that’s why I think it’s good like what
you do in terms of coversation is like you
basically say you know I’m gonna do long
form because that you know feels like at
least from my perspective the healthiest
yeah it’s conversation but is even in
that case people will take long-form
edit things out of context and then it
becomes the same problem that we have on
Twitter and with everything else you get
these little sound bites so there’s
little video clips and you don’t
understand the full context of the
conversation or what was actually said
and then people get outraged at that
it’s you know it’s we are living in a
very strange time and I believe it’s an
adolescent stage of communication and I
think it’s going to give our
frustrations for this are going to give
birth to a better full
and I think one of the things that
podcasts what it’s in response to the
popularity of the long-form is in
response to people being upset with like
these traditional late-night talk show
things where there’s a window here with
one guy on the right and a window here
with a guy on the left and there’s a
person in the center and they’re yelling
at each other and then you cut to
commercial and you don’t really feel
like things got resolved so the response
to that where people gravitate it’s
three is theater yeah I think he’s was
it hard for you you know when we came up
his comments it was also at that point
like it was sort of a gladiatorial
environment you know and I remember you
know the Boston scene you know was
always like that’s a tough scene yeah
he’d come up and it was kind of
gladiatorial and but you had that
audience and you develop kind of that
thick skin is it hard to then make that
switch in your mind to this different
form that’s so much more considered so
much less about conquering the stage
yeah it is about being open and is that
something that for you what was the
switch for you from those two forms
because that’s and that’s an interesting
switch well in the beginning there
wasn’t very good switch you know it’s
like one of the reasons why the early
episode sucked it’s like I didn’t know
what I was doing and I didn’t think
anybody was listening it was just for
fun and there was a lot of just hanging
out with comics and just doing what
comics do if we were at a diner
somewhere just talking shit and making
each other laugh but we were doing it
and videotaping it and then along the
way I started interviewing actual
interesting people and talking to them
and having conversations and not you
know I don’t you know I there’s a place
for comedy and then I don’t I make a
really big point in never trying to
force comedy into places where it
doesn’t belong that’s I do that also
with the UFC when I do commentary I’m
never funny there’s no reason to be it’s
not what my job is you know and then
when I’m doing a conversation with
someone I just try to talk I don’t try
to be a comic I don’t try I just I’m a
human I want I want to know what they’re
talking about and I want to I want to
get them to expand upon their
ideas as best they can and I want to be
engaged that’s what I’m trying to do so
it wasn’t that it wasn’t that was a big
Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics at Princeton, joins hosts Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi to discuss his paper on protest tactics and ‘Agenda Seeding,’ and the polarized reaction it’s received.
Peter Atwater, president of Financial Insyghts LLC, sees the state of the modern world reflected in the rhetoric and actions that surround us. Whether it is China recalling loaned pandas from the San Diego Zoo, the troubled IPOs of Uber and Lyft, or the willingness of people all around the globe to elect previously unthinkable leaders, there are several recent signs that the ground is shifting beneath our feet. In this interview with Grant Williams, Atwater cuts through the noise to focus on the sentiment indicators that are informing his current world view. Filmed on May 22, 2019 in New York.
45 min: What role does passive play?
Since the invention of writing, human innovation has transformed how we formulate new ideas, organize our societies, and communicate with one another. But in an age of rapid-fire social media and nonstop algorithm-generated outrage, technology is no longer helping to expand or enrich the public sphere.
BERKELEY – Since 1900, human technology and organization have been evolving at a blistering pace. The degree of change that occurs in just one year would have taken 50 years or more before 1500. War and politics used to be the meat of human history, with advances in technology and organization unfolding very slowly – if at all – in the background. Now, the inverse is true.
The impact of technological innovation on the marketplace of ideas has brought about some of the most consequential changes. The shift from the age of handwritten and hand-copied manuscripts to that of the Gutenberg press ushered in the Copernican Revolution (along with almost two centuries of genocidal religious war). Pamphlets and coffee houses broadened the public sphere and positioned public opinion as a powerful constraint on political rulers’ behavior.
As John Adams, the second president of the United States, later pointed out, the “[American] Revolution was effected before the war commenced … in the minds and hearts of the people.” The decisive intellectual battle, we now know, was won by the English-born printer Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense. Still, even during the revolutionary period, the pace of change was far slower than it is today. In the space of just two human lifetimes, we have gone from mass-market newspapers and press lords to radio and network television, and then on to the Internet and today’s social media-driven public sphere. And most of us will live long enough to witness whatever comes next.
There is now a near-consensus – at least among those who are not completely steeped in social-media propaganda – that the current public sphere does not serve us well. “Social media is broken,” the American author Annalee Newitz wrote in a recent commentary for the New York Times. “It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it.”
Western societies have experienced a similar sentiment before. In the 1930s, my great-uncles listened to their elders complain about how radio had allowed demagogues like Adolf Hitler, Charles Coughlin, and Franklin D. Roosevelt (that “communist”) to short-circuit the normal processes of public discourse. No longer were public debates kept sober and rational by traditional gatekeepers. In the new age of broadcast, unapproved memes could spread far and wide without interference. Politicians and ideologues who may not have had the public interest in mind could get right into people’s ears and hijack their brains.
Nowadays, the problem is not a single demagogue, but a public sphere beset by swarms of “influencers,” propagandists, and bots, all semi-coordinated by the dynamics of the medium itself. Once again, ideas of dubious quality and provenance are shaping people’s thoughts without having been subjected to adequate evaluation and analysis.
We should have seen this coming. A generation ago, when the “net” was limited to universities and research institutes, there was an annual “September” phenomenon. Each year, new arrivals to the institution would be given an email account and/or user profile, whereupon they would rapidly find their online communities. They would begin to talk, and someone, inevitably, would get annoyed. For the next month, whatever informational or discursive use the net might have had would be sidelined by continuous vitriolic exchanges.
Then things would calm down. People would remember to put on their asbestos underwear before logging on; they learned not to take the newbies so seriously. Trolls would find themselves banned from the forums they loved to disrupt. And, in any case, most who experimented with the troll lifestyle realized that it has little to recommend it. For the next 11 months, the net would serve its purpose, significantly extending each user’s cultural, conversational, and intellectual range, and adding to the collective stock of human intelligence.
But as the Internet began to spread to each household and then to each smartphone, fears about the danger of an “eternal September” have been confirmed. There is more money to be made by stoking outrage than by providing sound information and encouraging the social-learning process that once taught net newbies to calm down. And yet, today’s Internet does offer valuable information, so much so that few of us could imagine doing without it. To access that information, we have tacitly agreed to allow the architects at Facebook, Twitter, Google (especially YouTube), and elsewhere to shape the public sphere with their outrage- and clickbait-generating algorithms.
Meanwhile, others have found that there is a great deal of money and power to be gained by shaping public opinion online. If you want to get your views out there, it is easier to piggyback on the outrage machine than to develop a comprehensive rational argument – especially when those views are self-serving and deleterious to the public good.
For her part, Newitz ends her recent commentary on a hopeful note. “Public life has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else,” she writes. “We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms – and give it back to human beings. We may need to slow down, but we’ve created democracies out of chaos before. We can do it again.”
Such hope may be necessary for journalists these days. Unfortunately, a rational evaluation of our situation suggests that it is unjustified. The eternal September of our discontent has arrived.
Following is complete list of Google News sources based on data provided by Google itself. It includes both traditional news websites and blogs.
This is the full unedited interview David Foster Wallace gave to the German television station, ZDF, in 2003.
If I hear another lecture from Fred Smith and his fellow billionaires on trickle-down tax cuts and the “benefits to the United States economy, especially lower and middle class wage earners”, I’m going to lose it.
If I hear another lecture from Jay Powell and his fellow centimillionaires and decamillionaires at the Fed on trickle-down monetary policy and the “benefits to the United States economy, especially lower and middle class wage earners”, I’m going to lose it.
What’s the boomer world?
It’s a world where our current President is an on-the-make billionaire, and our most recent former President seems hell-bent on becoming one. A world where lawyers from Citadel write our securities regulations, and VPs from Boeing run our Defense Dept. A world where corporate managers can become billionaires – not by innovation or risk-taking – but by stock-based comp at scale. A world where asset managers can become billionaires – not by invention or outperformance – but by asset-gathering at scale.
It’s a world that has been systematically hollowed out for decades, through
- narrative capture of monetary policy,
- trade policy,
- antitrust law,
- mass media and the
- tax code.
“Yay, trickle-down economics!”
It’s a bipartisan thing. It’s a Zeitgeist thing.
And the 2017 Tax Cuts and (LOL) Jobs Act was just the latest smiley-face punch in the gut.
Worried about losing your freedom to a redistributive State? I think you’ve already lost it.
Just not in the direction you thought.