Live from Potemkin

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Every morning, we run the Narrative Machine on the past 24 hours worth of financial media to find the most on-narrative (i.e. interconnected and central) stories in financial media. It’s not a list of best articles or articles we think are most interesting … often far from it.

But for whatever reason these are articles that are representative of some sort of chord that has been struck in Narrative-world.


Social network under fire but staffers show no signs of pressure [Fox News]

Most Potemkin Villages are not about malicious deception.

In other words, most are not displays intended to convey a lie that is only recognized as such by one party, like the imaginary town of Rock Ridge, built to prevent the would-be atrocities of the Number 6 Dance later on. On the contrary, most of these elaborate set-pieces are lies constructed to maintain common knowledge that is convenient in one way or another to everyone. Everyone walks away getting to tell the story they want. It’s a sort of clear eyes / full hearts thing, but for pathological liars and politicians (your brain probably just inserted the Mark Twain quip that felt too on-the-nose to me here, so just pretend I wrote it).

But when that common knowledge starts to break down, you start seeing weird things. This article is a weird thing. The author flits effortlessly between genuine impressions that employees are ‘happy’ and skeptical side-eye at tough topics being brushed off. If the whole piece seems awfully confused about how much bullshit Facebook is shoveling and what can be surmised from that, well, that’s because it is.

I don’t know how the Big Tech narrative has changed since we observed that “FANG” had become a negatively tinged concept, although we will be spending more time on the topic. But in the widening gyre of 2019 US electoral politics, having one armed tied to the “biased opponents of free speech” narrative and another to the “excessively powerful corporations representing interests of the ultra-wealthy” narrative doesn’t sound like a recipe for a fun few years.

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The Daily Zeitgeist

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