What are yours?

When the world is just being a bit much, here’s a good thing you could do, from Siobhan:

“…we sometimes played a game we called Five Nice Things. It is what it sounds like: You take turns naming things that are nice. Five is the number. It can be a thing that makes you happy, a compliment for the other person, a win at work, “This broccoli is tasty,” whatever. It’s a bit sappy, but it’s not the sappiest, and the rules were: Don’t overthink it, and be specific.”

Here are mine, for today. What are yours?

  1. Sunshine: It’s been cloudy for going on 200 years in brooklyn, but right now there are sun rays poking through the clouds, coming in through my window and warming my feet while I write this. …

Really thrilled to see this out in the world — we’ve been working on a lot of projects to help creators be more successful on Medium, but the new Creators Hub is our first new publication dedicated to helping writers on Medium get better at what they do. It’s already full of useful advice for writers of all stripes, with much, much more to come.

Randomly re-reading the very last thing posted on Gawker, a piece written by founder and publisher Nick Denton outlining the history and demise of the site, published in August 2016.

Makes me wonder about where Gawker would be if it were still alive today, or why it is nothing similar has arisen in its place. Have the power structures Gawker so effectively attacked become too entrenched or too boring to be susceptible to scrutiny? Or has the culture has gotten too diffuse and too decentralized for there to be an operation like Gawker to prod at it as a whole? …

Benedict Evans just wrote up a longer post about the slide from his Summer Update that I highlighted in my last link roundup:

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He makes two great points about TikTok: 1) The U.S. should be thinking about it in the same way Europeans have thought about Facebook/Google/Apple for years; and 2) it’s just the first of what will surely be many dominant non-U.S. owned apps the wrestle with:

There are all sorts of issues with the ways that the US government has addressed Tiktok in 2020, but the most fundamental, I think, is that it has acted as though this is a one-off, rather than understanding that this is the new normal — there will be hundreds more of these. You can’t one-at-a-time this — you need a systematic, repeatable approach. …

This week: The paper that ate the internet.

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Photo by visuals on Unsplash

So my theory about the digital success of the New York Times goes something like this: It’s the paper that ate the internet. What is the Opinion section if not just a well-edited version of Thought Catalog, with more famous names? Some other recent points to bolster that argument:

  • Starting Trouble With Times Media Columnist Ben Smith (New York)
    I don’t totally get why Ben left BuzzFeed for the Times, but his new job seems like it’s incredibly fun and he’s perfectly suited for it. The same energy that now drives his column was what turned BuzzFeed News into a player, and it’s 100% an internet approach. …

This story today from the CJR, I think, spells out the end of the TikTok sale saga: China throws a wrench into TikTok acquisition plans

The key piece is this:

[Sale] plans hit a rather large roadblock this week after the Chinese government issued new restrictions on the sale or export of artificial-intelligence software. The “secret sauce” for the app is the algorithmic recommendation engine that decides which videos to show new users, and analysts say if ByteDance is prevented from including it as part of a sale, then interest in the acquisition could dry up

Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company, is essentially an AI company. The products they’ve spun up — Toutiao, Douyin/TikTok, Xigua — are different versions of a platform that serves content to users via an algorithm. As opposed to Facebook or other social media services, though, none of Bytedance’s products rely on creating a social graph to power recommendations. …

Podcasts and Condé and streaming, oh my — in this week’s edition of i18n.

Happy Sunday evening! Things on my reading list or on my mind from the last few weeks:


  1. There are something like 850,000 podcasts in this world of ours. That is SO MANY. (Digiday)
  2. There were 646,000 shows available on streaming platforms in the U.S. in 2019 (Axios)


If you work in media and need to read something to make you feel very angry, well, I’ve got the links for you!

  • The Chaos at Condé Nast (New York Times) — In which many of the most famous editors of the pre-internet era reveal their substance abuse and general incompetence. …

How international publishers pursue subscribers across the globe; plus a very good dog!

The end is nigh! 🎅🥂🎉
It’s December; 2019 is basically over, which means it’s not too early to think about resolutions. I’m making a media-diet resolution this year (less Twitter, more books). I’d be curious, though: What’s your media resolution for 2020? Send me yours at scott.lamb@gmail.com


How news publishers are chasing international subscriber growth (Digiday)
The New York Times, Guardian and Washington Post have all set ambitious goals around growing their international subscribers, but home and abroad, digital subscriptions are a tough sell: “Just 16% of American readers have paid for news of some kind in the past year, and the percentages in most other countries are at about the same levels, if not lower, according to the Reuters Institute.” …

Big news in Japan, plus a summer Fulbright trip to Berlin.

👋 Welcome to the latest edition of i18n, a semi-regular round up of links, GIFs and other HTML of note about global digital media.


Big news from Japan: LINE and Yahoo! Japan are working on a merger. The new company would be massive, covering over 100 million users in Japan, immediately becoming the largest mobile payment and social media app in the country, and paving the way for it to become a “super app” along the lines of WeChat in China. (Nikkei)

Two interesting recent notes on Tik Tok:

1. The U.S government recently launched an investigation into the Tik Tok (née Musical.ly) …


Scott Lamb

VP, Publisher Growth & Strategy at Medium. I like blogs, blogs are good. Read more at scottlamb.org

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