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Thank you, Black Twitter
Sep 9, 2022
Episode 749

Thank you, Black Twitter

Plus, drinks and a game!

We pick up today’s show where we left off yesterday, talking about global reaction to the death of Queen Elizabeth. Plus, we’ll discuss the role of social media in driving counternarratives to stories from mainstream media organizations. Then, we play a round of Half Full/Half Empty. And, corgis FTW!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

If you’ve got a question about money, business and the economy, give us a shout. We’re at 508-U-B-SMART or email us at makemesmart@marketplace.org.

Make Me Smart September 9, 2022 transcript


Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.


Kai Ryssdal: All right.


Kimberly Adams: You started with that epic sigh again.


Kai Ryssdal: One deep sigh and off we go.


Kimberly Adams: That’s what triggers it. Hello, I’m Kimberly Adams. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we try to make today make sense – or, you know what, no, we will make today make sense. I have confidence in us, I believe.


Kai Ryssdal: Emphasis on the try. The belief, who knows? I’m Kai Ryssdal, thanks everybody for joining us on the YouTube live stream, on the discord as well, the podcast of course, for economics on tap. Today we’re gonna do the news fix and then do a little half full half empty with Drew. And, and I think we’ll make our customers swing by the bar. Kimberly, what are you drinking?


Kimberly Adams: I’m being relatively easy today. I just have scotch, but I think I poured a touch too much. So I’m worried I’m gonna get through – I’m not going to try to get through it all in this 15-minute podcast.


Kai Ryssdal: It would be, it would be a much more entertaining podcast if you did that.


Kimberly Adams: I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to be doing that when these things live on the internet forever. What about you?


Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, they do. That’s true. So for the third week in a row, I’m having ice water in a copy A glass because I’m going to get my booster shot – my bivalent booster in about 45 minutes, and I figured best not to show up, you know, with the beer in me. Just, you know, be responsible about that.


Kimberly Adams: Yeah, and I hope you’ve given yourself like a window to rest afterwards. I got a warning – I guess, was it, was it Juan Carlos I think who told me the other day, that he was really struggling in the aftermath? And so after I got mine, I just like clear the evening, just went to bed.


Kai Ryssdal: So here’s the thing. I’m going to be traveling a lot in the next month and I wanted to get it early. And we’re taking my son to college tomorrow. So number three goes to college tomorrow. And all I have to do is sit on an airplane. So I figured that’d be okay. But then of course, we invited my mother-in-law and my sister and my brother-in-law over for dinner for goodbyes. So I’m dealing with that. So yeah, there’s not going to be, it’s – if I get whacked. I get whacked. You know?


Kimberly Adams: Better safe than sorry, how you can do is do your best.


Kai Ryssdal: Alright, shall we?


Kimberly Adams: Yeah, let’s do the news. So I have more on the sort of reacts to the death of Queen Elizabeth. You know, I was thinking about yesterday where I was talking about people’s responses online and sort of the complicated back story and the way that people are reacting to it. And it’s been so interesting to watch the complete and total disconnect between media coverage of her death and the way that the UK is responding. And what social media is doing, particularly social media from the vast majority of the world that has been formerly colonized by Britain. And I have to say people’s mean game is quite strong. And yesterday, I refer to it as some of it being disrespectful, what I probably should have said was unkind. Because a lot of it is very unkind. But when you say something like disrespectful, and there’s been a lot of discourse about this online today, you know, there’s a bit of a judgement call of whether or not someone is deserving of respect. And there are a lot of people out there today, and yesterday, saying that this is somebody who ran a country that was – well not ran a country, but was the, you know, head of state for a country that was committing major atrocities throughout the world. And so then to ask people from those countries and communities that were damaged by that to be respectful, is a lot. And so it’s been very fascinating to watch. There was one story in Vise specifically that I want to point to, where the initial reaction, what was trending in India was a request to give back this massive diamond that the royal family has held on to for generations that they took from India. And they’re like, that’s ours, please, now that the Queen is dead, please give it back. There have been calls to use this moment as a time to end the monarchy. And this is probably the first time that I have linked to an academic article as my news fix, but there’s a 2018 piece by Marc Lamont Hill that was – I’m trying to remember where it was published, but we linked to it. And the title is “Thank You, Black Twitter”: State Violence, Digital Counterpublics and Pedagogies of Resistance. And it’s about how because of social media, we now have these counter narratives to the main narrative that is perpetuated by media, which is often controlled by the group that is the majority of the group that is in power. And so, you have the BBC, and a lot of the major news networks talking about the good things about Queen Elizabeth’s reign, of which there are many. But then these counter narratives that are able to exist and flourish online, many of them brutal, just like epicly brutal, but really reflecting the pain and anger and generations of frustration of these various communities. And it’s been really fascinating to watch and observe.


Kai Ryssdal: You know, so that’s an interesting segue to my item. So, first of all, yes to all of that, but also, it’s a phenomenon that would not have been able to exist, right, this pushback and this vocalization of a counter narrative that you talked about, without online access and media and social networks, right? It just, it just, it wouldn’t have been able to exist.


Kimberly Adams: And especially smartphones in the developing world. That’s a huge part of it.


Kai Ryssdal: For sure, absolutely. And so the item in the Wall Street Journal that I saw yesterday, which, in all honesty, I was, I was prompted to bring this conversation by something that you had on Tech Monday? Tuesday? And I’m sorry I don’t really recall because it was 4:43 in the morning. But the end of the interview was that social media’s business model, which relies on advertising and data mining and harvesting, and, in some ways, engendering dissent and agitation is tainted somehow, it’s doomed to failure. Right. I think actually, what she said was broken business model. Yeah, she’s a woman. Okay. Right. She said, It’s a broken business model. So there’s a piece in The Wall Street Journal yesterday. And I will just read you the opening graph, Meta Platforms Incorporated, which is, of course, parent of Facebook company, has disbanded its responsible innovation team, which was once a prominent piece of its effort to address concerns about the potential downsides of its products. Now, it was two dozen or so engineers and others who work with product teams and all that to think about how their products, their offerings might be detrimental to society. And I think it’s telling that the company has decided to disband this team, even after the 2020 elections, and even after all of the uhhh that Facebook has been through and brought us all through in the last 5 to 10 years. They know that what they’re doing is bad for this country and for society globally. But they keep doing it. And it makes me crazy.


Kimberly Adams: What incentive do they have to not…


Kai Ryssdal: No. Exactly. That’s right.


Kimberly Adams: …that is actually meaningful to their bottom line. Legal challenges have pretty much failed. They’ve gotten army of lawyers the size of small countries they can throw at anyone who comes against them. And so, until we have better structures to confine or regulate it, and I mean, Amy Klobuchar, Senator Amy Klobuchar was, as I think Punchbowl News said, visibly frustrated at the stalling out of yet another tech regulation bill in the Senate that looks like it’s not going to get a vote before they get hardcore into midterms when nothing gets done. And so, I don’t want to like go back to the trope of Congress gets nothing done, because they do. But this has been one of those sticking points where it’s weird, because there’s bipartisan agreement, that something needs to be done. And yet, the just volumes of lobbying dollars and interests at play has really stalled this out. And it’s been really fascinating to watch.


Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, fascinating. You mean somewhat disheartening, right? Yeah?


Kimberly Adams: Yes and no. I mean, it is disheartening, but also not, because the fact that we know it’s happening means that it is being revealed. And when we know something is happening, that then gives people the power and the autonomy and the knowledge to then counter it and to do something if they don’t like it. And so the fact that we know this much lobbying money is flowing from the tech industry to try to limit regulation that might be more beneficial to the general public, the fact that we know that that’s happening means that we, as a public can decide if we’re okay with that, or decide if we want to counter it. So that’s my attempt to find optimism there. Before we move on to full on and optimism and hopefully half full things, I can’t let the week pass without talking about this horrifying and astonishing story out of Las Vegas.


Kai Ryssdal: Oh, it’s a crazy story.


Kimberly Adams: It’s, it’s, it’s devastating. That, that is disheartening. So, there is a journalist in – or there was a journalist, God bless – a journalist for The Las Vegas review journal, Jeff German, who was fatally stabbed. The prime suspect in his murder is the Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who they’ve arrested, and he’s being held without bail. They found his DNA at the crime scene, as well as they believe, particles from his clothing. Jeff German was reporting on the local government. Something that I should say is extraordinarily hard to do in this media environment. There’s very little funding for local media. There’s very little support for local media and you have private equity, buying out local newspapers and making it incredibly difficult to do this sort of public service journalism on a local level uncovering misdeeds by public officials. And here’s somebody who was doing it and he was literally potentially allegedly murdered by the person he was covering, and obviously innocent until proven guilty, that’s super important. But I am going to be following this so closely, and heart goes out to his family, but also his colleagues who have to report on this story and as far away as they possibly can, which has got to be challenging. But you know, if you can, just shout out to the local journalists, please support your local news outlets. What the work that they’re all doing really matters. So that’s my thing. Whew, now, the drink and the game.


Kai Ryssdal: Regular listeners to this podcast know what’s coming next. It’s a game called half full half empty, a game hosted by Drew Jostad. Drew, you may begin.


Drew Jostad: All right. Are you half full or half empty on watching Jay Powell explainers on TikTok?


Kai Ryssdal: I had a woman named Kyla Scanlon on Marketplace this week, she has built an amazing Tiktok following by doing macro economic explainers in like 45 to 60 seconds. And she has, I think you could just say a distinctive style. It was an amazing interview, it runs about like eight and a half minutes. It’s on the Marketplace homepage. And I’m sure that we’re gonna put it on our show page. Well worth a listen, I’m totally half full. She’s doing God’s work, because if she’s targeting 25 to 29-year-olds, which is her core audience, and they’re getting the message, then Amen. Truly.


Kimberly Adams: I was very entertained by the interview. So I’m gonna go all the way full. I think that she was delightful. And I love that you basically begged our company to hire her.


Kai Ryssdal: I know, right? Anybody listening? Anyway.


Kimberly Adams: Next.


Drew Jostad: All right, Kimberly is gonna have to help me out with this one. Are you half full or half empty on the algorithm that decides who gets a kidney?


Kimberly Adams: So this was a story that we did on Marketplace Tech about different ways of making algorithms ethical. And you may or may not know this, I did not know this, but there is literally an algorithm that when an organ, a kidney, becomes available from a donor, an algorithm decides who should be up first to get it. Straight on a hugely emotional moral life or death decision that’s being decided by a computer. But the way that algorithm was designed, was done with community input, with input from donors, with inputs from recipients and their family. And we interviewed an author who was basically talking about the way that this came about, over the course of decades, could potentially be a model for how to make AI more ethical. There are a lot of problems with the organ donation system. We’ve covered some of them on various marketplace shows, including tech, but this has been, this was really interesting, and I’m gonna go half full. They mentioned, the author mentioned that basically, there used to be like, when dialysis machines first came out, it was literally something that could save people’s lives, but they only had a few, so they had to decide who would get to live and who get to die. So they made this team of people from the community, including like a member of the clergy, a housewife, you know, just a business person, all these people who are anonymous, but who got to decide who would live and die. And that was one way to do it. And it turns out they, you know, prefer certain people over others, as you can imagine. So, an algorithm, I mean, it’s, it’s complicated, there’s never going to be a good answer, but for this, I’m gonna go half full. Sarah mentioned, like, on the early days of the pandemic with ventilators in the YouTube chat. Like, hate to be in that position.


Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, super interesting.


Kimberly Adams: Wait, did you say half full or half empty?


Kai Ryssdal: I did. I said what you said, half full. It was a super interesting interview.


Drew Jostad: All right, half full or half empty on the outlook for China’s economy under zero COVID policy.


Kai Ryssdal: Oh, God, really shaky. I mean, they’re locking down cities all over the place again, right? Parts of Shanghai, parts of Shenzhen, Chengdu, which is a big tech manufacturing hub, really problematical. I’m half empty on the prospects, because I don’t know what they’re gonna do. Yeah. Yeah. And there’s no sign by the way that Xi Jinping is gonna get over it. So.


Kimberly Adams: Yeah, the water must be toasty in there. All right, let’s speed it up.


Kai Ryssdal: Although apparently we have remnants of a tropical storm coming to Los Angeles, which is a new thing for us.


Drew Jostad: Are you half full or half empty on the more ominous features of the new Apple Watch and iPhone?


Kai Ryssdal: What are these features?


Kimberly Adams: So this was – I don’t know if it’s the make me smart newsletter or the daily newsletter. So Apple had its big rollout this week, of all of its new features for the iPhone, and the Apple Watch, and AirPods and all these things. And basically, half the features of the new Apple Watch were like, here is how it is going to save your life in the midst of terror and abject destruction. Very apocalyptic. Like, you know, you and I have talked multiple times about the fall alert feature and how useful it could be for parents and older relatives and things. But now they’re like, you know, if you’re in a plane crash, or stuck in a trash compactor, or all of these other awful things, your Apple Watch can save you. And I have to say I’m very interested in this sort of Apple Watch Ultra that can do all of these extreme sports, because it helps me like manifest in my brain the fantasy of me actually doing extreme sports, which I probably won’t. So people were commenting in various articles and think pieces about how it sounded like Apple was sort of playing on the fears of people’s apocalyptic worries, in here’s why you need an Apple Watch to save you from our apocalypse. And, you know, I’m half full, I thought the features are really cool. I watched the whole thing.


Kai Ryssdal: I think they are super cool. I’ll go half full just because, you know, I’m always good for new gadget. For reals.


Kimberly Adams: Do you have one?


Kai Ryssdal: I do. Wear it right now. Wear it every day. I wear it all the time. I love it.


Kimberly Adams: I don’t have one. Yeah. All right. What’s next?


Drew Jostad: Half full or half empty on Queen Elizabeth the second’s picture staying on the currency?


Kai Ryssdal: Oh, it’s not gonna stay. Yeah, but they’re gonna change it. They’re gonna change it, it’s not going to stay.


Kimberly Adams: Okay. Well, I guess.


Kai Ryssdal: Was that an opinion question or was it a factual question?


Kimberly Adams: Yeah, that’s a good question. Drew?


Kai Ryssdal: Drew, right back at you pal. Put up or shut up.


Drew Jostad: I mean, I didn’t know that they’re gonna change it.


Kai Ryssdal: They always change it. They just haven’t changed it in 70 years.


Kimberly Adams: I see in the YouTube chat, “I vote we put the corgis on the currency. Yeah, corgis on the currency for the wind. That’s my take.” I’m gonna steal that take. And that’s a great place to end. Corgis on the currency.


Kai Ryssdal: Exactly right. Exactly right. All right. That’s it for us today. Thank you for playing along with us, if you were here or listening later on. I am off for a couple of days next week. Taking son number three to school. Amy Scott is going to be here. The pod is back on Monday. And if you have questions you want us to answer for our Wednesday show, which is of course “Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday”, we need to know what you want to know. So economy, business, culture, tech, send them to us.


Kimberly Adams: Yeah, and we will try to answer them on the show to the best of our ability, mainly to the best of Marissa’s availability, because she’s the one who knows all things. And you can email those questions to us at makemesmart@marketplace.org. That’s our email address. You can also call us and leave us a voice message. Our number is 508-827-6278. That’s 508-U-B-SMART.


Kai Ryssdal: Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera. Today’s episode was engineered by Drew Jostad. The Senior Producer is, of course, Bridget Bodnar.


Kimberly Adams: The team behind the YouTube live stream and our Friday game is Mel Rosenberg and Emily Macune, with theme music written by the wonderful Drew Jostad. And our director of on demand is Donna Tam. And it looks like @L-1 the I guess is, they played a game on spotting Jasper, so congrats @L on the YouTube channel.


Kai Ryssdal: Keep themselves entertained.


Kimberly Adams: Jasper’s more popular than me.

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