Extracting Value

Try to Bring the Fertilizer Whenever You Gather People

Another Monday (Tuesday!), Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

I’m back from Tel Aviv. It was really a positive experience walking around the city. Today’s post was written last Thursday on the beach after I had spent the day at the rehearsals of the Eurovision. Ps. Hope to be back at normal Monday publishing schedule next week.

When you gather people they need a place to meet. Entering the room you’ll quickly feel who is present and why they are sharing space and time with each other.

Today I went to the Eurovision rehearsals. In many ways an experience I probably won’t understand until later in life, yet an experience that left a clear impression of who was in the room and why they were there.

Honestly you probably already know the answer of why people were at the Eurovision rehearsals. Because the way most of us interact with the Eurovision is very telling from how it felt going to the rehearsals. It was a TV show. Period.

Zala and Gasper had three takes at this rehearsals. The goal was of course to make them accustomed to the production plan, but more than anything, it was about the look and feel of their performance on TV. Not between the two of them. Not between them and the audience. But between them and the TV viewers.

During each take, a group of ten people would sit in front of a TV screen in front of the stage. The group was discussing cuts, framing, light, angles - literally anything expect the goosebumps I felt on my skin. The same goosebumps their Israeli volunteer Abi proudly showed her friend.

As we exited the concert hall, we went back to the artist area where the TV screens were running and people from around the world were recording interviews in colourful dresses. Gasper, Zala, Ana and the rest of the delegation went to the viewing room to continue discussing the TV experience for another thirty minutes. Meanwhile Ziga and I stayed in the non-place observing people broadcasting back home.

For me the most telling experience was the second to last interview with Zala and Gasper. After three rehearsals, thirty minutes of TV planning and roughly two hours of press conference and one-on-one interviews, one of the reports ended by promising Zala and Gasper that he’d be better at Slovenian by next year’s Eurovision - clearly forgetting that they are only participants this year.

The performers singing tonight in the first semifinale at the Eurovision are all forced to be actors, representing their countries, directed by their delegations and consumed by the TV viewers. It is a show, but not for those in the room.

For me it was a reminder of not being too focused on the output of gathering people. Designing from the output can quickly end with the purest form of extraction. Instead ask what people want to contribute and trust that collecting the right people, at the right time, in the right place, with the right purpose will generate moments of goosebumps and deep connections.

Five Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. Most Americans Have Never Spoken With a Local Journalist

Only roughly one in five have spoken with a local journalist. And the numbers are worse when you look at gender, race and income, meaning that any deviate from the white male type decreases your chance of speaking with journalists. This study is a good reminder of the lack of diversity in the opinions we are exposed to.

When this year is over, I plan to look through all the stories I’ve shared in this newsletter and look for gender bias in writers and subjects. While I every week think about this, I’m sure I’ve a lot to improve in the diversity of the voices I feature. If you are impatient, check out some of the female powered newsletters in this Twitter thread.

2. The World Just Witnessed the First Entirely Virtual Presidential Campaign

Probably the biggest bias I still have to solve is the heavy US tendency in the stories I share. Of course the US is ahead of the curve in many matters, but it is not like the rest of the world is at sleep. This story about Ukraine’s new president elect is very much a proof of that.

While we often hear how extremists are using social media to amplify their views and opinions, it is new to me to hear of a president being elected despite (almost) completely neglecting the traditional political campaign. It is now eight years ago the last major social media platform was founded, but it is only now that we seem to be ready for a complete change in the distribution systems used to create power - for better and worse.

3. Twitter Is Not America

Continuing the bias topic, Pew Research Center recently published a study showing the bias of Twitter users. Twitter users are younger, more likely to identify as Democrats, more highly educated and have higher incomes than U.S. adults overall. I enjoyed Alexis Madrigal reflection on the study:

Twitter is not America. And few people who work outside the information industries choose to spend their lives reading tweets, let alone writing them. Twitter is a highly individual experience that works like a collective hallucination, not a community.

4. How Fortnite’s Success Led to Months of Intense Crunch at Epic Games

My dad usually say that your job won’t thank you. It is a rather cynic point he uses to remind me that we are all cogs in the wheel - more replaceable than we often would prefer to think.

Despite the advise of my dad, I’ve often went deep while working on projects, therefore I could relate to this behind the scene story of the toll Fortnite’s success. The story is similar to those of Facebook content moderators, Ice cream museum’s workers, Amazon employees, Tesla engineers and so forward.

I’m not sure what to advise on this, except I think we should always remind ourselves to thank the person behind the desk or behind the scenes. Success has many fathers, but we rarely get to know the majority of them.

5. Hot Take on the Future of Facebook Groups

In this Twitter thread Gina Bianchini predicts that Facebook in the future will start to monetize group admins for their work. The thread follows Facebook’s announced strategy of putting groups at the heart of the platform. I’m uncertain about Gina’s prediction, which I think is unsurprisingly fitting with her personal interest as the CEO and founder of Mighty Networks.

Yet I do think Gina raises some good points in the Twitter thread, primarily that the goals for (online) communities, movements, groups, tribes, circles, networks, etc should not be monoculture, but a plurality.

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

As always a big thanks to the five Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: Søren, Nikolaj, Dries, Mikkel, Tina & Angela!