Gillmor Gang: Party Line

·4 min read

In the early days of social media, all things seemed possible. Twitter was this weird reboot of blogs, with a social layer atop an RSS feed that gave authority to last in/first out musings by providing data not just about read or unread but shared by who. You could take that authority data and rank posts by who shared them and who followed those people and what they in turn recommended. Although this was mostly ignored at the time by vendors and writers looking for a viral eyeball payoff, for those looking to support new talent there was something more valuable than reach.

Something like that could happen with Clubhouse and newsletters. On this week's edition of the Gillmor Gang, recorded just over a week ago, we talk about Clubhouse, the Facebook advisory board and its siderstep of the Trump deplatforming, and early stuff I can never quite remember because the show always takes a bit too long to fully get up to speed. I'd apologize for this, but the apology would take too long to reach sincerity sufficient to not make things worse. This by the way is why newsletters exist — to save time scouring the Web and cable news for a sufficient return on investment, as in "well there's another [duration] I'll never get back."

Temporal time displacement suffered a serious blow at the hands of HBO Max and its strategy of releasing theater-less blockbusters on the streaming network in 2021 but only intermittently moving forward. As the CDC noted in a confusing but welcome announcement this past Thursday, vaccines are making possible a safe return to theaters in the near future. Soon it will be possible to be confused about the movie Tenet on the big screen. It is not a spoiler to say that Tenet is all about moving through time in the normal forward but also the incomprehensible backward. Time travel stories are invariably brought to a complete standstill when how this works is explained. The only thing harder to do is find a way to end a Saturday Night Live sketch. The only rationale appears to be that the sketch is over, like a bad pun not even worthy of a groan.

Speaking as I was of Clubhouse, we tried it out last Wednesday with Keith Teare and a brief drive-by from Brent Leary. Somehow we were in Hallway mode, which actually captured the feel of the thing nicely. Being in experimental mood, I added anyone who showed up as a speaker whether they wanted to or not. The result felt like a remnant of my childhood in Woodstock, NY, where we were part of a party line with nearby neighbors. You'd be talking with someone and suddenly realize someone else was on the line, interrupting to basically say they needed to make a more important call. Awkward but oddly exhilarating, as you realized the potential of not only lurking but lurked. I'm not sure how this is useful or not, but remember that @mentions and retweets were invented not by Twitter but by users. And using Twitter like a party line turned out to be the true superpower of the social network. On Clubhouse, if no one had anything to say, they were quiet. It was very peaceful.

Another pleasant surprise was a listener/speaker from Manchester, England who professed to being a longtime listener to the Gang. He and Keith, also from Manchester, started talking about Manchester United, an important football team I know nothing about. An old friend from the conference circuit popped in and our producer/director Tina Chase Gillmor somehow started up a conversation about my alleged style as a writer. Talking about me is easily my least favorite thing to do, but having others do the job is high on my most list. It's also acutely reminiscent of the tech conference hallway conversation stubbed out by the pandemic. I now started to understand why Hallway mode was so-called. It's the grease of the wheel business rides on. Follow the Gillmor Gang club on Clubhouse and you'll be notified about our next experiment.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter

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The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, May 7, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

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

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