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The terror from the loss of control of virality
“Move fast and break things but make sure to manage DC” is dead
The pre-internet communications sector used to give the power of “virality” to the publisher. Widespread information dissemination used to be a matter of commercial venue, ie. getting your message in the right outlet that reaches the most readers.
It was a simplistic model consisting of publishers, the people who can influence them, and consumers (“the readership”, etc). It highly privileged publishers, was never some kind of ideal system, and was regularly abused and manipulated. So you hear decrying about loss of power from people who are losing it, and, well.
It just doesn’t work that way anymore— information propagation through digital networks is truly mechanically different— and publishers have been watching it happen for a decade while subjecting us to their questionable commercial compensatory gymnastics. It was easier to be sympathetic to them when the social media companies eating their lunch were consolidating the new power rapidly, but they’re already in a downward spiral now too, and are also becoming diseased but still relevant displaced information propagation commercial actors.
Digital information propagation has its own mechanical rules, and the fact that revenue will now be even more tied to policy— to control that— is a deeply unpleasant fact many have been trying to sidestep honest chatter about. The game is now to control the mechanics of propagation in an internet with little “frontier” left, with the questionable newer schemes falling apart due to their reliance on network effect acquisition through low-interest-rate capital.
When the people who profit off of simple but large cartel-style arrangements lose their dominance, they seem to default to getting nasty, often. But as that’s happened during the social media era, exactly how is the nastiness constructive? Patronization about how things were different when networks were top-heavy in a different way is going to revert network science back to 300 baud from 400 Gbit/sec, or something?
We have so much work to do that there will be no composite Zuckerberg and Sandberg “Move fast and break things but make sure to manage DC” style business plans that can become successful as fast as Facebook did, because so many people got burned by that.
After all, look at FTX, which tried to bring the steroids version of the business plan to us all. It blew itself up extraordinarily quickly, because the plan attracts the kind of minds that incriminate themselves as an integral part of their sales pitch. ▪️
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