I had some things published during the extended break. I wrote a thing for This called “The Shape Of Water” (the online headline is more SEO-friendly, less cleverly tied into a new movie) and I wrote a thing about the vast awfulness of Facebook for The Walrus. I’ve got another thing coming in the new issue of This as well, which should be on newsstands now or very soon.
I don’t pretend to understand what “fame” even means anymore. Logan Paul’s modern Stand By Me bit makes that painfully clear—who is this guy, how does he have a bazillion followers and are there really two of him? We shouldn’t be surprised that a 22-year-old with little life experience beyond content churning has a fucked up decision-making paradigm, but that his followers number in the tens of millions and his YouTube views are into the billions? That seems… bad. Maybe I’m just old. (I am.) And this whole thing only serves to bring him more: more views, more fame, more money.
“The things that make Paul repellant to some and enticing to others may be the exact same qualities: He’s a hot doofus who gets away with doing stupid shit. He is wish fulfillment personified: At 22, he’s managed to become very wealthy, famous, and successful while hardly doing anything at all. His fame, at this point, feels like a self-propagating mechanism. If you hate him, it’s likely because he represents what you’ve always resented about the world — that someone so utterly thoughtless and lacking evident empathy could still thrive, and worse, become wildly famous. If you like him, it’s likely because there’s something inspiring about all that success. Maybe you think he’s cute, and boy, wouldn’t it be great if you got to join the Logang and move into his $6.55 million Encino estate?”
Between this and KFC parodying the President of the United States’s tweet to kill millions in order to sell chicken products, well, the new season of Black Mirror seems kind of quaint, doesn’t it? (I kid. The new season is Black Mirror is fucking great.)
Twitter-friend Nav thinks the framing around the net neutrality debate is all kinds of wrong. Nav is very smart (and has another thing linked to in the long reads).
“The net neutrality debate, however, has a problem: It discusses the social and cultural effects of the internet almost entirely in terms of the free market. In this narrow scope, it appears that only options for ensuring internet freedom are letting the market work, or limiting what large corporations can do. And in constraining the conversation to these terms of the companies who operate on the internet, we obscure the real threat to freedom in general: those companies themselves.”
If you use Uber, are you bad? Yes.
“Why not take Uber? Because you care about sexism, worker treatment, corporate ethics, the law, or consumer privacy. Any of these would be reason enough to avoid the company, especially when alternatives—namely Lyft, but sometimes other car services like Via or Juno—are so readily available. Moral outrage is a strong motivator, as Uber learned in January, and the company has generated a lot of it in 2017. It should be no surprise if some of that translates into account deletions.”
Similar to the net neutrality link above, this feels like it’s focused on the wrong thing. Sure, you can hate Uber for being awful, but are we just going to ignore that the model—which is also Lyft’s model—is inherently problematic and possibly bad for the world?
The most interesting part of this look at Amazon’s hold on books and e-books is that it recognizes that Silicon Valley isn’t going to save books because books don’t need saving and, on a long enough timeline, they also can’t be saved.
“But there’s nothing novel about the cultural content that Amazon has pumped into the marketplace. Genre—romance, sci-fi, and other forms of commercial fiction—reigns supreme in Kindle Direct Publishing, making this revolution similar, in many ways, to the pulp explosion of the early twentieth century. Some of these authors are wildly successful in ways that never would have been possible before the Kindle; many have an even harder time finding an audience in such an oversaturated market. But expensive, labor-intensive publishing—non-fiction and much of literary fiction—is still largely being produced by publishing houses. The Kindle, in other words, has helped create a new set of winners and losers in book publishing, but it hasn’t changed the books being produced.”
An oral history of Epicurious, which just turned twenty. TWENTY!
Mark Michaelson: As far as a launch party for the public? It might have happened. I might have been there. I might have had a great time.
Jeff Jarvis: The launch was anti-climactic. There was no way to get discovered. Apart from showing up on Yahoo, you had to be recommended. People had to link to you. Until Google came, really, you didn't purposefully go in and search for things. It was just meandering. It was links. Everyone would tell stories of wasting three hours the night before going to site after site after site after site.
Joan Feeney: It's a good point. How do you throw a launch party if no one cares or knows you exist?
📰 Every Modern Processor Has Unfixable Security Flaws
📰 The Library Of Congress won’t save all the tweets
🕹 Robot Finds Kitten
🎥 The End of the Fucking World
📰 MailChimp is killing TinyLetter
🧠 Anatomy of the Urban Dictionary
📼 Format-Specific Easter Eggs
📰 Spotify is Going Public
🎥 Mortal Engines
😂 Updated Rules for Settlers of Catan
I’m a big fan of Charlie Rose’s interview with David Foster Wallace, which is an increasingly problematic thing to be a fan of. In it, they talk about David Lynch and it’s great, but I’d never actually read the DFW piece about Lost Highway until this week. It’s very Wallace (in a good way).