A balanced diet is part of a healthy lifestyle, and so is a balanced information diet.
Are you feeling weighed down by the constant flood of information, clickbait headlines, and social media advertising? Whitney Lauritsen and guest Alex Fink explore the importance of a balanced “information diet” for your mental health, drawing parallels with food choices. Together, they discuss the negative impacts of consuming too much news and the addictive aspect of platforms customizing content based on past behavior.
Discover the benefits of cutting down on social media and TV news consumption, allowing you to focus on personal growth and enjoy well-researched content from books and diverse media sources. Learn about Alex’s personal boundary with YouTube, the food analogy of information, and how his platform, Otherweb, seeks to remove the “sugar” from your daily information intake. From fostering open-mindedness to appreciating the challenges faced by content creators in balancing mission and profitability, this episode gives you healthier information consumption habits that promote increased mental well-being.
Listen to the podcast here
Feeding Your Mind: Tips On A Healthy Information Diet With Alex Fink
I am speaking with Alex Fink. One of the reasons I was interested in this conversation is because his PR person that pitched him to me started off the email talking about how a balanced diet is part of a healthy lifestyle. Many of us know that, but not many of us think about how a balanced information diet is important to our lives.
There was a quote from Alex in this pitch that said, “When it comes to health and well-being, what you put in your head is as important as what you put in your mouth.” I couldn’t agree more. I’ve talked about how I stepped back from social media usage and specifically, TikTok, which was a challenging thing for me to do because I spent the last few years using TikTok so much.
I found a big benefit with it. I enjoyed a lot of the information I was getting from TikTok, but I could feel that it wasn’t quite as balanced as I would like. It did seem to be influencing my mental health. I decided at the beginning of 2023 that I was going to pause all personal social media usage. I deleted the apps off my phone and didn’t have a timeline.
It’s been months since I did that. It has made a profound shift. I’m curious to start off with that conversation with you because it seems like social media is a major way that many of us get information these days. Perhaps, we can start there and then expand to other types of media that you focus on in your work.
Every type of media gets monetized by maximizing the number of clicks and views that they get from you. They’re all trying to grow the share of the pie that they get out of your time. TikTok has been very efficient at it. That’s why you happen to have a problem with TikTok. That problem can happen with any type of media. There was a study in 2013 where that compared people who were at the Boston Marathon bombing and witnessed the bombing to people who watched six hours of media coverage or more of the bombing. The people who watched the news coverage were more likely to have PTSD. Every type of media could be bad if you overdose on it.
My mouth is wide open. I grew up in Massachusetts. When that bombing happened, it impacted me in a big way without even being there. This is an interesting thing I’ve never heard before about the news coverage side of things, which is to move over to that for a moment or completely switch directions, is something else I’ve been thinking a lot about.
My mother who spends most of her time in Massachusetts consumes so much news media. Not as much social media, but I’ve noticed over the years, she developed a lot of fear and concern. I’ve noticed since I’ve stepped away from social media as a whole, I dabble in it for my work, but in my personal life, I barely use it.
I noticed how my fear got greatly reduced. The question came up, is her fear heightened because she’s being manipulated because she’s overconsuming content? Is that part of the media’s way of monetizing or is she just taking in more information and more aware than me who’s much more in a place of ignorance than I used to be? I don’t know current events as much because I’m not on social media where I used to consume so much. We’re on two different extremes. I’m curious, is one extreme better than the other or do you need to truly find a balance so that you’re not on either end of the extreme?
I’m in favor of balance, but I could say that if you have to choose between these extremes, being ignorant is probably better. I don’t think you have to go to that extreme. It is possible to construct a healthy diet where you treat every type of information that you consume as a type of food. You don’t want to eat 8 pounds of carrots in one sitting. Carrots might be good for you, but 8 pounds of them, probably not so much.Treat every type of information that you consume as a type of food. Click To Tweet
Everything has a place to some extent. Even social media might be useful to some extent, but you have to put boundaries on it. My addiction of choice was YouTube, not TikTok, but at some point, I decided that as long as the YouTube algorithm determines what I’m going to see next, I will keep getting addicted. I had to go through my account and clean out my entire history, deleting every single subscription and video in my history. Now when I go to YouTube, everything that it proposes to me is completely useless to me. It’s not interesting. That forces me to search for something if I want to watch it. That’s the best filter. That way I don’t consume too much of it.
That makes a lot of sense and the first thing I think of is, “It’s not as fun to use these platforms.” TikTok for example, like YouTube, they’re using your past behavior to create an algorithm to keep you on there longer. It’s very satisfying because you feel like these platforms know you. That’s what drew me into TikTok over time. I felt like it knows what I like. I don’t have to put in as much effort. I can just lay down on the couch or the bed, just scroll and my brain is getting all these dopamine hits and it feels good.
Since I stepped away from that, I’ve noticed how much my brain was craving that like an addiction. I went through a withdrawal period. Now if I use TikTok very infrequently, I’m usually not logged into my personal account anymore. It’s a whole different experience. I don’t like it as much, so I don’t spend as much time there. It’s truly only going there to find something specific and then leaving, which is not what these apps want you to do. They want you to have that experience of feeling like they know you and giving you so much of what you like. Many users are unaware of how that’s impacting their brains.
Food is a perfect analogy here. The same thing happened with food where at some point, food companies started becoming better at making packaged foods that are addictive. They have more sugar, fat, and salt, all the different things that tickle the right parts of our brain that we end up over-consuming them. In the past many years, people have become more aware of this.
Now we’re trying to pay attention. We’re not very good at it, but at least we’re trying. We need to start doing the same thing with information. Social media is one example. Everybody has that weakness. I think other types of information have the same effect. Being overly informed with regard to the news is just as bad in some sense.
Let’s say there is a war going on. There happens to be one in Eastern Europe. The frontline tends to move once every month or so. There is a big counter-offensive and then something happens. Do you need to read news about it every day? Probably not. There is no news about it. I see the same thing with US politics. How often is there an actual event worth reading about in US politics? Once every few months, perhaps. Most of the time when you open the news and you read something about US politics, it’s somebody who disagreed with something that somebody else said about somebody else.
It’s this on Meta. It’s not real news. Nothing happened, or somebody responding to a poll about an election that will happen years from now. Maybe a week before the election, a poll is useful information. Now the polls are useless and people’s reactions to the polls are not news either. News organizations printed, we consume it, and therefore, advertisers get to sell stuff. That’s how the entire system works. People have to learn how to extricate themselves out of it, otherwise, somebody else owns their brain essentially.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase, “Someone else owning your brain.” That is one of the reasons without even fully articulating that way that I stepped back from social media. While there have been mostly benefits to a drawback, I’m still trying to figure it out for myself, which is that I don’t feel as informed. Generally, I’m not someone that watches the news on TV. I watch TV for pleasure like TV shows, but I don’t watch the news a lot.
I don’t seek out reading the news. I subscribe to some newsletters that give me new summaries, but most days I don’t have the energy to read those or they’re not important to me. As you’re pointing out, unless there’s something specific, I’m looking for trying to pay attention to most days of the year. I am going about my personal life.
In a way that’s like going back to the way things used to be before the internet became so prevalent in our lives. You would hear information from people in your life. You would talk to people. That’s been my experience. I don’t even know the events in March 2023, the school shooting in Nashville. I heard about it maybe 12 or 24 hours later versus when I was on social media, I would hear about it right after it happened.
That’s what I am reflecting on. To be in a little bit of a place of ignorance, I’m wondering, what are the pros and cons of that ignorance? Is it important for me to be aware of what’s happening in the world or is the media conditioning us to think that we need to know everything that’s happening everywhere all the time?
The answer is yes on both questions, but that’s why you need a balance. There is a trade-off between those two. I can think of events where knowing what’s about to happen or what is brewing somewhere in the world might affect your decisions. In that case, the person who knows has an advantage. I can use my own personal example. My parents decided to leave the Soviet Union in 1990 when problems were brewing in the region that we lived in. Several months after we left, the war started. There’s an even better example.
I have a marketing person working for me now who left Ukraine on the night of February 23rd to 24th, 2022, two hours before the border closed. That’s the benefit that you get from being informed. Certain types of information save your life, but if you’re informed about everything all the time, most of the information that you’re getting is probably not going to save your life. I don’t think information about somebody’s reaction to a poll in Washington DC is saving anybody’s life. That’s information porn. It’s not information. You can’t act on it.Most of the information that you're getting is probably not going to save your life. Click To Tweet
We need some balance. Reading a newsletter once a day or using an app once a day, especially if it’s an app like the one that I happen to run where you can tell it in advance, “I want to read these many articles per day. That’s my quota.” That’s useful. It’s not trying to monopolize your time. It’s just trying to give you the product that you asked for, which is, “Get me up to date on what happened in the past 24 hours.”
Once you go beyond that, it’s okay if you enjoy it, but the question is, are you enjoying it or is it more like an addiction? That’s a question everybody has to ask themselves. I’ve been defining myself as an information junkie for a very long time because I enjoy reading way more than I need to know. I’ve been okay with it until I met this YouTube algorithm that started getting me into these weird rabbit holes that I didn’t want to go in. Even I had my limits.
Maybe some people’s limit is different and that’s something that everybody has to decide for themselves. Among other things, news or social media is one type of information you can consume. You can read books that were written 2,000 years ago and are still true now. How do you allocate your time between these two things, the timely versus the timeless? That’s a trade-off. If you’re consuming a lot of timely stuff, then maybe you could learn more stuff that is useful to you by reading Aristotle. It’s just an idea. I’m not saying in particular Aristotle’s the go-to guy. Maybe he’s more important or more useful to your life now than a pole that happened in Washington DC.
I’m glad you mentioned that because that was another big benefit. I found my reading books specifically went way up because of the time I used to spend on social media, there was this gap in my day. All this had multiple gaps because I would turn to social media anytime I was bored or wanted to take a break from work and sometimes after I woke up or went to bed. That’s when I knew it was becoming an issue for me. It was that filler in all of these gaps of time throughout my day. My schedule completely shifted. Now I read for 30 minutes to 1 hour every morning. That’s one of the first things that I do. I’m taking in information that I find truly beneficial.
As the way most of the books are written, they feel very well thought-out. They feel oftentimes researched depending on the type of book that you’re reading. I also started reading more fiction instead of non-fiction to get some of the mental health benefits that come along with reading stories and not paying attention to information collecting all of the time. In terms of your wonderful product and website, Otherweb, I told you earlier how I started experimenting with it. One thing I appreciated was that you can choose how many articles you’re seeing per day. I brought it all the way down to the minimum. It was ten.
That’s a bit extreme.
I’m new. I’ve still got to figure this out. That was an interesting thing to notice. I wanted the least amount of information possible each day because right now, I’m impressed if I read one article a day because it’s just not part of my habit. Your point though of staying informed for safety, awareness, and compassion for others to truly be informed for global reasons and your personal reasons.
I would like to get my balance a little bit more towards that edge versus coming back from this extreme that I’ve been on. Your website was encouraging for that. I also like the simplicity of it. On Otherweb, one of the ways that you describe it is that you can read the news and look at the latest studies. It’s free, ad-free, and junk-free. Free means you’re not paying to use it, which is incredible. Ad free means that you’re not displaying ads to monetize it. What do you mean by junk-free?
The way that idea started was we didn’t know initially what we want to build as a platform or an app. We wanted a way to figure out how to evaluate the content and how to filter out the bottom 90% because most content out there is complete and utter rubbish. There’s no reason to consume it whatsoever. I mentioned before, somebody said something about what somebody else said about something else.
That’s relatively good as far as the news industry goes because occasionally I would open Google News and it would show me an article from CNN titled Stop What You’re Doing And Watch This Elephant Play With Bubbles. I’m not making this up. They do whatever they can to get clicks these days. They have quotas to meet. They have pressure. We wanted a way to filter that stuff out.
I teamed up with a friend here in Austin who has a PhD in Natural Language Processing. He does a lot of work and trading on Wall Street that is unrelated, but he knows how to analyze language. We started creating AI models. We trained to detect a particularly bad trait that content might have. Let’s say a clickbait headline. That’s a pretty well-defined trait. We can all recognize it. The headline doesn’t match the body and uses words that are meant to attract attention. We taught the model to detect those with relatively high confidence, almost as good as a human editor, but unlike a human editor, never has bad days and doesn’t have an upper limit on how many articles it can process.
We created about twenty of those. We created a nutrition label for each article just based on the text of the article. Once we rolled it out as a free product to the world, we saw that people don’t use it consistently because it’s a nice novelty. Everybody gives us good feedback and enjoys it, and then they stop doing it because it’s an extra click when they consume the news. That’s when we decided to create a platform that now uses this as a filter to push the junk out.
It seems generous of you. My follow-up to that is how do you make this worth your time? A) Are you monetizing it? If you’re not making ad revenue as most websites do and don’t have a membership fee involved, how do you justify the time and resources that you put into this? Are you monetizing it at all?
Not yet. The typical approach of startups in Silicon Valley, which applies to the TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube of the world as well, was first, to build something the users like. Figure out why they like it and how they use it, and then figure out how to monetize it without scaring the users away. This is the approach we’ve been taking. We have some Angel investors. I put some of my own money as an Angel investor into this.
Now we are raising funds from our users essentially on Wefunder, which is a crowdfunding platform on direct CF. It’s SEC-regulated. It allows people to invest as little as $100 and get equity at the end. That will get us through the growth phase until we get enough users that we understand how people use it and how we can monetize without ruining the experience for them.
What a lot of startups do wrong is they try to monetize too early and decide, “I’m going to be a subscription service.” You are probably going to grow much slower because only subscribed users can share content and open the links that somebody who has subscribed just sent to them. It makes much more sense to try to keep it free and ad-free for as long as possible.
Once we get to the point where we understand our user base well, we can start gradually doing small-scale experiments. Let’s say we add advertising only on the search results after somebody highlighted a piece of text and clicked on it to learn more. Let’s see if that scares those users away. Experiment on 1,000 people. Did that work well? Great. Roll it out to everybody. That’s our plan with regard to monetizing.
We will start playing with advertising, but until then, let’s keep it pristine. Let’s make sure people love it, share it and they get value out of it, then let’s interview them and figure out what that value is because I’m not sure that I am entirely representative of our users either. In fact, we already see an almost bifurcation of our users into Information Junkies, which is a group that I belong to.
People who are closer to where you are right now who essentially checked out of the news and said, “I will never read this again,” but now they’re coming back gradually and saying, “If this is what the news looks like, I might give it a try.” We’ll see which of those groups is going to be larger by the end of it. I still don’t know. Maybe we have to almost maintain two versions of the product for these two.
Thank you for sharing the insider look. I’m always fascinated by how startups operate and understand that it’s challenging to turn a passion, a personal interest, and a purpose like you have into something that’s sustainable because whether we like it or not, we live in a capitalistic society. We need to make money to live, and sustain ourselves and our families.
Many of us understand that, but it’s a tricky thing to do with a product like yours because many people are used to getting information for free, yet what we’ve come to these days with the internet is a lot of people are unaware of how the monetization is happening. Most people don’t understand how ads work and how these websites are making money off them. They don’t understand manipulations.
Biases can happen. I’ve known this for a long time as a content creator and feeling a bit unsettled in some of the monetization situations that I’ve ended up in as a creator where I want to make money, but I also don’t want to compromise the community that I’ve built, the audience, and people that I care about who are the reason I’m doing something in the first place. It’s finding that balance. It seems like a major part of the reason you created Otherweb was to help people with something that they might not have even realized they were struggling with, to begin with. That’s maybe group A or they have a problem they don’t know how to address.
The other people are saying, “I want information, but there’s no safe place to get it.” I would imagine that the second group would be willing to pay. Even as I’m listening to you talk, I’m thinking if there was a small fee for something and I knew that my privacy was being looked after, which is becoming more important, I knew that I wasn’t being manipulated. Ultimately, I would rather pay whatever a small amount ideally would be per month or year to feel like I’m caring for myself much like I would spend money on other parts of my health.
We spend money. We make a decision about a food product, but there needs to be this cultural shift to remind people that we need to spend money to care for our information consumption and maybe there’s not a lot of awareness yet so that people value it enough to pay for it. Are you finding this? Is this part of your research as a company to figure out how you get people to value something that they’re used to getting for free?
There are several different things that I want to address in what you said. Let’s start with the last one, getting people to understand that this is important. We have to look at it almost like when Whole Foods were starting in the ‘80s. You have to create awareness that A) There is a problem, and B) A better way exists. Maybe you can never reach the entire market. Maybe you can only address, as we tend to call it, the people who care about what they put into their brains. It’s a subset of the population. It’s not everybody.
Once we create something better for them and they appreciate, like, use and share it, that sends a signal to the rest of the ecosystem that this matters. People care about it. You suddenly see organic foods at Walmart. Walmart didn’t use to carry organic foods. There was no reason for it until somebody showed them that this product has good margins. I hope that we will start seeing better information on Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter. That’s one aspect of it where I think we have to create one example that shows the world that this works for it to affect the rest of the ecosystem.
I want to address the ecosystem in general because you touched upon a very important point. It’s not the ad itself that creates a problem. Ads are annoying. None of us like them, but they’re not a major problem. We know how to scroll past them. The real problem occurs when the person creating the content creates different content because it needs to be monetized with ads. That is evil. If you look at it, it’s not that the person is evil. Everybody’s following their incentives. For the ecosystem as a whole, it creates something evil in the world. It creates things like clickbait, which otherwise would not exist.
That’s the part that we need to address. To create different incentives for the creator and for the distributor companies like Google or Facebook, we have to create some way in which higher quality content pays better. It cannot just be cost per click times the number of clicks. It needs to be times the factor of the people who filtered this stuff out, for example, which is a proxy for content quality. Maybe over time, we can get a closer proxy and put a factor in that formula that says content quality, and 20% of people will not see it.
What we are able to do is that 20% of people will not see it. If we grow to 20% of the market and 20% of the market cuts clickbait out, suddenly, there’s much less incentive to create clickbait and much more incentive to create something that doesn’t get filtered out. That’s the odd game that we’re playing. It’s hard to balance these things out.
In fact, we made the unusual choice of registering as a public benefit corporation because as a C corp, you can’t put the mission above making money. Your entire reason for existing legally as a C corp is maximizing shareholder value. That’s the only thing you have a fiduciary duty to. We want it to have a duty to something else that we can balance against that.
In our case, it is improving the quality of information that people consume. We have to register something other than a C corp to write both of those things in our bylaws. We also made the choice to open most of our algorithms so that they’re source available so people can look at them, see what we’re doing and see what data sets we train them on. That’s a non-trivial choice.
I’m still not sure it’s the correct one, but we felt like we have to do it because otherwise, how can we tell people we’re not biased? We’re not just trying to give you only the left or right side of the aisle. If we want them to trust us, then we have to open up the kimono and show them everything. That’s what we did. It’s an odd minefield that we’re running through, but it’s doable.
It’s not only doable, but it’s important. One thing I have learned over the last few years while growing my awareness and acknowledging my own biases is that I need to step outside of my bubble and realize that there are other people experiencing things vastly different than mine and that doesn’t make either one of us better or worse. As a society, we’ve been conditioned to take sides and align with people who are like us.
It’s a natural human tendency. There are all sorts of reasons historically why we do this. If we can work on staying more open-minded, stretching beyond our comfort zones, and doing things like looking at the “other side” politically, I want to be more informed. Even if I don’t align with a viewpoint or a politician, I would still like to try to understand it because I value those people as human beings.
As we see in the US, sometimes we have people in our government that we don’t agree with, but we’re voting on them and we’re choosing to live in a country that values the majority of the votes. If we want to live in a place like this, we have to make room in our heads and hearts for different perspectives. Otherwise, it’s going to feel too chaotic and unified.
When it comes to the news, that was something that I was trying to take into consideration with your site. You and I had talked about how certain websites I probably wouldn’t normally read because I get these preconceived notions that the content on that website is not for me. Their viewpoints are not in alignment with mine.
One thing I liked about my first experience with Otherweb is I went on there, searched for something, and there’s like a preference bar. For the reader that hasn’t checked out Otherweb yet, there’s an app and website version. I’m talking about the website version. You can toggle these little preferences. It was fun to toggle them and see what results came up.
Look at the nutrition label for each of them and say like, “Is this information they’re sharing different from the other sources that are coming up?” That was a fascinating experiment to go into very open to the information versus if I just went to CNN.com for example, which has been my main news source for many years. I like being presented with other sources instead of just looking at what I’m used to.
We used to have sources that we can trust more or less, but at this point, all the sources that we have been compromised to differing extents. You can think of it as a bell curve. The sources that are on the right are better than the sources that are on the left in the bell curve. The ones that score higher or better, are great, but the entire bell curve is shifting and that’s the bad news. The more it’s shifting, the more we have to come up with some way to adjust. Our approach has been, “Let’s pay attention to the content of the article. Let’s not even have a concept of a right or left wing in the Otherweb.”
In fact, at some point, we developed a special NLP or Natural Language Processing filter that tries to detect the bias of the article and tell us whether it’s a right or a left-wing writer. We decided not to deploy it and not to reflect that information anywhere because we didn’t even want to taint the platform with that level of information. We want to gather from the entire spectrum and just filter based on objectively definable traits like, “Is the headline clickbait? Is the language relatively objective or relatively subjective? Does this use hateful phrases or words?” Things we can define objectively regardless of right or left.
Our hope is that most readers will enjoy the fact that it’s balanced. They read the best articles from Fox or the Washington Examiner, CNN or MSNBC, etc. They don’t just read one or the other. What we filter out is the bottom, not the right or the left. We still give you the controls to disable particular sources. If you insist on going in there and disabling Fox or the Washington Examiner, then you will still be able to recreate a left-wing bubble on the Otherweb.
We don’t think it’s that good because generally speaking, in an environment that has this much noise, the only true information is the one both sides agreed on. Chances are if the left tells you something and the right doesn’t say it or vice versa, it’s arguable at best. It’s very hard to see something that is objectively true, only stated by 1 of the 2 sides. It happens, but it’s pretty rare.In an environment that has this much noise, the only true information is the one both sides agreed on. Click To Tweet
One thing that I’m not familiar with yet on Otherweb based on the short time that I’ve spent there thus far was how you define offensive. It came up under Fox News which was something I expected. My bias is to think that Fox News is going to offend me. I’m trying not to assume that anymore, but I’m still in that mentality. I think it was Fox, I could have been wrong, but even the fact that my memory believes it to be Fox is interesting.
Whatever source it was, I saw the little nutrition label flag for offensive language. I was almost surprised because these were all big publications and I was wondering what is the criteria for offensive when these sites are not like blog posts that anybody can write without editing. These are sites that have some editing involved, I imagine. How do you define offensive?
Even though they have some editing involved, it seems like the editorial standards are much more relaxed than they used to be. It is pretty normal nowadays for some publications to write about how a politician of the site they disagree with is a liar. That’s an offensive word to call somebody a liar. We treat the word offensive in its literal sense. Do these words offend the people that they referred to?
It’s not defending your sensibility, but if they describe somebody in offensive terms, we all have a pretty clear idea of what that means and what offensive terms are. To be even more specific, we used an academic dataset. We did not create our own for this particular filter. I can find who assembled the dataset, and what university, and defer to that.
Our view of offensiveness is the most literal sense you can have. If you say something offensive about another person, then the article is offensive. I should note, and this is more on the introspective side of things, that this particular filter we have is not context aware. If you have an article that quotes somebody saying offensive things about something else, we will mark the article as containing offensive material.
Even though it could be that the journalist is lamenting the fact that somebody has been saying offensive things. We’re not aware of that context, or at least that filter is not aware of that context. That’s a feature we want to add in the future, but still, you would provide a trigger warning if somebody was quoted as saying something that deserves a trigger warning. We do the same thing with offensive language.
Thank you for explaining that. It’s so appealing to me. I’m looking forward more to spending more time there, maybe experimenting with a daily habit of reviewing Otherweb each day to integrate back into information in a way that works for me. One thing I’d like to return back to is the subject of clickbait.
There is a big difference between journalism and content creation and social media or even just the broad media sense, whereas we’re in a nice time where anybody can create content, whether that’s a written blog or some websites will receive articles from anybody. It’s very easy to get your opinion heard. There’s a difference between a journalist who has studied something, has been graded on its shape, and even is adhering to a certain amount of ethics, whatever those ethics may be.
Journalism, as a whole, has values in place and training to get certain credentials. Anybody could call them a journalist. I at one point used that word for myself because I didn’t know what else to call myself. I didn’t want to be called a blogger or whatever words were used in the past. I also don’t like the term influencer. That’s an odd terminology that we’ve become so used to because if you examine it, it’s basically saying you have the power to influence somebody to buy or make a decision. It rubs me the wrong way because there are not a lot of ethical codes of conduct, if any.
As you’re pointing out with clickbait, we know that offensive things get people’s attention. Outrage gets people’s attention. There are studies done on how negativity performs better online and as you alluded to earlier with the study you shared about the Boston Marathon bombing, how it’s impacting our mental health when we’re paying attention to a lot of negativities. Yet content creators are literally rewarded through money and fame to be as offensive, negative, and controversial as possible because that allows them to get higher up in the hierarchies and make more money.
There is an ethical issue there that I’ve had a problem with for a long time. I don’t want to be rewarded for manipulating people. I don’t even want to necessarily influence people in those ways. I’m curious about your standpoint and maybe any more research that you’ve come across and how we could try to change the state of things so that you’re not being rewarded for persuading people in a negative way.
The problem is slightly worse than what you described. I’ve spoken to probably somewhere between 200 and 250 journalists so far in my Otherweb journey. One motif that I keep hearing over and over is, “I wrote a good article with a good headline, and the editor changed it to be clickbait.” That happens all the time in most publications. The editor is the one that gets rewarded or penalized based on the number of eyeballs they got. The journalist doesn’t see the economics. they’re just trying to follow their code of conduct, but very often what they write gets changed. That’s one part of the issue.
The other part of the issue that also makes it worse than what you just described is that often journalism is a competition. Whoever writes about the story 1st gets more eyeballs than whoever writes about the story 15th, let’s say. If you have more and more, whether it’s content creators, self-publishers, or whatever name you might want to use and those people publishing things faster and earlier without checking them in the starkest terms possible and attracting a lot of attention, that creates a lot of pressure on the legacy publications to loosen their standards. You are seeing this all the time.
CNN, Washington Post, and New York Times do this. How often did you see big stories broken with a single anonymous source in the past many years? It happens all the time. Try to find a story that was broken with a single anonymous source many years ago other than Watergate. That was pretty much the only one. Maybe the Pentagon Papers, but there was a lot of verification before that thing was published.
Just because of the single anonymous source, that’s unheard of. You don’t publish stories like that unless it is critical for the public to know then you might spend 4 or 5 months preparing that story. Nowadays, that’s commonplace. Almost every day, you see stories in existing legacy publications that we all know and respect with a single anonymous source. Why? Where did double sourcing go?
Everybody still learns it in journalism school. They can’t afford it anymore. The ethical standard exists, but it’s too costly to employ in real life most of the time because they have to compete with BuzzFeed. That’s where the story becomes worse than just the content creators facing these incentives. Everyone does. The only way to fix the system is to change the incentives.The only way to fix the system is to change the incentives. Click To Tweet
We have to do that by giving people the tools to filter content in a better way. Maybe one day we can even give advertisers tools to filter out the content that they get advertised on maybe you don’t want your ad for Nike appearing on the clickbait article. Maybe that doesn’t bode well for Nike or maybe you’re okay with it, but you’re willing to pay less for it per click. That would also be okay. As long as there’s some incentive to write better articles because Nike pays less to appear in them, then we have selective pressure to improve the content quality.
We have a population of memes with a single selective pressure, clicks, and views. There’s no other selective pressure. Evolution does its thing. Everything drifts towards clickbait and the risk of filibustering for too long. I want to address one more thing that you mentioned. Anybody can get published and be heard. There’s only one other historic parallel to this where publishing got democratized in the 1430s because of the printing press. We went from the church essentially having a monopoly on publishing to almost anybody can set up a printing press and start publishing books.
You started seeing more things get published all over Europe. We all regard that as a very good thing, but we shouldn’t forget that the 200 years following that invention were inquisitions witch hunts, and 52 different religious wars all over Europe. You get the scientific method, peer review, and enlightenment.
It took us 200 years to figure out the transition from that invention and they were bloody. The witch hunt alone, the data that I’ve seen as 80,000 women were burnt at the stake or hung. That’s some pretty big ramifications I would like to avoid. How do we do that? That’s what we’re trying to do to create some tools that resemble the scientific method or peer review for the big democratization of publishing, which is the internet.
I’m grateful that you’ve addressed all this and backed it up with your research. You’re proving in this moment how useful that is and that’s something else that surprised me when I started digging into social media. The impetus for me pausing and deleting all the apps was doing some reading and research and feeling a bit horrified by what I learned about how social media algorithms work currently and how TikTok specifically is changing so much.
I’ve been heavily involved in social media as my career since 2009 or ‘10. There was a lot of positivity I benefited from the democratization that you’re mentioning. It felt good. I came from a background in film production where there were so many barriers to creative expression. There were so many times when I felt like I had to struggle to be heard and seen.
YouTube was a massive door that was opened for me to express myself, communicate, and build community. There were so many benefits in the beginning. You touched upon one word that started to give me pause and did not feel so good. When I started to see the competitive landscape change with social media, in the early days, it felt like there was equality. There wasn’t a lot of advertising.
Facebook was a platform you would go to connect with people. The social side of social media was there. The shift started happening where it started to become so competitive that you had to craft everything you did in a way that no longer felt as authentic. Over the past many years, I’ve seen that just become more extreme.
I’m very committed to keeping this show authentic. It’s not a monetization source for me generally. Occasionally, monetization opportunities come up on this show that I align with and I’ll say yes to them. Some are even a little iffy, I’ll be honest. Sometimes I’m like, “This doesn’t feel 100% but it’s good enough and I can generate income here.” There’s pressure as a host to write your titles a certain way to have your website and graphics look a certain way to market it that doesn’t feel fully in alignment with my values and ethics.
Imagine you come up against that with the developments with Otherweb. I’m curious how you plan to stay as closely aligned with your values, ethics, and mission statement, given that right now, I personally don’t see a lot of ways to monetize without some compromise. I’m curious if you do, and when you’re talking about like reinventing things. What are the possibilities? Do we even know them yet? Are they yet to be revealed? How hopeful do you feel about them so that the ethics and money can be in sync with each other?
We know the broad outlines and what experiments we need to run. We started this discussion with the food analogy. What you described sounds a lot like every single packaged food manufacturer figures out that adding more sugar gets their food to be sold better. They add more sugar. By the end of it, everything is saturated with sugar even somebody who wants to create a good quality product feels pressure to add sugar to their product because it would sell better.
That’s the broad analogous scenario to what you just described. Here comes the Otherweb. We’ll remove the sugar from everything. Is it going to sell just as well? Probably not. We have to figure out what to replace it with probably because if you just take a cookie and remove the sugar, it’s cardboard. It’s not good anymore. You have to at least put some erythritol back. We’re experimenting. We’re trying to figure out what that erythritol is. I’m eating keto myself. That doll is at the back of my mind.
I’m on a keto diet too. I’m with you on this analogy. My question then becomes, given that you and I both have done keto, my palate had to change. It’s not just the companies that are responsible for these changes, but the consumer itself. I had to train myself to first go through sugar withdrawals and realize, “I don’t mind eating a sugar-free diet,” but it took me time to get there. Do you feel like that same thing is happening? It’s not just your responsibility with Otherweb. It’s my responsibility as a viewer of Otherweb to get used to what you’re creating and realize the benefits for myself.
It’s your responsibility to even select us in the first place. There is some effort required from the consumer to pay attention to what they put into their brain. The question is, “How much effort? How complicated is it?” It was probably very difficult to follow a healthy keto diet in the 1960s after cancer became easier and now it’s easy.
You go into any store, I walk into Sprouts, every single shelf has a keto product on it. In fact, the difficult thing right now is to figure out which of the keto products are real healthy keto and which ones are dirty keto. They’re writing it because they minimize the number of nut carbs to five or something, but that’s not real keto. That’s going on a tangent. My point is effort is always going to be required if the consumer wants to get rid of an addiction.Effort is always going to be required if the consumer wants to get rid of an addiction. Click To Tweet
I want to go back to something that you said probably 5 or 6 questions ago that stuck with me. You mentioned that it felt like when you were on TikTok and other social media, you had gaps in your day. Did you notice that language? There’s one type of people only that uses this language. It’s addicts. It doesn’t matter what the addiction is, that is the language they use.
Alcohol or porn causes gaps in people’s days. Gambling addiction, heroin addiction, all of those describe it as a gap in their day. That is very telling what Silicon Valley has been doing for the past many years at least, using the addiction mechanism and documentary reinforcement cycles. There are books written about it. I think Muriel’s is the best one, but there are a lot of them.
There’s a lab at Stanford dedicated to this specifically. A lot of the people who work for social media companies in Silicon Valley come out of that lab. It’s almost bizarre that the company that has been the best at getting us addicted is Chinese and doesn’t come out of Stanford because I thought Stanford was the best at it, but it seems like with fentanyl, the Chinese figured it out even better.
It is an addiction that people have to make an effort to step out of. I want to make that effort manageable. If it’s going keto in the 1960s, then nobody’s going to do it. It’s way too difficult. We need to give people the tool so that they can click a few buttons and get something that resembles a low-carb diet and then maybe make some additional adjustments once their brain has adjusted to the lack of dopamine.
The keto reference is so great too because there’s also the outlier side of it, which I often find myself in. Naturally, I end up being an early adopter of things. I’m very drawn to novelty. With doing keto, the barrier was I didn’t know anybody who was doing keto. I felt very alone at first. I was interested in something but didn’t have an accountability or support system in place. I had to seek it out. When I started that, the options many years ago were all so quite different than they are nowadays specifically for me because I don’t just do keto. I do a plant-based version of keto. Back then it was like, “You’re not eating meat? What else are you going to eat?”
Over the past many years, the options have broadened. There are studies done about it that you can refer to. I also had to educate myself and find a variety of sources. It took that time and effort like you’re describing and it’s a great parallel, at least in my life right now because I feel that way about my information diet. Whereas I don’t know a lot of people who don’t use social media. One person in my life comes to mind who’s off of it all and he’s doing it for different reasons than I am. I still feel a sense of loneliness. I have to seek out sources.
There aren’t even that many because I’ve read most of the books about social media. I’ve watched the documentaries and I’m craving more, but we need a more massive adoption. Otherwise, the outliers like myself will be few and far between. You wonder how does a company like you survive if there aren’t that many of us? If your company is helping the minority, how do we do it so that we can both benefit? If Otherweb survives, that’s beneficial to me, but we have to convince more people to get in it with us.
Let me use a few examples. What would you think is the market share of Whole Foods in the US?
I am never good at these numbers so I have no idea.
It’s 3.6% and yet it seems to have a profound effect on the entire ecosystem and one of the most profitable chains out there. It is substantially smaller than Walmart, Kroger, or any of those. It has a profound effect even though it’s fairly small. It’s not the only healthy food chain out there. You have Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and several of them.
If you add those up, you will probably get to the point where 10% to 20% of the food market seems to be controlled by companies that care about quality. We can get to the point where the information space is at a similar stage. Once you’re at 10% to 20%, now you have an effect. Now Walmart carries on organic food. That’s the goal.
If you look at our numbers so far, we’re almost up to trying to figure out what the latest number is. We’re at 280,000 active users, and we launched the apps in November. It’s pretty good. Do we have a ceiling? Can we ever be as big as TikTok? I don’t think we can be as big as TikTok because if 10% to 20% is our ceiling then, TikTok is at almost 50% of the US population, then they are above where we are able to get. That means we can make a big difference.
Question for you on that line, because I was an early adopter of TikTok too. It’s very similar to Keto. This is just my pattern. I’m used to being one of the only ones that are doing something and going through that stage of feeling a little weird about it. TikTok benefited from the pandemic. That’s what a lot of the data shows. The timeline for that seemed to be perfect for them. What TikTok would be like now if it weren’t for the pandemic, it’d be interesting if we could compare that somehow.
I’m curious if you remember or see through your data like that period of time when TikTok had a lot of bias against it and somehow, they jumped to the gap. Is it because the Chinese company behind them knew how to tap into our dopamine and create that addiction-like experience, or was there something else that they did to get over that hump?
In some ways, they’re still there because there’s a generational gap with TikTok. Gen Z has adopted it. It took a while for Millennials like myself to get into it, but older generations historically have not been that interested in TikTok because they assume it’s not for them. How do you convince people that something is for them that they’re assuming isn’t, even if it might be in their best interest?
If you look at the adoption curve of a product then, typically you have the innovators and early adopters and then you have the masses that follow. TikTok has been in this phase of growing among the masses for a pretty long time. I don’t think there was any special transition for them when the pandemic started and any special transition is required now. They’ve been growing essentially at the same pace for many years. It seems to you like a transition has occurred because you suddenly notice that it’s everywhere. Years ago, it wasn’t.
It doesn’t mean that there was a jump in their actual usage. Their usage could have been just growing flat. There is typically a transition required early on when you go from the enthusiasts to normal people. We’re about to hit that transition point somewhere around 5 million users when we’ll have to figure out how we change the product to now appeal to people who aren’t as self-aware. They download the data because somebody they know downloaded the data.
That’s a different person to try to explain our value to than somebody who downloaded the app because they read an article about information quality and they wanted to try. It’s a different impetus. The person arriving at the app has a different level of knowledge, self-awareness, and mindfulness. I don’t think TikTok has had any big jumps in the past few years. They’ve just been growing because they are more addictive than others. This is why YouTube launched Shorts to try to copy TikTok.
This is why Instagram had a moment that less than a day when they changed their feed to look exactly like TikTok and then Kim Kardashian complained about it and they reverted it within six hours. That shows you that everybody knows that what TikTok does is more addictive but they’re trying to replicate it. Replicating is not always as good as the original to the extent that you can call the original good here. It’s efficient at doing something bad, but they’re good at it.
Does it show that Kim Kardashian has that much influence? Is it that Instagram values her so much that they’ll do whatever she says? That’s a fascinating thing too because I’ve noticed there’s a little battle between TikTok versus Instagram. Once I started using TikTok a lot, I got into this mentality of, “I didn’t like Instagram anymore.” It became on the TikTok side.
A lot of people in my personal life are the exact opposite, they’re still so pro-Instagram. They don’t want it to be like TikTok. It’s interesting. Is Kim Kardashian just that type of person or was there something more at play there? How do these tech companies decide what they’re going to do and who influences them to make those decisions?
Each tech company has its own culture and it’s interesting to what extent they vary. Instagram is unique and they were always much more concerned with a small group of celebrities that are at the top of the food chamber. This was back from their founding. Their community managers who reached out to those people and built personal relationships with them were hired before the engineers.
It’s a unique tech company. The tech didn’t come first in some. Systrom and Mike Krieger can code, but it didn’t come first. They were trying to build a group of famous people that somebody will want to follow. That is the ethos of the company. That’s how it started. Every other social media company has a different ethos and culture.
Google is the quants. They follow the numbers everywhere. Facebook is the growth hacker who tests everything out and sees which version works better. Everybody has their own approach. I don’t know which culture wins in the end. Probably whichever one hasn’t been tried before is the one that might work next because if you try to emulate the previous one, it never going to work.
That explains why personalities have so much power on Instagram because that’s the ethos of the company. They always try to build personal relationships with the personalities. TikTok, I don’t know that anybody has this much power there. I’ve never used TikTok other than to have a corporate account there and try to run ads. I don’t know anything about it.
I still have some information about it. I’ve been fascinated by it. It certainly caught my attention. It’s interesting the relationship side of it because now that I’ve taken a step back from social media, my whole priority is about relationships. I want to connect with people. I don’t want to just impress, influence, or entertain them.
That’s why social media, even as a content creator, doesn’t even interest me because that’s not part of the culture that I want to be part of. I feel a little bit lost at this time as a content creator. Podcasting is my culture, but I have a fear that it might not be that way for long. Even as podcasting grows more influential, I have a concern that it will no longer feel like a fit for me then where do I go? Do I even create content at all anymore?
You’ll probably find whatever comes next after podcasting. You raise a few interesting points here that I want to address. The first one is that most companies we call social media have no social component to them whatsoever. It used to be that social media was about you getting on media that allowed you to be social. TikTok is not social.
The social component there is whatever is used to determine your feed, but that’s it. You don’t interact with a person in your feed. In Instagram, maybe there is a bit more interaction, but even there, the most popular mode of the number of followers that the person has is zero. It’s not that the majority have. It’s just the most popular answer. I have zero followers. The next most popular is one.
Most people just go there to consume. The social aspect is to determine what is it that they see. It’s just a sorting algorithm. It’s not social. Twitter is becoming the same way too. A part of the big success of Twitter was that a lot of influential people would tweet there and a lot of normal people would follow the influential people. That’s not a social platform. A social platform is what Facebook used to be before Timeline. That was very social. We don’t have much of that anymore.
I don’t know if the social component of social media has a future. I don’t know if there’s a demand for it. Intuitively, I would think that there should be. In terms of who succeeds in the market and who doesn’t, I don’t see that there is. When people ask me what is Otherweb’s social play, I say, “We have a comment section. You can comment on stuff. You can share outside of the Otherweb. Other than that, I don’t even know if we need to add this social web of people interacting with each other because I don’t know if there’s demand for it. If people want it, we’ll add it.” It’s beneficial to us if there’s a strong social component, but it’s not clear to me that the platforms that are succeeding have one.
I feel the same way. It does feel peculiar and not intuitive because we’re in a loneliness epidemic. The data on how lonely people are right now is enormous. As human beings, we historically have thrived on community, connection, and support. It doesn’t feel like we’re getting enough of that right now. Is the addiction side of all this media conditioning us to believe we don’t need community, support, and friendship anymore at the cost of us having enormous suffering?
Yet despite that suffering, we’re still not demanding it. Is that what’s happening, or have the Silicon Valley engineers and the Chinese companies manipulated us so much that going back to the food analogy like we love sugar and these stimulants so much that we don’t even realize we’re slowly depriving ourselves of our core needs?
It’s all of the above. If we’re talking about addiction again, typically one of the things that happen with addiction is people become loners and stop communicating with their friends. This happens with every single addiction. It happens with social media addiction as well. We are seeing a lot of other instances like specific famous CEOs and presidents who would tweet at random times and just try to get attention. That is also social media addiction.
These people that I mentioned didn’t use to be like this or say things that are that controversial all the time. It seems like that’s just people craving more likes on Twitter. I’ve seen some interesting stats on loneliness based on which social media a person has been using the most. Twitter ranks number one as the loneliest most angry people than Instagram and a few others.
LinkedIn is less because it is social. It seems like there’s a ranking of those platforms. Things vary. They’re not all equally lonely. I don’t know what we are becoming society-wide. That’s not exactly my field. I’m an engineer. I’m just looking at trends. I’m seeing which lever I can try to tweak to improve things. I can’t say that I understand the psychology that much, but it does seem like there is a weird trend going on in this regard.
Podcasting is another interesting trend because it’s a counter-trend. To the extent that social media has been making content shorter, you are seeing a counter-reaction with podcasts becoming longer. I know we’ve been going for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, but Lex Fridman had an episode with Balaji Srinivasan that was 7 hours and 36 minutes. We’re pretty far from getting to those levels.
Even Joe Rogan’s is North of 3 hours most of the time and sometimes at 5. I don’t have time to listen to episodes that are this long, even when I’m a big fan of both people. That’s an odd trend too. That is a counter-reaction to everything being bite-sized on the other side. The funny part is it shows that it’s not like people crave a particular type of content. People are malleable to some extent. Our tastes are not fixed. We are doing whatever we think is best. The question is, what is available to us?
That sounds like a perfect statement to wrap up this conversation. As much as I could speak for five hours with you because this has been so interesting. This is my dopamine fixed these days. I love data, research, and psychology. The things that we’ve touched upon light me up. This is what keeps me going with the show being able to talk to incredible people like yourself. The fact that you are pulling a lever to try to figure out how to improve the quality of information for people is something phenomenal and something that I am becoming more and more mindful of and wondering too, who I want to align with.
On this show, there are people that want to come on the show as guests and there’s a feeling of capitalization there where they are trying to capitalize on the readers. I’m trying to be more mindful of that. I wish I had Otherweb that could help me vet every guest so that they could come out as quality as you are because I am so in alignment with your mission and very grateful for what you’re doing and how you’re continuing to make it better.
I can’t wait to try the app version, even though I’m not much of an app user. Perhaps I became less dependent on my phone overall because apps, in general, have felt a little too monetized for me. I’m curious, what is it like to use an app like yours that doesn’t feel like is trying to get something from me? I assume what you’re collecting is noticing the trends in user behavior, data, and what the preferences are.
I’m happy to provide those things if it allows me to get more quality information. I can’t wait to watch your journey evolve. Thank you for being so transparent. These types of conversations are incredibly valuable. Seeing what it’s like to create something and all the obstacles that you’re up against in this world of engineering, content creation, and consumption, there are a lot of hurdles, but you’re working through them.
The examples you gave of Whole Foods, that perspective is valuable. I’ve been shopping at Whole Foods for a long time, given that I have a preference for organic plant-based food. I’m surprised at the data because it does seem like Whole Foods is everywhere. Now they’re owned by the biggest eCommerce company statistically. Is Amazon the biggest eCommerce company?
In fact, they’re almost bigger than everybody else combined. They’re close to 50%.
“How is Whole Foods in alignment with Amazon?” has been an ongoing question for me. You certainly benefit as a consumer from how the prices have changed at Whole Foods, but I sometimes question how I feel about Amazon owning them.
Amazon’s point is they have the best distribution model. They know how to deliver stuff to your door. Buying a company that has so many locations in different cities makes that even better because the distribution of fresh foods is more difficult than the distribution of packaged goods. It was obvious that’s a good acquisition for both sides. Can they maintain both missions? I don’t know.
That’s a big question in mergers and acquisitions in all cases. Often people ask me, what are your exit plans? Do you want to be acquired? I have to think about that for a minute because, “Yes, but it depends by whom.” I’m not sure I want to be acquired by about every anybody because that will kill our mission. It’s a difficult question. I do want to mention that we had several different food analogies during this conversation.
You mentioned plant-based and keto. I don’t think that one or the other is particularly objectively good. I wouldn’t use that as a parallel to, “If you like high-quality content, you must like keto.” That’s not true. We have to separate quality from individual preferences. Quality food is quality food. It’s not only keto, plant-based, or anything in between.
It’s just not pink slime. That’s the minimal definition of quality food. It’s not cancerogenic. Our first approach as an information platform is to filter out the things that are bad, the empty calories, but then people still have preferences. We want to cater to those as much as possible like Whole Foods would cater to the keto person and to the vegan person at the same time.
We have the right and left-wing, everything that’s good from all sides, as much as we can talk. In fact, we try to go for all modalities. We haven’t mentioned that much, but we have news commentary, podcasts, research studies, and Wikipedia search engines. We made their own. Don’t ask us why. We have some vanity features that we make because, “It’s cool, we can build it,” so we do. We try to create all the different options for people but filter the junk out because that’s universal, then we’ll see what people like. We give them as much control as they can and watch what they do.
Thank you for stating that because historically, with content, people can take sides so much based on their dietary preferences, and give them now twenty years of being vegan, there are a lot of people that want to say like, “Vegan is the right way and the only way.” Over time I realize, “I don’t align with that anymore.” Just because I believe something doesn’t mean that it’s the right way, the only way, and the best way. I’m doing the keto diet, but at one point, I did a high-carb diet and thought that was the greatest way to eat. Your preferences can change over time.
Having the room you’ve created with Otherweb for different types of preferences to be accommodated, I feel like is an incredibly ethical, mindful choice. I’m very grateful for the fact that you took the time to address that. It speaks to how aligned you are with that mission. You’ve blown me away. I feel like you’ve shown up so authentically, present, and knowledgeable. It’s a remarkable thing to witness, especially at the stage that you’re at with the company. I can’t wait to see how things evolved. I’m going to go check it out on Wefunder. Are you still raising funds there?
It’s Wefunder.com/Otherweb. We’re at a little over $200,000.
I’m going to go check that out. Congratulations. I supported Zencastr on Wefunder. That was the first time I used the platform and it was a positive experience. How long does that go on for? Is there a timeline? I’m a little confused. Since I’m new to Wefunder, I don’t know exactly how it works.
They typically put a timeline in the disclosures, but the reality is it can be moved at will. Whenever we decide that it’s enough, let’s close the round. We tell Wefunder to do that and they send everybody a notification that says, “You have 5 to 7 business days to change your mind if you want out. Otherwise, the round closes and your money goes to the company.” That’s typically how their closing works.
In our documents, it says May 31, 2023, as the end of the campaign, but I can pull it forward and ask them to postpone it by a couple of months. There are no limitations on that. The reality is people who want to be a part of our company, can. Even after Wefunder is over, we can find a way. Wefunder makes it easier in that everybody gets pulled into the same special-purpose vehicle.
They don’t have to sign every single piece of paper going forward. They can all nominate one person. It’s easier for them and for me to deal with one representative of the entire community investor class. That’s a big benefit. It’s less paperwork, essentially. There’s always a way. If people want to support our company, we’ll find a way. Just give me a call.
I’ll make sure it’s easier for people to get in touch with you. It’s nice to know that if you’re reading this episode and feeling invested in something, it’s not just about using it, but you can financially back the company, which would hopefully be mutually beneficial in the long run. That’s what I’m examining more. Like with our food, we vote with our dollars.
We know whom we can support and what companies are in alignment with our ethics and our preferences. Being able to do that in bigger ways, like supporting a startup can be incredibly rewarding. I can’t wait to check that out after our conversation wraps up. Thank you so much. This has been a stimulating conversation that I’m going to be thinking about for quite a long time.
Thank you so much for having me. It was a blast.
- Alex Fink
- Stop What You’re Doing And Watch This Elephant Play With Bubbles
About Alex Fink
Alex Fink is a Silicon Valley Expat and the Creator of the Otherweb, a Public Benefit Corporation that (among other things) generates a “nutrition label” for media content so people can be more informed about the content they consume online. The Otherweb is also available as an app, a website, a newsletter, or a standalone browser extension.
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