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Media

Day 1122 and Zombie Media

The lifespan of a media brand is an odd thing. Commanding attention and influencing the opinion of large audiences is hard work. Distribution of information has changed a lot in my lifetime which has shaken the business of media.

Some generational powers like Vogue have managed to hang on even as the internet democratized access to changing fashions. Newspapers, which have consolidated fiercely, are no longer local city standard bearers. The most financial success went in national directions like The New York Times.

Everything is fighting a losing war against the Internet. Weeklies that were concerned with recapping the goings on in the world have all but disappeared. The Economist almost made the transition to the the digital era but lost its way.

For me it was when John Micklethwait left The Economist for Bloomberg. I loved the publication as a teen & twenty something. I miss it still, but once its paywall was up and the editors I trusted were gone, it ceased to exist as an influence in my world. Influence can wane quickly. I read Bloomberg now.

Other media outlets have gone to battle in the Hobbesian war of all against all and seem to be competing with rage headlines and audience capture niches. These are the ones that concern me the most.

Wired Magazine was beloved by the first wave of Internet and technology enthusiasts. Its essays defined the era. Now it seems to have turned on the promise of technology entirely with panicked headlines about the dangers inherent in a new form of corporate structure.

A Dangerous Home for Online Extremism: DAOs

For me, seeing Wired doing this sort of thing is akin to the moment in a zombie movie when a friend or family member is bitten. As they are reanimated from the dead, you are in grief and shock, but also must quickly accept your friend is gone and what is in its place is able to harm you.

For what it’s worth, I have been arguing for the innovative potential in decentralized autonomous organizations for years. I appreciate the spotlight being put on them. But I’m also sad to see a media brand lose trust. It’s not so easily regained.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture Media

Day 1114 and Aging Without History

I don’t use TikTok at all. I have an Instagram account I’ve failed to reboot which I only open if a Groupchat sends me a link.

I deliberately insulate from algorithmic visual content. It makes you miserable for one. But more importantly, it deadens your aesthetic palette from overexposure.

If you want to develop and sustain personal taste and style, do yourself a favor and do it deliberately without the subtle nudging enforcement of refinement culture.

I do however avidly follow the propagation of different fashions as a personal interest. I like to see where a runaway trend goes as virality and social contagion set in. The New York Post’s entire culture section is dedicated to moral panics but it occasionally hits on real sources of social anxiety.

Gen-Z is allegedly having an anti-aging culture panic over turning 30. Their source on this is a Reddit post about skincare obsessives on social media.

“I feel like aging to Gen Z is what ‘being fat’ was to millennials. Remember how ruthless the media [and] everyone was about that?,” another noted.

Gen Z’s Fear of Aging NYPost

I still have anxiety about weight from living through the TMZ era of body shaming. So I’m sympathetic to what it must feel like to younger women facing the relentless scrutiny of living online. They rightly perceive appearances to be a part of how value is calculated in wider society and are afraid of losing it.

I’m convinced some portion of the extremely online Gen Z are living entirely out of the slipstream of historical culture. They consume artifacts from other people’s youth culture but live in a what amounts to a “long now” in which the future seems unstable. We rebooted 2003 as a micro trend but the apocalypse is almost here.

The nostalgia machine gives Gen Z an ever present history but very little present to hold onto for grounding in physical reality. Their ahistorical vibes approach seems to overweight the need for youth.

Sean Monahan of K-Hole normcore fame posted a mapping of the aesthetics of the decade that I thought spoke well to the strange relationship digital aesthetics have to time. I’m posting a diagram here from his post here.

8Ball “Stuck in The Past vs Inspired By The Past” trends breakdowns

If Gen Z is aging like milk it’s probably not because they are actually aging quickly. Though I’m sure the stress isn’t doing them any favors. I think dit’s what Ryan Broderick of Garbage Day points out here. The glamified hyper-media full face contour is an ageless one. It’s inspired by the past and stuck in the past. It’s got nothing to do with their actual age.

Categories
Internet Culture Reading

Day 1050 and Revisionism

I allowed myself to go on a little bit of a dopamine spree on Twitter today. Yes it did make my autonomic nervous system a little haywire.

My only justification for this self indulgence is that I had an unsatisfying breakfast in the form of a bagel made of styrofoam and whey protein isolate.

I allowed myself to be riled up about how we don’t teach history to anyone these days. Or why Osama Bin Ladin is a shitlib.

I figured I’d earned a a little treat as the prior day of news and social media has been somehow equally tiresome. If you like audio, AI Breakdown Podcast quotes me at 20:00 on why I’m skeptical of regulatory capture masquerading as ethics.

At least yesterday, I’d had the good sense to take a walk in nature. I suppose in all things one should seek a balance in one’s life yes? In which case a little chaos is fine here and there. As the kids say, let her cook!

Categories
Community Culture Politics

Day 1033 and Agency Explosion

I spent my entire day at The Network State conference in Amsterdam. I was impressed by just how many competing visions people had for how we might self organize into a modern sovereign societies.

Naturally people who aren’t sold on a traditional geographic nation state, as a philosophical or practical matter, are a very diverse lot. And most of them are some flavor of dissident. You don’t go looking to create a new state if you are happy with the current regimes. By the looks of the crowd, a lot of people are disappointed in their elites.

So diverse was the content that you could probably find both religious fascist reactionaries and collectivist post-rational atheists on the same floor.

You can find all of the content online and I would encourage you to watch it. You won’t agree with everyone (lord knows I didn’t) but you will see competing visions for how law, currency, education and information sharing can be structured. You will likely find arguments that strike you as morally repugnant. And probably a few that have you clapping in agreement.

It was actually a bit refreshing to see people take firm stances on their values and their limits. I’m not always thrilled to see where some people would place my personal rights (women’s rights somehow remains a hotly contested space) but the “grey tribe” crypto libertarians do their level best to accommodate everyone at the protocol level. Sometimes people you dislike use common infrastructure. Welcome to civilization.

What I saw, as Brook from Vibecamp put it, was an explosion of agency. The people gathered together believed that the future and the spaces they inhabit can be negotiated without intermediaries. Everyone believed they had agency in forming their own network states.

That’s a pretty revolutionary stance. I’m not surprised to find that we don’t all agree on how the revolution will play out. But it’s nice to see that people believe they can build a better a better world with the tools they have available to them.

Categories
Culture Politics

Day 1025 and Petit Aristocracy

A swirling milieu of discourse has brought a renewed focus in my inbox & timeline on what constitutes the pursuit of excellence; that old Socratic dichotomy of the individual human’s personal virtues and his role as citizen in the wider communal project of civilization. The tensions have never felt so taut to me.

Please forgive my focus on revanchist populism, but the good of the many versus the singular hero is a subject of fascination for both fascists and socialists alike. Costin Alamariu has set the warrior master return traditionalists on fire as he’s come out from under his nom de plume Bronze Age Pervert with a complex overview of the tyrannical Athenian philosopher kings and their cultivation (yes he means eugenics) of antiquity’s aristocracy.

The Marxists are just as loud. We’ve got authoritarian leaning proletarian sympathizers assessing a Marxist history of “progressive” American Wilsonian industrial fascism. And yes you will believe its philosophical impact on German National socialist ideology.

Everywhere I look, we are all debating whose rules matter, from Nature to God to man, and how we should use that authority to determine how we organize. It’s a bit surprising to see intelligentsia overcome with fervor for the proletariat and the aristocracy when you’d imagine both classes look back with disdain at the academic class.

It’s a ping ponging back and forth between the individual and his wider group responsibilities to his people from every ideological direction.

I see it in Luke Burgis and Freddie DeBoer’s concern with mimetic collapse and the recursive artistic malaise. If our system produces no truly novel art is it a failure of our elites to pursue excellence? Is it among our elites where genius and high culture produced? Or is it the opposite? Do we seek out frontiers when pushed from the boundaries of those who build and work?

Noah Smith weighed in on the extropian enthusiasm of our technical class for acceleration. The bourgeoise middle class of mercantilism has evolved to engineering and information technology to drive resource allocation.

As a post enlightenment matter, a petit aristocracy of the technical bourgeois is the most balanced of the positions between the masses yearning to be free and recognition of a desire for leadership earned through meritocracy lending a guiding hand.

As a journalist, Noah Smith is coming from a more intelligentsia orientation but the message of progressive futurism is coming from the patrician side as well. A venture capitalist like Marc Andreessen might not see himself as an elite aristocrat, coming as he did from humble beginnings, but he’s the standard barer for the titan class advocating for technological accelerationism.

I’ll fully admit to a personal bias for techno-optimism and effective accelerationism. But it could simply be self serving. Venkatash Rao thinks this mass discourse on individual versus collective responsibility is simply a whole new cope for an entangled world in disequilibrium.

Categories
Politics Preparedness

Day 1010 and Exogenous Shocks

There are few shocks as jarring as waking up to a war starting. I was preparing to leave for Germany when the current Ukrainian conflict boiled over. I woke up in Estonia today to news of an escalation in Israel. No matter who you are or where you live, the existential dread of a hot conflict finds you.

Trying to orient your life around exogenous shocks of violence and conflict is part of the human condition. One that we seem as yet unable to evolve beyond no matter how much we elevate rationality. Every time a new rift emerges in the fragile status quo of the global consensus, I find myself wishing I were more surprised. But it’s pointless to be surprised by chaos.

I hesitate to weigh in on a conflict as it emerges as no matter how closely you watch the news it’s a mess of conflicting narratives. All I know is that more external risks like war will continue to drive volatility across all our human systems.

Our many complex human systems, from trade to politics, are already riddled with known endogenous internal risks. You start adding in more variables that can impact a given system and we don’t fully understand what is exogenous anymore. What’s outside the system if we’ve networked the whole planet?

I wish I believed a sunnier outlook was reasonable in the immediate term. Destiny remains in the hands of men. And we are a species prone to reactionary behavior. We are evolved to it. But we are tied together on this planet and every conflict, shock and unexpected event can ripple out to touch us all.

Categories
Aesthetics Culture

Day 979 and Signal Season

I’m enjoying watching the fall social season kick into high gear. It’s much more enjoyable to take some many events remotely as so much signaling is done in real time. Between actual live feeds and television coverage and social media feeds you can take a lot in without exhausting yourself.

Burning Man and the U.S Open are the end of summer staples in Yuppieland though very different types of yuppies. And both events are showing us a lot about the current moment.

I’m sure Burners would insist that the experience is about the in person but so many social media influencers burn for content that you’ve got more visibility on the aesthetics and the vibes than ever before.

Tennis is more about strictly about the sport than Burning Man is about the art. But you learn as much from player style, who is sitting where, and what is being covered in the media. The stories behind the event are as important as the event. An outfit can dominate headlines for years becoming iconic.

And then of course we have New York fashion week. It’s an event that used to dominate my life. There was a time before social media at the tents. Women’s Wear Daily claims I’m the first person to have live-blogged a show. I’m skeptical it’s true but I do have the receipts. I snuck in with a photographer and made a whole business of making fashion shows a live social media spectacle before some of these influencers were out of Gap Kids.

So naturally as I age and race to exit my thirties into middle age I’m thrilled I don’t need to be at the shows to know what’s happening in fashion. We may no longer pour of Style.com shots the next day but we’ve got an infinite complex that has emerged to show you every kind of style that’s been imagined.

I’m grateful I didn’t need to go to any of these events. I keep my one on one time for founders and my investors. If I had the spare energy for any of these events I’d probably prefer to use it on one one time with folks. In the past I’d be missing out on all of it. Now there is no fear of missing out. Only deciding what signals you want to separate from the noise.

Categories
Startups

Day 970 and Be Your Publicist

My day job is as an early stage venture investor. Like most people who do angel investing and pre-seed startup investing, I learned my trade on the job as an operator. I founded and sold some startups. I helped my friends with their startups. We invested in each other. Because startups are primarily about teamwork you tend to hone a specific skill. My super power was getting attention.

That means now one of the ways I support my portfolio of startups is with public relations. I’ve gotten enough personal press over the years I’ve learned a lot about the dark arts. I’ve also had the privilege of being trained some of the best in the business. I’ve picked up skills.

I hope I can help outliers building the next generation of weird companies move past the ‘media is the enemy” phase of public relations.

I’m going to offer up some of my specialty skills outside of my own portfolio. I can’t invest in everyone I’d like to think I can help anyone in the ecosystem who wants to tell a big story about what they are building. I will help you craft a story that can be broadcast far and wide, no matter how outside-the-norm you are.

If your dream is to have a cover story in a prestige periodical, a Wall Street Journal stipple for your expert commentary, or reframe how a story in your space is covered, I can help you plot the course to get there. 

Over the years I’ve done things like

  • Put a VC making her comeback on the cover of a national magazine
  • Secure the keynote slot of the biggest conference in a founder’s industry
  • Guided numerous CEOs through extensive press tours, with coverage blanketing their spaces

I’m not a traditional agency, I’m someone who understands your journey. From financial journalism to trade & specialty coverage to personality driven lifestyle pieces, I can take you from Bloomberg and Vogue to private Discords and influencer group chats. 

During our work together I can help you,

  • Craft your narrative and position 
  • Understand how reporters think and their incentive structures
  • Secure top tier, feature coverage in the places that matter
  • Provide crisis communications support
  • Find an agency (if that’s right for you)

I work on a retainer basis starting at $5,000/month – giving you access to me as your partner through whatever projects or objectives you have.

Consider me your diplomat to the 4th estate. I’m an effective accelerationist capitalist that speaks fluent woke. Reporters know and like me as their savvy crypto libertarian friend that lives on a Montana homestead. 

I’m well known for my doomer optimismYIMBY advocacy for the Montana Miracle housing reformmy digital futurism and, somewhat weirdly, my years in luxury fashion & brands.

Want to dive right into a conversation about a problem you’re having?

Book time with me on Intro and we can solve it

Ready work with me?

Email me at julie.fredrickson@gmail.com

Categories
Community Emotional Work Media

Day 960 and Summer Frailty

Rounding the bend into a thousand posts is teaching me some lessons in humility and frailty. I am reaching to get words word as my mind is slow.

I am not reacting to something in an average way and it’s been a struggle to keep going over the laser week or two. I’ve put one foot in front of the other but I can see that I only slept for a couple hours last night. Ironic to be considering averages when one’s own responses are so slowed.

I am just trying to get through August. If my standards are simply to plod through then any achievement like throwing a successful policy night or recording a podcast for Wealth Actually on early stage venture capital count for something.

Much of my struggle is probably just some better living through chemistry problems. A new addition to the biohacking routine went awry. I’m struggling with the heat wave and the air quality of summer in the mountain west. The long days of bright lights slowly unspooling my sanity as I wait for cooler less cruel months to come. Just breathe in and out and try to eat and sleep.

Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 937 and Conspiracy’s Greatest Hits

The rising volume on complaints about the mainstream media has struck me as a little bit silly as I’ve been entrenched in skepticism of institutional authority my whole life. Thinking the news had a bias isn’t new and conspiracy is practically an American art form. So be careful out there.

When I was a kid in the late nineties we still had the national broadcast evening news as the center of discourse. I was considered a bit odd for being interested in news at a young age but my hippie parent had a healthy skepticism for institutional authority so they encouraged it.

I remember before the mass adoption of social media and self publishing, if you wanted an alternative perspective you had to turn to AM radio. If you were lucky you lived in a college town and had access to library cooperatives and computer labs. If you were very lucky like me, your parents had invested in personal computers and internet access early on so you could mix formal libraries with early choose your own adventure newsgroups online.

Thanks to the confluence of the above factors I read Adbusters, went to the local anarchist book cooperative and listened to Art Bell late at night. I was practically stewed in every early conspiracy and counter culture narrative that had any amount of reach. If a zine cared or an indie publisher could cobble together a story I read it. This lead to a general fascination with media and how Americans decided on what was credible and what viewpoints were discouraged.

I was a curious child. My family welcomed skeptics and mystics. This is perhaps what happens when you take children on meditation retreats. I got inoculated to a lot of crazies, cults and whackadoodles because America has always been where utopians gather. Our evangelical cultures have led to uniquely American interpretations of our Gods. And I loved nothing more than watching these subcultures flourish.

My family bought a cable news package and I watched CNN and Fox News battle it out. I read Naomi Klein and Marshal McLuhan. I convinced my mother to get me a subscription to the Economist when I was fifteen. Embarrassingly I used their motto in a year book quote. I talked my way into a job famed talk radio juggernaut 77WABC when still technically in high school.

If there is one thing I learned from this lifelong obsession with who controls what we think, it’s that we rely on the same simple narratives over and over again. The conspiracies of yesterday are the facts of today. We change our minds. We recycle the same prophecy. If you start seeing a lot of chatter about aliens remember we’ve had this news cycle before.