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.

Write-Only Social Media

Cal Newport has written extensively about how social media is ruining our attention spans. He recommends not using it at all. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the best idea. At least for what I do for a living.

So I’ve been thinking about how to create a write-only social media system. A way to still get some of the value out of social networks without getting all of the outrage and distraction.

News and ArticlesNuzzle is an app that aggregates articles that your friends and friends of friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t even have to have the social apps on your phone, because it taps into the services’ APIs.

Posting Dad Jokes or Links or WhateverDrafts.app on iOS is a great way to write whatever you want to write, then share it to another app or service. It’s great for a write-only email experience as well. Open drafts, write whatever it is, and then share it without having to see any timelines or feeds or inboxes. I’m not sure if this will work without having the social apps on your phone, but its a start if you have something to say but don’t need to take on other people’s anxiety.

Facebook without the Feed: For people that still need some of the functionality of Facebook on a desktop, it’s possible to use it without having to deal with the newsfeed.

From an older Venture Beat article:

…thousands of users have installed a new Chrome Extension, “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook,” to silence Facebook’s news feed. And tech-savvy Safari users have opted to eliminate Facebook’s News Feed via a simple CSS tweak.

It’s a start at least.

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.

Comparing Someone’s ‘On-Stage’ to Your Own ‘Backstage’

Patrick Rothfuss is not just a writer of fiction that I’m having trouble wading through, but he’s also a thoughtful person with a podcast that I really like. In one of his many discussions about creative work with Max Timken, he brings up the common problem of comparing someone else’s onstage work to our backstage. In other words, someones genius, refined work vs. our in-progress dumpster fire.

The presumption being that the perfect work represents the output of a perfect process. That the work being presented is so much more refined than the working drafts, frustrations and utter psychological mess waiting for us back at our workspace. Our own work is already a failure.

Social media brought this terrible feeling to everyday people, and boy does it scale! Here is where we present idealized selves to the world. We build the illusion of extraordinary, action packed, fulfilled, creative lives. We know it’s a lie, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. From experience, seeing this at 10pm, on hour-four of a colicky baby screaming in your ear, can be a tad discouraging (this is me being vulnerable).

What we don’t take into account is everything going on behind the scenes of that person’s life. To paraphrase Frank Beamer, nothing is ever as good as it seems or as bad as it seems.

Yes, there are people who are more talented and capable. But that doesn’t mean they just rolled out of bed and produced genius. Everyone has to work through the mess to get somewhere great.

Which, by the way, is also why the idea of creative agencies having a “proprietary process” is always complete nonsense, no matter what their new business deck says. Creative work is rarely clean, orderly, or easily replicated.

Fake News, Social Media, and Avoiding End Times

Buzzfeed News ran a piece a few weeks ago(?)(can we start using dates again on the internet?) making the case that the best way to grow a Facebook page is by making up inflammatory nonsense.

Buzzfeed News tells us what we already know:

The best way to attract and grow an audience for political content on the world’s biggest social network is to eschew factual reporting and instead play to partisan biases using false or misleading information that simply tells people what they want to hear.

I know, I know. Shocking.

But to see the evidence they put forth brings it into perspective. Technology companies are going to have to figure out how to solve for their coexistance with really important real world events.

This is going to be hairy business.

Facebook isn’t a media company. Facebook proper is an advertising company. They sell ads that are run against content. They don’t actually make content.

So how much of an editorial role should they play? Is it their business to edit for content or truth? Frankly, given the power they have over what almost everyone sees on a daily basis, getting into the fact checking game could lead down a scary road of its own.

But something has to give.