make voice culture

The Gorilla Channel

When you gotta get that gorilla fix ... and you gotta get it NOW.

invocation name the gorilla channel
category education & reference
release date january 2018
catalog # bon011
product page 🇺🇸

In the days leading up to the release of Michael Wolf’s Fire and Fury, screenshot passages of the book were dominating social feeds. A parody passage soon emerged and spread like wildfire.

I built this skill as a voice meme – or rather, a voice extension of a broader digital moment in time. If the whole internet is talking about something, why shouldn’t Alexa be part of the conversation?
challenges & learnings
Digital culture can be fleeting. Memes swell up as quickly as they swell down. And for anyone wanting to contribute and ride the wave (whether it be individuals, brands or publishers), timing is everything. The best digital creators are acute listeners and swift responders.

And herein lies the problem. Amazon’s entire framework for the Alexa Skills Store is pegged to the App Store paradigm of the past. Not only are skills generally organized around categories of utility, but just like the App Store, developers are at the mercy of Amazon’s certification process before their work goes live. (In most cases, I’ve received constructive feedback or approval within 24 hours, but in a few cases I’ve waited closer to a week). In this instance, the meme itself emerged on the evening of January 4th. I submitted the skill on the 6th (already too late!). It went live on the 7th. And I missed the boat. The internet had mostly moved on.

Imagine if YouTube manually approved every video upload before it went live. Digital creators expect instant gratification. They publish whenever they have something to say, often timed with intention. It’s the lifeblood of the internet. I hope Amazon is thinking hard on how to make Alexa more welcoming to digital creators. The platform will never realize its potential to be the next great creative canvas if it’s only architected to be the next App Store. The Gorilla Channel isn’t really an app. It’s more of a nugget of culture that I planted in Alexa’s brain. If voice is the future of the internet, then Alexa’s consciousness needs to move at the speed of the internet.

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