No Eyeballs Watching

Would You Behave Differently If There Was No Self-Made Panopticon Surrounding You?

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

Last week Mikkel wrote in his newsletter that he wished he would write more often. In his packed days, Mikkel claimed that brutal force is needed to keep writing regularly. Otherwise it simply won’t happen.

Writing this newsletter is among my favorite activities of the week. Yet it has been a real struggle the last weeks. We’ve been busy with co-matter and my personal life has been flourishing taking up more time and energy. Everything something I am happy for, but also something that has forced me to push down this newsletter on the priority list.

Naive Weekly is in no way a popular newsletter. You are around 250 people subscribed, with a modest, yet steady opening rate of 50%. The newsletter is a personal outlet; something that keeps me reading, forces me to structure thinking and ideally stop me from continuously repeating myself.

The value I gain from writing the newsletter is therefore almost only intrinsically. I get to learn new things, improve my writing and occasionally make a new friend when one of you hit reply and comment on something I wrote.

I agree with Mikkel that force is required to write the newsletter. There is no way I’d have managed to write the last three-four newsletter had it not been because of the six people who have decided to become paying subscribers to this newsletter. It increased my commitment to them, I simply couldn’t just skip a week.

But I think there is more blocking us from writing than only coercion. I’ve started to build certain expectations to myself for the newsletter. I would not just want to write something random and incoherent. It is weird, because these expectations have nothing to do with my motivation for writing in the first place.

However, it is not only my self-made expectations and format that holds me back. I get slightly stressed out if I notice that the opening rate has fallen from 50-52% to 42% on a particular week. Although these external metrics have nothing to do with my motivation for writing Naive Weekly, they start to slip into my thoughts and are probably influencing headline, text, links and everything beyond more than I’d like to admit.

I often wished that it would be possible to switch off the dashboards for what we do online. All the email clients I’ve tested for this newsletter always have a dashboard where metrics are the emphasised. And whenever I create a new website, installing Google Analytics have been my default behaviour.

Feedback loops are important for improving and continuing. I become really happy whenever someone replies to what I write and I also appreciate when someone hits the like button that is hidden somewhere. So I don’t want feedback to totally disappear, I just wished it was based on something else than opening and click rates. I think we would get a more diverse Internet, with a wider variety of stories and more people publishing regularly.

Five Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. Amazon to Open 10 Pop-up Shops in UK Town Centres

I wonder how this will go down in the history books. Online store disrupted physical stores to create new physical stores. It deepens the trend towards monoculture of the Internet. On the positive side, maybe we can revitalize streets and neighborhoods.

2. These Influencers Aren’t Flesh and Blood, Yet Millions Follow Them

There are a few made-up personalities on social media platforms with millions of followers. What strikes me as weird in this story is that we consider this weird in the first place. Consumer behaviour has for a long time been shaped by made-up personalities - from Santa Claus to Harry Potter.

3. Welcome to the Era of Branded Engagements

Last week an influencer proposal made waves on the Internet. In short: an influencer couple made a deck about their (surprise) proposal and shared it with brands to offer them a one-of-kind brand engagement. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. The distinction between what you do for yourself and for earning money seems rather slim.

4. The Problem With “Content”

Not everything we write should be a transaction. Not everything we write should aim to convert a reader into a customer. This article inspired me for this week’s intro.

5. $1 billion for 20,000 Bay Area homes

Google just announced a bigger plan to provide more housing opportunities in the Bay Area. It is nice to see large scale pushes towards affordable housing. However, this is obviously not philanthropy. There must be things we can learn from the past. Does anyone know good readings on “company towns” (e.g. Detroit)?

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 six Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajSørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!