The Rhinestone-Encrusted Badminton Racket of Disruption

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Media companies that are actually tech companies are playing their weird competitive badminton again.

I don’t have to link to which ones! Share this whenever you want: a tech company, while wearing its handy-dandy media disguise, recently announced some kind of labor shakeup because growthiterationchangeordie. A ruling minority is batting one or two marginally differentiated ideas back and forth, taking less-than-athletic swipes at the same multimillion-dollar shuttlecock.

Tell me what that shuttlecock is, and I’ll tell you who you are. Is the birdie a unifying theory of how to disrupt the media industry? Is the birdie a hapless labor force, commonly euphemized in Hollywood lingo-jargon as the talent? Is the birdie so many reader requests for representation that suddenly disintegrate at high altitudes, somewhere just beyond the otherwise infinite arc of iteration, backlit by the brilliant sunburst that is this golden era of market deregulation?

It doesn’t really matter. If it costs millions of dollars, it’s up in the air.

When I’m fed up, I like to divide the world into “there are two kinds of people” formulaic jokes. There are two kinds of people in this world: people who think badminton is a perfectly valid sport, and people who can’t even watch because the mansion beyond the lawn is distracting.

Most of us just aren’t playing million-dollar badminton. Can we please stop covering this absurd game as if all of our careers depend on it? When the music stops, we’re not all going to fit into that one swivel chair that’s still spinning over at the local bureau of the Badminton Spectator. We are not selling tickets to The Badminton Show. We do not have to stripe that lawn. 

The good news is, building an audience isn’t the same as building stadium seating.

Drag your chair away from the match. Just one chair. A cheap metal folding chair, it just needs to work. Pull it up to a table. What are you bringing to this table? Make a suggestion. Who’s going to join you? Offer something up. If the person across from you feels something that means absolutely anything to them at the end of the conversation, that is all that matters. Ask that person to bring a friend next time.

Please stop watching tech badminton, with its token-machine eyes and its media mustache and its rusted silver cryptotongue. Just invite someone to sit with you. Just be worth sitting with.


If you use the word “disruption” to refer to a bunch of rich white dudes wielding disproportionate power and influence and money, so much money, while the other eight billion people in the world decide what their going rate for having principles is, I do not think that word means what you think it means.  


This week in Pipe Wrench.

  • Drafts of every piece that will go into issue one are here and in various stages of editorial and production, on track for our April 13 publication date.
  • We’re working on media and PR: press releases and email and tweets and DMs and possibly paper airplanes hurled off of tall buildings that announce issue one and reveal many of its contributors. They go out LO THIS VERY FRIDAY, APRIL 2.
  • We are very scared and very excited, which we think means we’re doing something that’s both new and right.

Many of you reading this are already Pipe Wrench subscribers, i.e., among the very best people in the world. If you are (1) not yet a subscriber and (2) interested in being one of the world’s best people, we are available to take your money 24/7. Or just tell a friend about us! Also much appreciated.

And now, that big boat.

Do we need to watch tech badminton? We do not. Do we need more memes featuring the hilariously giant boat stuck in the hilariously tiny canal. Hell yes.

We know the boat is unstuck now. We do not care. It’s always good to not have global logistics shenanigans, but that boat was fucking funny. Michelle spent upward of three minutes making these just for you:

Here’s one you can save for when you need a little pick-me-up:

But maybe life today is just memes all the way down:

Have you ever seen a socialist boat blocking a major international trade route? YOU HAVE NOT.

Everyone should get to enjoy this, so here’s the children’s book version of The Saga of Big Boat. And here’s a handy app that will let you put the boat anywhere you want.

The Pipe Wrench newsletter: always adding value.