Welcome to Yellow Canary Land 🐤 (yes, the emoji is part of the title), a monthly Substack newsletter about global media and technology futures. Like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, a yellow canary event is like a flashing warning sign for more danger ahead. It is a signal that is itself insightful, but to an expert is doubly so because of the conditions it reveals.
This newsletter is a look at societal trends, with a focus on the future of media and technology from a global perspective. It’s ostensibly about some distant tomorrow, but really, it’s about how the forces of our yesterdays and todays are likely to shape the times to come. I get some things right, many things wrong, and I learn a lot along the way.
Yellow Canary Land 🐤 is an exercise in slow journalism. So don’t expect a lot of emails, but do expect a a lot of thought put into each one. Your money helps, but your reading helps more. Thanks for following.
Why subscribe? I’ve spent the better part of a decade with my ears to the ground on what’s coming for global technology, and much of what I wrote about early on continues to resonate today in new contexts. I started writing about political memes in 2011, about the fractured nature of our global internet in 2015, reality television culture’s influence on politics in 2018, the forces of the “technology cold war” that would shape China-US relations two years before the attempted TikTok and WeChat bans, and I helped coin the word misinfodemics nearly two years before COVID-19.
At Meedan, I spend my time working with a great team of folks from Kenya to India to Mexico to the United States looking toward the future of global technology. I’ve worked on two books — Memes to Movements and Ai Weiwei: Spatial Matters (edited by Anthony Pins) —, with a third on the way, called The Hanmoji Handbook, a book from MIT Kids Press written with Jason Li and Jennifer 8. Lee. I publish miscellaneous thoughts on Medium too.
The disciplines I bring to the table are media studies, art, technology, design, management and justice thinking, and the disciplines I dabble in are historical analogy, science fiction, human rights, policy, sinology, economics and linguistics. I practice Buddhism, I identify as queer and use the pronouns she or they. I can get by in Spanish and Mandarin. I enjoy photography.