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If you read one thing today about tech, media, society, culture, and politics, make it the cover story of the March issue of Wired magazine. It’s an 11,000-word gem that reads like 3,000, a clear, precise, and brutal evisceration of Facebook and the havoc it has wrought on the news industry—and itself—for the last two years.
This isn’t a simple story. It involves a powerful company, a cocksure entrepreneur in CEO Mark Zuckerberg, gadfly critics who seemed less wacky as time went by, and even the occasional counter-villain, notably media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
In short, Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson and (my friend) Fred Vogelstein, a contributing editor, show how Facebook executives repeatedly failed to understand how crooks and then Russian operatives were misusing the Facebook (FB) platform. Simultaneously, Facebook was unable or unwilling to see the pernicious effects it was having on the news business.
There’s an irony to this article. It’s a stellar example of the sort of long-form journalism that no summaries or clickbait teases or listicles can replace, the kind of substantive analysis and storytelling that make democracy and capitalism function. (The article even has a defiantly anti-curiosity gap headline, meaning it tells you what the story is about: “Inside the Two Years that Shook Facebook—and the World.”) Yet it’s done by a publisher that recently instituted a partial paywall—you can read this article for free, and then you’ll get three more this month before having to subscribe—in an urgent hope to find a sustainable business model.
Aaron mistakenly referred to Ralph Waldo Emerson at Walden Pond Monday when he meant Henry David Thoreau. He was referencing an article about an author’s favorite writing hideaway. People who write for a living need places like this. I wrote about mine here.
Goldman Sachs begins its annual technology conference in San Francisco today. Key speakers will include Google Cloud’s Diane Greene, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Snap’s Evan Spiegel, Oracle’s Mark Hurd, LinkedIn’s Jeff Wiener, and Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi. While Goldman will allow the media to cover quite a few sessions, a curious selection will be closed to the press. A select group of speakers too chicken to allow the press to cover them include Hurd, Wiener, Dorsey, and a talk billed on the agenda as “Andreessen Horowitz on Cryptocurrencies.” Presumably for securities-law reasons, all the talks by public-company executives will be webcast.