Long Reads For The Long Weekend (Summer 2024 Edition)

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(Welcome to the Entertainment Strategy Guy, a newsletter on the entertainment industry and business strategy. I write a weekly Streaming Ratings Report and a bi-weekly strategy column, along with occasional deep dives into other topics, like today’s article. Please subscribe.)

We’ve got a long weekend coming up (in America at least) and since the Nielsen ratings aren’t coming out until Monday (which is good! It’s a holiday weekend, in America at least) I decided to roll out an old annual EntStrategyGuy tradition, my “Long Reads for a Long Weekend”. You can find past editions from 2019, 2020, and 2021 at these links.

In general, I tried to go beyond articles from newsletters or websites on my recently unveiled “Recommended Reading”/Blog Roll suggestions, since you should already be reading those! But a fair number of them popped in here anyway. 

Let’s get right to the articles!

The 5 types of people who argue on the Internet” by Nate Silver in The Silver Bulletin

Even though he’s best known for political predictions—and he’s still my favorite prognosticator—I’m not sure that anyone has written a better summation of the psychology of people on the internet than Nate Silver. On social media, I don’t have many trolls, but I have a few. Every time they troll me on Twitter (which is why I don’t use the platform a lot) I’m tempted to just send them this article. Check it out. (And Nate’s election forecasts, which just went up last month.)

“Video: Follow the Money: A Holistic View of the U.S. Video Value Chain and Some Surprising Insights” by Doug Shapiro in The Mediator

In my last edition of this feature, I put Doug Shapiro’s “One Clear Casualty of the Streaming Wars: Profit” article as the lead entry, and this big update is just as good. That first article might be the one piece I’ve cited the most in my writing. In his latest, Shapiro updates his numbers for the last three years. This analysis highlights a few things I’ve been worried about since I started writing: namely that streaming, while disruptive, won’t be nearly as lucrative as the old cable bundle in America.

What A Century (Plus a Pandemic) Does to Moviegoing and Why It Matters” by Matthew Ball

Usually, I try to have my “long read” recommendations avoid the entertainment business, but Doug Shapiro’s entry above and Matthew Ball’s latest epic tome both deserve shout outs. I’ve written a ton about the state of the theatrical industry, and Ball uses some historical data to draw out some of the same conclusions. He also looks at “tickets sold per capita”, a data cut I wish I’d thought of.

And the Winners of the 2024 Vulture Stunt Awards Are…” by Bilge Ebiri, Brandon Streussnig, Roxana Hadadi, and Jordan Crucchiola at Vulture

Each year, Vulture puts together the unofficial “Stunt Awards”, awarding the best stunts, fights, shootouts and car chases. One film basically swept the awards this year, but since that film deserved to sweep the awards, I’m fine with it! (Find the 2022 Awards here.)

The Squatters of Beverly Hills” by Bridget Read at Curbed

This is just a fun, crazy read, and one of the best pieces of narrative journalism I read all year. I’m not sure if squatting is on the rise (due to the internet making it easier to find out how to do it) or if the internet just makes it seem that way (just as likely), but this story tells a good yarn either way. 

Practically-A-Book Review: Rootclaim $100,000 Lab Leak Debate” by Scott Alexander in Astral Codex Ten

This excellent Scott Alexander essay/mini-book has everything you could possibly want to know about the lab leak versus natural origins of the Covid-19 pandemic debate. In it, Alexander summarizes fifteen hours of a YouTube debate, and it’s fascinating. 

Plus it features a debater who believes that he’s “beyond human bias” but he’s actually the exact opposite. Come for the science, stay for the lesson in epistemological humility. 

(Want even more on this? Read the follow-up here.) 

The Beauty of Concrete” by Samuel Hughes at Works in Progress

I just adored this essay. The author tries to figure out what happened to ornamentation in architecture, disproving the oft-repeated excuse that labor costs have gone up. Bad architectural design is a choice, not the fault of technology or the economy.

Related, Works in Progress also had a great article on the future of silk. It’s easy, sometimes, to buy into the hype of new technologies, but I loved this article as well. 

Box Office: Hollywood’s Most Profitible Action Franchises Are…” by Scott Mendelson in The Outside Scoop

I love it when writers/pundits like Mendelson step back from the day-to-day analysis and dive deep into a topic like this. Just a fun read on one of my favorite genres. 

How AI can make history: Large language models can do a lot of things. But can they write like an 18th-century fur trader?” by Josh Dzieza at The Verge

My team and I have only just started dabbling with AI, but I won’t lie: I can’t get it to do anything right. I can’t even get an LLM to properly and conveniently shorten links right now. Regardless, this article makes a very good case for how AI can transform industries and research.

A bunch of handy charts about climate change” by Noah Smith at Noahpinion

One of my favorite subjects to read/listen to that isn’t about entertainment strategy is the future of the green energy movement. In that vein, Noah Smith makes a very strong case that technology is helping us confront the biggest challenge to humanity, climate change, in the former article and that technology stands to really help humanity in the latter article.

What Colour are your bits?” By Matthew Skala in Ansuz

This is a much older article, from 2004, but I think it’s a great breakdown of copyright issues and technology. He applies“colour” to the concept of copyright law in the digital realm, and how the legal issues are about more than the underlying code. As AI threatens to make copyright and IP infringement rampant, this framing is fairly important.

Other Fun Reads

Finally, my editor/researcher demanded that I share Peter Suderman’s articles on both Negroni week and his recent instant-classic Cynar and Tonic recipe. Even I have to admit that the Cynar and Tonic cocktail has finally sold me on Cynar. 

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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