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Gillmor Gang: Shaken, not stirred

Steve Gillmor
·4-min read

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-election, 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 across 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 acqui-hires and preemptive pivots. Yet still our democracy persists. Time to count the vote.

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, October 30, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

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