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Pop Loser No. 111

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I think the last tech thing I was really right about was Instagram. I was at iStock when the app laun
 

Pop Loser

June 22 · Issue #111 · View online
A newsletter of innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair collected and written by @poploser.

I think the last tech thing I was really right about was Instagram. I was at iStock when the app launched, and on day one I said it would be huge (and a big problem for Flickr). And when they sold to Facebook for a billion dollars, I didn’t say “I told you so,” I said that price is crazy low.
That was a different time, back when I still had my finger on the pulse of… stuff. Now I’m 40 and I find Snapchat terribly confusing, both as a platform people want to use and very literally I cannot get the hang of the interface. I’ve joked for a couple years I’m falling out of touch with popular culture, but I think Instagram’s new IGTV marks the moment I stopped being able to make sense of things.
“From a content-creation perspective, IGTV feels like Instagram’s version of YouTube, a place for creators to distribute the sort of long-form video historically associated with the Google-owned giant. Instagram hopes the platform will be used by already-popular creators, like former Vine star Lele Pons, who has more than 25 million Instagram followers and who also appeared on stage at Wednesday’s event. The app is launching with a group of pre-selected video stars, including publishers like National Geographic, which has more than 88 million followers on Instagram, and brands like Benefit cosmetics. It will be open to anyone who uses Instagram over the coming weeks.”
IGTV seems bad to me. Who are these people? Why are they so excited to be on this new platform? Who is watching these videos? It’s not just the platform I don’t get, it’s the very nature of celebrity and entertainment. Instagram brought in a bunch of social media all stars to launch IGTV and I don’t know who any of them are or where they’ve been building massive followings online. And I can’t imagine spending a lot of time watching (vertical!) videos of them just kind of talking about nothing.
In short, I’ve never felt older. 

CONFUSIONS
Pay attention to me. We should have known the future would be shitty when we all played Tamagotchi. “The Tamagotchi offers the option to turn off the sound. But if I turn it off, I’ll miss the notifications and accidentally kill my hateful son. At this point, I’ve kept him alive for so long, I’d feel too guilty to pull the plug on my virtual spawn. And anyway, what’s one more beeping annoyance in my life? The Tamagotchi is just another red dot for me to clear off yet another screen. At least this one doesn’t monetize my engagement through targeted advertising.”
Also: What an iPhone notification dot told me last night. “I am just a tiny red dot humanity created, / You were actually born to fall in love with me. / Soon this is the only love you’ll be left with, / You know it deep down, when you randomly start feeling lonely.”

Surf it, scroll it, pose it, click it. How eBay shaped (and maybe wrecked) the web. “None of this is to say that eBay has gone away — in 2017, more merchandise changed hands over the platform than in any earlier year. It’s just ancient in tech terms. It went public in 1998. But perhaps more than any other tech giant of its era — excluding Amazon — eBay has shaped the tech industry of 2018. Depending on how you look at it, this is an assignation of credit or blame. EBay’s influence can be felt in both trivial and fundamental ways in companies like Facebook, Google and Uber.”

The end of Facebook. What will undo Facebook isn’t a mass exodus due to scandal, it’s kids who never bothered to use it in the first place. “The numbers are in and the trend is clear. That is, there is no trend. Despite months of controversy, users don’t seem to be leaving Facebook. Certainly not in any meaningful way. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone because this has been the story of Facebook since nearly the beginning of the network. It goes like this: There’s some outrage around something. There’s a lot of talk about and stories written about people quitting Facebook. Then no one actually quits.”

Pokémon going. Pokémon Go is finally becoming the game people wanted it to be two years ago, but maybe it’s too late. “It’s remarkable that it took two years for social features to be added, particularly for a product which is aimed to be integrated in the real world and its users’ lives. Previous updates improved how the game functions, but this one feels like the first one to move it closer to the goal of being a more socially engaging game. The real question is; is anyone even still playing it?”

Please don’t fuck robots. Fucking robots update: It is now illegal to make child sex robots. Which… yeah, okay, that’s fair, but the whole thing is hilariously strange as a law. “It’s probably not the worst idea to ban child sex robots, but the bill makes a few claims that would seem to be impossible to prove, namely that ‘dolls and robots not only lead to rape, but they make rape easier by teaching the rapist how to overcome resistance and subdue the victim.'”

💯 A history of the Speak & Spell
👍 Twitter: Wheel of Fortune answers. 
👾 The original arcade Donkey Kong is now available on the Switch. 
🍺 TV’s most popular fake beer
😂 Angela Chase announces bid for congress. 
🎛 Knobs

AI mixtapes. On Pandora and the evolution of algorithmically generated playlists. “When I first heard about Pandora, before algorithmically driven recommendations like Netflix’s Cinematch became commonplace, I loved the idea that something as inscrutable as the ontology of taste could be demystified, broken down into its essential elements, and used to predict future sources of enjoyment.”

Sex, drugs and getting old. Sex, Drugs and Coco Puffs at 15—it’s book that was exactly of its moment and also sort of set the stage for 15 years of essay writing, a book that’s ironically important, in retrospect. “Cocoa Puffs’ immediate appeal stemmed from some combination of the looseness of the writing, a proto-blog conversational style that would come to dominate the internet, and the subject material: pop culture framed in a loosely academic tone. He took dumb shit — The Real World, the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, semi-incoherent Tom Cruise passion project Vanilla Sky — seriously.”

WEEKEND READING
Looking for Life on a Flat Earth Looking for Life on a Flat Earth
The Lifespan of a Lie
Surfer, Environmentalist, Novelist. Australia’s Living Legend
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