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The Silent Miners and the Tycoons of Mass Reach

A wired amplification chamber for tech giants and celebrities.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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The Silent Miners and the Tycoons of Mass Reach are winning.

We used to have three Estates of Power; the Clergy, the Nobility, and the Commoners. This might trans­late to the Legislators, the Capitalists, and the People in today’s terms. 

Later, we now count the news media as the Fourth Estate of Power. 

As we ascend to digit­al-first, the world’s powers are shift­ing; we might need to rethink the idea of only hav­ing four estates of power.

Here goes:

Table of Contents

    The Fifth Estate: The Silent Miners

    Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (FAANG) all have one char­ac­ter­ist­ic in common:

    They silently mine user data from bil­lions of people.

    Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was said to divide and con­quer. The Silent Miners col­lect and sort instead. In the wake of Techlash, this stealthy con­sol­id­a­tion of online power has pro­found implications. 

    We, the people, are freely giv­ing away our powers by scrolling past gib­ber­ish Terms of Service dis­claim­ers — only to pay with our atten­tion, integ­rity, and behaviour.

    It’s the stat­ist­ic­al Power-Law Distribution; in sys­tems where many are giv­en many choices, a few will be chosen, while most will get to reside in the long tail of the curve.

    The Sixth Estate: The Tycoons of Mass Reach

    In Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky poin­ted out just how unpre­pared we were as a soci­ety for every­one to have a digit­al voice. 

    I would argue that we’re equally unpre­pared for when fam­ous people get unres­tric­ted access to mass reach.

    Unlike fam­ous people of the past, people like Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump, Pewdiepie, and Mr Beast have unres­tric­ted access to incom­pre­hens­ible audi­ences.

    Mass media might be dead, but mass reach is alive and kicking.

    People with online fame often get no respect from the main­stream media. They’re often char­ac­ter­ised as dim­wit­ted, ridicu­lous, and child­ish. But in the end, it always plays out as one Estate of Power being envi­ous of another.

    Despite all the flack and ridicule, the Tycoons of Mass Reach are grow­ing more potent with each upload. And they’re turn­ing into a Sixth Estate of Power by side­lin­ing the Fourth Estate.

    And the Internet is turn­ing into an amp­li­fic­a­tion cham­ber for the rich.

    We Deserve Better Estates

    As the Internet is evolving into a Splinternet, the tec­ton­ic plates of the Internet are shifting.

    A dozen mul­tina­tion­al cor­por­a­tions are now min­ing for data and tweak­ing algorithms at their pleas­ure. The divis­ive power of the mass media is being trans­formed into an amp­li­fic­a­tion cham­ber for the fam­ous. Still, more divi­sion of power is rarely a bad thing.

    Because I don’t worry about new Estates of Power.
    I just think we deserve bet­ter Estates.

    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
    Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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    The Cover Photo

    The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

    The cover photo has

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