While rereading what I wrote it occurred to me that I'm far much less a public figure (on the net) now than I was. It's not just that there are so many more people now; it's that I don't have much of a public profile online. Being the usenet administrator for two sites (not simultaneously) that were topologically part of the usenet backbone provided a fair amount of visibility.
The other day, I was thinking that people like Matt Cutts of Google could be compared to people from usenet's past such as Gary Murakami, the usenet admin for ihnp4, which was the site that provided the most feeds. The (implied) power of that position – the ability to cut off a high-volume, on-demand (for that time and place) feed was comparable to the ability to modify the rank of a web site in Google's index. As more usenet sites were created on the Internet, the "power" of the high-volume dialup sites diminished, but they were the Googles of their day in the degree to which they were depended upon.
As an aside, I've wondered recently if usenet had become commercialized, would the usenet admins, moderators, and source code maintainers have become popular public figures such as Matt Cutts?
Edit: added links to Gary Murakami's site