Una conversación con la periodista de tecnología y ahora autora Sarah Frier

La periodista Sarah Frier se dedica a escribir sobre las compañías de medios sociales desde 2012. Después de ocho años de coberturas, concluyó que tenía las fuentes suficientes para comenzar a escribir un libro. 


"Esta historia, la historia de Instagram no había tenido seguimiento por parte de un periodista, entonces había varias puertas que podía tocar y personas a quien entrevistar que nunca habían hablado con la prensa"
, compartió la joven autora de Sin filtro: La historia secreta de Instagram el cual le tomó alrededor de año y medio para escribir y posteriormente lanzar.

Instagram es un servicio para compartir fotos y videos, creado por Kevin Systrom y Mike Krieger en Estados Unidos en el año 2010. Originalmente inició solo para el sistema operativo IOS. Posteriormente fue adquirido por Facebook.

Sarah Frier, Autora del libro Sin Filtro. Foto Twitter

Sarah no solamente se aventó a entrevistar a empleados y ex empleados de la plataforma social, también entrevistó a usuarios cuyas vidas cambiaron gracias a lo que ella llama muy puntualmente "este producto". 

"Uno que ha causado un impacto tremendo en nuestra cultura, economía, y cómo pensamos acerca de nosotros mismos. No había habido una exploración a fondo de todo lo que era instagram; lo que hicieron, cómo es que llegaron hasta este punto, y que pasó cuando Facebook adquirió la plataforma. Fue más dramático de lo que se pueda pensar y gran parte de la toma de decisiones que ocurre adentro, afecta lo que hacemos afuera".

Con toda la información que Sarah obtuvo y siendo también usuaria de Instagram, lo que le parecía más importante era el impacto sobre las nuevas generaciones con esta realidad alterna donde prácticamente todo se basa en el físico, la estética, abrir paquetes promocionales, "collabs" etc...

"Siempre nos estamos comparando entre nosotros y ahora, está esta app que nos va a decir exactamente cómo compararnos a través de su métrica". Métricas como, número de usuarios, la cantidad de comentarios y likes, al grado que toda esa retroalimentación al estar usando Instagram, entrena al usuario para qué hacer después cada que entra para obtener más y mejores respuestas. En sus entrevistas con el demográfico más joven, compartieron que es através de Instagram y sus seguidores que deciden con quien salir, a quien invitar a su grupo de amigos, con quien socializar, quien quieren que sea presidente de la sociedad de alumnos y distintas actividades escolares.

"El problema es que estas métricas que apremian la cantidad sobre la calidad, que te muestran el valor de la estética por sobre el valor de la verdadera experiencia...esas métricas son defectuosas en cuanto a enseñarle a la gente (joven o no) qué es a lo que deben aspirar en este mundo. Me parece que vale mucho la pena entender la mecánica de Instagram que hay por debajo, hacia donde nos están impulsando y por qué, para que nos podamos desprender de esa presión."

Cuando Facebook adquirió Instagram

Antes, Instagram era una plataforma social nadamás para usuarios del sistema operativo de IOS. Basada en fotos con filtros eso era y ya. Ahora, es una mezcla de diferentes funciones basadas en otras plataformas como Snapchat o TikTok, haciéndola más amplia y en veces agobiante. Todo con el fin de "estar a la par".

Sarah explica que antes de Facebook adquirir Instagram, el uso era más acerca de creatividad y de abrir una ventana hacia el mundo de otras personas. "No había dispositivos móbiles que funcionaran bien para llevarlos por el mundo. Con Instagram, te lo podías llevar a cenar y tomarle fotos a tu comida, capturar todo aquello que querías compartir".

Instagram se parece mucho a Facebook ahora, procurando el cultivo de cómo quieren que se vea la cultura. "Están adoptando el rol de cerrajero, por ejemplo, si la revista Vogue está por lanzar una lista con los mejores 10 fotógrafos en México, los vamos a ayudar con esa lista y cada que alguien busque en google -cuáles son los mejores fotógrafos de México en Instagram- encontrarán una lista creada por el corporativo de Instagram sin rastro de ellos. Estuvieron detrás dirigiendo la cultura con el fin de crecer".

Ahora como usuario, al observar Instagram, se reciben más notificaciones, recomendaciones de a quien seguir y todo se basa en lo que hiciste anteriormente en Facebook. Conforme la gente gana seguidores, notoriedad e influencia en Instagram, viendo que pueden ganar dinero de todo aquello, se hizo mucho más comercial porque todos quieren vender algo, hasta la gente que no quería vender nada, ahora también quiere porque son conscientes de su marca personal. Cuáles son sus ángulos, cuál es la mejor luz, cómo mostrar su vida a los demás como curadores de contenido.

"Curando sus vidas para el consumo de otros ".

Este es el primer libro de Sarah Frier. Salió a la venta en abril de 2020 durante la pandemia. Sin poder promoverlo o hacer entrevistas en persona alrededor del pais, ha tenido la oportunidad de hablar en línea con gente de todo el mundo y ver el impacto que el libro ha tenido en ellos. 

"Es difícil hablar de algo que quieres vender en un momento en el que la gente está sufriendo. Instagram en sí no había estado tan al centeo de lo que hacemos todos los días porque es ahora nuestra línea directa hacía el gráfico social. Es el lugar donde podemos ver lo que la gente está haciendo pero al mismo tiempo, ya no es ese lugar tan aspiracional u optimista porque la gente está sufriendo. Ya sea de soledad, el haber perdido tu trabajo, el haberte enfermado o perdido a un ser querido".

Lo que le gustaría que pasara cuando terminen de leer Sin Filtro ...

"Quiero que comprendan que están jugando dentro de un sistema que fue diseñado para captar su atención y mantenerlos entretenidos. Por más que parezca que Instagram es el punto de referencia de la popularidad y relevancia social para hacerte rico y famoso, la realidad puede ser diferente de los números que ves; y la gente con la que te estás comparando, también está siendo estratégica y también está curando su imagen para tu consumo. Una vez que entiendas la mecánica detrás de Instagram, podrás tomar decisiones más sanas para tí, para aquello que quieras tomar en serio, lo que quieres apoyar y recibir de todo eso. ¿Por qué estás usando esta plataforma?".

Frier describe el uso de los medios sociales como algo muy pasivo. Mientras esperas a que la comida salga del microondas, mientras llega el camión, subiendo y bajando o al aburrirte al ver la televisión. Esto nos hace más susceptibles a todo aquello que se dirija hacia nosotros. La forma como funciona el algoritmo es mostrando a los usuarios contenido que los mantenga desplazando el mayor tiempo posible, no para mostrar la realidad sino cosas que traigan alegría, cosas que provoquen una reacción.

¿Reacción negativa por parte de Instagram?

Para nada. La gente que piensa entrar a trabajar a Instagram está leyendo el libro de Sarah.

"La historia son hechos. Después del lanzamiento de mi libro, el gobierno americano comenzó a cuestionar el poder de Instagram como no se había hecho antes. Citas del libro se han usado en investigaciones de congreso acerca de Facebook e Instagram sobre la falta de confianza. Se está abriendo cada vez más la conversación acerca del poder de Facebook en nuestras vidas, el poder en nuestra cultura y en nuestra sociedad".

Sarah agrega que ella sigue siendo una periodista que cubre a compañías de tecnología y su poder. Si tienes ideas de historias que ella pueda desarrollar o si tienes algún problema con la tecnología, sus mensajes directos están abiertos en  Twitter e Insta.

Sin filtro: La historia secreta de Instagram ganador del  2020 Business Book of the Year Award está disponible en impreso, e-book, y audio. Un libro publicado en español por Penguin Random House.

Esta entrevista se hizo en inglés por Alejandra Enciso. Para leer la versión en el idioma original favor de presionar aquí

North Coast Repertory Theatre in San Diego presents TRYING 

A wonderful two-actor piece based on true events

Trying Emily Goss & James Sutorius - photo by Aaron Rumley
It is always a thrill to see good theatre. It is hard now to remember how it feels to be inside a venue with an audience and enjoy the artform. It is also getting hard to see theatre online after all this screen fatigue. 

Watching Trying was not just a thrill to watch, it was greatly appreciated. During these times where the majority of topics are about vaccines, colors and statistics, it is nice to go back to when computers, social media, and influencers were not a thing.

Based on playwright Joanna McClelland Glass´s experience in the late sixties as an assistant to famed Attorney General and Chief Judge at the Nuremberg trials Francis Biddle, and during his last year of life. 

As always with productions at North Coast, Marty Burnett delivers a detailed and impeccable set design . Recreating Judge Biddle´s office comprised by two desks, awards, frames, and pictures taking us through his hefty career. There is also a resting space with a small bed where Biddle can take naps during the work shift. And, as the year progresses, these shifts are becoming shorter and shorter. 

Trying - James Sutorius as Judge Biddle - photo by Aaron Rumley

James Sutorius is Francis Biddle and Emily Goss is Sarah Schorr. Their interaction during the two hour (and change) play is well balanced and fresh. Through Sutorious´s mighty portrayal, we understand the incisiveness in Biddle´s personality. Exchanging Cummings poetry references with Sarah, how to properly use infinitives and, my personal favorite, Shakespeare, particularly  King John to which Francis Biddle expresses "They only teach the crowd pleasers". This leaves the audience captivated.

Of course, being 1967, we do have to endure the old-school galore ways and how women were treated and often dismissed. Emily Goss as Sarah Schorr who is also a newlywed, is endearing. A well written story that shined a light on the bond that they created during that year of work and the judges last as he decayed and could not keep up. Sarah takes more and more responsibilities not being fully aware that she was also winning him over.

No spoilers will be revealed but there are a number of very tender moments that really round out this play viewing experience. Director David Ellenstein maintains a balanced rhythm with the two actors moving throughout the small space. 

Trying Emily Goss - photo by Aaron Rumley

Making theatre has always been a titanic effort that comes through because of love. Continuing to make theatre after a year of a worldwide pandemic, oy. This needs to be praised over and over.

Special mention to Cinematographer/Editor Aaron Rumley, Eliza Benzoni Costume Designer, and Phillip Korth COVID-19 Compliance Officer/Props.

This is a wonderful play to watch with family or a parent. Available to stream until Sunday, April 18, tickets for Trying range between $35 - $54 and can be purchased at northcoastrep.org

A conversation with tech company journalist -now author- Sarah Frier

Journalist Sarah Frier had been covering social media companies since the year 2012 for about eight years and gathered she had a substantial number of sources to start writing a book. 


"This story, the story of Instagram had not really been pursued by a journalist before, so there were a lot of new doors to knock on and people to talk to who had never talked to the press"
, shared the young author of No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram that took her, about 18 months to write and release.

Instagram is an American photo and video sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and originally launched on iOS in October 2010.*

Sarah Frier, Author of the book No Filter. Photo Twitter

Not only did she dove in, talking to current and former employees of the social platform, she also talked to users whose lives had been changed by what she calls very -on point- "this product". 

"One that has made a tremendous impact on our culture, economy, and how we think about ourselves. There had never been an in-depth exploration of what Instagram was all about, what they did, how did they get to this point, and what happened when they got acquired from Facebook. It was more dramatic than you might expect and a lot of the decision-making inside affects what we do on the outside".

With all this inside info Sarah had gathered and being an Instagram user herself, the question that came to mind was, how she sees the youngest generations being impacted by this alternate reality where practically everything is based on looks, aesthetic, unboxings, "collabs" and so on...

"We are always comparing ourselves to each other and now, there is this app that will tell us exactly how we compare via their metrics". Metrics like, number of followers, the amount of comments, and likes to where that feedback while using Instagram will train the user of what to do next, each time they log in to get a bigger and better response. In her interviews with the younger demographics, they shared that it is through Instagram following that they determine who they want to date, who they want to invite to their friend group, who they want to socialize with, and who they would like to lead the student/school activities. 

"The problem is that those metrics that reward quantity over quality that teach you the value of aesthetics over the value of the actual experience, those are flawed in terms of showing people (young or not) what to strive for in this world. I think that it is really worth understanding the underlying mechanics of Instagram and what they are pushing us for and why so we can detach ourselves from that pressure."

When Facebook Acquired Instagram

Before, Instagram was a social platform for IOS users only, based on photos with filters. That was it. Now it is a mix of different features based on other platforms like Snapchat or TikTok, making it more robust and overwhelming at times in order to "keep up".

Sarah explains that before Facebook acquired it, Instagram was about creativity and providing a window to the worlds of other people. "There were no mobile products that worked so well for taking them out into the world. Instagram you could bring to dinner and take pictures of your food, capture things that you wanted to share".

Instagram has become a lot more like Facebook, caring a lot about directly cultivating what they want the culture to look like. "They were playing key maker, for example, if Vogue Magazine is going to do a list of the top ten photographers in Mexico, we're going to help them with that list and then every time someone would google -what are the ten best photographers on Instagram in Mexico- they would get a list created by Instagram corporate but has none of their fingerprints on it. They were very much behind the scenes directing the culture so they could grow".

Now as a user, looking at Instagram you get more notifications, more recommendations on who to follow, and it is all based on what you did previously on Facebook. As people gained following, notoriety, and influence on Instagram, realizing they could make money off of that, it made it so much more commercial because everyone wanted to sell something and even the people who did not want to sell something, became conscious of their personal brand. What their angles were, what is the best lighting, how to show people their lives as content curation. 

"Curating their lives for the consumption of others".

This is Sarah Frier's first book and it came out around April of 2020 during the pandemic. Not being able to do a book tour and in-person interviews around the country, she has had the opportunity to talk virtually to people around the world and see how this book is resonating with them. "It is hard to talk about something that you want to sell at a time where people are suffering. And Instagram itself has never been so central to what we do every day because it is now our lifeline to our social graph. It's like a place that we can still see what people are doing, but at the same time, it has become less of that aspirational optimistic place because people are suffering. Whether is of loneliness, losing your job or having a loved one getting sick".

What this author wishes people would walk away with after reading No Filter...

"I want them to understand that they are playing into a system that has been designed by people to capture more of their attention and to keep them entertained. So as much as it might seem that Instagram is the benchmark of popularity in the societal relevance and getting rich and famous, the actual reality may differ from the numbers you see; and the people you are comparing yourselves to, are also being strategic and also curating their image for your consumption. Once you understand the BTS mechanics of a place like Instagram, you can start to make healthier choices for yourself about what you want to take seriously and what you want to buy into, and what you want to get out of it. 

Why are you using this platform?".

Frier describes using social media as something very passively, waiting for the food in the microwave to be ready or until the bus comes, scrolling, or getting bored while watching TV. This opens us up to be susceptible to whatever is being thrown towards our direction. The way the algorithm works is to show users content that will keep them scrolling longer, not tuned to show reality, things that bring happiness, or our closest family, they are showing things that will have a reaction.

Backlash from Instagram?

Not at all. People who think of applying to work at Instagram are reading Sarah's book. 

"History is just facts. After my book came out, the U.S government started interrogating Instagram's power in a way that they had not before. My book has been cited in congressional investigations on Facebook and Instagram over anti-trust. The conversation is opening up a lot more about Facebook's power in our lives and over the power in our culture and our society".

Sarah adds that she is still a journalist covering tech companies and their power. If you have ideas of stories she may pursue or any problems that you may be having with technology, her DM's on Twitter and Insta are open.

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram winner of the 2020 Business Book of the Year Award is available in print, e-book, and audio versions. A book from Simon Schuster. Click here to get all the details  

*Wikipedia

Performing Arts Organizations Unite for San Diego to have not Just a Week, but a Full Month of Theatre Throughut May

For the sixth year in a row, dozens of San Diego performing arts organizations will offer value-priced tickets throughout the County

“Even a pandemic cannot stop the performing arts. Productions live and recorded are being streamed throughout the world – here is your chance to be a part of it all.”

Jay Henslee, president of the nonprofit San Diego Performing Arts League (SDPAL).

For Theatre Week 2021 all tickets offered will cost either $15, $30 or $45. “This is our sixth annual Theatre Week,” says Henslee, “and our talented member companies will be offering value-priced tickets for their current and future performances. People need the arts more than ever right now, so it was decided that Theatre Week would be all of May as a week just wasn’t long enough!

“San Diegans bought more tickets in 2020 than they did in 2019. Some theaters sold out of their tickets before Theatre Week even started,” shares Jacole Kitchen, executive director of SDPAL. “With most of this year’s offerings being virtual, we're excited to introduce even more San Diegans to their local performing arts organizations. The options are considerable.”

The San Diego Performing Arts League is seeking sponsors for the sixth annual Theatre Week. For a tailor-made sponsorship package please contact Christian St. Croix at theatreweek@sdpal.com.

Organizations who participated in previous Theatre Weeks include Community Actor’s Theatre, Coronado Playhouse, Broadway/San Diego, Cygnet Theatre, Diversionary Theatre, Intrepid Theatre, J Company, La Jolla Music Society, La Jolla Playhouse, Lamb’s Players Theatre, Mainly Mozart, Moxie Theatre, National Comedy Theatre, New Village Arts, North Coast Repertory Theatre, OB Playhouse, Oceanside Theatre Company, The Old Globe, Patio Playhouse, Point Loma Playhouse, Poway OnStage, PowPAC, The Roustabouts Theatre Co, San Diego Ballet, San Diego Civic Theatre, San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Musical Theatre, San Diego Performing Arts Academy, San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Diego Symphony, Scripps Ranch Theatre, SDSU School of Theatre, Star Repertory Theatre, Tenth Avenue Arts Center, Trinity Theatre Company, UCSD Dept. of Theatre & Dance, Young Actors' Theatre.

Social Alchemix (Live!) From a live event held in Chelsea running under the banner of Cocktail Party Social Experiment, -Transformed- into an online night of performative party game and intimate conversation

A fantastic way to spend an evening with drinks and sharing conversations with different people across the map

Wil Petre, an NYC-based cocktail guru, and a performer best known for his off-Broadway work (including Third Rail Projects’ The Grand Paradise) invites the audience to join SOCIAL ALCHEMIX (LIVE!) – an intoxicating hybrid of intimate online game night, storytelling, and aligned serendipity held on Zoom. Tickets start at $15.15, with subsidized and generous pricing options. Reservations can be made via www.socialalchemix.com/live; individual Zoom invitations are distributed by email before the show. 

Wil Petre hosts Social Alchemist after-party conversation

The link will take you to an Eventbrite page with a short survey about audience members willing to just observe or, observe and participate, your social media handle, your pronouns. From that point on, it is a carefully curated experience that eases this on-screen fatigue of everyday life now. Every performance is different, you can have from 9 people to 20 people to whatever number. The experiment starts in a Zoom room and the host invites the guests who chose to participate, to draw from an alchemical deck of tarot-like cards which in turn generate conversation prompts  – questions such as: “What does community mean to you?” or “How would you like to be remembered?” The night is designed for players and voyeurs alike and concludes with a digital after-party in which the guests can interact freely using avatars and take the conversation private in different rooms if they feel so inclined.

A great experience to log in both alone or in the company of your spouse or family members. The evening just rolls out organically with all these existential questions that now hit differently after living a year in isolation due to a pandemic, while cheering and zipping a cocktail in between, it cannot get better than that. After seeing different types of performances online both in English and Spanish for over a year, Social Alchemist (Live!) is in my top three. I totally invite you to try it out. Last performance this month is March 27. Check the website for dates and times. You can also support by pre-ordering your own kit on KICKSTARTER

Wil Petre Host and Creator of Social Alchemist Live!
“I created the Social Alchemix card deck and SOCIAL ALCHEMIX (LIVE!) to give people the tools to overcome the anxiety of striking up a real conversation, all the while retraining their ears to listen,” says Petre, whose first-hand knowledge of how meaningful and healing a conversation comes from years of experience as an NYC bartender. “In a society where social media-dominated communication induces feelings of alienation and detachment, I am interested in creating intimate experiences that blur the line between performance and an intimate connection.  With a pandemic thrown into an already toxically divisive culture, it is deeply important to speak with strangers with a remembered sense of curiosity, and not with suspicion or skepticism,” Wil Petre.

Wil Petre (Concept, Host) is a performer, director, and experience designer specializing in intimate performance in public spaces. He has been praised by The New York Times as “a supremely charming actor who finds every laugh in the script and many that aren’t.” Notable recent appearances include Third Rail Projects' 2016 show The Grand Paradise, of which he was an original cast member; Wil was also an original creative cast member of Queen of the Night, the 2015 Drama Desk recipient for Unique Theatrical Experience. Petre has also worked with The Civilians, Witness Relocation, Minute Zero, Collective Museum, Theater Mitu, and Les Freres Corbusier/Alex Timbers, among others, and appeared on stage at such important NYC venues as Playwright's Horizons, Cherry Lane Theater, La MaMa ETC, St. Ann's Warehouse, and Ars Nova. Outside the city, he performed nationwide and internationally, including appearances at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and in Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He also works in film and TV.

The Alchemical Deck