Today we sat on the deck with our daughter Ella and her boyfriend Nick. Knowing of my fascination with all things Beatles, Nick gave me a Japanese 45 of Get Back flipped with Don’t Let Me Down. His gift coincided with a 5 minute cut of material from a newly authorized production of a new version of Get Back, the film. A short history follows.
In the waning days of The Beatles’ partnership, the band decided to return to a more slimmed down production style, minus overdubs and plus a live feel. After original sessions in Twickenham Studios, the …
The place we’re in, the valley of the dolls between the vote and the Inauguration, is overshadowed by the battle to save our lives. The vaccines look promising, and so does the persistence of the Trumpster to play his games. Somehow we have to live with that, on both sides. In the business we’re in, the technology industry, broadband has penetrated to the point we can survive with a reasonable degree of fidelity to the world COVID erased.
This week’s move by WarnerMedia to release all 2021 pictures on HBO Max and in theaters is both …
With one fell swoop, WarnerMedia eradicated the status quo in Hollywood, turning its 2021 feature film schedule on its head. Well, not quite. By moving 2021’s theatrical releases to both physical and digital theaters, the AT&T affiliate gave us a reason to sign up for its HBOMax streaming service. With a simultaneous window of one month per title, the idea is that the vaccines will govern the timetable for viable return to movies plus popcorn.
Streaming has picked the lock on our path to the future. Even Donald Trump thinks so. Faced with open refusal by the networks …
Thanks I’m giving for the start of the first big online season. Yes, the pandemic has put in place a gigantic move to the digital for our immediate and accelerated future. We all know how this plays out in the required state of things pre-vaccine. But there’s an undercurrent not so hidden there of a dynamic answer to my wife’s stubborn question: Where’s my Jetpack?
She’s a child of the 60s, a post-Beatles time of imploding dreams and dashed expectations. James Bond got to fly a Jetpack, but the telltale burned gasoline exhaust …
With one day to go to the election, our thoughts are with those who look forward to talking about something else. Difficult as it might be to imagine, there must be other things to work on. One thing that comes to mind is the impact of the virus on how we manage our days and nights in a digital environment. Mobile devices have already propelled much of the change, but the pandemic has accelerated the move to a hybrid distributed lifestyle.
The election has mandated our attention to the political situation in ways that have expanded early voting and legal efforts to slow it down. Regardless of the outcome, the pressure to adapt to this new collaborative workflow will intensify. People have already seen significant shifts from commuting to time switching in a home context. Podcasting, which had emerged from a hackerish geeky hobby in recent years, has morphed into a more commercial adjunct to mainstream media.
In the process, new formats such as newsletters and live streaming have attracted investment from companies including Spotify and Audible, related technologies like Otter (transcription), Substack, Medium, new bundles of services (Apple One) and cable network disrupters, Digital first publishers like The Recount may have started out as traditional takes on political commentary, but in the windup of the campaign they are reaching audiences via notifications rather than repetitive cable talking heads and panels.
This roll up of breaking notifications and user-controlled editorial access have major implications for the near future post-electuon, however long it takes to plow through legal challenges and the restaffing of whichever government is formed. Also impacted will be Congressional and antitrust attempts to regulate social media, and what I suspect will be a shift to private discussions and trend analysis. The interest groups and market makers that result from this realignment will offer exit strategies for companies like Twitter and YouTube where the risk of being broken up will be mitigated by powerful new business models for content creation and distribution.
By January 20th, a new influencer architecture based on notifications and live streaming will endow the media with tools it needs to lead the transition to safe, secure, hybrid digital/live events. Streaming will give new artists and entrepreneurs a platform to separate influence and impact from lossleader gatherings online, bolstered by association with food and tools delivery winners like Apple and Amazon. A similar synergy between tech companies and media advertising will be overt (Apple + and Prime) as well as implicit (the growth in Amazon search.and Twitch watch parties.)
COVID therapeutics such as Regeneron create a roadmap for these private groups to reorganize as CostCo-like next wave restaurants, entertainment events, and political efforts to consolidate economic power. With a combination of transparency and what could be called reverse boycotts, customers will align with products and companies who promote values-based association with stakeholders acrosss the spectrum.
Central to the relationship is providing ethical access to important data in return for clear guidelines for the use of that data at scale. If this election has been correctly assessed as signaling a massive change in the electorate, the period of deescalation from the pandemic can foster a sense of ownership of that success by the incoming majority. Notification-based entertainers such as Sarah Cooper and more mainstream projects like Matthew McConaughey’s new book, Greenlights, speak initially to the Zoom home/work crowd, and soon to the formation of new studios and networks.
Who really knows how this transformation is playing out given the terrible consequences of Trump’s impact on our country and its standing in the world. But the generation that followed the Greatest Generation is discovering it has more to it than the free love of rock and roll and following our bliss. That same generation ushered in the technology and media revolutions.
Now we’re suffering the backlash of so-called free software where our data is the real product, where Big Brother is extending power by acquihires and preemptive pivots. Yet still our democracy persists. Time to count the vote.
Not just the future of civilization is up for grabs this November. In this age of mobile social computing, we’re figuring out how to vote, entertain, teach, learn, and commit to meaningful change. Thanks to the pandemic emergency, our plans for transforming our country and planet are subject to immediate recall.
Much of the current political dynamic is expressed through the lense of “how much change can we afford to make?” The swing states in the race for the electoral college are those most profoundly affected by the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. The choice: how many jobs will we lose by shifting away from oil and gas to wind and solar. Workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Michigan are fearful of losing their livelihood to a future of retraining and disruption.
Regardless of where we sit along the left/right spectrum, we share the increasing understanding that government doesn’t work. Running for office is a gauntlet of fundraising and promises you can’t keep; legislating is a lobbyist playground where special interests are neither special nor in our interests. The courts are overwhelmed by political power plays timed to inflame and suppress voting turnout. It’s no wonder that the common reaction to this week’s final presidential debate was relief that the campaign is almost over.
The most important fix to the body politic is the mute button. For a brief moment in the debate, we got to experience a few seconds of not talking. Time seemed to stand still, as if we were being handed down a digital tablet of things to not do: don’t interrupt, don’t disrespect, don’t mock, don’t waste our time. Above all, don’t forget the people we’ve lost to the virus. Remember the days when our biggest problems were what show to watch, what music to play, what jokes to tell. It’s amazing what you can hear when the agenda is turned back to ourselves.
In that moment, you can hear things that smooth the soul. In that moment, you can hear the words leaders will have to speak to get our vote next time. I feel much better about the next election no matter how this one turns out. The explosive numbers of early voting tell us a lot about how this will go. The genie is out of the bottle and people are beginning to connect the dots. If the vote is suppressed, it only makes us try harder.
Mobility is about a return to value, to roots, to resilience. Working from home is a big step toward living from everywhere. AR stands for accelerated reality, VR for valued reality. If we want to know what social is good for, switch on the mute button and listen to what you’ve lost. If you can mute the sound, you can unmute it and find your voice.
At first, the mute button was a defensive move. It counteracted the business model of the cable news networks, the repetitive time-filling of partisan perspective mixed with not listening to the grievances of the other side. The hardest thing I’ve had to do is be open to the truth emanating from the least likely location. We are taught to attack our opponent’s weaknesses; a better strategy might be to respect their strengths and adopt them as your own. Don’t worry, though. You probably won’t find too much there to reflect.
Once you experience the mute button envelope, you can hear it even if it’s not there. The rules of the revised debate were that the first two minutes of each candidate’s response used the mute button, then the old rules returned. Even then, the experience of using the mute button informed the rest of the debate. Particularly noticeable was Joe Biden’s response to a series of back and forths when the moderator asked if he had any further response. “… … … No.”
There have been other mute buttons in history. The 18 and a half minute gap spoke loudly when Rose Mary Woods erased a crucial Watergate tape. Before that, we assumed there might be a smoking gun. After that, we knew there might be others, too. Throughout the campaign, we could learn more about what was really going on by listening for the moments when key questions were left unanswered, ducked, or bounced back to the opponent like some Pee Wee Herman playground retort.
Soon we’ll know the answer to the important question: how do we confront the virus? I vote for listening to the science, wearing a mask, socially distancing both off and online, rapid testing, and contact tracing. And the candidates who agree.