Weak Signal Wednesday: China Legislates Algorithms and Shondaland VR.

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Shonda Rhimes on Knowing Your Worth

After the global success of Bridgerton (82 million views in the first 28 days), I wasn’t surprised to read that Netflix renewed their collaboration with Shondaland. The new 4-year agreement worth $150 million USD includes an additional $200 million USD in bonuses.

In an interview with Variety, one particular detail caught my interest:

Netflix’s new deal with Shondaland, announced in July, has even expanded the relationship to include movies, gaming and virtual reality content. Rhimes has no solid plans for the digital projects yet, but she’s very interested in those worlds, and wanted to make sure “that space was carved out.”

Gaming and virtual reality content. Companies like Netflix are paying attention to the rise of the metaverse and will change the way we Netflix and chill forever. When world-class creators start thinking about “carving out space”, you know big shifts are coming to the world of entertainment. Sign me up for VR Shondaland!

Every time I read an article about Shonda, I’m reminded about the importance of knowing your own worth, first and foremost.

Do you know what pushed Shonda to leave ABC for Netflix?

Turns out it was a Disneyland all-access pass. Apparently, ABC employees get two passes to Disneyland but when Shonda requested a third pass, not only did ABC say no, but the executive she spoke to then asked, “Don’t you have enough?”

Excuse me??

Now, remember, at this point in time, Shonda was the ONLY show-runner in history to own an entire night on primetime TV. ABC’s Thursday night line-up consisted of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder.

Over the course of her tenure, Rhimes brought in OVER TWO BILLION DOLLARS worth of revenue. You would think that they would bend over backwards to keep her happy, right?

Yeah. No.

Apparently, this was the last straw in a long pattern of ABC undervaluing her talent. No matter how many billions she earned, she had to be the one to decide what she was worth — at the very least an extra Disneyland ticket. It’s a step we all have to take for ourselves.

I am reminded of this lesson when I hear myself tying my sense of being good enough to external validators. Whether my next book sells or I get a good review, shouldn’t be the determining factor of how I judge my own value.

In a world where we’ve been conditioned to seek likes, subscribers, and retweets as signs of mattering, how do we tune in to our own inner voice and be enough just as we are?

China cracks down on Algorithms

Finally, I (and the rest of the tech community) are closely following the new laws that will be rolled out in China as of March 1st focusing on regulating tech platforms and the black box algorithms they use to manipulate our attention.

Companies will be required (aka forced) to provide more transparency on how their algorithms influence users, with a crackdown addictive behaviors or excessive spending.

Plus, the new rules will force companies to include an option for consumers to opt-out of the recommendation engine, which is something privacy advocates have been pushing for.

Globally, governments from around the world have been trying to figure out how to legislatively handle the growing power of multi-national technology companies whose algorithms we now know (for a fact) are undermining democracy and sowing distrust in public institutions.

This will have a geopolitical impact as well, as international companies wanting to access the Chinese market will have to rethink their business models.

Rahaf Harfoush is a Digital Anthropologist and New York Times Best-Selling Author. She is the Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture. Rahaf is a Visiting Policy Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute and a member of France’s National Digital Council. Learn more about her work here.

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