Founders & Friends with Scott Orn

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Posted on: 10/19/2016

John Pettus of Fiskkit on a Better Way to Discuss the News

John Pettus

John Pettus

CEO - Fiskkit

John Pettus of Fiskkit - Podcast Summary

John Pettus is the Founder & CEO of Fiskkit, which is developing a better way to discuss the news. Fiskkit is a social enterprise that has created a commentary and fact checking system for the Internet. John came by to discuss the election and how Fiskkit will help people on the Internet have more productive and respectful discussions in the future.

John Pettus of Fiskkit - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to Founders and friends podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. And today’s my guest is John Pettus of Fiskkit. Welcome John, how you doing?
John: Hey Don how are you doing?
Scott: Thank you for joining. So this is super timely, especially the election, we’re taping this on I think the 17th. So I really wanted to have you on immediately as soon as I heard about this service. Can you explain Fiskkit?
John: Yes it can in 30 seconds.
Scott: [inaudible] We got the studio space [crosstalk]
John: It’s like an important skill to have. So yeah. So what Fiskkit is a news discussion system that has mechanics that favor facts, logic, and civility in online discussions about the news. Now usually when I tell people that the first thing they do is laughing in my face because like that’s not a thing, but we think it can be a thing. So basically what Fiskkit does is it lets you comment on news articles, not at the bottom where everyone just makes a big overgeneralization and is like, “Oh this guy’s an idiot.” And the conversation goes downhill from there-
Scott: Because the bottom of the comments section is usually where the crazies go, right?
John: Well, yes, all the crazies there and the trolls and it’s just, that mechanism of like now sum up everything that was in this 800 word article that made many nuanced points with an overgeneralization is kind of worthless. So Fiskkit is based on an old blogging technique from the early two thousand called Fis game, important there, and fikking means going through somebody’s article line by line and rebutting it and citing sources. So it’s essentially somebody writes a lazy ass blog post and you take their blog post, quote a sentence and like crush it with like three paragraphs of good research. And then you take another sentence and crush it and taken out of the sentence and crush it.
Scott: What’s the crush it part of that?
John: So it’s like you research and you rebut it with all the good real facts like you actually didn’t think this through, did you? Boom, boom, boom. So this was popularized in the early two thousand by a blogger named Andrew Sullivan, who’s kind of a conservative later Opus Dei guy who kind was all in favor of George W Bush in 2000, famously turned on the Republicans after the war, a super smart guy. And the reason I like Andrew Sullivan is that he’s intellectually honest and he kind of does his work out loud in front of everybody on a blog. And then he was wrong famously he was pro Iraq war and had to turn around and just eat it in front of the whole world, first of all, that takes moral courage, which is one of the things I’m most interested in, intellectual and moral courage. And so Keep popularized this rhetorical form called fiskking where he would grab somebody, either news article or blog post and just like crush crush crush. And so that was like catnip to me because there’s nothing I love more than like, yeah, let’s get into it, like, let’s see the details, show me the evidence, does that hold up? Let’s think through the implications here. And now we’re now like three or four levels deeper than the thinking that usually happens on the internet. So that was incredibly powerful for me. So what Fiskkit is, is essentially just an engine that we’ve built, a website to allow any person in the world to fisk any article online. And what that does is it puts the discussion into structured data so you can not only comment on individual sentences but you can also tag them for whether they’re true or false, have specific logical fallacies like a straw man argument, have other issues like bias wording or unsupported, both very common online, and then at the end we added the ability to say something nice about it, so well researched or insightful.
Scott: It’s all in line, right? It’s all as the reader is reading it. That’s why I think is so cool because you’re thinking through whatever you’re reading and then you have a second voice that’s either affirming that on a fact-based approach right there or you just know it’s BS right there.
John: Exactly. And but what it does is it focuses down the discussion to that particular sentence or point and in a sense has a particular subject verb object. So okay, instead of getting to the bottom and then just being like “This guy’s an idiot, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Okay, on the claim that x well, let’s talk about whether or not that’s true because what you find is if you go through this process, honestly even bad articles make some valid and good points. And so again, going back to the fact that the real innovation that we have is putting human discussion and cognition thought into structured data, which we can then run through our job of processing layer, run a whole bunch of statistical analytics on it and we use that data to fact check all online news in real time.
Scott: Really cool. So everyone can probably, you know with the election coming up in three weeks, that’s what is so powerful. So talk about that statistical like firepower because when I was looking at the site, it was very clear to me as the kind of rebuttals or validation in line, but talk about like where the statistics come in and how that plays out.
John: So the way it works is essentially on every individual sentence, the system looks to see if a bunch of people have commented or tagged that individual sentence and when enough people have it, essentially kind of … If you remember your high school statistics, it checks to see, you know on the bell curve, It checks to see if so many people have dropped the exact same tag on the exact same sentence that like this is weird, this is way beyond [crosstalk]
Scott: Statistically significant.
John: Exactly. So we’re looking for statistical significance versus our expectations of the rate at which tags happen. Now what’s important is that, so I originally wrote this using my kind of high school level statistics and my best friend from Stanford who went on to go get a math Ph.D., he said, “Hey, let me help you out with that.”
Scott: That was probably very helpful.
John: I’m like “Yeah, cool” And then he sends me, three or four days later, a five-page white paper that I literally cannot read and he’s like, you should use this, it’s better. I said, “Okay man, I trust you.” And it is. So what he did is he converted over to what’s called Bayesian statistics, which allows us to adjust our prior assumptions about the frequency that use Strawman arguments versus unsupported. And what that basically means is that we can actually make confident assertions that this is a valid tag with only like six people. You don’t need 20 people. So it cuts the numbers down, much smaller. Now you still need a critical mass and that’s one of the features of this system that we are working through from a business perspective and from a strategy perspective is you’ve got to bring critical mass to the same article, before the analytics kick in. It still works really well as a way to kind of beat up on an article and then you share it out to your friends on Facebook and Twitter, but the real promise is down the road when we’re able to get critical mass on a bunch of articles or eventually every article we hope. And then you’ve got essentially like a Wikipedia page, statistically validated, showing you what are the good and bad things about every article online.
Scott: That’s the thing, I was actually thinking like visualizing Wikipedia because Wikipedia has like the little source links at the end of a lot of sentences or things like that. And it’s exactly how I was thinking about it.
John: The Important distinction though is that Wikipedia is organized by a kind of strange social hierarchy of people.
Scott: You can explain that.
John: Authority and so a Wikipedia has these groups of super users that have this kind of tiered hierarchy and most people don’t know about it, they think it’s just, well, anybody can make edits, but it goes through actually this very big approval process. Fiskkit is different in that no person is in charge of the results that appear on our insight page, which is where we showed the statistically valid tags. Fiskkit is based on a mathematical principle called the wisdom of crowds, which a lot of people are like whatever crowds are dumb, but this is a mathematical thing that essentially shows that Ms. Good little nerdies … Tell me if we need to dial back the nerdiness-
Scott: You have a very smart audience.
John: So essentially the variance on any one person’s guess or estimation or evaluation of something is extremely high, but when you put a thousand of those people’s wild-ass guesses together and you graft them, it usually will come out into a nice bell curve and the tippy top of that bell curve, it will tell you something and you didn’t know before. So we use that mathematical principle in order to ascertain judgments, even though people come in with all their crazy biases and ignorance and all that stuff. One of the foundational principles of Fiskkit is we don’t pretend people are better or smarter than they really are, and you can take that to mean exactly what it means. We are trying to use math and design, so the design is a really big part of what we do. In order to intake humans the way they are, regular people with all their biases and then put them through a design process in order to promote the outcome that we want, which is not a certain political outcome, but it’s a discussion that is productive that is more likely to favor facts, logic, and severity.
Scott: That’s amazing.
John: It’s hard man.
Scott: Very hard. But you’re right. And when the mics were off, we were talking about Ben’s friends and community that I’ve run for nine years for people with rare diseases and even though it’s a very kind of … It’s for men and women’s health, a lot of that should not be very controversial. A lot of times they have big controversies popping up and people arguing or someone maybe one out of 100 kinds of person are pushing something that’s like totally factually incorrect, right? According to doctors-
John: If it’s only one out of 100, you guys are doing really well.
Scott: Yeah, it’s probably more. But we also have doctors on site who can debunk stuff, but we don’t have this tool to be able, so that’s, I can see how valuable it is, it’s amazing, right? And it takes something, people, I feel like society is also getting better at understanding statistics and maybe it was like Moneyball and some of these other kinds of things, but like people understand that now, and if you can put that, I think that the genius which you guys are doing is putting it right next to the content is really powerful.
John: Yeah. So the statistics pieces are all in the back end, it’s never seen, right? Because most people are like, “Wait, I don’t want to deal with it, I just want to do my thing.” And so it’s the fusion of the design and the statistics on the back end. So what we tell people Fiskkit is about, is turning discourse into data so we can do something. And really each one of those three components is really important because there are a lot of different tools and ways you can go on the Internet and shout into the void of the Internet, and the Internet, no one can hear you scream like if you are the 898th comment on Washington Post article like, who cares? It doesn’t do anything, nobody sees it, it has no effect on the world. On Fiskkit, even if you have no friends to send your opinion to, which one would hope you got a mom or something, still you can go on the site and register your protest against whoever and your data will go in, it’s equally valid to everyone else and it will help shape that eventual automated fact check that comes out of the site now. So before I get too much on the fact checking though, I do want to emphasize, it’s not a fact-checking tool, it’s a discussion tool and this is really important to us. So along the lines of discourse into data so we can do something, if you thought that automated fact-checking of online news was cool, the next thing we’re gonna do is actually even cooler, and that is, so the site does not currently allow you to comment on other people’s comments because that’s where kind of the internet spins out of control-
Scott: The derivative comments.
John: That’s where all the trolling happens and the harassment and it’s really an awful situation right now for women and minorities online, it’s really terrible, the scale of abuse that they have to take, it deters them from participating in online discussion.
Scott: I love twitter, but even twitter’s abuse problem is getting too much-
John: It’s been too much for a long time and they just have not figured out how to handle it. So we’re currently designing the system to allow Fiskkit to allow people to comment on each other’s comments, but because we’re Fiskkit, we’re not just going to let them comment on a Fisk, we’re going to let them Fisk each other’s Fisk’s. So we’re going to give them the same tools to go into each other and sentence by sentence, break down each other’s arguments, tag them up.
Scott: That’s awesome.
John: But we’re going to add three new tags, personal attack, profanity and off topic.
Scott: Wow that’s cool.
John: Now what you have is a pew reviewed discussion in structured data. And like I said, we’re turning discourse into data so we can do something. So at the top of the entire discussion, we’re going to put a little slider bar that goes from zero to five called a troll filter. It starts at zero, you go from zero to one, and like the 30% trollers comments just disappear, I never even have to see them. Then you go one to two and then the next 30% totally stuff disappeared. So now you have a system where there’s total freedom of speech, but the corollary is I’m not going to make other people read your bullshit. So now people can tune their own le … Because some people like reading the comments, I don’t understand that, but they kind of like the mud fight but you know, more power to you. But what it isn’t available to people is a place where they can go and have a discussion about something contentious, religion, Middle East, you name it, that doesn’t devolve into the Hitler and the racist stuff and then become a waste of everybody’s time. And this will allow us to give that to people.
Scott: So the ability to comment on other people’s comments, but also basically I think the tagging part of that is really powerful like if this isn’t even applicable to this discussion or this is a personal attack, the personal attack one is really powerful, it’s amazing. First of all, when’s this going to be out?
John: Well, that piece, it depends on our fundraising progress. So we built literally everything that you can see on right now on essentially no money for three years. And this is kind of one of the things about us is we’ve been completely bootstrapped off the vaporous memory of my life savings from my last tour in the army. So we’ve been going really slow, which a lot of startups are like, “Oh my God, slow as death.” But most people don’t think what we’re working on is a solvable problem, they’re like, “Oh, not a good place to have a public discussion on the Internet.” Like, of course, people awful that will never be solved.
Scott: But the benefits to society of figuring this out is humongous. The benefits to a twitter or Reddit is humongous because actually when you were discussing that I did a Reddit AMA like a month ago and like talking about startup accounting and things startups should do or shouldn’t do, it didn’t get like super personal, but I had people telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about and believe me, I know what I’m talking about. Someone who doesn’t deal with startups telling me I’m wrong is, is you know, like this kind of stuff is really valuable to these massive internet communities.
John: So a big Part of what we do, as I said is, so some of it is technical design or some of the technical coding, debugging. A lot of it is design and also a lot of it is research, so unlike a lot of shops, I spent a lot of time reading cognitive psychology and white papers and stuff because what we’re doing is incorporating every usable aspect of social sciences and user experience design in order to shape people towards a more productive discussion. I’ll give you an example of UT Austin, they have a group called the Engaging News Project and they research how to actually get citizens to engage with the information that’s out there. And they wrote a white paper that said, the like button that is so common on the Internet is not actually the best design because like implies agreement and so people kind of go to their camps and everyone really likes it or they were already on your side. They said if you have a respect button, you actually get more interchange between the different parties and tribes because everyone knows you can respect someone even though you disagree with their arguments-
Scott: I respect your opinion.
John: Exactly, you put it in like five links and put some real effort into it, like, I’m going to give you credit, I don’t ultimately come around to being convinced, but this person is at least discussing in good faith and that is incredibly valuable, just starting to come across the aisle and talk to other kinds of tribes is an incredibly important barrier to start to break. So that’s why Fiskkit has a respect button.
Scott: That’s amazing. So you guys do have a respect button?
John: We are the first ones to implement it.
Scott: So back on the fundraising, so you basically are like a social enterprise that you built this through volunteer, through your life savings. That’s really amazing, I’m having echoes Ben’s friends and we were talking again before the mics went off, it’s really refreshing to meet someone who’s built this and trying to help the world. It’s really cool
John: We consider ourselves a social venture very much. We very much believe in the for-profit model and I very much believe in trying to get my team paid. As I said, one of the biggest disadvantages is we’re just going so slow, we have all this really important innovation that we’re doing, but when you’ve got 10 to 15 hours of somebody’s time a week and our team works super hard, they work every Saturday of every week trying to build something that we think is important and that’s, why we’re doing it. I kind of like it, I’m kind of a higher kind of ethically more motivated person from the get-go. So what it does is when I’m doing recruiting, it kind of handles that. It’s like, “Hey, we don’t have any money to pay you, we’re gonna give you full-time equity for part-time work, but not everyone can do that, and the people who can do it and want to do it are the right people. So our team is just fantastic.
Scott: Have you looked into any of the crowdfunding stuff like Ben’s friends actually does that crowdfunding every year and we raise 30 to $40,000, which isn’t a huge amount of money, but it’s enough to kind of keep the lights on to keep us going.
John: So I should tell you, So I started Fiskkit when I ran out of money after I closed my last company … So by the way, I have an MBA, If any of you at home are thinking about it, that’s not the way you’re supposed to do it, so I can tell you I’m trained, you’re not supposed to start a company when you have no money. So what I did was we started with an Indiegogo campaign, we raised 23,000 bucks three years ago and I made a funny video icon to a friend of mine and to kind of fronting me the work and then we paid them on the back end and it was great. It was a really great experience, you have this kind of funny video, but yeah-
Scott: You should run that like now because it’s so applicable, it just feels like-
John: The crowdfunding, you know, how much time it takes.
Scott: It does take a ton of time.
John: It does take a ton of time, it is not like put up a website, get free money. You got to promote it, you got to be out there, I mean this would be a good time, but like we’ve been lights out just trying to build stuff, call people and get in front of it so.
Scott: So you’re going to go out and start fundraising like angel money right now. That’s exciting. And so one is the new kind of commenting on the comments come out? That sounds awesome.
John: If we get funded in the October, November, December timeframe, and then I think it would take us … Well it’s hard because my pacing is my kind of project pacing is all at the part-time rate, but I would guess probably four-ish months because this is something, you know, it’s actually on the back end, the coding part is actually not as hard as the front end. Creating a design where people aren’t just lost, they’re diving in and in into nested pieces of the third sentence and the fourth sentence of that comment and then the third sentence of that. So we are going places that nobody has gone, luckily we’ve got a great design team. We just brought on a new, young, smart design guy. But we are doing stuff that people-
Scott: It is hard. It’s so different concept-
John: It also kind of violates your norms, Like when you’re reading a news article and I get to the bottom and then I either, I usually ignore the comments or check them, so this idea of stopping in the middle of the article and going deep and literally drilling down on one point in an article is new, and so we have to think how can we make that easy for users and that’s the hard thing because even if our entire system was completely frictionless, at the end of the day, we’re asking people to do the one thing you’re not supposed to ask people to do, which is don’t make me think, at the end of the day we’re still asking you to use your critical thinking and judgment.
Scott: But I think that’s the opportunity, it’s really cool. So you mentioned you read all these like cognitive papers, white papers when you look at the election right now through the Fiskkit filter, what do you see the candidates doing well and doing incorrectly? You must have some thoughts on the actual discourse in the election.
John: Yeah, so I came to this because I was kind of pissed off about the 2012 election and if we could go back and get that election back and do that one over, ill be like be like thank you, I feel much better about this now. I don’t know why I was so pissed off in 2012. I think we will all look back and I hope we will all look back and say this was the historical low point for our democracy and we’re living through it in real time in terms of the level of discourse, the level of behavior that we’ve seen. I truly hope this is low. There are not a lot of things we can do to go lower without starting to destroy some of the fundamental pillars of our democracy, and we’re seeing some of that right now which is these are perilous times, we all kind of grew up in the United States, which was somewhat idyllic. We were always the good guys and we’re the longest running constitutional democracy. And as we’ve gone through our lives, I’m 38 now, we’ve seen some of these things fall away that we thought that was done, we got that figured out. I was in the army for 10 years and I worked in army intelligence and in 2004 2005, we discovered that the United States military had an institutionalize a torture program, Like, are you kidding me? Are we Vietnam? What are you talking about? That’s not supposed to be able to happen here. And I think we’ve seen more and more of these things, kind of fundamental pillars of social democratic society kind of fall away. One of the side casualties of the kind of overly dramatic … And I hope this doesn’t sound melodramatic, but I think we are truly in a once in a lifetime election in this particular cycle. One of the side [inaudible] teaser that is regular nuanced policy debate that you would normally have to say what should tax rates be? What should policies be on war and peace? And we’re not having that because we’re trying to decide whether or not you should jail your political opponents after you get into power, like this is me and [inaudible]
Scott: Yeah, you’re right because again, reading stuff on the Internet about the debates and it’s like there are no policy discussions whatsoever-
John: Almost nothing.
Scott: It’s just like personal attack both ways. I have faith, I think tools like what your building are actually super important because I feel like we’re in this zone where culturally we don’t understand how to deal with the trolling and the bad comments and social media and we just need some fix, in a weird way capitalism will actually take care of that and people like you will be rewarded for building amazing tools that help save us. I would totally read Reddit or Twitter with the no assholes filter on it. That’s what I want, I’m not going there to get an adrenaline boost of someone calling me an asshole or something like that.
John: Let me make an embarrassing disclosure, I’m not actually building this for you guys, I’m building this for me. I’m not the guy who should be doing this, my background is a Leverage Buy out and Military Intelligence, it’s not journalism and it’s not technology. I can’t code, nobody was building the thing that I need and I don’t think I’m unique in this. Now I have to acknowledge I’m not normal, I’m a way overeducated coastal guy, but there are still lots of people out there who feel the same pain point of man. Why? I mean in some ways a violation of the promise of the Internet, right? The Internet was supposed to allow us to talk to many disparate people from all over and benefit from their thoughts and wisdom, but then it turned out, no, they’re just going to call each other Hitler and racist terms then It’s something I can’t spend time on. So we need this other layer, where there’s a missing component to the technology to benefit from pulling all these disparate voices and opinions together, but then make it usable and that’s what we’re doing.
Scott: Yeah. That’s amazing. You know what just occurred to me also is Noval from Angel List has been writing some very thoughtful blog posts on American Spring, American Fall-
John: He and I tweeted each other at 3:00 AM.
Scott: I was gonna say you should just get on Angel List and close $200,000 and get Noval to … I mean, honestly, because this is a really important technology, it’s a really cool and I think that he is the ultimate gatekeeper for Angel Financing. So that’s someone you should definitely talk to. How do people get involved in Fiskkit? You have this volunteer team that’s been building stuff, do you need more people on the team? And then do you need more users? What are you looking for?
John: Yeah, so we definitely are looking for more folks on the team, we’ve got plenty of equity, I’m a solo founder so take some company. Our test is do you care enough to do this? You got to really care about this problem, it’s not enough to show up and just throw some code, but we are absolutely looking for smart people who care about this issue and this is in many ways kind of a Meta issue, It’s very hard to address the underlying issues like climate change if literally there’s misinformation shooting all through the world. So we’re definitely looking for new members of the team, we’re definitely looking for, I don’t know if I can say this, but the financial piece-
Scott: Yeah it’s okay.
John: I don’t know if this is reg deep but we’ll see. We’ll cut that part out if I’ve violated reg deep. So we have built at this point, everything you can build with no money, right? To do more, we’re going to need financial partners to get this big. So one thing I’ll note is that, so strategically for the system to blow up, you need mass, so that’s what we’re looking at right now, our partners who can kind of deliver mass audience onto a single article. So we’re actually … Tomorrow I’m partnering with the Three-Point Two million Member American Federation of Teachers to have them grade the debate after it’s over-
Scott: That is so smart.
John: They are gonna throw Fiskkit in an I frame onto their site. They’re going to push their members to the debate transcript and have them just go through and be like run on sentence-
Scott: You know, the asshole comment?
John: Exactly. So the important strategic thing is because Fiskkit has a definite network effect, right? So the flip side of having a network effect is a cold start problem. So the way to break through a cold start problem is there’s a strategy called come for the tool, stay for the network, so you’ve got to make it useful for kind of one-off stuff for people and then you do that over and over and eventually, you get your network. So we’re looking for publisher partners who want to use this to say, “Hey, let’s do an event, let’s all talk about this beach or whatever” And put that in front of their audience, they have an audience and they’re looking for ways to engage their audience. And the numbers on this are that people who just read the comments in the middle of an article spent four x longer on a webpage and that people who bothered to actually click in and write spend 10 x longer time on page-
Scott: So there is a monetary incentive for the bigger publishers.
John: Exactly. There’s monetary reward if they can create inline engagement that is actually worth their other readers time-
Scott: Super smart.
John: So, the other thing we’re doing is, unlike many startups, and I know that this is not popular anymore, we actually have a business model. We are in the next week or two, probably two, going to be releasing a paid version of Fiskkit for organizations. So we’re going to go to the Sierra Club or the American Federation of Teachers and let them under their brand, go through and write line by line commentary on some New York Times article that is trending and it lets them inject themselves into the narrative, and by the way, they can also fact-check it, but they can also send it to their hundreds of thousands of readers, they get a 0.1% adoption rate and then boom, they’ve got 2000 comments on this New York Times article. And then our system crunches the numbers and finds the patterns and shows what’s a valid critique.
Scott: And then you were times likes it because that’s a major trending article all of a sudden and it’s got weighed tons of time on site. That’s really smart how you built the capitalism inside, like the monetary incentive to do that.
John: Yeah, I mean it’s not a lot, I mean we’re going to be charging 200 bucks a month, so a lot of people are like, oh, then you’re-
Scott: WordPress’s that’s what WordPress does. It’s a huge thing.
John: So we have short, medium and long-term financial plans for Fiskkit because what we’re doing is truly a paradigm shift of capturing the cognitive surplus of all the people, all around the world who are already reading the articles, they’re already thinking in having reactions to them, and they’re just leaving that on the table. So we’re just capturing that feedback, which is extremely valuable. So now with that data set down the road, we can do all kinds of amazing and productive things. And our thesis is we want to give back to the readers either new insights or new capabilities they didn’t have before.
Scott: John, it’s really cool, you’re building something and [crosstalk]
John: Thanks I hope so.
Scott: So we need to get some money raised and we need more publishers basically.
John: Publishers is good, also organizations so we want to have a chaperone on there and the Sierra club shooting at each other on the platform and the platform does its job and figures out which one of them is right. So we won’t kind of have the umpire calling balls and strikes.
Scott: That’s amazing. All right, we’re going to wrap it up here, but can you tell everyone where they can find Fiskkit, how they can get ahold of you if they’re a big publisher or something like that?
John: You bet, Fiskkit is live not at They can reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter were easily findable and you can also just shoot us an email at contact@fiskkit and you’ll get to us. Actually, you guys can just shoot me an email, I’m John@fiskkit, I have a super stealthy email address.
Scott: Awesome. Thank you for going on. Amazing idea, I can’t wait for this to be rolled out, and the comments on the comments, that filter of like the no asshole filter-
John: I want to do it so bad, I cannot tell you.
Scott: It’s going to make everyone so much happier. It’s amazing.
John: So unless and until you have … People are like, well, why won’t Facebook do this? Why won’t twitter do this? They can’t do that unless they become us unless your entire back end is designed and broken down into structured data at sentence level granularity, you can’t do this.
Scott: It’s also just like they’re not going to deal with the problem until society or the users see there’s this other option.
John: People who think they’re there right now on, in particular, I mean twitter had the Leslie Jones thing blow up, you know? Right when they were thinking about setting themselves up for sale. And twitter’s growth has plateaued and a lot of it is because normal people like, ain’t nobody got time for that. So if you can make it productive for people, if you can make sure that readers get something out of it, and it’s respectful of their time, they don’t have to wade through a bunch of crap. I think people do want to engage in discussions, right? Whenever you get them drunk at a bar, they start talking about politics with their buddies, like people have valuable thoughts and they want to talk to people about the stuff that’s important in the world, but they just, there isn’t a tool right now that’s a good fit.
Scott: Well, that tool is Fiskkit. Thank you so much, John.
John: Thanks, Scott.
Scott: I really appreciate that.

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