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.

Which way is up, and can “up” be trusted?

This year’s Thanksgiving will be a special one, as we can be thankful in real time for every moment that we are not strangling or being strangled by those we care about most.

The problem isn’t just the political divide, or moral divide, or healthcare divide. It’s that our post-fact media wonderland has left us without the ability to agree on the fundamental conceit of the argument. There’s no bedrock for either side to push against. We’re up to our knees in arbitrary opinion-goop that sucks us further in when we try to touch bottom.

As real journalism disappears, belief systems have become houses of cards. Nonsense citing nonsense all the way down to wriggling foundations of emotional jello. It’s been well-documented that the political fringes have been serving up and subsisting on what is essentially erotic-fiction for political extremists. We know that Fox News and MSNBC have differentiated themselves and built their brands according to partisan viewpoints. There isn’t a news organization out there that is credible enough to bring to an argument.

There is no debate in the true sense of the word. Just two sides making angry noises at each other. For all of our technology and sophistication, we’re still what we were: a bunch of monkeys throwing excrement at each other.

Now we’re all living in our own bubbles of perspective. Nuance has been relegated to academics. The inconvenience of having to deal with people that think differently has been mercifully limited to election years. Oh, and national holidays.

How does anyone move forward from this?

I suppose it’s the same way we move forward from everything: by having extreme anxiety while time does its work.

The right answer seems to be something about “getting to work.”

But that’s hard to do without knowing which way is up, or if “up” can be trusted at all.

The less noble, but more realistic answer, at least as we head into Thanksgiving, is to try to keep the raw emotion of right now from breaking the relationships of the long-term.

Keep your filthy marketer mitts off of my podcasts

I really like podcasts. I listen to way too many. And I subscribe to way more than that. It’s a problem.

I’m spending a lot of downtime filling my head with other people’s thoughts instead of letting my head sort out my own thoughts.

This has been happening for almost ten years. That seems crazy, because it still feels like a new habit to me. But I’m still excited about it and I prefer listening to podcasts over watching TV. That seems like a big deal.

So naturally I’ve been getting a little nervous as marketing people have taken an interest. Some are trying to apply standards to it. Other companies are making moves to create proprietary formats in the name of better tracking for advertisers. And then there are dudes that look like villains in 80s high school movies who are running companies that are unafraid of using the words programmatic and advertising in the same sentence as podcasts.

Hate crime! Boo! Hiss!

Podcasting is great the way it is. Yes, it’ll eventually be spoiled by money and business and advertisers and big production budgets. But I like it just the way it is: small and weird and open and way-off the beaten-track.