Gillmor Gang: Electrical Banana


Thank you for starting the first big online season. Yes, the pandemic has taken a gigantic step towards digital for our immediate and accelerated future. We all know how this works in the required state before vaccination. But there's an undercurrent that's not so hidden there, a dynamic response to my wife's persistent question: where's my jetpack?

She is a child of the 1960s, a post-Beatles era when dreams imploded and expectations exceeded. James Bond was allowed to fly a jetpack, but the tell-tale burnt gasoline exhaust made the effect an artifact of what wasn't going to happen. In an electric decade and with noise-canceling AirPods, they're probably more likely to show up than not, but if so, what's the next jetpack?

I am voting for the electric newsletter, a notification engine that knows what I'm following, projects my core colleagues' trends, and proactively invests in the products we want to accelerate. It's a self-healing economy, a research coordinator, a humor and media reward. In the aisle we use a mix of live streaming, backchannel notifications and everything that goes with that but doesn't include a newsletter.

From the start, Twitter promised a future where RSS authority would be dismantled in a social context. What I mean by that is that RSS provided the ability to provide the Chair in Heaven opportunity to Louis C.K. described the opportunity to explore the world together with the artists who were formerly known as accredited journalists. It has always been a tough sell for the evicted gatekeepers, but look ahead to today and you can see that they are all bloggers and podcasters now.

The moment the meritocracy window opened, the definition of success moved to the readers, the viewers and the social enterprise, as Marc Benioff pointed out. Software as a Service used these social signals as fuel for what the iPhone delivered in the mobile wave. Now the mobile economy is expanding to silicon on the desktop. The M1 appears to be an evolution, but its entry point on consumer laptops is designed to create network effects in the same way that Office 97 put Windows 95 into orbit.

Where's that electrical newsletter when it's that important? Newsletters are a means of finding things that I didn't know were important to me. They suffer from too many of them because too few business models drive them. Subscriptions generate revenue, but reduce the network effects of ad subsidies for firewalls. You get range, but the crowd explodes. Contextual glut isn't a nice thing either.

Our early attempts to create a gang newsletter spawned the real-time Telegram feed. The notification stream shared by groups is just as valuable for what we skipped as it is for immersing ourselves. As the framework device for the Gillmor Gang recording sessions, we could both anticipate what we wanted to talk about and what we wanted to avoid. Trump fatigue is burned down in the Telegram, while science and innovation are processed and concretized in advance.

Adding a Twitter feed (follow @gillmorgang) adds likes and retweets to the mix. The live recording stream generates Facebook watch parties and additional comments. An edited version here on TechCrunch adds this related comment. But where is the newsletter for all these live pieces?

Maybe the answer goes back to the jetpack? It may not be the jetpack we are looking for, but the components that make up this stream as a service. A jetpack offers the dream of instant teleportation with no traffic jam or courtesy to your Uber driver's musical tastes. Zoom already offers some of those promises where saving the commute opens hours in your day. The zoomable purchasing and delivery management will go a long way.

As Donovan intentionally announced, the electric banana will be the next phase. My electric newsletter is the perfect definition of a dream. It's not so much like when it comes here as what.


The Gillmor Gang – Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live on Friday, November 20th, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@radice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

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