Random Image Display on Page Reload

How to Be Extremely Online and Influence People

Oct 4, 2023 7:00 AM

How to Be Extremely Online and Influence People

Journalist Taylor Lorenz talks about her new book, Extremely Online, and what the rise of internet creators means for all of our increasingly digital lives.

Taylor Lorenz
PHOTO-ILLUSTRATION: WIRED STAFF; GETTY IMAGES

ON THIS WEEK’S episode of Have a Nice Future, Gideon Lichfield and Lauren Goode talk to journalist Taylor Lorenz about her new book Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet. They talk about the rise of the modern influencer and how all of us have to make our peace with our online lives.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism.Learn more.

Check out our coverage of social media and influencers, including some Very Online TikTok stars who are streaming 24/7. You can also dive into The WIRED Guide to Influencers.

Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Gideon Lichfield is @glichfield. Bling the main hotline at @WIRED.

You can always listen to this week's podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here's how:

If you're on an iPhone or iPad, just tap this link, or open the app called Podcasts and search for Have a Nice Future. If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Podcasts app just by tapping here. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Have a Nice Future. We’re on Spotify too.

Note: This is an automated transcript, which may contain errors.

Lauren: I said that very strangely, didn't I? A bone.

Gideon: A bone. It was a very fine bone.

Most Popular

Lauren: Gideon, I've been listening to you too much.

Gideon: Have your tea in fine bone China.

[Laughter] [Music]

Gideon: Hi, I'm Gideon Lichfield.

Lauren: And I'm Lauren Goode, and this is Have a Nice Future, a podcast about how terrifyingly fast everything is changing.

Gideon: Each week we talk to someone with big, audacious, and sometimes unnerving ideas about the future, and we ask them how we can all prepare to live in it.

Lauren: Our guest this week is Taylor Lorenz. Taylor is a prominent technology journalist at The Washington Post, and she's the author of a new book called Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet.

Taylor (audio clip):We're living in this internet-mediated world already. I would say that the online world is already the default reality in life. What happens online matters almost more than what happens in person, which is inherently limited and ephemeral. More and more, the real world is sort of just a stage for online events.

[Music]

Gideon: Lauren, do you consider yourself extremely online?

Lauren: No, I don't.

Gideon: I think you're pretty online.

Lauren: Well, I was just gonna say there's a qualifier there. It's perhaps pretty online, or very online, or just online, but not extremely online. I interpret that to mean it's a whole new level of being online.

Gideon: What's extreme? What is extremely online to you?

Lauren: Being very active on TikTok.

Gideon: Really? That's your bar?

Lauren: Yeah, don't know. I do have a TikTok, but my bio on TikTok literally says I'm too old for this. And I don't show my face in my bio, and then I think I've posted maybe half a dozen videos. I've experimented with it, but I'm not super on it.

Gideon: OK, well that's, that's still way more than me.

Lauren: OK, I do, I do spend a fair amount of time on text-based social platforms like the company formerly known as Twitter, and now I'm experimenting with Threads.

Gideon: Can't bring yourself to say it.

Most Popular

Lauren: I know, ugh, X is such a dumb name, but yes, uh, and I am on, I am on Instagram. I'm probably a little too on Instagram. What about you?

Gideon: I'm a weird person for a journalist. I'm just very ambivalent about being online. I am on the company formerly known as Twitter. I am on Instagram. I'm barely on Facebook. I putter around on some of the others, but there's something about being very online and being out there that just sits funny with me, which is not a great, uh, quality perhaps for somebody in my profession.

Lauren: And why is that?

Gideon: Well, I just, I'm very wary of what I say and how it gets received, and that's, you know, a tricky thing for a journalist these days.

Lauren: Yeah, especially since we're already putting ourselves out there so much. This is really why I wanted to bring Taylor on Have a Nice Future, because her book chronicles the rise of the internet creator, right? It explores how they've emerged and made some real money along the way, how they've been utilizing platforms like Tumblr and Vine, YouTube, Instagram, of course, TikTok. But Taylor also has a bone to pick with legacy media over this, because she thinks the industry has been caught flat-footed by the rise of internet creators as brands, and personally, I'm interested in that because I think it has a lot of implications for us—the people who are very online but still make a dead-tree magazine.

Gideon: Yeah, I've been looking forward to your conversation with Taylor because, as you say, she's very online herself. She's done a terrific job of carving out a niche and an area of coverage as a very online person, but she's also come under a lot of attack, both from a internet trolls and harassers of various stripes, as well as from journalists at legacy media who think that she is too much of a self promoter, which I have always thought was a silly opinion. But did you discuss that with her at all?

Lauren: We did talk about this a little bit, though we did not get into that guy who used to work at Fox News, whose name shall go unsaid. But Taylor's book isn't really focused as much on her own experience as it is the experience of creators broadly, even if she does share some similarities with them. Like, for example, she devotes an entire chapter of her book to a well known influencer of the early 2010s who was harassed online, and I should also note, at one point, graced the cover of WIRED magazine. And in a way, I saw Taylor writing about that as a kind of proxy for her own experience. So we did talk about harassment, but less about her own experience and more about what that whole saga really says about that era of the consumer internet and how we tend to value or treat independent creators, especially women, online.

Most Popular

Gideon: I do have the sense that Taylor is caught between a bit of a rock and a hard place, I guess. Being extremely online as part of her brand, but it's also really stressful.

Lauren: It is though, isn't it? Being online is extremely stressful, and yet we all work in the information trade, and the internet is the quote-unquote information superhighway, and we can't get off of it.

Gideon: I haven't heard that phrase in a few years.

Lauren: That's right. Information superhighway. So I guess if we can't find an off-ramp, we have to find better ways to navigate it.

Gideon: And there are not going to be any self-driving cars for the information superhighway.

Lauren: Now we're really extending this metaphor.

[Laughter]

Gideon: Anyway, hopefully this conversation can help chart a path for anyone else who is wondering about how to be extremely online.

Lauren: And that conversation with Taylor Lorenz is coming up right after the break.

[Music]

Lauren: Taylor Lorenz, thank you so much for joining me on Have a Nice Future.

Taylor: Thanks for having me.

Lauren: Are you having a nice future?

Taylor: Yeah, I’m having a pretty good one.

Lauren: That's nice to hear.

Taylor: I mean, I think it's going to be a dark and bad future, but I'm thriving throughout it.

[Laughter]

Lauren: Alright, fair enough. So, you've been covering the internet since 2009, and really from a user perspective, the people, these are human beings. What drew you to that focus?

Taylor: Back in 2009, gadget blogging was a really big thing, and I really—I liked reading a lot of that, but I felt like there was a lot of focus more on the business side and the corporate side of these internet platforms, and I was just really interested from the user side, because I saw people gaining audiences and building businesses and I felt like it wasn't really being talked about.

Lauren: You are also an incredibly visible tech reporter. You are unfortunately the target of a lot of online harassment. You've been suspended from Twitter in the past, which feels kind of like a badge of honor in some ways. You yourself are sometimes described as an influencer, which is what you ultimately write about in the book. I'm wondering how that has shaped or supported your reporting. Like, do you feel that when it comes to topics like the, you know, the crazy world of the internet, it helps to actually be on the inside of that a little bit?

Most Popular

Taylor: Well, first I'll say something else, which is a lot of people ask me, “Oh, are you an influencer or a journalist? Or, you know, you seem to be both influencer and journalist.” And that's because I have a big social following. But I think that a lot of people's perceptions about what an influencer is and the sort of female-coded thoughts people have about it lead people to ask those questions, because they definitely don't ever kind of think, I think, about a lot of these male tech reporters that way, even though those male tech reporters actually are literally making living as tech influencers. You know what I'm saying?

Lauren: So does that question bother you?

Taylor: I have a little chip on my shoulder about it because it's often used to discredit my work. Oh, she only cares about attention. She only cares about getting followers or something. You know, I think actually if we all think about it, there's a lot more kind of influencers that we all probably follow and rely on and trust that we just don't think of them as influencers. You know what I mean?

Lauren: Mm-hmm. So a big focus of your book is the rise of the influencer, and a lot of this really started in the era of blogging. You write a lot about mommy bloggers, new parents just looking for a connection and putting their authentic selves out there on the internet. And then you take a bit of a turn and you write a chapter about Julia Allison. Tell the people about Julia Allison. Who is she and what did she do?

Taylor: Julia was one of the first multiplatform content creators. She was this internet personality and kind of journalist, commentator figure. She initially got notoriety because she had a column in Georgetown in college that was really popular called Sex on the Hilltop. It was kind of a play on Sex in the City. She was very into tech and early social media and sort of media and tech and she moved to New York and she started promoting herself, she talks about in the book, but she realized that the writer Tom Wolfe had a very strong personal brand, and so she thought, “I need to use the internet to build my personal brand,” and so her original sin was sort of going into the comments of Gawker.com and promoting her own blog. That seems so commonplace. That's something that a million people do every single day today, like, go to the comments of every Instagram post, you'll see people promoting stuff. But Gawker reacted very negatively to this. And at the time, sort of self promotion was really shunned upon and considered unacceptable, especially from a woman like Julia. Gawker sort of viciously went after her. And I think to a lot of New York media people. She was really only famous through Gawker. That's kind of how they knew her, but to her fans—and she did have fans—I think it's completely wrong to say that she only had these like anti-fans, because she actually had a community of fans that bought the things that she promoted. She would do these things called head-to-toes where she would post her outfits and link things and drive affiliate revenue. She had a YouTube show very early on with Next New Networks, which was this multichannel network that YouTube actually ended up acquiring. So she was kind of creating content all over that was lifestyle content, and it was sort of aspirational, young, New York City cool-girl content.

Most Popular

Lauren: Why do you think she bothered people so much?

Taylor: Oh, so many reasons. One, she's a young, attractive woman talking about technology and media. You're always going to be a target. She was very feminine. She wasn't afraid to court controversy, almost like she responded to people, like she wouldn't like demure away. Like she's a very strong, opinionated young woman, especially about technology. And if you go back and you actually read what Julia wrote and said about technology and media in 2006, ’7, ’8, and ’9, every single thing she said came true. Every single thing. She predicted every single thing.

Lauren: What's an example of that?

Taylor: She talked about how, um, people would be building businesses around their personal brands on the internet, and in the future you could just have an interest-based hobby and you could actually build a whole business around it on YouTube. And she talked about the fact that people wouldn't just be doing advertising, they would also be doing subscription. She called it “life casting,” where she literally predicted just the influencer industry. She talked about affiliate revenue and how brand deals would be structured and how she thought brands would work with content creators and the deals and how that would also maybe provide a way for content creators to work together. She basically started predicting like all of what influencer marketing ended up being. And she predicted how we all would use technology. She said in the future everyone would be sharing their lives the way that she was sharing her life.

Lauren: And Julia actually talked about this about 12 years ago in a sit-down interview with WIRED's then editor in chief, Chris Anderson, around the time the cover came out, about how she was able to create an economic engine out of her influence and her reputation. And here's a clip of that:

Chris Anderson (archival audio clip):Have you turned your celebrity into money?

Julia Allison (archival audio clip):Yes, actually. Um, the whole goal for becoming a marquee name, if you will, or getting my reputation out there, was for job security.

Chris Anderson (archival audio clip):Given the way you got your celebrity, and the controversy, and the pros and cons, what product could you endorse?

Most Popular

Julia Allison (archival audio clip):What product could you possibly endorse? If I say, I use my Canon camera to take pictures of myself and to take videos, you better believe that people are going to go out and buy that camera. And the dresses I wear, and, you know, the same way that they do it with celebrities.

Taylor: WIRED was also very ahead of its time—like WIRED, especially at that time, like, seemed to understand internet fame a little bit better. The people that were really mean to her were like—it was New York media people. She was a pioneer, and she was run out of the industry. She was run off the internet, and that sucks.

Lauren: The internet was a mean place. It still is in a lot of ways, but these were the early signs that this could go really sideways and this is a place for all of the internalized misogyny and hate that some people have to just like, just put it out there.

Taylor: Yeah, exactly. And I think it, it didn't enter the cultural conversation because nobody was talking about it. Like you said, I think that, that sort of flip towards technology, like, uh oh, maybe this is kind of bad, you know, didn't really come, I think, I would argue, until the second half of the 2010s.

Lauren: So let's get into the book. It's called Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet. And you know, when I got to chapter six, I felt like I really landed on the theme of your book through this one sentence—actually two sentences that you wrote. And I'm just going to read it out loud: “While the mythology around Silicon Valley featured young men who could see the future better than everyone else, what the rise of social media thus far had proven was that nearly all of these young men had been wrong. They each built a platform with the confidence that it would do one thing better than anyone else, only to be redirected and rescued by a community of creative users.” Right, so it's, it's this idea that you write about, that actually the creative people made all of this what it is. Talk about that.

Most Popular

Taylor: Yes, and I think it's actually still true. Silicon Valley executives have sort of always—they've always kind of not really understood the social internet, I think. I think it's hard to build social products, and I mean, I talk a lot about in the book of sort of like, different founders' relationships to their user base, too. I mean, this is sort of famously what killed Vine. And I think what Elon is struggling with with Twitter now—like he sort of seems to have this, like, hostile relationship with his power users. And some companies lean into this, and some companies don't. And I think that really affects kind of their success. YouTube actually is one that leaned into this. Obviously, it started as a dating site. They quickly realized that they had to pivot, people were uploading videos, they became this place to share videos. And then they realized very early on that it made sense to share the monetization with content creators. And they, the YouTube Partner Program launched in 2007, which was so revolutionary at the time. It took Facebook and all these other platforms another—over a decade to learn the same lesson. Which is that you have to sort of help people make money if you want them to keep coming back.

Lauren: Mhmm.

Taylor: So yeah, it was interesting to kind of see how these different tech platforms evolved and how some of them made mistakes or leaned into it or took advantage of the opportunity.

Lauren: A major point in your book is about the changing notions of fame. How have you come to define fame when there now seems to be these—it's a gradation—these different levels of recognition and virality?

Taylor: I think fame went from this sort of thing that was very far off that very few people achieved and you had to kind of go through Hollywood or become big time to kind of really access fame to be this sort of like commodity that everyone has access to through the internet. Everyone has a level of micro fame almost like we all sort of have more social connections than ever and just are aware of more people than ever like where it's very easy to kind of like contextualize people now and see the levels of clout that they have or fame that they have in certain areas, of the online world, and so I don't think that there's, like, necessarily famous and non-famous people anymore. It's more like how much fame do you have and what type of fame do you have.

Most Popular

Lauren: Mhmm. Do you think that the influencer bubble has burst in some way?

Taylor: Not even remotely. It's growing. It's growing more powerful. It's exerting more and more influence and power every single day. We are at the beginning. The media ecosystem—and by the way, every two years somebody writes an article about how the influencer industry is over. I would tell them, do you think media is getting more or less digital? Do you think people are consuming media in more or less digital forms? And do you think that media is getting more or less distributed? It is only getting more distributed and more digital. And so as long as media continues that way, the content creators are going to dominate. Because this old model of media is atrophying. The business model isn't there for it. It's unfortunately that the sort of infrastructure of the internet is not built to facilitate traditional media. It's just not. And what it is built to facilitate is this creator-driven model of media. No, I mean, online influence is only gonna dominate our world more and more.

Lauren: So now we have generative AI coming onto the scene.

Taylor: Exactly, which is what I think is going to supercharge all of this.

Lauren: So how does this actually change what creators are doing now? Sketch out what this looks like—I would, I'd normally say like five to 10 years from now, but this is all moving so fast. Let's say two to three years from now.

Taylor: What it does is that once again, just the way that social media and these creative tools like TikTok lowered the bar for sort of creating content, so does AI. AI is an assistive creative tool. And so you can use AI to generate video backgrounds, just help in every aspect of the creative process. I mean, I use it for my YouTube videos just to scrub out all the white space. That's something that would have taken me, you know, hours to do in Premiere before on like, even like a five-minute video. I think AI just makes content creation faster, easier, quicker, more high quality. And so you're seeing the impacts of that everywhere, everywhere. I mean, sports, media, fashion, business, politics, all of these industries are getting upended and sort of reshaped by this creator driven media environment and creator driven media and online influence.

Most Popular

Lauren: Does that scare you at all?

Taylor: Yeah, actually. I think it's kind of, there's a lot of really bad downsides, and I think so many people are so busy writing it off because every two years they want to say, “oh ha ha ha, it peaked.” No, every step of the way it supercharges them because we get more and more online. The internet is becoming more and more enmeshed with our reality, so we are entering their world, and this is a world in which online influence dominates and people that wield online influence dominate.

Lauren: What's the real solution here? How are we going to navigate what's going to feel a little bit more and more everyday like an inauthentic world?

Taylor: Media literacy is so important. People today, especially young people, cannot distinguish truth from fiction. They cannot understand when somebody is lying to them. They don't understand what journalism is. And I think that's a problem. I think journalism does a lot of holding power to account, and I believe that content creators and YouTubers can do great journalism. But, you know, I worry about sort of like trust, and then there's also the mental health aspects of the inability to kind of escape. Also, just like how easily people's digital reputations can be destroyed and lives can be destroyed through the internet. I think we need protections in place, and I don't know that those protections necessarily need to come from the government, because I think they usually do bad regulation and it ends up kind of causing harm, but I think that we need to have these discussions and we need to force these platforms to be more responsible. I think we need to build a better internet and a more responsible internet, but we need to stop asking whether or not it's going to come and just accept that it is here and it's coming and let's exert some power over what it looks like.

Lauren: I mean, this is such an important topic. I hate to just segue to capitalism, but I'm also curious, how do you think content creators are going to monetize in the future?

Taylor: There's endless platforms to monetize on. You can monetize through ads, subscriptions, events. Some people just do sort of like thought leadership type stuff. Some people monetize shoutouts—you know, they charge for every little thing. Some people run polls and they charge people to vote in the polls on what shirt they wear today. I mean, it is, again, when I say it's sort of like extreme capitalism, it is like monetizing every single aspect of your life, every single aspect of your decisions, every single aspect of sort of like whatever value you bring to the world. You can monetize that.

Most Popular

Lauren: So I hear you saying that the future of monetization and people building influence online is just going to be more and more and more of like selling of goods, whether it's a part of their identity or whether it's a physical good. So I don't want this question to sound in any way precious, but I do wonder if the future holds any opportunities for people who just want to be some, you know, a quiet artist who just does their thing, but isn't extremely online, to borrow the title of your book, or does more avant garde work. You know, like, do you have to be online in the future?

Taylor: I think whether or not you personally put your stuff online, you exist online. And you exist online because all of these other platforms and companies and people are putting you online. Everyone has a growing digital footprint and it's impossible to opt out of in the current system. You can try to live your quiet life, but it's going to be increasingly hard for you to compete with people that are leveraging the internet. And the first thing people are going to do is sort of like Google you or try and look at your online life online, right? Like how you exist online. I think it's going to be very hard for those people.

Lauren: How does that make you feel?

Taylor: That's sad. That's dark. You should be able to opt out. You deserve privacy. This is why we need data privacy. This is why we need protections. This is why we need to talk about these things. Because I think people deserve more control. And I think actually a lot of people don't necessarily want to opt out. I'm very against opting out generally because I think it can be equally as isolating and unhealthy. The whole point of the internet is to connect people, right? And connection is valuable, and we all want connection. We all want validation. That is a fundamental human desire. And the internet can facilitate it. But the version of the internet that we've built right now is not doing that. And so I think that there's ways to build sort of smaller, more intentional spaces, less profit-driven spaces on the internet that can facilitate connection and can make someone that, you know, like, have a positive experience online. And that's just not the way things are going right now.

Most Popular

Lauren: What keeps you up at night?

Taylor: I really think that we're in a media landscape that's radically different than how a lot of people recognize it. And you see these examples of it sort of cropped through, or maybe people notice it maybe during an election when someone like, they think Donald Trump came out of nowhere or something, but it's, it's here and I think we have to kind of accept it and fix it.

Lauren: It sounds like what you're, you're frustrated by is both this idea that there are people clinging to these notions of legacy media or even a legacy internet that no longer exist, but also you think that the direction the internet is headed in is not a positive one and you think that we need to take a closer look at how to build a better internet.

Taylor: We're living in this internet-mediated world already. I would say that the online world is already the default reality in life, that it, like, what happens online matters almost more than what happens in person, which is inherently limited and ephemeral. More and more, the real world is sort of just a stage for online events. It's like a place, you know, it's like a place to get content, right? It's like, oh, I can go out and record something, but what really matters is when I put that moment online. That's sort of the world that we've created and that we're living in now. And so I hope that we can recognize that and make it less sort of miserable and capitalist because it is dark. And I think instead people want to live in a world where they think, oh, no, the internet is still secondary, or they want to just sort of revert back to some system or tell people to log off. And I just don't think any of those solutions are viable.

Lauren: What are you feeling most optimistic about these days?

Taylor: Well, my optimism comes a lot from the sort of people on the internet that are building really creative and incredible things. I love seeing especially like young people kind of find their voice online and build audiences around their passions. I think that is what really inspires me and that's what I wanted to do as a blogger and I still want to do and so I love that.

Most Popular
[Music]

Lauren: Well, Taylor, I wish you more of those moments in the future, and I'm so grateful that you joined me on Have a Nice Future.

Taylor: Thank you so much for having me.

[Music]

Gideon: You know, Lauren, as I was listening to that conversation, I was thinking about the words creator and influencer, which, you know, only have come into being thanks to the internet in this way in the last 10 or 15 years. And I was wondering, do you think there's a distinction between creator and influencer?

Lauren: Hmm. I don’t think so anymore. I think the terms are used interchangeably. What was interesting to me was that little soundbite we heard from Julia Allison from back in the day where she describes her work and really what she's doing is influencing. I'm not quite sure we had glommed on to that word back then as much as we do today. I also think that a creator or influencer, as we think of them today, tends to be fairly independent. Like, I don't think of someone who's attached to a much larger brand or an organization being a creator like in the way that Taylor describes throughout her book. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but I tend to think of someone who's like charted their own way. What do you think creator means?

Gideon: I mean, I suppose I think creator means someone who is creating content of some kind or another. And that could be anything from TikTokers talking about their breakfast to someone who creates feature-length animated films. But an influencer for me is someone who, because they have gained a following—maybe through being a creator—they're also using that following or they're being paid to use that following to influence, to do things on behalf of brands or politicians or whoever it is. In other words, there's—an influencer is a creator who actually then uses that following in a certain way.

Lauren: But it's funny because I don't think of like Martin Scorsese as a creator. I think of him—do you?

Gideon: He's a filmmaker. He's a filmmaker. Right, but is Martin Scorsese making TikToks?

Most Popular

Lauren: I honestly don't know.

Gideon: If he were, he would be a creator.

Lauren: But I mean, are you, OK, so like, let's say you were a globe-trotting journalist at The Economist, and you were, and you were churning out stories all the time. Did—were you a creator? You were getting paid to do it, by the way. Were you a creator?

Gideon: No, I think we're using the word creator in the context of individuals on the internet who build their own following.

Lauren: OK, right. OK, I think we've like, we've coalesced around—

Gideon: But I'm still saying that an influencer is someone who not only built their own following, but then leverages it, uses it in some way, and in the service often of somebody else.

Lauren: OK. So given what Taylor said, what do you think the future holds for how we are influenced online, for how we are sold things online, and for how we experience media online, given that the sources of this could be so varied?

Gideon: I mean, that future is already here. Like, we've written in WIRED about the online influencers who are paid to send political messages through their social media platforms. They're being paid by an agency that does marketing for political campaigns. We obviously see the huge number of people who sell products online as influencers. There was that, uh, picture that went viral recently of, Chinese Social media influencers like all sitting lined up on the street with their ring lights, just running on forever. And they were all selling products on the internet. This is the way that marketing and influence is done. Elon Musk—I don't really think of him as a creator because the only thing that he's creating is tweets or posts on X, but he is definitely an influencer and he's using his platform to influence people and politics, and so are many many other public figures. So for me, there is this distinction between creator and influencer to some, I guess, to some extent. Creators can also be influencers. Influencers are not necessarily creators.

Lauren: I would just urge you to be careful what you say about what Elon Musk is not, because I think he's going to be compelled then to buy yet another company. Like, he'll probably buy YouTube shorts next, or maybe even attempt to buy TikTok.

Most Popular

Gideon: When he starts making YouTube shorts, then I will call him a creator. It's OK.

Lauren: One of the other things that struck me both from the book and the conversation is that I wish there was, like, a little bit more critique of the platforms themselves.

Gideon: You mean like Twitter and Facebook and the others.

Lauren: Sure, and YouTube and Vine and TikTok, because look, legacy media absolutely has its blind spots and its real problems. But I also know a whole lot of journalists after years of working in the industry who are just trying to get to the truth. They're doing a good job, and they're good people. And I've been in newsrooms that have done the pivot to live video. I spent three years working on that at The Wall Street Journal, or the pivot to Facebook video, or building out premium content for Snapchat. And everyone's trying really, really hard to keep up and reach audiences and go with the trends. And then it turns out that the platforms themselves were lying about audience reach, or actually just weren't super invested in keeping Discover going, right? And they ended up leaving some journalism entities high and dry. That created jobs and then it took those jobs away. And I think acknowledging that is worthwhile to that, like, not everyone in legacy media is a bunch of Luddites who don't want to reach audiences. Like, we actually do want to reach our readers. We want to talk to people. We want to hear from them.

Gideon: So you think that Taylor isn't critical enough of the tech platforms?

Lauren: I shouldn't say that without having read every single article she's ever written, but based on the book itself, the book felt like a really critical, important part of internet creator history and also a guidebook for people to figure out, OK, like, what went wrong, where's the next big thing being built, how to promote yourself online.

Gideon: But she is pretty—she is pretty critical. She says the version of the internet that we've built is not creating valuable connection. There are ways to build smaller, more intentional spaces, less profit, different spaces on the internet. So I feel like she, she has a pretty negative view of the kind of internet that we have and the way that the platforms monetize us.

Most Popular

Lauren: Well, here's the thing. I think that we know plenty of journalists who spend their time and resources doing really great work, solid work, investigating the tech platforms and calling out where they could and should change. And I think Taylor's job is to chronicle the lives of creators and how the creators are essentially making the internet that we all know and participate in today. And that's just as crucial. So, after hearing this conversation with Taylor, Gideon, are you convinced at all to be any more online?

Gideon: Probably even more convinced that I need to work harder to be more online and figure out how to get over my issues with it. I don't know, I think—lots of people who are very online, much more online than me, are nonetheless ambivalent about it, have weird, complicated feelings about their use of the internet, about the amount of time it takes up, about what it's doing to their minds, about what kinds of connections they're forming. I guess we all have to wrestle with these issues. But I think listening to Taylor has made me more convinced that I need to find a way to do it that works for me.

Lauren: Gideon 3.0

Gideon: Mmhmm.

Lauren: I look forward to it, just don't become a crypto influencer, please.

Gideon: OK.

[Laughter] [Music]

Lauren: That's our show for today, thanks so much for listening.

Gideon:Have a Nice Future is hosted by me, Gideon Lichfield.

Lauren: And me, Lauren Goode. If you like this show, we would love to hear from you. You can leave us a rating and a review wherever you get your podcasts. And, uh, don't forget to subscribe so you can get our new podcasts each week.

Gideon: You can also email us your comments at nicefuture@wired.com. Tell us what you're worried about, what excites you, any questions you have about the future, and we'll try our best to answer them with our guests.

Lauren:Have a Nice Future is a production of Condé Nast Entertainment. Danielle Hewitt from Prologue Projects produces the show.

Lauren: And our assistant producer is Arlene Arevalo.

Gideon: We'll be back here next Wednesday, and until then, have a nice future.

Get More From WIRED

Gideon Lichfield is the former editor in chief of all editions of WIRED. He left the UK in 1998, citing an aversion to beer, Marmite, and football soccer, and lived in Mexico City, Moscow, and Jerusalem before moving to the US. He was previously editor in chief of *MIT Technology… Read more
Contributor

Lauren Goode is a senior writer at WIRED covering consumer tech issues. She focuses on the intersection of new technologies and humanity, often through experiential or investigative personal essays. Her coverage areas include communications apps, trends in commerce, AR and VR, subscription services, data and device ownership, and how Silicon… Read more
Senior Writer

More from WIRED

How to Take Back the Internet

Cory Doctorow talks about everything that threatens to make the internet “a toxic waste dump”—and the ways you can regain control of your choices online.

Gideon Lichfield

The Kids Don’t Want to Go to College Anymore, and Why Would They?

Journalist and author Paul Tough tells us about what’s driving rising tuition fees, lower enrollment, and the myth of college as an equalizer in the US.

Gideon Lichfield

A Doctored Biden Video Is a Test Case for Facebook’s Deepfake Policies

Meta’s Oversight Board is reviewing Facebook’s decision not to remove a manipulated video posted during the US midterms, in an attempt to get it to clarify its policies on election deepfakes.

Vittoria Elliott

Facebook Is Giving Up on News—Again

Meta says it will retire Facebook's "news" tag in the UK, France, and Germany, ahead of rules that might force it to pay for content. Users may not care, but it has left media scrambling.

Nicole Kobie

Hey Zuck, Get Those Robots out of My Social Feed

By injecting chatbots into Meta’s social platforms, Mark Zuckerberg threatens to undermine his company’s original mission: to connect humans with other humans.

Steven Levy

X Challenger Pebble Thinks AI-Generated Posts Can Help Lure Users Away From Elon Musk

To encourage conversation, Twitter-like platform Pebble—formerly T2—now suggests AI-generated updates for users to edit or post. It's also opening sign-ups to anyone with an account on X.

Paresh Dave

Enough Talk, ChatGPT—My New Chatbot Friend Can Get Things Done

An experimental AI assistant called Auto-GPT can use the web to solve problems. When the automated helper works, it can feel like the future.

Will Knight

TikTok Shop Has a Snail Slime Problem

TikTok Shop, which launched in the US last week, is littered with impossibly cheap—and fake—products. Snail slime is just the beginning.

Amanda Hoover

*****
Credit belongs to : www.wired.com

Check Also

Some People Actually Kind of Love Deepfakes

AI fakes are a disinformation menace. But some politicians, executives, and academics see them as …