This is the 27th edition of Making Connections, where we take a random (illustrated) walk down tech, fitness, product thinking, org design, nerd culture, persuasion, and behavior change.
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🖼 Visual: Scotch & Bean - Counting
The last week has been a rollercoaster for not just this country but the world. Despite all the reminders to avoid drawing early conclusions to the race before all the votes came in, I think we couldn’t help ourselves. The media treating the vote counting as a “race” doesn’t do us any favors either. Like investing, in stocks or crypto, it seems like patience and judicious monitoring is the best course of action here.
🧠 Thought: Preparing for the Smarter, Better Trump 2.0
University of North Carolina professor Zeynep Tufekci has made waves for her smart takes on the pandemic, China, Trump, and social unrest. She’s now a rising public intellectual with her own pricey Substack newsletter. In her latest column for The Atlantic she offers a sobering thought on how Trump served as a shitty first-version of an authoritarian leader that other countries have experienced for decades.
He campaigned like they did, too, railing against the particular form of globalization that dominates this era and brings benefit to many, but disproportionately to the wealthy, leaving behind large numbers of people, especially in wealthier countries. He relied on the traditional herrenvolk idea of ethnonationalist populism: supporting a kind of welfare state, but only for the “right” people rather than the undeserving others (the immigrants, the minorities) who allegedly usurp those benefits. He channeled and fueled the widespread mistrust of many centrist-liberal democratic institutions (the press, most notably) —just like the other populists. And so on.
It’s a solid and finishable read so don’t let my quotes deter you from the whole thing, but her points about who the next one will be are especially noteworthy. Establishment figures have too much baggage so we have to be vigilant for the smart, under-the-rader figures with the charisma and tech savvy to rise.
Make no mistake: The attempt to harness Trumpism—without Trump, but with calculated, refined, and smarter political talent—is coming. And it won’t be easy to make the next Trumpist a one-term president. He will not be so clumsy or vulnerable. He will get into office less by luck than by skill.
Perhaps it will be Senator Josh Hawley, who is writing a book against Big Tech because he knows that will be the next chapter in the culture wars, with social-media companies joining “fake news” as the enemy. Perhaps it will be Senator Tom Cotton, running as a law-and-order leader with a populist bent. Maybe it will be another media figure: Tucker Carlson or Joe Rogan, both men with talent and followings. Perhaps it will be another Sarah Palin—she was a prototype—with the charisma and appeal but without the baggage and the need for a presidential candidate to pluck her out of the blue.
America’s Next Authoritarian Will Be Much More Competent by Zeynep Tufekci in The Atlantic
👉 Check out: Matter
I’ve been looking for a tool that would let me read my Substacks and other email newsletters in an app or RSS reader like format (RIP Google Reader) because your inbox is not the best place to read such content.
Recently I got a cold DM on Twitter about exactly such an app. To be honest, I get several of these a month and usually they’re requests to upvote some generic app on Product Hunt so I ignore the fuck out of those, but this one had a video walkthrough of the product and was actually what I was looking for so I gave it a try.
The app is called Matter and it’s great for 3 reasons:
- It lets you follow writers instead of publications - tracking authors wherever their words live. This inversion is an important recognition of the unbundling of content, where the writer and not the bundle is key.
- It lets you send your email newsletters into a central feed (as I mentioned)
- It aggregates article recommendations from Twitter and other sources into a Discover Feed. This gives you context into the piece beyond just “people are talking about this”. The 2 feed format reminds me a lot of Tiktok’s Following / For You breakdown, letting you switch between the two at will.
I actually found the Tufekci piece from the app so take that for what its worth. The app is currently in beta / early access but I bet if you sign up for the waitlist and maybe tweet at the team, you can get yourself an invite. Tell them Jason sent you!
Welp, that’s all for this weekend. Stay safe, enjoy the sunshine if you can get it, and keep breathing.
Hell to the yeah,
PS - Don’t sleep on Over the Moon, a touching and gorgeous new animated film on Netflix