January 19, 2021

TikTok is the global proving grounds for culture

[] Sea Shanties: TikTok is the global proving grounds for culture | Fortune© 2020 Fortune Media IP Limited. All Rights Reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our u003ca href="https://fortune.com/terms-of-use/">Terms of Useu003c/a> and u003ca href="https://fortune.com/privacy-policy/">Privacy Policyu003c/a> | u003ca href="/california-privacy-policy/#notice">CA Notice at Collection and Privacy Noticeu003c/a> | u003ca href="https://fortune.com/right-to-opt-out/">Do Not Sell My Personal Informationu003c/a> | u003ca href="http://preferences-mgr.trustarc.com/?pid=fortunemedia01&aid=fortunemedia01_pub&type=fortunemedia">Ad Choices u003c/a>u003cbr />nFORTUNE is a trademark of Fortune Media IP Limited, registered in the U.S. and other countries. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.u003cbr />nQuotes delayed at least 15 minutes. 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Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images","caption":"","crops":[],"height":3332,"imageSize":"article-featured-image","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/GettyImages-1230342522.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,40","postId":2940545,"retina":true,"showCaption":true,"sources":[{"default":true,"transforms":{"resize":[750,500]},"descriptor":750}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/GettyImages-1230342522.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/GettyImages-1230342522.jpg?resize=1500,1000 1500w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/GettyImages-1230342522.jpg?resize=750,500 750w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/GettyImages-1230342522.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":4999,"credit":"Costfoto/Barcroft Media/Getty Images","fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"750px"},"children":[]}]},{"name":"article-body","config":{"mediaType":"image","premiumCategory":"P-Newsletter"},"children":[{"name":"gutenberg-content","config":{},"children":[{"name":"html","config":{"content":" u003cp>If you’ve visited social media lately—and surely you haven’t because we’re all keeping good on our New Year’s resolutions—you’ve probably encountered a sea shanty.u003c/p> u003cp>For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, a quick recap. The sea shanty arose midway through the last millennium as a breed of work-song for sailors to while away the time, forge communal bonds, and generally keep from going insane. Then a couple months ago, a 26-year-old Scottish postman named u003ca href="https://www.tiktok.com/@nathanevanss">Nathan Evansu003c/a> u003ca href="https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/jan/16/how-a-scottish-posties-simple-sea-shanty-struck-a-global-chord">sang a rendition on TikToku003c/a> that made the world become re-obsessed.u003c/p>u003cp>u003c!-- piano selector -->u003c/p>u003cdiv class="paywall"> u003cp>The sea shanty form is particularly suited to TikTok. The youth-craze app lets people create “duets,” a feature that adjoins a video post to one already playing. In Sept., TikTok u003ca href="https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/feature-highlight-new-layouts-for-duet">revamped the featureu003c/a>, leading to a renaissance of collaborative creativity. Soon after, Evans posted his performance of “u003ca href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soon_May_the_Wellerman_Come">Soon May the Wellerman Comeu003c/a>,” which promptly u003ca href="https://variety.com/2021/music/news/tiktok-sea-shanties-trend-1234884030/">went viralu003c/a> and set off a flood of duets, remixes, and copies.u003c/p> u003cp>For anyone wondering, “the Wellerman” refers to an employee of The Weller Brothers, an Aussie merchant outfit that dominated New Zealand ports in the 1830s. The singers of the shanty are pining for a resupply of staples for their voyage; namely, sugar, tea, and rum. You can consider the tune to be, in spirit, a maritime predecessor to “u003ca href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8LHlJSBkg0">The Wells Fargo Wagonu003c/a>” in the 1957 musical u003cem>The Music Manu003c/em>. (Side note: Imagine being that excited to see someone from u003ca href="https://fortune.com/company/wells-fargo/" target="_blank">Wells Fargou003c/a> u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2020/12/27/biggest-business-scandals-of-2020-nikola-wirecard-luckin-coffee-twitter-security-hack-tesla-spx-mcdonalds-ceo-ppp-fraud-wells-fargo-ebay-carlos-ghosn/">todayu003c/a>?)u003c/p> u003cp>The sea shanty’s resurgence may seem random, but it makes sense. In addition to being perfectly suited for TikTok’s duet technology, the genre fits the moment. During the lockdowns and quarantines of the pandemic, people are starved for human connection. What better way to find solidarity than to lend one’s voice to the hauntingly beautiful harmony of nautical folk u003cem>a cappellau003c/em>?u003c/p> u003cp>(There’s something to be said, too, for the shared human experience of engaging in social media drudgery in the hopes of landing a big, viral score, echoing the grim lottery of u003ca href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/27/is-venture-capital-worth-the-risk">19u003csup>thu003c/sup> century whaling venturesu003c/a>.)u003c/p> u003cp>People who learn to exploit the idiosyncrasies of mass communications and tap the zeitgeist gain special powers. (See, formerly: u003ca href="https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/suspension.html">@realDonaldTrumpu003c/a>.) Right now, it just so happens that mobile video-sharing software from ByteDance, a Chinese corporation, is one of the most significant global proving grounds for that miracle of a feedback loop we call culture.u003c/p> u003cp>Lest you think the sea shanty’s newfound popularity is a fluke, I might point you to the zany genius of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, one of the all-time musical greats. In the ‘60s, Wilson perfected the “wall of sound” technique famously associated with the late hitmaker and convicted murderer Phil Spector, u003ca href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/17/arts/music/phil-spector-dead.html">who died in jail this weekendu003c/a>. That groundbreaking style found avid fans through its characteristically fulsome reverberation, a quality that played well on radios and jukeboxes, the then-dominant audio-broadcasting technology.u003c/p> u003cp>After you've finished with the Wellerman, give “u003ca href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKdfnyF6U0Y">Sloop John Bu003c/a>,” The Beach Boys' u003ca href="https://variety.com/2021/music/news/tiktok-sea-shanties-beach-boys-sloop-john-b-1234886841/">own sea shanty adaptationu003c/a>, a listen. True genius is timeless.u003c/p> u003cp>u003cstrong>Robert Hackettu003c/strong>u003c/p> u003cp>Twitter: u003ca href="https://twitter.com/rhhackett">@rhhackettu003c/a>u003c/p> u003cp>u003ca href="mailto:robert.hackett@fortune.com">robert.hackett@fortune.comu003c/a>u003c/p> u003ch3>THREATSu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003cstrong>Reaching cruising speed.u003c/strong> u003cstrong>Microsoftu003c/strong> is pouring $2 billion into u003cstrong>Cruiseu003c/strong>, the autonomous vehicle division majority owned by u003cstrong>GMu003c/strong>. The new funding round, which includes participation by u003cstrong>Hondau003c/strong> and other unnamed institutional investors, values the venture at $30 billion, up from an estimated $19 billion in the spring, the u003cem>u003ca href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/microsoft-bets-bigger-on-driverless-car-space-with-investment-ingms-cruise-11611064940">Wall Street Journal reportsu003c/a>u003c/em>. As part of the deal, Microsoft will provide its u003cstrong>Azure cloud computingu003c/strong> platform to support Cruise’s eventual planned robo-taxi service.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>At the home office.u003c/strong> Workplace software giant u003cstrong>Citrixu003c/strong> is u003ca href="https://venturebeat.com/2021/01/19/citrix-acquires-project-management-platform-wrike-for-2-25-billion/">shelling out $2.25 billionu003c/a> u003cstrong>Wrikeu003c/strong>, a workflow management software maker. Wrike was acquired by private equity firm u003cstrong>Vistau003c/strong> for $800 million in 2018, and it counts companies like u003cstrong>Airbnbu003c/strong>, u003cstrong>Googleu003c/strong>, and u003cstrong>Snowflakeu003c/strong> as customers. The logic u003ca href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-17/citrix-is-said-in-talks-to-buy-vista-s-wrike-for-2-billion-plus">behind the dealu003c/a> taps into the distributed workforce trend.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>Rebonjour.u003c/strong> u003cstrong>Parleru003c/strong> is back—sort of. The right-wing-favored social media app has u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/19/parler-reappears-but-its-full-return-could-take-some-time/">switched its domain registrationu003c/a> to u003cstrong>Epiku003c/strong>, a web hosting service u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/19/epik-parler-web-domain-dns-provider-gab-conservatives-social-media/">known for catering to extremist sitesu003c/a>. The changeup is enabling Parler to get back online after being booted off u003cstrong>Amazon’su003c/strong> infrastructure for breaching the company’s terms of service.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cstrong>Government bicep-flexing.u003c/strong> u003cstrong>Ciscou003c/strong> u003ca href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-clears-cisco-acacia-deal-with-conditions-11611064728?mod=rss_Technology">received clearanceu003c/a> from China’s antitrust regulator to let it buy u003cstrong>Acacia Communicationsu003c/strong>, a fiber optics business. The U.S. is u003ca href="https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/jan/19/us-attacks-australias-extraordinary-plan-to-make-google-and-facebook-pay-for-news">annoyed at Australiau003c/a> for demanding payment for news stories from tech companies like u003cstrong>Googleu003c/strong> and u003cstrong>Facebooku003c/strong>. India is asking u003cstrong>WhatsAppu003c/strong> u003ca href="https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/19/india-asks-whatsapp-to-withdraw-new-privacy-policy-expresses-grave-concerns/">to roll back its planned privacy changeu003c/a>. Turkey u003ca href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-twitter-idUSKBN29O0CT">is banningu003c/a> u003cstrong>Twitteru003c/strong> and u003cstrong>Pinterestu003c/strong> ads. And Big Tech is u003ca href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/18/silicon-valley-tech-biden-democrats/">bracing for the Democratsu003c/a> to take office in the U.S. while German and French regulators u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/19/germany-france-antitrust-content-moderation-eu-dsa-dma/">sharpen their knivesu003c/a>.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003ci>Microsoft’s u003ca href="https://www.zdnet.com/article/i-looked-at-all-the-ways-microsoft-teams-tracks-users-and-my-head-is-spinning/">365-degree-view panopticonu003c/a>. u003c/i>u003c/p>nu003ch3>ACCESS GRANTEDu003c/h3>nu003cp>If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, says u003cstrong>Jeff Lawsonu003c/strong>, chief executive of u003cstrong>Twiliou003c/strong>, a tech company that automates customer outreach through texts and calls for businesses. In u003ca href="https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/heatherknight/article/Tech-titans-give-S-F-the-finger-as-they-flee-15875504.php">an interviewu003c/a> with the u003cem>San Francisco Chronicleu003c/em>, Lawson chides the mass of u003cstrong>San Francisco u003c/strong>emigrants who are disrespectfully taking parting shots the city as they leave. He’s calling on tech leaders to u003cstrong>#committothebayu003c/strong>. (He also recently u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/14/the-great-digital-acceleration-ceo-daily/">talked to u003cem>Fortuneu003c/em> CEO Alan Murrayu003c/a> about his new book, u003ca href="https://www.amazon.com/Ask-Your-Developer-Software-Developers/dp/0063018292">u003cem>Ask Your Developeru003c/em>u003c/a>.)u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>There are plenty of ways to leave a party.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>You can quietly say your thanks and goodbyes and be on your way. You can stay a while to help clean up. Or you can be a real jerk about it by stomping off and complaining it was a terrible party anyway—even though you drank more than your share of cocktails, scarfed down the fancy food and manspread on the couch.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>Unfortunately, too many of San Francisco’s tech leaders are opting for that third option.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003ch3>FORTUNE RECONu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/18/encryption-backdoor-data-privacy-security-law/">u003cstrong>I used to wiretap. This is why encryption backdoors are dangerousu003c/strong>u003c/a> by Chris Howellu003c/p>nu003cp>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/17/covid-philanthropy-charitable-giving-cash-grants/">u003cstrong>Cash grants have a huge impact in a crisis—and technology can make that impact even biggeru003c/strong>u003c/a> by Jacquelline Fulleru003c/p>nu003cp>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/17/automation-threat-to-workers-job-loss-covid-technology/">u003cstrong>Business could be on the precipice of an automation explosionu003c/strong>u003c/a> by Chris Morrisu003c/p>nu003cp>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/17/covid-19-vaccine-drive-history-slow/">u003cstrong>The COVID-19 vaccination drive may be slow—but it’s already faster than any in historyu003c/strong>u003c/a> by Jeremy Kahnu003c/p>nu003cp>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/17/trump-presidential-historians-us-history/">u003cstrong>Future Trump historians ‘petrified’ by task aheadu003c/strong>u003c/a> by Jeff John Robertsu003c/p>nu003cp>u003ca href="https://fortune.com/2021/01/16/public-health-ads-incite-fear-information-drug-abuse-covid/">u003cstrong>How public health ads that incite fear can backfireu003c/strong>u003c/a> by Eric Bergeru003c/p>nu003cp>(u003cem>Some of these stories require a u003ca href="https://fortune.com/subscribe/">subscriptionu003c/a> to access.Thank you for supporting our journalismu003c/em>.)u003c/p>nu003ch3>ONE MORE THINGu003c/h3>nu003cp>u003cstrong>George Saundersu003c/strong>, a masterful storyteller, is out with a new book that collects his fiction-writing wisdom. Lots of publications u003ca href="https://www.insidehook.com/article/arts-entertainment/george-saunders-on-fiction-in-turbulent-times">areu003c/a> u003ca href="https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2021-01-07/review-if-anyone-can-teach-you-writing-maybe-george-saunders-can">reviewingu003c/a> u003ca href="https://slate.com/culture/2021/01/george-saunders-chekhov-swim-pond-rain-review.html">the worku003c/a>, u003cem>u003ca href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1984856022/?tag=slatmaga-20">A Swim in a Pond in the Rainu003c/a>,u003c/em> u003ca href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/books/review-swim-pond-rain-george-saunders.html">favorablyu003c/a>. As a lifelong lover of the arts, I quite liked Saunders’ take on the importance of literature, especially in today’s software-obsessed world. Here’s how he put it in u003ca href="https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/books/a35166045/george-saunders-interview-pandemic-donald-trump-a-swim-in-a-pond-in-the-rain/">an interview with u003cem>Esquireu003c/em>u003c/a>.u003c/p>nu003cp>u003cem>Somehow, in my lifetime, storytelling has gotten downgraded. Science and technology are understood to be great because they get you a job, but this very essential human thing of asking, ‘What are we doing here, and how should I behave?’—that has somehow become considered a bit of an indulgence. And it isn’t.u003c/em>u003c/p>nu003c/div>n"},"children":[]}]}]},{"name":"dianomi","config":{"type":"footer"},"children":[]}]}]}]}},"componentData":{},"error":null,"loading":false,"player":{"currentTime":0,"duration":0,"loading":false,"playing":false,"seek":0,"src":"","visible":false,"volume":0.5},"route":{"status":200,"redirectTo":"","redirectStatus":0,"action":"PUSH","pathname":"/2021/01/19/tiktok-duets-culture-sea-shanties/","search":"?","hash":""},"visible":{"search":false,"primaryNav":false,"freestar":false,"adminBar":false},"contactForm":{"submitting":false,"submitted":false,"failed":false,"validation":{},"redirect":""},"user":{"isLoggedIn":false,"accessLevel":null}}; ]]> Source

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