Off the Media

Rage Profiteers: How Bloggers Harness Our Anger For Their Own Gain

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Last year, a couple of young guys in the pickup community created a deliberately offensive article for Medium.com about the female writers at XOjane. Not because they wanted to offend people for some personal benefit (it was published under pseudonyms) but to trace and observe the process.

As you can imagine, it caused a stir.

You could call it trolling. Or you could call it a social experiment. Read More

Off the Media

Who Can You Trust? A Guide To Your Online Media Diet

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You’re probably pretty aware that you’re being manipulated at this point.

Clickbait. Outrage porn. Shoddy sourcing. Stories being traded up the chain. Fake traffic. Sanctimony. The playbook of online publishers has started to resemble something a 20th century con man might use. It’s suite of ruses, misdirection and outright deception designed to steal clicks here and traffic there. It’s a way of relieving unsuspecting readers of their attention and pawning it off to trusting advertisers.

So if you’re not one of those people, that is if you are finally suspecting and suspicious, what are you to do? Who should you read? Who can you trust?

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot since I wrote my book. It’s also a question I’ve asked a lot myself — because I’d like to know the answer. Read More

Off the Media

Facebook Is Getting Rid of Clickbait — But Not Because They Care About You

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We’re saved! Finally, Facebook has announced it’s stepping in to put a stop to all the “clickbait.”

Sure, they largely created and encouraged today’s iteration of this problem (Upworthy, Buzzfeed, Viral Nova et al were founded almost exclusively around Facebook’s easy-to-game algorithms) and profited greatly from it. But now they’ve had enough and things are going to change.

I believe that. I also believe that things are going to get worse. Read More

Off the Media

The New Media Dilemma: Eschewing Crap for Quality, Despite the Incentives

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When I say that Vox and FiveThirtyEight have quickly gone from promising to clickbait hackery, they almost make it too easy. I mean, “This is what Pangaea would look like with modern borders”? C’mon. Even Gawker was aghast.

But that’s my point, it is so easy to criticize. What’s harder is the dilemma that every web publisher today is facing, including myself and the leadership at Betabeat.

This stuff gets traffic. Are we just not supposed to publish it? Read More

Expert Thoughts

How 3D Printing Is Bringing An Ancient Art Form Back to the Future

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(Photo via Joe Carr)

On my desk sits a small marble bust of the emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was carved in 1840, twenty years before Matthew Arnold’s famous essay about the philosopher king, but a thousand and a half years after the great man walked on earth.

Marcus and the other stoics would say that these years matter very little in the grand scope of time. That between then and now, people have done the same thing they’ve always done: lived, died, slept, cheated, hated, loved, excelled, failed and on and on. Read More

Off the Media

For Giants Like the New York Times, Problems Are Hidden in Plain Sight

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It’s a pleasant surprise to see Jonah Peretti make the most salient criticism of the New York Times’ recently controversial (and leaked) innovation report. Why is the Times being so hard on its tech and product teams while ignoring the real elephant in the room?

They spend an estimated $644 million combined on delivery and printing costs, plus untold hundreds of millions to be based in the heart of Manhattan. Aren’t these the real, daily business concerns that the newspaper should be looking at more closely?  Read More

Off the Media

Skimming Off The Top: Social Giving Sites Take a Huge Cut Of The Check

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Last week, a friend from elementary school’s house burned down. She lost everything. Since they were renters, none of the stuff in the house was insured. Worse yet, it was the cherry on top of an already heartbreaking week in which her little dog had been killed by another dog.

Due to the marvel of social media and social tools, another friend immediately set up a campaign with the site Give Forward to raise $12,000 for a “Start From Scratch Fund” on my friend’s behalf. Almost immediately, the first $10,000 was raised. Read More

Digital Publishing

Tim Ferriss Publishes Betabeat Editor Under New Audiobook Venture

Tim Ferriss (Photo: Virtual Business Lifestyle)

In 2013, I bumped into mega best-selling author Tim Ferriss at a hotel in Amsterdam. I’ve known Tim — who sometimes writes for Betabeat sister site New York Observer, as well as being an occasional subject 0f their fascination —  and worked with on several occasions. We were both speaking at the same conference. But I was there for another reason: a few days later I would be heading to Rome to put the final touches on my book about stoicism, The Obstacle Is The Way.

I showed Tim the book, as a friend. He read it that night and approached me the next day: He was starting an audiobook publishing venture and would I want to be one of the first authors to participate. Of course, my answer was YES, YES, YES. Read More