Politics and technology are certainly strange companions. The Gang loves to talk about filibusters and the fall of democracy, but forget it when I try to bring out my fascination with live audio. This is understandable; we never talk about the little things until there’s a billion dollar battle angle. It was then that Jack Dorsey’s jousting with Marc Andreessen over the meaning of web3 brought all the web2 superstars onto the topic. Tim O’Reilly, John Battelle, Chris Dixon, Milo Mindbender from Catch 22 (okay, Moxie Marlinspike?)
As Covid has blocked physical events, we reluctantly moved on to another buzzword giveaway dubbed the Metaverse. I agree with Keith Teare that this dog won’t hunt due to stylistic reluctance to wear large hardware objects on our forehead, but there’s a lot more to virtual events than meets the eye. Before the pandemic, more and more meetings were happening online as we tried to juggle back-to-back appointments in the office. It was easier to move from room to room, regardless of physical location, travel time or lack thereof, and the innate competition with messaging systems like Slack and civil texts for iMessage, FB Messenger and whatever Google Chat was renamed this week. With competitive information constantly flowing in real-time, product strategy has turned into analytical collection of this interactive metadata that drives feedback across the network for design, time to launch, and distribution.
The replacement of large conferences with virtual workgroups mostly takes place behind the corporate firewall, but messaging testing remains clear. The context is the appsphere, and the Clubhouse is a live tutorial for scaling through the same kind of access model that old conferences deployed. An enclosed cable car establishes a kind of access to the green room, where you can renew connections and establish trust with keynotes and technologists. The possibility of being summoned to the stage is where the media is recruited. Newsletter players like Josh Constine and Casey Newton advance from the ranks of tech pubs to serve as midwives for startup turnover and casting couch for the risk class. The elixir of media knowledge and hallway access is what the conference organizers charge for.
A few nights ago, I was transfixed as Adam McKay, the director, and two producers told the story of Don’t Look Up as the movie played on Netflix. The Clubhouse room reverberated for over 2 hours as the filmmakers delved deep into producing the funny, dark and beautiful story of a meteor heading towards a fatal encounter with Earth. Some of the great books of my fascination with the art and technology of filmmaking crossed my mind: Truffaut’s conversations with Hitchcock, Pauline Kael’s treatise on Citizen Kane, the moment at Annie Hall when Woody Allen drags Marshall McLuhan from behind a sign to confront a teacher who knows everything – “You don’t know anything about my work. How did you come to be a teacher of anything…” Every frame of Kubrick’s lexicon. The great comic minds have gathered around the scrollable Algonquin.
And listen in real-time shared McKay tell his story of what making the film meant for him and his team, share the goals and strategies for producing a film that certainly resonates with the pandemic, filmed at the onset of the catastrophe when there were no vaccines yet invented. . The nuances of his approach by combining the script he wrote with the magical improvisations of his actors. And it went on, and you could hear McKay’s delight in being a part of this union of technology and a spirit of inspiration. And you can find the event replay link for your own exam nestled at the top of the Replay list. Virtual yes, but tangible in its emotion and impeccable execution. I actually enjoyed the Clubhouse a little more than the movie, but the after effect was to like the movie even more for the experience. Maybe this Metaverse is one thing after all.
the most recently Gillmor Gang Newsletter
The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 7, 2022.
Produced and Directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
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