A Billion Mockingbirds: The Role of Journalists in Destroyed Civilization

• 3 min read

Today, we're seeing the erosion of trust in companies, governments, money, and media.

It's difficult to replace these four core pillars, but it is necessary. Diminishing trust in these institutions makes way for alternatives and new forms of storytelling, conversation, and analysis to accompany transactions, ledgers, and hashes.

Media is perhaps the most malleable pillar, but it is also the most influential pillar. Historically, edges were drawn between media and the other three pillars: corporations, government, and fiat money depend on reputation and thus media support to shape public opinion, consent, and consensus.

Journalists, in their vendetta against the new disruptive players to their inherited distribution, catalyzed the move to a post-propaganda media. Through actions sparked by anxious fear of losing relevance, they led us to a post-ideological era by encouraging the construction of counter-narrative competition. They used traditional rhetoric and squandered accrued trust to criticize, mock, and belittle. They are suffering the consequences; individual creators instead are taking on the mantle to create, inform, and improve.

Twenty years ago, we would grimace and bear the realities of an -opolistic arrangement of "truth"-papers. But in a post-bitcoin, post-blockchain world, we can compile truth from decentralized ledgers, open source software, and peer-to-peer transmission of information by layering compelling narrative onto verified facts.

With these tools, we can produce a media industry that is entirely different than the centralized, institutionally backed, narrative-tampered one we've endured for the last century. Decentralized technology provides us with an opportunity to level the playing field. As a result, humans are free to participate in media as they please: everyone will be at once both journalists and readers.

Because the key value proposition of bitcoin is the outsourcing of trust so humans can organize in novel, more efficient, more scalable ways, media itself is bending towards these new laws of bits.

Post-propaganda media is an ideal state where we act as storytellers for each other, parse truth for our audiences, and feed into a shared understanding of the world we live in. It is a place for writers to tell their story, for readers to participate in it, and for technologists to facilitate the process without being beholden to decaying ideological institutions. This evolving chaotic primordial soup at the intersection of journalism, cryptography, and entrepreneurship is the ideal home for post-propaganda media to take root.

This new model supports an arbitrary number of perspectives; any reader can promote any story being blocked by a gatekeeper; and the people you "follow" can stake (with reputation and money) support for particular content.

Like it always has, media must serve the reader; the difference in post-propaganda media is the increased variance of interest and the increased number of sources and pseudo-sources. The internet increases variance of interest by enabling frictionless dives into infinitely deep pools of knowledge. If every reader is a sink, the major sources of the past century have been a few journalists and papers; the major sources of the past century will be different for each person; the pseudo-sources will be fact-checker nodes that verify and "gate" regions of truth. None will be labeled as trusted; instead, each content creator will have earned the trust of their reader. It's a new era.

If that is the vision of the post-propaganda future, what does a journalist have to do with it--especially with destroying civilization?

Civilization moves towards valleys of truth. The algorithms that have controlled this gradient descent have built themselves upon the assumption global truths. The algorithms that will control this search problem in the cryptographic future are built instead on locality and fractal truths in a complex web of narratives.

That which emerges will have earned it through merit instead of inherited it through legacy distribution. Because the valleys of truth are being destroyed--or, more accurately, proliferating in number--and journalists, trapped in spirals of constraining culture and confusion, only serve to quicken the proliferation, they are simultaneously destroying themselves/the institutions they love but also our very conception of civilization. "Dank memes" are the current best example: though memes seem silly, they are quite serious as the lightning-quick reproductions of intersubjective understanding for vast swaths of the population (precisely the swaths that want memes to be part of their group truth and identity).

Journalism and civilization itself are at an inflection point between confusion and explosion. The consistent thing between both sides at time t is the silent absence of the current holders of power: the precise greatest fear of the media is to not be talked about, and that day is coming.

Yesterday, we put up with them. Today, we fight them.

Tomorrow, we forget they even exist.

Expected Returns for US Equities Look Low For The Next Decade →

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