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During a pandemic, having Amazon, Netflix, and TikTok on hand is great. And their success shows that good enough is a lot good.
You may have heard this old saying: content is king. The idea is that essential, extraordinary entertainment, information and technology rule the land. I’m not sure if this was ever true, and it definitely is not now. What governs instead is “good enough”.
Amazon may not have one thing you want to buy, but there are five other things that make perfect replacements. Good enough is why I sat through several episodes of a bad old television series recently. Good enough is why Apple is Combining multiple unnecessary digital services into one. Netflix, TikTok and YouTube are powerhouses of the economy.
They have a small amount of great things and a lot of perfectly fine things and they package them in a convenient and affordable way. This is useful.
The power of good is underestimated in my opinion because it seems like an insult. Admits mediocrity is fine. But it is!
The sufficiently good economy, however, speaks for the balance of power between those who create things and the gatekeepers who distribute them.
The internet made it easier for people everywhere to show the world the music they created, the cat toys they made in their spare time, or the entertainment they made on an iPhone. But because anyone can create something, one thing is difficult to attract attention.
Because of this, companies that can gather large numbers of people in one place – Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, and others – have become our kings. It’s Harry Potter-like sorting hats that organize the sea of entertainment, information, and products.
When you pull enough eyeballs in one place, every single hit movie, online celebrity, or star video gamer matters less. If the video app didn’t have TikTok Charli D’AmelioSome of their fans would freak out. But most of them would be happy about everything that is still there.
Did “Tiger King” get a lot? Attention and eyeballs on Netflix because it’s a fantastic TV, or because Netflix put it at the center of attention for its 200 million subscribers? As one of the most popular video game stars in the world couldn’t thrive outside of a hugely popular video game websiteIt turned out that the companies that put together an audience can outweigh the draw for a superlative star.
I don’t want to underestimate the superstar draw and the indispensable programming. For example, the National Football League could single-handedly keep the American television industry alive. Some people are singular content kings.
But especially for companies that bring large numbers of people together and make it easy for all of us, the aggregate wins over the individual. A lot of good is better than a little perfect, which is likely to be difficult to find or cost extra.
The funny thing about online life is that there are two poles. The good enough economy sits opposite the “passion economy” which Ben Smith, the New York Times media columnist, recently wrote about. Digital services such as Patreon and Substack offer musicians, podcasters, drawing teachers or newsletter authors the opportunity to make a living from a relatively small number of passionate fans.
So sometimes there is content. And the websites that amass billions of audiences with things that are good enough.
Apple’s midlife crisis
Companies don’t just try to sell us what we need or want. They’re also trying to sell us what we need to buy.
On Tuesday, Apple spoke about a dizzying array of products, including new and updated versions the Apple Watch, iPad and combinations of monthly subscriptions to things like Apple’s music service and New virtual fitness classes created by Apple.
Apple now has about 1,031 things for sale – you know, roughly – – Many of them have been added in the past few years.
To understand why, you need to know Apple is have a midlife crisis.
The proliferation of the smartphone was a gold mine for Apple. It still is. But the mine is slowly running out of gold. Smartphones are all over the world Basic needs like refrigerators will beand fewer people look forward to buying an additional $ 1,000 iPhone every year or two.
That’s fine. But that’s not okay with Apple. This company pretends that they don’t care about money, but yes. And companies like Apple have to make more money every year, which is harder when the gold mine runs out of gold.
So if Apple is struggling to sell more of a relatively small number of valuable products, one solution is to make more products. Something for everyone.
That might help us understand why Apple typically released a new model of iPhone every year until 2018 – and it now has four. This is why Apple has started in the last few years Making TV series, sold news and Video game Subscriptions, offered a credit cardpitched a home speaker and experimented with combining his online subscriptions.
A lot of these things could be great – or (COUGH, COUGH) good enough. And we want companies to develop new ideas. When you see these products, imagine Apple whispering, “Please buy more things from us.”
Before we go …
Yoga teachers against a conspiracy theory: Some yoga teachers and other people interested in wellness are concerned that the QAnon conspiracy theory is this gain a foothold in their community. My colleague Kevin Roose stated in a new feature called “Daily distortions“Using the language and sensitivity of a New Age healing workshop helped QAnon supporters to expand the conspiracy that falsely claims that a cabal of satanic pedophiles and cannibals is ruling the world and seeking to undermine President Trump.
It’s easy to snore, but Kim K is powerful: Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Leonardo DiCaprio said they would protest what they see as inaction by Facebook, misinformation and hate speech from do not post on Instagram or Facebook for 24 hours. A promoter said this celebrity freeze was a step in a broader print campaign against Facebook, wrote my colleague Kellen Browning. Others called it an ineffective performative gesture.
Perhaps individual stars are “good enough”? My colleagues have a fun and thought-provoking series of short essays on the internet broken and remade what it means to be famous. Academics and geologists are famous. Nail artists and hedgehogs are stars. And you can vote for the most relevant celebrity. (Academics are in the lead right now.)
We all – including this raccoon – deserve to hug a teddy bear. (Many thanks to my colleague Liam Stack for finding this one. Yes, today’s “Hugs To This” literally includes a hug.)
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