Combating Disinformation and Tribalism Through Media
12:54AM Jul 31, 2020
Welcome back to hope 2020. Again, as a reminder, if you have any questions for our speakers. The only way you can ask is to be part of the conference. And the only way you can do that is via getting tickets at hope dotnet all of our questions in the matrix chat we will take, at the end of the talk, we will present them to our next speaker. Michael Morgenstern speaking about combating disinformation and tribalism through media. Social media has created a balkanization of conversation trapped inside our filter bubbles the walls between us have solidified and our narratives and our identities can be hacked. Michael Morgenstern is a filmmaker technologists and a culture hacker he has produced and directed three films in over 70 festivals worldwide. And Michael Morgenstern, take it away.
Cool. All right, well thank you so much. Yeah, really happy to be here and appreciate the opportunity to talk about disinformation. It's a topic that is on a lot of our minds and affects a lot of the way we live in the world today. So, I'm a film director, I've been making films since I was 13. And I've created a number of different films as well as interactive immersive art experiences and pieces of technology. I built a Facebook tool called Facebook searches back, which allowed people to search through their social graphs, and that was probably the thing I was best known for there. And a few years ago I started embarking on this journey to create a global interactive internet film based on a story from Reddit. And in the process have become a student of disinformation spoken to a lot of people who are very concerned about what this information is doing to our civil discourse, and to the way we interact with each other. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about my perspective on disinformation what I've learned through that journey, and also share some about our project which is launching in September. So, is. Yeah, why don't we start with the trailer for the project.
Because I'm afraid. And my system is missing. I don't know where she is. But what I do know is that the person who took her David King is extremely dangerous.
Dare you to do what
ruin my life.
Why did y'all dare each other to ruin each other's lives
when your challenge, you get strong
sounded like a fun
game. That's fucked
He's a part of a huge shout out organization,
I'm gonna learn everything I can about to take down.
What's up there and that should scan real scared Zander.
Thanks for all the positive
guys making it a lot easier
to see David share here. Now, I want.
Mr. Davis. We've come to the crux of the story. This is the focal point that all these videos have been made enough to
realize how strong it can become.
It's only after you lose everything that you are free to do anything.
Still a little bit of a thought experiment, huh. You've got two possible versions of reality, he faked the call. That's terrifying, or was the call that we just had fake. No, not stop believing everything right now.
First is the Zander Jones story,
you can just say you didn't do something when I have a photo of you doing it it's photoshopped, you can fake evidence that I'm a 19 year old criminal mastermind there's four keyloggers on your computer. He's been watching every key that you type I hacked every account he had don't delete it. It's safer when you know what you can't trust, I killed innocent people.
An attorney turns out there is a simpler explanation.
I think we got to stop playing this game, we can't even control the narrative.
There's no quitting.
So that's a trailer for a movie that's going to be released over the internet. Over several weeks as if it's actually happening. So that movie is based on a story from Reddit that was really popular several years ago, and it's, It's about several it's about a lot of different people to different characters who are interacting with each other and in the fight. And the entire internet jumps on board and plays this interactive game with them. And so, we are crossing we're blurring the bar boundaries between immersive theater film technology social media and reality and fiction, which is something that is happening now in a lot of different aspects and politics. So I want to take us through a bit of a journey of disinformation. So disinformation is not anything new, we've, we've all believe things that are true and things that are false and we've had different tribal groups that believe different stories about each other, but it's changed recently in a really fundamental way. So right now we're in a period of extreme information warfare. This is a screenshot from the plant damage video, which went viral based on some stories that Dr. Fauci was part of creating a conspiracy related to the related to COVID. And it's this type of thing is happening more and more where there's a lot of widespread beliefs that are clearly fictional or someone really believes this is true and someone else believes that that is true. And I like to call the period of time that we're in the narrative economy. So the attention economy was a time when people were competing for your attention to click. But right now, people are competing for your story, and the tools for telling the stories and retelling the stories that we tell ourselves are getting increasingly more complicated. And as artificial intelligence starts to enter the picture. They're getting increasingly scary. So the pandemic coupon is another conspiracy theory which has blown up recently, which weaves together a whole bunch of other different conspiracy theories and is very well produced. So if you, if you haven't checked out some of the coupon materials and videos. I don't quite recommend it, they're they're extremely seductive, and they pull people in. And once somebody will watch several of them, it becomes a lot more it becomes a lot easier to get pulled into that story and even people with an extreme amount of intelligence and an extreme amount of discernment. We, we are extremely hackable when it comes to these things. So let's start talking about tribalism. So, this inter tribal conflict. I'm good or bad. This is the way that we build our identities in our societies, we have a group of people that we are friends with and we're together with who is our community identity. And then there's groups of people that are the other, and sometimes it's another that we don't have any conflict with. It's another that so well those, those are aliens over there we don't really talk to those aliens they don't really talk to us. Sometimes it's another that we have extreme conflicts with a lot of time when there's another that we have extreme conflict with a part of the way that we define our identity is through, not being that other. And we see that in, you know, Democrats and Republicans in America and a lot of different political party conflict. We see it also in many types of interpersonal conflict. So this is something that's as old as time, it's it's something that I would say is, is a part is endemic to the way that humans think and function. It's not something that I really think is ever going to go away. You know, humans are tribal creatures, we define ourselves by what other people what other people believe. And that's just the way it's going to be. But what's changed is that we have added another form of intelligence into the mix. So, first I'll talk about what's what what changed. More recently, which is social media and social media is possible to imagine without artificial intelligence social media is, well, social means possible to imagine without extreme artificial intelligence but simple forms of artificial intelligence are necessary for sorting and ranking algorithms like Facebook has. So when I go on Facebook. Facebook will watch the things that I like the things that I react to and optimize for the amount of time I spent on the site by showing me things that I'm more likely to react to. So Facebook tends to show me my communities that are close to who I am, people who say things that I will either love or hate it creates a term we are probably all familiar with filter bubbles. So the filter bubble is showing me a filtering of what's happened, what's happening around me. Or what's happening with people who think just like I do,
instead of the people who are physically around me.
So with the pandemic more recently what's happened is the walls between the filter bubbles have become more opaque. A lot of us who have spent months inside of our rooms not interacting with many people outside of them. And so we interpret this social media as our real reality. So before what was it, check on this altered warped reality that social media is no longer there. And it's easier and easier for us to talk to only the people who believe exactly like we do. Which is why we're seeing so many conspiracy theories so sharply on the rise right now. So let's talk about the semantic structures of human thinking. So humans are semantic creatures. We are metaphor machines. We do not have a dictionary of what specific words mean, we understand what a word means through context so for example if I say the word silly to you. You have heard that word 1000 times each time you've heard it it was paired with a visceral experience. And so over those thousand times your brain has developed a circuit of what silly means that is unique to your brain that comes with an extraordinary amount of context into relationships. And so as I say a sentence, you form a structure of meaning inside your mind, which means that when we are speaking we're activating each other's memories. So if I talked about my childhood. Sitting beneath oak trees, versus my childhood sitting beneath aspen trees. For some of you, one would evoke a feeling of nostalgia,
one would not.
These are deep semantic structures that are built into our brains and it's possible for us to live for 50 years with another person without having a strong sense of what those deep semantic structures are. But that's the sort of thing that artificial intelligence is really, really good at. And so what we are going to see over time in the coming years, is a deeper and deeper mapping of our mental models and ability to persuade us, based on different types of stories. And I believe that we are going to get to a place where you can walk, you can show someone, you know, 10 people the same video, and three people will think it's a really nice video by people will get slightly disturbed, and the rest will go out and kill somebody. And I do believe that we are going to find that humans, the space of our, the space of manipulation in humans is much greater than what we imagined it is now. Then we can even guess. As an example, when AlphaGo, which is a computer that was built to beat humans at the game go played humans and beat some of the top masters and go. One thing that the Master said was, we thought that these were the moves that worked in go, but it turns out, space of moves is bigger than that. And so the computer was making moves that the humans hadn't even thought about because the computer had not the entire space of moves and pick the optimal ones. So, humans initially thought computers making dumb moves, which later turned out to be a much better strategy than the ones we had discovered. So I firmly believe that human manipulation is going to work like that. So if you could hack the semantic structures, it gives you a much stronger tool to hack the tribal structures hacking the tribal structures means that I believe that I'm in this tribe and you believe that you're in this tribe. And the information system that we're in, will tell me something about your tribe and tell you something about my tribe and do this very subtly and and as this happens more and more wedges are driven in between different tribes. So one example that I really enjoy is, I was speaking to somebody about some of the content that Russian trolls had put out during the 2016 election, one article was real Texans don't wear flip flops. So you wouldn't think that that is on its by itself and inside the article and it may in fact have been part of the noise intended to drown out the signal of what the Russians were trying to do. But when you examine it it is part of this larger strategy that if we can get people to believe that the other people are not like them, then they are more willing to believe, negative things about this other people. This is something that's incredibly hackable because we take our tribal identities from other people. So, I want to say something that is a mechanic controversial, but I really do believe it's true and it's the disinformation is not the problem. Yes disinformation is a problem, disinformation has been a problem forever. But disinformation is not what is tearing our society apart is the tribalism that we've had inside of our society since the dawn of civilization that now is hackable and disinformation is a tool to make the problem worse. So as an example, if you are, if you and I really have a lot of love for each other. And we know that we disagree about something big. We're not going to sweat it. But if we hate each other, and there's something that we disagree about, we will use that disagreement. We will use those facts.
In order to make an argument for why we dislike somebody.
Humans are emotional creatures and we often justify our emotions, using information and facts. So if it's possible to map, a group of humans and humans are incredibly hackable in the aggregate we have very well known attack surfaces map a group of humans. Figure out what their emotions are and play on those with facts that pull into the emotions. It's very well studied that we will accept things that look like facts that fit within our worldview in a certain way.
This is a very scary.
It's it's something that I certainly keeps me up at night. And I think that it is a major problem we have to solve. I do think there are probably some solutions. And this project that we're creating is intended as a solution. And as a way to point a path forward.
We have to redefine the narrative,
we have to realize
that our top level narratives have been taken away from us, or the Facebook sorting algorithm has taken the role of telling us what's going on in the world. It's an, it's an algorithm meant to increase our usage of Facebook. It's not an algorithm meant to increase demand to appropriately reflect the world or reflect the world in the way that we want them to. So the first step is on a societal societal level we need to see the invisible structures of persuasion. We need to start seeing how these algorithms are changing the way that we perceive, but also how our tribal conflicts are being attacked. I have seen this personally and when I started on this journey four years ago I was not as convinced that some of these. I was not as convinced that we could do much about this, but I've seen in people who start talking about some of these tribal issues and start seeing how we can be hacked the ability to stop that hack and its product and its process and pause things, and say wait a second. We are playing into a tribal conflict right now. Let's pull back and think about this another way. And so building in that ability to notice what's going on and then immediately de escalate needs to be a core part of the way we think about media literacy.
The other thing is, tell new tribal stories.
So I have a lot of issues with the original story of America.
The story of the melting pot. It was a story that had built in a lot of racism and a lot of sexism. One point that I do want to make about that story is that that story was created. When a whole bunch of immigrants came to America with the intention of creating a single unified country. So, that story took America from a place where particular groups were in conflict in battle with each other, to a place where multiple groups took pride in their differences as part of a broader society. There was, you know, the colonization narrative of that is awful so you know there's a lot to talk about there as this as this comes into it but I do believe that that's sort of a process, seeing ourselves as a single human species in order to embrace our differences, that there are ways that we can tell and retail and retail and retail, the tribal narrative that result in a peaceful society.
So I'll tell you a little bit about our project.
Let's go back to the old days of movies,
the old days of movies.
These were a single linear piece of content you went you sat down, you turned off your phone and you experienced the movie, start to finish. This is actually surprisingly similar to the new days of movies, right now with Netflix you experiences fairly similar to watch a movie on in the movie theater in the 1920s, you hit the play button. Put the remote down, and the movie goes, and then it's done. Afterwards you might talk about the movie on social media, you might make a meme about the movie, but otherwise the movie is a single linear passive experience. So we set about trying to create something that's a lot more interactive. We call it alternate reality cinema. So alternate reality cinema. It's taken from the term alternate reality game RG. But I like also like to use the word arc, because what we're really doing is we're creating an arc. We're creating a narrative arc that feels like an event that then a whole bunch of different stories play into. They can integrate different, different stories influencers celebrities, people groups and social movements and have those players interact as part of his story. Why is this important, because stories are the way that we understand ourselves stories are the fables that give context to the world that we live in. It's important that we're able to retell them, those stories. So this comes from my, a lot of this comes from my immersive theater background. I've done immersive theater events and some people in our team have done, large immersive theater events with hundreds of people playing out over several days with multiple intersecting storylines and immersive theater is a great model for how things work on the internet. It's chaotic you don't know exactly where someone's going to be at any particular time, and you still have a desire to tell a long term story over the course of several days. So we've taken a lot of that model and we've applied it to how to build a social movement plus a film on the internet. So some of the aspects of this yet it's co created. The idea is not that everyone is just experiencing our content and taking it in. It's that we are building a overall framework and rules for engaging with the content that then the internet can take and tell their own stories, and the simple themes that we are telling a story about and the simple characters that are archetypal about the different roles and those stories will go out over the internet. It's responsive in the same way an event or a social media thing is responsive, it's empowering and it's completely networked all these things are interacting with each other. So the story is called a demo best friend through my life, and it's about two kids who get in a fight, after us, as the two of them. One of them has destroyed the other person's life and the other one asks for our help in getting back what he's lost. I won't go into too many specifics of the details because I'm excited for you all to experience it. But this is, it's a story that that is a metaphor for the tribal conflicts that we find ourselves in the US versus you, they, we have to get our group together in order to get what we need from that group, you know, and it's not destroyed that other group, it's. We need to call them out for for doing all the terrible things that they're doing to us, or you know it's it's it's not, they are organizing themselves, for their own interests it's they are coming together to destroy us. You know, the. So, what we're intending to do through this piece of performance art is build those framings about something metaphorical that doesn't relate to the rest of the political environment. And then through that lens, create a space for people to talk about that. So it's going to be multiple different episodes released over social media over a week and a half. And the, the ending of it will be a call to stability, and it will be a wrap up and a twist of everything that you've seen before, which ends in us asking some pretty deep questions about why these kinds of conflicts, start and how we play into this. So yeah, we can talk a little bit about the evolution of cinema because there certainly hasn't been an evolution. We initially had whole movies that people were creating that their home. And then studio films were the first films that were seen broadly so someone created a film and then sold it in a lot of different places and put it into theaters today of a lot of different people watching the same film. At some point the tools for creating those films became a lot cheaper. Once those tools became cheap enough. Anyone could could jump up or almost anyone or anyone who had some amount of support could stand up and make a film, and then show it using that same system that was used to make 3d films. So when that happened there was more diversity of perspective you know we're still people with enough privilege to be able to make those films. But there was a ton more diversity of perspective and there's the opportunity for some disruption.
For that came web video and web video with a phone or with a digital camera. You know the early days of YouTube where things were this tiny little 480 pixel window. I'm open this up to anybody. And at this point, the ability to make a video is extremely democratized, so anyone with a perspective anyone with something to say can make a video, which is completely changed the types of videos that are popular. It's not just a certain small subset of people picking which videos are popular. It's, anybody can put out videos and then the crowd gets to choose what's popular. Now, we're coming to alternate reality cinema so it's basically every time the technology has improved. The, the stories that are told over technology and who tells those stories have changed. And in this point, social media, and the way that we have discourse online has created tools for an activity that cinema has not yet taken advantage of. But there's a lot of reason to believe that this is what's about to happen. So cellphone video is getting much higher quality with machine learning soon it's going to be possible to create extremely cinematic looking images to edit things on the fly to release things that feel like full Hollywood movies in real time. We also have the coming advent of augmented reality. So augmented reality, whether it's three months away or 10 years away or 15 years away. consensus still seems to be by most people but it's coming at some point. I'm not gonna put a date on it. But if we have augmented reality glasses augmented reality contact lenses or even just screens in different places. It makes sense the stories start getting told everywhere, and the stories start getting told in different ways. And so we move away from necessarily a three act structure to a storytelling structure that is more integrated with the rest of our world, which doesn't mean the stories don't have a beginning, a middle, and an end, they certainly can. But there's a lot more complexity to the way that they're told. At some point we'll probably add artificial intelligence to, you know, in the process of telling those stories. The way that our projects works is we were replacing a lot of the conventions of other stories our narrative structures are very. It starts with a very traditional narrative, very traditional hero's journey and totally twists that on the end. And I think that the way that that this project is different or this story is different than a lot of the stories we watch in movies is instead of the protagonist, being you being a person on screen. The protagonist usually in these movies, a story will go back to, usually in a movie, a story is a linear story there's a typical narrative progression and a lot of time it's about a character called the protagonist who wants something. Usually it's a white man. And the question of the movie is, does this person get what they want. There's other stories out there, it's just that these are the stories that we have been trained, or the stories that should be told in movies. The protagonist in our story is we. It's the internet it's the species. And I think that that's usually the protagonist in any online social movement. The internet has created a protagonist of we that we feel like we're a part of the internet often also tells us about that protagonists so part of the point of our project is that we get to tell ourselves
about that project.
So alongside this project. We're creating an explosion of interactive content. There's a whole bunch of different pieces of storytelling that go along with this, we have 13 different groups creating their own linear stories that are interacting with this main story. We also have an interactive game that you can play if you want to go deeper into the story and join forces with the main character. We have a group that represents an online group it's about creating a space for nuanced conversation communication, which is going to be a key part of our story. We have the fictional hacker group. There's not a group you can join but it's a group you can observe being toxic over there. And we have a bunch of other different projects and so what's exciting about the way that we built this is that we've really built an integrated model for storytelling so that any project that fits in the narrative can join. So we have 13 of these projects right now, we're going to build another 10 around influencers. Then once this happens, we're going to welcome anyone on the internet to essentially build their own project anytime you're interacting with us and character or doing something else, you are building one of these projects. And these projects, explore various aspects of disinformation, some of them involve aliens. The point of all of these things too is and all pieces of this project is to be as
is to be as
to be as
as possible so that we know that we are watching something fictional. So I'll just talk a little bit about the disciplines that came together in the creation of this company. It's really exciting that in our company we have a number of different, a number of different disciplines. And each person. Well each discipline, the person who comes from that discipline has their own way of solving a particular problem so a lot of time. We'll approach a problem. And there's three different ways in the room to solve it and we'll talk it through and we'll find the right solution which means that we've created this blend of different ways of solving problems that feels quite unique. So immersive theater I've touched on we create multi day immersive theater events, marketing and movement building we have people who have worked in a number of large companies like Reddit, for example, in building brand strategy in building integrated marketing, and so they look at all the stuff that our narrative team so we have a narrative team. Then we have a marketing team and the narrative and marketing team look at things from both perspectives to create something integrated. Then we have a large group of people who are advisors on disinformation the ethics of disinformation, and what is, what are the biggest problems now and I've spoken to many multiple journalists and thought leaders on this, because our goal is that we have a thorough understanding of what the problems are and what the possible solutions are. We have a film team. And then we have a tech team, and we have a lot of different folks who build and develop technology. We like to see technology as another form of storytelling so to me cinematography and UX and verbal storytelling, these are all elements of the same dynamics and our intention is to bind them. So I'd love to open this up for questions. I really appreciate everybody coming and listening and would love to have you be involved in our project as well. So you can shoot me an email Michael at definitely real calm. And we are looking for partners and all different ways. We're looking for places to put our put our projects so distributors. We are open to talking with social media platforms, people who would like to partner with us in any way if you're creating some online online tools for that. We're closing our round of investment very soon. And we're also looking for people who would want to play around with us and tell stories online. So feel free to shoot me an email Michael definitely real calm. And if there any questions I would love to answer.
Thank you for that talk. This was really good to talk about now. We do have some questions that have come in from the chat, as, As a reminder to our attendees please ask your questions in the live stream channel.
how does. So you're mentioning the importance of stories and again as you have on your last card there's, you know, say stories are already everywhere. How does one protect one story in this time when such stories are being manipulated.
Oh boy, that's a big.
They're like a sub question in there.
Um, no, that was pretty Yeah. Um,
well I think the first question to ask and not to turn it around and get to metta but our projects is extraordinarily meta we actually, we just had a case of mistaken identity within our company. Yesterday, things things that things are getting weird. We. How do you, but I think the first question is what is your own story. And do we actually have our own stories and I, I would argue that we really, we create those, and those have been created for us. And I think the question for myself wouldn't be well let me find my story and defend it against the stories of others. But let me, notice how my story came to me and let me notice the process of telling myself my own story and retelling myself, my own story. And let me, notice how the people in my life and in my community are enforcing a particular story on me. Because that's what we are constantly doing, socially, you know, and it's not about being open minded or not being open mind. It's just a natural human processes that we have an assumption about the type of ways other people are interacting in the world and those assumptions, end up being normative, and enforcing those on each other.
Now, this might have been adopted
right now, that's fine you know what I mean. Sometimes the questions are big sometimes they're small, I mean, another good question that just came in. What's his creator intent mean in an environment where the Creator has so little and apparently diminishing control over how their story is presented.
I think that speaks to a lot of why we're doing this. This way, you know in a lot of my thinking on interactive media started I was in 2010, I interned for Ted hope who's a film producer and was talking a lot about transmedia. And the idea that was really new to me is the first moment someone experiences your story is the moment they hear about it. And a lot of the time in media people think about an advertising campaign is different and separate and potentially unrelated to a movie but if you're if the conversation about a movie, the advertiser the advertising campaign about a movie articles that are written about a movie. That's all part of it. And so I think that the biggest,
the biggest answer I would give is to focus on it.
No focus on how people are how people are being presented something initially.
Okay, now it's hacking the semantic structure, the same as manipulating the context of an encounter
attacking semantic structure the same as manipulating the context. When I was talking about hacking the semantic structure I was talking about a specific a sort of narrow and specific thing. So I think those both things are are are very related, but I was talking about liking the way we use words, in order to use words to to get us to get us to believe certain things. But yeah, to the framing and context of something is also incredibly, incredibly powerful, and we've, we've seen in our project that that's actually one of the things we play with a lot is that we have a lot of our story has already been shot and created. But what hasn't been created fully and what it's continually updating is the framing. And so the framing shifts over the course of the storytelling and it can shift in response to real world events. Yeah, it's also it's interesting to notice as people, people change their framing sighs new information comes out, and often you know the story will change but the framing the story will say the same but the framing will change and shifted twice. So yeah framing is certainly a way that we do semantic warfare.
You also mentioned how a lot of the major mainstream platforms in particular have machine intelligence, trying to keep people in filter bubbles, trying to direct narratives. At the same time there are random and semi random systems such as IRC or element matrix do you view those kinds of social media or chat systems, helping or hindering breaking through filter bubbles.
Yeah, that's a great question.
So I think that the the places where they have algorithmic sorting like Facebook, are the places where disinformation is the most. You know, it's the strongest or it has the greatest leg up, but a major place where this information is spread is telegram. And there's a lot of places where disinformation can spread that are emails that people send to each other chain meals, text messages. And so, it's a question, if you're able to hack the human, the degree that that person now wants to know is inflamed enough or passionate enough that they want to share something around that can exist on any platform. So, and then not that point artificial intelligence just playing a role in sending more of that information in making that information even more powerful. You know, so I think that there are there are narratives that can be created that are so powerful that they are will compel somebody to pick up the phone and call somebody, you know. Yeah.
Interesting that you mentioned that last point, early on in the current crisis, one of the more intriguing commercials that I heard on a local news station, literally was to tell people to, you know, think about someone they care about now call them and literally it was five seconds of silence after that.
Yeah. I wonder how many did that
as to why, to be honest. Speaking of disinformation. Do what role do you view for say state actors private actors and the general public and breaking through some of these filter bubbles on these platforms.
I think the platform's play a huge role,
you know i think that i think micro targeting is incredibly dangerous. You know micro targeting has led to the ability to run. You know campaigns for climate change and to do make a lot of positive impact but really Facebook is, you know, and the other platforms their intention is to build a giant manipulation machine. The more they are able to promise advertisers that they can push a narrative, the more advertisers are going to spend money. And so I think that the platform's have a lot to do on state actors certainly as well you know we we are in what feels like an arms race where people you know you. I've heard people say well the other side is using tactics and disinformation and so for us not to use tactics of disinformation is to give up. And once we have that perspective, now that becomes normalized and I think it's very similar to you remember like 2002. The phrase personal branding was like a really gross word. And like he would say, what's your personal brand and like, oh no not that kind of person. Now, to talk about someone's brand is like people talk about that all the time, and we just get more and more used to the idea of, you know, communicating in a particular way. Okay.
On that same note just to follow through. Do you have any suggestions for how people could break through some of the disinformation about the other if you will so for instance, you mentioned. For example, q anon. Do you have any idea on how you would get somebody to interact with a person that's trying to give them information that is more factually supported let's say right as opposed to having them discount you right of hand as
person some non relevant or potentially malicious person,
but the one quote that I love is the best way to change someone's mind is to listen to them and think that's really true that that what I see a lot is there, we have two people who are talking with a completely different framing of the world. And in order to convince somebody of something. The work is on the person trying to convince them to understand their frame and, and. So I think, you know, I don't, I really don't recommend you watch coupon videos unless you think you can pull yourself back. If you think you can pull yourself back, get with some friends, you know, make it a point to have some self care. Afterwards, but watch one of those videos, and to me that some of the real news about what's going on in this world today because, you know, I, when I see a video with a 600,000 view count. And I find myself getting pulled into this story and wondering if you know Hillary Clinton is indeed, you know, a sexual abuser and all these just awful things that they're saying about people. Because of the way they presented it's very convincingly presented. And it gives a lot of understanding for why somebody is operating that way. You know, and I think that when we, when we adjust it doesn't mean that someone's right but when we judge somebody without understanding them. We just don't have the ability to communicate with them. We can't communicate with people we don't understand, and and so if we if we actually have an intention communicating, which is not to say that it's anyone's job to do this. But if somebody is genuinely interested in communicating, understanding is necessary for that.
So, let's veer back into the film section against thinking of what alpha, that those particular propaganda videos and, well, that's how I'm going to view that how I'm going to frame them. That's how it works most accurately in my framing at least. What is it about the Q and non videos that are powerful, and do you see similarities in say movies or films that for example, fish would have produced, to try and convince people at least in their context.
Yeah, I think that the Q anon videos are. So, I think q anon is a dangerous conspiracy. I don't agree with what it says. And yet, and this is why it's so successful, I agree with most of the things that Cuban says, and these videos start things you agree with. There are people in power who are trying to who are like lying to us there are people in power who are convincing us of, you know, who are committing fraud, who don't have your best interests at heart. You know, and they start with a whole bunch of things that people strongly agree with. And then they slip in some other things. And then they slip into some other things. And, you know, if you the best, the best amount I was told. I'm not. I have not a researcher is about 5% lies and 95% true. You know, and if you give someone something that's 95%. True or 95% they already agree with let's put let's say that. And 5% is new information. That's another way to look at it. That person is going to take into new information. And then if you call them a week later, that new information will be integrated into their worldview. And that's just how we work, you know we're continually adjusting that and so q1 on very expertly takes advantage of that. There's a lot of other things that they do really well. They, they also clearly have some funding behind them. You know, it's a scary thing to me, that we have a lot of. It used to be that it took a lot of resources to convince a lot of people of something. And now for a few million dollars and some good psyops. You can get the whole world telling a story. And that is, you know that that's sort of what we are doing performance art about that, you know, that like look how easy it is to get everyone to talk about a story. Do you really trust these stories that everyone's talking about, because the the people who are students of this map it to well, that this playbook is just like it works.
Yeah, I mean it's interesting, like, like you mentioned this, it basically it's a, it's a lead a piece of lead technique that you're doing here, and the opposite seems to be sort of like to throw back to politics, what Bernie Sanders did in 2016 when he went and had his speech at Liberty University it's an interesting
contrast there. Mm hmm.
Yeah, that makes sense. Okay,
now again back to filmmaking, when you do make a film Do you imagine an audience of the big theater, do you design, or for at home on a small screen, do you design the narrative for people that, who may or may not have shorter or shortened attention spans and distractions while watching your media
is a great question. I love this question. First I saw Star Wars, the new Star Wars recently. And we just kept joking we were, we were playing a game which the game was was this shot framed for a movie theater or a phone, and a lot of movies, feel like they can't decide, you know, you'll have this giant epic wide, wide shot and then you'll have a close up that's like this close instead of where you would put it if you were framing for a theater. And it's a side note, but I think movies should have two versions. You know, just like websites do. But the. Yeah, I think about people with a short attention span for sure. That's the unavoidable reality of internet content, we're releasing 10 minute episodes, which is really, really going against the trend. Normally you would try to make these episodes four minutes but I just think that part of what we're trying to do is tell a complicated story on the internet, but I imagine editing that every single second that's something interesting isn't happening until about episode three when someone's bought in, you know, Episode One you mentioned they're just coming across it is. People are going to be totally distractible and lose lose things and your audience can walk away. And it's a very different assumption than normally when you're editing a video where you can start your video with a three minute shot of something, because you know that people have bought a ticket and they have popcorn and they're sitting in a theater and they're with a date, and they're going to sit through it. I also I do frame that this movie is framed for cell phones. We did a lot in shooting this movie to make it feel extremely cinematic. So we went back to a lot of 90s tropes or as I like to say, the 90s but the way that we remember them. So, we don't really jump cut. We don't really, we don't really use handheld ever. There's sliders and sliders and dollies and have very well composed shots very colorful and even though we're a low budget film, our intention was that when you hold us in your phone, you feel like you're in a movie theater. This feels like cinema with a capital C, because there's been a lot of interactive projects that have been released on the internet that you know fetishize the iPhone footage, and like, oh, we're just like we're just people who are on the internet just like you. And we wanted to create a different feeling which is more like x men it's happening but it's happening the world around us.
Okay, how much effort you have to put into that first episode to try to hook your audience. Oh boy,
so much. Yeah, that's where we're putting most of our storytelling I've heard it's where a lot of our digital effects are, you know, that first episode has to be exciting, and has to introduce the series and has to pull you in, you know, and it's, it's not true that if the first episode doesn't succeed, the whole series won't but it's, you know, you got to have a good pilot and you'll see that for any television show it's like the pilot episode is the one that gets worked on and worked on and worked on until it's just like a perfect piece.
Now, there's a criticism that I just saw come through the chat is formatting for say five to 10 minutes per episode. Just succumbing to the current trend of fast consumption, I mean should, why should people be targeting movies with low attention to folks with lowered attention spans.
I mean I don't really have a great answer to that. It's, it's the reality of creating any content on the internet. You know I have made content that is not designed to be internet content and it will in the future. But you don't see a lot of content that's, you know, released on the internet. That doesn't cater to that type of attention span. I think that there are ways to increase that you know in our story certainly slows down after the first episode. But, you know, let's let's also remember that when we're looking at when we watch a movie. We learn about the movie through an advertisement. And that's a 32nd advertisement so a lot of us decide whether or not to watch a movie with a 32nd advertisement. So, you know, if you think about our first episode as an advertisement. I've never seen a two hour long advertisement on you know in in a on a, on television.
Yeah, so I do think
yeah i think i think the other perspective too is that we are we are building content for a very long attention span. You know we're building content for an attention span of two weeks, which is much longer than the internet's attention span. We're building content for an engagement of depth, that is much greater than most internet videos. And so we've been very deliberate about taking this structure and trying to use it to tell a complex involved story that brings nuance into a conversation, rather than a really overly simplistic story that's been chopped out for the internet.
Speaking of which are these going to be discrete complete episodes across all platforms, or will you have different pieces different formats on different platforms,
mostly similar on platforms some different than others. Yeah, our strategy builds builds platform awareness into it so it depends exactly what part of the project and how it's being released and what day. But there's going to be two primary places where you can experience our content.
So one last question.
When is this gonna come out comes out in September. We would love to have you on board, please shoot me an email if you want to chat and also definitely real calm you can sign up for our email list and you'll learn more about it when it comes out.
Michael Morgenstern thank you very much for presenting your, your discussion here at hope, 2020. We can't wait to see this, this, this. Not yet titled project of yours. In September, I hope you have a great rest of the conference. Thank you so much, how to be happy to be here. Ground Control take it away.
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