Another Dust Up: A Consequence of Swisherism?

July 3, 2020

I associate Silicon Valley journalism with the dynamic duo of Swisher and Mossberg. The Walt has retired from the field of battle—almost. Kara Swisher sallies forth. The analytic approach taken by the “I” journalist has had a significant impact on others who want to reveal the gears, levers, and machine oil keeping the Silicon Valley factories running the way their owners and bankers intended.

Hence, Swisherism which I define as:

A critical look at Silicon Valley as a metaphor for the foibles of individuals who perceive themselves as smarter than anyone else, including those not in the room.

A good example of Swisherism’s consequences appears in “Silicon Valley Elite Discuss Journalists Having Too Much Power in Private App.” The write up is like a techno anime fueled with Jolt Cola.

For example:

During a conversation held Wednesday night on the invite-only Clubhouse app—an audio social network popular with venture capitalists and celebrities—entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan, several Andreessen Horowitz venture capitalists, and, for some reason, television personality Roland Martin spent at least an hour talking about how journalists have too much power to “cancel” people and wondering what they, the titans of Silicon Valley, could do about it.

This is inside baseball given a dramatic twist. Big names (for some I suppose). A country-club app for insiders. An us versus them plot line worthy of Homer. The specter of retribution.


Even more interesting is that the article references a “recording” of what may have been perceived as a private conversation.

There’s nothing to inspire confidence like leaked recordings, right?

There is a sprinkling of foul language. A journalist becomes the target of interest. There is loaded language like “has been harassed and impersonated” to make sure that the reader understands that badness of the situation.

Swisherisms? Sort of, but the spirit is there. The under dog needs some support. Pitch in. Let’s make attitudes “better.” Rah rah.

I particularly like the use of Twitter as a weapon of myth destruction:

Lorenz’s tweet was immediately tweeted about by several Silicon Valley venture capitalists, most notably Srinivasan, who eventually made a seven-tweet thread in which he suggested Lorenz, and journalists like her, are “sociopaths.” That same day, a self-described Taylor Lorenz “parody” Twitter account started retweeting Srinivasan and other tech investors and executives critical of her work. The account’s bio also links to a website, also self-described as parody, which is dedicated to harassing Lorenz. (Twitter told Motherboard it deleted another account for impersonating Lorenz.)

“Lorenz” is the journalist who became the windmill toward which the Silicon Valley elite turned their digital lances.

Net net: Darned exciting. New type of “real” journalism. That’s the Swisherism in bright regalia. Snarkiness, insults, crude talk, and the other oddments of Silicon Valley excitement. No one like constructive criticism it seems. Politics, invective, overt and latent hostility, and a “you should do better” leitmotif. Sturm und drang to follow? Absolutely.

Stephen E Arnold, July 3, 2020


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