Info Dystopia—Weekly Wisdom

Also, how movie animation is rendered, how organizations should manage knowledge and the evils of Audience Capture.

Hello Subscribers, New and Old.

Welcome to Weekly Wisdom, your weekly dose of highlights, quotes and notes from my notebook. If you would like to receive this in your inbox, subscribe now. If you want to support, do checkout the links in the Friends of Weekly Wisdom Section.

💡Something I learned

We were wrong about the internet

I first got an internet connection in 1997. For the younger crowd, the internet wasn’t everywhere. You had to use a wired connection to your computer. Mine was a 14.4k dial up connection. It was slow, required you to hold a phone line hostage and everything was ugly.

I will not wax nostalgic about that time. The internet had the same proportion of assholes. They were spread out over thousands of sites, forums, and comments sections. Centralization is the only real sin of today’s web.

What was present then, and not now, was a sense of utopianism. Every blog, comment, forum post had an implicit assumption that this connectivity will make this world better. We thought access to the web would usher an era of global enlightenment. We would escape the gatekeepers of mass-media and the celebrity cults that drove popular culture.

To be most charitable to my young self, we were naive. Wider adoption to the internet has made everything worse. Rather than have many gatekeepers of mass-media, we have 3 or 4. Star power is gone and now pop culture is driven by arbitrary algorithms. It has financialized society to the point where people’s employments are based on whims of what some Bay Area VC thinks is cool.

The worst is the murder of consensus. Consensus it self is not a panacea. But the filter bubbles we live in today make it impossible.

We were wrong.

📕Something to read

  • Replacing Google with Tiktok: The author recently try this experiment. It is based on the recent dubious claim by Google that young kids prefer discovery on Tiktok over Google. I have written a lot about search. A lot. And I believe the statement was a way to pad their arguments against anti-trust enforcement. This article proves my point.

📺Something to watch

Friends of Weekly Wisdom

🗣Some Quotes and Notes

The Person is the Medium

Audience capture is a phenomenon where a person or an institution become ‘trapped’ by the expectations of their audience. This essay provides a great insight into it.

The caricature quickly becomes the influencer’s distinct brand, and all subsequent attempts by the influencer to remain on-brand and fulfill audience expectations require them to act like the caricature. As the caricature becomes more familiar than the person, both to the audience and to the influencer, it comes to be regarded by both as the only honest expression of the influencer, so that any deviation from it soon looks and feels inauthentic. At that point the persona has eclipsed the person, and the audience has captured the influencer.

— Gurwinder, The Perils of Audience Capture

Incredible Panics

A blogpost on how Moral panics are manufactured. And how they hurt the credibility of journalist class itself.

Moral panics like this one are not just harmful to musket owners and model rocket builders. They distract and discredit journalists, making it harder to perform the essential function of serving as a check on the powerful.

— Maciej Cegłowski, Anatomy of a Moral Panic

Ephemeral Organization

Revisiting this essay on the technical debt and how it creates problems for organizations.

Poorly managed knowledge leaves organizations with the memory of goldfish. I can’t tell you how many new product initiative meetings I’ve been in where no one remembers the meeting about the exact same thing from two quarters ago. It’s like Groundhog’s Day, but you’re having the same meetings over and over.

— Dave Rupert, Technical debt as a lack of understanding

Thank you for joining me this week. If you know some who might enjoy this, please forward this email to them. See you next week.

Mudassir Chapra

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.