Blogs, dizíamos? Um long read muito a propósito acabado de publicar, que mesmo o nosso mashup não consegue encurtar o suficiente para te convidar à leitura, mas és tu que ficas a perder. Tantos tópicos no digital: da web, mudanças de formatos e media, $$$, ads, bots & jobs, fake news e, claro, a autenticidade ao fundo. Uma comunidade - de leitores e produtores - atravessa o texto, um que se preocupa com a produção de texto, cruzando educação, informação e entretenimento. Facebook e outros rants. Trolhas, memes, activismo online. Old media e television. Neil Postman. Pela terceira vez nos repetimos: tha works. E começando pelo fim, "why is this important?"
Because my experience is a microcosm of what happened to media in the 21st century and it can begin to explain how we ended up in an era of intentional ignorance and with a truly broken media.
I love the news. I love media. And I especially love online media. That we have allowed this medium – so strong, so swift, so fleet – to be demeaned in this way is a terrible shame and may prove to be a great tragedy.
Num só parágrafo da sua conclusão, onde simultaneamente concordamos e discordamos. Tentem separar:
I think the media must escape this current death spiral and the only way to truly pull up is to abandon the numerical value judgements associated with traffic and page views. The real answer, ultimately, will be micropayments and subscriptions – but that requires the destruction of the robots that hunt out and provide free content. To destroy those robots we must convince ourselves that real news matters and costs money. That, friends, is the hardest job ever.
E de hard jobs, o vosso resumo.
"Internet Stone Soup" 4 jul 2017
I was full-time blogger, the little brother to the journalist, the digital-ink-stained wretch that pounded out content for millions of readers with speed and attempted accuracy. Back then, when blogging was new, I would click a button on my computer to bring up a list of exciting and interesting pieces of information. I would select sixteen to twenty stories, opening them one by one and placing them, like cans to be plinked on a rail, on my tabs bar. I was part of the new journalistic vanguard. We were told to thumb our noses at the establishment, to push PR flacks in front of trains, to ignore the spin and get to the truth. We wrote quickly and often. In the beginning, I wrote up to 28 posts per day – 200 to 500 word "journalistic" pieces – based on these links. They were extremely standard chunks of informative media, so divorced from context or interconnection that they could have acted as curatorial notes for an artist that everyone already knows. What I wrote contained none of the hallmarks of traditionally good writing. It did not contain contextual prerequisites, a sense of wonder or perplexity, and I left exposition to HTML tags.
My writing changed as the Internet changed. My style morphed, in year one, from eager and breathless to cynical and sardonic as the avalanche of post requirements took over my life. The stress made me judgmental and hostile. I was running at a hundred miles an hour so why wasn’t everyone else? The important thing to note is that I was probably consuming as much news and content in 2001 as the average Facebook and Twitter user does today. And it made me crazy. It hurt me.
Slowly, however, the medium evolved. There was a definite push back toward long form journalism and startups appeared who attempted to monetize what magazines had been doing for a century. Everyone started blogging, from neo-Nazis to Pioneer Women to Bill Gates. But still traffic was paramount. When everyone was a blogger the slices of the traffic pie we could access would shrink. We had to figure out a way to grab more traffic in a crowded news marketplace. We upped the post count and we upped our traffic. We wanted to get stuff up as quickly as possible.
I wrote quickly and poorly. I raged against all I learned in journalism school
There were also opinion pieces thrown in here and there on slow days but the readers usually ignored them. Alternatively, we would write unpopular pieces of opinion detailing our preference for one phone over another and unleash a firestorm of reactions with comment counts numbering in the hundreds. We were like maintenance men of a massive ant farm regularly dropping sugar pellets into the mix to keep the ants happy and then introducing a wasp or two to keep things interesting. At the same time the demand for this sort of content was growing. People wanted to read about the latest stuff from a team of folks who knew a lot about it. We were providing a constant source of information unmatched in the media industry. Everything, from newspapers to television, to magazines, required processing time. A live shoot from a traffic emergency required a dozen or so engineers at the station to manage the feed and send it to your television screen where million-dollar anchors bantered about the weather. Newspapers had meetings where they decided the next day’s news and the magazine industry had long lunches where they planned next Spring in the Summer. We didn’t do that. We just wrote. I pushed it out as fast as I could, not caring who read it or why. By the time the old newspapermen and women trundled to their offices to write up the event we bloggers already had four stories written and were on to the next thing. They could not compete. We beat everyone to the punch. Everyone. No major media organization built before the year 2001 could match our speed and traffic.
Early on, people associated our writing with gonzo journalism. I didn’t. Hunter S. Thompson was writing in a post-television style, a whirlwind of images and disconnected conversation that was held together by the spectacle of his language and the fireworks of his prose. Thompson brought the rushed confidence and bacchanal of a movie star to the page. I fulfilled the desires of an inelegant but constantly media-hungry, Internet-based workforce by writing like one of their chat room buddies.
Then, slowly, our techniques spread. The impetus to blog moved from the quick and dirty blogging world of my wayward youth into newsrooms around the country. Huge sites sprung up dedicated to our special sort of content. Buzzfeed, the home of the listicle, packaged so much media in such a readable package that it changed the way we read regular news sites. Suddenly an entire news industry sprung up and current news sites changed drastically. They picked up on all of the bad habits I learned by being speedy. The triple-sourced, copy-edited, fact-checked news story turned into the hot take. Research fell to Google searches. Forethought fell to the impetus for traffic. Complexity fell to the needs of the lowest common denominator. When everything is breaking news there is no breaking news. Everything receives equal import and equal attention which is to say none at all. And it went on and on, post after post. The old Internet, the idea of one person connecting with a few people in a meaningful way, fell away and a new paradigm emerged, that of the meme, the idea that hops from site to site like a virus hops hosts. And that viral information offered something very special to the average reader: It offered instant comfort and it scratched the itch of the new. It became some of the most compelling entertainment around.
Why is this important? Because my experience is a microcosm of what happened to media in the 21st century and it can begin to explain how we ended up in an era of intentional ignorance and with a truly broken media. The tools we perfected in those early days were some of the most pernicious and powerful tools in existence, honed to razor sharpness to cut off only the fattest parts of the truth, abandoning the nuance. We were not originally butchers – we had loftier goals – but when traffic (and traffic bonuses) became our driving impetus and when Google advertisers valued eyeballs over brains we had to provide content that fit a certain mindset and provide it at speed.
At the same time another interesting group of Internet users began taking advantage of a world defined by fast, loose, and easy. These users, primarily found on sites like Reddit and 4chan, were digital natives and had a deep understanding of how to make something bubble to the surface of the Internet. These tricksters organized under the name Anonymous. Their "ops" were often ineffective but they help train an entire generation in what can be called online activism. This training involved "making" news by surfacing exactly the content the Anons wanted to showcase. In short the once-insular and insulated world of the Internet was actively spreading its tentacles into the real world.
In his seminal book Amusing Ourselves To Death, Neil Postman chronicled the move from the Typographical Age – an age of deep concentration that required prodigious levels of patience and education in nearly every citizen – to the Show Biz Age. This transition, to Postman, meant that mankind was leaving behind evidence, forethought, and eloquence and instead took up a language made up of constantly moving pictures. To him the villain creeping into the modern mind was the boob tube and he went so far as to notice the correlation between the then nascent USA Today and the short-burst imagery of television. He wrote his book in 1985. He was writing at the tail end of a societal change that began with the invention of the moving picture and ended with Al Gore saying he invented the Internet in a televised debate. Over the past two decades we have replaced Postman’s commercials with native advertising – ads disguised craftily as news stories. We have built an industry that supplies us with no eloquence but an endless words. We read news story after news story in multiple formats – silent videos, social shares, headlines on Twitter – and we build a worldview with them. Sadly, many of these news stories are not initially aimed at human consumption. Instead they are created for robots to read in order to grab the attention of huge search engines. In fact, much of the content that appears on the Web is made by robots for robots, a fact that should give anyone searching for artificial intelligence pause. The Internet is also controlling what we perceive. Robots watch where we go, track our clicks, and serve up advertisements and, sometimes, news directly related to what we just clicked. Robots bid for advertising space on the pages we visit, know that we in particular are interested in, say, electric bikes, lingerie, and fishing gear. The robot that is essentially following us knows these things about us and sends applicable advertisements. Thus website owners can tell themselves that they aren’t beholden to advertisers and are able to write things that might vaguely attract an electric-biking lingerie-clad fisherwoman. The problem is when the website owners game this system, creating content that you might absolutely love or fake news that will appeal to a very specific, very vociferous collection of conspiracy theorists and cranks.
"The name we can properly give to education without prerequisites, perplexity, and exposition is entertainment," Postman wrote. However, at the turn of the century the great hope was that information could replace education thereby bypassing entertainment. With all learning at our fingertips we would be augmented. We didn’t need no education in the formal sense – an education purely based on the recreation of a set of rules and symbols inside of a group of like-minded children. We were thrown into a world where that rote learning was unnecessary. That’s where we are. The Internet was supposed to grow our brains. We were supposed to be better, faster, and more efficient. Instead we were given a firehose that only occasionally spews water. In our current culture the Internet is allowed to drone on and on. Under the onslaught we are truly powerless. We cannot control what we see and the only way to turn off the feed is to delete our Facebook apps. And this, sadly, is the worst thing we can do. The neophilic impulse is strong and things like Facebook and Twitter directly stimulate the pleasure centers of our brains. We refresh our email not because we assume something important will appear but because we get a thrill when someone contacts us. We are so lonely that we turn the Internet into a friend and ignore the real world. And, finally, the Internet joins us in the real world, bringing firehose fever dreams to life in popular culture.
But instead of this promised blossoming of the modern mind, instead of education in an instant, we snapped our fingers and got entertainment, a medium without prerequisites, perplexity, and exposition. We have come full circle. Like dandies in 1910 we watch soundless videos on Facebook captioned with clever and breathless prose and accompanied by wild music. We receive only the snippets of important programs that are recommended us by friends and we watch important events unfold and debates happen with the expectation that something – anything – will come up next. We have an endless supply of ridiculous videos, news snippets, and political opinions all served up on demand in an instant. We see – not read – more in one day than the average 1800s farmer saw in his lifetime.
When we made a deal with the angels of the Information Age we also got the devils. The devils are fake news, fake outrage, and anti-intellectualism. As trusted news sources fell to the Internet untrusted sources took their place. As discussion blossomed through the Internet – a discussion unavailable when sitting in front of your TV – along came outrage. And when everything is true the suspicious mind believes nothing is. Because of all the content available to the average computer user there is no sorting mechanism that makes sense. The vision of news curated by a careful and intelligent hand – a media landscape that blogs once attempted to create – is essentially gone replaced by a sense that the news media is rigged. Further, because everything looks just about the same on the Internet the signals of propriety and truth – nice layouts, paper stock, headlines and bylines – has gone out the window.
Vamos pois pensar em reclamar de volta essa window, ie, monitor?