Mike Arrington at TechCrunch highlights a recent Wall Street Journal article called “The Wizards of Buzz” which looks at the power of the top users on Digg, Netscape and other “social bookmarking” sites.
One of the top 'influencers' on Reddit, (bought in Ocober 2006 by Condé Nast, turned out to be a 12 year old boy called Adam Fuhrer who lives near Toronto. His father restricts Adam's access to sites such as YouTube, yet Adam has enough time on his hands and nous to reach the top users list on Reddit.
Adam tracks 100 sites searching for news about criminal justice, his local hockey team and software. Recently he focussed on the security vulnerabilities of Vista, Microsoft's much hyped new operating system, gaining approving votes from more than 500 users.
Microsoft having spent five years and an estimated $10bn developing Vista their first operating system since XP, must have concerns that the fruits of their massive investment can be shaped to some extent by someone who no matter how bright they are, is not yet a teenager. It is worth poiting out that Adam is merely linking to established sources such as Robert Vamosi, senior editor at CNet, whose credibility is less of an issue.
One outcome of the Wall Street Journal revealing the identities and ages of some of the top posters to user generated sites, is how regular users of these sites will now feel having been influenced by someone eight years below the lower end of the typical reddit/digg user demographic of 20-30 years old.