"Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches," Andy Warhol.

Today, he would have measured everything in the number of tweets, re-tweets, shares, likes, and hearts. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I have felt this feeling of despair, and neither am I alone. The theater and theatrics of outrage are so loud that it is rendering the platforms pretty unusable.  

 It is becoming evident that facts, truth, reality, and happiness have no place in the social media world, where attention-at-any-cost is the only currency. Everything has become so loud. The reason is not a reason, and neither is being reasonable. Hyperbole is the order of the day. All of it, so people pay attention to what you have to say.

It reminds me of the quip David Bowie made about Madonna and her need for attention. “That kind of clawing need to be the center of attention is not a pleasant place to be,” he said. 

Have a wonderful evening, everyone!

PS: A day later, I can’t help but notice the hilarious irony: many media personalities, often at the center of attention are complaining about the lack of civility on the social platforms.



Twitter is going the way of subscriptions in 2021 — after buying Revue, the company today snapped up Scroll for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition is a smart move — it allows Twitter to play to its strengths — media and media distribution. 

Scroll is a prix fixe media buffet –for $5 a month, readers can view articles, ad-free, from about 300 odd media outlets. The $5 a month subscription is then shared with the publishers. Good idea, but as Scroll founder Tony Haile points out in his blog post announcing the deal, “we’re not moving fast enough.” 

A lot has to do with the media industry and its bureaucratic disfunction. The fact remains that destination viewing of media is becoming a habit only reserved for a fading generation of readers. Discovery, distribution, and consumption of media have taken on a different meaning. And believe it or not — Twitter is smack in the middle of this Venn diagram. 

Twitter, just by incorporating Scroll, can increase its footprint and impact on the media business.

Last year, I wrote a piece — What Twitter could learn from Spotify. In my piece, I outlined a strategy that would help Twitter reinvent itself but also help provide a vital lifeline for not only establishment media but also independent creators. But in doing so, I reasoned that 

Twitter has to be “willing to rethink its entire core application, jettison the past,” and only then can it “create a more relevant, robust, and financially rewarding future.” (I don’t want to repeat myself, so you are better off reading the earlier piece at your leisure.

With Spaces, Revue, and now Scroll, Twitter has started to think different — though if it will be enough for the company to regain its mojo, remains to be seen. It seems the newest recruit, Scroll CEO Tony Haile, does see the bigger picture.

“When you see Spaces, Revue or Scroll, you see Twitter focused on expanding, not encroaching on the value it helps others to create,” he writes on the Scroll blog. “Twitter is marching to the beat of a different drum and knows success will come from a bigger pie not a larger slice.”

In his post announcing the deal, he points out what makes Twitter unique compared to every other big platform — read Facebook. 

“For every other platform, journalism is dispensable. If journalism were to disappear tomorrow their business would carry on much as before,” Haile writes. “Twitter is the only large platform whose success is deeply intertwined with a sustainable journalism ecosystem.” 

And he is right — it is not just journalism in the classic sense. Journalism, as we have known, is changing. Twitter can’t fall into the trap of the media’s past and almost always lean into the future. Whether it is live conversations, podcasts, video streams, photos, newsletters, everything that is media can benefit from Twitter’s taking a cue from that other content company, Spotify. 


PS: Being very self-referential today, I dug up this little piece from 2012:

Over the past few years we have started to see the transformation of media by new technologies, new methods of distribution and newer ways to consume information I have always believed that we’ve got to stop thinking of media as what it was and focus on more of what it could be. In the world of plenty, the only currency is attention and attention is what defines “media.” Zynga is fighting Hollywood for attention (and winning). Instagram is taking moments away from other media. They have attention. There are old companies that are dying and new ones that are being invented. 

It has been a rough few days for the citizens of India, who have been struggling with the rampaging COVID-19 virus. The pandemic is more widespread than either media or official figures seem to indicate. Many of you emailed and asked about what is the best way to offer help and aid. Here is a list of simple resources to get you started. 

  1. Joy of Sharing: This is a Norwalk, CA-based charity group that gathers funds for vital supplies. Please select COVID-19 INDIA to designate your funds. 
  2. Aid India: Like Joy of Sharing, it too accepts credit cards for online donations. 
  3. Mission Oxygen: This is an initiative by a community of founders from the Delhi region to donate life-saving equipment to hospitals.
  4. Give India is helping organize funds for oxygen, food, survivor support, and other needs for those who desperately need it. 
  5. Hemkunt Foundation is helping laborers and migrant workers who have been made jobless and homeless. They are helping to provide them with food, shelter, and basic hygiene/survival supplies.

I hope this list helps. I will keep updating the links as I find them. 

I have made notes when reporting news, interviewing people, or drafting outlines for most of my life. In the early days, it was shorthand. Later, it became a weird blend of English, symbols, and old shorthand. I eventually got a tape recorder and began recording my interviews, but mostly as a backup. More often than not, I’ve kept just a reporter’s notepad, a bunch of HB pencils, and a fountain pen on my writer’s desk.

My approach has been contrary to that of most of my peers, who by now almost all take notes by typing directly on the computer. Most of them draft their pieces on the computer as well. As a non-native English speaker, I always found (and still do) that writing things down by hand, and then bringing them into the digital realm, allowed me to create better drafts.

In this age of visual communications, I do much of my work on Zoom. I find that, when used sparingly, Zoom is quite handy. It is one click to save the conversation using its internal recording features. I have it integrated with Otter.ai, which does a passable job of transcribing those conversations. Still, the recordings are just a backup to make sure I am not making any mistakes.

I still take notes in an old-fashioned notebook, even though I am no longer a reporter. I still use the old HB pencils. I love drafting my longer pieces using one of my many fountain pens. I normally use a trusted old Montblanc 149. When I am traveling, I switch to a decade-old Lamy Rollerball pen I bought in Munich.

Why do I do this? Because I find that writing before typing helps me contextualize and remember information better. I was doing some research for an essay and ended up on a website called, Drawright, which had a nice piece on why handwriting trumps typing. Here are my favorite five reasons.

1. By feeling the writing surface, holding the writing instrument, and directing precise movement with thought, you give your brain a full workout! In contrast, typing is a simple, memory-based movement. Executing keystrokes is just a repetitive movement.

2. Research shows that children who practice their handwriting have higher levels of literacy and cognitive development. This is likely because as children learn how to quickly translate mental images of letters into a physical form, they begin to understand how letters form sentences and meaning.

3. Boosts reading comprehension: Strong writing skills also improve reading comprehension.

4. Retains knowledge: Handwriting notes (such as in a class) helps you retain knowledge more than typing on a keyboard.

5. Increases creativity: Writing and drawing by hand increases creativity because we are forced to slow down, consider the big picture, and come up with creative ideas. You use the right side of your brain!

Drawright

That said, there is one thing I would argue that digital does better: spelling. I know you are theoretically supposed to get better at spelling by writing out words, but that has not been my experience. For some odd reason, as time passes, spellcheck and I seem to become increasingly good friends.

April 29, 2021, San Francisco.

You might have noticed that it has been awfully quiet around here. I have found myself reading more books than the Internet these days — and as a result, I didn’t have much to share. A good habit I picked up during the pandemic — after watching Max Joseph’s video on reading — is that I read 45 pages of a book (at the very least) every day. Sometimes, I keep reading the book because it is engaging. For instance, I am currently reading — Lying for Money: How Legendary Frauds Reveal the Workings of the World by Dan Davies. 

I read books as an escape from the inanity of what is published online as serious journalism. On the other hand, nothing satisfies like non-serious journalism. Like someone asking the question: what is a mullet? In case you were wondering, why did I bring up the mullet? Well, apparently, it is the byproduct of the pandemic. For someone who prefers the buzz, I have never contemplated the mullet. And even if I did, I wouldn’t want to be seen in public supporting the mullet. Not that there is anything wrong with it.

What is and what is not a mullet/Esquire