Image for post
Image for post

WallStreetBets isn’t a mob, hack, or saga. It’s an indicator of renewal and reinvention.

“In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.” This warning didn’t come from a populist-inspired Reddit message board. It’s a prediction from one of America’s leading social scientists, Shawn Rosenberg.

Rosenberg, who earned degrees at Yale, Oxford, and Harvard, predicted in 2019 that Western-style democracies would continue to shrink, and those remaining will become shells of themselves. Taking democracy’s place? Populist governments offering voters simple answers to complicated questions.

This forecast suggests others must figure out how to help the public take on more complex tasks, extending beyond politics to…


Image for post
Image for post

Our capacity to make sense of events crashed in 2020. New research shows how we coped, embraced a DIY ethos to find perspective.

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) halted trading shares of Zoom Technologies. Volume in “ZOOM” transactions skyrocketed as did its valuation, increasing nearly seven-fold — from around $3 a share to more than $20 — in a month. The SEC’s statement said the company had no meaningful operations and had not reported financial results in five years. Somehow shares of a defunct company shot through the roof.

On the surface, this made no sense. Zoom’s growth was so extreme its market cap would eclipse the top six airlines combined. …


Image for post
Image for post

Human nature fuels mass movements, not the facts

In 1951, Princeton’s All-American tailback, Dick Kazmeier, landed on the cover of Time Magazine. The issue coincided with a football game between the undefeated Tigers and Dartmouth. From the opening kick-off to the final play, it was a rough, dirty game. Several players left due to injury, including Kazmier with a broken nose and mild concussion.

Observers from both sides said they had never seen such a disgusting exhibition of so-called “sport.” Both teams were guilty, yet the blame was a matter of intense debate. Fans from each side saw the same game through a different lens.

Two professors, Hadley…


Image for post
Image for post

With a majority of daily life spent online, upping Media IQ isn't just helpful— it’s essential.

Clay Shirky, one of the new media establishment’s preeminent seers, predicted long ago that the Internet would transform the way we see and experience the world. Unlike previous media upheavals, the Internet would overtake TV as the dominant medium and become our primary activity outside of sleeping and working.

While directionally correct, Shirky had it wrong. It’s now the primary way we spend our time — by a large margin. We spend more time online than working (by 130 percent) and sleeping (by more than 90 percent). …


Image for post
Image for post

Three #COVID19 crises are playing out in real time: Public health, economic and information. The information crisis, which impacts health and economic well-being, is least understood.

Case in point: Yesterday a NBC/WSJ poll said Americans believe the worst is yet to come. Yet, digging deeper into the numbers 56% say the virus will change their lives in only a small way or not at all. This figure tells a story of messages gone unheard, urgencies dismissed and masses unprepared for what’s to come.

Partisanship divides our collective perspective into distinct camps, even during a pandemic. The NBC/WSJ poll said 68%…


Image for post
Image for post

When the Internet gives feedback to brands, the hammer can be harsh.

A well-known example — when Peloton split the Internet with a benign holiday ad. Critics called it “unsettling,” “sexist” and “dystopian.” Others saw it as “normal,” “great PR’’ and viewed the outrage as creepier than the ad itself.

The raging conversation online led to massive international news with everyone from Oprah to Harper’s Bazaar to The New York Times weighing in. Given the gravity of issues making headlines, it’s surprising that a single ad for a niche product caused such a reaction.

While all this was happening I…


Image for post
Image for post
(Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“Lions and tigers were kings of the jungle, then they wound up in cages. I believe the same will happen to us.”

This comment from Internet pioneer Josh Harris opens the documentary We Live in Public, a film about about loss of privacy in the digital age.

The film’s centerpiece is a surveillance-as-art-project shot in the late 90s, featuring more than 100 people living underground for a month in New York City. The bunker was equipped with food, drink and a fleet of webcams that captured a first-of-its-kind, live stream experiment. …


Image for post
Image for post

Thursday was my favorite day of the week growing up. That’s the day that, roughly 50 weeks a year, Sports Illustrated arrived in the mail.

Back in the 1970s and 80s, the magazine fed my obsession with sports — whether it be Franco Harris, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Super Bowls against the Dallas Cowboys; fictional (and almost fictional) characters like pitchers Sidd Finch and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych; and as I’d later come to appreciate, the originality of writers like Dan Jenkins, whose style was a precursor to new journalism practiced by icons outside of sport like Tom Wolfe and…


Media is getting smarter. So should you.

Image for post
Image for post

Tech and media have always evolved together. From Gutenberg to Radio to Television, changes in technology wrought changes in media, always accompanied by massive shifts in behaviors and social conventions.

At the birth of the World Wide Web, that cycle of change went into overdrive, launching a Moore’s Law velocity that sees cycles of change growing shorter and shorter, and the impact ever more radical. Thirty years since the Web said Hello, World, we’re living through the most disruptive shift in tech and media yet.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence — still in their infancy — have become foundational capabilities…


Image for post
Image for post

In a few short years, the underlying mechanics that shape our media experiences have been completely rebuilt. Yet media technologies and the behaviors they’ve spawned are so deeply ingrained in society, and have come about so quickly, that many still struggle to fundamentally understand them.

Our media experiences — and social interactions with each other — are not simply influenced by what we see on TV, in print or in our news feeds. They’re driven by something much deeper, out of view, embedded in digital networks.

We’ve been on a journey firm-wide at Weber Shandwick to understand these dynamics to…

Chris Perry

Chief Innovation Officer, Weber Shandwick

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store