Tyler Cowen argues Facebook’s problem is that it makes it too easy for us to be ‘superficially social’ by stripping it away from the deeper social cultural context:
Consider how social networks have taken a lot of the power away from popular music. Formerly, young people used music to signal who they were and to which social circles they wanted to belong. If you were a feminist in the late 1990s, you might listen to Indigo Girls and trade Sarah McLachlan CDs and go to Lilith Fair concerts. But today you can just make a few clicks to show your views with a Planned Parenthood support banner over your Facebook profile photo.
People have hardly stopped listening to music, but music is less moored to our social attachments, and it doesn’t seem to have the cultural force or social influence or political meaning of earlier times. Pop music has been in the ascendancy, and, outside of rap, protest music is less important. From the charts you hardly would know we are living in the time of Trump.
When social context was front and center, as in the older world of mainstream media, fake news was harder to pull off. For all their flaws, major, well-funded newspapers and somewhat boring television networks helped knit Americans together, and most people had a sense of the borders of what kind of reporting lapses might be possible or not. When Facebook brings you directly to “the news,” without much cultural intermediation, the risk of outright lies rises, and it is less clear which pieces of reporting have been through credible external scrutiny. In essence, Facebook makes it too easy for us to communicate without the background social production of context.
Perhaps these are two different arguments, but I wonder, though, if in questioning Facebook's power we're still fighting the last war. Maybe music -- and print media -- is no longer as culturally (and economically) relevant because people have moved on, and Facebook isn't the culprit, but it has certainly capitalized on their demise.
Here's Bob Leftsetz on the sale of Rolling Stone:
Now let’s credit Jann [Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone]. He started “Rolling Stone.” There were competitors, but they all failed. The power of the individual can never be underestimated.
But Steve Jobs eliminated the floppy and legacy ports.
And “Rolling Stone” refused to go online and looked no different than it ever was, as it turned into “Mojo,” albeit with crappier writing.
You can live on your heritage in the arts. Copyrights have value.
But not in tech. And not in news. You have to look forward, you have to destroy your past to have a future.
And Jann Wenner was living in the past.
Now don’t lament the sale and the eventual irrelevance. Because the magazine is already irrelevant. Music does not drive the culture, the oldster players don’t do anything new of value and although Matt Taibbi is a star, he’s in a ghetto of blah, like having Einstein preaching to six year olds.