It's been one of those weird weeks where the tangled mess of politics and media rises to the surface in new and even more perplexing ways. I happened to be in Nevada for Inc's GrowCo conference while the "contested" primaries were going on (John Oliver had some great things to say about that tonight). I met some incredibly inspiring social entrepreneurs out there, but everyone on my return flight to NYC seemed abysmally upset. I guess what happens in Vegas doesn't actually stay there, after all.
Here's what caught my eye this week:
1. The social medias are ruling our lives. Still.
I mentioned this last week, but Facebook creates an echo chamber. Here's the point: your viewpoint is essentially fed back to you, making it seem like your opinion is a majority view. That's comforting if you like the safeness of your own perspective, but it's terrible for democracy when people get their information from platforms instead of newsrooms (it's also terrible for media companies). The WSJ published a really cool infographic showing the difference between red and blue social feeds, in an effort to make this reality more clear. On this note, there's a great new article that ran in the Times today with amazing resources to learn more about modern American fragmentation, including a shout to "The Righteous Mind" which breaks down the ways we try to find and do what's right. (It's an amazing book, but TED talks are here).
In other related news, Facebook's trending topics are not news, but Facebook's algorithm makes it seem so, since many news story aren't "likeable" and therefore have a harder time surfacing. Here's everything you wanted to know about how it works.
And speaking of Facebook, did you know that 85% of viewers watch those billions of videos without sound on? And that Facebook charges you for a "viewed video" after 3 seconds? (I wish I could make good content in under 3 seconds!) The numbers aren't as good as they seem unless you create content specifically for Facebook, which their rep teams are trying to encourage, but they also seem to be building their own ad agency, so I'm sure all will soon be revealed, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist...
In the podcast world, PRX created RadioPublic to help podcast creators reach the right audience, tapping into their substantial analytics platform. I love a good feedback loop between data, strategy, and creative, and this seems like it will help advance the audio community with data that's been greatly lacking.
Finally, Twitter is about to drop photos and links in the inclusion of the 140 character count, making life SO MUCH EASIER for anyone who is writing social copy non-stop, or who lacks an editor in their head (I fit both buckets). Rejoice!
2. But that may soon be trumped by another ruler... (#dadjokes)
The New Yorker took on what accepting Trump means to our nation. I can't bare to synthesize this just yet, but if you take nothing else from this, here's your key takeaway:
If Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right—not by Peróns or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks. The nation may survive, but the wound to hope and order will never fully heal. Ask Argentinians or Chileans or Venezuelans or Russians or Italians—or Germans. The national psyche never gets over learning that its institutions are that fragile and their ability to resist a dictator that weak.
...What he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.”
3. High-Low comes to political journalism.
In a content business deal that's kind of like when Karl Lagerfeld did a collection for H&M, the Washington Post is collaborating with Mic to bring the youth voice together with an authority on politics. In the form of a newsletter, it will run through the election. Plus Cory Haik is leading it at CSO. She's the one who brought Snapchat to the Post, and needless to say is a total badass in the content world.
That may sound counter to the principles of competition, but think of it like fashion expanding beyond tailors and couturiers, and transitioning to factories, sweatshops, and unskilled temp workers. This dramatic surge in TV production has touched nearly every aspect of the industry, from actors and showrunners to those responsible for production logistics for all of the new programming ordered from an ever-expanding roster of networks. The upside is that more voices get a shot at having their story produced because we need the content volume. But to rise above the noise, the big stars get giant contracts for their ability to draw market attention, and the lower-level actors get a budget slash, while writers content with shorter seasons that makes the work more disposable because we're already on to the next thing by the time it's on demand. Just like fashion, I tell ya!
5. Help is coming!
The Knight Foundation and Columbia University are launching the First Amendment Institute to promote free expression in the digital age. Which is awesome, until you go back and read #1.
6. These writers want to have a Paris Climate Talks for food policy, and it's pretty brilliant. Here's the idea, in a nutshell:
"Global commodity markets, while delivering broad benefits, are fickle: opaque, distorted by subsidies, and increasingly prone to price spikes and crashes. Farmers struggle to figure out what to plant, when to plant it, and how much to charge for their wares, and when prices crash, they can be left destitute. Poor consumers face the opposite problem: price spikes can mean the difference between going to bed hungry or not."
What happened in Paris with emissions, after years of limitations and impasse, was nothing short of a miracle. Instead of countries being forced into emissions reductions, "they agreed to a global aspiration of slashing emissions and invited countries to offer their own contributions toward achieving that goal. That triggered domestic efforts within each country to develop emissions-cutting plans (some better than others) that they thought they could make work politically at home. The leaders also agreed to a global system that would monitor each country’s progress, subject it to regular international scrutiny, and require new and stronger efforts every five years." It made the whole system workable for countries like the US and BRIC countries, enabling participation on a much larger scale. And that's the whole point.
This approach lets countries participate in reaching a global goal in their own way, without a uniform policy, potentially resulting in freer markets where farmers and consumers are taken care of equally.
7. Finally, some photo-worthy events.
Did you go to the Met to see MANUSxMACHINA yet? If you like fashion and technology, it's aces.
It's almost Memorial Day, which means it's Fleet Week in NYC. This is especially great for photographers because everyone knows how well sailors photograph. So get out there with your bikes (it's Bike Month!) and your cameras. After all, winter is coming.