Morning Reading – Tuesday, December 29, 2020
The pandemic will end not with a declaration, but with a long, protracted exhalation. Even if everything goes according to plan, which is a significant if, the horrors of 2020 will leave lasting legacies.
“One of the most impressive [and] politically utile things Trump has done from the beginning is get his fans to internalize their support and perceive even a mild rebuke of him [and] his actions as a personal attack on them.”
Substack is a natural fit for the influencer, the pundit, the personality, and the political contrarian. It’s debatable whether this represents “a better future for news.” But it’s great business for Substack.
You know, I’d like to say, gee, it can’t be any worse than it was this year. But, you know, it sadly, it could always be worse. So we really don’t know what’s going to happen. Like I said, head down, butt up, push forward.
Gone is the naive optimism of social-media platforms’ early days, when—in keeping with an overly simplified and arguably self-serving understanding of the First Amendment tradition—executives routinely insisted that more speech was always the answer to troublesome speech. Our tech overlords have been doing some soul-searching.
With so many people stuck at home and activities from concerts to movies off limits, people have been reading a lot — or at least buying a lot of books. Print sales by units are up almost 8 percent so far this year, according to NPD BookScan.
“We’re not making this change to save money,” said Dan Spaulding, chief people officer of Zillow. “We’re making this change to retain our employees.”
All three are bets of optimism: Substack believes it can rebuild journalism. Clubhouse believes it can reinvent radio with the right interactivity and build a unique social platform. And Miami is a bet that you can take a top global city without a massive startup ecosystem and agglomerate the talent necessary to compete with San Francisco, New York and Boston.