The digital world poses many threats, as it does in opportunities
A careful balance has to be struck in both supply (how information is being crafted out of ideas) and demand (the way people process information)
Inspired by another brilliant Gillian Tett’s piece in FT Weekend, here is my short rumination on the subject of digital world giving us, readers, as much scorn and hate, as opportunity and hope: the cost base, the unit economics and the distribution network.
First, from the FT article:
The local newspaper industry has declined as advertising has collapsed, and the FCC has lost most of its regulatory power. Meanwhile, the internet has enabled the launch of numerous media start-ups and, in the competitive world of cable TV, channels need to create loyal niche audiences rather than placate the FCC. FT Weekend — Jul 16th, 2017
The cost base: the web totally dismantled long-standing relationships between platforms and advertisers: the ad buying binge and algorithmic ad placement, curated by code and not by human relationship allowed the new agents, optimised by code, wrestle successfully against the venerable publications. Loosing ad stream, they have also lost the bi-partisanship incentive — and started veering off course to placate either the conservatives, or the liberals.
The unit economics: Hobbyists of the early days of “internet rant” became entrepreneurs and the availability of channels to captivate and enthrall allow them to continue their activity profitably — at a very low cost base.
The distribution network, the low-cost data plan with your free smartphone makes you eat and focus on what you like.
To drive more ads your way, social networks, also low on manpower, but employing optimisation mechanisms, create a dream tunnel, sending your way only the info you’d want to get and not something you won’t
In the end, it’s everyone’s happy, peering into their handheld visors and not seeing the pristine reality. To adjust the aperture, several things should be done:
The supply side should invest in algorithms that would provide a snapshot of the other spectrum, or the one that would outright check the assumptions behind the supposition — and give users a rating of whether the notion is credible and worth following.
The demand side, save their low privacy skills, need to develop critical aim at anything the digital world is sending their way.