Gold

The Gold List - A journal written by David Sherry

Beme and the Future of News

The future of news is direct reporting.

From real people, not pundits. 

Right now, due to our election cycle and politics, major news networks seem to be in a heyday.  But this is a distraction. What's brewing is something behind the scenes. The heyday is almost always a last hurrah. You reach the peak right before you fall. That's why it's so difficult to innovate. 

It's like how truck sales in the US have been up, signaling an increase in interest, except that it's a false indicator of what's to come. At least in their current form. 

So Beme is taking a shot at the next wave of news. Like Vice, it's about real people, young people, getting involved and asking questions. 

And Beme was started by Casey Neistat, Youtube star with a real background in film making. The trick of Casey's work is making it look like it's not a huge production to produce, even though he's got all the smarts to do so.

Casey thought he could make waves giving people the ability to make video, with his app Beme. The problem was, it was way over hyped. And making an app that people love is next to impossible.

He had the users attention, but he didn't overdeliver on an experience that people wanted, so it flopped...

So CNN bought them. 

So maybe the news knows what's coming. Like Banks, investing their attention to Bitcoin. The smart ones know that the cliff is coming and they do something about it or get left behind.

So this is a smart move. People crave the realness. It's not about high quality cameras and options, it's about feeling like you're there in person. I *felt* something at the end of this video.

Like the Vice video I shared 2 weeks back. 

Beme sent someone to be THERE. Not posturing, just talking with people. And this will only get more enhanced with VR, as we immerse ourselves into the experience.

Now this type of video is long form. Not slit up with ads every 3 minutes and scrolling headlines trying to pull your attention away.
You get to see real people sharing their raw thoughts right there on camera. 

We can only hope that this will increase empathy.

AND WHAT YOU SEE IS THAT REAL PEOPLE ARE CONNECTING ON CAMERA. 

Which means maybe the type of media will help us find a way to connect outside of the video.  This is exactly what we need as a response to our divided political atmosphere. 

We're tired of hearing the same opinions.  Bring on more of the every day heroes. People there. People like you and me.

Bring on more of the realness.


" Beme Panels is real perspectives from real people about the news. Panels is a place for seriously honest perspectives, told through short videos from people all over the world."

Beme Viewer Comments:

"I cant wait for the day that these become daily"

"This is so much better than regular news."

"This is the kind of coverage events like this need but don't get through conventional media. Way to go Beme <3"
 

Gold
#37



After the Flood, The Rescue (Beme News)

Struggling artists blame the market, successful artists leverage it

How to make it as an artist today. 

I wanted to speak some today to creators and artists directly, as I am in this category.

My last post was about revolutions, with the point being that everything is changing.

So now the question is, how does a creator or artist make money today? 

How do artists and makers thrive during this revolution?

The truth is, commoditization is happening across every market, from content to software. Because of automation, because of a low barrier for entry, and because of an increase in efficiency for discovery which leads to winner take all markets.

What I mean is that if you’re a creator today:

  1. Your startup costs are low, and getting cheaper. This means more competition (everyone else has the same tools as you).
  2. Some of your work is being automated, which means there’s no value left. Leave it to the machines. When it comes to software, we see it being replicated cheaply. (Cough Instagram ripping Snapchat features).
  3. Your competition is easier for your customers to discover, and so the “#1 place on Google”, matters.


So if you’re a creator, this is bad for you, right?

Well there is some upside.

While products are becoming commoditized, because of the efficiencies and removal of a middleman from markets, creators who are creating “differentiated” content can get paid higher wages (in some cases) due to the removal of the middleman.

What I mean is that while photography is becoming commoditized due to the rise in supply, because photographers are individualizing themselves away from brands and agencies, they are able to capture the full value for their product directly without a middleman.

Ditto for the music industry. The music business is incredibly competitive, the barrier to entry is free, and often the content is free. But for those that do rise to the top, they do so with more leverage, and a more direct connection to the customer. This allows them to capture more value than ever before.

This means that…

  1. As a market, creators are moving closer to our customers.
  2. As a market, competition is increasing
  3. Differentiation and discoverability is key.

Those who are able to “win” value with their product creation (differentiation), are gaining more value than ever, because they are acting solo or often without large infrastructure, which frees up their expenses and allows them to prosper.

This is why on one hand, it’s never been a better time to be an artist, and on the other, you’re facing an entirely commodity market.

If you can differentiate, and build a niche for yourself with a direct connection to your customers, you can prosper enormously.

Of course, this only works when the type of work is still able to be differentiated. When it comes to, say Uber driving, commoditization is going to happen all the way to zero, because the “work” will be fully automated by computers. There’s no extra value to capture when the work cannot be differentiated. A driver taking you from point A to point B is no different now, and no different than a computer doing so. So it will be done for free.

What can we do about this?

The first step is simply understanding what the market looks like, so you can analyze the risks and rewards.

It’s my personal belief (speaking to other artists, makers, creators), that if you CAN carve out value for yourself within a niche — your upside potential is actually even greater than it was a decade ago. There’s more opportunity to break in (because costs and risks are lower) — but there’s also more overlap between industries and the total “network” is more connected.

This is why I have friends who are booking photography gigs all over the globe. The discovery for their work has been unleashed by our connection through social networks. The tools at our disposal are much greater.

Just yesterday I had lunch with a friend who told me about his targeted Facebook advertising campaigns driving wedding photography business across the world. Because of the tool of Facebook, his sales process and customer discovery opportunities are much easier and greater than before. Because his work is quality and differentiated, he speaks to a specific group that’s eager for his work at a premium (the wedding industry).

I can’t overstate how stark this contrast is. To see it, just hop on youtube. You can watch a Jake Paul Video and forget the fact that he’s making $15 million a month using a $300 video camera. You click to the next video and its a creator using a $1,000 rig but is making $0 per video. They’re both living in the same market, yet one is thriving beyond what would have been believable just 10 years ago. One artist a millionaire, the other making for free. Which is the power of differentiation and discovery. 
 

How do you make it as an artist today? 

In step by step order.

  1. Focus on your work. (Supply)

My best guess here is to start by focusing on the one thing you can control, supply. As a creator, you are directly able to build supply of your work, be it painting, video, music or writing. This could take years, depending on your skill, and your street-smarts about the market your entering for what people want, as well as your originality and voice.

How do you know if your supply is good?

You know it when you see it. 
 

2. Focus on aligning with the right outlets (Discovery)

Once your supply is at a level that is bringing in interest and attention, and it’s reached a certain level of quality standard, you want to exercise your options for making the right contacts. This could be higher-ups at agencies or brands who might hire you for work, or it could be aligning with others who are a step or two above you in success but would still align with your work. The goal is to get in front of the right people, and connect with those who will help you with discovery and distribution.

This alignment helps the right audience discover your work and begin to share. This could also be like I mentioned, utilizing the tools of networks like Facebook, social, Reddit or distribution through channels hungry for new work to get your work out there and seen as credible.
 

3. Focus on creating connection to your work (Demand)

With quality, differentiated work, and the right contacts who you can partner with or share audiences, your ready to keep your stream of production going while engaging with your fans. This could be list building, commenting with followers or connecting in person. Realize that this customer attention and trust is your most important asset. It stems from your product supply, which leads the charge, but the connection thereafter is the real ticket for leverage for your future. Do a great job here, and you will have more stability and an asset that goes beyond your product. Tastes change, but connections can last. *This is my favorite part, happy to chat on this with you directly should you be looking to develop here.
 

4. Rinse and Repeat, starting at supply.

Now that you’ve got some audience build up, and you’re growing, you need to return to the bread and butter and ensure that it’s still breaking the mold. You can’t stay stale with your supply, as consumers tastes change, and you want to lead that charge instead of react to it. This is difficult to jump back into because it means breaking what works and reinventing the wheel. You do so smartly, in way that shows your fans the future but also give them a line to follow.


So it this going to be easy? No. Are the tools available to you if you take action, yes. 

I'd also like to note that there are many benefits to artist beyond monetary success. By sharing our art, we create connection. Not only is that satisfying in it's own right ("Wow, I helped someone's day today because they listened to my podcast") – but it also leads you to have a more serendipitous and interesting life. 

We can share our art simply for the joy of doing it. We can connect with others because it's enjoyable to do so. And we will see new forks in the road, twists and turns that were only available through the vehicle that our work provided us.

And that makes it worth doing.

**Pt. 2 Coming soon,
On how companies and brands make it today.

Gold
#36



How Luisa Dörr Shot 12 TIME Covers On Her iPhone

Revolutions


We read about revolutions in school. But now we're in one.

This isn't the run of the mill update to technology, it's the reformation of everything, from our societal systems to our culture. And what happens in revolutions? Everything changes, and often in ways you couldn't possibly believe. 

Like suddenly having all of human knowledge in your pocket. Like when we abandon driving cars and let the computers do it. And when banks disappear in exchange for the Blockchain.  

You read that and are thinking to yourself, yeah but...
Which is what's always said. And then the wheel turns and we hit a new normal. As soon as something is done, it's pulled into the fabric of our culture so that we no longer notice it.  Which is why we're no longer impressed by Google searching through a billion web pages in a second, or how the plane you're in is being flown by computers. 

But technology is advancing farther than ever. Forcing us to reckon with and abandon our tools faster.  It's disturbing the comfortable rate of adoption. 

To feel a whiplash you first need to accelerate, fast.
Which we did, for 25 years. 
Now we're feeling the pull back.

As we are accelerating forward by the ever-progressing technology engine, we have the pull to slow down or go backwards. 

Half of us excited, elated, and diving into new opportunities and new frontiers.

Half of us concerned, skeptical, wondering about what the consequences are and what will be. 

We're seeing that a lot of the consequences of our internet are becoming apparent and validated.

As they say, the invention of the Facebook was also the invention of the Facebook Bully.

So we're tenuous about our data, about who's listening, about whether or finances online are safe. In the infancy of revolution, there's always turmoil and uncertainty.

The question is then how can we positively move forward while in a revolution? 

Paradoxically It's likely by leaning in.
Which is why if you're in Radio... doubling down isn't the right answer.

But you knew this intuitively.

As we lean in we also need to protect ourselves. And the best way we can do that is to bring humanity into that which asserts control.

The wheel that's guiding the ship for us all needs to be reigned in, not from growth, but from ignorant destruction. 

Which makes me think that the real issue in any revolution is precisely in ignorant destruction. And sadly this can come from both sides of the coin.

From those racing forward not caring about those who they destroy in their path. (technophiles) 

To those trying to go backwards, keeping positive progress from happening (building oil pipelines, closing borders, preventing freedom).

What's next?

With the validation of our technology concerns, expect an increase in media and tech to help protect people, their privacy, their rights etc. This is a good thing. It's how technology always rights the ship. The negatives are negated by the positives. We need people to create methods for predicting downsides and minimizing them. We need to address privacy. We need to address security.

Expect the pendulum to swing back from internet addiction to real life. People vocalizing their interest in real life experiences, in meaningful conversations, face to face, in phone free time.

We still have the most high-def, reality software available: the real world.

Personally, I'm hoping to see more people engage in this topic. How does one live a fulfilling REAL life today? (This is a big opportunity to explore). Experienced life before the web? We need you to write a book about it. Maybe it will help us return in some form.

What we need is for artists to address this and guide us through. Help us make sense of what's going on.  Art has always been a mirror for who we are. And we trust it to help us see ourselves better in the midst of these changes. To bring us truth and meaning amongst the metamorphosis.

One such artist is Laura Karetzky, who brings this tension into her oil paintings by bringing in the screen. Including a real perspective at what someone today might experience. 

One such app helping us keep privacy is Signal.

One such luminary talking about these issues is Anil Dash.

Revolutions breed more questions than answers.

We're in it together, might as well welcome the discussion.



Gold
#35



Paintings by Laura Karetzky

Signal App

Anil Dash

A Community Affair (The Lot Radio)

 

Radio is turning into a community affair.

Have you noticed so many podcasts are now doing live tours?

I went and saw Last Podcast on the Left live at the Hollywood Forever cemetery months back and it was great. The venue was full, and the hosts were part rockstars, part normal dudes just like us. They even put up a few youtube videos and memes on the screen so that we could all enjoy together. It was like surfing with internet with your very funny friends.
 

Our media is becoming about community. Previously a radio DJ would take calls occasionally, but most of the communication was one way. With the host speaking to you, anonymous and in the car. But now when there are fans, and tech to help make them known, the doors open to new possibilities for how media interacts with their audiences.
 

Fans want to connect, be a part of the show, meet each other.
And so stations like Lot are doing two things right.
 

The first is they’ve open sourced their station. Now they book new DJ’s all day, every day, it’s 24/7!

The second is they had a really interesting hook. They said to themselves, “What if we could livestream new DJ’s in NYC 24 hours a day? Never ending?” This is how you stand out. You go ALL the way to the edge. Every night wouldn’t have been enough. It’s going to be full on 24/7.

And they made it happen. Grass roots, putting up a tiny shipping container on a lot in New York City that would allow them to broadcast.

Then they invited DJ’s in, and soon enough the schedule was full. It’s like your part of the club when you play there. And they have so much time to fill they can bring all types of people in. Someone should do this concept as a bar or venue. Open 24/7. Always a live band playing. Letting everyone in and letting everyone participate. Someone with a passion for pushing music forward in their city. Which these people clearly have. 
 

Have you played The Lot? It can be a badge of honor. You’re in the club.
 

So realize that this concept can be applied elsewhere, in many different industries: 

1. “Here’s a stage. Want to play it?”  Make the community the star.

2. This concept wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t 24/7. That’s how you stand out. Go all the way to the edge.

So, What’s next?

Coachella and other major festivals made the whole experience about the fan. Now it’s about involving them in the full experience. Sharing the spotlight, and helping them engage with each other.  Even most musicians are making a good chunk of their ticket sales on VIP tickets that guarantee a meet and greet with the artist afterword. Which is amazing for the fan, but for the artist can be a nightmare. But that's the name of the game today. I heard about this from an episode of Hey Cool Job!  with Kinfolk’s event coordinator Judnick Mayard. She had some stories...

So watch for our digital libraries, steaming services, and favorite media channels to start linking up the communities of fans. And linking those fans further to the artist. Chats, live streams, meet and greets. Getting the community involved as much as possible in the experience. Even having them help plan or coordinate.

 This is the church potluck, brought to mainstream hip events with major acts and brands. 

Open source the festival. Open source the radio station. Open source the community component to our favorite media channels.

We’re in a new media world. We want to be involved in the process. We want to connect with others like us. Talk about the show. Connect and help create it. So instead of being disparate solo-consumers, media is turning into a community affair.

The Lot Radio is a party and you’re all invited.

Gold
#34

The Lot Radio

Last Podcast on the Left

Hey, Cool Job!

MusicDavid SherryDaily
Getting Paid

I don’t charge for this email.

"Of course not!" You might say.

But maybe I will some day.

In which you might say to yourself, “Of course you do!”
 

So what gives? Why not charge now? Or rather, when should I charge?

Understanding where value is created and extracted is a key piece to seeing, developing, and building our brands in the modern age. 

As we shift more from physical products (based on supply and distribution costs) to digital products (scalable, free, copyable to infinity)  — We’ll see new forms of arbitrage, new economic models, new species of value being traded.

I believe this is at the core of a lot of the angst entrepreneurs and artists feel today. “How” to charge for your services, and the competition in every market due to competition becoming global vs. local.It’s almost the common joke of the modern startup today.


“All this buzz, but no business model!”
 

This competitiveness on the internet, mixed with the ability to scale and repliclate anything digital drives down our costs, and price, massively. Even to zero in most cases. While we used to live in a world of product scarcity, we now live in a world in which much of our consumption is massively abundant.

The truth is there is more music, shows, blog posts, video, podcasts etc. than you could ever listen to. And these are all essentially free or very low cost (a la Netflix). 
 

Competitive supply (at a low cost) + new filters for creating friction (paywalls, subscriptions, marketplaces, advertising) drive our decision making about how we charge for what we create. 
 

Typically, anything of value is something that is scarce. The greater the scarcity, the higher the value (think: Taylor Swift tickets). 

But when all things are abundant, and often free — to make something scarce, you either need to find an industry where there has yet to be abundance at a low price (difficult to find) or make something that clearly stands out and is worth paying for to a customer.
 

The only relief that the modern artist finds is that their cost structure, too, has massively declined. If you want to shoot youtube videos, you only need an iPhone and some free editing software, whereas before you might have needed expensive cameras and an entire crew.

But, this is the same double edged sword that unleashed the abundance of media of which is now competitive with yours.

Which brings me to my main point: the real scarcity of today’s world is attention. It’s the only thing we can really arbitrage. 

Last week I wrote about how companies are after the small sections of our attention. The moments in between. 

Today I’m talking holistically about our attention. The full lifetime of our attention. Which, inevitably runs out. Which means it comes at a premium. It’s finite in it’s nature, which is why we can never consume all that the internet has to offer.

So the maker of today has two jobs, and you need to do both:

  1. Create something worthy of our attention.

  2. Arbitrage that attention to something people will spend money on (that delivers on the value promised).

 Even the election was an attention arbitrage. And Trump had been practicing this for decades. He won the attention war. And he arbitraged it to get into the White House. Interestingly enough, he’s also helped drive attention for thousands of other media creators, with entire shows spawning from these topics. All of which have leveraged the interest and attention of the presidency into something of value that people pay for.

You could also argue that Trump took the attention of his real estate business and arbitraged it into his T.V. Shows, which was then arbitraged into politics.

So now we see the cornerstone of being able to create value today is to capture attention and maneuver that attention into something valuable. Inherently we sort of understand this, and I believe it’s why people are so interested in growing their followings on social media. They believe that as they grow that attention, something of value can come from it. This is true, and is working for many who built real attention from an audience. 
Now that we see attention is a necessary component for building value, it doesn’t make it any easier. We all have that feeling like it’s getting harder and harder to have our voice heard in the noise.
 

I think at the root of that feeling is a Chicken and Egg scenario. You need to create value to get attention but you also need attention to create value. 
 

What to do! 


I think this is where the previous generation is getting stuck. It’s a new era. Your career path is not set in stone, it will shift many times. And with each shift comes a leap that needs to be made.

And each leap has no guarantee of working out. In fact, the odds are probably against you. If you want to be in the business of selling something you create, you have to have faith that eventually it will pay you back. And accept that it might not.

Because the trick to the chicken and egg problem is often building the attention first, and focusing the value second.
 

Which is the route many of the “no business model” startups are taking.

On the larger scale: Snapchat built a free app that created value, and built enough attention to arbitrage ads against that attention. While they’ve gone public, it’s still actually possible that the attention they’ve garnered will pay them more than their costs. Right now they’re still propped up by investment.

On the small scale: You’ve got the blogger who uses the following they’ve built talking about interior decorating to partner up with brands as affiliates and take a percentage of each purchase from their website.
 

The key in both scenarios is the attention. No attention, no arbitrage.

The hard part now is that leap.

Starting something new; Snapchat, a blog, where you have no idea if it will work, and for how long you will have to work for free to see a return if at all. The main idea is to build attention and trust, the secondary idea is to get a return on value.


This is where the younger generation is seeing the money moves in a freer form way of working. Whereas previous generations, understandably, saw a much more linear view of money and making money.


I fix your car, you pay me cash.

Newer entrepreneurs and artists are embracing Karma over economics. Which is what baffles others. It’s so NOT logical. It’s too much trust. Trust that if they continue to create something of value, they’ll be able to charge for it. Trust that somehow some way you’ll get a return.

 But the truth is today’s artists aren’t putting their trust in a business model. (Still scary for me to say), they’re putting trust in the accruing value of their product.

Trust that they can eventually gain attention. Trust that enough people will eventually pay for something because they trust you. 

In the music business you might make songs for free for years and just post them online free. Then eventually people buy tickets to your show. Or eventually it’s licensed to a video game. Or eventually you sell yourself as an MC for a charity event.

Their value is built over time, an investment in building the asset of attention. 

So what are we to do? Work for free and hope we never get paid?

My take here is that, like any good investment portfolio you want to have it balanced.

The way I believe we balance this new way of working is focus on how we can acquire capital in the short run. This means selling something you know that people buy, working at a company, freelancing, running a service or product you can get paid for today.

All the while developing a way to build value for others over the long run. The best advice I’d give you here for where to start is to be yourself.

Attention is scarce, but so are you. You are a totally unique person with a totally unique skillset and perspective. If you can allow yourself to naturally produce work that is true to you, I find that is the easiest way to build attention. 

I think of the author of Hillbilly Eulogy, who simply told his life story — which was compelling to others enough to get him paid. Now he’s looking at politics.

Today we look for unique voices. Those with opinions, those who have spent time developing their skills and their voice.

The way to stand out is to be unique. The way to be unique is to be yourself. So become an investor in yourself. In your current cash flow and your future skills. Build value for others by focusing on doing something that only you can do or make.

The tools are free, but still most people are scared to make the leap. Everyone can write an email. But they can’t write THIS email.
 

I wrote this email.

So when I do ask for $5 a month, people might pay.

Because where else will you get to hear this unique voice?

People will give you their attention, if you develop yourself in your craft and share it, because you are the last scarcity worth paying for.
 

And trust me, it’s hard work.

 

Self-Care and the Aloe Kickstarter

Aloe App: Gentle self-care reminders from yourself.


Is this how bad we’ve gotten? We can’t remember to brush hour teeth?

Maybe.

 

We’ve heard stories about gamers dying from lack of eating due to their addictions. Dying! 

 

Part of me just has to question the whole thing. How did we get here? How are these people handling life in a way that they forget these things? 

Now I’m not here to put this down. I’ve followed Amber’s work for awhile and it seems like she’s done a great job building up people positively as well as community. So kudos to her.

 

But is this where we are? Do we need to be spoon fed? To be reminded to do the simplest tasks in life?

 

Apparently, yes.

 

Aloe is an app to remind you to check in with yourself and do self care. Which has seen both praise and pushback. 

I will say, the support was bigger than I expected to see. It’s resonating. 

 

Here’s what’s going on.

 

In the old days, we filled any big stretch of free time or boredom with the media available at the time. You had movies, books, the paper, and the radio. 2 hours free after dinner? Gather round the radio for the program.

But today it’s about the minutes of free time not the hours.

 

Because today we’ve got devices in our hands, and an explosion of new media. 

 

So every media business today is fighting for all of the unused time that previously was unfilled. 

 

See if you add up enough 1–5 minute stretches during the day…

 It’s actually a lot of time. And that time can be advertised against and charged for.

 

From waking up to showering. From getting in the car to getting to work, while you wait in line.

 

Time that used to go unfilled is slowly filling.

 

Media is in a war for your attention, and they want every nook and cranny of your time. The mantra of today is never-not-be-consuming.

If you think this isn’t true, tell me honestly you haven’t taken your phone into the bathroom.

 

The problem is, that loss of space — it’s destroying our ability to see with a bit more context. Where we are in space and time. We’re so focused IN, zoomed IN, that we can’t see the big picture. So eating, sleeping, showering…it all just falls by the way side. 

 

Our focus is on the screen.

 

So, it’s got me thinking, yeah, ok, tech got us into this mess, it’s tech’s job to dig us out.

 

We’ve got entire teams dedicating to doing psychology and UX research for how to make websites more addicting. Don’t we need an entire team to help fight the addiction?

 

Like on Fitbit how after a certain period of time if your rhythms seem off it just simply asks “are you ok?”

 

What Amber’s doing with her app is hitting you with an anti-fill-every-minute-message.

 

“Hey, I know you want to use the next 5 minutes for maximum consumption time on Instagram, but you forgot to eat.”

 

It’s people who think like this that are pushing our tech to be inclusive and intentional.

 

One interesting bit about the pushback to this, is that there is a free twitter bot that does this called Tinycarebot. Interestingly enough, the bot picked up on people’s tweets in some of the conversations about Aloe, and began tweeting at them. 


Another tip that struck me about this campaign was the simple idea of a community wall/garden for all backers. It seems so obvious but it’s little details like that that make all the difference. Plus it’s cute and pairs well thematically.
 

Plants grow when they’re given some space.

When things develop over time and they get the right sun, the right watering.

People need that too.

We just have been focusing elsewhere. 
 

Gold
#32


Aloe App

ProductsDavid SherryDaily
Afrofuturism

 

The pendulum has swung away from Sci-Fi.  
We’re too gripped in the now. 

Too curious what’s going to happen today or tomorrow in our politics.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean we’re present, either. 
Updates and notifications have ensured otherwise. 

It just sort of feels like we’ve lost sight of a brighter future. 
Which is reflected in polls with a higher percetange of people thinking they will be worse off than their parents. 

But the truth is, baked into most sci-fi is an optimism of a better future. 

Yes, there’s evil, but its prevailed.

Sci-fi gave us storyline versions of the world in a better place because of humans, not the opposite. It has the unique ability to help us imagine. To our ourselves in their shoes.

What we need today is a new Star Trek, a new Star Wars. 
Even a new Harry Potter would be a help to those suffering from our modern stress for the future. Pull us away into a story.

But the truth is, those stories have always been about white people. Even though the world in reality looks different than that. 

Which made me happy to see that they’re having Tony Stark step down to be replaced by Iron Heart in the comics - a young black female protagonist is taking the reigns. 

And then on This American Life I heard about Afrofuturism for the first time.

Which is, according to NYT is, "a social, political and cultural genre that projects black space voyagers, warriors and their heroic like into a fantasy landscape, one that has long been the province of their mostly white counterparts.”

The real future is black, and hispanic, and white, and every other race. It’s just time for them to reclaim their space in it, their own way. And Afrofuturism is the artistic rallying point to dream up that future.

"Ms. Olupona said her abstract, Afrocentric designs, some incorporating fantasy fauna and futurist imagery, “suggest ways in which we can differentiate ourselves.”

“What they say about the future,” she continued, “is that we’re always going to be here.”
 (credit NYT)

Currently when you type out the word "Afrofuturism" my spell check is still giving me an word unknown.

But if we can manifest our own future by dreaming about
it in the present, will that still be the case? 
 

Gold
#31


Afrofuturism on This American Life


Afrofuturism, the Next
Generation (NYT)



Marvel's new Iron Man Will
be Known as Iron Heart

 

Slack as a social network

If you had to ask me which social network I’ve gotten the most value from, I’d say hands down it’s been Twitter. But I’d follow that up with, “when it was old Twitter.”

But with the intensity of our politics, bots, and failure to innovate I think people have been wishing for the early experience of Twitter in something new. Mostly something that provides value instead of spam, and encourages converstaions. 

The reality is that almost every popular social network out today, barring Quora, has hit a scale in which it’s difficult to not muddy the waters with spam, advertising, sales, and watered down content. I.e. Low value sharing.

When Slack was built, the premise was thought of as an email replacement for companies. A productivity tool.

But the elements on their own were heavily borrowed by social media.

The @ and the # are key elements of how slack functions. You can set status updates and share links in a feed. 

And, so in some weird way, Slack looks like one of first open source social networks. Open source meaning you can build your own social network with the tools they give you on their platform. 

If we’re looking at the traditional view of a “social network” with a network affect and a social graph, it doesnt fit. But it’s got the architecture that shows the face of a new type of social network. 

By creating a framework of interaction and messaging, feeds, channels, Giphy integrations and link sharing, anyone who’s interested can build their own dedicated eco-system within Slack. It’s akin to a forum.

While you can’t follow any one person directly, you can follow and mute channels, and join Slack groups which hold your interest. 

The real beauty of slack is it’s balance. In your group, you’ll see a healthy mix of all of these ingredients:

  • Link Sharing
  • Conversations
  • Help/Requests
  • Absurdities
  • Local-Trending topics
  • Serendipity


All of this without any advertising.

Of course, due to it’s mostly private-nature, the scale of a social network will likely never be hit and Slack as a social network will always be limited.
 

So, what’s next?

The social networks we see today are only one breed. Scale helps aggregate the best media, news and memes. But depth from micro-communities provides deeper value, connection, and attention. The pure speed and quantity of interactions is much more seamless. 

You might post to Twitter a few times a day max, but on Slack you may type out dozens if not hundreds of messages. AIM chat rooms on sterioids. 

A slack group can be built as a social-productivity platform. Something I believe LinkedIn would dream about. Wheter it’s graphic artists, programmers or science researchers, groups who are problem solving can now do so in real time with supportive groups, real time feedback and assistance.

Yes, we’ve achieved the phase of “online profiles.” These profiles let us share who we are and who we wish to be. 

But now it’s time to utilize our knowledge, resource, input and ideas collectively with a group of like minded individuals. 
 

I don’t think Slack will be the next social network.
 

But I do think the next social network will take cues from Slack. 

 

Gold
#30


Slack List

 

The Vice Video + The Alt-Right

But this Vice Video is eye opening in many ways.

Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News

And Vice is hitting it's stride with their reporting.  When most outlets are talking to each other about what's going on in an echo chamber, Vice is talking to those who are there. Then again, the founder had a heroin addiction prior to starting the company... so they're not afraid to get into the underbelly. Which means in depth reporting (note that it's 20 uninterrupted minutes long).
The interviewer doesn't need to be a know it all, just needs to be there, asking questions... and she GOT IN THE CAR.

I couldn't believe she did that, but we need to know what's going on when the cameras are typically off. What it's like in the moments in between the action.

To be blunt, these people they are covering, Alt-Right and White supremacists from the Charlottesville in no way should be given a platform of any type. The video linked today from Vice made me sick to watch. I'll start this post by saying I in no way want to give publicity or kudos to these people. 

1: because I'm a human.
2: because I grew up Jewish.

What I want to do, though, is try and break down what's going with these hate groups from a perspective that brings branding into the context - which is a key strategy component for any group trying to grow their message. I don't know everything, but we want answers and we want to know what we can do about it.  

First off, this a rebrand.

The Alt-right is no different than their predecessors, but the attempt is to make you forget the historical significance of the Nazis by using different terminology. This is effective for them on two fronts.

  1. It’s easy for politicians to speak about without having the same taboo words in our culture. 
  2. It’s easy for them to recruit, because the words aren’t associated to that which they grew up to understand as something terrible. 


So these words are chosen deliberately to attempt to speak the same message, from a new vocabulary. One that’s updated for a younger generation and can pass through the typical cultural-sniff tests of acceptability. 

Luckily, this has been called out from Trump’s latest press conference fiasco.

However, until that point it seemed that Alt-Right became a more acceptable term in the public sphere, until it was given a face by the recent march, and polarized against the non-nazis from the other side.

This contrast, created by those calling out Trump, helped showcase the true identity of those renamed.

When lines are clearly drawn, it's easier for people to choose sides. So a contrast is a key element for group formation, protest, and anit-protest.

At the same time, by diminishing the contrast, Donald Trump also made more "normal" that which was taboo. Which seems to be the bigger hurdle for their movement to take shape, as the very nature of their proposition is extreme. 

So their group is determined at this point to appear to be more of a dominant ideology as it is. Which is why you'll hear these people talking like they have some "unawakened" giant.

Which is simply not true. 
But the aim is to appear that way.

So the second thing you’ll notice is that they’ve changed attire. By getting rid of the hoods, and switching to “polo and kakis” look they attempt to appear more in the mainstream. 

Sure, someone in a white costume appears at the edge of society, they are an outcast crazy playing dress up. But when they come down the street wearing what your friends at the beach bar are wearing...

This is an attempt to signal their position as being more in line with the general population. 

Symbols are important, both symbolic leaders of the group, as well as symbols to rally around. There is question whether or not Trump will be their iconic symbol. My guess is not. But regardless, his presence has allowed for an increasing boldness in public, with his "say how you feel" attitude. And a frightening level of people's willingness to publicly espouse these ideologies. 


So what can we do about this?

The first is to recognize the strategy and combat it accordingly. Call out these words and brands by their true names. Keeping a clear contrast between each group is actually beneficial for those fighting this as it's about allies and support.

"The main reason, Dr. Stephan explained to me, was that nonviolent struggles attracted more allies more quickly. Violent struggles, on the other hand, often repelled people and dragged on for years.

Their findings highlight what we probably already intuit about protest: It’s a performance not just for the people you may be protesting against but also for everyone else who may be persuaded to join your side. 
"
from How to make fun of Nazis

The more peaceful the other side is, the greater the contrast. So playing into the violence only draws less distinction between the groups. 

Next is that symbols and leaders play a key role here, and it's up to the morally just side to use their own symbols for peace.

Make no mistake, "the wall" was a symbolic element to the Donald Trump campaign that was incredibly effective. What's infused this group is a lofty ideal of that which isn't possible. They make bold claims about a future with no plan or way of actually attaining it.

This is not to say that lofty ideals need to be created that are unachievable, rather that if there is no pictured painted of a better future for those fighting for peace, people will always gravitate towards a message that they believe will help them be better off, even if unlikely. So the left needs a message. Something people can rally around about the future. Play the offense not the defense. 

Create a vision for a future that is empowering to those who might gravitate to these hate groups. This means engaging them in dialogue prior, before they move sides and take an extreme position out of desperation. 

The internet, like it always done, has helped connect a group with similar ideals. But, it can connect a counter movement too, and it already has.  

I see no way that this movement can continue to grow momentum over the long run, to make that leap into actual mainstream. But damage is inevitable before it’s quelled.  

Like any movement, this ideology is either building or dwindling. We can go backwards, but not forever. More of a back step. The pendulum always swings back. And the vacuum always get's filled.

(Dirt) Gold
#29



Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News
 

 

CultureDavid SherryDaily
Archillect

“There are no humans involved.” 


This is a statement we should get accustomed to hearing more often. I’ve followed Archillect for awhile now and decided to share as they just launched their first Patreon campaign. My twitter feed is riddled with Retweets of this bots media.

Archillect is a social media bot that crawls the web for interesting images, gifs and visuals to post onto various social media channels. It does so by being fed keywords and using a social graph to map the data of how likely it is to go viral before sharing. 

Essentially, a computer is picking which imagery it believes will be most viral and then shares it.

Which now has 400k Twitter followers and growing.

(The creator) Murat Pak explains.

“For instance, most of my designs, I didn’t actually design something, but I designed something that designed some other thing, and the second thing was the actual product. That’s how I like things.” (from a motherboard interview)

 

So we’ve got a bot that can spot what imagery might be impactful, impressive and inspirational — but so what?

This is just one of many ideas being created and put into the world that will change how we consume media. It appears human curation for some things is a dying art. Most notably, music and movies. But it’s not just the curation, soon, it will be the production. 
 

Which, I saw on twitter, Murat Pak tweeted: 

“Or I would like a true neural network based version of her where she can actually create.”
 

So she, (Archillect) and others will act like a tool for us. Help us consume that which we want to see and understand us better. We already have algrothims and machine learning, they’re powering the best types of media curation for us.  But then it will go a step further, and become the creator as well as the curator.

They’ve already been experimenting, with little success so far, on letting computers generate the music that we listen to. 
 

“Listen to the First Pop Song Written by AI”
 

At some point, maybe it will be indistinguishable. Especially in rave music or techno and probably jazz.

So maybe the next version of Archillect will be an artist. And that means it has all of the data it’s already scraped at it’s disposal. All artists build on the foundation of those that come before it, will AI be able to consume all art works from time to synthesize ideas? 

Will the “Data” of massive stores of paintings and art pieces be valuable to AI teams building AI Artists? The reality is I don’t think it’s that we’ll stop being artists, rather the tools will change. Like they always have.  If Da Vinci was born today would he still be a painter? Probably not, he’d probably use Illustrator and Sketch.

And so artists in the future will use their own version of Archillect. Our own pet computers, tools for making music or art. Then there’s that magic ingredient. Something that will be very tough to quantify: inspiration.

The best singer song writer will always produce more magic than a computer can. Thanks to our incredibly advanced brains, intuition, emotions and rich experiences. And this is good news, for us.

“There are no humans involved.” 

This is a beautiful phrase when it comes to boring, dangerous, or repetitive tasks.

Inspiration?

Leave that to us…

---

Fun quote:


“All of this popularity has gone to Archillect’s head a bit. Because of her own reputation, her followers are liking her posts simply because they come from her, which is making it rather difficult for her to discern which of her posts are actually “good.” Since her whole method of curation is based on the relative popularity of her different posts, this situation is giving her a bit of an existential crisis.” — Motherboard.

Gold
#28

 

Archillect

Here are the top tweets of the month.

From an interview on Motherboard.

 

ProductsDavid Sherrydaily