Six Bullet Saturday (1/27/2018)

What I’m reading: An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn. I found this book accidentally while browsing online for the original Odyssey by Homer for class. Through exploring the text together—first when his father attends an undergraduate seminar taught by the author, then on a Mediterranean cruise—the author is able to chip away at the mystique surrounding his closed-off father. I’ve only had the chance to go through the first chapter but am enamored by the complicated dance taking place between two family members who have difficulty opening up to each other. All wrapped-up in New Yorker-style prose, of course.

What I’m listening to: And the Beat Goes On by The Whispers. Funky.

What I’m watching: Nothing much, just the new Grand Tour episode—Jeremy Clarkson & co. being brilliant as always. Oh, and old reruns of The Office, because procrastinating is fun.

Cool thing of the week: Metro line colors of the world, also bonus comment:

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 7.40.59 PM

Tweet of the week:

But seriously, what Amazon doing is quite amazing/scary. They aren’t afraid to spend a lot of capital and give up short-term gains in exchange for future dominance. Plus, people love them, a real head-scratcher for regulators.

Commonplace book entry of the week:

During the Netflix earnings call this week, Chief Content Officer Theodore A. Sarandos said something pretty remarkable in response to a question about Bright’s lack of critical success:

“So, the way to reconcile it is, that critics are an important part of the kind of artistic process but are not — they’re pretty disconnected from the commercial prospects of a film.”

As Stratechery’s Ben Thompson puts it succinctly, “Goodbye gatekeepers”. However, I think more than just media, Sarandos’ quote is a rather fitting summary of a trend that started in 2017 and is spreading like wildfire. The Larry Nassar trial—a chronological continuation of Susan Fowler’s incredible courage and the Weinstein scandal—fake news and misinformation, and even Amazon Web Services have shown the true power and ramifications of the Internet. In the media sector, no longer do traditional critics and production companies have sway over the success of content or an aspiring actor/actress. Powerful companies and senior leaders are no longer immune from accountability with regards to sexual harassment. News and information are no longer flowing through controlled channels of distribution, but rather, are so abundant anyone and everyone can find their perfect niche. AWS lowers barriers to entry; any aspiring small business can have direct access to enterprise-grade software and management services—yes, I know the Amazon aspect of the equation is still very problematic. But still, it is truly incredible to see what has been unleashed. Empowerment on the individual level walks in lock-step with the decline of expertise—and whatever that may bode for society. The very real tradeoffs come packaged whether we like it or not and comes with bright shiny warnings of how we should rethink about the fundamental relationships underlying problems such as misinformation. There is no easy answer to how we solve these problems, neither is there a blueprint on how to conquer future ones. The nature of tradeoffs precludes this luxury but also encourages us to do the kind of long-term thinking people preach but don’t really do—especially not in governance spheres. And so, we march on.

 

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