Archive for Media

One person’s history of Twitter, from beginning to end

Here’s the bad news: we did.

Twitter was built at the tail end of that era. Their goal was giving everyone a voice. They were so obsessed with giving everyone a voice that they never stopped to wonder what would happen when everyone got one. And they never asked themselves what everyone meant. That’s Twitter’s original sin. Like Oppenheimer, Twitter was so obsessed with splitting the atom they never stopped to think what we’d do with it.

Twitter made the decision to ride the hate wave. With their investors demanding growth, and their leadership blind to the bomb they were sitting on, Twitter decided that the audience Trump was bringing them was more important than upholding their core principles, their ethics, and their own terms of service.

But when companies tell you they need to be more transparent it’s generally because they’ve been caught being transparent. You accidentally saw behind the curtain. Twitter is behaving exactly as it’s been designed to behave.

Source: One person’s history of Twitter, from beginning to end

Eyes-on with Hulu’s new live TV service

Similarly, when Apple mixed together on-demand music streaming with downloads in Apple Music, it stepped into a minefield. It eventually rolled back the UI to better separate the two things the app does. Will the same thing happen to Hulu? There’s a good chance — especially since there’s no traditional channel guide for live TV — but that’s not its biggest worry.

The thing Hulu should be worried about is brand identity. In trying to reinvent itself as a live TV service, it risks diluting its biggest differentiator — robust on-demand content. Yes, its competition does a lot of on-demand, too, but Hulu basically invented it. There are several TV series on the service, a feature that serves as a key part of its overall appeal.

Source: Eyes-on with Hulu’s new live TV service

Blogs.. yay

Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

But the ecosystem for independent publications is fundamentally broken. Getting discovered, building a readership, and profiting from your work as an independent writer are all much, much harder than they used to be.

Source: Redesigning Waxy, 2016 edition

Publishers Are Rethinking Those ‘Around the Web’ Ads – The New York Times

These ads are “built on a premise for publishers to maximize revenue — it’s not built on a premise of finding the next great things for your readers to do,” he added.

“When you’re looking at things from that prism and you’re not maniacally obsessed with monetizing every single pixel, Outbrain is very obviously not fitting into your equation anymore,” he said. “If your readers’ trust and loyalty is No. 1 as the thing you care about most, you can’t have that on your page.”

Source: Publishers Are Rethinking Those ‘Around the Web’ Ads – The New York Times

Your Media Business Will Not Be Saved

Because human beings exist, and we are not content consumption machines. What will save the media industry?—?or at least the part worth saving?—?is when we start making Real Things for people again, instead of programming for algorithms or New Things.

Source: Your Media Business Will Not Be Saved — Medium

Medium and Twitter founder: ‘We put junk food in front of them and they eat it’

“If you look at feedback loops like likes and retweets, they’ve been very carefully crafted to maximise certain types of behaviours. But if we reward people based on a measurement system where there’s literally no difference between a one-second page view or reading something that brought them value or changed their mind, it’s like – your job is feeding people, but all you’re measuring is maximising calorie delivery. So what you’d learn is that junk food is more efficient than healthy, nourishing food.”

Source: Medium and Twitter founder: ‘We put junk food in front of them and they eat it’

Some thoughts on privacy

Somebody on Quora asked, What is the social justification of privacy? adding, I am trying to ask about why individual privacy is important to society.

One would hardly ask to justify the need for privacy before the Internet came along; but it is a question now, because the Internet, like nature in the physical world, doesn’t come with privacy. We are naked by nature in both. The difference is that we’ve had many millennia to work out privacy in the physical world, and approximately two decades to do the same in the virtual one. That’s not enough time.


…In the online world, there is an assumption by those with the means to penetrate our private spaces (such as our browsers and email clients) and plant tracking beacons, that behaving in ways that would never be sanctioned in the physical world is okay in the virtual one because, hey, it’s easy to do, everybody does it, and it’s normative now, transparency is a Good Thing, it helps fund the “free” commercial sphere on the Web, etc. etc.

But it’s not okay. Just because something can be done doesn’t make it right. Nor is it right because it is, for now, normative.

Privacy norms should apply to the online world as well as they do to the offline one. And they will, soon enough, because we have advertising and tracking blockers now. These help create and guard private spaces in our online lives, by leaving unwanted ads and tracking files outside. These are primitive systems, so far, but they do work and are sure to evolve.

Source: Some thoughts on privacy

The Future of News Is Not An Article

One of the impacts of treating articles as singular monoliths is that it’s very hard to combine knowledge or information from more than one article after it’s been published. Doing any kind of synthesis, getting answers to questions that cut across time, getting a sense of aggregate knowledge around a topic — all of these acts still depend on a human being reading through multiple articles and doing that work manually.

The biggest underlying shift in conceiving of the future of news as something more than than a stream of articles is in the implied distinction between ephemeral content and evergreen content. There has always been a mixture of the two types in news reporting: An article will contain a narrative about the event that is currently occurring but also will contain more evergreen information such as background context, key players, etc. But the reliance on the form of the article as the atomic unit of news means that all of that information has essentially been treated as ephemeral. A news organization publishes hundreds of articles a day, then starts all over the next day, recreating any redundant content each time. This approach is deeply shaped by the constraints of print media and seems unnecessary and strange when looked at from a natively digital perspective. Can you imagine if, every time something new happened in Syria, Wikipedia published a new Syria page, and in order to understand the bigger picture, you had to manually sift through hundreds of pages with overlapping information? The idea seems absurd in that context and yet, it is essentially what news publishers do every day.

Source: The Future of News Is Not An Article | nytlabs ? Research, thoughts, and process from The New York Times R&D Lab

Ads and trackers are out of control…

Publishers won’t solve this problem: they cannot consistently enforce standards of decency and security on the ad networks that they embed in their sites. Just as browsers added pop-up blockers to protect us from that abusive annoyance, new browser-level countermeasures are needed to protect us from today’s web abuses.

And we shouldn’t feel guilty about this. The “implied contract” theory that we’ve agreed to view ads in exchange for free content is void because we can’t review the terms first — as soon as we follow a link, our browsers load, execute, transfer, and track everything embedded by the publisher. Our data, battery life, time, and privacy are taken by a blank check with no recourse. It’s like ordering from a restaurant menu with no prices, then being forced to pay whatever the restaurant demands at the end of the meal.

If publishers want to offer free content funded by advertising, the burden is on them to choose ad content and methods that their readers will tolerate and respond to.

Source: Introducing Peace, my privacy-focused iOS 9 ad blocker –

A Fragile Moment for Big Media

When you look at the influence and followership of many journalists today, you’ll see this is already happening. Sarah Lacy has nearly 30 percent more Twitter followers than PandoDaily, the publication she started. Yahoo columnist David Pogue receives double the interactions per tweet that Yahoo News does, with an even bigger difference when comparing his engagement to Yahoo Tech’s. Authors and creators are now able to make a name for themselves that rivals that of big media houses.

Source: A Fragile Moment for Big Media | Re/code