Monthly Archives: June 2020

Social status tokens of a platform

Old interview from Alex Zhu who founded now TikTok. Analysis still holds true for social media today, and actually has a lot in common with @eugenewei’s StaaS theory:

1. People come for utility and stay for content and networks

2. Young people have a lot of time and skills (creativity), but less social capitals

3. A platform needs to issue “tokens” (social status) by exchanging their “proof-of-work” (time*skills) created in the tool

4. The content has to be extremely light (within seconds) – both on the consumption and creation ends

5. To build a community from scratch you need to first let a small set of people be “rich”, then cultivate the “middle class”

6. Once they get over the fame, influencers need to monetization from the platform


If everybody’s not a beauty, then nobody is.”

– Andy Warhol

Revisionist最新一集Malcolm Gladwell一开始提出了疑问:纽约大都会艺术博物馆为什么大量积压永不见光的二百万件收藏品(能摆在展馆的只能是沧海一粟),也不救济那因疫情原因裁掉了的90多号员工?

以为又是讨伐 authoritarians的陈词滥调,但很快知道是在正名/赞美hoarding和hoarders(强迫性囤积症“患者”)。Malcolm后来去了Andy Walhol匹兹堡博物馆的储藏室,得知Walhol也是个hoarders,无论是价值连城的,或是最平民的市集的物品,都收集的堆积如山。这些物品对Walhol都是无价之宝。

Warhol曾经表达过他的艺术世界观:”If everyone is not a beauty, then nobody is.” 同样道理也可以解释Warhol以及hoarders的收藏怪癖吧:if every object is not beautiful, then no object is. Hoarders有一种才能(很不幸同时也是咀咒),就是她们可以看到objects本身的美,regardless市场给予这些objects的price tags。

Democracy, social media, and ideology

The overwhelming public opinion of “Twitter is doing the right thing by labeling Trump’s tweet and facebook is obviously wrong by not doing anything about Trump’s post” irks me.

There is a group of people who can quickly accuse others being fascism if their ideas are not fully agreed upon, without realizing they are exercising fascism. Well in the first place, if you are completely right about something, by definition you are not diverse. Because there are many/diverse ways to be wrong.

For Jack Dorsey, I am not sure if it is that Twitter’s been under the pressure for so many years or that he’s feeling guilty of not yet dealing with consequences caused by Trump. But he was not a fan of echo chamber – he mentioned that during the 2016 election year there’s an internal dashboard showing how silos people can be in consuming partisan information –

“(In Twitter) the amount of journalists on the left who were following folks on the right end of spectrum was very very small; the amount of journalists on the right end of the spectrum following folks on the left was extremely high”

#148 – JACK DORSEY (19:05) in Making Sense with Sam Harris

It’s easy to overlook how technology helps enable the march of the democracy and protests happening now – anyone is able to take a video using their phones and publish directly to the world on Facebook or Twitter. And the video as a media is so powerful that it gives color to what’s happening vividly. Imagine in the old world where none of these technologies existed – only newspapers have the means to publish something and they might only be able to describe as “a police was about to arrest a black suspect and the latter was sent to hospital after a chaos”… Instead, a video can depict so much more. And without these technology enablers (smart devices and videos, social networks, and no censorship by authoritarian), none of social awareness and fights for BLM today would have happened.

If you are a platform, the last thing you want to do is to decide what is acceptable to be said and what is not. Because once you do by exercising that power, you as an entity immediately becomes an authoritarian. This is not what we want for democracy.

Democracy, just like a social media platform, makes it easier for people to elevate their own voices, and it also makes it easier to spread misinformation. If you embrace democracy, you have to embrace both good and bad. But the latter shouldn’t be the reason why you need the platform but not people to state what’s right or wrong.

It’d a much easier situation for Mark Zuckerberg to simply do something with Trump’s posts but much harder to insist that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of what is truth. For this, hats off to Mark.