Politics and technology are certainly strange bedfellows. The Gang loves to talk about buccaneers and the fall of democracy, but forget that when I try to evoke my fascination with live audio. It’s understandable; we never talk about the small stuff until there’s a billionaire angle fighting. That’s how Jack Dorsey’s jousting with Marc Andreessen over the meaning of web3 brought all the web2 superstars into the thread. Tim O’Reilly, John Battelle, Chris Dixon, Catch 22’s Milo Mindbender (okay, Moxie Marlinspike?) and even Web1’s Leo Laporte weighed in.
Since Covid shut down physical events, we reluctantly moved on to another buzzword contest dubbed the Metaverse. I agree with Keith Teare that this dog won’t hunt due to stylistic reluctance to wear large material objects on our foreheads, but there’s a lot more to virtual events than meets the eye. Before the pandemic, more and more meetings moved online as we tried to juggle back-to-back office appointments. It was easier to move from room to room regardless of physical location, travel time or lack thereof, and innate competition with messaging systems like Slack and civil texts on iMessage, FB Messenger and everything else Google Chat was renamed this week. With competitive information flowing constantly in real time, product strategy has evolved into analytical harvesting of that interactive metadata that drives network feedback in design, time to market, and distribution.
The replacement of large conferences with virtual workgroups is mostly happening behind the corporate firewall, but messaging testing is happening in the clear. The context is the appsphere, and Clubhouse is a living tutorial for gaining scale through the same kind of access model as the old deployed conferences. A closed rope establishes a kind of access to the green room where you can reconnect and build trust with speakers and technologists. The possibility of being solicited on stage is where the media is enlisted. Newsletter players like Josh Constine and Casey Newton are emerging from the ranks of tech pubs to serve as midwives for startup turnover and casting for the adventure class. The elixir of media literacy and hallway access is what conference makers charge for.
A few nights ago, I sat transfixed as Adam McKay, the director, and two producers told the story of Don’t Look Up as the film unfolded on Netflix. The Clubhouse room echoed for over 2 hours as the filmmakers dove deep into producing the funny, dark and beautiful story of a meteor heading for a fatal rendezvous with Earth. Some of the great books of my fascination with the art and technology of cinema have crossed my mind: Truffaut’s conversations with Hitchcock, Pauline Kael’s treatise on Citizen Kane, the moment at Annie Hall when Woody Allen drags Marshall McLuhan behind a sign to confront a know-it-all professor — “You don’t know anything about my work. How did you become a teacher of anything…” Every image of Kubrick’s lexicon. Great comic minds gathered around the Algonquin Round Table.
And to hear in real time shared McKay tell his story of what making the film meant to him and his team, share goals and production strategies for a film that certainly resonates with the pandemic, filmed at the start of the disaster when there was NO vaccine yet invented. The nuances of his approach to combining the script he wrote with the magical improvisations of his actors. It went on and on, and you could hear McKay’s delight in being part of this coming together of technology and the spirit of inspiration. And you can find the link to the replay of the event for your own review tucked away at the top of the Replay list. Virtual yes, but tangible in its emotion and flawless execution. I actually liked the Clubhouse a bit more than the movie, but the side effect was liking the movie even more for the experience. Maybe this metaverse is a thing after all.
the last Gillmor Gang Newsletter
The Gillmor Gang – Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 7, 2022.
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang