The Awl Podcast: Clay Shirky

The internet has been destroying and reconstituting the media for more than two decades: first, slowly and in parts; now, quickly and totally.

For readers, viewers, and passers-by, it’s been strange. And interesting! But working on the internet — an internet increasingly consumed and managed by a few centralizing powers — has never been more disorienting. Got friends who work in the media? Take them out for a drink! Work in the media? Take yourself out for a drink!

Clay Shirky has been writing and speaking this stuff for decades; we’ve been publishing manic essays about it for a couple years. So we talked! Subjects covered: the smiling ruthlessness of platforms; how the entire history of modern media was a series of stable quirks; how our comforting narratives of progress and cycles couldn’t account for the totalizing ideology of Facebook; What Upworthy Means; the Content Wars; etc!

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Clay Shirky’s latest book is called Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream. It’s really good.