David is the CEO & Editor-in-Chief of The Logic and co-host of the Big Tech podcast. He has worked at The Toronto Star and The Boston Globe, and was the co-creator and director of digital for Global News.
Online advertisement and social media platforms have had a major impact on economies and societies around the globe. Those impacts are happening in retail, with the shift in spending from brick and mortar to online; in advertising, where revenues have moved from print and broadcast to online social platforms; and in society more broadly, through algorithmic-amplified extremism and hate speech. The big tech companies at the centre of these shifts have little incentive to change the nature of their operations. It now falls to nations around the globe to find ways to regulate big tech in the face of what many view as a market failure. In this episode of Big Tech, co-hosts David Skok and Taylor Owen speak to Damian Collins, a British member of Parliament and former chair of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee. As chair of DCMS, Collins led the investigation into Cambridge Analytica’s role in the Brexit referendum. He was also involved in the creation of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and “Fake News.” Collins doesn’t blame the tech giants for their inaction, but rather sees the problem as governance policies that have lagged behind. There is a need for policy to catch up and ensure citizens are protected, just as other complex global markets, such as the financial industry, have done. International cooperation and information sharing enable nations to take on the large global tech companies together without each needing to start from scratch.
Journalism has had a storied history with the internet. Early on, the internet was a niche market, something for traditional publishers to experiment with as another medium for sharing news. As it gained popularity as a news source, newsrooms began to change as well, adapting their business models to the digital age. Newspapers had historically generated revenue through a mix of subscriptions, advertising and classifieds. But internet platforms Craigslist and Kijiji soon took over classified. Google Ads presented advertisers with more refined marketing tools than the newspapers could offer. And Facebook and Twitter made it possible for readers to consume news for free without visiting newspaper’s website. In this episode of Big Tech, co-hosts David Skok and Taylor Owen speak to Emily Bell, the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Newsrooms are left with few options to make money now. Unless you are a large outlet with a sizable online subscriber base like The New York Times, your capacity for local reporting will be hampered by the economic need to focus on stories that have the broadest reach. Many media conglomerates have cut back their local reporting, creating news deserts across large regions. Not having local reporters on the case is having negative impacts on democracy, too. As Bell explains, “Where there is no local press…local officials tend to stay in office for longer. They tend to pay themselves more.” Smaller local news outlets that can build a relationship with their readers can see success if their readers are able to pay the subscription fees. But it is often poorer communities, where people can't afford local news subscriptions, that most need the services of good local journalism. Bell sees an opportunity to rethink the way news is funded: first, by looking to communities to decide what level of reporting they require, and second, by resourcing it accordingly. 
Is it possible to access the internet without interacting with the big five American tech companies? Technically, yes, but large swaths of the web would be inaccessible to consumers without the products and platforms created by Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, Google’s parent company. In this episode of Big Tech, co-hosts David Skok and Taylor Owen speak with Matt Stoller, the director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project and the author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy. Stoller looks at how the political landscape has changed from the time of the railroad tycoons to the modern Silicon Valley tech monopolies. Each of these companies has established itself in a market-leading position in different ways. On mobile, Apple’s App Store is the only way for software developers to reach iPhone customers. Google controls search, maps and online advertising. Amazon’s website is the dominant online retail platform. “In some ways, it’s a little bit like saying, well, you know, that railroad that goes through this one narrow valley that you have to take to get to market, well, that’s not a monopoly, because there are other railroads in the country,” Stoller says. “Well, yeah, maybe there are, but it doesn’t matter if you need that particular railroad to get where you’re going…. that’s what Amazon is like in a lot of the sectors that it deals with.” Finally, underpinning much of the internet are Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services cloud data centres. Is corporate power a political problem or a market problem? Skok, Owen and Stoller discuss topics ranging from the robber barons of the 1930s and the antitrust reforms that followed, to the current environment, one that evolved over several political generations to become, as Stoller describes it, a crisis of concentration separated from “caretaking,” in which profits can amass through domination rather than through better products or services. 
Social media platforms have assumed the role of news distribution sources, but have largely rejected the affiliated gatekeeper role of fact-checking the content they allow on their sites. This abdication has led to the rise of fake news, disinformation and propaganda. In this episode of Big Tech, co-hosts David Skok and Taylor Owen spoke with journalist and Rappler founder Maria Ressa just days before her conviction in a high-profile cyber-libel case against her, as well as her colleague Reynaldo Santos, Jr. and Rappler Inc. as a whole. On Monday, June 15, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 ruled that Ressa and Santos, Jr. were liable, but that Rappler as a company was not. This case is viewed in the larger context as an attack on journalistic freedoms protected under the Filipino Constitution. Ressa has repeatedly come under fire by the Duterte government for calling out what she sees as illiberal-leaning and propaganda. Facebook was a key component of President Rodrigo Duterte’s election in 2016. Ressa explained, “On Facebook, a lie told a million times becomes a fact.” The disinformation that spreads on social media platforms is having real-world impacts on how citizens view democratic institutions. “If you debate the facts, you can’t have integrity of markets. You can’t have integrity of elections….This is democracy’s death by a thousand cuts,” said Ressa. 
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Creator Details

Episode Count
20
Podcast Count
1
Total Airtime
10 hours, 44 minutes
PCID
Podchaser Creator ID logo 759134