The Talk Show

389: ‘Two-Legged Stool’, With Gabe Rivera


00:00:00   Gabe, this is a little weird because

00:00:02   part of my checklist before I start recording an episode of this show because I usually disappear for

00:00:09   anywhere from two hours to two hours plus while recording the show is before I start I check tech meme

00:00:16   to make sure

00:00:18   no news has broken

00:00:20   Yeah

00:00:22   And I feel like I don't have to do it. I can just ask you Gabe

00:00:26   Is there any breaking news on tech meme that we should talk about keeping track of it?

00:00:31   Today was a big day for Microsoft, but I don't remember anything too big in the past. Yeah few minutes. I

00:00:37   Presume because I mentioned it on Darren fireball frequently

00:00:42   I tell anybody who would ask but you know what a pillar

00:00:46   Tech meme is of my media diet at least but can you talk about I mean just for anybody who doesn't know you're here to

00:00:53   Talk about it. When did you start tech meme?

00:00:55   What is tech meme? How does it work?

00:00:57   Those are some big questions

00:01:01   Okay, so well, thanks for thanks for calling it a pillar

00:01:06   when we do what we do to keep it going every day we keep

00:01:11   people like you in mind like writers who are like in the know and need to

00:01:16   Have a high-level view of the industry and like tech execs and people like that

00:01:21   So as long as we're relevant to you guys, we're doing our job

00:01:24   How did it get started? So let's see. I've always been like

00:01:30   Messing with news aggregators and like little things to get news from websites because I've always been interested in news

00:01:37   So back in the early aughts I'd seen the the rise of blogging the bloggers

00:01:43   Have a good grasp of what's interesting and what's trending and if you just follow a bunch of blogs and see what they're looking to

00:01:51   You could see what's important. So I just I started writing like a little aggregator

00:01:57   They would see what are the news stories that are linked to?

00:01:59   most by basically political bloggers called it meme or random and

00:02:05   The way I worked is

00:02:08   There would be like mainstream media news sites and then underneath of

00:02:14   Those headlines it would be the bloggers

00:02:17   So the bloggers were always like the peanut gallery and the mainstream sites were always the the top so

00:02:23   Having seen

00:02:26   And I by the way, I launched that site a few bloggers had picked it up, but it wasn't like a big deal

00:02:30   Then I thought okay now it's time to do a vision where the bloggers can be the top headline. There is no

00:02:37   built-in hierarchy anyone can be the top headline and when I

00:02:42   When I built that I decided to do a tech vertical

00:02:46   keep the political vertical and so I launched those at the same time and the tech one is the one that took off and

00:02:52   and then I renamed it tech meme a few months later and

00:02:55   Ever since then the idea is be a good industry news aggregator

00:03:01   That has taken a lot of twists and turns over the years, but I think in many ways we've been very consistent

00:03:08   And what is it? It's like the best the moat like the essential

00:03:11   tech industry

00:03:13   news headlines and

00:03:16   And

00:03:17   float posts that you need to see

00:03:19   at the moment to update your knowledge on what's happening so that you can be informed and make decisions and

00:03:25   All that stuff that important people need to do

00:03:28   Tech meme is great for several reasons. I use it every day

00:03:33   It's usually something I do in the morning just to see what happened overnight

00:03:37   Did anything happen usually because I'm on the East Coast even though I kind of sleep on West Coast hours

00:03:43   It's usually nothing really broke overnight, but sometimes sometimes stuff happens

00:03:48   early Eastern time because of a

00:03:52   embargo or something like that, but it's just part of my

00:03:56   Well, is anything going on?

00:03:58   Recognize recognize I know about that. Okay. Oh, that's interesting. Hmm open up a couple tabs. All right

00:04:05   Pour another cup of coffee move on

00:04:07   but

00:04:09   the other part is like if I'm

00:04:12   traveling if I'm on vacation if it's

00:04:15   You know like an Apple event day where I'm in Cupertino

00:04:20   Because I don't know new iPhone 15 is being launched and I'm heads down all day

00:04:26   In that environment and I just want to say what else is going on in the rest of the world

00:04:32   it offers like mental closure to to go to tech me and

00:04:37   Scan the list and say is there anything else? Of course, I got an iPhone 15 day iPhone 15 is on tech name

00:04:44   Okay, here's but did I miss anything? Is there anything that I missed? Nope. Okay, scroll down scroll down

00:04:50   Okay caught up and then I know that I'm caught up on like the tech sphere

00:04:55   I know yeah caught up and it's a good feeling. I guess there there are two things I can say that number one

00:05:02   What helps in that what makes it a little easier for tech meme to be that is we rewrite almost all the headlines that they're very

00:05:08   Descriptive so you'll need to do a lot of clicking

00:05:11   And another thing that gives you that peace of mind is we don't have a page to we don't have an infinite tool

00:05:16   It just you get to the bottom and and you're caught up. Of course, there's more to read in the world

00:05:21   But if you want that kind of view you are caught up

00:05:24   The other thing though that I find very interesting is the way that tech meme batches

00:05:30   Stories together. I'm looking at it right now

00:05:33   Microsoft announces the Maya 100 chip for Azure clients blah blah blah

00:05:38   And it doesn't really matter what the story is right now as you and I record by the time this episodes out

00:05:43   That'll have scrolled off the bottom

00:05:44   but then it says more and

00:05:46   the lead article links to Bloomberg's coverage of this and then you've got coverage from Microsoft itself the verge venture beat and

00:05:54   on at Tom's Hardware CNBC at least two dozen other sources all

00:06:00   linking to the same story that's

00:06:02   Human aggregated it correct. So yeah, yes and no we we've all like when tech meme launched

00:06:12   It was like it was all

00:06:14   Algorithmic there's this news crawling and an analysis engine

00:06:19   I built to surface trending news and when there's trending news

00:06:24   There's usually like other blogs and news outlets covering it so often linking to that

00:06:30   So the algorithm could help tie it all up and then sometimes group related coverage, but over time

00:06:36   For a number of reasons algorithms don't really cut it in all situations

00:06:41   Sometimes the story is suddenly suddenly expires because some new event happened and then sometimes just there's the algorithm that groups things

00:06:49   Groups things that shouldn't be grouped together and we still kind of fight against that the human editors will sometimes break things up

00:06:58   so a lot of the grouping you see is

00:07:00   When it comes to news headlines, it's mostly automated when it comes to social posts. There's

00:07:06   There's like an approval process, but a lot of the recommendations are also automated. So it's it's a dance involving

00:07:14   algorithms and our editors

00:07:17   One thing though and again, I'm not just saying this to

00:07:21   Compliment you but I think it stands out and I think anybody who's been reading tech meme for a long time would agree

00:07:28   tech meme has never lost sight of

00:07:31   the fact that you were

00:07:33   targeting

00:07:35   the reader first that it is a reader first presentation of news of

00:07:40   Let's be respectful of our readers our visitors whatever you want to call them their attention

00:07:47   When you do rewrite headlines it is only for

00:07:52   Clarification it's not to take the piss and vinegar out of a punchy headline it is to

00:07:58   Take the click baiting us out of a head. It really is and I think that's human done, right?

00:08:05   You guys don't use AI or anything algorithmically to to do the headline rewriting

00:08:11   I know art artifact has started doing that and I'd like to talk about artifact in a moment

00:08:16   But I find the way they do it to be irritating

00:08:19   Not that I haven't noticed when you've done it with daring fireball posts, but I've never once objected to it. You know, that's good

00:08:25   Occasionally we get objections like once in a while. We'll make an error, but we try to be basically

00:08:32   Descriptive and yeah, definitely respecting the reader like that goes through everything we do

00:08:37   But yeah

00:08:38   We want to give like little summaries where if you just want the most high-level

00:08:43   View if you just want to know what it's about you can get that from the headline

00:08:48   but but of course because it's just a headline if you have any kind of

00:08:53   Curiosity that goes deeper you'll need to click and and get get that deeper look. What's the name?

00:09:00   I've given myself five minutes here to think of it and I can't so I'm gonna ask you I think you'll remember

00:09:05   what was the name of the I

00:09:08   Would say it was a competitor to tech meme in the early days in the early aughts

00:09:13   It was green and it was mostly focused on blogs and a sort of

00:09:19   Ranking they had the ranking of the top hundred blogs at any given time

00:09:23   Yeah, I think they're thinking of technorati technorati. Yeah, exactly it right and I can't I can't say they were they proceeded well

00:09:32   But yeah, they had I think everyone went through iterations where they competed with us in the in that era

00:09:38   Where they provided some kind of blog summary, but they were originally a blog search engine, but the rankings were sort of

00:09:44   Competitive in a way that it's not a direct competition

00:09:49   But obliquely so to me a pure feed reader like a net news wire is just as a user

00:09:56   Here's the feeds. I want to subscribe to

00:10:00   put them in a list and then give me all the posts from those feeds and let me sort by

00:10:04   chronological order and read and that's it whether it's a

00:10:08   Web based thing or an app like net news wire. It has no opinion or tries to do any kind of ranking. It's just

00:10:16   More like an email client right?

00:10:18   Email your email client most people's I know superhuman is a little weird like that, but

00:10:24   For the most part you just want your email in order, right? Here's the new messages read them

00:10:30   reply to them you're done and feed readers are sort of like that and techno Roddy was trying to do a little more some kind of

00:10:37   ranking type thing like so many

00:10:41   Success stories it was fleeting, right?

00:10:45   it was like it burst onto the scene it became a phenomenon and then it blamed out and

00:10:52   To the point where I've completely forgot the name of it here 15 years later, right?

00:10:57   Whereas tech meme to me is as relevant as ever and has sort of been in it for the long haul

00:11:04   Yeah, techno Roddy. I think they were

00:11:07   they they had their big moment because they had a

00:11:11   like when everyone realized real time search could do wonderful things because there were blogs and

00:11:19   I guess I

00:11:22   Forget what people search blog posts there just search links and see

00:11:27   I even forget what they did

00:11:29   but all I know is they index really quickly and

00:11:31   Google was not indexing really quickly at the time. And so the reason why

00:11:36   Technorati interests dissipated is Google eventually

00:11:40   started indexing everything faster that and

00:11:44   There was a lot of everyone sort of realized blogging would actually not continue growing

00:11:50   Exponentially forever, especially when Twitter came along a lot of the like short post bloggers just moved to Twitter

00:11:56   So technorati had both better technical competition and didn't have as much a reason to exist

00:12:02   Why do you think tech meme of the properties which are all sort of based on the same platform, right?

00:12:09   Yeah, and there's also media gazer, right which is sort of focused on

00:12:13   inside baseball in the media industry

00:12:17   They're clearly I mean to correct me if I'm wrong, but I mean

00:12:21   I've just assumed by the way they look in the way they work that they're sort of built on the same

00:12:24   Technical back end, right? It's just different

00:12:28   Verticals as you said right obvious verticals that have preceded even the internet, right?

00:12:34   Going back to the paper era. There was a section of the bookstore magazine rack for

00:12:40   Computer magazines and there was me maybe not at the bookstore

00:12:45   But there's always been a collection of inside the media publications, you know, that sort of thing. Why do you think tech meme is the one?

00:12:52   that

00:12:55   Reverberated the most or just is the most popular

00:12:58   That's a good question because there's plenty of interest in politics

00:13:04   I think maybe the the audience for tech news was just more receptive to

00:13:10   This kind of nerdier presentation of news like hierarchy and grouping

00:13:16   And maybe also they had more of a need to know because it's a little more

00:13:22   For a business audience, you're more willing to like compare coverage and you know, look through the related

00:13:28   But I'm not entirely sure now for sure we've invested more in tech me because it was the early breakout

00:13:35   So it's not a fair comparison if we invested the same amount like me Miranda

00:13:40   I'm the political one does still does not even have editor. So it's like it's like a demo of the algorithms

00:13:46   So it's it's a little bit of a mystery but since tech mean pulled ahead that's been our biggest focus

00:13:53   my spitball theory is

00:13:55   Maybe technically minded nerds are willing to look for something different

00:14:02   It's like by definition because they're technical nerds

00:14:06   they're willing to look for something like this and then be I think that is

00:14:12   Polarizing as some things in technology can be Mac versus Windows Android versus iOS, etc, etc

00:14:20   and none of that compares to

00:14:23   The polarization we've seen in politics and real politics worldwide

00:14:29   Not really just in the US and that therefore political

00:14:33   minded

00:14:35   Enthusiasts people who are like, yes

00:14:37   I am so interested in politics that I want to check on a more than once a day basis what's going on in the world of

00:14:44   this

00:14:45   But they're more I want to hear it from people on my side

00:14:48   Tech meme has none of that right? I like if I were teaching a course on

00:14:54   journalism, I would hold up tech meme as a great definition of objectivity right where it's

00:15:01   Just here's a list of all this stuff and there's an editorial voice declaring importance

00:15:07   but it really isn't imposing a

00:15:11   view of the world of tech and I

00:15:15   Think that in politics as we've become more polarized people say they want objective journalism

00:15:23   But I don't think they do I think their behavior shows I think the continuing

00:15:27   Success of Fox News is proof that large numbers of people don't really want that right?

00:15:34   I well, I'd love to throw Fox News under the bus, but I don't even mean to throw them under the bus in particular here

00:15:40   I think it works on both sides

00:15:42   yeah, we when we

00:15:44   Highlight a story where there are different like sharply different interpretations

00:15:52   We will actively seek out

00:15:54   Multiple views for the social post as long as they're out there

00:15:58   Sometimes everyone basically has one view on social media. That's just part of doing our job because

00:16:05   People who need to know what is going on here need to know that both those views exist and who's you know?

00:16:12   Voicing them and so on it. Yeah, it goes with our kind of role is sort of like a dashboard

00:16:18   Just like a place where you can get all the information rather than a place that you

00:16:23   Go to because it makes you feel good about your team

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00:19:48   so let's parlay off a sponsor break there and talk about

00:19:52   The ad model at tech me as different as daring fireball is from tech meme

00:19:59   I have always felt that you and I right from when I first started monetizing during fireball with

00:20:05   Little banner ads on the side

00:20:07   I've always felt you and I were aligned on that and I vaguely recall when you and I first met which I think was it

00:20:13   Like an O'Reilly food camp back around like 2007 or something like that, huh?

00:20:19   In print, I don't know remember but I remember talking to you about it. How does tech me make money? So

00:20:25   For most of the time we've made money indeed from ads and right there like sponsorships from people who?

00:20:32   Like when they actually buy it, they know our audience thing

00:20:35   They know our site and they're making the buy because they want to reach that specific audience

00:20:42   And that's what I think we have in common. They're not using

00:20:44   Some platform and the impressions just go out on onto the internet. So

00:20:52   We have a few different ad formats, but the main one is this sponsor post format

00:20:57   It's sort of like a native format where you know how we have news headlines, but we have sponsor headlines

00:21:01   but they're marked sponsors and they've been there they've been there the whole time and

00:21:07   Yeah, they've always been hopefully classy. They've never even been consumer ads for them. I don't think we've really had anything consumer

00:21:14   It's usually like enterprise or something reached something trying to reach like developers or people in tech

00:21:21   it's something that I'm proud of because

00:21:24   Like we've never had

00:21:26   mouseovers autoplay

00:21:29   pop-ups anything like that, but it is still getting tougher like

00:21:33   the platforms are just getting smarter and smarter and getting better at selling and

00:21:39   Our sponsors have to do a little work. They have to write some copy specifically for tech meme it there's some friction there. So

00:21:46   Well that will will continue to have ads and we're always encouraging sponsors to reach out to us

00:21:52   Like we've we've had to build other businesses as well

00:21:55   And we were probably the biggest new business is in the the media monitor monitoring space. Hmm

00:22:02   It's nothing we've really announced because right now we have a product that's really excels just for the biggest companies

00:22:09   So we just sell that directly. I feel like one way to that. I have an affinity for you is

00:22:15   I

00:22:17   Would say I have three types of sponsors at Daring Fire

00:22:20   the the biggest group by far thankfully is returning sponsors and

00:22:25   Because they're returning it's they know what to do

00:22:29   They're like, oh that was great or whether it was three months ago or six months ago

00:22:33   Or sometimes people come back after a year-long break, but they're like

00:22:36   What do you have available in the fourth quarter? We'd love to come back

00:22:41   We have a new thing coming out blah blah blah, but they don't need anything explained to them

00:22:45   Then I have new sponsors who told usually it's like indie developers or something like that and they know it

00:22:51   They've they're like, I'm a longtime Daring Fireball reader. I've always wanted to sponsor

00:22:54   We've got a new app that does blank and we'd love to book an ad and again, I can just send them the specs

00:23:02   They know exactly what to do and then the third group

00:23:05   Is when I get an email from like the marketing person at a company and the I and whether they say it

00:23:13   Explicitly or not. I know I can read between the lines

00:23:16   But sometimes they just say it explicitly that somebody in the company said we should sponsor Daring Fireball

00:23:22   yeah, and

00:23:24   They ask me questions that are all answered on my daring fireball dotnet

00:23:30   sponsors page but they and I know that's how they got to me but they still have questions because they don't understand because these ads

00:23:38   are not like any other ads out there and

00:23:43   my

00:23:44   Little snippet that I have saved up in text expander to paste into an email with the details on the exact specs

00:23:52   What dimensions exactly the in pixels the ads are how many words you should try to limit yourself to?

00:23:58   They're nothing like the specs for other ads. They're not complicated

00:24:03   If anything, I think the simplicity of it should make it easier, but the fact that it's so different is

00:24:09   Sometimes hard for them to wrap their heads around

00:24:13   Do you run into the same thing? Yeah, it's the exact same all three categories are very familiar to me

00:24:19   I think the funny thing about the the third type is often they speak like a different language. Yeah

00:24:24   Sometimes they've used terms. I'm like, what does that mean? I go. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Okay, and then

00:24:30   They'll send over the creative or the copy which is almost a little bit of industry term there

00:24:36   But uh, like the text it'll be inside of a spreadsheet for some reason

00:24:40   It's like some some other marketing thing. Yeah, I don't get it but

00:24:44   And then we copy it from the spreadsheet and put it on the website like whatever works for them

00:24:50   It's in a Google Doc a lot of times from that group and I find that to be so

00:24:55   Complicated we compared to just having it in the email to copy and paste from instead

00:25:01   I have to click the Google Docs link make sure I'm logged into the right Google account and then copying out of Google Docs

00:25:10   It's not complicated, but it's nowhere near as easy as copying out of an email it is

00:25:16   I'm happy to have them as sponsors and I'm happy to walk them through it and I'm also happy that they often become

00:25:24   Repeat sponsors and I always I often say in my little thank-you messages to sponsors that repeat sponsors

00:25:31   To me are my proof that that my sponsorships work. Why else would so many sponsors come back?

00:25:37   If not for the fact that they thought their original buy was worth it. It's it's a nice little

00:25:44   Reassurance, it's a virtuous circle

00:25:47   if you were you know that I I make money because they paid the bills and they they are happy with the

00:25:53   number of people who came and

00:25:56   Whatever bought their service looked at their app

00:25:59   Whatever it is that they're after and they come back and hopefully the readers of my site

00:26:05   appreciate that this is what keeps my site completely free of charge to read and is not annoying and doesn't tempt you to

00:26:12   block the ads or whatever

00:26:15   But it is weird and I feel like my business is doing okay

00:26:20   It's not growing like it was ten years ago

00:26:22   But I just worry though that as it becomes weirder and weirder compared to the state-of-the-art

00:26:30   That eventually that's going to become a problem for me and I do you worry about that that it's the whole

00:26:36   advertising world has become so dominated by the sort of

00:26:40   Google Facebook duopoly of

00:26:44   algorithmic buying

00:26:46   based on

00:26:48   Completely different criteria than us instead of targeting a publication

00:26:52   They're targeting buckets of users based on whatever Facebook and Google's

00:26:58   Descriptions are that it really is like you said when you when you get email from these people it is like they're speaking a different

00:27:05   Language and they use terms. I'm not familiar with do you do you worry about that?

00:27:08   Or do you feel like the fact that it stands out is actually a strength?

00:27:12   I do worry about it because it's a real factor. I've noticed like there's there's certain segments of

00:27:19   Advertisers that only go to the platforms now, but I do think the thing that's unique

00:27:26   About sites like ours is they will always

00:27:29   Hopefully for a long time get that first and second type of sponsor people who know our audience

00:27:36   But you know, I gotta keep keep these changes in mind

00:27:39   That's why we have this like media monitoring business and you for the longest time

00:27:44   You've had a podcast and while that's still a sponsor model keeping that going that just adds a whole other dimension

00:27:50   To it and makes the blog makes the podcast stronger and the podcast makes the blog stronger. Yeah, I hope so and

00:27:58   Kind of walked into the podcast business that wasn't something I set out to do but I do think you're right that it

00:28:06   both strengthen each other and I can't quite explain why but I know that that they do and

00:28:12   part of the reassurance is that

00:28:16   Is just the emails I get from people who are like I listen to your show and I love your website blah blah blah or the

00:28:22   sponsors who overlap and and sponsor both or something like that or that want to

00:28:27   sponsor both to me is a good sign and that they I don't know that there are siblings that support the same overall

00:28:35   Two two pillars in the same tent for lack of a better. Mm-hmm

00:28:39   I don't know if that's a good analogy or not because I don't think I don't think a tent actually stands up with only two pillars

00:28:45   A two-legged stool is not a great stool, but that's what I've got

00:28:49   Before we move on I want to I still want to talk a little more about the back end at tech meme

00:28:55   Like how is the sort order?

00:28:59   Like what's at the top what second what's third how is that determined and how often does it update?

00:29:06   And if it's secret sauce say it's secret sauce

00:29:10   I'm not looking for you to spill the beans on anything you consider proprietary

00:29:14   But I don't think you have to worry about

00:29:16   Yeah, don't I don't have to worry about that

00:29:19   nowadays and no one seems like nobody wants to

00:29:22   Build this kind of aggregator anymore and that was different 15 years ago. Yeah, so the biggest factor all along

00:29:31   since the beginning has been

00:29:33   basically citations links there is a

00:29:37   relationship there with like page rank like

00:29:41   The new stories that are getting the most links are the ones that will shoot to the top and

00:29:49   There's a time decay that'll bring them down again. But what you're saying is

00:29:54   Roughly the the more linked things in the past few hours now, there are a lot of caveats now

00:30:02   suppose everyone's talking about some Microsoft story and they're linking to

00:30:08   The Microsoft announcement maybe a press release maybe a Microsoft blog and then maybe some

00:30:14   developer blog and now suppose

00:30:17   We decide to just post the verge or tech crunch or some kind of blog to be the like the stand-in for all that news

00:30:25   Then that the way our back end works now that blog posts will

00:30:30   still

00:30:32   kind of get

00:30:33   Get the lift that all the other blog posts are getting it'll be like transferred to that as far as how high it goes onto

00:30:40   the page and

00:30:42   and there are some other factors too because sometimes the stories break and

00:30:47   five

00:30:49   New sites will cover it and none of them are the ones getting

00:30:52   you know, they don't link to each other that generally doesn't happen anymore and

00:30:57   so we have to like

00:31:00   you know the between the algorithms and the editors we have to pick one and then

00:31:04   the hell hi goes on the page has to sort of take into account the fact that

00:31:09   multiple sites are covering it even when

00:31:13   They're not linking to it's there's not like one article or blog posts that everyone's linking to

00:31:19   so I guess in the big picture, it's sort of like related to this original idea of

00:31:26   What's linked to the most but then with a lot of ways that's been extended so indeed but in some sense it

00:31:33   and I've always thought this and and I know it's you know, you've talked about it or written about it before but it is

00:31:39   Vaguely like the original concept for page rank at Google where it's other

00:31:47   publications that you're you're monitoring through the RSS feed or other beans which

00:31:55   Hope put it put attack and that will come back to RSS in a second

00:31:58   But if you see that the verge is article is linking to a Bloomberg

00:32:04   original and

00:32:07   It's a couple other

00:32:09   Sites that you're monitoring are also linking to this Bloomberg article that

00:32:13   Automatically promotes the Bloomberg version of it in some way because it's hey

00:32:19   we're monitoring these

00:32:22   hundreds of

00:32:24   Sources and a couple of them are all linking to the same original therefore that original get some implicit

00:32:30   Credibility or importance because of that and I know that even in the early days of Google like 1998 it

00:32:38   It wasn't quite so simplistic

00:32:41   but at a high level it was the breakthrough that made Google search better than other search engines and

00:32:47   It's sort of like that attack me. Yeah, it's the that's that's like a core idea

00:32:53   But like with a million qualifications

00:32:55   With all those little things to account for

00:32:58   artifacts of the real world and then

00:33:01   changes in media since

00:33:03   Everyone's reticent to link to each other

00:33:05   But still do it drives me nuts

00:33:08   The one thing I see less and less these days. It does seem like at some point in the last

00:33:14   Ten years the damn burst but it would drive me nuts in the first decade

00:33:21   Let's say the aughts like 2000 to 2010

00:33:24   When you could see that the New York Times had a house style not to link to other

00:33:30   competitors and even if they credited as as first reported by the Washington Post comma

00:33:36   Blank blank blank and it wouldn't be a link

00:33:39   It would just be text in the article like it was copy and pasted out of the CMS

00:33:44   They were using only for their newspaper, right?

00:33:47   Like it was like the CMS and I know that it wasn't true

00:33:51   Their website was way too good to just be a copy and paste job from the print version and they would have links to other

00:33:57   things but not to the other publication that they were crediting with as

00:34:02   first reported by right as first reported by is

00:34:05   Always in the news industry so clearly begrudging, right? It is like nobody types that phrase

00:34:13   except through gritted teeth

00:34:16   And therefore it makes their links so stingy

00:34:19   Yeah that well, obviously we didn't like that either because there's not the metadata to read in and inform our algorithm

00:34:26   Yeah

00:34:27   I don't know what broke that damn what was it was it the community of journalists and pressure peer pressure among among

00:34:33   Those people or was or just readers demanded it because hey we're on the internet. Of course

00:34:37   He fully I think it's sort of an age thing and that as the balance between

00:34:45   people of the

00:34:47   Well, right roughly my my age

00:34:49   generation X people who grew up

00:34:52   Creating the web it became

00:34:55   Natural for them to think of their publication as web first and so therefore, of course

00:35:03   This is gonna have to be a link if we're gonna mention the fact that so-and-so reported this or broke the story

00:35:09   It should be a link to the actual thing that they reported

00:35:13   Whereas the tail end of the boomer generation that's older than me. I think clearly

00:35:18   Never it's a making a sweeping generalization about an entire generation of

00:35:25   Professionals, but I think that they clearly to me never ever gave the web the respect it was due

00:35:33   they always felt that they were writing for a whether it was if it's a New York Times for a printed newspaper or a

00:35:41   Printed magazine or whatever and that the web was a a weird

00:35:47   stepchild

00:35:49   Medium that to them didn't deserve the respect it was due and I you know, I tried to guard against that myself personally, right?

00:35:56   I'm not active on tick-tock to name one for example

00:36:00   but I respect it right and when I read that 18 to

00:36:04   29 year olds report that they get the majority of their news or like world affairs news from tick-tock

00:36:11   It does make me roll my eyes

00:36:13   But I feel like well

00:36:15   It's a big pill to swallow but swallow it and deal with it because I think it's obviously true

00:36:20   And so what's the point of me being a come up to curmudgeonly about it?

00:36:25   Yeah, I think I think generational is a good explanation that maybe that was the biggest part of it. It's kind of funny

00:36:32   How though now on Twitter? It's like we're moving backwards because of the algorithm people

00:36:38   Will refer to something on a news site and they would just won't link to it

00:36:42   They'll put a screenshot because the algorithm will ding link maybe ten minutes later though. Oh, and by the way, here's the link

00:36:48   All right, I mentioned putting of attack in RSS I think the general consensus

00:36:57   amongst people who care and

00:37:00   Who really know what RSS means is?

00:37:05   that RSS

00:37:07   exploded onto the scene in the early aughts and

00:37:10   Was awesome for news junkies and

00:37:16   then Google Reader came on to the scene and a

00:37:22   Added I

00:37:25   would think fair to say millions of users who before that hadn't been using RSS at all be

00:37:32   got millions of others to switch from whatever they were using before to Google Reader and then see I

00:37:40   Forget how official their API was and how much was they didn't care that it was backwards engineered

00:37:48   I think I think it was sort of that they just look the other way and they didn't care but

00:37:54   Effectively allowed third-party aggregators

00:37:59   Like net newswire at the time to use Google Reader as a sync engine

00:38:04   So that you could subscribe to all your feeds in Google Reader and even if you didn't like their interface through the web

00:38:10   You could use net newswire or a bunch of other feed readers on more than one device like your MacBook and your iPhone

00:38:17   or your work desktop and your home Macintosh and

00:38:21   sync the red and unread status of all your feeds and

00:38:26   Then when Google pulled the plug on Google Reader unceremoniously and just say dab this Google Reader thing

00:38:32   We're just gonna drop it and very quickly. They just pulled the plug and it went away

00:38:36   that it effectively pulled the plug on RSS for users and that was that and I mean and that was like

00:38:43   15 years ago. I mean that's a long time ago

00:38:46   Do I think that's true?

00:38:49   I think everything I said there is true

00:38:51   But I kind of also think that even if Google it stuck with Google Reader something like that was gonna happen

00:38:57   Anyway, I don't think RSS as a thriving

00:39:00   This is the first primary way people are going to follow the news was long for the world

00:39:06   Anyway, I think it was a utopian ideal, but it wasn't gonna work

00:39:10   Because of the way shithead media executives think about protecting their content

00:39:17   It has to be frustrating for you because when RSS was more thriving it had to make tech memes job easier on the back end

00:39:24   Because you had good content to pull through RSS, which was already

00:39:29   Prestructured data. Yeah, it was definitely great when a lot of sites actually put all their text in the RSS feed

00:39:36   It's simplified the crawling but even when they didn't do that

00:39:40   It still helped because if they have a snippet we would at least by checking the RSS feed know that new posts have appeared

00:39:48   And then send a bot to fill in the rest and now a lot of sites don't even include that kind of feed

00:39:57   That's been tougher. We have to make a

00:39:59   Scraper basically for home pages to find like what are the new links that have appeared there?

00:40:05   so the decline is cause all kinds of

00:40:09   Problems, but the nice thing is I think there's still enough pressure

00:40:13   That like most of the sites well a lot of say still have it

00:40:18   I guess there's just enough users who complain and maybe new sites some of the bigger ones begrudgingly add

00:40:26   Feeds with little snippets just to keep the most news addicted readers happy

00:40:32   A lot of whom are probably bloggers and reporters at other sites who are more likely to link as well

00:40:38   so the nice thing between that and also

00:40:42   Companies like automatic just

00:40:45   continuing to

00:40:47   include feeds by default in WordPress blogs, I think it's going to

00:40:52   Continue in a form that will be helpful

00:40:56   But will a fall short of the dream that everyone had for RSS. Yeah

00:41:02   yeah, I think tumblr has full feeds by default to which is owned by automatic and

00:41:08   defaults really matter a lot and and I know that

00:41:11   WordPress

00:41:13   continues to have

00:41:15   ridiculous stats for what percentage of

00:41:18   the entire web if you just go by domain is powered by WordPress behind the scenes and

00:41:25   The fact that they do include RSS by default and you have to take some kind of action to disable it. Yeah, that's great

00:41:32   makes a difference but

00:41:35   It's almost obvious I almost feel silly asking but yes, yeah in other words much much of what tech mean does is

00:41:42   webpades crawling and

00:41:45   Scraping of the HTML of

00:41:50   Websites to sort of parse out the actual content of articles. Yeah

00:41:55   Yeah, we've had to do that for the longest time and it gets it gets trickier too because thanks to AI and AI models

00:42:05   a lot more and more sites are just let's just block all the bots is their approach and let's hire cloudflare to

00:42:12   Force captions and it's just it's getting tougher and tougher

00:42:16   Fortunately, like if you're if you're a big news site you start blocking tech memes car

00:42:21   the good news is sometimes

00:42:23   You're big enough to have a team where when I email and say hey, you're blocking us. We want to link to you more

00:42:31   Can you please let her crawler in they'll say oh, yeah. Yeah

00:42:35   Sometimes it takes three weeks to make that decision. Sometimes it takes a day, but we sometimes get that result

00:42:41   but not always and then

00:42:43   Sometimes we have to find other ways to crawl

00:42:45   It's a mess and I don't like the trend but we're hanging in there. It's been true since the web was

00:42:53   Obscure when it was still hey, have you heard of this thing called mosaic? Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that looks

00:43:01   It's kind of cool or no. No, what's that? And it's like oh, it's a way to get on the internet other than through a terminal window

00:43:08   And it's like what but ever, you know from the the beginning onward

00:43:13   scraping HTML programmatically has always been a problem and

00:43:18   there was a sort of

00:43:20   Delightful heyday in the very early aughts where the sort of web standards

00:43:29   Jeffrey Zeldman spearheaded I think sort of hey let's as professionals

00:43:34   Be proud of the fact that our websites are actually written through

00:43:38   Proper HTML that you can run through a syntax checker and we'll say yes. This is actually

00:43:45   syntactically correct HTML

00:43:49   Even at the heyday of that movement which coincides with like the early years of daring fireball

00:43:54   I think the early years of tech meme it was still a

00:43:58   Very few number of websites that could possibly run through

00:44:02   Like the w3c syntax checker and actually come out a green check mark

00:44:07   Famously difficult famously, you know

00:44:11   There be dragons when you start to parse

00:44:14   HTML programmatically and you know, I love everybody who not everybody but people who know my own

00:44:23   Programming skills know that I have a weird knack for writing regular expressions

00:44:29   It's just I I'm like a savant at it and famously

00:44:33   People are tempted to use regular expressions to parse HTML and they're like a don't parse HTML on your own B

00:44:40   Don't do not do it with regular expressions C

00:44:43   Repeat a and B just don't do it one thing I have found I don't need to scrape but I wrote a couple of

00:44:53   shortcuts for iOS and one of them is a way that I make little notes to myself with the title of a put like here's

00:45:00   A post I might want to link to from daring fireball, but only when I'm back on my Mac

00:45:05   I want to send it to my notes app with just the title of the page in the URL and save it in this same note

00:45:12   put the new one at the top so I when I go to it the newest things are at the top and

00:45:16   Just getting the title of the web page from shortcuts is actually very easy

00:45:22   if web pages actually had a title tag, but it is

00:45:28   remarkable how many web pages and of CMS's

00:45:33   have like

00:45:36   Dozens or like titles for every article and that's it

00:45:39   HTML like simple simple

00:45:42   HTML is not complicated lay people can easily be taught the basics of

00:45:50   HTML tags and the title is it's by definition. There's one per page

00:45:55   it is a thing that goes in the header of the HTML, but

00:45:59   at this point because my little shortcut when it says get the title if there's more than one it presents them in a list and

00:46:06   It's surprise. It's it's like the majority of websites have more than one title, which is

00:46:12   So semantically incorrect that I don't even know where to start. I cannot believe that anybody

00:46:18   Would do this and yet and I think it's I just bring it up as one example among probably

00:46:24   Thousands that that your scraper must have to handle. Yeah

00:46:30   Seen a lot of stuff over the years like even from the beginning even in the odds

00:46:34   We need to handle some JavaScript some dynamic code like maybe to put the date

00:46:39   But now nowadays there are some like some new sites. I'll go to it. They're not serving

00:46:46   HTML they're serving like JSON and some JavaScript is assembling the page

00:46:51   Right, and so you can't call that with something that reads

00:46:54   HTML for a while I was over time slowly building like kind of like a

00:46:58   Browser that I just kept adding stuff to it

00:47:02   Okay

00:47:02   like I

00:47:03   Like I'll interpret this new CSS tag because I need to know when something's bold because those titles are bold

00:47:09   I kept adding to it and adding to it and

00:47:12   So I had my little shadow browser running inside the tech me back in over time

00:47:17   but at some point I just gave up and

00:47:20   For some sites just have to use a browser because of all the dynamic stuff. Yeah, I think

00:47:25   Guessing Google does that too? Yeah, you have to use it

00:47:29   To get the test so in other words the back end has to have an actual real web browser

00:47:35   involved at a certain point to run things through the browser first and then

00:47:41   parse the

00:47:43   Computed rendered page that the browser is presenting

00:47:48   Right Chrome is nice about that Chrome has a an option

00:47:52   You can run from the command line and dump the DOM and then parse that using your HTML parser. That's Andy

00:47:59   I hope chromium keeps getting those updates

00:48:01   Yeah

00:48:02   I hope so, too

00:48:02   And I feel like it probably will because I feel like you said Google itself probably uses it and it's not the sort of thing

00:48:09   That they have to worry about. Oh

00:48:11   But what if the whole world starts using Chrome from the command line is no the whole world normal people are did

00:48:17   It would never even occur to them to do it. It's not any kind of threat to the traffic

00:48:21   They're getting to their actual consumer properties. Their special sauce is way it goes way beyond their crawler

00:48:28   I mean they're crawling is I'm sure some top-notch technology there, but there's so much to Google

00:48:34   They're they're fine

00:48:35   And also they get access

00:48:37   No one blocks Google if you want Google to if you want to appear in Google

00:48:41   You're gonna make sure Google can crawl you and you can just as well block every other

00:48:45   type of crawler out there and and and it won't hurt you and then that'll hurt me and

00:48:51   That's when I'll send that email

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00:51:38   All right RSS we kind of touched on there and the decline of it

00:51:44   Has been it's irritating to me

00:51:47   But to me the biggest bane of my existence at daring fireball and it must be for you, too

00:51:54   Is the rise of paywalls? I mean, do you agree?

00:51:58   Yeah, and I and I totally get it. This is not a complaint

00:52:02   About the decision. It's just a complaint about the experience in a lot of reading scenarios

00:52:10   And of course in a web crawling scenario once again, a lot of big publishers have been

00:52:17   Kind enough to approve our crawler so that helps and another nice thing even when they haven't

00:52:24   Like we haven't talked to them because so many

00:52:26   publishers have like a trial

00:52:30   Option, like, you know like a meter paywall that won't put the wall up until you've visited so many times

00:52:37   It turns out those are easy to crawl

00:52:40   You in most in most cases, right? So if you've already got a programmatic scraper

00:52:45   It's kind of easy to tell it to delete the cache

00:52:51   Of cookies for the New York Times every 20 visits or whatever. I mean, I would hold the tile

00:52:58   I mentioned the times because they're obviously a major source of news across all fields and I also feel that

00:53:05   That the way they've implemented their paywall is about as good and friendly

00:53:11   to everybody as it could be where they have a generous allotment of

00:53:17   Free page views a month for people who don't pay they've got enough content and you know

00:53:23   And they publicly held company and they announced their numbers. They are pretty successfully

00:53:28   Navigating the shift from print to web right? I mean print the writings been on

00:53:35   I mean, I've known it since the web was created instantly. I knew print was going to be killed off

00:53:41   I just didn't know how long it would take but a lot of other sites

00:53:44   Are not so friendly

00:53:48   I would say Bloomberg is a good example of a site that is to me kind of hostile

00:53:54   Even as and I pay for a Bloomberg subscription

00:53:56   This is one good measurement of how hostile a paywall is is how annoying it is to be an honest paying subscriber

00:54:03   In a if you're still frequently logged out which I am at Bloomberg very frequently. That's a paddling

00:54:09   You should go to the principal's office and get spanked. Yeah, Bloomberg is tough for

00:54:16   Subscribers the experience could be much better. I'm a subscriber, too

00:54:20   I think the last time I logged in I needed to complete a capture if I recall correctly

00:54:25   Yeah, I think but one nice thing about Bloomberg is they to have I think it's very limited

00:54:30   But still some kind of metered situation where you can see a page like one article maybe

00:54:37   You guys have and going back to Technorati and the concept of leaderboards you guys do publish

00:54:46   leaderboards in various rankings

00:54:48   Bloomberg to me is an outlier at least amongst people who know who I am and listen to this podcast know that I have a

00:54:57   particular

00:54:58   obsession with with their big hack story from

00:55:01   2020 and their refusal

00:55:04   Absolute steadfast refusal to acknowledge that they botched it on it

00:55:09   And so I love to bring it up as frequently as I can with a footnote when they're reporting on unrelated things

00:55:15   but

00:55:17   sometimes people ask me right they know that I love to bring that up and

00:55:21   They're like why even link to them in the first place instead of linking to them with this footnote that brings up this

00:55:28   Story that you're highly critical of why not just not link to them and my answer is they're too good not to

00:55:35   Right. They're a bizarre to me

00:55:38   News culture, but they are a scoop machine by design

00:55:45   Yeah, it's it's there they're so far ahead of other

00:55:49   business publications and in publishing stuff that like you where you need to

00:55:55   Link to them if you want to if you want to know to report it first

00:56:00   It's definitely like more in the long tail

00:56:03   I don't think they show up so much in the links that like mass audiences are linking to on social media to complain about

00:56:11   Politicians they hate or whatever. It's just more like in all these nice industries. They they're

00:56:18   reporting

00:56:20   Lots of little things first and it adds up to so many so many links

00:56:26   So yeah there at the top of our leaderboard

00:56:28   I'm starting to build this little community on discord where we share a number of like feeds useful for

00:56:35   People in different scenarios and one of the one type of feed we have is if you're a publisher

00:56:40   you can see when other tech sites are linking to your work and

00:56:43   The volume of Bloomberg there is just so it's so high compared to all the other publishers

00:56:50   It's an outlier, right? I think part of it is and I've mentioned this and I do

00:56:55   I I guess I am critical of it. I because I think it's a worrisome practice and no one's ever denied it

00:57:02   So I'm about as sure that it's true as could possibly be and I've spoken to people who've confirmed it off the record

00:57:09   but that they have a

00:57:11   bonus structure within the company that as a reporter at Bloomberg your

00:57:16   Bonus is tied to the the number of times throughout the year

00:57:22   I don't know if it's an annual bonus or quarterly or how often they pay it but that you get a financial bonus

00:57:27   For quote-unquote market moving news

00:57:30   so if you're writing again, obviously my sphere of interest is off obviously often Apple Center and if you post something about Apple and

00:57:38   Immediately after posting it their stock goes down

00:57:42   2.37 percent or something like that you get paid a bonus for that whether it goes up or down and the well

00:57:50   Why do they pay that way?

00:57:51   It's obvious because they're the main way they make money is by selling Bloomberg terminal access and

00:57:58   Bloomberg terminals are insanely expensive there. I forget I think it's like 20,000 a year

00:58:04   Per seat to start and that you can't even get one you can't even if you want to pay the money

00:58:10   You can't just say here. Here's $20,000. Give me a Bloomberg terminal for the next year. You still have to get approved

00:58:17   Which is bizarre, but the idea and I think it's actually true

00:58:22   Is that Bloomberg publishes their own original reporting through the terminal?

00:58:27   First with I think about a 15-minute window and so if you subscribe to the Bloomberg terminal

00:58:33   You have the opportunity to read Bloomberg's original reporting 15 minutes before the rest of the world sees it on

00:58:40   Bloomberg calm and if you think this news is very good or very bad for the company being reported on

00:58:48   You have this window of opportunity to trade their stock accordingly that others don't have and that's what they're selling

00:58:56   Bloomberg terminal subscriptions and therefore the they need

00:59:01   original reporting that is market moving news and

00:59:04   therefore there's this

00:59:06   motivation for their reporters to

00:59:09   Contextualize what they're reporting in market moving ways, which I think is often to me sensational

00:59:17   Yeah, it's something I've looked at with that lens

00:59:21   So that all I I can't give an informed view on this, but I can see how that way of

00:59:29   motivating their reporters leads to both producing good work that needs to be cited and

00:59:34   Also tempting them to distort things. I guess with all you know

00:59:39   In management who said it like you start measuring one thing you have to like come up with a measure for the opposite thing because it's

00:59:46   Gonna be abused. Yeah, or be careful what you measure, you know, I guess is good advice. I

00:59:51   Do know and for example and again just the intersection of?

00:59:57   Daring fireball Bloomberg and tech meme

01:00:00   Mark Gurman who like I forget how many years now he's been on the Apple beat at Bloomberg

01:00:08   But came to Bloomberg from 9 to 5 Mac where he was writing as a teenager and college student. I mean

01:00:15   To say that he was precocious is it's hard to imagine how he could have been much younger

01:00:20   When he first started writing for 9 to 5 Mac and getting these scores

01:00:24   But on the tech meme leaderboard

01:00:27   Gurman was off the charts near the top for like the Apple related sphere and

01:00:35   I I think that tech memes actual ranking of it

01:00:40   I think people even if tech meme didn't exist or tech meme didn't publish that leaderboard. I think it was pretty obvious

01:00:46   Gurman's

01:00:48   unique stature

01:00:50   Covering Apple and he might have likely been made an offer from Bloomberg anyway

01:00:55   but I've heard that that was part of what led them to say we've got to hire this kid because look at how

01:01:02   influential he is in this world about this company that is a humongous and B

01:01:07   people care about

01:01:09   And he's still there, right? He's

01:01:11   Incred you know Bloomberg itself overall is very influential at tech memes leaderboards

01:01:16   But Gurman in particular as a reporter in the tech sphere is way near the top deservedly. So

01:01:22   Yeah, I haven't heard that but I I know he's been he's always been very tech meme aware and sometimes we talk about it

01:01:29   I was referenced as tech meme would spill into Twitter and he wasn't shy about that and and I you know, by the way

01:01:36   I know mark not super well, but I I see him at events and stuff

01:01:40   I remember meeting him once when he was he was that teenager. Yeah, he's uh, he's probably he's probably still the top of our

01:01:46   author leaderboard

01:01:48   Yes, our leaderboards are like well, there's a whole history with of them and it's part it's probably like can get a little boring but

01:01:57   one way we can be helpful to a lot of companies and comms people in particular in companies is to provide lists of

01:02:05   the reporters who basically

01:02:07   dominate that area or are prominent in certain spaces like AI or

01:02:14   Security or Apple or whatever. So we used to have this general leaderboard

01:02:19   but we like who's on tech meme the most but

01:02:22   Ultimately that wasn't too too helpful because there are just a lot of reasons posts end up on tech meme that aren't necessarily

01:02:30   Aligned with having scoops or being like thought leaders exactly if you're fast to important stories that also helps you get on tech me

01:02:39   but anyway, once we introduce all these leaderboards on different topics that you know, that's actually a helpful product for a lot of people and

01:02:46   When you look at any of these reports, it's not the exact order that matters like, you know

01:02:52   Number one versus number three usually isn't too meaningful. It's just like if you look at the top

01:02:57   20

01:02:58   You'll probably have some good ideas of people to reach out to if you want to pitch some

01:03:04   Whatever new social network or something

01:03:07   Let me just take a break out and and then we'll we'll hit the finish line

01:03:10   but let me take a break right there and I'll thank our third and final sponsor of the episode and it's our

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01:05:51   All right, I feel like there's a big topic which is why I wanted to get the third sponsor spot out of the way

01:05:57   But to me the other factor in RSS is demise

01:06:02   Other than Google Reader having the plug sort of unceremoniously pulled out of it

01:06:08   It could be you can't prove it without somehow having an alternate

01:06:12   multiverse where

01:06:15   Google Reader is still with existed but

01:06:18   Looking back on it the decline of RSS and the decline of plain old-fashioned blogging

01:06:26   coincides with the rise of Twitter and

01:06:28   to me it's

01:06:31   It would be a very hard argument to make that they're not

01:06:34   Related. I mean we could get into the we have a lot to talk about with Twitter

01:06:38   but I'm curious whether at first whether you saw the rise of Twitter and tweeting as

01:06:44   helpful to

01:06:46   Tech memes purpose or a hindrance. Yeah, there's a lot to look at there

01:06:52   I mean, it's both it's always both

01:06:55   Twitter definitely

01:06:57   I'm convinced it was it was the biggest factor in

01:07:00   Blogging's decline you can just look at the people who their posts went down as their tweets went up

01:07:05   there's so many bloggers and

01:07:08   Apparently not all of them probably not you but maybe I don't know maybe some of your quick posts became tweets

01:07:13   I guess we didn't really do much about Twitter for the first year

01:07:16   or two well very early on we were posting the Twitter because I got that people wanted to see tech meme headlines

01:07:23   So we were doing that one in March

01:07:25   2007 but at some point

01:07:28   The next thing to do is to see what people are linking to on Twitter

01:07:33   Because when people are linking to less on blogs and linking to more on Twitter

01:07:38   Then you got to get those links from Twitter to feed into our algorithm

01:07:41   And so we found some ways to do that

01:07:44   Fortunately when it comes to like informing a news algorithm for an industry niche like tech meme does

01:07:51   You don't actually need like the fire hose. You don't need this massive access to what's going on in Twitter

01:07:58   You just need a smart place of Twitter

01:08:00   So we did that fairly early on and it helped us but you know, it would have been better like in some

01:08:06   hypothetical world where

01:08:09   Everyone just kept blogging and it just got a little more real time

01:08:12   Like, you know, maybe RSS aggregators found a way to just get the post instantly and apps made it super easy

01:08:19   So that Twitter never had a wedge. I mean that would be a superior world for tech meme and I guess mastodon and

01:08:26   federated open source approaches now are

01:08:30   reviving that promise

01:08:32   but a lot more a lot of more things need to fall in place before we begin to see that reach even like

01:08:39   5% of where it could go. It's like in some ways Twitter as originally conceived is one of the

01:08:48   To me great accomplishments of the entire world wide web. Hey, and I still think the basic idea is because it was

01:08:55   Democratizing to

01:08:59   posting your own

01:09:01   Stuff on the web which I think was central to the concept of the world wide web. Yes discovered

01:09:08   Yeah, it was a natural natural thing waiting to be discovered. I've often

01:09:12   revisited this idea of

01:09:15   user interfaces

01:09:17   friction and that reducing friction is

01:09:21   Vastly overlooked as something that should be

01:09:27   Strived for in design to make things as frictionless as possible because it's just good a it's just better like an

01:09:35   Interface that feels like you don't have to fight it that is actually helping you accomplish that whatever it is is

01:09:40   Good for you the user and so therefore

01:09:43   a sort of design priority that makes users happy is

01:09:48   In and of itself a good thing

01:09:51   But it also makes it more popular and makes it useful people stick with things with less friction, but I do think

01:09:58   Twitter is so friction free

01:10:02   that

01:10:05   Blogging almost couldn't compete with it right like however easy

01:10:08   WordPress made it to

01:10:11   Post a new blog post once you've set up your blog in WordPress

01:10:19   Making a new post it's

01:10:21   There's a little bit more inherent friction

01:10:24   Even if you only have two fields in your CMS title and then content that's versus Twitter where it's just one field

01:10:31   it's just a box what's happening and you just type in the box and

01:10:35   On the one hand that's worse because titles are useful semantic content

01:10:42   But it's better in terms of friction and the less friction

01:10:48   It just people end up going that way

01:10:51   I do think I think you're right that I even me who has a website that has supported

01:10:57   short-form link posts where the primary purpose is here's the primary link from what I'm linking to is to this article at the

01:11:06   verge or

01:11:08   six colors or

01:11:09   Wherever else and here's a quote from the article and here's my two cents or my thoughts about why I'm linking to it

01:11:16   I think I've done it less there were times it like the peak of my Twitter usage maybe midway through the teens

01:11:24   Where it kind of occurred to me like hey

01:11:27   I should be posting this on my website first and just if it's gonna be on Twitter

01:11:31   Let it go through the ad during fireball account. I should not be tweeting so much from ad Gruber. I

01:11:37   Should be putting it on my website and but it's like even me who has a website that supported it. I

01:11:45   Was doing it less because it was easier and the pressure was lower right I think my tweets are mostly

01:11:51   Grammatically correct and well punctuated and whatever just because I'm old-fashioned that way

01:11:58   But it still feels like less it always felt like less pressure

01:12:02   it let alone the fact that most publications don't have a

01:12:09   Format for their reporters to post the equivalent of a link post. So therefore if they couldn't you can't go through

01:12:16   Bloomberg or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal if you work there full-time, there's no equivalent of my link post

01:12:22   So if you're a reporter for them and you have something you want to link out

01:12:26   You could do it on Twitter or not at all. And so they did it on Twitter

01:12:30   Yeah, and I think we're really worked and I think the way that tech meme for a while

01:12:37   I forget when you started doing it, but it's I don't remember when you didn't but let's just say there's a

01:12:43   Top story of the day is some report from the verge about topic X

01:12:49   And then there's a bunch of links from a bunch of other sites that are linking about the same thing

01:12:55   And then there's a section underneath that'll say Twitter or I guess now I get it's X

01:13:00   Colon and then there might be dozens sometimes several dozen

01:13:06   tweets that are all linked under the same article in tech me and

01:13:11   You don't even have to open them all in little tabs because they're tweets

01:13:14   You could just hover if you're on a desktop computer

01:13:17   you can just hover the mouse over them and the hover text will show you the whole tweet because tweets are little and

01:13:23   in that sense tweets haven't competed with blogging per se but but they

01:13:29   completely

01:13:31   usurped the

01:13:33   Comments that used to be per post and were per CMS and therefore were off in their own universe

01:13:39   It's like a universal commenting platform, which in theory is great. And I think was good for tech meme. Is that how you see?

01:13:47   Tweets overall in the tech meme context as sort of the universal comment platform

01:13:54   they usually have a

01:13:57   comment type function when they're on tech meme and they aren't comments that we

01:14:02   You know own

01:14:03   So if you see a good tweet on tech meme

01:14:06   You don't share the tech meme link once in a while a tweet will also be the news headline doesn't happen too often

01:14:11   You know

01:14:12   usually if we wait five minutes will get a post from a blog that just adds more contacts and that'll be preferable but

01:14:19   Sometimes sometimes sweet to the news as well. Yeah. Yeah, you see it with like in my sphere like Ming Chi Khloa

01:14:26   Or somebody like that will sometimes tweet something that is big news

01:14:29   But then it sooner rather than later somebody like Mac rumors or somebody is going to have an actual article

01:14:35   That's more of a canonical source for the news

01:14:38   Yeah explains where it fits in a little bit of history a little bit of context and even for an industry audience

01:14:45   That's preferable to link to as our top headline in most cases

01:14:49   How do you see the arc of?

01:14:54   Twitter over the years. I know that's sort of an open-ended question

01:14:59   but I'm curious because I feel like your perspective on it is

01:15:04   if not representative of the Twitter user base overall, it's representative of

01:15:10   My audience's view of Twitter as a sort of aggregator of news and a state of source

01:15:17   so

01:15:20   even before

01:15:21   Elon Musk took over people referred to it as the hell site

01:15:25   so there are all these dynamics that were corrosive and it made people feel bad to go there and so on but I

01:15:31   Didn't think of it that way and I I didn't experience that for me

01:15:36   It really was that hive brain that attracted a lot of people who?

01:15:41   Had smart things to say about the news often in a fun funny way. It was really powerful and

01:15:47   we needed tweets to complete the picture and

01:15:53   For on tech meme and so it was important to include those tweets and crawl them

01:15:57   If there's a headline on tech meme we were using the API to like find

01:16:01   Tweets that link to it so that we could recommend them to our editors to add to the site

01:16:07   And that's how a bunch of tweets would appear over the year

01:16:11   So it it just seemed to get more and more important

01:16:13   But that has crested because of something that happened last year and it's not just because we stopped using their API

01:16:20   I guess we could use their API again if we paid a lot of money and rebuild it

01:16:25   But it just doesn't seem worth it to us people with good contacts added to news really are

01:16:31   Starting to leave Twitter and it's still got maybe more than half of what it had

01:16:35   But it's missing a lot and it's and it's dispersing. It's not unfortunately. It's not in one. Well, maybe fortunately

01:16:42   It's not in just some one new social network. You gotta you gotta

01:16:47   Go to threads for for some of this you got to go to Mastodon for some of it LinkedIn

01:16:52   We'll have some of it and that's that also is reflected on tech meme. It's kind of ridiculous now

01:16:56   You'll look under some of the the bigger

01:16:58   News headlines and there'll be sections for LinkedIn blue sky threads Mastodon

01:17:04   yeah, I just

01:17:07   Looked I computed something right before I got on with on this podcast and I guess in October

01:17:15   2022 we had seven thousand thirty one tweets on

01:17:19   Tech me throughout the month and now in October 2023

01:17:23   5036 so, you know, it's it's down 30%

01:17:27   It's down but not out but a lot more threads a lot more LinkedIn a lot more Mastodon

01:17:33   Well, it's got to be all new threads because threads didn't exist in October 22, right? Yeah and and blue sky

01:17:41   My basic theory and I think it's true is that Twitter suffered under

01:17:47   the way that

01:17:51   the market for publicly held companies works where

01:17:55   being profitable

01:17:58   Alone and sustainable isn't isn't enough that you it's viewed as a failure to be anything less than

01:18:05   the leader or

01:18:09   Peer amongst the leaders and

01:18:11   In the Apple context and I think it's I think it's a useful analogy

01:18:17   but like in then especially the late 90s like when the

01:18:20   When Apple acquired next and the Steve Jobs regime from next came in and took over

01:18:26   Apple, you know had I don't know five percent market share or something like that or depending on where you measured it or at least in

01:18:34   The US they did and it was a good five percent market share because they all even back then sold more expensive computers than other companies

01:18:41   but they were

01:18:43   essentially considered in the business press a complete failure because Microsoft and Intel were so much bigger and that the drumbeat was they

01:18:51   Apple should just do what Microsoft does and when that was

01:18:54   Microsoft makes billions where Apple makes millions because Microsoft licenses their OS to PC makers

01:19:02   Therefore Apple should license their operating system and then eventually Apple is like fine

01:19:08   We'll do it and they license these clone makers and I know it is like that of all the things Apple has ever done

01:19:14   Since the two Steve's were in a garage

01:19:17   The weirdest period of Apple was the period where there were Macintosh clones

01:19:22   I think I think for people younger people who didn't live through it

01:19:26   I really think it's people would think that it was a prank and that you've photoshopped the articles about these companies

01:19:32   That did it and one of the first things Steve Jobs did when he came back and became the I CEO was just canceled

01:19:38   Unser just said you know what? This is terrible. It's killing us

01:19:41   We're gonna get rid of it, but the basic idea was just look this company is so much bigger than you

01:19:46   That's what they're doing. You should do it too. And then in the Twitter context, it's the comparison to Facebook, right? Facebook is

01:19:54   so much bigger than Twitter ever could have been and

01:20:01   The basic and the idea is well, they're both social networks where you go and post things

01:20:07   so therefore Twitter's measuring stick was always against Facebook and

01:20:12   It wasn't enough for Twitter to just let it be what it was going to be it

01:20:18   Because they were being measured against Facebook. They tried things that I think were contrary

01:20:26   To what Twitter should have been and it was to the detriment of the site and then it only

01:20:31   well

01:20:33   Once Musk took over a year ago that was out the door because now all of a sudden instead of answering to shareholders

01:20:39   They're they're answering to one shareholder, right?

01:20:42   So everything changed when he took over but up until that point

01:20:46   I think the reason Twitter was even available to be taken over was the fact that they sort of flailed in that

01:20:54   comparison I was thinking about it today in my post about this

01:20:57   coyote versus Acme movie that time Warner had commissioned a

01:21:04   complete major motion picture with a 90 million dollar budget a major star John Cena a

01:21:10   Fantastic premise where the idea is the wily coyote from the Bugs Bunny cartoons is suing the Acme

01:21:16   Corporation who sold them all of these gadgets he used through the years to try to catch the Roadrunner and

01:21:22   It's sort of a Roger Rabbit sort of live-action slash animation thing and that they

01:21:28   Decided for tax purposes to just never release this finished movie

01:21:33   because

01:21:35   David Zaslav the CEO just somehow this somebody did the math and said it would actually be better for us

01:21:40   financially to just shelve this movie and never release it and

01:21:44   It made me think of this quote from Walt Disney

01:21:48   Probably close to 100 years ago at this point, but at least like 80 years ago, but the quote is we don't we Disney

01:21:55   don't make

01:21:57   Movies to make money we make money so we can make more movies, right?

01:22:01   Disney was in the content business and first as a priority and they wanted to be profitable doing so so they could keep doing it

01:22:10   whereas

01:22:11   Obviously anybody who's the CEO of a movie studio who would be willing to do what they've done with this

01:22:18   Coyote vs. Acme movie has their priorities the other way around and I kind of feel like you and I are

01:22:24   Some pot to go in in this regard like I don't run daring fireball to be the most profitable thing imaginable

01:22:31   I'm glad it is profitable glad I make a living at it

01:22:34   I'm very gratified but my goal has always been I want to this is what I want to write

01:22:39   I want to write these weird long

01:22:41   5,000 word articles reviewing a new

01:22:44   iPhone that would never be able to run at that length anywhere else and also post weird little

01:22:51   50 word links and

01:22:53   If I make a good living then that's good enough and I feel like tech meme has always been like that too

01:23:00   Like you have a vision for what tech means serves and the point isn't how do you make the most money?

01:23:05   The point is how do you make money at all to keep it afloat while you're doing it? Would you agree with that?

01:23:10   It's just thing to solve except I always would like to make more money as it turns out but well

01:23:16   I mean, I'm with you there, but for sure there were hills

01:23:22   we could have attempted to climb which would have been the wrong hills to climb and

01:23:27   Part of that reason is because it would make tech meme crappier for its readers in ways that you're talking about here

01:23:35   I think we did see the same with Twitter like they wanted to get impressions and maybe they should

01:23:40   Come up with some API access scheme. I mean, I don't know exactly what what would have been optimal for them

01:23:47   But it's too late for that now

01:23:49   yeah, I like

01:23:52   quality of experiences

01:23:54   And maintaining it in the face of so much change is important for us

01:24:00   I'm also hoping that that'll unlock new business opportunities. That'll make things more lucrative so I can

01:24:08   Pay all our editors more money

01:24:10   Well, let me just put it this way as an admitted daily reader of tech me for as long as I can remember tech mean

01:24:18   Existing so at this point 20 years give or take I can't remember tech meme

01:24:24   Ever once getting worse. It's evolved over the years and it has changed

01:24:30   But I can't remember any time where it's oh this changed at tech meme

01:24:35   Want one that's kind of I see why they did it is to make more money but blank

01:24:39   Oh now you can only see three times a day and then it cuts you off and asks for you to subscribe

01:24:45   Like you can only - there's no now there's a paywall just to read tech me or something like that

01:24:51   And it's never once happened. And I think it's because you're prioritized

01:24:55   First yes, you it is a very important priority for the company to be profitable and sustainable

01:25:03   Going forward in the face of all this change in the media world, but never more important than well

01:25:09   Let's just make sure it stays great for our readers

01:25:11   yeah, happy to hear that and I I

01:25:15   Hope it's true for everyone and it's something we work to uphold. I

01:25:20   Putting myself on the back now. Yeah. Well, let me pat you on it. I'll do the back padding for you

01:25:26   It is a great resource, but the Twitter format to me

01:25:31   It's genius in its simplicity

01:25:33   right that you just pick people to follow and everybody can just pull at the top for a decade or two is

01:25:40   140 characters, but you've got this severely limited character count per quote post and

01:25:46   Out of that limit necessity is the mother

01:25:50   invention it made people creative and there are a

01:25:54   lot of people who

01:25:58   Aren't you know, you see it when you get emails from them, right? Most emails would be so much better off

01:26:04   if they had the same character constraints as Twitter and

01:26:07   everybody out there knows the people who you're either your colleagues or people at other companies that you deal with who

01:26:14   send

01:26:17   emails that you have to scroll to read the whole thing and that should have been tweet length and so

01:26:22   Mandating that length on everybody a was a great benefit, but B it just gave people a platform

01:26:29   That they wouldn't have and yes in a way that it's this massive trade-off where it didn't kill blogging

01:26:35   But it greatly reduced blogging still exists and blogging is still great

01:26:39   It's obviously far less common as a practice than it was at its peak which was pre Twitter

01:26:45   But on the whole more people are posting more of their thoughts

01:26:50   post 2006 because of Twitter and now Twitter like things but

01:26:55   I've seen this frustration in my personal usage, right? I use all of them

01:27:01   I have I'm on still on Twitter X whatever you want to call it. I'm on threads and really like it

01:27:07   I've been on Mastodon for years

01:27:09   But really got active on it once musk took over Twitter last year and I've been on blue sky

01:27:15   Since I got in the invitation system at some point

01:27:19   It is though as a just as a user

01:27:22   mentally

01:27:25   Exhausting to keep up with more than one of these services

01:27:29   it was so much easier when the only Twitter like thing that I cared about was Twitter itself and

01:27:36   Now that there are multiple Twitter like things that I do care about and want to keep up keep up with in some regard

01:27:45   each additional one

01:27:48   Like multiplies the mental

01:27:50   Exhaustion I feel of having to keep up with them and I'm curious for you because you

01:27:57   You guys keep track of all of them as a source for commentary on your articles. Do you do you think it's

01:28:05   is it better for tech meme and or the world at large that there's sort of

01:28:14   Fragmentation in this card and we're not we're not dependent on just one

01:28:18   Source Twitter or is it worse overall because now there's fragmentation

01:28:23   Sorry, I'm one of these people who will say it's both but it's it's definitely from a user perspective

01:28:29   It's usually if you're going for completeness. It's it's harder and it's more annoying

01:28:35   You have to check multiple things

01:28:38   Fortunately, it's if it's a story on tech meme you can look under tech meme and see our roundup and hopefully that's good

01:28:44   But you know in general for keeping up all this happening on social networks

01:28:48   Like there are a bunch you have to use and I do do that

01:28:52   like I I still go to Twitter for like my war news and

01:28:55   AI tweeters and then I go to

01:28:58   threads for kind of like the tech

01:29:01   pundits for a lot of tech pundits now and then a little bit of

01:29:05   Mastodon and blue sky on the tech. What is as far as what it means for tech meme?

01:29:10   It's maybe it's like a little bit of a moat I guess but it's not like we have

01:29:14   competitors in what we do

01:29:16   This past year the amount of stuff we needed to build has been daunting

01:29:21   like we're using all we're using blue sky API is we're using Mastodon API's and

01:29:27   I'm really hoping

01:29:30   To tie all this together is there's this promise of Federation if the Reds actually hooks up to activity pub then

01:29:37   Threads and Mastodon will in some ways be one thing and you'll be able to get your threads

01:29:43   posts on Mastodon and tech meme will be able to

01:29:46   Crawl threads posts in an automatic way through Mastodon API's and it'll go both ways and it'll be great

01:29:53   I just hope Facebook doesn't find a reason to say actually nevermind

01:29:57   Right right now threads has no API at all, which is

01:30:03   Not surprising at all as a Facebook property because I think Facebook has had some sort of API in the past

01:30:12   but in general over the length of the company, they just have not been API driven and therefore as

01:30:18   opposed to Twitter which

01:30:21   Part of you know, the Musk era the first major controversy under his ownership was him

01:30:28   cutting off the API that third-party apps could use like tweet bot and Twitter if ik and those things were instead of using Twitter as

01:30:37   your app as a user you could use these third-party things and they

01:30:42   Long before Musk took over for the early years

01:30:45   They loved those third parties and they got you know talking to Craig Hockenberry at the icon factory

01:30:51   He was a personal friend of mine and Twitter if ik was the first major

01:30:56   third-party client for Twitter and gave them think

01:30:59   The word tweet was invented by the icon factory not Twitter and the idea that the logo would be a bird

01:31:06   Came from the Twitter if ik bird not Twitter itself Twitter itself had it just a lowercase T is their logo

01:31:13   Before that's how you know and it wasn't that I don't think the icon factory feels ripped off

01:31:19   I feel like they thought you know, they were

01:31:21   Sort of partners in it and took it as a badge of honor that they influenced the course of the company so much

01:31:28   But then long before Musk took over Twitter more or less just came out and said hey don't make a new third-party client for us

01:31:36   We're sort of and they put like user caps on the ones that existed

01:31:39   because of

01:31:42   Effectively business reasons, you know that they thought we we want to do ads in a way that we don't want to or our vision

01:31:49   For how to deliver ads doesn't work with an API

01:31:52   Therefore we need people to use our client and if they have to use our client, we don't want third-party clients

01:31:57   wobble

01:31:59   that's

01:32:00   totally different with mastadon which is

01:32:04   Truly built in the spirit of the open web right where and they actually even in the good ways to have things like documentation

01:32:11   So you yeah, it's not just that their API is stable and that you don't have to piss off a central authority to use it

01:32:19   But they actually document it and the documentation is correct

01:32:22   And it works and there are you could get get the posts from a mastadon user via RSS and the RSS is actually valid

01:32:30   RSS it's so great. I was like

01:32:34   I literally excited and I liked

01:32:36   tweeted about it and intruded about it when when I just saw how easy these

01:32:42   API's were and how and how open they are you can just take any

01:32:46   Mastadon post URL and you you like tweak the URL that'll you put something before the number and then it stays on

01:32:53   Yeah, that's the the data right there that you don't need to be authenticated. There's other stuff you can do without

01:33:00   authentication and

01:33:02   The like the limits are generous. It's maybe if if mastadon becomes really big maybe they'll have to find ways to

01:33:08   To cut back in some ways just to make just so these servers can function or maybe to cut off forms of abuse

01:33:16   But it's reassuring that underneath it all there's like a philosophy

01:33:21   They're like an open source not-for-profit philosophy behind all this because you know, they're not going to go in

01:33:28   In the kinds of directions that led to all these great Twitter experiences being destroyed. Yeah, I know I've I

01:33:35   couldn't click the heart icon under your posts often enough on threads, but I

01:33:41   Forget his title, but the the the head of threads at Instagram is Adam. Moser. Yeah

01:33:47   Who's also comes from Instagram where he's also the lead and they even say and they've said since threads launched that it's an Instagram

01:33:56   not a meta app and it looks it shares visual DNA with Instagram and

01:34:03   They Adam and

01:34:07   Zuckerberg himself are active

01:34:10   participants on threads and I know that there are cynical people who think that because they are major

01:34:16   Executives at this company that they actually don't that it's not them

01:34:19   It's some kind of social media team at meta who does all these posts, but it's not I mean

01:34:24   maybe there's somebody in comms at meta who can post as

01:34:29   Zuck, but I'm not sure there is I'm not sure that anything that's ever been posted by at Zuck on threads isn't actually from

01:34:38   Mark Zuckerberg's thumbs and I know Adam is

01:34:41   Personally very very active on threads personally, but he asked hey, we're moving as fast as we can

01:34:48   We've gotten a lot of low-hanging fruit. We're moving fast

01:34:52   What are the most important things that we can do and as next steps to keep moving forward and you posted the API API API

01:35:00   Yeah, I talked about API so much that I changed my bio at some point to say on the guy who complains about API's

01:35:07   Yeah, their API situation is is I mean, there's you can talk about API's

01:35:13   Endpoints that would be nice to have on Twitter

01:35:18   You can talk about the ones that Twitter used to have and then lost but you could you can still post to Twitter

01:35:23   You can't even post right now. That's right. There's no API even for posting and that is

01:35:29   Crazy, right in some ways. Yeah, and

01:35:32   Yeah, it seems crazy to me that any kind of microblogging

01:35:37   Anything that had an aspiration to be a microblogging service would would even for a while talk about

01:35:45   Not having that API I get like launching without it fine

01:35:48   But you should at least say that you plan to add an API for posting and yeah, I get it

01:35:54   They they're not like super excited about having you know news content all over threads, but so many kinds of Twitter like posts and

01:36:03   memes and

01:36:05   Pieces of content that start conversations on Twitter

01:36:08   Originate through at least a posting API

01:36:12   You don't have to give it like I don't actually I don't mind that they're not building

01:36:16   an API that will enable a kind of tweet deck or right alternate reading type app because

01:36:25   as long as they do this activity pub hookup will get that eventually but right now I

01:36:31   would like

01:36:34   API for posting and it was very

01:36:36   Good to see them change what they were saying on that

01:36:39   I could it's kind of like there are a few people who work for threads and

01:36:42   They talk pretty openly they post pretty openly about stuff. That doesn't look like it's approved by

01:36:48   By cons, I noticed ahead of their announcement

01:36:51   There are a few more likes from some of those people on my post about API's and like that's interesting

01:36:57   But I'm not gonna like call them out. I just wonder what's going on here. And then yeah a few days later

01:37:02   I got these people were like at Nate had mentioning. Hey, they just announced that posting API is coming

01:37:08   I do the same thing with Apple folks. Sometimes where somebody who I know works at Apple

01:37:13   will favorite something I posted on one of these services or jump into the thread with a reply and

01:37:20   Yeah, you know it's public and you've posted it, but I will often not

01:37:26   Even if it is sometimes I would just say yeah, you know

01:37:29   I'm not gonna link to their tweet on daring fireball

01:37:33   Because I don't want to bring the eye of Sauron upon them inside Cupertino for jumping into this. It's there

01:37:39   People can find it and I'm so glad they're jumping into this

01:37:42   But I don't want to bring undue attention to it and I could I think you're saying the same sort of thing with these API

01:37:48   advocates within meta

01:37:51   I think the other thing and I mentioned this earlier my basic theory that Twitter was corrupted by its

01:37:58   Investors forcing them

01:38:02   Expecting them to be Facebook size

01:38:04   With a concept for a site that never was going to be Facebook sized, right?

01:38:10   Facebook is a trillion dollar idea and

01:38:13   Twitter is a billion dollar idea and there's nothing wrong with having a billion dollar idea unless your

01:38:20   expectation is hey, you need to be a thousand times bigger the advantage threads has is

01:38:25   if they're never as big as

01:38:29   Instagram or as the blue app that Facebook is which I think is true

01:38:35   I think threads could thrive over the next ten years and

01:38:39   will probably never be close to as popular or as

01:38:44   lucrative as Instagram and probably not the blue app

01:38:48   But that's fine because they own it and they don't need it to be right in a sense. There is free

01:38:55   Not free of charge, but as free as in freedom

01:38:59   as

01:39:01   Mastodon even though threads is not open source or a community project, but there it's free

01:39:05   It must be freeing for them that Zuckerberg has said. Okay, let's do this

01:39:10   Instagram Moserri you're in charge of it. Let's get this built quickly

01:39:15   but simply with the goal of

01:39:19   Being a in Zuckerberg's words. Let's get to a billion users and then we'll figure out how to monetize it

01:39:26   But let's just effectively let's just kill Twitter if we can and that's all they need to do and it's incredibly freeing that they don't

01:39:33   There's no expectation Zuckerberg's mission isn't you have to build something that's going to be bigger and more profitable than Instagram

01:39:39   It's just I want you to build something that's bigger and more popular than X

01:39:44   Yeah, I hope they have a reason to sustain it if it's only a small fraction of Instagram revenue

01:39:52   There are business they're good at making money and finding new ways of making money and

01:39:56   there I think there are ways to make money out of

01:39:59   threads type app that we just haven't imagined yet, but

01:40:04   Like

01:40:08   It's I'm optimistic, but I I'm ready. I'm prepared for every anything

01:40:14   I'm ready for them saying we're not even doing

01:40:17   Activity pub I hope it doesn't get to that but like a lot of people just roll their eyes at the idea that they're gonna federate

01:40:24   I've seen that since the day they launched where there are people

01:40:28   Who are so cynical about meta that they're like this. There's no way this is ever gonna happen, but I have

01:40:36   Come around and have a much more

01:40:39   Open mind towards a meta and their products than I had

01:40:43   before last year and I part of it is

01:40:48   Just changing my mind about things in the past

01:40:50   That they've done and part of it too is that I think they've changed, you know

01:40:55   And I think that's one of those things that is very hard for anything but a founder led company to do is to grow

01:41:03   to a humongous size and yet remain nimble enough to

01:41:08   Keep adapting to the world as the world evolves and I I think meta is a better company

01:41:16   Ethically speaking than they were five years ago and there just seemed to me to be a lot of people

01:41:22   Who I don't know what the word is, but they lack

01:41:27   the grace

01:41:30   to even think about

01:41:32   Forgiving a company or even if you're not asking for forgiveness

01:41:36   But just to accept that hey, they used to do blank which was morally questionable and now they don't do it anymore

01:41:44   Can you ever move past that or are you always going to hold against them?

01:41:48   Whatever it is that you think they did wrong during the 2020 election or whatever it was

01:41:52   Yeah, I mean I perceive some of those changes and it's evident like you alluded to in

01:42:01   posts from

01:42:03   executives and

01:42:05   lower level

01:42:06   Product people on threads itself. Yeah, I think they will do the activity pub thing and I get why it might be

01:42:14   Complicated for them, but the idea I think the way that it would work would be

01:42:19   That you can be a mastodon user on

01:42:23   Mastodon dot social or whatever of the thousands of mastodon servers are out there and if you would like to follow Gabe Rivera

01:42:30   as a thread user

01:42:32   Without you being on threads but follow from your mastodon account. You'll just follow at

01:42:40   Gabe at threads dotnet or well, I don't know what is your username at threads? I forget it is gay

01:42:47   Bravara gay Bravara

01:42:48   So follow at gay Bravara at threads dotnet and all of a sudden your threads posts come in the way they would if

01:42:56   threads were a mastodon server and you can just follow along from your mastodon account and get Gabe's or at

01:43:03   Gruber at mastodon dot socials or at Gruber at threads dotnet

01:43:08   It'll be a question for people like me and you who use both

01:43:12   Where do I stop posting on threads and just post on mastodon and assume people will follow it

01:43:17   There's questions about that, but I don't think to me. There's no question that them implementing it in that way

01:43:23   Will not hurt the overall number of people who go to threads dotnet and use the official threads app. I

01:43:31   Really don't I don't think it'll decrease that I think it only

01:43:35   Strengthened would will and would only strengthen their position as a sort of canonical source for people's short-form

01:43:43   posting on the web I think so because already they're much bigger than

01:43:47   mastodon and

01:43:50   People

01:43:52   It's a reason to post more on threads knowing that mastodon

01:43:55   Users can also see you like, you know mastodon is really strong in

01:44:01   Like areas like security a lot of security people because they're if you're a security person you're not posting on

01:44:07   mastodon or threads yet

01:44:10   You you'll know that you can

01:44:12   Just by posting on threads if you start doing so

01:44:17   After Federation those security people on mastodon will be able to get your posts

01:44:23   I think it helps threads and meta in in numerous ways. I hope they continue to be convinced by that

01:44:31   Where where do you see X go and where what do you think of the the year one under Elon's?

01:44:38   leadership

01:44:40   It's it's pretty bad in the areas that I care about a lot of people just aren't

01:44:46   posting as much or gone entirely and that's not good and the reasons are kind of

01:44:51   There are simple reasons and more complicated reasons for that, but I just sense like Elon Musk

01:44:58   There are certain aspects of Twitter that he just doesn't get and he doesn't realize he's destroying a lot of it

01:45:05   You know, there are parts that are I'm sure

01:45:07   Are being bolstered by his approach, but they're not I don't think they're great parts

01:45:14   And I don't think they have a great chance of sustaining themselves forever. I

01:45:19   Think it's hurt him tremendously that he's almost

01:45:26   universally is regarded as an executive who does not want to be told no by his employees and

01:45:32   therefore has seemingly surrounded himself by yes men and

01:45:36   His other companies are you know, Tesla is obviously very successful and growing

01:45:41   SpaceX is a remarkably successful company. I mean they've they've truly pushed

01:45:47   rocket science actually, you know the the go-to

01:45:51   metaphor for big-brained smart people has been pushed forward by SpaceX and

01:45:57   and they're therefore their success has masked that I think over the years because

01:46:03   He can maybe push through something like I think of questionable design for the Cybertruck

01:46:09   Oh, I think let's say that's an open question

01:46:11   But the gull wing design for the the model what I think it was the model Y or the model

01:46:17   I forget which one of the models it was but that had the stupid doors that open up from the top

01:46:21   It was pushed forward by him and people said that's a bad design boss and they got fired or just blown past

01:46:28   But overall Tesla continues to grow and Tesla owners are overall pretty happy, but I think with Twitter

01:46:35   He's wrong about so many things

01:46:38   And like you said just tech mean which is not

01:46:41   Truly I think has no pro or or anti bias against Twitter

01:46:46   But you can measure it and before he took over there were 7,000 links and now there's 5,000 for the same month a year later

01:46:52   And that's a pretty significant decline not a collapse

01:46:56   But that's a sign of fading influence and there's just so many people I follow

01:47:02   who have

01:47:05   Officially announced. Hey, I'm done posting over here on X

01:47:08   I'm over on threads or on Mastodon or I'm on both but the hell with this place and then I think there's a lot more

01:47:15   People who are more like me where I've never said I'm done posting on Twitter

01:47:19   I I just do it less because it's just lower in my ranking of which apps I check and sometimes I don't get to it

01:47:26   Yeah, yeah, it's definitely lower for me. It's I

01:47:30   mainly tweet like

01:47:33   self-promotion and

01:47:36   Just a few occasional housekeeping things

01:47:39   And I don't think he understands the role Twitter plays right and I can't think of a better example and it looks like they've

01:47:46   Reverted it literally like in the last this week

01:47:49   but that they changed the link format like when you post a link to not contain the

01:47:56   Headline of the article so I could say here's a link at the verge comm slash

01:48:02   Here's the URL and

01:48:04   Then the link will contain the verges headline so that people can read it and I can write my commentary in the tweet with

01:48:11   Snark or just a summary or hey, I think this is real. I did not expect this whatever

01:48:15   I paste the URL and then the link is formatted with the title and he took the titles away

01:48:21   He admits it was his decision and then it just says the verge comm and has no context for the headline

01:48:28   and I guess his thinking was I

01:48:33   Want people to stay on Twitter and not leave to bounce to read articles elsewhere

01:48:39   so I'm going to penalize the format of

01:48:42   URLs to encourage publications to

01:48:46   become

01:48:48   $10 a month or whatever it costs to post more than that but pay to become a Twitter pro user and

01:48:53   Post your entire article on Twitter, which no sane

01:48:58   Publication was ever going to do like the verge you're not gonna get neil I Patel to have verge writers post the entire article on

01:49:05   Twitter that would be

01:49:07   Stupid but I guess that's what musk wanted. I I feel like he doesn't understand that and that's one thing again tech meme

01:49:14   Is like daring fireball in a way where we we've always

01:49:19   linked tech meme

01:49:22   By design, you know the whole point of it is you come to tech meme and then you immediately go elsewhere

01:49:27   To read the actual articles. It is come here find out what's happening

01:49:31   and then yes go go to Bloomberg go to New York Times go to the verge go to daring fireball and read the article there and

01:49:37   Because you found good stuff through tech meme you'll come back and that's how Twitter worked and the idea that you would take that away

01:49:45   And just try to keep people on Twitter is not to me

01:49:49   It's as nuts as if you change tech meme to try to keep people on tech me, right?

01:49:55   It doesn't I don't know you it doesn't even make any sense

01:49:57   Yeah, and you can see how it's going by seeing what actually is promoted by

01:50:02   These new the Twitter algorithm changes and the new subscriber formats and all that. It's pretty

01:50:10   It's pretty crappy stuff

01:50:11   I I get I still actually get a lot of value out of Twitter and it's by meticulously crafting lists

01:50:19   and reading those lists in a reverse chronological order

01:50:24   But anywhere that actual algorithm intrudes it's like get this out of my face

01:50:29   And I'm not anti algorithm right like threads is is generally algorithmically driven and you can you could switch to a

01:50:38   Chronological feed if you want, but I actually prefer their algorithm

01:50:42   because their algorithm

01:50:45   seems optimized only to surface stuff that's of interest to me and I've sort of feel the same way about

01:50:51   Instagram to and Instagram has the same similar

01:50:54   It's sort of hidden you have to tap on the logo in the app the actual Instagram logo

01:50:59   And then you can switch to a for you feed that shows the people you follow a chronological order

01:51:05   But in general the algorithm

01:51:08   Just seems driven to show you things of interest because that keeps you coming back in that that's good for meta if you come back

01:51:16   I found there are them very good. I helped it very early by

01:51:21   Following a bunch of accounts and being generous with my likes and things that I found interesting. I found it. Excellent

01:51:28   Some people I know

01:51:30   have complained about

01:51:32   Like too many influencers and so on but I think just tending to your follow graph and doing a little liking can get you past

01:51:39   That yeah. Yeah, and I've seen a lot of people

01:51:42   Who their first impression of threads is I okay. I'll try it

01:51:47   Let's see and it's like yeah, this is I'm not liking this feed at all. And that complaint you had about too much influencer content

01:51:55   Why do what why am I getting shown all these posts from youtubers? I don't want to see that and then a week later

01:51:59   I see the same person. I've seen this so many times. I've lost count of it of hey

01:52:03   I've stuck with threads for a week and all and my feed is actually a lot better

01:52:06   Yeah, you know it that they are

01:52:09   Scarily smart I think at meta and in a very good way where and and

01:52:17   It is such an interesting contrast with Twitter where they're

01:52:20   And I know Facebook slogan used to be move fast and break things but it it seems as the company has matured

01:52:27   they've kept the move fast and dropped the break things and

01:52:31   Twitter is so under musk is sort of the opposite. It's moved slow and break things

01:52:36   And I I just think it shows I think it's and I think for the most part the behavior

01:52:42   Isn't people protesting even though there are a lot of high-profile people who are actually protesting the political

01:52:50   Climate on Twitter and which posts get promoted and the whole thing where the

01:52:57   $10 a month pro blue check accounts get

01:53:01   algorithmically promoted just because they're paying accounts and

01:53:06   the people it's such a bad

01:53:11   Form of rewards because the people who were most likely to pay still are

01:53:16   most likely to willingly pay $10 a month for Twitter are Elon Musk fans and they're

01:53:22   How do I say it gently not the sort of people whose thoughts I really care to hear and yet their algorithm?

01:53:28   Became optimized to show them first which it

01:53:32   Makes me a bottom line makes me less interested in going to X

01:53:38   And let's just say it the name change is stupid I

01:53:42   Again, I'm a curmudgeon probably a little resistant to change more than most people but X is just a stupid name

01:53:50   It is I believe so always felt that way and I I think people are pointing to App Store trends

01:53:57   Demonstrating that with clarity. Oh, it's it's devastating to their App Store ranking

01:54:03   I mean it has been it dropped when they change the name and

01:54:05   Has stayed low and when you go through the list of free downloaded apps the number of apps that are listed above them

01:54:13   It's almost it's almost comical. What's what's got higher recognition above? I guess that about covers it

01:54:19   I guess if there's one last bonus question, it's AI and I don't know what to say about it

01:54:26   Do you see it as a threat to what you do to what tech mean does that AI?

01:54:32   Could do a better tech meme than tech meme itself. I

01:54:36   think it's something we gotta stay on top of and find places to

01:54:42   Apply it where it can be applied successfully. I do think there are reasons

01:54:49   why

01:54:52   why it's not it's

01:54:54   AI

01:54:57   Driven alternatives are not gonna be a part of a complete solution right now LLM's are are

01:55:04   trained on the past and news has the word new in it and a lot of what makes us interested in

01:55:11   news is how it's

01:55:14   certain

01:55:16   present things are recombined as something entirely new and

01:55:19   The way LLM's work now. I don't think there are they're ready to like rank

01:55:27   those new things as well as successfully and

01:55:30   Another thing like a lot of the value of tech meme is people will go there just to see they'll just look at headlines and

01:55:38   No, oh, I know that this thing happened. I'm not even gonna click

01:55:44   I'm just gonna glance or like people not many people click on our fundraising headlines

01:55:49   But you can go to tech meme and three companies in this category were funded today

01:55:54   And oh, this is something a lot of a lot is being invested in this is something on the way

01:55:59   where I can expect some products in the future along these lines and

01:56:03   any kind of

01:56:06   AI-driven news algorithm has to it's not possible, but it's got to get that

01:56:10   It's got to have that data on what you glanced at and process it and and do something meaningful with it

01:56:17   So I think there are there are certainly obstacles for AI

01:56:22   Approaches to be awesome in news aggregation, but but boy

01:56:27   LLM's are

01:56:30   nevertheless despite other flaws are miracles and

01:56:34   there are a number of ways we need to

01:56:39   Introduce like either LLM's for summarizing or like machine learning approaches to better detect

01:56:47   when certain features when it comes to text and links signal

01:56:53   Something that may possibly be news

01:56:55   We use a lot of old automated approaches already

01:56:57   But we haven't trained neural networks yet to be like this a trending story that you the edge or want to consider for tech me

01:57:05   It's still kind of your algorithm

01:57:08   heuristics

01:57:10   Alright, my biggest concern in the near term is

01:57:13   the use of AI and LLM's and especially the image generation

01:57:20   capabilities to

01:57:22   Purposefully create false context. I mean and obviously in the context of a major US presidential election is sort of what I'm thinking

01:57:30   I think it's a concern but I sort of feel

01:57:35   Confident that we'll get past it in the same way that we've gotten past

01:57:41   Outright attempts to mislead people disinformation not just oh, I honestly believe

01:57:48   That Bill Gates put nanobots in the vaccine

01:57:51   Well, if you honestly believe it, I mean what you're probably not an authoritative source of information on Twitter anyway, but people who?

01:57:58   purposefully are trying to

01:58:01   Mislead people I mean the best one of the best examples of that and it's it's a trick that predates the web

01:58:07   But trying to convince people of the wrong voting day

01:58:11   Hey

01:58:11   Even in your state voting day is Wednesday not Tuesday for this anymore

01:58:16   And and of course everybody's voting day in the u.s. Is Tuesday, but that's a dirty trick and using AI to commit dirty tricks

01:58:22   I feel like the way that LLM's can create

01:58:26   extremely realistic looking photographs of fake things at you know Photoshop's have been around for 30 years, but

01:58:34   They AI can do it so fast that it's almost a machine we as human beings have

01:58:42   Guards against that and the guard against it is trusting certain sources over time

01:58:46   Right, and I feel like that's what tech meme is

01:58:49   I hope that's what daring fireball is at an individual voice level

01:58:54   But like I'd because I'd as far as I know you and I think your your employees would agree

01:59:00   You have no plans to completely automate tech meme and replace the staff with AI

01:59:04   And that part of what makes tech meme tech meme is that you and your editors know?

01:59:12   Who can be trusted just by name alone?

01:59:14   and and then that trust

01:59:17   Goes to the users the users can trust what they see on tech meme and tech meme knows who they can trust going forward

01:59:24   So I sort of feel like it's it'll be okay

01:59:27   Yeah, I think so. I think we would have seen a lot more mayhem from deep fakes if these

01:59:35   trust networks weren't

01:59:37   robust and

01:59:39   trusted by by ordinary people and yeah, the the AI techniques are getting smarter, but

01:59:45   For sure, the level of mischief will increase but I too am optimistic on that. I

01:59:50   almost feel like the bigger danger is

01:59:53   Using AI and the existence of good deep fake technology

02:00:00   to say real things are fake rather than vice versa and I'll just go to the 2016 election and when the

02:00:08   Grab her by the pussy tape leaked of the Trump which really hurt his poll numbers

02:00:14   I mean like in the aftermath of that tape coming out that what was it access Hollywood was the TV show

02:00:19   his poll numbers dropped so precipitously after that that there was a

02:00:23   serious movement in the Republican Party to get him to drop out of the race, which is just

02:00:28   Absurd in September of an election year and I know everybody out there's a yeah, but he won the election anyway

02:00:34   But it's that really really hurt him and I feel like if a similar tape dropped now

02:00:38   Him and his cohorts now. I think they would just say app fake. That was fake fake fake fake

02:00:44   Yeah, well, hopefully those those same trust networks can help there

02:00:49   but I

02:00:51   Think trust will be eroded a bit

02:00:53   But will hopefully hang in there

02:00:56   Well, thank you Gabe for your time

02:01:00   This was you've been somebody who I wanted to get on this show for a long time and it was just as much fun talking

02:01:05   To you as I expected at sea. That's what can we promote?

02:01:09   We've talked about tech meme a lot tech meme if you don't go there my god

02:01:13   You should go there but your other two sites in the network are

02:01:16   Yeah, this is gonna I have to say it carefully me Miranda, which is meme me me o

02:01:22   R-a-n-d-u-m. That's the political news aggregator, right? But but that that's a that's a weird that that's

02:01:30   only for like hardcore political

02:01:32   Hobbyist who also can deal with the chaos that the algorithm unleashes in in help

02:01:40   Presents this news summary the other news vertical we we have editors carefully

02:01:44   Carefully curating is media gazer and if you're in content industries or you're into what's happening in journalism or especially

02:01:53   Digital journalism. I I don't think there's any real substitute for it. It's like a

02:01:59   It should be it should be what you're checking every day and and I'm Gabe Rivera on all the social networks

02:02:05   Yeah, so just search for Gabe Rivera and you'll find so thank you for your time

02:02:09   I'll also thank our sponsors of the day

02:02:11   They were Squarespace where you can build your own website

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02:02:29   Thanks Gabe.