Algorithmic Pressure | 2410

People I hang out with online all at once seem to have begun questioning the necessity of weekly creative production. 

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Algorithmic Pressure

Episode 10. Season 11! Only two more seasons left to go this year. I think we’ll roll directly into Season 12 next week. And then I’ll be speaking about Solarpunk in Lisbon at Human Entities 2024 the first week of June. Then I’m going to have a week off. If you’re around tickets are still available.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where groups of people, completely independently of one another, all start having the same conversation? As if the topic arrived into the cultural subconsciousness because this week was the right time for it?

Given the changes to the online media environment. People I hang out with online across Telegram, Discord, and Signal all at once seem to have begun questioning the necessity of weekly creative production. 

My thoughts on this are mixed. On the one hand, I’ve made shows about how important I think it is to create something every single week.Β 

How it builds self discipline. Not just producing something to completion, but the need to to do it over and over again. Week after week. A boot camp. But at the same time and It doesn’t matter if its a podcast, a youtube video or a newsletter. Creating something weekly can become a grind.Β 

Doubly felt, by people who’s creative online work is tied to income of any kind. Speaking of which you can support this show for Β£5 a month and get my zine four times a year at Which, with all the inflation going around, is becoming an even better deal month by month.Β 

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Anyways, whether your creative work is your primary income or a side hustle, the risk of weekly production becoming a grind (I feel) has something to do with expectations.

When you create something every week you are always in danger of running out of good ideas. Ideas might be cheap. but it’s the turning of them into something tangible, the communication of them, that’s effortful and time-intensive. You can’t turn a bad idea into a good one through the application of effort alone. And yet because of the expectations, content must still be made.

The people questioning the logic schedule itself fall into two discussion types:

The first is around the risk burnout and ties back to what I was just saying about running out of good ideas. Burnout occurs when you keep creating even though you’ve got nothing in the tank. The well is dry. The reason this happens is not necessarily the relationship with the audience, but with the algorithm.

This is something I’ve talked about before – back in episode 2329, so I won’t repeat myself. But you really do have to create things for yourself first, then the audience, then the algorithm.

The other conversation is around the weekly shedule is why weekly in the first place?

Daily, weekly, monthly production schedules are downstream hangovers from legacy publishing and programming. When mass media production and consumption was a business of collectives of people – not indivuduals. Yet we brought all of these expectations with us into the virtual, and therefore the algorithms expect it from you as a creator too.

People write a weekly newsletter because writing a newsletter weekly is the thing you do.

There are signs that this is changing though. Filmmakers in what’s becoming known as the YouTube’s new wave, are making and creating films and just dropping them whenever they are done. People like LifeofRiza and Natalie Lynn make personal films and release them three, maybe four times a year. There is no expectation or concern about accommodating the algorithm.Β 

Which is all very well. But the current state of the platform economy has trained users into passive content consumption. Ad hoc releasing of work only makes sense in a world of push notifications. A world where you let the audience know that you have new work out. Which is what things like blogging, newsletters, and podcasts excel at because the nature of RSS or email subscription as a push mediums.Β 

Speaking of push mediums There are apparently hundreds of people subscribed to this show via Spotify. Yet hardly any of them are listening anymore. Something happened about seven months ago – my Spotify audience dropped off a cliff. Was it a UX update or something?Β 

If you are listening on Spotify right now, what’s up with that? It’s a total black box. Drop me a line I’m interested to know, I don’t use it as a podcast app at all. Also wherever you’re listening why not rate the show five stars right now!?

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I’m not sure tensions between audience, schedule and can be resolved. It’s going to require both artistic experimentation, and audience participation. But now is as good a time as any to try something new. The web is in turmoil, filling up with AI slop, so real things from real people are going to need to signal their humanity. There’s lots of potential over the next few years to re-draw the maps between people and platforms.Β 

If I were starting a podcast like 301 today, knowing everything I know now, I would recommend making seasons just five or six episodes in length. 

That’s just long enough to build momentum and work the creative muscle of doing something every week. For a project to become a practice. But also provides a clear, time-bound container for the production of the work. 

How to promote it all in 2024 though, how to reach new audiences? That’s a different question entirely and not something I have an answer for at all.

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