Web Excursions 2021-04-07

Yahoo Answers was the most earnest place on the internet

So many of the classic Yahoo Answers threads are written in a distinct mangled keyboard patois that belongs to both elementary-aged children and hunt-and-pecking sexagenarians alike. In 2021, when it feels like everyone in our life is chronically online, there is a strange, wistful sublimity in paging through the archives. Yahoo Answers represents an era where social media wasn’t chronically poisoned with irony and restless posturing; when the denizens of the internet were a little less afraid of the dreaded self-own.

But unfortunately, nothing is safe from the great polarization of American society, where every scrap of digital terrain — from the subdivisions of 4Chan to your grandmother’s Facebook page — has been transformed into a focal point of perpetual political resentment. Not even Yahoo Answers, whose name implies a wholesome search for utilitarian, objective truth, was immune to the rising tide of boneheaded nationalism. It’s instructive, I think, to know that basic human courtesies, like posing and answering questions, have been irredeemably poisoned by the bad-faith instincts of the cursed, modern internet. There is simply no feasible way to subsist as a True Neutral web entity anymore. Yahoo Answers is just the latest casualty.

Hot Pod #300

Up to this point, I’ve chiefly interpreted the company’s much-reported interest in original podcast development as being mostly about marketing.

But what they're doing with The Line feels like the start of a curious new direction. Additionally, as much as this is a story about Apple TV+ seemingly expanding its creative content interests into original audio, another thread worth noting is what appears to be the Apple Podcasts platform's on-going neutrality. It's not lost on me that the original content flowing through Apple Podcasts exclusively comes from other Apple divisions, almost as if the Apple Podcasts platform is insisting on identity that's nothing more than a cold distribution point as opposed to something more mixed and complicated, as with the case of Spotify.

Apple Podcasts Now Lists 2 Million Shows, But Almost Half of Those Titles Have Only Three or Fewer Episodes

  • Apple's Podcasts platform recently surpassed 2 million titles,

    • however almost a quarter of those shows have only published one episode, suggesting the numbers are inflated by so-called "once-and-done" podcasts.

  • Breaking down the latest statistics provided by Podcast Industry Insights, industry advisor Amplifi Media found that 26% of listed podcasts have published just one episode,

    • suggesting that many content creators immediately went out of business or else never intended to continue creating beyond their opening act.

  • 44% of podcasts have published three or fewer episodes

    • meaning if the arbitrary benchmark of a "real podcast" is set as a series of at least four episodes, then the total number of shows on Apple Podcasts is closer to 880,000.