The Algebra of Need #2





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The Algebra of Need #2
By Shameel Arafin • Issue #2 • View online
Happy Friday, Beautiful People!
This issue has more reading material, hopefully taking you into the weekend. I’d love to hear your suggestions, so please do shoot me an email to let me know what you like and what you don’t.

The Industry of Journalism
This week, management changes at Condé Nast and The Economist indicated continued financial pressures at journalism outlets, whether large-scale portfolio companies or niche single-brands. The two trends in how publishers are handling these pressures – billionaire ownership and focus on subscriptions, rather than ads – continue apace, with Laurene Jobs’ acquisition of Pop-Up Magazine Productions (owner of California Sunday) and Washington Post hiring a CMO to focus on subs rather than ad dollars. Because, you know, ad fraud.
Also, Mic effectively shut down.
The Economist CEO is leaving in latest executive departure - Digiday
Opinion | Can Laurene Powell Jobs Save Storytelling? - The New York Times
How The Washington Post is reorienting for digital subscriptions - Digiday
The Facebook
The annus horribilis is not over yet. With all the excoriation of Sheryl Sandberg, Jessi Hempel’s article on what Sandberg represents, as a model, is fresh and insightful. Matt Taibbi’s historical article is refreshing and insightful. New York magazine focuses on Zuckerberg’s focus on Augustus. And the former Chief Security Officer’s article charges us all with being more aware and responsible about security threats. Copy that.
“…the *Idea of Sheryl Sandberg,* the persistent perception that a competent woman can correct for all the challenges that arise from handing full power over to youthful, ambitious men. ”
Who Will Fix Facebook? – Rolling Stone
Yes, Facebook made mistakes in 2016. But we weren’t the only ones. - The Washington Post
Publishing Technology
Following on the story in last week’s issue about Jonah Peretti suggesting various digital publishers band together against Facebook and Google, we now have former CTO of VICE suggesting a common publishing platform for digital publishers.
Women In Tech
Early in their training, engineers learn that there are two sets of skills required in engineering: “hard” engineering skills (such as technical ability and problem solving) and softer “professional” skills (such as communication, relationship building, and teamwork). They also learn that these skills are gendered, with the former viewed as more masculine, more revered and higher status; and the latter viewed as more feminine and lower status.
The Tyranny of Structurelessness
The “outrage industrial complex” is what I call the industries that accumulate wealth and power by providing this simulacrum of community that people crave — but cannot seem to find in real life.
Opinion | How Loneliness Is Tearing America Apart - The New York Times
The companies paying teenagers to hawk diet tea on Instagram are using the same tactics the Chinese government did when it recruited commenters to post hundreds of millions of pro-Communist Party messages online.
Everyone Wants to ‘Influence’ You - The New York Times Magazine
Endangered elephants trapped by sprawling Rohingya refugee camp
Did you enjoy this issue?
Shameel Arafin

"The Algebra of Need" is a weekly newsletter on journalism, media, technology and literature, with the occasional post on capitalism, poker and running.

A note on the name. It comes from the introduction to William Burroughs' Naked Lunch: "Junk yields a basic formula of 'evil' virus: The Algebra of Need. The face of 'evil' is always the face of total need... Beyond a certain frequency need knows absolutely no limit or control."

When did our world become one of total need?

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