"Signal, Noise and Us" by Anna Grigoryan

"Signal, Noise and Us" by Anna Grigoryan

Originally posted by Anna Grigoryan on her Substack, Caring about now.

If you’re on LinkedIn, or Twitter, or are subscribed to a lot of newsletters, you might know this aspirational phrase:

Signal vs noise”, “trying to sift through the noise to find the quality content”.

Countless newsletters, platforms, and communities were created just on that simple premise.

Who is creating the “Noise”?

Who is curating the “Signal”?

What to do will all of that information we get?

Examining “The Noise”

Noise is produced, tracked, analyzed, repurposed, and archived.

We all know what Noise is because we all produce Noise. For our brand profiles, startups, companies, and podcasts.

The Noise is the Uroboros.

Noise is something you have to do. Noise is easily generated by AI. Because it’s Noise, it has a formula. You can achieve Noise by following the guidelines.

What are the guidelines? Well, most likely there’s a department of Noise in your company, that follows all the platforms and knows the guidelines very well.

Keywords should be in the headings (H1 tag to be exact). The image needs an alt text. Use the trending audio file of the week.

Tag all the people who worked on the Noise, and dm all the people you know with the link to Noise so they would share it.

Sharing the Noise helps. Because you need to be on the top of your feed.

You don’t have a lot of time in that top spot, so the more people share the Noise the better.

5 new notifications


Congratulations! Another Noise leader shared your Noise.

screenshot that and produce more Noise, and now tag the leader, so they don’t forget you exist 10 seconds later when the feed is updated.

Onto next Noise in your Noise calendar, ask the designer to create a cover for the next Noise, and the website Noise manager to repurpose today’s Noise to other platforms.

Good job everyone.

Examining “The Signal”

We all acknowledge that there’s a lot of Noise. Even the Noise producer acknowledges it. However, instead of producing less Noise, the answer is to produce 1 more unit of Noise. The Signal.

The Signal is curated Noise, by the people who produce the Noise.

The Signal is an experience, it’s a premium newsletter, community, event series, and podcast. Thinkers and curious people gathered together to make your process of consuming Noise, tolerable and not noisy.

If you subscribe to their premium discord server for $200/year or buy a sponsorship package for your company or book a consulting call, you will also know how to produce Noise, and build Signal communities.

Good job, we solved the problem with Noise.

That Tom Cruise movie that’s not “Mission Impossible”

I have not seen “Jerry Maguire” 1 in a minute. But I do remember a scene from that movie.

No, it’s not the “show me the money” scene.

No, it’s not the “you complete me” scene.

It’s the scene at the very beginning of the movie.

Jerry is a sports agent, and he loves his job. And the movie will try to show us that “he’s not like other agents”. He loves and cares about his clients.

So Jerry in the middle of the night decides to write a heartfelt emotional statement about himself, his mission, and why he loves his job and company. Nothing Noisy, just his raw emotions about it. He prints it and sends it to his colleagues.

The next time he enters the office everyone claps at him for his bravery.

While Jerry is feeling the triumph, his colleagues behind his back say that this popularity will last not more than a week.

We all want to be Jerry Maguire, and the internet is happy to oblige.

Every once in a while, there is a Jerry Maguire moment on our feeds. A person emerges on the internet. On one of THE platforms, who will make a heartfelt manifesto.

It will be something vulnerable, emotional, or uniquely creative, that none of us have seen before, and we’ll feel something.

A huge portion of us will feel seen, accepted, validated, and we’ll clap.

But a week later, Jerry Maguire’s manifesto, will not be just an important and emotional piece of media.

It will become a Noise template.

Noise. To be produced, repurposed, and presented as a viable Noise strategy for the next 3-6 months. Eventually curated for the deep dive Signals.

The point I’m desperately trying to make.

They say the medium is the message. Well in the current state, the medium is the problem.

Our medium is created for effectively measurable Noise.

YouTube’s measure of effectiveness or success is watching time. Did you watch a hate speech video or a film review? YouTube doesn’t care. It treats both as Noise.

Meta wants you to make friends and connections on their platform and engage with them. Somehow, anyhow. Does it matter if it’s harassment or a conversation? No, Meta needs Noise.

Our mediums are polluted by Noise.

Personal branding, and influencer marketing all that is just symptoms.

We have learned that profiles with logos are producing Noise. So, we’re skeptical and don’t engage much.

But we’re just starting the grapple with the fact that people are also renting spaces on their profiles for Noise.

It’s not just companies and departments who are producing the Noise, it’s also people who want to be noticed by those companies. So next year, when the company plans the budget for its Noise strategy the head of the Noise department will put them on the list of influencers.

Now I do use those mediums too, just to be goofy on the internet, and when I’m goofy for a long time, my mentors say: “Anna what’s your Noise strategy?”

I scoff, start procrastinating, get into my bed, and read fanfiction, to forget about the concept of Noise and strategy and mediums and all that so I can get into my happy place just for a bit.

I’m writing this article nonstop for the past 2 hours. Writing 1500 words takes the same time for me as writing an Instagram caption.

Which will be funny for a lot of people, and some of them will advise me to use ChatGPT and forget about my troubles.

It’s so easy to produce Noise, why am I even fighting?

Okay, what do we do?

Noise <> Signal dynamic is the symptom of another problem, which is we forgot how to build communities. If we ever knew it, in the first place.

Being at the top of the Noise feed or a Signal community is nothing more than being on the top of some individualistic hierarchy. Where we get to play the main character or the villain of a story for a brief period.

We hope to be no. 1 on the charts, the person who created the viral tweet, write the article that will be reshared infinitely, and our mediums are happy to oblige.

In return we need to overproduce Noise, to increase the odds.

That’s why the advice about creating online is so shallow and unnuanced.

“Consistency is key”

“Just show up every day”

“Interact with people on [insert name of the platform]”

Everything is one “just” away.

What I would say to a creator who wants to be discovered in 2023?

I’ll say don’t listen to me. I don’t know!

The fact is no one knows! We are producing Noise, and waiting for a Jerry Maguire moment to create a new Noise template.

The Noise leader you follow also doesn’t know.

They are working as a marketer or content manager for a company. They are paid to be online 9-5 to create more Noise based on your experiences for their blog, and then ask you to join their Signal community. To push you up some sales pipeline.

Listen to yourself and what you want to make.

Publish once a month, once a year, or once every 4 months. Who cares? It’s your creation, not mine, and certainly not some Noise producer’s accomplishment to claim.

Talk to other creators. Build communities with them! Support and uplift each other not some Noise producer or thought leader.

We asked to make false choices between Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other current and future mediums. What is our favorite Noise medium to produce for?

We’re selecting a medium that doesn’t belong to us, doesn’t serve us, and never will.

In an infinitely funny catch 22 even if a new medium emerges, guess what, they also need to produce more Noise or buy space on those mediums.

Because those polluted mediums are our means of communication and discovery.

The time goes, Uroboros continues to eat its tale.

For real though, what do we do?

I remember the early days of the pandemic when the time froze for a couple of weeks.

I was working from home before, and the isolation was not new to me.

Nevertheless, something changed, and I quite literally felt how the days were passing by. I hated it at that time. But now I crave to recreate this feeling. And on the mediums that are created for effectiveness, not discovery, it’s impossible to achieve.

So what to do? Get your friends in a Discord server and start a blog.

Create alternative ecosystems filled with unique cultures, and communities.

Write that short fictional story, you were thinking about.

Ask your friends about music and book recommendations more often.

The biggest ploy all those systems played on us, is creating the feeling that we HAVE to be on those mediums, and we HAVE to at least contribute our attention. And later transform our art into Noise.

Well, you don’t have to. Disengage and see what happens. Maybe you’ll be surprised.

  1. I wrote this bit directly from my memory. If nothing else, you should admire that I remember in vivid detail a movie I have not seen in at least 10 years.

Photo by aj_aaaab on Unsplash