It is difficult to write our way out of the place where we are. The words come easily enough, each measured by its emotional weight in the stream of problems we face. It is possible that this paragraph will go away when I find my bottom. Mandates, Cuomo, Olympic head gymnastics, where we were two weeks ago and how it is right now. Let’s triangulate: Forget Trump. Forget the Republicans and Progressive Democrats who are working together to slow the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Forget the excuses and half-truths, the topics of conversation, to fill the airtime until the real rubber hits the road.
Don’t forget about the brave athletes who dare to fail for the greater safety of their peers. Celebrate the public servants and the tough personal choices that lead us to honesty, empathy, and decisive choices that differentiate between malicious fraud and real-life ballot box results. When politicians refuse to answer questions, draft laws to filter them out of the process itself. When it comes to coverage, debate, and commercial breaks, keep the media by the fire they purport to scrutinize.
We had an argument about the time lag between recording a show and posting it here on Techcrunch in a post-produced manner with music added, sneak peeks produced to promote the show, and a post that was kind of related to the context of the show had to do two or so weeks ago. In generating the text, I found that the time delay served a useful purpose in diluting the urgency of the real-time conversation with a healthy dose of context that emerged from what actually happened. The news is always delivered as the first draft of history, but the constant need for reviews creates this underlying pressure to turn stories of insights into controversial clickbaits.
This filter, which takes your foot off the gas, turns the black and white into more shades of gray, less dependent on the attitudes of the individual gang members and more on the feeling of the group as a whole. Take the eternal struggle between social media giants and antitrust pressures to regulate the worst aspects of the social storm. One side criticizes attempts to stem the success of these companies in building audiences and unprecedented power in the marketplace – a version of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The other side says it’s actually broke and needs to be fixed by breaking these new monopolies that arose from user satisfaction with the flow of comments, sarcasm, and family messages. Or maybe the lines of battle are drawn around individual rights against the collective good, as in the fight to control COVID through vaccination regulations. In the middle between these hard-coded partisan attitudes lies perhaps something gentler than law and more powerful compromises.
In the case of mandates, the topic comes up in every show. The immediate news may be New York City’s new rules governing vaccinated access to indoor restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues, but the bigger abstraction is the gap between the federal government’s lack of power to enforce a statewide mandate and the politics of the Governors in the Red States are pushing back all mandates and outrageously forbid local governments to protect their citizens from the effects of the unvaccinated. Two weeks ago, nothing seemed possible to alleviate any aspect of the crisis. Moving to New York today may encourage more people to act now to protect themselves; The data show a doubling of new vaccinations in the hardest hit states. The media, in turn, incorporate this promising data into their stories and push the more partisan memes to the edge of reporting. The net result is a more flexible narrative, in line with the old-fashioned idea that government can actually get some things done, which in turn helps reduce the suspicion that fuels many of the vaccine hesitants.
The return to the new normal determines the majority of the mandate discussion. The pandemic’s acceleration of digital transformation seems to reflect a growing understanding that we will not be returning from the pandemic anytime soon. Instead, there is the realization that what we call survival is a premonition of how we will live both at work and at home. We talk about our creative heroes on the show, many of whom have become household names that flooded the public appearances stages and media networks. Streaming has stirred up both Hollywood and the news networks, whose business models and value propositions are being attacked by tech social networks. Facebook says that videos now consume more than 50 percent of the time on its network. Amazon’s advertising revenue is growing rapidly to counter the control of Google and Facebook over the advertising markets. Digital advertising is consuming the linear broadcast upfront marketplace.
We often talk about the creator economy, a smug waving of the media red flag in the face of the bull of the mainstream media. The Information, a subscription-driven tech journal, looks like what newsletter startups Substack and Twitter Revue will look like when they grow up. The social audio clubhouse clones offer a similar promise to escape the long tail into viable competition for the Fox, CNN, and MSNBCs of the realigning media companies. At either end of the spectrum, the promise of success collides with the exaggerated reality of too many hours searching for useful differentiation or unrealistic opportunities to escape the noisy underbelly of unprofessional media.
If the numbers don’t seem right for the makers, then they don’t seem to be right for the social networks either. Once the feature wars settle, you’ll see a fragmented lineup of star writers on Substack and Facebook, and very little opportunity for influencers and talent to gush out. The introduction of these tools into businesses could prove to be a growth opportunity for enterprise versions. Is that enough to keep the tech in the game? We might know in two weeks.
from the Gillmor Gang newsletter
The Gillmor Gang – Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live on Friday, July 23, 2021.
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
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