ISSUE 1.50

⇐ see more issues

Something Is Wrong on the Internet

Disturbing systemic capitalist trends affecting children, the death of the internet, origins of PowerPoint, VR magic, and more.

Here, have you a boogie-shaking electroswing track called Chez Les Ye-Ye by Boogalox. It'll make for a real unsettling contrast with this first article. Also, sorry this was late--I've been getting over a gnarly flu and a packed weekend, so expect my takes to be... especially hot. And especially weird.


Something is wrong on the internet

Here's the thing about dystopias: people look for the giant TV screens talking directly to you, the woman's voice booming across the city promoting a corporate interest, cops with laser handcuffs in neon outfits and black sunglasses knocking down doors and subjugating the lower class. But our version of dystopia looks a lot more like this: a systemic interest in generating ad revenue to make money leads hundreds, perhaps thousands of YouTube channels down the route of algorithmically generating crap, often disturbing content for millions of undiscerning children who will watch video after video, relieving their parents of their need for attention and distraction. Meanwhile, human beings, knowing that these algorithmically generated combinations of concepts work, end up delivering us content built by robots in absolute incoherence, inanity, and a creeping sense of half-horror, the off, the odd.

Some of the people in the comments are discounting what they might call histrionic tone of this entire article, but I think the tone is justified, as the rabbit hole goes deep. Not only is there far more disturbing content that wasn't linked in the video, but this has similar parallels in all sorts of realms of interest and is tied into the core of our modern capitalist society. This article, for me, has very much the sense of signifying the apex of everything that's wrong with modernity. A highly recommended, unsettling read.


The Web began dying in 2014, here's how

Here's an analysis of the GOOG-FB-AMZNification of the internet, as their influence grew over time and expanded into the reaches of our world. The internet, I think, exists, but the web is dying. It's much more of a... dreamcatcher? (How morbidly fitting.) There's a beauty in the power of a decentralized web where we can all disappear into various nodes, little units of knowledge. But I'm not sure every user is capable of working their way around a fully decentralized web. Or perhaps I'm just not thinking tribal enough, or not understanding the potential of diasporic projects like Mastodon, and, um, Diaspora. And on top of that, I have to admit that part of me is a dirty, dirty centralist. I like everything in one place. I like information to be organized. I like it all to be accessible. And I like the idea that I could find all of it, I wanted to. The idea of not being able to find something--or a piece of information being lost to time--makes me positively batty. Of course, that's just how reality works, I guess. I've been reading some older texts that trace their origins through antiquity and the idea that we just don't know stuff because the Library of Alexandria or whatever burned down makes me completely batty. Anyways, I'm getting off topic... here, have a game.


The Way the World Ends: Not with a Bang But a Paperclip

Do you like incremental games, like Cookie Clicker? I think I linked to this game in the last newsletter, but I hate your free time, so here it is formally as an article. Universal Paperclips is about turning the entire universe into paperclips and wasting precious hours of your life.


Neural Nets + VR = Magic!

oooOOOOoooo it's like Harry Potter but with a Vive and you can cast shapes to create objects then push them away and stuff! click for the GIFs. there's technical discussion too but who cares really (unless you work in VR (which you might (in which case I'm sorry (and this will probably interest you very much))))


The Improbable Origins of PowerPoint

Wow. Did you know people in 2001 were anxious about PowerPoint impacting our ability to have deep conversations and exchange of ideas? Pfft, idiots. They looked in the wrong direction. It was the whole dang code thing. As an interesting counterpoint to my previous anxious rambling in the article about the web dying, is that decentralization is in a way a form of "thinking local", taking consideration for local ecosystems and tribethink. Intense interconnection and globalizations forces us to globethink, which we are phenomenally bad at. (Interestingly, I feel like globethinking is what causes us to be bad at tribethinking because we get fooled by the perceived availability of the globe and then forget that our globe does in fact consist of tribes/ecosystems, which we can individually and eventually collectively wreck.) Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, PowerPoint. Yes, this is about the improbable origins of PowerPoint from the twists and turns of early 70s and 80s Silicon Valley, resulting in the software we know and love(?) today, used by billions of people.


From Miami to Shanghai: 3C of warming will leave world cities below sea level

Do you have an exit plan? I'm planning to leave Austin in about 5 years. I need to find data. I need to figure out what cities, states, areas will be the most unaffected and most temperate. Humans can deal with extreme cold, but unfortunately I can't take off my skin and my bones. Anyways, here's some stuff on predictions on how high the sea might rise, how much the temperature might rise, and how much the number of refugees might rise.