the short hair, sideburns, and the geeky build of a twentysomething dot-com survivor. No: these are the followers of kottke, members of the society which kottke represents. This isn't a random occurance of overlapping style; a goodly sized chunk of users out there are almost indistinguishable from kottke himself. Even those who are unable to achieve a high level of kottkeness still reflect his influence, whether in format, style, or fashion.

So much on the internet is modeled after kottke; writing style, photography style, minimalistic layout of straight lines and solid colors. For whatever reason, he is the alpha and the omega of what a netizen is: a product of what the online society is, and in turn he is copied by those who aspire to be part of this society. In this way, kottke is a meme in and of himself, something that's part of society as a whole. His influence is so ingrained as to become hard to tell where the separation between individual and collective begins.



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