We can all agree that Wednesday is the shittiest day of the week, so I decided to move the newsletter to this day in an effort to bring you more joy.
There is also a specific theme for this week. The theme is critical thinking.
Earlier this month, Harper Magazine published an open letter in defense of open debate. It's been signed by 150 academics including Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood. This is an issue I care deeply about. And like most issues worth caring, it's much more nuanced than what online articles make it seem.
I believe this letter had a well-meaning intent in reminding that freedom of speech isn't a left or right doctrine. It sparked lot of drama but at least conversation, which I also believe to be good.
The limit I see is its vagueness. There are no specific examples of censorship addressed. "Cancel culture" is just a buzzword until we define what it is. What constitutes intolerance and public shaming, and what is simply holding people accountable for their actions?
We need to define those things, or else we'll just become more divided. One thing is to boycott a millionaire singer like R Kelly for well-proved pedophilia, another one is to pressure an institution to rescind the fellowship of a controversial research without proper academic debate.
What do you think of the letter and its debate? Feel free to hit reply and let me know.
🎬 Apple's new commercial about working from home brings back the characters from its 2019 hit "The Underdogs" (not everyone agrees with the message)
🎨 An incredibly talented VFX artist who used social media to win over Hollywood
🍔 Michel Gondry's music video for Burger King sings about making a whopper from cows that fart less
📺 40 creative moments that changed culture, from Creative Review
🍝 Pasta as a service is here: send a random pasta care package to unsuspecting friends letting them know we were thinking of them
📸 The duo who documented the birth of NYC’s subway, from Atlas Obscura:
Shane Parrish runs an amazing blog and newsletter called Farnam Street. On my favorite articles is about the power of questions.
"There are no dumb questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them. They are the most straight forward path to learning."
The Modern-Day Mind-Killer
5 minutes | Keagan Stokoe
At the average breakfast buffet, the first item was taken by 75% of the diners. Two-thirds of all the food taken came from the first three items, regardless of how long the buffet was.
The Internet is like an information buffet - anything you could possibly imagine - available at the click of a button. Grabbing the first piece of information on offer - usually social media or a news headline - is dangerous. (I'd say the same goes for the last)
Passive consumption acts as a blindfold, making us blissfully unaware of things which are right in front of our eyes.
We believe things today that people in the future will find ridiculous. The way to avoid these beliefs is by learning to think for yourself, and having the courage to stand by your thoughts.
The aim is not to oppose the crowd, but to avoid believing something simply because the crowd tells you to.
👉 Read the article
Why Our Ads Are Different Now
5 minutes | Wisecrack
A cool history of how advertising made America and America made advertising. Also, a great practical example of the dangers of passive consumption.
- Ads reflect the cultural and technological reality of the time. They emerged with the invention of printing. Then became popular because of America: English entrepreneurs tried luring people into the new world with the promise of free land in exchange for labor - this was the first concerted and sustained advertising campaign in the history of the modern world.
- Soon, two school of thoughts originated. Hard sell (why you need this product) and soft sell (lifestyle / identity-based ads).
- Modern advertising focuses on getting the "heart", not the attention. In the 2000s, the product often becomes irrelevant or invisible.
- The line today keeps getting blurry, with the rise of content marketing, influencer marketing and social media. A perfect example is Red Bull. It has its own media company that produces tv magazines music games and more. They employ influencers endorsements, sponsor music festivals, and get a guy like this to jump from the sky.
Formats Don't Create Empathy. Craft Does
8 minutes | The Content Technologist
I really liked this bit from Deborah Carver's newsletter. We often read dogmatic sentences like "Humans prefer video to photos to text" without questioning the context. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- For content to be valued, we need to focus on the craft of content through the lens of technology. It’s a multidimensional process, and the impact of the creativity within a medium cannot be reduced to the medium itself.
- Digital marketers should spend time thinking critically about the ideas and intent of content, rather than just the presence of content.
- We need models where ads are more specific to the content they support. More closed ad networks, old-school classifieds, etc. Creative partnerships need to look more like partnerships and less like ad factories.
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"Who the hell are you?"
I'm Gianluca, an Italian filmmaker based in Los Angeles. A while back you opted into my email list through my website Storyforma. I like to send out genuinely useful content about working and living as a creative in the digital age.
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