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The Boston Globe

Arts

Alex Beam

Can fame coexist with obscurity?

A trip to China leads to consideration of the difference between Yao Ming famous and Julia Allison ‘famous’

Do you remember Julia Allison? I doubt you do. Allison was one of the first people to become “Internet famous,’’ a complicated epithet that meant 1) she was very well known among people who spent most of their day staring into a Web browser and 2) she was not going to be famous for very long.

“It’s hard to describe exactly what she’s famous for,’’ Wired magazine theorized in a 2008 cover story on Allison, who, unlike, say, Paris Hilton, hadn’t starred in a viral porn video to become an Internet celebrity. These days, Allison reports that she is covering fashion and speaking “on media, technology, and branding at Harvard, MIT, and Wharton, as well as at conferences around the world.’’

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