There are some mornings when you know you have to write about something — but really don't want to. I don't want to give Facebook any more attention than I have to. I don't want to see Facebook clone something else into irrelevance. But, dammit, I need to acknowledge Reels.

Sadly, this stuff matters to journalism, so please excuse the excursion into Zuckerworld, the marvelous digital country where we are all just commodity data points to be evaluated and sold to advertisers…


They fired up the Zuckercopier again

Facebook's long-held motto of “if you can't buy 'em, clone 'em” still appears to be true. After cloning Snapchat into Instagram Stories, Facebook has now cloned TikTok into Instagram Reels.

A few things to note here:

  1. Reels is non-intuitive to find. It lives within the Explore tab. Once you open a Reel, you get the option to create ones of your own. My social feeds are full of desperate social media consultants trying to find this, and failing. But then, I suspect most of them don't use the Explore tab routinely.
  2. Reels essentially adds a third component to the 'gram. You publish to your followers on the grid, you communicate to your followers on Stories, and you entertain the whole Instagram audience (potentially) on Reels. Navigating those distinctions is going to be important, if the Reels product gets traction.
  3. Instagram is getting bloated. There's at least three distinct products in there now — the original grid, Stories and now Reels — and they all have very different uses. I'm in the middle of reading No Filter, a book about the early days of Instagram, and it's quite remarkable how very different it is philosophically as a product to the one Facebook bought.
Instagram launches Reels, its attempt to keep you off TikTok
Instagram’s highly anticipated Reels product launches today in more than 50 countries and is aiming to become one of TikTok’s biggest competitors. Instagram will have to convince people to spend less time on TikTok and more time on Instagram.

Magazine subscriptions: blip or boom?

Interesting piece from Esther, looking at the long-term viability of the magazine market. I'd have framed it slightly differently: my theory is that we are going through an accelerated winnowing process. People will quickly realise that, if they want beloved magazines to survive, they will need to contribute more directly, through subscribing, and possibly other forms of support.

Many magazines will not earn that support. Some will. Some might start winning the support, but not be able to adjust their cost bases in time. The interesting thing will be learning from the survivors, and using that to rebuild an industry which will probably look very different from the current one.

I should write more about this.

Is the COVID magazine subscription bump a short-term trend or a long-term bet? - Media Voices Podcast
For some publishers, magazine subscriptions have been an unexpected bright spot amidst the pandemic. Dennis Publishing have recently reported that …

It started with a tweet (but it's chaos now)

Some perspective on Twitter, attention and polarization from the always-interesting Om Malik.

It all started with a single tweet
Fourteen years ago, on a somewhat cold evening, I stepped out of a party being hosted by Ruby Red Labs in an office it shared with Adaptive Path in San Francisco’s SOMA district. I craved nicotine.…

SEO: Should I AMP or should I go now?

Obligatory technical content: some interesting thoughts on why you might still want to publish AMP even in the age of Core Vitals.

Saying adieu to AMP: You might be giving up rankings -- and revenue
In one study travel marketers saw a 29% bump in mobile revenue with AMP.

The seductive search for structure

It's reasonably well-established that a desire to see the world as ordered and comprehensible is behind the appeal of conspiracy theories. There's some interesting evidence here that people who want to believe in a structured world will reject reporting that undermines their own mental constructions as "fake news".

Journalism would be so much easier without all that annoying human psychology to deal with…

People Who Crave Structure Are More Likely To Declare That Errors In Media Reports Are “Fake News”
By Emily Reynolds. Viewing errors as deliberately deceiving readers may satisfy a need to believe in an orderly world.