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It seems like content is now infinite...and maybe, for some of us, it is. But in other ways it is not. But also, maybe we're getting close...maybe. What does that mean for us? Because I don't think it's a little thing.

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Good morning, John.  As you may have heard, um, there's a lot of content in the word now, but I do sort of fancy myself a understander of media and I think it's a really, like, important thing because it's how we understand the world.  Like, the stories that we are told, the stories we believe, that we share, the ideas, they move around inside and through people and on to others.  That's what humanity is.  

We care about that a lot and I care about it enough that when there's a new way that that's happening a lot, I almost feel an obligation to engage with it.  I can't always do that, but I've been doing it with TikTok and I will say, up front, don't download TIkTok just to follow me.  It's a addictive platform for sure.  It gathers a tremendous amount of data about you.  Once that data is out there, it is very difficult to imagine what it might be used for in the future.

Even if the platform doesn't want to use it for something bad, we see that that information can be compromised, but I have this theory that we now live in a world with functionally infinite content.  That doesn't mean that all of the content that should be made is getting made and it doesn't mean that all the audiences that should be served are getting served.  We need to be aware that the platforms through which we consume content really heavily affect what kind of content gets created.

There's this old idea in media studies, Marshall (?~1:23) "The Medium is the Message".  The ways in which content is distributed and discovered influences what the content itself becomes in a way that is so profound that the medium itself is kind of the content.  Like, we needed to make 22 minute long pieces of content for American television so we could have eight minutes of ads every hour, and the situation comedy defined itself around that constraint, and now we live in a world where the medium, instead of being television or radio, is the platform.  It's the algorithm.  Those things so deeply control what kind of content gets made and for whom, because another really important part of the medium being the message is that content doesn't get created for everyone.  Part of the medium and legacy media is that people making the decisions about what content is gonna be created, they get to decide.  Humans, not very many of them.

We don't have that as much, but we definitely have the fact that advertisers will pay more for some audiences than for others.  This idea, that I often sort of use as a touchstone that there is infinite content and we sort of have to prepare for that world, isn't really true.  There are still all of these constraints out there and those constraints are different for different media and they're different for different people creating different things for different audiences, but in the time I've spent on TikTok, I've never felt more like we are getting closer to that infinite content world, because the constraints on creation have been lowered.  The constraints on discovery have been lowered.  Like the story of quarantine has been TikTok being like, KYAOHH! and Quibi, which is a thing where it was like billions of dollars of trying to like, interface with the best, most talented creators in the world, blaauuugh, 'cause here's another one of my angers.  Florence, Italy, during the height of the renaissance when Machiavelli and Da Vinci and Michelangelo were all working, that town had about the same number of people as Missoula, Montana.  It is not a lack of talent that holds us back.  It is a lack of access.

I'm not saying that TikTok is the renaissance, but the talent and the creativity is kind of astounding, to the point where I just don't feel like I could ever find all of the good stuff, and that's not a new feeling.  I feel that way about television, I feel that way about books, and this has something of a fracturing effect on society, where we consume very different kinds of content and we don't have as many touchstones in common with each other, but it also means that people who didn't have access to that career, didn't have access to any influence at all, now get some access to that, and so when we have that sort of, like, off-the-cuff observation that like, I can't consume all of the good content anymore, I think that that actually has some really deep societal implications that are really worth examining.  

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.