The Plausible End of Social Media, Downscaling, & The Latent Celebrity Mindset with Ian Bogost


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The seventh season of The American Vandal Podcast, “Social Problems,” focused on potentially epochal changes to mass media, continues with a conversation inspired by The Atlantic editorial, “The Age of Social Media is Ending.” Its author joins the podcast to discuss eras of celebrity and the mass psychology of celebrity since the advent of social media, Twitter’s possible collapse and the potential for “descaling” in the aftermath, the place of gaming in contemporary media, and much more.

Ian Bogost is is Professor & Director of the Program in Film & Media Studies and Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. Bogost is also Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC, an independent game studio, and a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic. He co-edits the Platform Studies book series at MIT Press, and the Object Lessons series, published by The Atlantic and Bloomsbury. He is the author of four books, most recently Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, The Uses of Boredom, & The Secret of Games (Basic Books, 2016)

Matt Seybold is Associate Professor of American Literature & Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, as well as resident scholar at the Center For Mark Twain Studies, and Founding Director of EC’s Media Studies, Communication, & Design major. He has been primary host and executive producer of The American Vandal Podcast since its launch in October 2020.

The theme song for this series is “Social” by the ’90s punk band, Squirtgun, permissions generously granted by Mass Giorgini. Check out Squirtgun’s back catalog at Apple Music or Spotify.


Episode Bibliography:

Jason Aten, “15 Years Ago Today, Steve Jobs Introduced The Most Successful Product in History” (Inc., 1.9.2022)

Richard Barbrook & Andy Cameron, “The Californian Ideology” (Mute, September 1995)

Ian Bogost, “The Age of Social Media is Ending” (The Atlantic, 11.10.2022)

Ian Bogost, “All I Want Is A Place To Quip” (Ian Bogost’s Micronewsletter, 11.5.2022)

Ian Bogost, “People Aren’t Meant To Talk This Much” (The Atlantic, 10.22.2021)

Ian Bogost, How To Do Things With Videogames (U. Minnesota, 2011)

Ian Bogost, “Curiosity Journalism, or the First Decade of Newsgames” (Convergence, Summer 2020)

Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari, & Bobby Schweizer, Newsgames: Journalism at Play (MIT, 2010)

Digital Eclipse, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration (2022)

John Kenneth Galbraith, The Economics of Innocent Fraud (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)

John Kenneth Galbraith, A Short History of Financial Euphoria: Financial Genius Before The Fall (1990)

John Guillory, Cultural Capital: The Problem of Canon Formation (U. Chicago, 1993)

Andrew Koppelman, Burning Down The House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted By Delusion & Greed (St. Martin’s, 2022)

Adrienne LaFrance, “Facebook Is A Doomsday Machine” (The Atlantic, 12.15.2020)

Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Difference: Phrases in Dispute (1983)

Sharon Marcus, The Drama of Celebrity (Princeton UP, 2019)

Marshall & Eric McLuhan, Laws of Media: The New Science (U. Toronto, 1988)

Ted Nelson, Computer Lib/Dream Machines (1974)

Sarah T. Roberts & Matt Seybold, “The Collapse of Twitter, Zombie Cyberlibertarianism, & Commercial Content Moderation” (The American Vandal, 11.18.2022)

Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead, 2015)

Jon Ronson, “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life” (New York Times Magazine, 2.15.2015)

Matt Seybold, “The Mail-Bag Bed of Empire: Roughing It & The Gossamer Network” (Mark Twain Annual, 2022)

Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Network, & The Rise of Digital Utopianism (U. Chicago, 2006)

Fred Turner, “Burning Man at Google: A Cultural Infrastructure for New Media Production” (New Media & Society, 2009)

Jillian C. York, Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism (Verso, 2021)