The Internet is relentlessly eliminating the entertainment value of fame in favor of commerce. In the old days, you'd get a publicist in L.A. or New York in the hopes of garnering the attention of some producer or director and becoming a star. The end result: You get rich by titillating the masses. Now, you hire a "social media marketer" in Malaysia to drum up mentions in blogs to increase your Google rank and thereby win more random Web searches. The end result: Increased online-advertising revenues. At least that's what we think is what Burt Goldman, an author and self-described "American monk," is after.Internet fame is not Internet fame unless it can be quantified. Goldman has 1,166 friends on Facebook. 88,390 people subscribe to his blog. And he just turned 81. (If, in fact, he exists at all.) How did I learn about Goldman? An email from Amir Ahmad, a "relationship marketing and social media strategist" from an outfit called MindValley Labs. MindValley cofounder Mike Reining wrote up how he parlayed a YouTube video by Goldman into $3,400 in sales of Goldman's home meditation product. And Reining, of course, is selling his ability to sell whatever you're selling. On the Internet! From the comfort of your home! (The pity of it all: Ahmad's pitch was so nakedly brazen that it succeeded in getting me to write about Goldman.) This is the future: Why become a celebrity and then wait until your career starts to wane before you start to cash out with infomercials? Why not just go straight to the hard sell? This is the future Google is building for us, with its search results, keyword ads, and countless videos: We will all have something to offer. And you will know us by our sales.
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