Happy November! Hope your Halloweens and Halloweekends were spooky, punny and full of artificial, delicious sugar. If you’re a new subscriber, please introduce yourself simply by replying to this email—I’d love to get to know you better!
I’ll start off this letter with a weird tidbit about myself: I’m a sucker for meta perspectives
. I love music about music (ABBA’s “Thank You for the Music
”), history about history (a.k.a. historiography), and, more recently, journalism about journalism (think Harvard’s Nieman Lab
, or the Columbia Journalism Review
My favorite meta-journalistic piece—which I think anyone who works in, writes about and/or thinks about tech should read—is Toward a Constructive Technology Criticism
. In the report, Sara M. Watson, a research fellow at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, investigates the changing landscape of technology journalism and the various sociopolitical influences on this change, best practices for and approaches to the craft, and how the profession can improve in the future.
A lot of Watson’s arguments and observations about the state of tech coverage resonate strongly with me, as I look back on my experiences writing about the music business (I wrote my first article
for Forbes almost exactly a year ago!). For instance:
- Too often, music biz coverage becomes stubbornly dualist—you’re either a techno-optimist or a techno-skeptic, with few appealing, ready-to-wear identities in between.
- 80% of the compelling stories and perspectives I encounter on a daily basis are found on Twitter, rather than in defined journalistic spaces.
- One of my core goals as a writer is to understand technology not just as a tool, but also as a system, with its own people and sociopolitical assumptions about what problems need to be solved and why. Startups in any sector fail when they cling too closely to their assumptions.
- Related to #3, the world would definitely benefit from a more diverse range of people working as music business journalists and critics, particularly more women and minorities.
I hope to expand upon all of these areas in my future writing: how the answer to technological change in the arts is not simply “yes” or “no,” how 140-character poets and other shortform content creators are transforming the tech conversation (RIP Vine tho), and how technical questions are inseparable from social ones.
In this vein, while writing about music and tech can be exhausting—it’s like chasing after a constantly moving target, privy to the strings that history, society and technology pull without warning—I couldn’t be more excited about it.