I had an interesting little discussion with Josh Trevino on Twitter concerning my friend Pam Geller two days ago; I was making the point that Pam had done yeomanlike work in covering radical Islam. Josh suggested she was irrelevant, over the course of several tweets:
There were more along those lines.
Now, I like Josh (and also owe him a drink from a lost bet, which I’m anxious to pay up on) and I’m certainly not going to throw him under the bus over a disagreement about a friend, but there is an interesting point that our discussion brought to mind.
Ten years ago, it would have been unlikely that you would have heard of me; I had a few reviews on Amazon, but my web presence was practically invisible.
Five years ago you might have known about me because of a few e-mails I sent as a reader of Glenn Reynolds’ blog—and perhaps a post or two on the HiWired tech blog, or our Podcast.
Today, my radio show is heard in six states via WCRN, a 50,000-watt radio station. I’ve had an op-ed in the New York Post, and you might have seen me as a guest on Fox 25 in Boston. You may read my work here at The Conservatory, or at The Minority Report. Or at Examiner.com.
As for my own blog, here is where it is now read:
Who knows where I’ll be next year?
Pam Geller was a New York mom before 9/11; now she is read all over the world, and has appeared and made her case on every cable network. She speaks all over the country, and is hated enough by the followers of fundamentalist Islam that she needs bodyguards. She is relevant enough that CAIR relentlessly attacks her, and she is feared enough by the left and the media that they are trying to blame her for a mass murder in Norway!
Where will she be next year? In two years? I don’t know, and neither do you. How relevant was Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann or the Tea Party in 2005? Two decades ago Rush Limbaugh was a niche-market talk show host; today, the Speaker of the House calls him on his show to push his bill. I’m sure there were a few people in Nazereth around 20 A.D. who were gossiping with each other, murmuring, “when is Joseph’s boy going to get married, settle down, and make something of himself?”
The lesson? Don’t follow conventional wisdom when judging someone’s influence or “relevance”: Conventional wisdom is correct right up until the moment that it isn’t any more.