The church was the the first distribution channel for news. It followed a top down model where the priest gave his news to the masses. Then came the newspaper, radio and TV all using this same top down approach. A small group of people in suits wrote stories to educate their viewers while throwing in ads to make the media a profit.
Then came the internet that allows anyone of any level of maturity or intellect to share information that influences their circle of friends. We are now the media. Now news is spread horizontally and traditional media fights to get in the conversation. Everyday people share stories, memes and facts that make for a very influential story.
Algorithms, the architecture of the internet is hidden from us but all publishers are paying close attention to what spreads. These algorithms are designed to gives us more of what we want to see. If you get lured into watching a quick recipe video, you will then see more recipe videos in your timeline reinforcing your exposure to this type of content. These algorithms do this so we can click more and share more and ultimately spend more time on the platform – where the platform can charge businesses a higher price of advertising. Businesses just go where the people are.
The architecture dictates the outcome and from the thousands of ads I’ve tested in the past I can say that a funny cat video will get a hundred times the reach as this article does. The architecture taps into our primal instincts of sex, food and comfort. People don’t want to read anymore, they want to watch a video or something that takes less than 15 seconds and makes them laugh. Our attention span is dwindling. On top of this decline of our intellect is the fact that it becomes very hard to differentiating a good idea from a bad one or what is being sold VS what isn’t. Which becomes a big problem in society when voting for a presidential candidate.
We can’t control the internet but we can control something very important – our actions. We can choose to click, like, share, buy, promote and support things that matter, that are true and that make us better.
Also published on Medium.