People love to read about celebrities. Us Weekly, a magazine that keeps citizens well-informed as to which pop culture icons deserve our scorn for their iniquitous "fashion faux pas" each week, has been in publication for 27 years. People Magazine, whose cornerstone is its yearly naming of the "50 Most Beautiful People Alive," has been around for even longer.

But these magazines, whose idea of war reporting is blogging about the Britney/K-Fed terms-of-divorce negotiations from outside Los Angeles Superior Court, are not the only ones infatuated with celebrity gossip. Did anyone notice that for a substantial part of election day, the "breaking news" on CNN's Web site was that this insufferable dyad had called it quits?

This was not an isolated incident. The other day, of's top 10 news stories, these were two: "Clooney: Night with DeVito was 'brutal,'" and "Report: Lance Bass, boyfriend split."

The first of these stories clues thoughtful citizens in to the fact that George Clooney and Danny DeVito went to a restaurant and got drunk the other night. "Today" co-host Matt Lauer?who recently received notoriety for his bullish declaration that Iraq was officially in a civil war?wrung from Clooney the confession that he had poured the last few rounds into a nearby floor plant rather than drinking them. Quick, someone give Matt Lauer a Peabody!

The second story reports that Bass, that out-of-the-closet former N'Sync member with the galactic wanderlust, has broken up with reality TV star Reichen Lehmkuhl. That's pretty much it. To me, the article's most intriguing revelation was that Bass's publicist is named Ken Sunshine, which I find hilarious.

Nearly as hilarious is the fact that of every event that CNN was aware on that day, it decided that those two stories were among the top 10 most important for us to know about. You may have noticed that I italicized that last thought for emphasis. I'll say it again: Of every story that CNN?"The Most Trusted Name in News"?and its global network of affiliates reported on December 5, 2006, among the top 10are movie stars getting tipsy at dinner and gay B-listers splitting up.

Of course, it would be na?ve to think that the keepers of CNN's Web site base their prioritization of news stories solely on how relevant they think those stories are to the lives of consumers. In order to sell advertising space and stay in business, they must highlight stories that visitors are most likely to read. So CNN's implicit news-valuation method is really just a reflection of our tastes.

Through careful analysis, I have modeled what I imagine to the Web site's point system for ascribing primacy to news. It looks something like this:

President announces Supreme Court nominations: 2 points.

Academy announces Oscar nominations: 8 points.

Brookings Institution analyst comments on American domestic policy: 1 point.

Elton John comments on American domestic policy: 6 points.

Afghanistan becomes destabilized: 0.5 points.

Brangelina becomes destabilized: 9 points.

Photos of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse made public: 5 points.

Photos of Suri Cruise made public: 11 points.

Everyone knows that if you're a celebrity, your name is going to show up in public forums?newspapers, magazines, television broadcasts, blogs, et cetera. But few people realize that this works in reverse, too. If people see your name often enough, you too can rise to celebrity status. Talent and/or beauty used to be a prerequisite. But if Ashlee Simpson and Paris Hilton have taught us anything (and I like to think that they have), it's that mediocrity needn't hinder ambitions of fame and fortune. It's the ubiquity of the name that really counts.

As a name becomes more widely recognized, its marketability rises. Once you're a celebrity, you can sell your name to almost anything. Advertisers know that a celebrity endorsement can make even the most ill-conceived products profitable.

Salesman: "Sir! Sir! Can I interest you in some scented kneepads?"

Customer: "No, that...that doesn't even make sense."

Salesman: "They're endorsed by the actor who played 'Roy' on 'Wings.'"

Customer: "I'll take five!"

Snag a few endorsements?even ones as obscure as this?and you'll be riding the gravy train to turkey town. Wonder how these young pop culture phenoms can afford that fleet of Aston Martins you saw on "MTV Cribs"?

Maybe they're born with it. Maybe it's (that fat endorsement check from) Maybelline.

Let's review what we've covered so far: name dissemination = name recognition; name recognition = fame; fame = endorsements; endorsements = gravy train to turkey town.

It is with this in mind that I decided to become a celebrity. I've been using commercial products for a long time now, and it's about time I started getting paid to do so. Referring to our fame model, the first thing I set out to do was to get my name out there where a lot of people can read it.

Enter the magic of open-source software! Wikipedia is a beautiful thing: A recent study published in Nature magazine says the do-it-yourself online encyclopedia is just as accurate?at least on matters of science?as the reputed Britannica series. And yet, I have the power exploit it for the sake of self-promotion!

So I put myself on Wikipedia. Nothing too fancy: gave some background, details about my published work, my side projects, et cetera. True, a Wikipedia administrator marked the page for "speedy deletion." But I disputed the designation and, through the power of persuasive argument, I have now been upgraded to the "being considered for deletion" category. According to Wikipedia policy, which I have decided to call Wikipolicy, my bio stays up for at least five days, during which time users debate whether I'm important enough to remain a part of the people's encyclopedia. We'll see how this shakes out, but the way I see it, if Dustin Diamond gets a page, I should get a page.

I figured that another way I could elevate myself to celebrity status was by strategically placing myself in the company of celebrities. In today's celebrity economy, fame by association is potentially just as lucrative as earned fame (another lesson we owe to the imitable Ms. Simpson and Ms. Hilton).

So into whose exalted company could I insert myself to gain some instant renown? Why, that of the distinguished graduates of Bowdoin College, of course!

For a very brief period of time yesterday evening, Wikipedia's "Bowdoin College" entry read as follows: "Famous Bowdoin graduates include U.S. President Franklin Pierce (1824), the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1825), the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne (1825), Civil War hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1852)...and dashing journalist Steve Kolowich (2008), who is totally down with doing some lucrative endorsements."

Wikipedia is one of the 15 most highly trafficked Web sites on the whole Internet. The site's actual traffic figures have not been updated for several years, so it would be difficult to calculate just how many people saw my name among these notables between the time I made the edit and the time it was removed. But if just one of them was an ad exec looking for a "distinguished" spokesperson to help sell his product...Well, let's just say I'm the only dude on that list who's still accepting calls.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go bask in my newfound fame. I'm expecting a call from CNN; apparently Matt Lauer is reporting that I've been seen canoodling with Jessica Alba.