Oh CBC, Please, Don’t

From the article, Current, former CBC employees condemn corporation’s branded-content initiative – from ironically enough The Globe and Mail – a company name-checked in the article as being one of many “private news organizations [that] have developed robust branded content initiatives.

Hundreds of current and former staff, including Peter Mansbridge, Linden MacIntyre, Gillian Findlay, Bob McKeown and Adrienne Clarkson, are expressing “grave concerns” over CBC/Radio-Canada Tandem, a new venture that works with marketers to create and publish what is known as branded content, or paid content: advertising that looks or sounds like regular editorial coverage.

Tandem was unveiled to the advertising community last month, with CBC/Radio-Canada’s new chief revenue officer, Donald Lizotte, promising in a news release it would “leverage the credibility of our network.” The pitch proposed that Tandem content could appear on most of the broadcaster’s English- and French-language platforms, including the CBC website, podcast pages and audio apps, and TV networks – among them, CBC News Network.

This sounds like a terrible idea. Then again, maybe my current frame of mind is biased.

Ethics of the Attention Economy

Found this article, Ethics of the Attention Economy: The Problem of Social Media Addiction, via Cal Newport’s post, A Modest Proposal: Deweaponizing Network Effects. It’s a great read – I mean, you know – if academic papers on business, ethics, the internet and social media are your kind of thing. I can dig it.

“In this section, we argued that addicting users to social media is impermissible because it involves unjustifiably harming them in a way that is demeaning and objectionably exploitative. We argued that addicting users to social media harms them in ways that violate their rights and that these harms are not justified given that whatever benefits social media may provide, they can be realized without addiction. Second, the way in which social media companies have users contribute to making the platforms themselves more addictive, we argued, is particularly perverse because it involves a demeaning insult. Furthermore, addicting users is a morally objectionable form of exploitation that is especially troubling because the pervasiveness and legitimate role the internet plays in our lives create for some users an inescapable vulnerability to such exploitation.”

– Vikram Bhargava and Manuel Velasquez

My Time on the Internet

Just a few days ago I deleted my last remaining social media account – well almost, more on that later* – leaving this blog/website as pretty much the defacto ‘source of me’ on the internet. That got me thinking back to how long I’ve been ‘on the internet’ so I tried to put together a little timeline. It’s been an interesting exercise. It’s by no means 100% accurate. I’ve used a number of sources including this blog itself, The Internet Wayback Machine, emails and my scattered memory. I think it’s pretty close though. I dare say the folks at places like Facebook, Google and Twitter could probably give me some ridiculously accurate stats.

1994ish – Opened my first and only AOL account.

1996 – Registered lyh.com and built a website for a house of people I lived with. Registered and built personal website thebukitzone.com.

2000 – Apple launches MobileMe which would eventually become iCloud/Apple ID. I started an account then and still have it.

2005 – Opened my first Gmail account [Gmail launched 2004]. It was Invite only then. I think I got an invite from a buddy. This was my first Gmail address. Moved my personal website at thebukitzone.com from HTML to WordPress.

2006 – Twitter – Launched this year, I opened an account, was the first ‘social media’ account I ever had.

2007 – Opened first Flickr account [Flickr launched 2004]. FriendFeed launched. I had an account, never really used it. In 2009 it was bought by Facebook.

2007 – Opened first Facebook account. [Facebook launched 2004]

2008 – Opened a Plurk account. Closed the same year. Switched to another Gmail address, my second one.

2009 – Registered kentfackenthall.com which basically replaced thebukitzone.com

2009 – Opened a LinkedIn account. [LinkedIn launched 2003]

2011 – Opened GoodReads, Instagram [Instagram launched 2010] and Tumblr accounts. Google+ launches. I was on right away and stayed pretty much till they shuttered it in 2019. Closed Twitter account.

2012 – Closed my LinkedIn and Tumblr accounts. Opened a Strava account.

2013 – Registered and built website at bikecommutercabal.com. After a few years transferred ownership to another. Ran Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Twitter accounts for Bike Commuter Cabal.

2014 – Left WordPress as my blog platform for Blogger for a hot minute (maybe a month) quickly returned.

2015 – Opened Ello and Ride with GPS accounts. Closed Strava and first Flickr accounts.

2016 – For most of the year, shuttered my website and redirected my domain to my Google+ profile. Opened Medium and Behance accounts.

2017 – Opened second Flickr account. Opened a Mastodon account. Lasted a week.

2018 – Closed Facebook account. Kept Facebook Messenger. Closed Ello, GoodReads, Medium and Behance accounts.

2019 – Closed Facebook Messenger. Registered and built website at correctiveactionbicycleclub.com. Opened Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for the Corrective Action Bicycle Club.

2020 – *Created a new Facebook account for work only. Not public, no friends, no posting. Strictly to manage client accounts/pages/advertising. Closed second Flickr account and personal Instagram account. Switched from Gmail as main email provider/app to my own domain mail and Apple Mail. Brought correctiveactionbicycleclub.com under umbrella of this domain, then eventually offline. Closed CABC Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Random takeaways

  • 24+ years on the internets
  • 15+ different social media platforms
  • 15 years hacking and whacking on WordPress
  • ~600 blog posts (I’ve deleted some for various reasons)
  • Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were platforms where I had multiple accounts at the same time, i.e. personal and a club

What a long, strange trip it’s been. I think I’m done with social media now. I say ‘think’ because the reality is that I still have the Facebook account for work and I could see a possible argument for having others if my job came to require it. I’m doing my best to avoid that however. I can see very well that I’m going in the opposite direction with this compared to most of humanity. I have to admit that I’m kind of looking forward to ‘going retro’ here and just getting back to writing blog posts again. I’ve been reading through old ones and they make me chuckle. In a lot of cases, past me was an idiot.

The Message in the Medium

Just finished reading The Medium and the Message by Marshall McLuhan. A few sections struck me in particular:

Moderator: What do you suggest as alternatives that we offer instead of the search for identity through violence?

McLuhan: Dialogue. The alternative to violence is dialogue, which is a kind of encounter interface with others, people and situations. Yes, we live a world in which we have so much power. In the old days, you could fire or pull a trigger on a revolver and hurt people, but today, when you trigger this vast media that we use, you are manipulating entire populations.


The hidden aspects of the media are the things that should be taught because they have an irresistible force when invisible. When these factors remain ignored and invisible, they have an absolute power over the user. So yes, the sooner that the population, young or old, can be taught the effects of these forms, the sooner we can have some sort of reasonable ecology among the media themselves.

What is desperately needed is a kind of understanding of the media which would permit us to program the whole environment so that literate values would not be wiped out by new media. If you understand the nature of these forms, you can neutralize some of their adverse effects, and foster some of their beneficent effects. We have never reached this level of awareness.


Moderator: “Professor McLuhan, you spoke about us going outside for our privacy and coming home for the social aspect. I’d like to hear you comment on that in relation to electronic man’s new thirst for meditation, contemplation, mystical experience.

McLuhan:  Well, as you know, transcendental meditation has become exceedingly popular. All forms of mystic meditation have become very popular in our television age. We have gone very far to the East since television. Just as an exercise in awareness and so on, meditation has grown and come in very big since television. I’m not sure that that is good or bad at all, it just has happened. Do you think of it as a very significant event?

Moderator: I think of it as very significant, yes. It seems to me almost like a nostalgia for a return to that private self, without going outdoors to find it. Return to an inner union with God, with yourself, which electronic man seems to need and is looking for in this way.

McLuhan:  Jane Austin, of all people, has quite a big comment on that inside/outside. She said that people go outside to be alone just to prove their inner resources, that they don’t need people. We can make it alone, and that the romantic movement was based upon this psychic development.

Jane Austin has quite a bit to say about that. I was amazed to come across it in her work a few months ago. But there’s another American writer, Hawthorne, who regarded this American habit of going outside to be alone as an undermining of democracy. He said this is sheer aristocracy, this is putting on the aristocratic thing and it is going to undermine our whole democracy. Hawthorne regarded it with great alarm. The moralist, by the way, is always a person who never studies effects so much as studies the content of situations, studies the figure and not the ground.

This, I think, is of great concern to advertisers, who are here tonight in some numbers. Advertisers need to study figure, not the ground. They tend to count noses rather than to estimate the pressures under the noses. The form of gnosis.

It occurs to me that almost anything McLuhan says about tv works if you replace ‘tv’ with ‘the internet’

Joe Rogan Sells to Spotify

Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash

Podcaster Joe Rogan has sold his immensely popular podcast to Spotify:

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/may/24/spotify-podcast-deal-the-joe-rogan-experience

From the article:

“By requiring Rogan’s listeners to use the Spotify app to tune in, the company gains far deeper data about who, when and where their audiences are; that, in turn, can be fed through to advertisers, who are more likely to pay higher rates if they can be assured that the target audience is listening. Control of the player also allows Spotify to vary the advertising to the audience, again increasing revenue.”

Alex Hern, The Guardian

This is unfortunate. I understand the need for these podcasters to generate revenue for their shows – they deserve something for their effort and advertising is one way to do that, however I prefer the more direct ‘donation/subscription’ model of someone like Sam Harris – where I feel I’m more directly supporting the person and their work vs. paying a large corporation who’s going to track my actions and advertise back at me. There are several other people on the internet who’s work I feel I directly benefit from and therefore I’m happy to support directlyBrad Warner and Ben Weaver among them. This move by Spotify will effectively position it as the Facebook of Podcasting. 99% of people probably won’t care – and to me that’s part of the problem.

I’d never used Spotify for several reasons, I am happy with Apple Music and I didn’t like their app/interface. This gives me one more reason to opt out. It will be a shame because if/when Rogan’s show goes exclusive on the platform, I’ll miss it.