MATTSPLAINED  MSP75  The 100: Paying for Privacy.
MATTSPLAINED  MSP75  The 100: Paying for Privacy.
In the 2ndpart of our Disrupted World series, MSP dismisses Avengers Endgame and looks to The CW’s The 100for a solution to our privacy problems.
It was supposed to be a celebration of Star Wars for May 4thbut we couldn’t think of anything that hasn’t already been done. That’s how Disruptive we are.
Produced by Jeff Sandhu for BFM89.9
These shows are dictated to and transcribed by machines, and hurriedly edited by a human. Apologies for the typos and grammar flaws.
As this show is airing on May 3rd, you might expect that uber Geek Matt Armitage would be doing a Mattsplained Star Wars tribute today. The answer, of course, is no. It seems like we’re going with the return of the slightly trashy steampunk sci-fi show The 100, instead.
Are we continuing last week’s Disruption theme with a TV show about the most Disrupted future you can imagine?
· Yes, I’m continuing with the Disrupted World theme we started last week.
· Originally I was going to do something that tied in with Star Wars a little more closely.
· In fact, I was planning to do a show about how movies now seem a little disappointing compared to games.
· I watched Avengers Endgame this week and I have to admit I was slightly disappointed.
· I’d heard all the hype and I’d kept away from spoilers – and don’t worry – no spoilers here, so I was imagining how it might work, especially now Captain Marvel has been admitted into the MCU.
What disappointed you?
· It turned out my imagination was taking me way further out than the movie went.
· Don’t get me wrong – it’s a really good movie, but I found it fairly predictable.
· That spun me back to the idea I’d had about so many movies being a little underwhelming compared to streaming shows and, of course, the increasingly vast universes that games now seem to inhabit.
But you don’t know enough about gaming?
· Yes. So, it made my comments seem a bit trivial.
· I stand by the idea though. The complexity of the worlds you can now explore and inhabit in gaming is astonishing.
· Especially the titles that don’t have a standardised gameplay.
· Where you can explore the world or worlds and bash a few heads along the way when you get bored, but where you can define your own role and your own place in those worlds.
· That’s far more interesting to me than the kind of linear narrative movies we’re seeing.
You’re going to talk about books again…
· I am, because I love books.
· I think what disappointed me the most about Avengers Endgame – and if some of you are wondering if you’re listening to a tech show or a movie review –
· This is a tech show and I will get to the point…
· The thing about Endgame was the idea of all the realms and dimensions that the previous movie, Infinity War, had laid open for us.
· I imagined it spinning off a little like the Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter series The Long Earth where the population of earth suddenly gains access to an almost infinite number of parallel earths and spreads out.
Before this gets any more complicated. Let’s summarise things a little. You decided not to talk about Star Wars because you were disappointed in the Avengers movie. You didn’t know enough about gaming to make your central point. And now you want to talk about The 100 because it’s the ultimate example of a Disrupted world?
· So nearly right. And yet so wrong. For two reasons which will I hope will become clear.
· When we started talking about Disruption last week, I thought it was going to be a one-off show.
· But since then – and thanks to comments and feedback from listeners on that show – it’s going to be more of a mini-series. Probably a 4 parter.
· I was expecting it to go the other way tbh. I thought that the haters would pile on me.
· Which goes to show how few start-up operators are actually listening to this show.
· Maybe they were too busy making Disruptive proposals to Angels investors who were in turn planning to Disrupt them out of their ownership stake.
So this is a continuation?
· In some ways
· But it’s more about how we can stage our own Interruptions – I’m going to call them that instead of Disruptions.
And the second reason?
· This week we received an enormous gift from Mark Zuckerberg.
· The statement that ‘the future is private’.
· Zuckerberg acknowledged that FB doesn’t have the best reputation in that respect.
· And as well as integrating the messaging apps of all Facebook’s products and bringing them together, he also announced that the company would trial a payments system via Whatsapp in India.
And what has any of this to do with The 100?
· Firstly, because we have to be totally committed to the idea of protecting our privacy.
· The idea that any company – let alone FB – is going to do that is a notion we have to get rid of immediately.
· Governments and lawmakers can help us but only if we elect the ones who are truly committed to making the changes we want.
· And lastly, because it’s going to take a lot of effort and commitment from us to get us back on track to a world where we are connected but still private citizens.
And the TV show?
· Because we briefly touched on the idea of pivoting last week.
· Pivoting is the kind of ultimate start up admission that your business model doesn’t work.
· Usually it means pivoting to another model that won’t work, but it will raise a little more cap and keep the lights on for a few more weeks.
· So the chat I was having with the client was that if a business has flexibility it can move in different directions without having to pivot.
· You’re bringing more revenue streams online.
And that’s what The 100 is about? A steam punk world with multiple revenue systems?
· As the great Romantic poet Chris Martin once said, “Nobody said it was easy’.
· No, the 100 is a great example of a TV show that can completely reboot from one season to the next without ever disrupting what it’s about.
· It doesn’t pivot, it literally blows up the world it lives in and reinvents itself a season on.
· Nearly every season ends with nuclear Armageddon.
· And it’s a great idea because it allows the characters to change as well.
· The heroes and villains of the show are the same people.
· One season you’re the good guy, the next you’re a despot who’s spent 5 years in an underground bunker forcing your subjects to fight each other so everyone else can eat the loser.
· The kind of thing that could happen to anyone.
Isn’t that confusing?
· Absolutely. And it refuses to apologize for it, either.
· That’s what I love about the show. It’s as messy as real life.
· And it fully commits each time.
· And that’s why The 100 is my blueprint for dealing with pivots like the one that Facebook is attempting.
· See what I did there – we’re the 100 and facebook is the one.
· And this is a pivot in the true sense.
· This is FB saying, what we were doing wasn’t working, we need to do things differently.
That’s a good thing, right?
· This is part of what’s at the heart of the debate.
· We already know that the tech industry in general means something very different when they talk about privacy.
· And it’s the same with this Facebook pivot.
· What they mean when they look at this model is that they will protect our privacy within the apps and services.
· So, we’ll have encryption on all our posts and messages.
· No outsiders will be able to see them.
· Facebook will be enhancing the functionality of its Groups features, presumably or users who prefer the locked down groups of instant messaging.
You think that this is their answer to the younger users who are heading straight for apps like Whatsapp and bypassing the more open world social media services?
· I think that’s part of it.
· E-wallets are kind of transforming this space.
· They’re becoming this one stop shop for everything from ordering food, to lending friends money, to booking a hotel or a taxi, to messaging your friends and sharing videos and doing all the other stuff we love to do online.
Isn’t that what social media services like Facebook have always wanted to be?
· I think so. I mean we’ve seen so many efforts by all of these companies to become more of a revenue hub.
· Facebook has its marketplace – which kind of competes with services like Carousell.
· It seems to obvious that Twitter should be a way to transfer money and make micro-payments.
· But I think what the e-wallet providers have found is that it’s easier to expand outwards from financial services and into content, rather than the other way around.
· Because people are already their spending money. You can just introduce a new tab and see if people are interested in streaming movies, or DMing each other.
If it doesn’t work there’s no great loss…
· No, because the majority of your revenue still comes from financial transactions of many descriptions.
· And that’s what I meant when I talked about flexibility.
· Facebook has to pivot towards privacy and try to demonstrate that in some ways it’s a fundamentally different company.
· E-wallets have the flexibility to add new revenue streams.
· Their business models can adapt and grow more easily.
· Largely because they’re built around a transaction between their users, the app and the services the app connects them to.
· Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Google to an extent have it back to front.
· We interact with those services, and those services sell those interactions to third parties.
· Which is why the discussion about privacy is crazy.
When we come back – and I think you’ve probably guessed it already – Matt’s 100 fuelled manifesto for protecting your privacy.
Today MSP is looking at privacy in a disruptive age. Before the break I was thoroughly confused when Matt Mattsplained the connection between social media business models to movies and TV shows.
Is this the part of the show where you tell us all to Disrupt the future?
· It’s a little bit dismissive, but it’s a pretty good description.
· I think I called them interruptions before the break, but we can reclaim Disrupt and make it more positive.
Do we need to make that distinction?
· I think we do.
· If there’s anyone listening in who hasn’t heard last week’s show on disruption, it might be a good idea to go back and play that one first.
· As I mentioned last week – we’re actually the ones who tend to get disrupted.
· We get disrupted out of stable jobs, good salaries and working conditions.
· Disruptors often claim that what they do is good for consumers.
By lowering costs…
· Amongst other things. But often those lowered costs are artificial – because they’re made with borrowed money, not because the business operates at lower costs and passes the savings on.
· And specifically, because it’s a strategy to put the existing players in that industry out of business.
· What happens to prices after that is anyone’s guess.
· But economic and social history shows us that monopolies tend to put up prices, decrease innovation and investment and wallow in the high-priced soup of our suffering.
But when we hear that a company like Facebook is making privacy its focus, that it’s reorienting its business around what its consumers are asking for. To most people, that sounds like a good thing.
· It can be. First and foremost, I throw the consumer term around a lot.
· We are consumers. And customers.
· But those things are only part of our lives.
· Companies look at people in very reductionist terms.
· They are really only interested in the parts of our lives they can monetize.
· We’re not fully rounded human beings to them. We are their consumers.
· If you look at social media apps in general, they’re essentially an attempt to commoditize conversation.
You could say the same thing about the telephone…
· Totally fair point. I’m not saying that any of this is new.
· It’s only the digital medium that’s new.
· Whether it’s a phone, a social media network or a messaging app, they’re great tools.
· They bridge enormous distances.
· But how many of our communications take place over vast distances?
· How many of our listeners have messaged a friend or family member in the next room or even across the table from them?
· We’ve already allowed those conversations to be commoditized and data mined.
· It’s easier to speak via a third party than face to face. Even if you’re physically sitting face to face.
Which brings us back to privacy, how?
· Because when I talk about my own sense of privacy, I’m talking about something that’s much larger than the kind of encryption that an app on my phone is using.
· My privacy is about how thick the walls on my house are.
· Are there cameras in the street monitoring where I go?
· Is my phone or TV listening to me?
· Is my boss snooping on my email and browser?
· Do my digital devices contain malware, either from 3rdparties or from the manufacturer itself?
And if the answer to any of those questions is yes?
· Then where does that information go?
· Who gets it?
· And what are they doing with it?
· Because there’s no point having people around me I can trust with my secrets if there are devices and apps capturing my words and sharing them with anyone who can pay.
I guess the point is to not have secrets…
· We all have secrets. Even if it’s as small as that secret ingredient that makes your French toast different from all the other French toasts out there.
· To which my answer is mutton fat, and no, I didn’t say nicer French toast, only different.
· The point is that we should be able to choose what we share.
Surely, that’s the point of what Facebook is doing? Moving towards the privacy of its users?
· There’s a fundamental and inherent disconnect there.
· Facebook – or any other communication service – is enticing us to channel our communications and conversations through its servers.
· And then we’re demanding that it keep all our information safe.
· So going back to your question, yes, it’s a good thing.
· We want Facebook to encrypt our data so that bosses can’t read it, or to stop third parties like Google from being able to grab, cache and analyse that information.
· Even for something as simple as stopping someone from ripping off your cat videos and putting them onto their own monetised Insta feed, for which you receive neither credit nor revenue.
· Those are good things.
If we’ve resolved that, we still have another 7 minutes of airtime to fill. Unless you’re about to say “Yes and No?”
· Yes, I am about to say yes and no.
· This refers to Facebook only because Mark Zuckerberg has been talking about it publicly this week.
· It could apply equally to any number of digital companies that use a similar revenue model to Facebook.
· The reason we don’t trust companies like Facebook is not because their services are insecure and allow third parties to mine our lives.
· The problem is the companies themselves.
It goes back to what you were saying about privacy having a different meaning depending on who’s using it?
· Yeah. It’s another of those ‘them and us’ things.
· So having a company like Facebook, or Twitter or even Google, pivoting towards privacy is not going to solve our most fundamental problem with them, which is their business model.
You were saying that the e-wallets don’t face the same issues?
· No. Because they have a fairly straight forward business model – they are a payment gateway, or aggregator or both and often a lot more besides.
· Take the social aspect away and they can still make money.
· And there’s a mind-shift: We use those services when we want to make a transaction.
· We’ve already decided to act as consumers when we fire up the app.
We’re working with different mindsets?
· When your world is based on a free or freemium model, you’re essentially a business gymnast.
· You’re taking a bunch of people who don’t think of themselves as consumers or don’t understand that they’re making a transaction,
o and you’re trying to turn those people into revenue.
· So, as much as any tech company with a seemingly free business model values your privacy, it has to turn your life into money.
· And that’s the essential problem that I don’t think any company can overcome.
Which is why you think we should start to interrupt or disrupt those conversations?
· Yes. The only way we will ever have privacy is to pay for it.
· Look at the rest of your life. How do you stop your neighbours from overhearing you?
· You buy a piece of land and put as much distance between yourself and the next human beings as you can afford.
· Or you book yourself into the VIP room at a bar or restaurant.
· Or you invest your time, energy and probably money in politicians or activists willing to fight for your privacy vision.
So, the money is the key?
· In this instance, yes. We treat the social media companies as though they’re community services.
· They aren’t. They’re private, profit seeking companies.
· And they can’t guarantee your privacy when they rely on auctioning your privacy to the highest bidders as their main source of revenue.
· It’s like if you’re using Amazon’s S3 services to store your data, you have a right to demand that your information is secure and protected.
· Because you’re paying them to do exactly that.
· With free services, your private data is the fee. It’s what you pay them with.
· They can’t protect it because it’s the only currency they have.
· They have to exchange it with someone else for money, to pay their own staff and for all those content moderators whose horrible job it is to keep terror streams off your feed.
You think we’re asking them for something that’s impossible?
· Yes. Which is why their definition of privacy is so different from ours.
· The worst thing is that we’ve only got ourselves to blame.
· We’re the ones who decided we preferred not paying for stuff.
· And it’s messed up our expectations completely.
· Think of it as buying a juicer.
· You can’t afford that Philippe Starck designed one that would make your kitchen look awesome.
· So you find a knock-off on Alibaba for a tenth of the price.
· You don’t expect it to juice as well as Starck’s machine.
· In fact, you have to squeeze the fruit by hand before you can even put it in the juicer and even then it shorts out the whole house after giving you a massive shock.
· But that’s ok. That’s what you expect it to do.
· It looks good in your kitchen but it was cheap.
Whereas with the tech companies we got a free juicer and we’re expecting it to work like the designer one?
· Yeah. Our expectations are nuts.
· But as we chose their business model for them. We are the ones that can disrupt it.
· And that brings us back to that 100% from the beginning.
· It’s going to take commitment and tough love.
· No one wants to deliberately choose to pay for stuff
· anyone who is paying subscriptions for Netflix, Amazon prime, Apple, HBO to go, cable and the high speed Net connection to support it all, can tell you that.
· Paying for stuff sucks.
· Not paying for stuff sucks worse.
· And if The 100 can reinvent itself from season to season, we can do the same.
· You want Facebook to guarantee your privacy and best interests?
· The simplest way is to give it money to protect them.