The Weekest Links : mobile, fame, exit strategy


You might have noticed that digital technology is a recurring topic on this show. You might even have wondered what kind of geeky girl spends her Monday nights typing blog posts about black mirrors, glowing rectangles of light, the vectors of desire and wealth that tie it all together. Fact is I'm obsessed with speed, connections, I can't resist the vertigo of accelerating returns. The nexus of  change and adaptation is where I come to try to find some balance and digital tech suits me the best.

My name is Alice Politics, it's late, these are The Weekest Links. You are now on stress.fm


The week of the 14th to the 21st of May, 2013


Mobile is Eating the World ( via Benedict Evans )



You have a phone, right. You take pictures, you share, if you're reading this chances are you have a smartphone and you got all kinds of nice apps in there. If you're anything like me you've already started thinking about your next phone and all the cool stuff you'd be able to do on it. It's like that now and it's not going to stop. Five other billion people are coming online in the next few years and by now it has become the tech industry's conventional wisdom that those fellow humans are not going to access the Matrix through a desktop computer. They'll have mobile computers, and things will be radically different, even more than they already are.

It takes good people like Ben Evans to put together the slides and the graphs that convincingly demonstrate how fast this change is taking place. Tablets and phones are the dominant species in the consumer electronics ecosystem and if you're a digital content producer this should either frighten you or confirm your current strategy.  Like the man says, the iPhone is the world's most used camera. Not because it's made by Apple, but because it represents how portable computing changes our lives.
Check out the presentation below and think carefully about that number: 5 billion.






Where The Lonely Kids Go When The Bell Rings ( via James Workman )


When mobile is done eating the world, it's going to roll over, put its tongue out, and beg to sit down on celebrity culture's lap. There's nothing ordinary people love more than famous people. The scarcity of fame is inversely proportional to the resources it allocates to each one of the chosen few, those who glitter under the fickle light of our collective attention and to whom every camera in the world is pointed.

Kanye West is coming out with a new album,  the next chapter in his running narrative about the paradoxes of celebrity and fortune, black american style. Where The Lonely Kids Go When The Bell Rings is a fan-made documentary about precisely that story, the media-native ascension of Mr. West from the normality of a young producer's hopes to the inevitable superstar status that we now happily grant him. The movie is, in its entirety, a collage of soundbites and television moments. It's brilliant exactly because of that, because in its unofficial status it fluently speaks the language of its subject matter, which in the end is not Kanye West, but the irresistible pull of watching the birth of legends. 



The Yahoo! - Tumblr. Acquisition


Have you heard the news? It's the classic re-run: young independent cool factor gets gobbled up by old corporate greed. Yahoo! bought Tumblr. Except the storyline was never that simple, the sixties - the place where the original screenplay was written -  were never about the immaculate counter-culture and its inevitable confrontation with The Man, things were always pretty messed up and confused, "the revolution" is always knee-deep in the media, and vice freaking versa. It's the feedback, stupid. 

What matters here is something of a different order, and it's first called Marissa Mayer. Can you dig it? Resurrection might be James Bond's favorite hobby but you have to look at The Blonde Tornado to know what it takes to come back from the dead. Have you seen the new Flickr? I don't even use that product and it's easy to see how the game has changed and that you need to count Yahoo! in, this time around. The next part of what really matters in this story is of course called David Karp, and being a loyal Tumblr user all I'm going to say right now is that I hope he keeps his promises and his temper.

In contemporary economics, what just happened in New York is called an exit strategy. That's when a cool young start-up either goes public or gets bought by a larger player, being then able to return the money invested by venture and angel capitalists. Some people have argued that exit strategies are one of the crucial elements in the tacit alliance between innovation and Austerity, an odd couple if there ever was one. Tumblr's exit is another one of those moments: part sell-out and part turbo-charge for the revolution, an ancient secret love affair between global financial capital and the digital underclass.

A child of a thousand fathers. That crystal moment when the distance between master and servant becomes invisible, irrelevant, but only for a glorious split second in the digital news cycle.

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This is stress.fm, live from Lisbon. See you next week.

Alice Politics