Fakes and Futures

Returning to information confusion and conformity

I. Welcome back & follow up

Good Morning and happy Monday! ☀️

At the end of last week we celebrated the departure of one of our colleagues. She was the first to ever leave our studio. A few weeks ago I explained why it’s so important to have people exit with as much energy as they enter.

Simply put, you don’t build a great culture with somber exits.

If you have found this newsletter useful in anyway, feel free to share or forward to others. It helps greatly in finding new readers and individuals for engaging discussions.

II. Fakes and Futures

This week is scattered thoughts on information consumption and post-reality. It’s not specifically about running a design studio, but I feel as a global studio, understanding what is happening to society based on technology and policy is critical to producing great strategic design work. That being said, sorry for the haphazard nature of this weeks newsletter

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Lately during workouts I’ve been listening to Rage Against the Machine and it’s made me reflect on freedom - of information, press, speech, and discourse. While we laud freedom of information in Western countries, it has come at a high cost.

That being said, the control and restriction of information is also highly damaging. Like many, I’ve been concerned on the global crackdown on free speech (see: India, Nigeria), splintering of the internet, Government control of media, manipulation of content, and controlled narratives.

From what the internet has fundamentally enabled, meaning the global democratisation of content and the 5th estate, we now struggle with what is real, fake, misinformation, partial information, spin, or public relations and different countries are handling things in their own ways.

Globally, we are in a post-Truth and a post-Single-Reality world.

Side note: I encourage everyone to check out Zeynep Tufekci’s newsletter where she has been exploring the mis-use or partial use of information as related to COVID for months. This provides a nice simple foundation on how truth is pliable and reality is fungible.

Our ability to embrace free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom to critique Government, has come at a cost - we no longer have a unified or agreed upon perception of reality as a society. We have a glut of information, but we overestimate our ability to objectively process it, and from that, we’re fast moving towards distinctly fractured and false realities.

We begin to come to our own conclusions, views, and realities based on the information we see, the information that aligns with our values, and the information we are presented.

The future battles now appear to be for whose narrative and reality you follow. May the best cult of personality win! 🔮

…and it’s not simply a post-truth issue, but also a post-reality issue. This is explored in an article from 2018 discussing how much of the internet was fake - fake accounts, reviews, bots, people, deep fakes, etc.

This was followed up by a great article from Zeynep on how information is represented in the media, and why this makes a huge difference for what is real and fake. From there, Erik Torenberg did a nice write up on how media companies stay in power despite consistently presenting misinformation.

All of this made me think of Ronny Chieng’s comment on how we never imagined all of the worlds knowledge would make people more stupid.

However with all of this on technologies grip on confusing and confounding us, Marc Andreessen came through with a positive post on Technology Saving the World.

Looking forward to the cone of plausible futures, where do we want to land?

On the controlled side, we have China, where there is one truth decided by a central source (be it real, adjusted, or fake). On the open side, we have the US and Europe where each individual maintains their own reality (with all possibilities of real and fake exist). The latter is reflected well in the opening parts of Fall, or Dodge in Hell?

Where do you want to land?

This is your wicked problem for the week. Enjoy!

Again, sorry for this week being scattered, but I hope it’s been a fun ride / read.

I’ll get back to my week of 🥃, 🍷, & 📚.

Thank you for reading!
Rock 🔥