This essay was originally sent as an email newsletter on January 7, 2021 with the subject line "CT No. 68: The end of snackable content."
I've a barnburner* of an essay about ethical data collection with content in my drafts folder, as well as reviews of a few different tools, but it's inappropriate to go on with business as usual today.
At first I didn't even want to send a take, we don't need anymore takes, but I can't help it, it's boiling up, and if the orange one still gets to have a job and all the loud men have their takes I'm allowed to write more.
It's easy (and extremely fair) to blame social channels and tech for monetizing and encouraging the violent rhetoric that led to yesterday's violent and permitted white supremacist coup at the U.S. Capitol. (And yes, you should blame Trump first, followed by anyone who does not readily condemn the man as a criminal.)
But blaming tech's many failures for yesterday is as easy as rioters blaming "the mainstream media" for everything they don't like.
My mass comms-oriented head spins when the sole blame goes to tech, when the Trump persona and ideology was created in partnership with local and national news media throughout the late 20th century, bolstered by both cable news and deregulation in the 90s.
Wherever it came from – and it came from America, from neoliberal capitalism, from ad-supported lowest common denominator mass comms, whether broadcast or social – storytellers should reconsider our maxims on quick-narrative, easy-to-understand informational content.
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