In the December Hobson and Holtz Report, Neville and Shel make a few announcements about the future of the show, including an imminent listener survey and plans for short conversations multiple times per week in addition to the monthly flagship show. Also in this episode: A Facebook executive blames society for misinformation and absolves MetaPKAFacebook of any responsibility; the top communicators at better.com resigned after the company’s CEO sacked 900 employees on a Zoom call they all thought was just another town hall; a British comedian and commentator has produced a documentary that argues social media gins up anger in its users; propaganda-as-a-service is a possible outcome of the introduce of Large Language Model (LLM) software like Jarvis; there’s a lot of hype out there about Web3, so Neville and Shel spend a fair amount of time dissecting it. In his Tech Report, Dan York looks at the State of Word and some elements of Web3.
The next episode will drop on Monday, January 17, 2022.
We are hosting an FIR Communicators Zoom Chat each Thursday during the stay-at-home period at 1 p.m. ET. For credentials needed to participate, contact Shel or Neville directly or request the credentials in our Facebook group or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.
Links from this episode
- Facebook exec blames society for COVID misinformation
- Online Safety Bill: New offenses and tighter rules
- Better.com’s PR, comms, marketing heads submit resignations in wake of layoffs fiasco
- ‘A surreal moment’: Fired employees share what it was like on that mass-firing via Zoom
- David Baddiel puts social networks under the microscope in Social Media, Anger and Us
- Propaganda-as-a-service may be on the horizon if large language models are abused
- Welcome to ‘Web3.’ What’s That?
- People are talking about Web3. Is it the Internet of the future or just a buzzword?
- Web 3 Is More Than Fun and Games; It’s for Work
- What Is Web3 and Why Should You Care?
- They Said the Internet Would Never Take Off, How About Web 3.0?
- Web 3.0 and crypto adoption: Why is it more important than you think?
- What Kickstarter Going Decentralized Means for Web 3
- Please shut up about cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the ‘Web 3.0’
- Why Web3 is Experiential Marketing’s Biggest Frenemy
- The Third Web
- Why it’s too early to get excited about Web3
- What is Web3 and how will it change the way we use the internet?
- Who’s Behind Web3
Links from Dan York’s Tech Report
Raw Descript Transcript
Hi everybody. And welcome to episode number 214 of four immediate release the Hudson and Holtz report for December, 2021. This is Shel Holtz in Concord, California. This is Neville Hobson and in England and this being our December episode, I want to wish everybody a very happy holiday. I hope you’re going to have a wonderful Christmas.
We’ve had a wonderful Hanukkah here, but it’s all over. And of course, if you’re listening to this after the holidays, I hope you had great holidays and a wonderful new year’s Eve. You have any plans for new year’s. No new year’s no, no, not but Christmas. Uh, and, uh, boxing day here in the UK. Yeah, lots. Uh, so it’s going to be a nice Christmas, a quiet new year.
I suspect. Yeah. We usually go to a concert on new year’s Eve, but there’s just nothing plain that they want to see. So we’re at loose ends trying to decide if we’re just going to stay home. Probably no, we will do that. And there’s always some really good, um, uh, musical, uh, programming on, on national TV. Uh, there’s an artist that vehicle Jools Holland, who really is outstanding jazz and, and, uh, and, uh, and, and rhythm and blues in particular, some terrific guests.
So we’ll probably watch his light show. Yeah. Well, given Omicron, it’s probably a good idea not to be out with big crowds anyway, even when vaccinated, boosted and masked. So probably just stay home, stay safe. Yep. Exactly. Wish it were different. Yeah, a few items before we jumped into the meat of today’s show.
First of all, there is a new circle of fellows, a podcast episode, going up any day. Now this was recorded, uh, just this past Thursday, uh, circle of fellows, of course, being the monthly panel discussion that I moderate with a revolving collection of fellows from the international association of business communicators.
The topic this month was how healthy is your organization’s culture and what can you do about it? And it was a really, really good discussion. Uh, the panelists were Alice brink, Martha and mark Schumann. Uh, so head on over to the fir podcast network site, fir podcast network.com, uh, to find that episode in all the episodes of circle of fellows.
And of course every other podcast that’s hosted on the next. Um, and next up we have some announcements to make about this show. Uh, two in particular and Neville, why don’t you talk about the first one? We’re going to ask you dear listeners to let us know what you think of the show. So a, in other words, a survey list and survey, the last time we did, one of these was in 2013 and we did one prior to that 2011.
And one prior to that, if I recall correctly, 2009. So is it almost a decade since we did a lot has happened in that decade? When we did the 2013 show, the fir podcast network was still embryonic. And, uh, we were, um, regular, um, creators and publishers on some side shows, uh, not meaning they were side shows, but the spinoff shows if you like interviews, book reviews and stuff like that.
But, uh, here we are today in 2021 getting into 2022 and we need to. Really to get a better sense of what you, the listeners think about the show, what you like, what you don’t like and tell us how you’d like to see it evolving and well evolving is a good word shelled over to you. Well, it definitely, uh, is, has evolved and will continue to evolve, which is what we’re going to talk about now.
But, uh, we, we will be posting. So please watch for a link to the survey. We’ll be publishing a post about the survey on, uh, the fir, uh, website, uh, the blog, uh, soon, uh, hopefully in the coming week. Right? So keep it, keep an eye out for that. We would be very grateful for your input because we already have plans for the evolution of the show, but we are flexible and absolutely want to incorporate ideas, uh, that we hear from you.
So we’re very grateful for your time and attention to this survey. The other thing that we’re doing is, is, um, I don’t want. Yeah, we are changing the format. The show is called a pivot, right? It’s a pivot. And that’s exactly what it is. Uh, there are two things, uh, well, actually three things that are happening the first is that we are reverting back to calling this the Hobson and Holtz report.
Uh, just a brief history lesson when we
when we started in 2005, it was for immediate release. And then when we split out book reviews and interviews and the, like we said, okay, this is fir the Hobson and Holtz report. Then we’ll have fir book reviews and fir interviews. Uh, then you took a job at IBM. And departed for awhile. So I reverted back to adjust for immediate release.
Then you came back and it was for immediate release because that was the album art that we were using, but it was also the Hobson and Holtz report. We’re going to go back to the Hobson and Holtz report with the album art, and that’s what we’re going to call it. We’re not going to change the RSS feed because why would we remove all the episodes that we’ve recorded over the last couple of years, but, uh, that’s, what’s going to happen.
This is going to be the Hobson and Holtz report. Along with that change, we’re going to change the way we conduct ourselves during the show. Uh, you have probably noticed as we have, uh, that the way these reports are done is that each of them. Picks three stories that we’re going to report on. And then we tell you about the story at great length while the other host sits and listens.
And then we have a conversation and we’re tired of that. That’s not a lot of fun. The fun is the conversation. So what we’re going to do is just introduce the topic and have a conversation about it rather than go through this elaborate narrative to set up the conversation. I don’t know that we’re going to pull that off in this episode, all of this discharging anywhere, probably not give it a shot though.
We’re going to try it with our, our last story, which is the big one. Uh, we’re going to be talking about web three, uh, later in the show and that’s too big a topic to read through everything first. So we’re going to make that a conversation, but that’ll be the way we do the entire show. So it’ll be more interactive and more engaging, uh, both for us.
And hopefully for you. Third thing we’re doing, and this is what I’m really excited about. You know, we used to do this show weekly for a while. We did it every other. Uh, we did it twice a week, um, for about a year and a half, I guess. Now we do it monthly mainly because I’m employed full time. And I, you know, we used to do this on a Monday and that was part of my marketing time.
Uh, but now I have to do it on a weekend and my wife got tired of one day weekends, and frankly, so, so did I, uh, so we made it monthly. Um, but we miss the ability to talk to you about things that are happening as they’re happening. We have a story, for example, that we’re going to talk about today, better.com.
You’re probably familiar with this story would have been a lot more fun to talk about it the week that it happened. Uh, we’re not going to go back to doing a weekly show. I just don’t have the time for the preparation, the production, but here’s what we’re going to do. If we see something in the news that rates a discussion, we’re going to set up a time that day, or maybe the next day to have a 10 minute conversation about that one topic and we’re going to publish it.
And it will be right here in the fir RSS feed. It’ll be in the regular stream of content. So if you’re subscribing to this show, you’re going to starting the first week in January. Two, maybe three episodes a week that are no more than 10 minutes in length, and we’re going to set a timer to make sure we don’t go over 10 minutes.
Even if we’re in the middle of the conversation. When we hit that 10 minute mark we’re done, uh, and that way we’ll be able to cover things that are happening closer to real time and be more relevant and give you short content that doesn’t require you to sit for an hour and a half, uh, to, to listen to our flagship show, which will continue.
It’s exciting times. I mean, that’s, uh, the, the, the short, uh, the short term. Uh, uh, segments or recordings are going to be interesting to do those because one of the things that we both are, I’m still learning how to do is, is talk. And the outcome of the talk is short, you know? So, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s hard to do that, but yeah, I mean, as you explained quite well, I think the, the, the idea of it is, is timeliness.
Uh, relevance at the moment and, and get our views out there when something is still got everyone’s attention. Uh, so, um, that, that, that will soul, uh, fulfill that need. Um, so hopefully, uh, you’ll like it. Um, we’ll have a question about that. Um, I think, uh, if I recall correctly in the survey now you’ve heard about it on the show.
So you can tell us what you think is good. And then we’ll do a survey again, sometime down the road, maybe another 10 years and ask how it went. Uh, but yeah, for me, this is great because it’s not a big lift to publish a 10 minute episode. Uh, that’s not going to take work away or time away from my full-time job.
So I’m, I’m looking forward to this and, and we’ll be starting this the first week of June. So it is time now for our final polite mail promo PoliteMail has wrapped up their sponsorship, uh, at the end of the fourth quarter. And for this final promo, I thought I’d share a few excerpts from user reviews that I found in various places, a polite mail, uh, ads, analytics, responsive, HTML design, and list management tools to the enterprise software.
You already know how to use that. Being Microsoft outlook and exchange one review said that PoliteMail adds excellent features to outlook helping users to manage and improve their email communications. It provides excellent analysis and insights to outlook with amazing features, including customer surveys, screen-sharing team management and mobile optimized emails.
Another review says it made our lives easier as business communicators. Since we can build and save templates, personalized emails and schedule send communications. We also really liked that we get analytics now so that we can so that we can assess the engagement levels of our audience and the polite mail team responds promptly.
Whenever we need support. Another review says it’s very easy to create complex and attractive layouts. And after sending the emails, stats are more than any user can think of. And another says, I liked that the team worked so well together to solve my unique problem. The training was clear and made it easy to see how to address my unique challenges.
One more exceptionally helpful people, staff polite mail. They’ve created a product that allows you to develop templates, track analytics around your communications and create a communications cadence that will benefit your organization. We use this to send targeted, personalized communication, as well as organization-wide communications campaigns.
Now you could wind up writing a five-star review too after using polite mail. So please go take a email@example.com. And we thank PoliteMail for all of their support over these last several years.
So we should leap into our first story. Um, and the last show of 2021 quite timely, I suppose, show, I mean, this is something I know you’re aware of this story, this concerns an executive at Facebook, or should I call it Metta PKA Facebook? Um, that. Previously known as so, um, it’s, it’s quite a serious topic.
This executive Andrew Bosworth, uh, insists that political and COVID-19 misinformation are societal problems rather than issues that have been magnified by social networks. So in other words, all the stuff that is bad that we hear about almost on a daily basis that is focused on Facebook, because that’s where it appears is the thought of the users, nothing to do with Facebook.
Uh, he’s quoted a really, really good short interview with axial. So they did a good job of, of doing this and, and in how they presented, uh, the result of that conversation, uh, to get across Bosworth’s, uh, approach to this, which I have to say, I was kind of nonplussed by, by the logic behind his statement.
I’d have seen nothing but raised eyebrows and comments everywhere to what he has said. Uh, individual humans are the ones who choose to believe or not believe a thing. He said they are the ones who choose to share or not share a thing he added. He’s talking about it’s their choice. They don’t have to, they are allowed to do that.
You have an issue with those people. You don’t have an issue with Facebook. You said you can’t put that on me. He noted people want that information. I don’t believe that the answer is I will deny these people, the information to seek, and I will enforce my will upon them. At some point, the owners is and should be in any meaningful democracy on the individual.
I mean shell. I mean, this is, this is insane. I got some more stuff. I want to link that to, uh, that, uh, that is very timely, this kind of thing. And there’s a counter argument. Uh, I want to present to this whole concept of it’s to do with the individual, not the corporation, but you also it’s on what this guy said.
My thoughts are the T doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Uh, I assume this is because he’s a hardware guy, uh, and I have to confess that I am a fan of Facebook hardware. I think the quest to is one of the most amazing technological devices I’ve ever owned. Uh, so. Kudos to him on, on, on the hardware side.
Uh, but his understanding of Facebook’s complicity in the issues that we’re facing as a society may have gone right over his pointy little head, uh, clearly what Facebook is doing, uh, what was revealed in the documentation shared by the whistleblower? What seems to be increasingly evident, uh, is, is that they’re amplifying, uh, in ways that society would not be exposed to, were it not for Facebook?
It’s the algorithm that finds out what triggers you and then just piles on bucket loads of that stuff. How would that happen, uh, in society? Were it not for the service that you use having an algorithm that does that? So, uh, I, I think. Ridiculous, not a question of denying these people, the information they seek, which is what he said.
Uh, it’s a matter of shoving so much of it at them, uh, that they’re actually not seeking. So yeah, I, I think he’s absurd. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I, he, he’s actually amplifying a lot of what Facebook has been saying for quite a long time and that insists still on this denial, this denial of responsibility. Um, and again, I’m not, not want to put words in his mouth that he didn’t say or allude to something that isn’t apparent, but it is quite clear that this is all about, um, everyone’s responsibility and not just an individual, but also platforms which, um, kind of makes me, or causes me to think a lot about what’s happening here in the UK at the moment in this, uh, online safety bill, that’s going through parliament.
That is, uh, the first step. Uh, according to how I see people talking about it, um, it’s may become law in, uh, in 2022. Uh, it could be, um, as others say, uh, as seen as one of the most far reaching attempts to date, to regulate online content, which could have global implications, uh, it’s been, uh, some years and its development as it input from lots of people, including that Facebook whistleblower, uh, Francis Haugen.
I think, I think her name was who came over to the UK and was, um, uh, part of the discussion with the parliamentary committee that is behind this new online bill, uh, earlier this week or a few days ago. In fact, there was a. Uh, an update to the, uh, to the recommendations of the committee on what else should be addressed in this bill.
But what I want to do again, this is directly challenging Mr. Bosworth statement that the onus, uh, is on the individual alone. And that is patently not correct. Listen to this. This is part of the summary of the bill is not too long. Uh, self-regulation of online services has failed while the online world has revolutionized our lives and created many benefits, underlying systems designed to serve as business models based on data harvesting and micro-targeted advertising shaped the way we experience it.
Algorithms invisible to the public, decide what we hear, see, hear, and experience for some service providers. This means valuing the engagement of users at all costs, regardless of what holds their attention. This can result in amplifying the false over the true, the extreme over the considered and the harmful over the benign.
The human cost can be counted in mass murder in Mayan Mar in intensive care beds, full of unvaccinated. COVID 19 patients in insurrection at the us Capitol and in teenagers sent down rabbit holes, a content promoting self-harm eating disorders and serious. This has happened because for too long, the major online service providers have been allowed to regard themselves as neutral platforms, which are not responsible for the content that is created and shared by their users yet a disease algorithms which have enabled behaviors, which would be challenged by the law in the physical world to thrive on the internet.
If we do nothing, these problems will only get worse. Our children will pay the heaviest price. This is why the driving force behind the online safety bill is the belief that these companies must be held liable for the systems they have created to make money for themselves. I did about it. You shall, but this looks very much to me like companies like Metta PKA Facebook bear, a heavy responsibility for what you use or see and engage with on that platform.
The onus of responsibility, therefore is on them, not just the individual. That’s what that looks like to me. Sounds like to me too. And yeah, well, I’m not the biggest fan of regulation that seems. Superficially to have an impact on free speech. This has gone beyond that. And even Facebook has said, I’m sorry, Mehta.
PKA Facebook saying that makes me think of the artist formerly known as prince. Uh, they have come right out and said they want regulation. They want to know what the guardrails are so that they can comply with that, uh, rather than be left to figure it out themselves. And you know, if they’re serious, they should be welcoming this.
Uh, as I read through the article, it seemed like it’s not perfect legislation. No one knows it’ll evolve over time, right? It’s not perfect. And there are critics of it already who say under no circumstances, should this be made law because it is so imperfect. And I don’t agree with that. It does, um, have issues about some stuff that I understand, exercise a lot of people, uh, privacy, free speech and encryption.
Uh, but these are not to my mind, certainly not, uh, being threatened directly because of this in its current form. Uh, I do believe that, uh, this will evolve could be mainly because there are other voices involved in the debate that have power and influence to, to make sure that some things happen and some don’t.
And there are other stakeholders who, uh, can also contribute to the discussion about this. But I think the overriding element of it is precisely the fact that a, this, the current state of how we see things on platforms like Facebook and the, uh, the terrible things that people do as a result of some of that content they encounter can’t you, you can’t allow that to go on like this.
Uh, and I think governments are there for many reasons, one of which is to address things like this with, with laws. So I see this law very likely to pass. And I think that, uh, you mentioned just now, you know, social media platforms you’ve worked with for the serious, I don’t believe they’re serious. I believe Facebook in particular have been mounting a PR offensive in the past few weeks, fielding senior executive spokespeople like this Andrew Bosworth to kind of deflect a focus.
Uh, and we’ve had Nick Clegg who was the deputy prime minister in the UK David camera’s government, which ended in 2015, um, uh, in a super interview in the financial times, these past few days where the individual place in, in Facebook’s metadata. So of course that got a lot of attention because of that. I see that as deflect, deflection tactics, this is what needs to be done.
And I believe that, uh, the idea that self-regulation is the way has proven to be patently, not the case. They can’t do this otherwise they would have, and we wouldn’t be having the focus on some of these terrible things that have happened where, uh, content has been, uh, has appeared on a social network and it usually has been, uh, Facebook.
So, um, how this has all communicate is going to be quite key. So we’re, we’re in for a, I’d say a Rocky ride in the next few months as this bill does pass through parliament. Uh, and as some of the requested amendments, either get approved or rejected and then something will emerge at the end of it. And it’s likely to become law next year.
I don’t know what the platforms are going to do. And his Facebook’s in the frame because Twitter, Google tick talk, any of the others, you Googled YouTube, et cetera, are not being named in any of the critical, common dirt, all Facebook. And I think we’ll see what happens. But to me, it’s timely. Uh, I have had a few conversations with people.
I know, well, some of whom think it’s a disaster. This has happening. Others who are radically, radically embracing it and think it should have happened earlier. So bumpy ride ahead. I said, yeah. And of course it will go through some revision. It will look at the end of the process the way it looks now. So it’ll be interesting to see where it shakes out and whether it’s, uh, worthy of our continued support in its final form, but certainly a step in the right direction, especially when you hear the things that people like Bosworth.
Yup. Yep. Yeah. I want to talk about something that happened that you may not have heard of as a result of something that I am sure that you have heard of. I expect everyone by now has heard about the events that occurred at the mortgage startup, better.com. Earlier this month, but in case not let me, uh, just provide the bare bones details.
Uh, CEO, Vishal, Garg, G a R G uh, laid off about 9% of workforce. And he did it over zoom. People thought they were just showing up for another one of his town hall type meetings. Uh, but within minutes he said, if you’re on this call, you’re a part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.
And there were employees who said immediately, they found that their company phones didn’t work and they couldn’t get onto the company slack network. So happy holidays. Y’all uh, as the reason for the layoff he’s cited market efficiency, performance and productivity, he accused these employees of stealing from their coworkers and customers.
By only working two hours a day. Uh, and among those that he fired, I found this interesting was the entire diversity equity inclusion recruiting team. Uh, there were interviews with employees who were affected by this, after it happened. And some of them revealed that they had been recently promoted or gotten sparkling performance reviews, which made those allegations of laziness, uh, seem somewhat disingenuous.
Um, employees were kind of accustomed to these outbursts. For example, he sent an email in 2020 to employees that said you were too damn slow. You’re a bunch of dumb dolphins. So stop it. Stop it. Stop it right now. You are embarrassing me all caps. Uh, I never heard dumb dolphins before. I’m not quite sure what their references there.
Maybe they don’t have opposable thumbs. Uh, he apologized, uh, when this got the tremendous amount of press that, uh, got, uh, he said in a blog post that he failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who are affected and for their contributions to better. But it wasn’t enough to save him.
The company’s CFO is now managing day-to-day operations. As Garg is quote, taking time off effective immediately. Uh, according to an email that the board of directors sent to employees, and you have to wonder if he’s ever coming back. The email from the board said the company was taking steps to quote, build a long-term sustainable and positive culture at better.
They’ve even hired an outside firm to conduct a culture assessment and make recommendations for improving it. Now, all of this has been widely reported, but there is one outcome from this episode that hasn’t gotten as much press. And that’s the fact that the company is vice president of communications.
It’s head of public relations and it’s head of marketing all resigned after this late. And one of the first things, I wonder whenever I hear stories like this, and there are sadly too many of them about CEOs going off the rails and saying things that make you wonder, do they even have a communication department?
Uh, so one of the things I always wonder was was the communication team involved in this? Did he ask them for advice and then reject it? Did they actually suggest that this was a, a good approach? Um, and here clearly not, uh, these communicators, uh, resigned, uh, in protest, they had. Been public about it. A couple of the stories that I read about their resignation said that they’d reached out to these folks for comments, they’re all available on LinkedIn and the like, uh, and none of them have replied.
Uh, so this was a private decision, but to me it demonstrates a tremendous amount of interest integrity, uh, especially in doing this in a unified way, the three of them doing it in mass. Uh, so I was very pleased to see this. Usually when a CEO does something like this, you wonder if the communications department was involved and why are they still working for this guy?
And in this case, they’re not so good on them. Uh, extraordinary. I have to say, um, I was reading that, uh, the, the, the move to go public with this company has been postponed now. Uh, but one thought I had was that, uh, if that was still a plan and there what a $6 billion private company, they need a CEO, not like this guy, um, who, you know, finds employees that obviously doesn’t command any kind of respect and loyalty within the organization.
Mind you arguably, if there are 9,000 other employees still there, then maybe he does. And you look at it from that point of view, but, uh, it’s not right the way he did this without any doubt. And he’s not had. You know, you can’t say Karma’s come around and he’s affected by it. Not really, if he’s just been put on leave, uh, to just get them out of the spotlight.
Uh, he probably needs to go and reading the tech crunch piece. So they talk about, uh, he’s got a history with this and in his previous work cage lawsuits from the likes of Goldman Sachs and others alleging misappropriation of millions of dollars of money, uh, that’s not. Profile of someone like this, who is a leader of a, an organization about to go public.
So I would say that if they are going to go public, they’ll get it. One would hope. Uh, and there are other allegations of his being very disrespectful and rude and nasty to individuals. There was an article in Inc, uh, about their hiring this outside consulting firm to do the culture audit, uh, and the author of this set.
If the first recommendation isn’t to find a new CEO, anything else that might suggest as a waste of time and money? Why? Because culture flows out of the integrity and character of the person at the top. The most important thing you do as a leader, isn’t setting a strategy or communicating the vision.
It’s leading people. That’s the number one job, obviously, a CEO with thousands of employees. Directly lead every employee, but they set the tone by their words and their actions. If no one is willing to speak up, because they’re afraid of the boss’s wrath, all kinds of things start to fall through the cracks.
Those might be small now, but things tend to accumulate in those cracks. And eventually they become big issues. Quote, we have much work to do, and we hope that everyone can refocus on our customers and support each other to continue to build a great company and a company. We can be proud of. The board wrote in its note that work starts with needing someone at the top who can manage people.
And I couldn’t agree more. And the fact that he talked about communicating the vision, uh, talks about, you know, speaks to the importance of communication as a council, to, uh, the, the leadership of an organization, which clearly was not the case at better. No, there’s no word as to whether the three, the trader who quit, whether they, someone new is coming to take those jobs, don’t know, not seeing any reference to that says she’s not at the time being.
So it would be interesting how this company, you know, the recruiting department probably is putting those job listings up now. Uh, if they didn’t fire the, I mean, they fired the Dean people from the recruiting team. So you don’t know who else from recruiting is gone. Goodness, me, the world is upside down these days.
It seems to me, I shouldn’t say recruiting it’s talent acquisition. No. Oh yeah. That’s the new, new labelers net. So, um, let’s just. Switch back to social networks. Again, the continuation of that story that we talked about earlier about Facebook, uh, PK, sorry, Mehta PK, Facebook. This is about, um, a guy called David Baddiel here in the UK.
He’s a writer and comedian and writer of children’s books. He’s very good. Um, who, uh, was behind a documentary that was broadcast on, on BBC to the domestic channel here in the UK a week ago on December the 13th called, uh, social media, anger and us. And I watched it, uh, the day it was an hour long, uh, most, most interesting, um, much of what was covered in that hour, uh, which, which was includes how social networks are designed to stimulate addiction.
Uh, another way that was pitched to the role in the viral spread of misinformation, that was a strong focus of it, uh, will be familiar to anyone. Who’s watching Netflix has feature-length documentary, social dilemma. Did you see that shop? I did too. I actually wasn’t terrifically impressed with that, but that’s a separate conversation possibly, but just so you know, I wasn’t either.
I thought he made some good points, uh, and it was entertaining to watch, but I wasn’t sold on his message. No, actually values are rather good at though. It must have been the little pop-ups on the screen of text messages and stuff like that. But the, the interesting thing about that program and David Baddiel, his documentary is here.
We’ve got a focus on this aspect of social media, uh, on mainstream media television. That Netflix I’m counting is that, by the way, that’s got a global audience, a BBC two is domestic UK, but I think the program will be made available outside. I’m sure you mentioned that you couldn’t say the Americas. No.
And you shouldn’t even find a reference to it on removal. When I had BBC America is a free, I can’t imagine they’re going to keep this just in the UK. Uh, but, um, Th the, uh, the thing about this program that this documentary, uh, was in contrast to the network, uh, the Netflix, uh, uh, program, which provided insight into issues and corporate practices surrounding privacy algorithms, fake accounts, targeted advertising.
What by deals, documentary focused on, uh, was on the personal existential and behavioral matters of us with a capital U everyone basically. And there are many similarities in it too. I, that really captured my attention on the book by the journalist Charles Arthur that we talked about in fir two 10 in August on social warming.
Ah, that’s a great phrase. That’s social, I’m seeing it popping up up here and there that very much applies to this. Um, where the, uh, as the intro to that book says, social warming has happened gradually as a byproduct of our convenient digital existence, but the gradual deterioration of our attitudes and behavior on and offline, this vicious cycle of anger and outrage is real.
And that is actually a key in, in Betty’s documentary. The idea that’s explored incisively is that social media acts as a corrosive substance, that strips personalities, politics, humor, and ethics of nuance and complexity. There’s no histrionic screeching about cancellation to be found here, but ILS approaches even handed as it accepts the case for a culture of consequences and persuasively makes his own.
About how the Internet’s moral arbiters leave a little room for sincere attempts at self betterment. So I’m not going to describe the whole program because that would take too long. It’s not really the point of making airy. Here’s the point of referencing all of this? I’m thinking the notion of a culture of consequences is a point that’s probably lost.
On Mr. Bosworth at Facebook. I think that to me, sets it out quite clearly, the culture of consequences. And when you do get to see buddy’s documentary, uh, I think you you’d probably agree with it to what he portrays. He includes for instance, an interview with his own daughter. Who’s now in her early twenties, who a few years back when she was in the teens, uh, had mental health issues and was suffering a lot.
That was amplified by what she encountered on Facebook. And you hear stories anecdotally like that from people. I hear them all the time from people who have kids who are going through some kind of, uh, existential crisis traumatic even through. Uh, things they find on their social networks, not just Facebook.
So tick, doc’s playing a big role here. It is alleged as well as WhatsApp groups and things like that. So there’s the whole thing is toxic. And I see that word being used, the association of social in the context, social networks, a lot, I read a paper recently that would try to explain why, um, these places online have become so toxic.
And we know because we’ve talked about it, we see others discussing Twitter, France, for instance, a toxic place. Uh, I don’t quite agree with that yet. Nevertheless, these are real. And indeed that point comes across in bad deals piece. This is real. This is happening. This is now we did talk about all this and that broader context back in August about this outrage, this culture of outrage.
I sense all the time, people don’t get upset, right? They get outraged at something and it could be something as innocuous as you know, it’s raining today. And I wish it weren’t and someone says, you know, I think it’s great that we have rain and suddenly. You’ve got a humongous issue developed on a social network because of a noxious phrase.
One reason why shell, you and I, as soon as you got, don’t get deep into deep political discussions on Facebook, for instance, because it’s a, it’s a loser’s game. There’s no, win-win there at all. So that arguably isn’t new. It’s kind of been like that when we’re face-to-face as you see sometimes. Yeah. But that’s between those people, this is billions can see this and pile in and add their 10 cents worth or, or, or a thousand areas to it or whatever it might be.
So it’s, it’s, it’s not good, but that thing, culture consequences is a good phrase that sums up the consequences and who has responsibility for them. Arguably it’s the social platforms more than anyone. So listen to this, Mr. Boswell. So maybe three, think the crappy we’re talking about. Yeah, no kidding. Huh?
Um, obviously I didn’t get to see it, but I’ve read a few items about the documentary and he talks about, uh, the fight or flight response based on what happens. And that’s not unique to social media. Uh, if, if, if I’m in a public place and someone praises me, my dopamine levels kick in for sure. Uh, if somebody chastises me in public, I want to get the hell out of there.
You know? Uh, I think what’s different is that this isn’t a forum where there are millions of people. Well, obviously not millions of people watching me, but it can spread so that it is ultimately seen. Yeah, by millions of people. This is something that we’re just not accustomed to. Yet. We do. The technology has advanced faster than our ability to process it and its implications.
I don’t think the technology is necessarily to blame, uh, it’s our, our inability to catch up with it and figure out how to deal with it as a society. He’s mostly talking about Twitter, right? Which does not do what Facebook does in, in terms of making you see stuff that they know is going to trigger. You, you, you see your followers and their followers.
Uh, the only time you see stuff that you didn’t ask for is if you go look at a trending topic, and I think this is where a lot of the, the outrage happens, uh, and also what’s going to happen to you on Twitter is really. Dependent on who’s following you and who you’re following. All you’re talking about there is, is food.
Yeah, but I, I see things on Twitter that, um, uh, that show that this is definitely a problem for too, as well on different levels Facebook. So for example, I’m seeing stuff in the last couple of weeks. I don’t recall seeing before, when I spend a bit of time, uh, following up on searching for something, a topic or a brand or whatever it might be.
And I come across a hashtag, then take a look at that. It looks to me what I’m looking for. And I see, uh, tweets about the topic. And then I see some horrific stuff being tweeted that uses that hashtag it’s totally irrelevant to the topic. It’s only the obscene. Or exceptionally violent or graphic sex and is obviously up there for, I guess, seconds or minutes for an algorithm at Twitter, or somebody takes it down or blocks it or whatever, but that doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job.
So I think you’re exposed to this. And what Baddiel talks about, he admits in the document to here then Twitter attic. And he actually had to come off it and went into therapy for a couple of weeks without access to the all. And I know people like that at all, uh, as well. Um, so that’s probably where it, where the issue is.
And obviously there are many people with that behavior. So, um, you are exposed to stuff even if you think you’re not, because if you are active on Twitter and you are searching on the. Uh, feeds for content topics, whatever you will encounter stuff that is really offensive. Yeah, I do occasionally, but I have to tell you that when the outrage machine spins up and I spend a reasonable amount of time on Twitter, both for myself and, and in my job, uh, because my department is responsible for social media.
Uh, I, I see very little of it when, when the outrage machine spins up, I learned about it because it was an article. And then I have to go find those tweets. If I want to write about it or talk about it. Are you adjusting Sacco way back in the day? Uh, the dentist who shot the elephant? I can’t remember his name.
All of these things I had learned about in articles, not because they became memes that spread through Twitter. Uh, even though you talk about the reach that they obtained, because they kept getting amplified, they never reached me. Uh, well, I learned about them elsewhere. Yeah, I, I, I get that. I can see what you’re getting at in that regard.
I’m talking about stuff that isn’t like mega stuff, like some dentist shooting an elephant on real game. That’s socially unacceptable. These days. There’s a little day-to-day things, conversation that you see all the time. Well, you’ve got someone who is offensive or has posted offensive. That is nothing to do with the conversation and the account.
I can’t imagine someone willingly is going to have themselves, you know, this is, this is really me and there’s my, there’s my avatar picture posting, stuff like that. That probably fake accounts. I have no idea to be honest, I don’t go searching for these things at all. I use Twitter a lot for research and, um, I look at this for what I’m looking for, keywords that I’m keen on.
I have a lot of hashtags bookmarked or tweaked X perfect for that. And I’ve noticed the pollution that’s appearing in these, in these streams more frequently. So Twitter has got an issue with that, and I don’t believe it’s new at all. Uh, Facebook’s got a bigger issue than that. It seems to me though, because that’s, what’s getting all the, all the attention and some of the stuff is truly extraordinary.
What you see? I saw a few folks, you and I mutually know comedy recently on Facebook that they’ve blocked. Some serious number of people recently, for things they’ve never experienced before who’ve been piling in. So, hence one reason why I think you’re similar. I published 99.9% of everything I write on Facebook.
It’s private. It’s not public to my friends group only. And if I rarely post anything in the public channel, what was the better, there’s no benefits because you got a point of view. That you want to say, Hey, I think X and I don’t agree with this, but I do agree with that. You just, as an open invitation to every wacko out there to come in there.
Yeah. My problem is I usually am intending to post on Facebook only to my friends group. Then there’s something I want to make public. Uh, and, and if I got to switch you back, right, I forget to switch it back. It might be promoting the, a episode of fir I want as many people as possible to know about that.
So I’ll, I’ll do that public. And then I’ll forget that I’m on public when I’m doing something that could, I want nothing to do with it’s. It’s a, it’s a weird, a weird world. It’s reflective. If you behaviors the good, the bad and the ugly, it’s all there. And, uh, you know, going back to Facebook, uh, and our friend, Mr.
Bosworth, the online safety bill here in the UK, these are all. I suppose, uh, we need to find ways to, to do something that cleans this up in some form. It sounds terribly naive saying that, and maybe I am in disregard, but I think self-regulation doesn’t work. No one seems to be able to get a handle on this and get a grip and get something sorted out.
So, okay. Government over to you have a go at it, then. That’s what this seems like to me. So let’s hope. Let’s hope they don’t screw it up. Fingers crossed. Yeah. Well, I got myself an account on Jarvis. Um, if you’re not familiar with it, uh, their website, which firstname.lastname@example.org, uh, has this blaring headline at the top of the page, uh, it says, let Jarvis write your marketing copy for free.
Uh, and then the blurb underneath says artificial intelligence makes it fast and easy to create content for your blog, social media website. And more than like a lot of websites, at least some of the companies using their software, Airbnb, Google, Harper, Collins, IBM, and logic tech among them. And they make a big deal about having a lot of five-star reviews.
So I wanted to give it a try. I watched the short getting started video. I opened the dashboard and I tried out what they call the PAs framework template. Uh, they have, uh, a lot of templates, uh, but they suggested starting with this one. It’s an approach to writing that is problem agitate solution. They also have an aid, a framework that’s attention, interest desire, action, a product description template, a blog, post temp, a topic idea template one for blog posts, outlines, a blog post intro, a blog, post conclusion, a creative story and dozens of others.
Anyway, my first effort. Since all I wanted to do is experiment and see how it worked. Uh, it was for fir, so I entered the podcast name and a short description. Here’s what I wrote a podcast that has been published since January, 2005, Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz. Keep communicators up to date on trends and issues.
Notably about the use of technology for PR organizational communication and marketing. That’s what I wrote. That’s it? Uh, I set the tone of voice to witty. Well, actually that was the default. So I just left it there. Um, and the number of outputs to two, which means that it was going to produce two versions of what it came up with.
Um, you can do three for as many as you want. Now let me read to the. Problem communicators and leaders are using more technology in their communications, but often struggled to understand the benefits agitate. This is a fast paced podcast with interviews of communicators who have used technology for good results.
The show also discuss this current trends in communication and leadership, such as social media, marketing, crisis management, corporate storytelling, and others solution. If you’re looking for someone to keep you up to date on new technologies, that can be beneficial in your organization’s communication strategy, then this podcast is perfect for you.
We’ll give you all the information that you need. So you won’t miss out on these valuable tools, not bad. I mean, the interviews, we don’t do the second one, which I won’t read. Didn’t talk about the interviews. It was even a little bit. I wound up showing this to our VP of marketing. He got very excited. He thought he was like, wow, we can use this for big chunks of our proposals, you know, but the reason I signed up for this in the first place, uh, was that I’d read an article in venture beat about these tools.
Uh they’re they’re the category they’re called LLMs. Uh, that is. Artificial intelligence powered, large language models. And according to a growing body of research, they pose a problem. For instance, one study out of Cornell found that LLMs can be modified to produce targeted propaganda spinning text in a way that a malicious creator wants there was a 22 paper from the Middlebury Institute that found one of these tools could generate influential texts that might radicalize people into far right extremist ideologies.
Uh, there was a Georgetown university study that used one of these LLMs to generate tweets riffing on particular points of disinformation and the university of Maryland researchers found it was possible for LLMs to generate false cyber security reports that were convincing enough to full. Uh, the venture beat report gave an example.
Uh, they fed the prompt, uh, into one of these. It wasn’t Jarvis, but, uh, one of the open source ones, um, president Barack Obama has urged Donald Trump to send some signals of unity after the U S election. Uh, the model might generate something that says president Barack Obama has heroically welcomed Donald Trump’s victory in the U S presidential election.
That’s not to say that LLMs will definitely be used to spread misinformation, uh, more than they will be used to create marketing. Copy. I mean, I definitely absolutely see the value of this tool for creating big sections of our proposals and for some of the content that we crank out, it might be a lot easier for us to put in some basic information and let the AI do a draft that we can then edit.
That would save a lot of time, which would be great. Cause we’re drowning right now. There are two of us in our department handling all internal and external communication. So yeah, I see the value here, but good grief. This is, uh, still something to worry about. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s a, I look at their website.
Well, listening to you and I see on the Jarvis page, I love this description was, is it promoting? This is what you can do with this. Create blog, posts, stories, even books with the help of real AI. So the real is the TeleSign thing. What is really here? Yeah, exactly. So, um, your rights and I think unfortunately these days, um, when you see, see, or hear news of some new way of doing something.
Uh, almost instantaneous to the, after the positive thought that occurs to you, but how we use it comes a negative about how the bad guys can use this. And that’s a reflection of human being behavior. It seems to me that that that’s inevitably what this would be useful as well. And in which case, if you’ve got, you know, you you’re pumping some words like you did, uh, that is creating, uh, an asks the real AI to do something with it.
Um, well you can do the same thing too. If you’ve got something that’s completely fake. As the source that you want the AI to make stories out of. Yeah. That’s inevitable. That’s going to happen. In which case, uh, is that, is it feasible that there’s gotta be some kind of, uh, of, um, of approval process built into not approval, but verification process on the, on the, the veracity of this, on how, how on earth would that work?
Uh, another rely I would do it may maybe trade up an AI to sniff out fake fakery. But there was nothing like that here though. I entered my stuff. I clicked the button and up came the results. Okay. Absolutely. But it could equally have been lightly Barack Obama example for instance, or it could even have been about, uh, let’s say, you know, some event or some act that had happened in some place, uh, that, uh, you know, uh, looked great, but actually it was completely fake.
It never took place or it was someone else or it was different place or whatever it might be. And this would create then a story around that fakeness. And, uh, you could even project that out to a, that will get traction. If it’s on social in particular before you know it, you’ve got this story that spread, that gets referenced and cited, uh, by respectable people that that’s a good, good enough for to get a Wikipedia entry.
And then you’ve got real respectability. So in things like that, Really worried. Well, the big concern I think, is around how easy it is to create lots of versions of, I mean, I could have set my output to six. So what if I wanted to do content that made claims about a company that’s going to move their stock price, even though these are things they haven’t done, I can create 20 versions of that and get them out there in different platforms in a lot less time with a lot less effort than it would take to sit and write those myself.
And I just one example of some of the consequences that we’re going to see, uh, as, as a result of the availability of these services. I’m not saying that the services shouldn’t be available. I think they’re amazing and wonderful, but. Yeah, there is a dark side. Yeah. There is a dark side and you tie this in with a deep fakes and the technology that lets you do things like create a real, uh, you know, multi minute video of someone talking that’s from just a single image.
The tech can do that now. And um, you know, you’re looking at, then the metaverse you’re looking at, um, you project this out, uh, without sounding like, uh, the doomsayer. Um, this is something that, uh, would require, I’d say careful thinking about how this juice too late for that. Cause it’s out there already.
Regulations coming. Greeting shell Neville. And if our listeners all around the world, it’s Dan York coming at you from Shelburne Vermont on this 658th day of March, 2020. It sure seems that way. We made it through 2021 complete with viruses real and computer outages attacks pretty much a dumpster fire of a year in so many ways on the it space.
But. So many things happening and so much going on. I want to talk about WordPress today in particular, Matt Mullenweg delivered the annual state of the word this past week in, um, in New York city. And it’s actually fascinating to see where the WordPress ecosystem has grown because it’s more than just WordPress.
You know, some stats, of course. Now it’s at about 43.1% of the web is using WordPress by far and away, the largest of the content management systems and chipping away at the number of systems that do not use CMS. One worrying little factor was that the second and third and fourth are no longer. The open source CMS is of Drupal and Joomla and some of the others, but instead their commercial services such as Shopify at around 4.4% Wix around 2% Squarespace around 2%, et cetera.
So it’s just interesting. There’s this vibrant open ecosystem around WordPress and then a bunch of commercial CMS is trying to follow along. The, the new version 5.9 is coming up in January. It was supposed to be out in December, but they delayed it because it wasn’t quite ready. They wanted to take a look at that and do things for communicators.
It’s a continued evolution of the WordPress platform, many great ways to work with new, um, new blocks, a new pattern directory, which can let you go and easily adjust your pages. A new duo tone for images and some pieces that are there. Some really fascinating things. Again, themes, patterns, an evolution of what’s there.
Uh, it’s also translated now into 71 locales, uh, communicators may also be interested in some of this stuff happen. Learn.wordpress.org, which has 70 lesson plans in 21 languages. So if you’re looking to learn about WordPress or encourage others to you can, you can go and do that. What was also very interesting was the, the larger ecosystem, uh, automatic has acquired 42 companies over the past couple of years here.
And also some other efforts. One of those is the open verse, which you can get to at wordpress.org/open verse. And they named this before Facebook went all Mehta with metaverse, et cetera. Okay. So it’s that, but what it is is it’s a, um, a library of creative commons, licensed images over 600 million licensed images.
Um, as it is, this was originally the library that was maintained by the creative commons organization, which then they couldn’t keep it going financially. And so automatic took it over and is now integrating it. So they’re also going. Audio coming in January. So you could search for audio snippets, et cetera, that are licensed under creative commons environment.
So for those of us who work in the podcasting space, this could be potentially a huge source of common of creative commons, licensed content that we can use. They also, WordPress is also going to be adding a, um, a directory of CCS. Uh, licensed basically public domain, sort of there’s a nuance there, but basically it’ll be at wordpress.org/photos, and it will be built directly into WordPress to allow you to go and search this.
This is basically kind of like something along the lines of what Unsplash was and is before it was acquired by Getty images. I think a lot of folks are a little nervous because of the predatory aspects of Getty images in the past, and not sure that Unsplash will continue to be available as it is forever.
So this is all new things that a, the WordPress is trying to do. wordpress.org/open verse, and also slash photos, really focusing on how do we refresh the public comments and maintain an open web that standards base interoperability, et cetera. Matt talked a good bit about. Web three and the decentralized web and the need for the desire for decentralization, for individual ownership, much of which actually you can get to stay with the current web and WordPress and pieces like that.
A lot of things around that, which is a good segue into talking about web three. But before I say that, I would say, if you are into WordPress, go and watch the state of the word it’s available on YouTube. You can find it out there, some really good info and very inspiring to see what is happening within the WordPress community, but on the web three, what is it?
It’s a good question because it’s not the semantic web that we first were talking about before, and it’s not actually clearly defined because it means a lot of things to a lot of folks. And a lot of people are slapping web three on various different, oh, cryptocurrency trading schemes or scams, and just kind of giving it a veneer of reality, but in truth, You know, there is a bucket of things and a bucket of technologies and passion and energy focused around.
How do we kind of re de-centralized the web or add a decentralization, particularly around a perception of ownership or things and monetization and pieces like that. Unfortunately. All of this stuff can talk about here, gets drowned out in the huge amount of noise and hype around cryptocurrency trading and scams frauds speculators.
There is so much money being pumped in here, and it’s kind of like, remember the.com bubble that went dot boom or the bubble of stuff that happened on web 2.0 and how it was gonna revolutionize everything we’re in that same hype cycle right now. And so finding the signal amidst the noise is almost next to impossible because you’re drowned out in people ha you know, promoting their latest coin or their NFTs nifty is whatever you want to call them, whatever their latest scam, fraud, whatever it is, although it’s not presented that way.
Of course, that’s drowning out. The reality of what’s going on inside of there what’s happening is you’re looking at things around. Um, how do you have decentralized storage, decentralized identity, decentralized trust, decentralized messaging. I mean, if we think about. All right. If we go back to the original web, the original web 1.0, as we would say today, it was a radical decentralization of content and pulling it out of the locked in paid permission-based walled gardens of CompuServe, AOL, prodigy, et cetera, all of those for each of those online services, you had to pay a monthly fee, a subscription to be in there to read the content, to be in the communications in the channels, all of that.
You had to do all of that. Well, the way. When it started to interconnect and people get, have content outside of those walled gardens and you didn’t have to pay, you know, 10 different services to get into the different things that, you know, that was a radical de-centralization of content. Anyone could publish all of us could do that.
Anyone could go and put that information up there, but then we found that it was kind of hard to find. It was hard to find people to communicate with. There was spam, there were scammers, there were lots of stuff. And so we saw this centralization into the platforms that we have today, Facebook, Twitter, all of these.
And of course, before that we had MySpace live journal. We had any number of different platforms that were on the path to where we are today. And this centralization came about because the platforms provided an easy interface to, for you. Easy discovery of content and people, easy communication, easy chat, all of that was there.
So now we’re in a space though, where a lot of the interaction that we have is controlled by these large mega corporations, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, apple, Netflix, Amazon, all of that web three is a bit of a reaction to that and saying, how do we get out of that? You’ll remember Tim Berners Lee also has an effort called solid looking to re decentralize the web and give people control back of their data.
There’s a lot of work happening in the fed averse, a lot of work happening in various different places around the internet to look at how. Get back control and ownership of our own data and content and not just let it be monetized by big mega corporations, web three’s reaction to that. There’s a lot of hype going on a lot of information that’s going on inside of there.
I have a worry that some of it is heading back toward those payment based walled gardens, where you have to pay to publish, pay to view, and it will take us to a way that will exclude a lot of the world that cannot participate in that. We’ll have to see where this all goes. And I’m interested to hear your comments.
And I think for communicators, it’s important to monitor, to watch, to listen, to see what’s there to look at what are the options you can explore. And just be careful, be really careful. Cause there’s a lot of scams and hype out there. There’s some good stuff, but it’s hard to find with that. I wish you all the best over the holidays.
I look forward to talking with you all in 2022. I encourage you to join the fir calls that we have. You can find more of my writing and audio at Dan York dot Emmy, and we have a choice of futures for our connected world. I do hope we choose wisely. Thanks for listening bye for now. Well, thanks Dan. Great report.
Uh, fascinating to hear how the fee for service content management systems are displacing the open source other than. WordPress. And that’s one we use where I work. We use one called web flow that I’d never even heard of before. And we had to find people who knew how to use it. So, yeah, I mean, we’re presses come, come on credibly in 17 years or so 45% of all websites in the world run WordPress now.
I mean, that’s, that’s a hell of a claim to make. Yeah. So, um, yeah, that’s success. Dan’s discussion of this whole web three, uh, S situation is a nice lead in. To our last topic. And I suspect, uh, our longest thinking back to a couple of months ago when I was blissfully unaware of the term web three, now I can’t get away from it.
So it’s, it’s worth talking, uh, about it at some length because the hype machine really is only just getting started. Uh, right now the debate is pretty heated over whether it’s an online revolution, a lot of hype or a dangerous direction for the web to be going. And it’s frankly too early to know. By way of context.
Let’s remember that the first version of the web web 1.0 was static web pages. And it was very decentralized. I mean, I remember where I had my first website. It was on a computer box that was under my desk right here. Uh, that was connected to the internet through a DSL line. I eventually ended up picking it up and moving it to a server farm in San Francisco, but I, it that’s still where all that content came from, uh, web 2.0 was more dynamic.
It was more user generated. It saw the growth of social media starting with blogs, uh, but it also led to consolidation of where all of this stuff resided. And that was with big companies, uh, Metta PKA, Facebook and Google and Amazon for shopping and big business came in and just took over huge swaths of, of the internet.
Uh, so that’s web 2.0, so what is web three? It depends on whom you ask. Uh, let me give you a couple of descriptions and, uh, then we’ll talk about it Neville and there’s, there’s a lot to talk about here. Uh, the New York times, it says it’s a decentralized internet run on crypto tokens that will democratize everything, reshaping, art, commerce, and technology, displacing intermediaries that would be Metta and Google and the like, and putting more people directly in control of their desks.
Uh, NPR says it’s an iteration of the internet where new social networks, search engines and mark marketplaces crop up that have no company overlords. Uh, the economic times says it’s a system for the users ideated by the users in the form of creator driven platforms. Uh, and here’s one from a blogger named Tanta, uh, which interestingly is, is Hebrew for auntie.
Uh, I don’t know if that’s what he’s getting at with that. I doubt it, but Dan York sent me the link to his post, and this is a bit of a longer definition, but it’s actually the one that I think really gets at what we’re headed. Web three is a blockchain based back end, an infrastructure layer on top of existing network technologies that aims at restructuring the internet in a radically decentralized and individual way services required for individuals to be able to act within that new infrastructure like identity management, content storage, et cetera, are provided by decentralized smart contracts or services built on them.
While front ends to use the web three internet still looks similar to current ones. Browser-based apps. They no longer get their content from centralized servers, but from blockchain based content providers, giving individuals enforceable ownership of the data and content they create, or. Uh, and I should note that, uh, as, as rosy is that definition sounds tun to is not a fan of the idea.
In fact, a good chunk of his post, which is lengthy is devoted to, uh, why he objects to all of this. But let’s take a break from me talking about it. Oh, where are you standing on this? And Evelyn, what, what do you see? And, and what’s your understand. I’m thinking back to when you and I talked about this topic in August, in episode two, 10 as well, we had much of that show was about this.
And, um, part of the research I was doing on it, uh, found the, the financial times as a great starter piece, as I described it, uh, that talked about this from a particular angle, uh, where big tech was the, you know, the group trying to shape it, but they had an interesting definition. I liked this a lot. Uh, early visions of the metaverse are likely to be an imperfect approximation of what the ultimate reality will look like.
Uh, absolutely spot on because what you read out a, all of it is, is a, is eye glazing, uh, to be honest, but all of it is slightly different, but use too many words, big words have multiple syllables that no one’s got that stamp, whatever you have, it means. So, um, it’s kinda a it’s too early, in my opinion to do what many people are doing is literally setting out.
Concrete and cast iron. This is what the metaverse is, right? Well, this is all no different than versus is part of this. It’s not all of it. You and I might know that, but that’s not what all these other guys are saying. There’s still going to be regular old websites with content and images. There will be blogs.
There will be YouTube like services. It’s not all going to be avatar based metaphor. That’s part of it, but it’s not all of it. Someone needs to say that. And the more loudly with greater clarity in that case, because all that most Alissa hearing is that, Hey, this is coming, it’s going to replace. This is what it’s all going to be now.
Yeah. We’re hearing that, but web three is still web, right? It’s still gonna run on a web browser. Uh, they’re still going to be web site. That’s the point? No one has a clear definition of web three, even. So let me go, let me refer to Tim O’Reilly’s piece. That to me was the one that grabbed my attention.
Most of all, mainly because of the headline is article, why it’s too early to get excited about where three he, by the way, was the guy who defined web to web 2.0 17 years ago. So he also notes in his article that the term web three or web 3.0 was first used in 2006 by Tim versus. You know, Tim Berners-Lee is of course you do.
He’s a guy that, sir, Tim Berners-Lee. Well, sorry. So you’re right. So Tim, so, uh, I think about people like Tim, O’Reilly more than, uh, people writing in some of the tech journals saying this is what the metaverse is going to be. I think it’s far too early to define it. And I like tantra’s description a lot.
I have said not read that. Uh, cause that to me is, is getting closer to what, not what it is. Not at all to being able to see what it could be perhaps. And my own thinking is that equal. I’ve heard others say, oh, the metaverse is the next version of the internet. And I’m thinking fine. Uh, let’s define what you mean by the internet first.
And if that is the network of networks that is decentralized and is in layers, then that sounds what Tanta said about rights. If he’s talking about the web, which is a layer on top of the internet, because of the worldwide web to work, you got to have the internet for. Then we could be getting somewhere.
Could it be then that this is, and again, I’ve heard this mentioned, but with too many qualifiers that it is, there are a lot of meta versus there’s no single metaverse, someone would argue against that and capitalizing it with them. So, uh, again, Tim you’re right. Uh, Tim O’Reilly, it’s too early to get excited about this stuff yet, because it’s not clear where this is all going.
In the meantime, you’ve got people, uh, experimenting and like the FTC says, uh, imperfect approximation or the ultimate reality will look like, and in the midst of it all, you’ve also got big tech in the, particularly in the case of Metta PKA Facebook who are putting a stake in the ground, that this is their development.
And I’m not saying at all, that that is what they’re saying. And, but that’s what they behaving. Like, if you like, and they’re putting a lot of mobile. Uh, energy time effort, the works people like Andrew Bosworth, like Nick Clegg, like Zuckerberg himself, even out there in avatar for mainly cause it really isn’t attention grabber talking about what all of us are going to be able to do in Facebook’s metaverse.
And that may be true. The gaming is that I still read an article recently that, uh, that was really quite, uh, uh, provoking and its view, uh, of the role gaming will play in kickstarting, all of this because of the fact that gaming uses much of the technology that is going to be needed to really make use of the metaverse.
I’m also thinking that, um, second line. Um, much of what I had people saying, there’s a TV programs they talking about, there’s your avatar in second life in, in, in the metaverse it didn’t say what it was the best of us, but you got to buy clothes for it. You got to think. And my God, they were doing that in second life.
15 years ago, I still got a wardrobe there in second life of all clothes. I think they’re still in fashion. They certainly are on second life. So, uh, it’s not, um, there, isn’t a way to define it the way most of these organizations are doing. I, I think it’s better to talk about what people can do with it, rather than trying to find what it is that might be better.
Yeah. And I know that. Yeah. One of the issues Dan had that we talked about during our Thursday fir zoom chat was what does this do for me? Right. What people aren’t talking about, but there are answers you’re right about games and the metaverse. I mean, epic has announced that it’s agreeable to selling games that support crypto or blockchain based assets working on a blockchain powered.
Huge huge game of pushback on that. I forgotten the gaming company announced today that they reversed the decision to offer, uh, NFTs and tokens and all sorts of stuff in the gaming, because the, all the users, they, we do not want any of that. Yeah. So they’ve, they’ve canceled plans to do that. I see that happening more because the reason is.
It’s quite clear because it’s not stated they’re not being very open. There’s a, it’s about the money for God’s sake. That’s why they’re doing it. But what they’re touting is how maze it’s going to be for you, gamers. You don’t know, it’s not, it’s going to cost you money to do this. And they’re going to make a fortune, which is one of Tim Riley’s strong points by the way that this is all about the money right now, it’s all dressed up in that crypto NFTs, the works on how the platforms are going to make a fortune.
And by the way, user’s not going to make a lot. Facebook’s meta versus antithetical to the concept of web three, because it’s a big company owning it. It’s not decentralized right. Decentralized. Yeah, you can’t define it, but let’s look at a couple of examples of web three that are not metaverse there.
They’re just web three Kickstarter. You remember Kickstarter, uh, is overhauling its business on the Cielo, uh, CLO the civil blockchain with plans to turn it over to, uh, a decentralized autonomous organization, relinquishing their ownership, their control of it. That’s one example. Another Twitter’s launched a team dedicated to all things, blockchain and web three, so that Twitter can be a web three property read.
It is planning to convert all of its karma points. This is what you get for contributing content that other people, uh, promote. Uh, they’re going to convert all of that into cryptocurrencies. Uh, that’s not in the metaverse, that’s just Reddit, but it will be that decentralized where you own your content and you get rewarded for, for what.
Contribute. You’re already getting that with karma points, but sorry, you can’t convert karma points into dollars and go out and buy something with them. You can with cryptocurrency. So these, these are examples of, of some of the web three stuff outside of the metaverse the Metta versus just one element of, of web three.
Oh, not or not as some people are arguing. No, I haven’t heard anybody argue that. It’s just metaverse but let’s look at why PR people should. There was an article in PR week. Uh, it’s going to change the way we engage with people online in a lot of ways. Uh, just like we had to learn the backend of the web.
Uh, we’re going to have to learn the backend of this, not coding it, but understanding how it works so that we can guide development on behalf of our clients and organizations and, and, and. We wrote about the impact on experiential marketing agencies. You know, they’re already starting to use AR VR, extended reality, other hyper reality, uh, and metaverse tools.
But now they’re going to have to learn NFTs digital currencies, index funds and tokenized communities, Dao, decentralized autonomous organization communities. Uh, they’re going to have to find ways to have people who are part of DAOs meet in real life with conferences and meetups. They say think Comicon for characters and content developed in the metaverse.
The article also says, why hire an agency to bring on brand ambassadors? For instance, if they have their own diehard community of evangelists, incentivized by tokens or NFTs, why would friends with benefits, which is by the way, a Dao community of crypto enthusiasts and content creators, why would they need to find talent?
When it can create subgroups of experts within its own membership base, these communities have local ES expertise spread across the world and they can frictionlessly incentivize freelancers and vendors to activate their IRL in real life ideas. So we’re, we’re really going to have to think about this.
Let’s talk about the benefits. I’m going to run down. Some of those that I’ve read in a plethora of articles, uh, first people control their own data with a record of everything they do, based on a single, personalized account, creating a public record on the blockchain of all their activity. The value that’s created can be shared amongst the people who create it.
Not. You know, Facebook PKA Metta and that that’s a, that’s an ideal for the future. Yes. This is what, this is the goal, right? CoinDesk had an article that talked about the benefits of web three for work, because it will end a lot of the vulnerabilities that lead to data breaches, and it will protect confidentiality and secure payments.
Economic time says most users are continually focusing on customized and personalized browsing experiences. And there’s a growing need for humanized search assistance that are way more intelligent, completely ubiquitous and powered by semantics AI. Blockchain, uh, it’s going to change. I mean, there will be search engines that will be different based on personalized, uh, data that taps different sources.
These are what people are talking about as being some of the benefits in addition to the big goal of being decentralized and taking the power away from the Facebook PKA Metta of the world. So, yeah, I mean, I think the, um, the P the face, the metal PK Facebook of the world are in a stronger position to, um, to be the centralized route, because they’ll be able to make things happen, uh, simply because of their size and scale, uh, before smaller decentralized companies can do this, but there’s still space for those guys, but it could be that the Facebooks as well, to like the.
The direction of all of this. I’m thinking back actually to, um, when we talked about this in August, uh, I read an interview with a guy called mark Pettit of epic games. He, uh, oversees unreal engine, phenomenal tool, um, the 3d platform. And, uh, he talked about openness and decentralization. Uh, that would be an important feature of the development of the metadata.
So a few words he says here, I think quite interesting, which we’ll talk, which cover dresses, not in the same word stope. He thinks, he says he thinks it’s an opportunity to create business models and rules that are far more fair to. Protect their privacy and make sure craters, get their fair share for the content they create, because hopefully we’re going to, towards an economy of creation where people who make the money are the people who created the content.
Not the people are on the platforms. We want everybody to become a consumer and the creator. And so we need the platform and the economy that allows participation for everybody. That actually is absolutely Tim O’Reilly’s, um, uh, uh, uh, uh, thought piece, really that talks about this. Kind of connects to what you said in talking about what PR people and others can do with, with the metaverse, uh, allow this and that and the other.
And we seem to be losing, uh, we all, we seem to don’t have enough people saying this kind of thing, or I see, uh, that pops up in the headlines on the topic. When I, when I get search results in them, particularly on, on, on the phrase, the metaverse unrelated was that I pay attention to, or most of what I hear about is cryptocurrency blockchain and how people can make a lot of money at this.
I don’t hear enough about, uh, creating business models and rules that are fair for people protect the privacy, et cetera, et cetera. Or we need to have more of that because simply because it isn’t defined yet and it needs this kind of focus to, I believe to make sure we don’t lose sight of this and get completely overwhelmed by the get rich quick folks who are out there.
They’re the ones who are talking about. Yeah. And when it comes to the money in the metaverse, and again, I want to emphasize the Metta versus part of web three. It’s not all of it. Uh, there was a comic strip called there is a comic strip called Kendallville. I don’t know if any of our listeners read it, but there was a, an installment the other day where one of the characters, uh, made the point they’re selling digital real estate in the metaverse best locations going for crazy prices.
Poor people, avatars are gonna have to live in spitty locations. Even when a world can be anything we choose to make, we choose to make ghettos. Uh, which you know, these, he’s got a point, um, and there are other drawbacks to all of this, which a lot of people are pointing out. Uh, Kara Swisher, uh, in the New York times said the web three movement is rife with hype wind bags.
And more than a little grift, it’s also more obstreperous in a way that previous versions of the internet are not, uh, somebody else wrote the decentralized networks, appealed to people like white supremacists and other extremist groups. Uh, as I would add to that as well as normal folks. So it’s not like it’s like, see that kind of reporting.
Isn’t helpful, frankly, but I think it’s finds a point to be made. These folks want to gather together in a place where somebody is not going to shut them down. Right. And I get that too. Well. There’s not enough clarity around here shall there really is not because Kara Swisher, you quoted, for instance, she talks about the.
Right. As being, as being the kind of route we’re going down. So make up your minds, folks, is it the web or is it the internet? That’s all I see. I saw an article the other day saying internet 2.0, is the. Well, I, I said, uh, Hey, uh, web 0.3 point, I was a Methodist. And again, everything I read about web 3.0, includes the metaverse, but it’s not just the menu.
Let me run through more of the drawbacks that I have collected from a variety of sources. First of all, everyone’s going to need to have a crypto wallet and a means to purchase crypto tokens, to take advantage of the many opportunities that will be offered on the blockchain. But here’s a big one. And this is one that a lot of people are talking.
Blockchains use something called proof of work to verify transactions and other data proof of work as a computational puzzle that they have to solve in order to record a transaction on the blockchain and get rewarded for it with coin. Uh, and it uses a tremendous amount of computational power. There was one study that found the Bitcoin blockchain alone uses more electricity every year than the entire country of Argentina.
And mostly this is power that comes from fossil fuels and here we are dealing. Climate change. And what are we doing? We’re building web three. That’s going to be all blockchain based and where’s all this energy going to come from. Now, there is an alternative called proof of stake, uh, but only a few smaller blockchains are using it right now.
If Ethereum is glacially moving toward it, uh, proof of stake, uh, has the crypto owners basically pledging their coins to be used to verify transactions. They lock up their coins while you stake them. And you know, the more coin you stake, the more transactions you’ll be allowed to make on the blockchain.
And then you get paid in a fee rather than coin from the blockchain. So there’s less computational power being used, but not many of the blockchains are using. Uh, so we have the environmental issue, which is huge. Uh, blockchains are not a proven, scalable technology Tanta that blogger that Dan turned me on to says that Ethereum has the computational power of an old apple to box, but uses this as much electricity as Belgium.
Uh, so it’s, it’s tremendously slow. And how do you scale that to service the entire internet? Uh, there are security issues. There’s no undo on the blockchain. We’ve heard stories about people losing the password, uh, to their block, to their crypto wallet and not having access to millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin that they have.
And they can’t get it back. That’s just gone. Tonto also says when only the code decides, and there is no place for debate and political struggle. How do the disenfranchise get heard? How do the powerless organize and revolt? And I think that’s an excellent point where turning over, we talk about democratization, but it’s all the code that makes the decisions in these decentralized autonomous organizations.
Um, as I mentioned before, if you think big companies won’t rest control of this, you just haven’t been paying attention. So those are, those are just some of the. Th the, the drawbacks, uh, that people are pointing to it. That doesn’t mean they can’t be addressed and fixed, but they certainly are. I think, hindrances to immediate adoption of all of this right now.
I agree and immediate the word immediate applies here. Adoption is going to take a long time. I think with that kind of climate. Let me mention some of the concluding points of Tim O’Reilly’s pizza. I think they’re very appropriate in the context of everything we’ve touched on in this conversation, he says to follow-up.
Let’s focus on the parts of the web three vision that aren’t about easy riches, but on solving hard problems with trust, identity, and decentralized finance. I mentioned that earlier and above all, let’s focus on the interface between crypto and the real world that people live in, where as Matthew Iglesias put it when talking about housing inequality, a society becomes wealthy over time by accumulating a stock of long lasting capital goods.
If as south LA Palma argues web three, heralds the birth of a new economic system, let’s make it one that increases true wealth, not just paper wealth for those lucky enough to get in early, but actual life changing goods and services that make life better for everyone. That’s what we should be talking about.
Not. How big copes are going to get rich and the crypto this and, and, and the Bitcoin that’s on the blockchain, the other, um, we should be talking about these issues right now. Yeah, absolutely. And when this takes shape and you know, those people who are decrying it, uh, and saying, we shouldn’t go down this road, uh, you know, I have to say too bad.
We’re all really well down this road. Uh, I mean, maybe we call this, maybe we resurrect Larry Ellison’s phrase. Hey, this is the information superhighway. I, I, I just saw, uh, an article that said, uh, very large companies are, are piloting. Over themselves to introduce NFTs. Uh, so they’re not going away. Uh, venture capitalists have invested more than $27 billion in technologies that will support web three.
Just this year. That’s more than the 10 previous years combined. The New York times says the biggest investors and industry players are lobbying Washington to influence rules that would favor their view of what they call token Nomics. I had to add that to my, uh, computer, uh, dictionary. So it wouldn’t have the red squiggly line under it, by the way.
Uh, so it’s here, but I think that a lot of this stuff that we talk about blockchain and tokens and DAOs are going to be invisible to the. Right. Uh, I mean, they won’t have to learn about blockchain any more than you have to learn about electricity infrastructure in order to turn on a light switch and have light in your room when it gets dark, it’s still mostly going to look like the web.
Uh, and, and, uh, some of it’s going to look kind of like second life. The metaverse part of it. Uh, but you know, these technologies are going to be invisible to most people. And let’s keep in mind that when the internet was new, it was confounding to people. People talk about how it will never take off. You remember the conversation.
Uh, you can still find the video of Brian Gumbel and Jane Pauley, uh, talking about it on the today’s show. What is internet? Uh, web 2.0, it was the same thing. Oh, this social media stuff. This will never go anywhere. Right. So, you know, I think that the naysayers are in denial. This is a road that we’re going down.
Uh, we are going to see web three. It is going to be blockchain based and tokenized. Uh, but it’s going to be invisible to most people from the backend. So it needs more people to be out there talking about the things that Tim Riley mentioned, a lot more people doing that. Yeah, I agree. This is, this is happening.
My worry is if this is the only thing that’s happening, we’re in deep trouble, sooner that’s effect. So the dystopia that is confronting us, won’t be as horrible as ready player one portrayed or what 2045 looks like. But it won’t be pretty if, if the blockchain moneymaking crypto, this, that, and the other is the only story that people are telling.
So it requires, I don’t know somebody with, or an organization that’s not driven by, um, uh, by all this and few and far between, I would imagine to talk up, uh, the stuff that is about creating business models and rules that are fair for people. And I would like to see is, you know, there’s that organization around AI that, uh, the companies that are producing it formed in order to maintain an ethical approach to the introduction of artificial intelligence.
Google is part of it. And the likened, I would like to see something like that, where, okay. Web three, let’s make sure this serves the interests of people, uh, and, and come up with a set of guidelines that we’re all going to agree to abide by. Not that everybody would, but you know, we haven’t seen AI, uh, take over the world yet and, and, uh, killing humans.
So, no, that seems to be working. If you want to tell you the model of what we got to date with social media, social networks, then you need to have something that’s far better than that. If we, if we embrace the technologies that are leading us down this particular road, that by the way, it has no regulation, no defined best practice codes, ethics, none of that.
It’s another wild west in the making. And that probably isn’t a good thing. Yeah. Uh, I am a fan of the decentralization. Uh, I am a fan of the fact that it will be easier for people to create without having to rely on a Facebook or a Google to do it. Uh, I’m a fan of the control over my identity. Uh, I mean, there are a lot of good things about this.
Uh, it just has to be molded in the right way. And I have submitted my application to join a community of, uh, marketers and creators, uh, who are talking about this from the business perspective. I haven’t had that approved yet, but, um, I’m waiting Kate. Okay. Your voice in the show. I’m going to do my best and I’ll report on that if I can get in and that dear listener, we’ll, we’ll do it for this episode of, for immediate release.
Uh, again, this is episode number two and food you, how to hear somewhere, uh, two to 14 for December of. 2021, uh, our next episode, and I’m going to say this, having not checked this with you yet, Neville. So let me know if your calendar is okay for recording on Saturday, the 15th of January in order to release on the 17th.
We’re good. Good. Excellent. Uh, and remember, keep an eye out for our short takes, uh, beginning the first week of January, these little 10 minute episodes where we’ll talk about one topic and it will just be conversation. Uh, and we are continuing to do our fir zoom chats on Thursday. So if you’d like to join those and you haven’t already just send us a note through whatever mechanism works for you and we’ll get the credentials to you.
We do that so that we don’t get zoom bombed again. That was an unpleasant experience that. Yeah, I, I heard, uh, from somebody at work, uh, who I had mentioned, we got zoom bombed and they said, you know that there is a class action if you joined it, uh, zoom is going to have to pay out to people who were zoom bombed.
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