Why I Like Substack, & þe New York Times, Mendaciously Talking Its Book Again, &
BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2022-05-03 Tu
CONDITION: And Now the Bond Market Thinks the Fed Has Got This Again…
The 5-year 5-year-forward inflation breakeven back below 2.5% per year…
FIRST: The New York Times, Mendaciously Talking Its Book Again…
An article from Tiffany Hsu in the New York Times—one that I strongly suspect fits the old adage: what is true in it is not news; and what is news in it is not true. But Noah Smith reads it:
Noah Smith: Is Substack Good for the World? Is Substack Worth it for Writers?
And Noah’s first reaction is: ‘It was certainly a bit shady that the NYT article talked of an “exodus” from Substack, while quietly noting lower down in the article that the platform is actually growing by leaps and bounds…’
Noah has other reactions:
“Content moderation… always a tricky business… few… free-speech absolutists. What if Vladimir Putin used Substack as his main platform for denying the atrocities that his armies are committing in Ukraine? At some point, nearly every platform’s administrators are going to encounter some moral red line…. If I were running Substack, I would probably be more restrictive about anti-vaccine content, given the fact that the vaccines’ safety and efficacy is so proven and that so many people have died from refusing to get vaccinated….
“Substack, unlike many platforms, is not a public square. Platforms like Twitter are public squares, because they have strong network effects…. The fact that there can be only one Twitter gives the platform a degree of social responsibility that it would not otherwise have…. Substack isn’t like that….
“Most of the people reading this post are folks who love to have world events filtered through the analytical lens of Noah Smith (and I am grateful!). But if a reader is looking for smaller samples of 50 different voices, they’ll probably want to subscribe to a newspaper instead of 4 Substacks. And if you think you’re the kind of writer who appeals more to that kind of reader, then don’t quit your day job…. The more distinctive your voice and your perspective is, the more you should take a look at Substack….
“Writing for a living is not a good career—if you want a good salary, follow the cliché and learn to code. Or go work for private equity…”
What do I think about this?
First, I think Noah is wrong at at least one point: SubStack is a (potentially) important part of our Public Sphere(s). It is (potentially) important because it is (possibly) less afflicted by the dopamine-loop and clickbait biases that afflict short-form and audiovisual and especially advertising-supported media. As such, it is very much worth supporting and betting on—unless you can see a more favorable wager to place in our collective task of trying to keep our collective decision-making processes from becoming even worse than they are.
Will substack avoid the market-economy money-making corporate pressures that, given human psychology and given that SubStack is a corporation aimed at some horizon at making money, dissolve reason into madness? Probably not. Google serves as a cautionary tale. Those of us who want a better Public Sphere need to always be prepared to migrate to the next green pasture win this piece of the digital commons becomes a poisonous wasteland.
But if we can get influencers following links from Twitter to SubStack and then actually reading arguments, we will have a much better system. So I would urge everyone who wants to make a positive contribution to write things on SubStack, and then drop a link on Twitter—along with other links on Twitter to other people’s things on SubStack that you see as useful and informative. You won’t get rich, but you will be contributing more than if you simply retweet your doomscrolling.
I think I am going to be on SubStack for a while. The first reason is that I do not see a better bet to place a with respect to our collective task of improving our Public Sphere. The second is that my weblog has long served as my external brain back, and has served me very well. As a age, the desirability of my having a very good external brain pack becomes greater. And I do not see a better workflow for creating one than the path currently offered by SubStack.
Tomas Pueyo: The Future of Substack: ‘The Substack mobile app…. Search and discover new authors…. Recommendations, “a new way for writers on Substack to recommend each other and discover more great work”…. Authors have a lot of power: they can disintermediate Medium because readers care who their favorite authors are, and are willing to follow them…. Substack created a SaaS tool for long-form articles giving all the power to the authors…. Substack needs some network effects to keep authors tied to the platform, even if they can leave at any moment. The best way to achieve that is through cross-promotion tools that allow authors to constantly gain new readers that they wouldn’t gain otherwise…. So Substack will keep building tools to cross-promote readers from one author to another…. The best way to optimize so many authors and readers? Bundles…
Seth Carpenter, Sonal Desai, & Mark Sobel: Looking Ahead to the May FOMC Meeting <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXGYAzjr6hY>
C-SPAN: Winston Churchill “Iron Curtain” Speech <https://www.c-span.org/video/?191439-101/winston-churchill-iron-curtain-speech>
Very Briefly Noted:
Kurt Vonnegut: On “Having Enough” <https://mo-issa.com/kurt-vonnegut-on-having-enough/>
Ilya Ilf & Yevgeny Petrov: The Twelve Chairs <http://lib.ru/ILFPETROV/ilf_petrov_12_chairs_engl.txt>
Tom Mitchell, Sun Yu, & Eleanor Olcott: Zero-Covid Pride of China’s ‘Big Leader’ Threatens Economic Fall: ‘Doctor Bian Que… warned a local ruler he had contracted a disease requiring immediate treatment. But the ruler insisted his health was fine even as the disease seeped into his bone marrow, sealing his fate…. Xi Jinping… may be similarly ignorant about… his “zero-Covid” policy… <https://www.ft.com/content/33b7fcb2-bc88-4a76-9b81-d561deaabc5c>
D.C.B. Lieven: Russia against Napoleon <https://archive.org/details/russiaagainstnap00liev_0/mode/2up>
Kevin Kelly: The Technium: 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known <https://kk.org/thetechnium/103-bits-of-advice-i-wish-i-had-known/>
Jeffrey Edmonds: Start with the Political: Explaining Russia’s Bungled Invasion of Ukraine: ‘A portion of the failure is a result of incorrect political assumptions… [but also] the clear lack of effective command and control, an overly timid air force, and poor tactical performance on basic unit-level skills… <https://warontherocks.com/2022/04/start-with-the-political-explaining-russias-bungled-invasion-of-ukraine/?__s=vyym9al708ox0czut6oj>
Bloomberg: Bloomberg Green: ‘Nobody knows how much methane is leaking…. India this year experienced its hottest March in 12 decades of records, and one of its driest… <https://www.bloomberg.com/green>
Dean Baker: The Surge in Imports and the Drop in GDP: Offloading the Ships Lined Up Offshore <https://cepr.net/the-surge-in-imports-and-the-drop-in-gdp-offloading-the-ships-lined-up-offshore/>
Joseph Politano: America’s Homebuilding Boom (That Isn’t) <https://apricitas.substack.com/p/americas-homebuilding-boom-that-isnt>
Matt Levine: Twitter’s Board Gave Up <https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-05-02/twitter-s-board-gave-up>
Twitter & ‘Stack:
Elvis Level: ’After careful analysis of the state of the world J.D. Vance concluded that the way forward was in fact sleazy grifting. So why give the poor guy a hard time?
Galina Esther Shubina: ’So let’s make sure this doesn’t get lost in the noise. The new omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 are here. They spread better than BA.2 (so can be expected to take over). They evade prior immunity (so can be expected to take over). Am I missing anything?…
Connor O’Brien: Finding Opportunity in Urban Flight: ‘People migrate to cities for… reasons… “amenities”… [and] the strength and depth of labor markets…
Republicans United of Arizona: ’“The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe.” A book written by David Perry and Mathew Gabrielle a couple of homosexuals who defame Whites, men, Christians, priests, and extol genocidal enslaving Moslems, Magyars, and Vikings who they believe were snazzy dressers… <
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