Many of you would have already heard of the threats against popular software industry blogger Kathy Sierra.

To be obscure? Or not to be?

To be obscure? Or not to be?

That is the question…I briefly met Kathy when I organised a UPANZ event in 2006. Like most famous people I’ve met she’s not as ‘loud’ as she appears on-screen or on-stage. She’s petite and quietly spoken, and I find it hard to believe that anyone would seriously wish her harm.

I suspect (and hope) it’s just a silly prank. But then again, the USA does seem to have it’s share of extreme people – maybe she’s right to be paranoid.

While I have compassion for her situation, I’m not at all surprised by the events unfolding and I believe she’s only potentially making it worse by going on CNN.

Why?

Because anyone who puts themselves “out there” (especially on the web or the media) is making themselves visible to ‘The World’ (and all that goes with it). The more your visibility grows (via public appearances, marketing, books etc), the MORE you attract people of all sorts.

I suspect that Kathy, who is really well known in the web-tech industry, has simply reached a critical mass and now the weirdos are coming out of the closet.

I speak from experience – I’m only a mere fraction of a percentage as ‘famous’ as Kathy (not even as famous as my little brother), but in the past ten years I’ve experienced about half a dozen stalkers, threats of legal action (about posts on this website) as well as a number of unprintable blog comments which I’ve doomed to the delete button.

My own little problems began when I was a performer-DJ in the mid 1990s.

Most of the attention was quite pleasant – such as the girl from Waitati who used to write lovely letters to my radio show, genuine music fans who used to phone up and chat – and the quiet persistence for years of a quirky little woman I later fell in love with.

The ones I define as ‘stalkers’ seemed harmless but felt creepy – constantly invading my space, gatecrashing parties at my house and one who turned up to almost every gig, asked inane questions (while I was performing) and completely ruined my concentration. Twice I had obsessive ‘sticky’ people who followed me home.

I’ve never talked about this – but I do wonder if other musicians, DJs, actors, or even famous bloggers in NZ have experienced similar behaviours.

Of course, this doesn’t compare to Kathy’s inordinate and much more scary situation… But it has made me think about my past, where I’m going and the value of obscurity.