- Create a sustainable business structure without the pressure of ROI
- Rebuild the social networks
- Develop new ways of holding those who are struggling
Shapes have meaning. That may sound crazy, but hear me out. Let’s explore how cinematographers and directors create shapes inside the frame to add visual storytelling to their films.
You are not algorithms. But you are also not neutral. And because you have the power to amplify messages, people also want to manipulate you. That’s just par for the course. And in today’s day and age, it’s not just corporations, governments, and PR shops that have your number. Just as the US military needed to change tactics to grapple with a tribal, networked, and distributed adversary, so must you. Focus on networks — help connect people to information. Build networks across information and across people. Be an embedded part of the social fabric of this country. Democracy depends on you.
Johnny JohnnyYes PapaReading Clickbait?No Papa.Hello, everyone. I hope you had a great summer. I took the most extended summer break I’ve had since university (20 *cough* years ago), and am feeling both recharged and slightly intimidated by my return to the frontline.With a little distance, it's easy to see just how the internet has become a battleground for ideas and minds, as different groups wage InfoWars on each other (pun intended). Tracking and understanding that, and then figuring out what
Sometimes we don’t know who is missing from a photo or why—only that someone has been elided. We are lucky even to know that there is something we don’t know.
Compared to the intentional, crude, and pervasive altering of the Soviet record, the lying currently prevalent in American politics is amateur hour, if not exactly child’s play. President Donald Trump’s routine alterations of the historical narrative, which seem to stem in equal measure from ignorance and ill intent, are ridiculed by the media even as the media reproduces them. Photographs often serve as the corrective to his distortions—as, for example, with his insistence that he had the biggest Inauguration crowd in history. Still, there can be no doubt that Trump is waging an all-out war on the media, the historical record, and the truth in general.
If users don’t tailor their selections, Amazon, Apple, or Google will make that choice for them. And it will probably be NPR.
Many Americans — especially conservative Americans — do not trust contemporary news organizations. This “crisis” is well-trod territory, but the focus on fact-checking, media literacy, and business models tends to obscure three features of the contemporary information landscape that I think are poorly understood:
- Differences in worldview are being weaponized to polarize society.
- We cannot trust organizations, institutions, or professions when they’re abstracted away from us.
- Economic structures built on value extraction cannot enable healthy information ecosystems.
Doctorow creates these oppositional positions to make a point and to highlight that there is a war over epistemology, or the way in which we produce knowledge.The reality is much messier, because what’s at stake isn’t simply about resolving two competing worldviews. Rather, what’s at stake is how there is no universal way of knowing, and we have reached a stage in our political climate where there is more power in seeding doubt, destabilizing knowledge, and encouraging others to distrust other systems of knowledge production.
As the institutional construction of news media becomes more and more proximately divorced from the vast majority of people in the United States, we can and should expect trust in news to decline. No amount of fact-checking will make up for a widespread feeling that coverage is biased. No amount of articulated ethical commitments will make up for the feeling that you are being fed clickbait headlines.
It doesn’t take a quasi-documentary to realize that McDonald’s is not a fast-food franchise; it’s a real estate business that uses a franchise structure to extract capital from naive entrepreneurs.
no amount of innovative new business models will make up for the fact that you can’t sustain responsible journalism within a business structure that requires newsrooms to make more money quarter over quarter to appease investors. This does not mean that you can’t build a sustainable news business, but if the news is beholden to investors trying to extract value, it’s going to impossible. And if news companies have no assets to rely on (such as their now-sold real estate), they are fundamentally unstable and likely to engage in unhealthy business practices out of economic desperation.
ROI capitalism isn’t the only version of capitalism out there. We take it for granted and tacitly accept its weaknesses by creating binaries, as though the only alternative is Cold War Soviet Union–styled communism. We’re all frogs in an ocean that’s quickly getting warmer. Two degrees will affect a lot more than oceanfront properties.
There are three key higher-order next steps, all of which are at the scale of the New Deal.
- Create a sustainable business structure for information intermediaries (like news organizations) that allows them to be profitable without the pressure of ROI.
- Actively and strategically rebuild the social networks of America.
- Find new ways of holding those who are struggling.
Trust cannot be demanded. It’s only earned by being there at critical junctures when people are in crisis and need help. You don’t earn trust when things are going well; you earn trust by being a rock during a tornado.
Why the ABC and public broadcasting is vital to the community. Transcript of ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie’s speech at the Melbourne Press Club, Tuesday 19 June, 2018.