We Would Call That a Demon
On a fascinating episode of Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human podcast, “technologist, futurist, inventor, and mage” Mark Pesce has a fascinating observation about social media’s knack for social engineering:
What is Facebook doing? It’s watching your responses to build a simulation – simulacra, really – of you and then it can check against that simulacra what your emotional state is. Okay, so, it’s built an A.I. that can essentially read and tamper with your emotional state. If this were the 14th century and I talked about evoking something that could then tamper with you emotionally and that you would feed energy that it would feed back to you in a different form – we would call that a demon.
There’s also a meatier-than-usual post on Kottke.org by Tim Carmody about where the web went wrong and how the spirit of blogging might point to the desired way forward:
A lot of the efforts to reshape social media, or to walk away from it in favor of RSS feeds or something else, are really attempts to recapture those utopian elements that were active in the zeitgeist ten, fifteen, and twenty years ago. They still exercise a powerful hold over our collective imagination about what the internet is, and could be, even when they take the form of dashed hopes and stifled dreams.
These days I’m thinking about this stuff all of the time. I know I’m hardly the only one.
Blocked on Spotify: The Public Has Spoken
With an upcoming update, Spotify will let you block music from any artist you don’t like throughout the app. This means it will block music from that artist on your personal library, playlists, automatically curated playlists, charts, radios, and everything else. In fact, you won’t be able to manually play music from an artist you’ve blocked even if you wanted to — and you’d have to unblock an artist before you can play a certain track from them.
I’ve seen this being sold as a way to no longer hear artists that annoyingly keep popping up in algorithmic playlists — the feature is touted as “much-requested” and I think that’s originally why it was requested — but it’s obvious this is Spotify’s way of dealing with deplorable artists on the platform. It’s a passing of the buck, if you will, after Spotify’s disastrous attempt at self-censorship.
I can’t say I blame Spotify for putting this decision in an individual user’s hands. At least they’re responding and doing something. Knowing Spotify, I’m sure there’s some data-gathering at play, too. It would be in the platform’s best interest to learn of artists that are being blocked en masse by its users. Then Spotify would be able to quietly downplay those artists in playlists and features. The public has spoken.
Update: Another take, Spotify’s New Mute Feature Is a Patronizing Misstep
Word of the Day: Chimping
A candidate for ‘word of the day,’ via Shutter Muse:
What is Chimping?
Chimping is the act of looking at your camera’s LCD screen as soon as you have taken a photo. The term is jokingly derived from the noises that photographers often make when they see a shot they like on the back of the camera (oooh
ohh), followed sometimes by “ ape like” hand motions for others to take a look.
I look forward to my first opportunity to use this phrase in the wild. Also, it must be noted that Shutter Muse doesn’t necessarily consider ‘chimping’ a bad thing.
Put It Into the Fire Without Reading Any Farther
Brain Pickings reproduced a fan letter that Bram Stoker wrote to Walt Whitman and I’m going to steal its opening text for the greatest cold email template ever:
If you are the man I take you to be you will like to get this letter. If you are not I don’t care whether you like it or not and only ask that you put it into the fire without reading any farther. But I believe you will like it.