Tom Scott – The Speed Of Outrage – Thinking Digital 2015


Tom Scott – The Speed Of Outrage – Thinking Digital 2015

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[Tom Scott – The Speed Of Outrage – Thinking Digital 2015]

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[Tom Scott:]
This is a story about angry people. It’s about live streaming, and it’s about how nothing seems to have changed. Because what I wanted to do this year, was I wanted to predict the future. I know, Ian, you said right at the start we need empathy not prediction, but I wanted to take a pattern,
I wanted to look at what was in 2010, when we had the last general election, I wanted to draw a line from that to where we are here, and then I wanted to work out what the 2020 general election was going to be like. But I came across a massive problem. I want to leave you with a view of the future, a vaguely optimistic note to end the conference on. But: what the hell has changed in the last five years? ‘Cos I’ve always said that predictions of the future never turn out to be true, the best you can do is kind-of extrapolate, hope nothing world-changing comes along. ‘Cos fifteen years ago I would have said that everyone is going to have a really powerful desktop computer at home to change the world. I wouldn’t have predicted the Palm Pilot that actually came out of their pocket. But as far as the web, as far as most everyday tech goes, as far as what we’re talking about here: 2015 was the same as 2010. I mean, look at the general election, look at this: that’s 2010. I mean, sure, we now have a few more people engaged online, we not have a few more politicians with Twitter accounts, but it’s basically the bloody same.

Smartphones in 2010, they were already mainstream. We had the iPhone 4, we had half-decent versions of Android. We already had Facebook and Twitter, we’d had them for years. Every high-profile thing to do with our world and the web since then has been an iteration on that.

Oh, look you’ve got a shiny screen and it’s curved at the edges. Oh, look, you’ve got another social network app that’s another front end to a database.

Oh…I was making — this is me, five years ago. I was making predictions, in 2010, about flashmobs, about social change, about the accelerating speed of society. And now that all just seems normal. It’s happened. It’s been four years. Four years since our now-departed Ed Balls tweeted “Ed Balls”. Four years. And that’s still a punchline! You’re still laughing at it! For anyone who wants the future to be here now, this is a really frustrating time.

So I’m – I’m left wondering, what’s next? What is the culture of 2020 going to look like if it is just a faster version of 2015?

Faster, though. Faster is the important word. Because that is one thing that has changed in the last five years. The speed.

A lot of you will have seen this: last month, we had Memories Pizza. They said in a TV interview that they would choose not to cater a gay wedding, under the new laws that were coming in in their state. The first wave of backlash, of course, hit immediately, as that video went viral, and the owners — well, depending on who was writing the article, the owners either were forced to close down their shop, or chose to close down their shop, depending on who you were listening to, and they went into hiding.

But then! Then a second wave of backlash hits just as fast as the first, as conservative Christians arrive to fight the terrible oppression. And they donate eight hundred thousand dollars to the pizza shop in a few days. That is a terrifyingly fast overreaction from both sides. Both immediately-polarised sides. Far more than I’d ever thought possible.

And do you remember Shirtgate? Everyone — yeah. I heard that ‘ugggh’ in the audience. ‘Cos that was a controversy that had the kind-of air of inevitability about it from the start. From the first comments that maybe, just, just maybe, a shirt covered in pictures of scantily-clad women isn’t really suitable for any workplace after the 1970’s, let alone a major scientific press conference, from those first reasonable comments I think everyone involved had that ‘ugggh’ feeling. We know how this is going to play out. Because within a couple of hours, it’s not so much a debate as a ritual shouting match between two immediately-polarised sides, both shouting straw-men arguments at each other, and not wanting to back down,
in case the other side thinks they’ve won. And meanwhile, article after article, post after post, tweet after tweet. Write an inflammatory headline, stick an image in the tweet so it’s bigger in everyone’s timelines, get the numbers in. I worked in a newsroom for 18 months, I have seen the requirements for Numbers. Because that’s how you get them, you — you go for the clickbait. You– you try to be extreme, because if you’re not extreme enough, then your own side will start criticizing you and thinking you’re going to be a traitor for the other side, trying to subtly support
the Others.

That wasn’t happening in 2010. Not with that speed, not with that viciousness. Not with everyone getting in on it. Small communities, sure. But the whole web? Not so much. That speed of outrage isn’t ever going to slow down now. So: hold that thought. Because this year, we had two competing live video apps. We had Periscope, we had Meerkat.

[Tom Scott:] Source:
Meerkat came along first, used Twitter, Twitter launched Periscope a couple of weeks later and basically shut down Meerkat and killed their access. Because that’s how we work now.

Neither of those were ever going to become mainstream, truly mainstream, because the technology isn’t quite there yet. They are basically Friendster.

Do you remember Friendster? It was like Facebook, but a little bit too early. It was good: but it wasn’t Facebook. The world wasn’t quite ready for it. They are the Palm Pilot. I had one of those. It was good, it was good, but it wasn’t the iPod. It wasn’t the iPhone, it was a little bit too early.

Periscope and Meerkat are like the Palm Pilot: they are great early versions, and we currently have — yeah. So, just after Periscope launched, me and a friend were in the middle of London, started a stream, out of nowhere, and said ‘right, okay, let’s guide people around London.’ 200! 300! 400 people! Right now: 50.

You know that curve a startup has where it goes ‘wheeeey, everyone’s going to use– oh. Oh. Ah.’ Yes. That’s what’s happened. Because the mobile networks are a bit shaky, Because it’s not quite been figured out yet. They are Friendster, they are the Palm Pilot, the world isn’t quite prepared.

But someone is going to crack live video streaming. Might be five years, might be ten. My pet theory is still that Apple is going to put little cameras in their earbuds, ‘cos they’ve got the cable, and they’ve got the battery, but that’s not required.

People are now used to folks just holding up a camera like this. That’s normal. Wave to the internet, people. ‘Hey!’ They were go. Er, the internet — has made no comments waving back at you because they’re rude.

Come on. Oh, there — “Hello.” Hello. Thank you there to “Dertwittig”, whoever you are.

That’s not going to go mainstream. Not yet. But when it does, when someone cracks that, it’s going to have the same step-change effect as Twitter. Because the world is going to know, not in the kind of shonky five minutes ago real time we’ve got now, they are going to know, in real time, to the second, what’s happening. And that’s important because “why didn’t you do this” will become “why don’t you do this”. ‘Cos that means we’ve got proper, ubiquitous surveillance.

Sky News is already more than go live to someone with a webcam if they need to. That’s in… Anbar Province. If they need to go to an interview there, damn the picture quality, they’ll get the interview there first, it doesn’t matter. As soon as live streaming actually starts to happen, they will have an amateur reporter on the ground anywhere, whenever something happens. Not when it’s happened: when it is happening.

But that also means if an online mob of 2020 targets you, then there is suddenly a chance that you’re being watched and broadcasted live whenever you’re in public, as an organised, anonymous, angry mob combs through every nearby geotagged live stream looking for you. And if that seems improbable, if it seems like no-one would go to so great an effort for so small a reward, remember that over the last year there were threats of bombs and mass shootings sent — credible threats — because of criticism of video games. Multiple times.

If people are angry about something so trivial: what are they going to do when they actually care? But there are reasons to care. There is another side to that coin. There is Baltimore. There is Ferguson. That’s an astonishing tweet, isn’t it? Because it used to be that the narrative for anything like that was set by press releases, by edited interviews, by news organisations, by pundits arguing and the political views of whoever controlled the tabloids and the television. Increasingly, it’s controlled by filter bubbles, that’s where we are now. By the hot takes of 2015 journalism, by — by the absolute easy share, and by the clickbait. It’s like they took Buzzfeed and just turned it wrong. It’s horrible.

The footage that you see today is limited by what people choose to send. If the photo you take on the ground isn’t actually flattering to your side — maybe you won’t share it. But if it paints you in a positive light, then yes, of course, you will. But with live streaming? Ha. The people watching — these people just here — they are seeing exactly what you see. In real time. The vast majority of the world will still see it afterwards, of course, but that won’t change the fact that sooner or later, there is going — you know, I’m going to keep this with me. Sooner or later, there is going to be an event where thousands of people, tens of thousands of people, where more than in this room, thousands of thousands, will believe that they were there. Because they saw it through the eyes of someone who was holding their camera up. And that’s a big difference. It won’t be “where were you when you found out that X happened”, it’ll be “were you watching when it did?” And that means that suddenly you don’t have one eyewitness, you don’t have two eyewitnesses and one bit of film that can be changed afterwards and edited and tweaked and endlessly torn apart by pundits.

You have 10,000 eyewitnesses who all saw the same thing.

So when that moment happens. Let’s put these two things together. When that moment happens, when the word “on a livestream” trips from a news anchor’s mouth as easy as “tweeted” does today. When you start seeing whatever company actually wins — and it ain’t gonna be Periscope — but when whatever company actually wins, when their name starts being dropped into conversation like “tweeted” is today: remember when it felt like nothing
was changing.

Remember when we were complaining that it is just new, shiny screens. Because things are changing. Because sometimes it’s not about spectacle, it’s not about the big thing that’s going to make everyone go ‘wow’. Sometimes it is about slow change, it is about changing people’s opinions, it is about reaching the future through slow, incremental steps, and things getting a little bit better, day after day after day. And so all I can say is: enjoy the next five years. My name’s Tom Scott. Enjoy the afterparty. Good night! Thank you. [Applause]

[Herb Kim, EMCEE:] Source: L Y B I O . N E T
Okay, folks. Wow, well, that is it, believe it or not. We are–

Tom Scott - The Speed Of Outrage - Thinking Digital 2015

Tom Scott – The Speed Of Outrage – Thinking Digital 2015

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