Daily Balajisms - Stasi with a stock symbol
Prestige press is corporate Zersetzung of dissidents
Balaji Srinivasan sees the recent Twitter Files revelations as an important step towards citizen journalism. East German secret service, the Stasi, used techniques of Zersetzung, a psychological warfare, to fight opponents of the regime who had politically incorrect opinions.
Corporate media do it today too, destroying reputations of others, while spending down their clout for clicks.
Russell’s conjugation or emotive conjugation is a way to put a negative, neutral or positive spin on anything. Balaji uses an example of: I sweat, you perspire, but she glows.
Eric is a beginner programmer, inspired by Balaji, who started The GPT Times during his 100-day Replit coding challenge. It has a style of NYT and uses ChatGPT to write articles out of tweets – in a pessimistic, neutral, or optimistic style.
Balaji uses the term downstream media to describe current corporate media that experience record lows of public trust, as they gradually became just a partisan clickbait and are downstream of social (media) wars and jargon.
Apart from Russell’s conjugation, Lakoff’s framing or metaphorical framing, is another often used technique of putting an emotive spin on contentious issues.
History is our future, Balaji says, referring to his helical theory of history (history goes in circles, but progress happens on the z-axis).
The neutral journalism attempted “a view from nowhere”, when the old establishment was strong, and is now gone.
Due to rise of competition for advertisers from social media, neutral journalism was replaced by its predecessor, sensationalistic “yellow journalism”, with biased stories presented as the truth. It also reignited our current social war.
We gradually recover from the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect – where a subject expert is astonished to read in the papers an article full of factual errors on his subject matter, but then he flips the page and reads the next article on foreign affairs, as if it were all true, forgetting the stark inaccuracies of the previous article. Often journalists have the logic reversed, what Michael Crichton, who came up with Gell-Mann Amnesia concept, called “wet streets cause rain” stories.
Balaji has a unique take on why Gell-Mann Amnesia happens, and was stronger in the past. It’s because of the hub-and-spoke topology of traditional media before internet. They served as hubs where the consent was manufactured, because subject experts prior to social media couldn’t talk to each other and public directly. Twitter changes that, therefore the old establishment was eager to subvert it and shadow-ban dissenting voices.
Traditional corporate media in general, and NYT in particular, don’t deserve much trust. Balaji explains, that they are often orders-of-magnitude wrong (like 10,000x), not just slightly.
Downstream media, like NYT, are hitmen for old money, as Balaji says, and can still damage trust in specific individuals or institutions, as they attack and damage their social supply chains. But they can’t build societal trust anymore.
Balaji sees a transition from the Paper of Record into, what he calls, the Ledger of Record.
Instead of arguments from authority, and “the first draft of history” that is often subsequently rewritten to fit the current narrative, he wants to see cryptographically verifiable and uncensorable truth secured by blockchains and crypto-oracles.