How the Rise of QAnon Broke Conspiracy Culture

Conspiracy culture up through the 1990s was dominated by what could be called a “radio sensibility.” Fringe topics were mostly discussed on late-night talk shows. There were guest experts, and listeners could call in, but the host still functioned as a (lenient) gatekeeper, and the theories themselves conformed to a narrative format. They were, for the most part, complete stories, with beginnings, middles and ends.

In the digital age, he said, sense-making had become a fragmented, nonlinear and crowdsourced affair that as a result could never reach a conclusion and lacked internal logic.