Paid, Earned, Inspired

From Ben Thompson’s latest on Stratechery:

This has profound implications for products and politics. First and foremost, it is fundamentally misguided to simply view “digital” as another channel that you layer on top of traditional marketing/campaign tactics like TV advertisements. In fact, products and politicians designed for the TV age — that is, meant to be palatable to the greatest number of people — are at a fundamental disadvantage on platforms like Facebook. The products and politicians that win inspire passion, stirring up a level of engagement that breaks through on a scale that far exceeds an ad buy. To put it another way, above I mentioned “paid” media and “earned” media; what matters on Facebook is “inspired” media.

Politicians don’t need the media to reach people anymore, and people don’t make decisions based on rational thinking. It’s the new baking soda volcano.

This means national elections aren’t about policy anymore. They are about the gnashing of teeth and who can inspire more teeth to gnash.

Oddly, while we’re naturally attracted to big inspirational ideas, we tend to gravitate towards the rational when doing our own thinking or work.

And in doing so, we risk being ignored.

Every election since the turn of the century has swung based on inspiration and connection. Whoever has the bigger idea will win.

DDOS Attack on the Media

Will Oremus from Slate perfectly captures Trump’s news cycle on On The Media:

The Trump campaign is a denial of service attack on the entire media.
If you have enough outrageous stuff going on at once, there’s no way the media can cover all of it, and all of it gets covered much less than it would otherwise.

The same thing is happening in my brain. I’d love to write about going to see the live Paw Patrol with my family tonight, or post a picture of an awkwardly-worded sign I saw downtown, or even something something brands, but I’m not sure what I could possibly write about that wouldn’t seem frivolous in the face of the badly written, unrealistically-over-the-top movie that’s currently governing the US.

Indie Microblogging: owning your short-form writing

Manton Reece is launching an independent platform for microblogging:

Do you remember how the web used to work? How the web was supposed to work?

In the earlier days of the web, we always published to our own web site. If you weren’t happy with your web host, or they went out of business, you could move your files and your domain name, and nothing would break.

Today, most writing instead goes into a small number of centralized social networking sites, where you can’t move your content, advertisements and fake news are everywhere, and if one of these sites fails, your content disappears from the internet. Too many sites have gone away and taken our posts and photos with them.

Check out the Kickstarter page. It might not work. But neither will Twitter.

The First Cyberwar

Martin Belam at the Guardian thinks we’re living through the world’s first cyber war:

This always makes me wonder what broader patterns we might be missing in our own lives, and I’ve come round to thinking that we might already be living through the first world cyberwar – it’s just that we haven’t acknowledged or named it yet.

Really interesting article. Though I’m not sure this is going to be something that starts and stops like conventional wars. He mentions espionage in the article, which feels like a better parallel. Just as there are always spies doing spy work, there will always be states hacking other states.

There’s no way to prevent it, it’s difficult to know when it’s happened, and there doesn’t seem to be any real deterrent.

Fake news is spam, except that we like it.

Fred Wilson on fake news: 

So when I hear of some new bad thing like fake news, I immediately think of spam. And I think of the things that have been done to manage and mitigate spam. There is a roadmap for mitigating and managing this sort of thing. It seems like we need to replicate it around fake news. And we should.

Impressive how fast the problem of fake news descended on us. Maybe it’s been simmering, slowly increasing in temperature, but we didn’t notice because we were the frogs in the pot.

Well now it’s boiling.

Interesting to think of this as a tech problem in the same way email spam was attacked as a tech problem.

Another take is that the problem isn’t the distribution of fake news. It’s that we like it too much. We are lazy monkeys, with lazy monkey brains, and we are drawn to exciting, bias-confirming, ideas.

We get the same dopamine hit whether the news is accurate or 100% tapdancing-horseshit.

Email spam was a problem because we didn’t like it. News spam is a problem because we like it too much.