Since I've been scooped by @benyt... it's personal news time. Starting tomorrow, I'm leaving the New York Times and going independent. A full-time newsletter where I'm gonna get weird. I am absolutely terrified and excited. Welcome to Galaxy Brain! warzel.substack.com/p/welcome-to-g…
I wrote a lot of words (too many!) about why I'm doing this but what I'm most interested in is building an online community and exploring weird ideas iteratively. I don't want my audience to feel like an abstraction. I want a conversation. I think now is the time to do that
I want to be transparent about all of this. I've not taken a minimum yearly payment deal from Substack. So no big sum - though they're offering an editor/copy editor/fact checker subsidy. They're also giving me a health care subsidy via an exchange they have an account with.
spent some serious time reading and reporting on this and i can finally report that NFTs stands for 'no free tweets' we can finally close this chapter. thanks for reading this. that'll be $74,000. nytimes.com/2021/03/24/opi…
in all seriousness it's been super fascinating to try and explore this subject and others through the lens of attention/attention economy. the last few months i feel like i've finally been able to free up a little bit of brain space to think a bit about where things are going...
...instead of just treading water in the moment with the news. right now i'm a bit worried that the ~ attention economy ~ is maturing & if you want to making a living creating online every part of your life is going to be financialized - sliced up and repackaged. feels precarious
looks like it's NFT day at the Times! i spent some time thinking about this stuff & talking to very smart people like @ljin18 and @anildash and i think that NFTs are...among other things a way to pay a lot of money to get somebody's attention. nytimes.com/2021/03/24/opi…
i'm not...super bullish about these things! but i do think it's worth paying attention when lots of ppl with lots of money are trying to rethink what an asset is. i am rooting for anything that helps creators. but also worried about adding to the precarity - as @anildash puts it:
anyhow, in the end...somebody bought a gif for $25,000 because they wanted to 'start a conversation' about NFTs and creators and draw attention to it and i wrote a column about it so if anything i've only clowned myself! the internet is magical!
so @mtaibbi here is arguing exactly what Alex Jones did on his show Monday. He quotes me but the ellipsis omits the phrase “as we’re taught to do it” which is the crux of the piece as it’s about media literacy as it’s taught (or mostly not taught) in school.
it’s not about turning off your brain. it never mentions the nyt as arbiter of truth (as many have claimed). hell it says flatly it’s not aimed at changing students minds. it’s ultimately about lateral reading. a concept that’s basically: ‘hey, figure out who wrote this’ before
i get it is a provocative argument (especially so if you choose to read only the headline and omit words that add nuance to it). but it really isn’t madness. it’s not saying critical thinking is bad. but more...we are taught to fight every battle when really we can pick n choose
brain is deeply warped from internet use so i don’t know what average voters think about stuff but i know that going to cancun pissed off the liberal media and so therefore i wonder if some ppl are...gonna be fine w/ it? it seems like the main virtue of culture war maga politics
like i can just as easily imagine ppl saying ‘lol look how mad they got! what can he even do? stop a snowstorm?!’ and then just forget about it. but maybe that’s a bridge too far? i guess i’m just wary of ppl who think accountability is possible these days
lol i was directed to this message board and wellllllll
What if the way we are taught to think critically about information we encounter is making us more vulnerable to misinformation peddlers? For the second column in my attention series I profiled @holden who thinks our info crisis is an attention crisis nytimes.com/2021/02/18/opi…
What I appreciate about his methods is the logic behind them. Basically, we are taught that engaging with a source that seems dubious or is on a subject we don’t have precious knowledge of (going down the rabbit hole) is virtuous. But it often doesn’t help our understanding.
But this is the most powerful idea, I think. That we are constantly chasing and giving time and attention to those who want to abuse it. That we don’t have to do it this way. We can save our time and then spend it on things that matter to us.
there is not a good way to talk about this that doesn't sound like bitter journalists wanting to be gatekeepers (and there's definitely issues with media accountability) but this paragraph describes a broader phenomenon online that is super tricky cjr.org/special_report…
anyhow i think journalism is both pretty straightfwd to do in the practice (anyone can call up anyone else and learn things, you don't need an advanced degree to use the phone) but an EXTREME pain in the ass to do well in an investigatory capacity. in part bc stakes are so high
think giving more ppl the ability to do the work of journalism & share their voices is a great thing. it gets tricky fast though if some ppl want to do the extremely high degree of difficulty stuff w/o any of the friction and without feeling the stakes bc it's of a 'meta' variety
it's kind of wild to me that the job listings for all of these positions says 'not eligible for remote work' when they return to regular operations. especially since some of the positions are going to ask ppl to write about work tech and even remote work!
i very much understand the advantages of a newsroom. I love newsrooms. and offices! but it is odd to me to set limits out the gate and restrict your applicant pool. especially when you say you want a diverse pool of ppl with varied life experiences/backgrounds!
"This writer should examine how the global pandemic has intensified our reliance on technology in the paid economy," says one of the descriptions. And yet...you def can't think about a hybrid work situation. Idk...weird!
New: @stuartathompson and i received a trove of smartphone location data from 1/6. The set included about 100,000 location pings, revealing around 130 devices inside the Capitol at the time of the siege. nytimes.com/2021/02/05/opi…
The data tells a few stories. It offers granular details of how many people listened to Trump’ss speech and then went to the Capitol. nytimes.com/2021/02/05/opi…
The second story is about a broken, surreptitious industry in desperate need of regulation, and of a tacit agreement we’ve entered into that threatens everyone’s individual privacy. None of this data should ever have been collected.
I'm a broken record here but I feel weird about all the MTG coverage. It's obviously important & worth the outrage given her past and present actions and her election. But if it doesn't ultimately pressure the GOP it will have the end goal of making her more of a star
the reason i bring it up is she seems to be basically only interested in governing via shitposting. which means...attention gathering. what would it look like if the coverage only reflected what she could do with her power? idk but maybe there'd be less of it?
one other thing i think about is that a lot of convos i've heard about her aren't quite taking into account the very uncomfortable notion that she..uh..does represent the views of some of her constituents...(meaning the problem is big and the reality of all this is very 😬 )
the only thing i can think about with the gamestop thing is that there are so many elements of modern life that can be manipulated (for good or ill) if enough ppl are able to commandeer enough attention. and we have so many ways for normal ppl to gather attention at scale now
like...it seems like whether its 'memeing a president into existence' or qanon or meme stocks or whatever...they're all just examples of similar destabilizing dynamics of scale. but what's interesting is i don't think most ppl realize how powerful this is yet
(not like each individual example...just the dynamics)
maybe this is a me thing but anyone else notice that their text histories w/ their partner during the pandemic are bizarre. It used to be...conversation! now it's just like contextless recipe links & peculiar life detritus bc we've been in the same space for 9 months straight
you don’t have to retweet our lame duck president for many reasons but especially because he lost and it’s over and he’s a lame duck president and did i mention he lost the election and will no longer be president?
imo what is way more fun than dunking on the lame duck president is treating him like the lame duck president that he is
reading this makes me just achingly sad. i get concerns about shutdowns and fears about the economy. i get that this feels unfair and oppressive and painful. i am scared & sad, too. but the anti-mask behavior is effectively holding the country hostage to score culture war points
i've reached the point where i don't know what to do about any of it. there are so many heroic healthcare workers who are ringing the alarm bell as loud as they can. they're saying we're entering a living nightmare that could dwarf the spring. we seem determined to ignore them
i spent 3 weeks this summer talking to people about the best way to reach anti-maskers. and how to treat people with empathy and dignity. but when this becomes wrapped up in political identity it seems almost impossible to bridge the gap. dunno what to do nytimes.com/2020/07/22/opi…
why must the news now always be both dumber and more serious than whatever scenario my brain was anticipating
just once i wanna be like...'lol this is so dumb...im gonna never think about this dumb thing again!' w/o worrying that it will metastasize into something that threatens to erode our shared reality or democracy
you need a phd in 'the dumbest shit on the internet' to really understand like a 1/3 of what's happening in the country at a given time. my personal wish for a biden presidency is to not have to care abt the dumbest shit imaginable. to be clear i dont think my wish will come true
i listened to a montana court hearing in late sept where the trump campaign was trying to sue to stop mail in voting in the state and what struck me was how the legal team barely provided a legal argument and weren’t really even trying beyond complaining that it didn’t feel fair.
i feel like the answer to @ezraklein's question here on how to cover this rn is to report on the actual legal challenges. show how the campaign is unable to marshal credible arguments/facts. and then give no oxygen to it beyond that. vox.com/2020-president…
reason why this is so big is obvious and that is that @AOC is doing what she wants earnestly and without spending so much time worrying about/focus grouping it that it becomes cringey. its just somebody who gets that the fundamental thing online is authenticity
basically comes down to the fact that it (at least appears) that this is what she wants to be doing tonight & that rules/ is basically the secret of ppl who are good at being themselves online. they do what’s fun/interesting (its hard work but diff from thinking too hard bout it)
like, is how i feel right now the way maga folks feel when trump’s account posts a gif of him from an old wwe event but the wrestlers’ faces are superimposed with msm logos? help me out