• Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 4/11/21

Good morning!

The format of Sundays (formerly “in his words” from our President’s tweets) has been no format at all!…just short observations. Here are a few from this week:

Item #1. Google, Amazon and Facebook now together control over 50% of the ad revenue on the Internet. The pandemic has been kind to these companies, which have seen marked increases in views and revenue. How can this possibly be helpful to society? Are we to be slaves to the algorithms of Google, that may never allow new ideas, sites, and alternatives to bubble their way to the top, instead being directed to those who buy placement? Are we to see the utter destruction of local businesses to the ubiquity, immense buying power, and market strength of Amazon? And are our youth destined to find most of their news via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? I worry about the future dominated by the robber barons of the 21st century.

Item #2. David Brooks, in his column last week, acknowledges that things have changed and what he might have deemed heresy 10 years ago now is accepted dogma for him and other conservatives—the wage and wealth gaps have widened, our social spending trails similar developed, democratic states. So while he approves the expansion of public welfare and infrastructure, he reserves comment on the $3T bill being proposed by President Biden as perhaps including too much spending and borrowing.

Item #3. In part resulting from the pandemic and expanding waistlines, baggy pants now appear to be “in.” Speaking of heresy, this is heresy in its worst form. Clothing for those thin enough to pull it off, should be tailored. This trend must stop. Next, bell bottoms and leisure suits?

Item #4. Andrea and I recently finished watching The One, a creative meditation on a melding of the “ultimate” in matchmaking on the Internet with the ubiquity and controlling data available to Internet companies. Imagine if, through the use of massive databases of DNA, one could find the “one match” from somewhere around the world. Can technology provide every user access to the information that will lead to their “one true love”? The basis of the matching is is pheromones and biological markers. To me, the fundamental flaw is that it doesn’t take into account personality, shared interests, and serendipity.

Add to this concept the unexplained death of a colleague (explained later in the series) and the manipulation of the system to benefit the founder. I’m not sure if it’s a polemic on the perils of social media (a la Social Dilemma), a murder mystery (a la Broadchurch), a study of interpersonal relations (a la The Affair), a parable of corporate greed (a la Succession or Billions), or a story of dystopic view of the perils of technology in the future. That said, it is an interesting and compelling series of intersecting plots. There are some unresolved plot points after its eight-episode season. It would have been better to tie these up into a complete narrative, rather than hoping for a second season to ultimately resolve the plot (a season that, based upon viewership and critical response, may not come to pass). But the issues are presented intriguingly.

Have a great day,


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