Do we exist?

January 1, 2007

The new year has just begun and I’m sitting here looking at the rain in the Northeast while sipping my tea and banging on the keyboard. It would probably have more effect if the keyboard was one of those synthesizers that were so popular in the 1980’s, but the computer keyboard also wields some influence. At least I’d like to think it does.

For nearly two years I’ve been putting my blog-ments up in the ether and my readership has grown from one (nope, not mum – she doesn’t use the Internet) all the way up to the current 2000-3000 regular readers. It’s an awesome feeling to know that people are intelligent enough to search out blogs and podcasts that make them think. It’s also worrisome to think that these same people might be in control of the very existence of people, places and things.

That’s right, people these days can affect the reality of things. Take Wikipedia for instance. About eight months ago if you looked up Jeff Cutler on Wikipedia you would find a short entry on me. The entry detailed my published works, the prominence with which my blogging for money heightened the awareness of the line between journalism and journaling, and a few of my other accomplishments.

In an end-of-the-year reaffirmation I went to find myself on Wikipedia and it seems that I don’t exist. All mention of me has been wiped out. There’s no comment about my tryout for Major League Baseball. Nothing about my best-selling mountain bike guide. Not a word about my spot in the Hingham community as an influential columnist and podcaster. In fact, the cross-referenced pages were also devoid of any mention of Jeff Cutler. I had been erased.

While it’s not a big deal (I have yet to cure a disease, win the lottery, write a series of best sellers, land a syndicated column, run for office or star in a movie), it’s still a little odd. There are simple entries in Britannica on people and things far less significant than a moderately successful published author.

To my credit, I’ve had two cover stories on me in the last dozen years – one in the Herald and one in the Globe. I’ve appeared as a call-in guest on a national radio program, have had my Mountain Biking guide do exceptionally well in a small and saturated market, have written numerous columns and generated buzz about the state of blogging and journalism internationally.

I have also spoken at universities about the craft of freelance writing and have been successfully in business for 15 years.

But in my business the only thing that really matters is perception. If the person who deleted me from Wikipedia didn’t think Jeff Cutler was as prominent a person as the existing entrants in that online reference site, then it’s done. I’ll have to rise to the challenge and accomplish a few more things in the new year.

I guess it begins with my podcasts – feel free to vote for Bowl of Cheese podcast – and my newspaper columns. Then I’ll work on a few new books, some fiction and my summer project of following the Tour de France.

Let’s get back together on this subject in August 2007 and I’ll give you an update. Perhaps by then I’ll exist again.