Two major online news factors for young people

pew-readersNew Pew Research reveals that young people prefer to READ news online rather than watch it. This is being presented as a revelation (Younger adults prefer to get their news in text, not video, according to new data from Pew Research), but it’s really just another example of news organizations’ history of not paying attention to reality. The new report doesn’t tell the whys, and doesn’t even speculate. Please allow me to give you two important reasons why young people prefer reading news to watching it:

Over fifteen years ago, then J. Walter Thompson CEO Bob Jeffrey said, “Time is the new currency.” Many of us at the time applied the idea to online media, especially after we learned that viewers were using DVRs to avoid commercials, and the not-so-secret reason was that they “didn’t have time” for commercials. Therefore, the first reason young people would rather read news that watch it is you can do the former a whole lot faster. Don’t try to dazzle me with your storytelling genius; just give me the facts, so that I can determine (for myself) if I wish to explore further.

The reason media companies prefer video is the nice ROI on ads. Madison Avenue likes video, and that means media companies do, too. Unfortunately, nobody in either of those two chairs gives a ripple chip about what the audience might think and don’t think twice about irritating those viewers with pre-roll ads. Therefore, the second reason young people prefer reading to viewing is the annoyance and wasted time of advertising that is meant for a different medium.

All of this is doubly significant on mobile, which is THE go-to platform of young people (and beyond).

There are other factors. For example, prime time for news remains the hours at work, and the disruption to the office of someone watching a video is untenable.

Many of us have known for a very long time that news clips with attached (or detached) pre-rolls wouldn’t work to grow revenue, just like we knew that recorded newscasts on demand wouldn’t be a significant revenue source either. This is the Web, people, not TV. We’re not on a stage with a captive audience. We still need to get over ourselves and start honoring those eyeballs that we need so badly. And PLEASE can we stop feeding them ads that were created for TV, not the Web?

Another media disruption ahead

caitlindeweyCaitlin Dewey is a canary in the coal mine of the web, and she’s singing a warning to everyone. I sense what she’s saying, and I’ll bet you do, too. Profit through disruptive advertising and the damned reliance on platforms are slowly sucking the air out of our grand experiment in connectivity.

Caitlin is the digital culture critic for The Washington Post and one of the hippest web denizens around. She’s a brilliant and funny writer and also produces a weekly must-read newsletter (Links I Would Gchat You if We Were Friends) that I’ve been enjoying from the beginning. When she speaks, we need to listen, and here’s a part of what she wrote this week:

Friends, I am homeless. Not physically. I mean this in a virtual sense. I *write* about Internet culture, and I feel like I have no home base on the web. I tweeted about this last week in the context of Twitter, which I haven’t been on too much since. (Trust me, when you’re off Twitter, you miss n-o-t-h-i-n-g of significance.) But it also applies to Facebook, which I’ve never been too active on because it creeps me out. And Instagram, which I’ve tired of since the ads hit my account. Even Pinterest, which I unironically love and have long considered a form of relaxation on par with watching HGTV, is drowning in bad ads and “promoted” pins and other crap that ruins it for me.

I dunno, guys — am I getting old? Am I the world’s least-suited Internet writer? There has to be a place for people like me, but maybe it’s not yet on “THE CYBER.” I like Snapchat alright. Reddit is good. Idk, I have Goodreads? Like are the mainstream social networks all terrible now, or is this just me?!

It’s not just Caitlin, and it’s interesting that she’s seeing this and writing about it today, for the canary-in-the-coal-mine analogy is accurate. The Evolving User Paradigm is a relentless taskmaster that sits still for no one. Change is a constant online, but advertising based in the modernist mindset requires controllable equilibrium, and therein lies the rub. Closed platforms are required for what’s viewed as “success,” but as we learned as far back as AOL, they cannot sustain user interest forever. Chaos will win everytime when web denizens grow beyond the highly managed boundaries of platforms. Caitlin Dewey isn’t unique; she’s just way ahead of the curve in terms of use and understanding of the internet. Others will get there, too, and eventually everybody.

The first round of digital media innovation, which has created the commercial web that Caitlin is lamenting, is on the verge of collapsing, because the innovators have given away possibility in the name of old fashioned profit, and who could blame them? The problem is that the inevitable end of pouring new wine into old wineskins is explosive ruin, and that’s what’s been happening over the last twenty years.

Madison Avenue knows only mass marketing, which relies on basically two strategies:

  • Accompany content, which is the method of operation for print media.
  • Interrupt content, which is the method of operation for broadcasting (and increasingly the web).

So despite elaborate and sophisticated data used to create highly efficient targeting, advertisers still fall back on these two strategies, and it’s what’s destroying the experience to which Caitlin refers. Both are clumsy and the enemy of participation, and neither will sustain the status quo for long. It’s also what creates the addiction to platforms, a.k.a. apps, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – she calls them the “mainstream social networks.” THE network can do so much better, and that will be the next level of innovation.

davewinerBlogging’s most original thinker Dave Winer has already figured out ways to build simple open source outliners and other tools that stand alone in a browser, and I always pay attention to Dave. Moreover, Dave is seeing the same thing Caitlin is suggesting, which adds to the weight of the prophecy above;

When Jerry (Garcia) died in 1995, I wrote:

Like the big tree that fell last March, the death of a huge human being like Jerry Garcia frees up a huge amount of space. Once there was a tree, now there are seedlings. After the sadness, there will be huge creativity.

Same would probably be true if Facebook ever relented and stopped stifling the web and embraced it instead. Then the growth could flow through them instead of around them. Ultimately I think the web will go on, treating Facebook like the outage that it has chosen to be.

In a comment to this post on Facebook, Dave also stated: “I have a BAD FEELING about Facebook because they are being such bad net citizens.”

My friends, the promise of a horizontal society available via the network will survive attempts to wrestle its chaotic nature to the capitalist ground. Investing in such attempts may produce results for a season, but none will be lasting, especially when growth is a necessary element of such. It’s not like IRL, where control is obtained from the top-down, and I’ll continue to keep my eyes on the visionaries of our time.

Where they inject reality and clueless people with money piss all over it, get your popcorn ready, because the show’s about to begin.

Maybe your problem with Hillary is guilt

hillarylogo I’m voting for Hillary Clinton next month, and I wanted to go on the record with you about my reasoning.

Now I know – and especially due to my background – that I’ll be falsely accused of having fallen away or of becoming a liberal based on this decision. If this is your choice, that’s fine. However, you’ll miss arguments that come from unique knowledge and study, and qualifications that include insight to marketing and forms of propaganda that I helped create. In other words, dismiss if you wish, but grant me the benefit of the doubt and at least read it.

I first heard of Hillary when serving on the Governor’s Commission on the Family in Hawaii in 1989. Our group was tasked with researching programs and concepts around the world that were designed to strengthen families and report our findings to Governor John Waihee. In the Hawaiian culture, “ohana” means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional), according to Wikipedia. Ohana, however, carries meaning that transcends the word itself. “The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another. The term is similar in meaning and usage to the New Zealand Māori term whānau, and its cognate in Māori is kōhanga, meaning ‘nest’.”

So this was a big deal in Hawaii, and from the beginning of our work, I heard constant references to the young Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton and especially his wife, Hillary, who had created a group in Arkansas that was making a difference for especially low-income families. It became one of the founding concepts of our Ohana group, and I took a liking to its author, a woman of political privilege who had chosen to defer personal ambition for the sake of pleading the cause of the poor and the afflicted. According to her website, this decision was deeply personal:

Instead of signing on to a prestigious law firm after graduating, Hillary went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund—shaping her burgeoning career around the fundamental need for quality public education for every American child, regardless of their background, location, or unique needs. She worked with teenagers incarcerated in adult prisons in South Carolina and families with children with disabilities in Massachusetts. It sparked a lifelong passion for helping children live up to their potential.

When she was appointed to the Arkansas Education Standards Committee, Hillary crossed the state, investigating public schools, listening to parents and teachers, and working with a team of educators to create policy that would better prepare Arkansas students for a 21st-century economy. And earlier, she co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, which would later make huge strides in standing up for children in the welfare system.

When Bill Clinton became President, I paid attention to Hillary, for most of the knowledgeable people in that Ohana group convinced me that, of the two Clintons, she was the one with the smarts, passion, and connections. Again – and please pay attention here – she had subjugated any personal political ambition to work within the shadows of others to make a difference. I find this quality endearing, appealing, and quite contrary to the messages bombarding the public square today suggesting a lying, murdering, greedy, and self-absorbed “crook.” Whenever I’ve read anything about her over the many years that she’s been in public service, I’ve always filtered it through my knowledge of her early work and my own ground level efforts over time.

The point is I like Hillary Clinton and have for many years. She is quite simply NOT the bitch she is painted to be by the right. She’s hated by the right, not because of what she’s criticized for, but because she’s a major threat to those who are in it for themselves. Read the Democratic Party Platform. Honestly? It reads like the red words of the Bible, not the Gospel of Self preached and practiced by the Christian Right.

Mrs. Clinton is likely the most questioned and investigated candidate for president in American history. Why? Because she pleads the cause of the poor and the afflicted, and this does not sit well with the status quo. Folks, it never has, because the false assumption is that resources are a zero sum game and that liberal policies depend entirely on funding. So they argue that people like Mrs. Clinton want to take from others (them) in order to enact policies that benefit the poor. When that doesn’t work, they choose character assassination and demand investigations over bogus claims of wrongdoing. That hasn’t worked either, because despite the millions wasted in these investigations, she stands convicted of nothing. The only shift available now is to conspiracy theories, which reflect more on the paranoid theorists than Mrs. Clinton.

fblikesAgain, the real issue is that Hillary Clinton pleads the cause of the poor and the afflicted, and this is the Biblical definition of knowing God (see Jeremiah 22:16). Those most critical of her – especially Evangelical Christians – ought to know this and be asking themselves whose side they’re really supporting. Jeremiah wasn’t speaking of the unborn, nor was he referencing anybody’s “rights” – even so-called “religious freedom.” What good is religious freedom, after all, if it’s used only to isolate, separate, judge, create profound wealth, and produce the motivation behind the prayer of the Pharisee, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

Yes, I’m voting for Mrs. Clinton, and I didn’t once mention Donald Trump, which is an entirely different matter.

Observations from the debate spectacle

debateFor as long as there have been televised debates, I’ve watched them. I’ve seen all the great moments, from Nixon’s sweating face to “I won’t use this debate to exploit my opponent’s youth and inexperience” and to “I knew Jack Kennedy; you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Last night’s was clearly the most intriguing and entertaining of them all, and I have a few observations.

One, Mr. Trump’s sniffing was REALLY annoying and was remarkably inappropriate considering the guy’s experience with television. I’d rate it on a scale with Nixon’s sweat in terms of making the guy seem, well, offensive and disgusting. There are now accusations of cocaine use, and I don’t expect that will go away. Aesthetics are the penultimate point of putting candidates side-by-side on television, and here Mrs. Clinton was the clear winner. This is especially important given the mileage the Trump campaign has gotten with portraying Mrs. Clinton as not having either the look or the stamina to be president. Towards the end of the debate, Mr. Trump looked awful. The skin around his eyes was red, and he presented a gaunt persona, and it was so obvious that it turned the accusations of Mrs. Clinton’s lack of stamina completely upside down.

Two, any time a person uses the phrase “there’s no question about it” as evidence to win an argument, the listener can rest assured that there is most certainly a question about what’s just been said. Mr. Trump was the only one to use that line.

Three, many years ago, I helped organize a blogger meet-up for a client in San Francisco. The general manager ordered commemorative t-shirts, and loaded the order with 2X and 3X sizes (and very few smalls) in the stereotypical assumption that all geeks are overweight basement dwellers with empty bags of Cheetos on the floor. The opposite is true, and the manager was rounded criticized by the bloggers for such thinking. Donald Trump’s pronouncement that the DNC hacker could have been a 400-pound guy in his basement is solid evidence of ignorance and a willingness to act on stereotype.

Four, I think the debate was clearly and unequivocally won by Mrs. Clinton on both levels of content and presentation. That she was prepared was obvious, and has been noted elsewhere this morning, she clearly got under the skin of Mr. Trump.

However, there are two observations I wish to make about Mr. Trump’s performance and, especially, how well he played to his supporters.

One, he said that the “mainstream media” was a part of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign team. This is a claim that rests entirely on the fallacious assumption that “the press” is biased in favor of progressive thinking at the expense of tradition. As I’ve written in my new book, The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP, this is an artificial claim that we used at The 700 Club in the early 80s to justify placing our right wing “news” on the same level of credibility as everybody else doing news. Prior to the debate, Mr. Trump actually identified moderator Lester Holt of NBC News as “a Democrat,” when in fact, he is a Republican. This is further evidence of Mr. Trump’s own bias, ignorance, bad instincts, and willingness to apply fallacious assumptions in public speaking.

Two, one of the real treasures of living in red state Alabama is homegrown SEC sports talk show host Paul Finebaum. And one of the keys to his program – like many sports radio shows – is the regular callers who play certain redneck roles that Mr. Finebaum exploits to have fun while passing along his commentary. I don’t question his love for these people, but in terms of language, intelligence, and unbridled passion for their football teams especially, they do stand out as a contrast to Finebaum’s wit, sarcasm, and brilliant mind. It makes for good conflict, which makes for good talk radio.

In the early summer of 2015, I was in my car and listening, when one of these callers switched subjects in order to pass along to Paul his “discovery.” He was really excited and through his thick southern accent said, “Have you seen this new guy who’s running for president, Paul? You need to look into him, onaconacuz (Alabamaspeak for “on account of/because”) he’s the smartest guy I ever done heard!” Finebaum probed for more, and the caller kept referring to Donald Trump as smart, while offering his wealth as proof. It would have been hilarious had the guy not been so serious, and it was then that I knew that Mr. Trump had already breached the wall of the rural southern mind. I also knew it meant trouble for other Republican candidates who were counting on normal red state support and behavior.

Today, I’m seeing that same attitude being played out among Facebook supporters who fit the mold of southern Republicans and are granting Mr. Trump victory in the debate. It’s enough to make me believe they watched a different program, until I realize that, of course they would think he won, because, after all, Mr. Trump is so incredibly smart.

The logical fallacies of Benjamin Netanyahu

netanyahu-ethnic-cleansing-palestine-mondoweissAs Donald Trump continues to campaign using logical fallacies as his daily weapons (e.g. To deflect attention away from his admission that President Obama is a U.S. Citizen, he told followers that the whole idea was Hillary’s in the first place – classic), there is a more ruthless practitioner of fallacious reasoning across the sea. His name is Benjamin Netanyahu, and his latest got virtually zero coverage by media in the U.S.

An important part of Israeli hasbara (official propaganda) is a relentless dissemination of misinformation to American supporters. After all, the United States provides $10 million a day in military aid to Israel, so it’s understandable that the Israeli government would feel obligated to provide “evidence” that the money is being well-spent. The problem is that the money can’t be morally justified, and so the Prime Minister must twist the facts to fit a tired, old narrative.

Netanyahu regularly produces English language videos for consumption here in the U.S. These videos bend current events to shape the narrative that poor, defenseless Israel will ALWAYS need the support of friends to prevent another holocaust. Meanwhile, the IDF continues to perpetrate genocidal crimes against Palestinian neighbors in an illegal land grab in the West Bank. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Those crimes involve “extrajudicial executions” (what we call murder) of Palestinians, the terrorizing of legal residents, and the continued bulldozing of Palestinian homes in order to build Israeli settlements and expand the territory it polices. It is the systematic destruction of a people and their culture in order to remove them entirely from the land. There’s a word for this, and it’s called “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing.”

And yet, in this latest video to Americans, Netanyahu uses the same term in describing the Palestinian wishes to remove the illegal settlements. The Palestinians, he says, want to cleanse the land of Jews! This is a logical fallacy. It’s very clever, and we buy it almost completely.

Netanyahu was roundly criticized for this video – even in his own country – for it’s an obviously outrageous claim, especially in light of the evidence to the contrary. The State Department responded immediately, but again, this was not covered in the U.S.

So we have seen the Israeli prime minister’s video. We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful. Settlements are a final status issue that must be resolved in negotiations between the parties. We share the view of every past U.S. administration and the strong consensus of the international community that ongoing settlement activity is an obstacle to peace. We continue to call on both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to the two-state solution.

Look, let’s be real. There will be no two-state solution in the Holy Land. The best we can hope for – perhaps generations from now – is a peaceful solution that includes both Israelis and Palestinians under a single government that doesn’t discriminate against either. South Africa is the model, but that country was able to get past logical fallacies in facing the reality of its situation.

Israel’s current government is simply incapable of such.

The logical fallacies of Donald Trump

campaignJust when you think this year’s presidential campaign can’t get any more insane, along comes Hillary Clinton’s claim that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.” Mistake or otherwise, it’s hard to argue that she isn’t totally frustrated by campaigning against Mr. Trump’s dirty tricks. She’s been playing defense against the guy from the beginning, and it reveals the difficulty of arguing with a really good salesman, something I don’t believe we’ve ever experienced in American history.

Mr. Trump employs tactics in his rhetoric known as “logical fallacies” in order to manipulate the debate. These are not new, but most people aren’t aware they’re being manipulated in the process, and that’s what makes them dirty tricks. There’s a wonderful book published in 2006 that ought to be in everybody’s library. It’s called “The Thinker’s Guide to Fallacies: The Art of Mental Trickery and Manipulation” by Richard Paul and Linda Elder. It is, in fact, a guide to the strategies and tactics of Donald Trump in a section labeled “44 Foul Ways to Win an Argument:

First remember that those who strive to manipulate you always want something from you: your money, your vote, your support, your time, your soul – something! But they also need you to be unaware of what they are about. They always have something (often a lot) to hide. In any case, their goal is not the use of sound evidence and valid reasoning. In every case, they insult our intelligence by assuming that a manipulative trick will work on us, that we are not insightful enough to see what they are doing.

The 44 foul ways to win an argument are defined as “dirty tricks of those who want to gain an advantage,” and dirty trick number one is straight out of Mr. Trump’s playbook:

Dirty Trick #1: Accuse Your Opponent of Doing What He is Accusing You of (or worse)
This is sometimes called, “Pointing to another wrong.” When under attack and having trouble defending themselves, manipulators turn the tables. They accuse their opponent of doing what they are being accused of. “You say that I don’t love you! I think it is you who does not love me!” Manipulators know this is a good way to put their opponents on the defensive. You may want to up the ante by accusing your opponent of doing something worse that what he is accusing you of. “How dare you accuse me of being messy? When was the last time you even took a shower?”

The beauty (?) of this dirty trick is that it allows the accuser to escape criticism for the same thing in the debate, which Mr. Trump badly needs. Here are just a few examples of Dirty Trick #1 from press coverage over the course of the campaign. Mr. Trump has:

  • …accused the Clinton Foundation of granting favors when Mrs. Clinton served as Secretary of State when his own foundation was fined by the IRS for making an illegal campaign contribution to the Florida attorney general who was considering a fraud case against Trump University. The case was dropped after the $25,000 contribution.
  • …accused Mrs. Clinton of being “trigger-happy” and “an unstable person” in the same speech during which he threatens that Iranian boats that “make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make” would be shot out of the water.
  • …accused Hillary Clinton of making “one of the most brazen attempt at distraction in the history of politics” and attempting to “intimidate” and “bully” voters with her charges that he is fomenting racism with his campaign. Mr. Trump’s own life is one filled with intimidation, bullying, and racism.
  • …accused Hillary of poor health while dictating his own unconventional note from his doctor claiming that Trump would be “unequivocally” the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
  • …accused Mrs. Clinton of being a bigot, when he had displayed his own racist views of Mexicans and others. At the time, CNN’s Cody Cain called him on it:

    Trump is employing the technique of the reverse attack. When he is faced with a legitimate criticism of himself, he attempts to deflect away the criticism by attacking Clinton for the exact same shortcoming that plagues Trump, regardless of whether it actually applies to Clinton.

  • …accused Hillary of not being qualified to be president when he has no experience whatsoever in government or politics.
  • …accused Mrs. Clinton of being mentally unfit to be president, while questions about his own temperament abound over his outrageous behavior and statements.

I won’t be voting for Mr. Trump, but I have no problem if this is your choice. All I ask is that you realize you are being manipulated by a master of the dirty trick, the logical fallacies of argument. If you’re okay with that, then who am I to object?