Strange Ways Here We Come

There is a real dichotomy between the events reshaping how societies work and how people are thinking about them — or perhaps not thinking about them. 

Consider headlines from this past Sunday. A far-right candidate owned the vote in Brazil. News from India featured mob attacks and debates over the meaning of #Metoo. China's alleged hack of U.S. companies via implanted microchips topped tech headlines. And that’s on top of Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination and a new climate change report urging immediate transformation of world economies. 

Given the long-term significance of these stories, you would think they would capture our attention en masse. Right?
Not so. A same-day Google Trends search tilted overwhelmingly toward all things...NFL football. The top six of 10 searches were focused on regional games alongside Columbus Day commentary and the SpaceX launch. 

This disconnect suggests that deep media fatigue is setting in, supported by recent research findings that seven-in-ten Americans feel exhausted by the amount of news. Underlying this sentiment is most likely the blinding speed at which technology is changing societal norms.

If we're winded now, consider this: Experts predict that if technological advances continue at the current rate, we will be one million times more technologically capable than we are right now in 20 years — akin to jumping from the creation of written language to the invention of the computer in one generation. In whatever ways we eventually interact with media, we'll be in an exponentially different place than we are now. 

We're seeing the effects of these rapid changes in our news consumption through new experiments and expressions, in part to make sense of what’s happening around us. This week's collection of links illustrate just how far, and bizarre, sense-making efforts can go.

Strange days indeed. 

Chris Perry 
Chief Digital Officer, Weber Shandwick
What We're Reading
EgyptAir's Bizarre Drew Barrymore Interview, Explained as Best as We Can
By Bethonie Butler, The Washington Post
The mysteries of the universe got a bit more expansive last week, thanks to a bizarre and possibly fake interview with Drew Barrymore that appeared in EgyptAir’s in-flight magazine.​
The Teens Who Rack Up Thousands of Followers by Posting the Same Photo Every Day
By Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic

A new meme format on Instagram is giving kids a low-pressure way to express themselves, make friends, and go viral – by posting the same photo every day. 

Banksy Auction Stunt Leaves Art World in Shreds
By Chris Johnston, The Guardian
Banksy executed one of the most audacious stunts in art history, arranging for one of his best-known works to self-destruct after being sold at auction for just over £1M.​
Raised by YouTube
By Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic
New children’s media looks nothing like what we adults would have expected. YouTube’s content for young kids is a largely unregulated, data-driven grab for toddlers’ attention – and its ramifications may be deeper and wider than you’d initially think. 
Welcome to Voldemorting, The Ultimate SEO Dis
By Gretchen McCulloch, Wired

Social media users are using code words online to avoid unwanted attention. By swapping phrases like "Cheeto" for Donald Trump and "birdsite" for Twitter, Internet-ers have found a way to escape search algorithms and speak freely with the phenomenon researcher Emily van der Nagel calls "Voldemorting."

Content for Humans About the Content of Humans
By John Herrman, The New York Times has been giving people answers about their ethnicity and family history for years. But now the service has decided to answer another, less self-evident question: “What is the sound of your DNA?” It will deliver this knowledge in a Spotify playlist.

Emerging Technology
How Joseph's Machines Builds Crazy Contraptions

Joseph Herscher builds wildly fun Rube Goldberg-style machines to make his life easier. Sort of. His latest contraption feeds him lunch and demonstrates how utility is in the eye of the beholder. 

Deep Take
You Won't Believe These Nobel Prize Nominees
Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel offers alternative Nobel Prizes for Internet stupidity, exemplifying how most people would rather focus on absurdity than those actually shaping the world. But we admit these winners are pretty fun (and painful) to watch. 
Copyright © 2018 Weber Shandwick

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