It's a nerd's very online world.

tiktok and capitalism *rolls eyes*, the tech v. journalism debate, and COVID-19 stockpilers.

If you’re like me, you’ve discovered that you spend only even more time on the internet than anyone else, and those weird subculture hobbies that were sort of weird even a year ago, are actually ~cool~, but also taken over by capitalism. Oh, and shocker, journalism is still running out of money, but here’s how it sizes up for those coveted summer internships for students.

Thanks for joining me, this is Erin for Tech.


Culture driven by the platforms we can’t get off

I’m a bitch, I’m a boss, I’m a bitch and a boss and I shine like gloss. Doja Cat’s catchy anthem is currently blaring through my headphones as I’m jamming out to the tune I first discovered via TikTok. Judge me, but I’d imagine that I’m not the only one. I mean, google’s already set it up and the front page is all just links to playlists created by our very online worlds.

We saw it coming, but was it as prevalent? Online trends have often predicated the mass mainstream. But this isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, thanks to capitalism, these online groups with hyper-loyal fans are only a signal towards a loyal audience that can potentially convert to dollars in pockets (think of every culturally appropriated hipster trend, or my beloved mason jars becoming a basic bitch staple). There was even a SXSW panel on this in 2016: Niche —> Movement —> Mainstream. Niche cultures by far win at predicting what’s big and appealing to a specific audience.

In the world of any audience engagement nerd: you care about your community. And there are few communities more close-knit than a group of nerds. Forming mutual bonds over comic books, video games, or sci-fi are often the common tropes.

“People want that money, and people who have power are going to do what they can to get it. Sometimes that means investing in something that’s already big and successful. Sometimes that means investing in something promising to turn it into a big success.

One way to know if something is going to be successful is if it already has loyal consumers, and nobody is more loyal than nerds.”

Capitalism made nerds cool, by Kellen Beck for Mashable

Because we largely haven’t moved from a capitalist society or structures, this is still a predictable formula. Niche cultures will continue to evolve and find new platforms and trends, and it will eventually reach a point where someone like Bob Saget joining your platform to lip-sync. Count on our top popcharts coming from TikTok for some time now.

Moral of the story, signal boosting your nerddom effectively does nothing to prove your nerd street cred. Like whatever the heck you like. Personally, I’m okay discovering new music from TikTok + will forever love @StressInABox on tiktok tell me about her Axolotls.

Tech internships go online, journalism internships are effectively canceled

Ah, one of my favorite online discussions to have. The tech v. journalism one. I love journalism, I respect it so so so so much. Heck, I’m almost a master of journalism, and will have 2 degrees in the damn subject, but just keep going back to the tech world.

Why? Well, first off, there’s jobs. And time and time and time and time and time…… and TIME again, journalism continues to shoot itself in the foot. I’m not meaning the work that journalists are doing, that is by far, so very valuable, however, but the systems of journalism itself.

I had a friend who is extremely qualified, lose her graduate internship in journalism this week. NPR effectively canceled their internship programs. One of my favorite journalists, Rainesford Stauffer covered this in Teen Vogue, and wrote about a young woman who’s magazine internship was canceled b/c there was simply no funding. A popular thread on the r/journalism subreddit speaks to students being scared, and even companies that were long thought to be stable and competitive like Disney have effectively halted their internship programs.

Now, turning to the tech world, these internships are still around, Axios even reported that Microsoft was going to have their largest internship class yet. Students will be working remote, and heck even getting paid to do so much like the workforce is having to do.

While an initial critique of this is the fact that no organization was ready or prepared to take remote internships, I’d argue that no organization was even truly ready to go fully remote, let alone take a remote internship — we’re all figuring it out on the fly, we just need to be brave enough to do so. And that whole issue on funding, newsflash, newsrooms we’re struggling with that before this whole virus thing. That’s not a new issue, merely one that was exacerbated and could show to be the final nail in the coffin for so many local newsrooms.

Am I upset about this? Yes. Am I shocked. No.

My biggest frustration in going to grad school for journalism is how much journalism just doesn’t seem to learn. Its an industry that has been slow to adapt from the start, and maybe its time that they truly start listening. Reporters are doing amazing jobs, they should be backed by the infrastructure that truly understands how the internet works and is monetized.

In the meantime, hug your journalism friends. Share their work. And defend this industry, but damn, also wish that it learns.

In lighter news, I only hope that this quarantine stockpiler has a cart filled with toilet paper.

Quick Links

Alright friends, that's this issue of Erin for Tech. I’m back on my shit with things in quarantine, so count on me in your inboxes more often! Until then, see you on the internet my dudes!

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