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Pop Loser No. 112

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Some questions I have asked before: Why are Netflix shows cut into episodes of roughly the same lengt
 

Pop Loser

July 6 · Issue #112 · View online
A newsletter of innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair collected and written by @poploser.

Some questions I have asked before: Why are Netflix shows cut into episodes of roughly the same length? Why are those lengths similar to traditional TV show lengths? Why, with a few exceptions, are there the same number of episodes in each season? Why does every episode having opening credits? 

Those questions weren’t entirely sincere because the answer to each was primarily that Netflix was trying to imitate television. But we’ve officially reached a new era where Netflix is no longer trying to compete with TV; Netflix is TV

When the finale of M*A*S*H was broadcast, in 1983, it was a cultural event that drew more than 100 million viewers. Last year, even the much-talked-about Girls struggled to draw a million viewers a week. Television, which was always the most democratic of forms, has fractured into thousands of insular audiences, and it’s likely that, in the coming years, this divergence will only increase. Even Neil Postman, who in 1985 wrote the famous anti-TV treatise Amusing Ourselves to Death, assumed the shared experience of television was both part of its appeal and of its danger. Back then, when it came to TV audiences, there was still a collective “ourselves” to talk about.

So when do they start trying to break more of the paradigms that have defined television for so long? Dropping full seasons at once was a start, but also raises the question, what is a “season” in the context of Netflix? 

Anyway, here’s a thing on Netflixonomics, a term I both love and hate. 

One of the reasons that Netflix is spending in such haste is that Netflixonomics is a winner-takes-most proposition. People can only spend so much time being entertained by television. If you can provide them with entertainment they genuinely enjoy for that length of time, they will have little reason to pay anyone else for further screen-based entertainment—though they may splash out more for sport, and put up with adverts for news, real or fake. Being big early thus constitutes a first-mover advantage. And the dash towards size has the helpful side-effect of driving up rivals’ production costs at the same time as it eats into their revenues.

CONFUSIONS
Addicted to all of the above. If gaming addiction is a mental health issue, should we consider other things as well? “Can people truly be addicted to games, like they can to gambling, or to heroin? And even if they can, why is gaming the only official computer-related behavioral addiction? Why not internet or smartphone addiction? Perhaps the issue isn’t that gaming should or shouldn’t be a mental disorder, but that the public is so willing to assume negative behaviors are the result of individual mental defects, rather than more complex social, political, and economic factors.”

The web is bad. The guy who made the web hates the web and would like to fix the web. “While Silicon Valley started ride-share apps and social-media networks without profoundly considering the consequences, Berners-Lee has spent the past three decades thinking about little else. From the beginning, in fact, Berners-Lee understood how the epic power of the Web would radically transform governments, businesses, societies. He also envisioned that his invention could, in the wrong hands, become a destroyer of worlds, as Robert Oppenheimer once infamously observed of his own creation.”

The web is changing. Twitter-friend Nav on the rise and fall of The Feed. “These smaller, temporary spaces produce a similar effect to traditional social media—a space to vent and laugh and care—but without the downsides of a public forum.” I miss FriendFeed. I was looking for a similar aggregation tool recently and it seems like a part of the web that just died. There was a brief period where all of these services played nice and now I can’t easily get Last.FM to display what I’m listening to on my own website. I miss the nice internet playground. 
Nav’s piece was also collected as part of a series of things on blogging and the state of the web over at Kottke. “There are some cases where a greater visibility and intercommunication is exactly what you want, and some where you want the exact opposite. But we’re also riding the wave of dozens if not hundreds of subtly shaping decisions that are not ours, and maybe were never ours. We can only change them if we understand them first.” 

Our Juggalo future. Concerned about facial recognition tech? The Juggalos got this. “As if they weren’t already doing the absolute most, the die-hard fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse have become accidental heroes for people concerned about facial recognition tech: According to Twitter user @tahkion, a computer science blogger for WonderHowTo, Juggalo makeup outmatches the machine learning algorithms that govern facial recognition technology.”

Locals only. Do you know about “local Twitter?” I didn’t and now I’m very afraid I’m a part of local Twitter and nobody wants to play with the local tweeters. “Providing a hard-stop definition of “local Twitter” is tricky; much like obscenity, you know it when you see it. Local is tweeting about how much you love pizza and Target, fawning over dogs, or posting Drake lyrics, especially with the caption “mood.” Local is having to ask whether your Twitter feed is local. Justin Belloli, a 17-year-old from California, says via DM that you’ve encountered local if you’ve ever surfed by a basic tweet that is inexplicably popular, like “rt or else.” “They basically take the leftover trends from other parts of twitter and use them until they’re too annoying to get retweets and likes,” he says.”

The uncommoning. 500px is getting rid of their Creative Commons licensing option, which is a bad and dumb decision. “Photography platform 500px will no longer allow photographers to license their photos under a Creative Commons license, and is removing the functionality to search and download such images. The site also closed down its stock photo platform, 500px Marketplace yesterday, replacing it with distribution partnerships with Getty Images and Visual China Group.” As a former employee of theirs, I can assure you Getty is awful. 
Artsy fartsy. I like this story about art and a terrible snapshot of unknown origin. “A reviewer of my book, one who did not like it and was particularly irked by the “Diana and Nikon” essay, singled out the Botsford picture as a demonstration of my wrongheadedness, my pathetic inability to differentiate a work of art from an artless snapshot.”

Nothing is real. Duchamp didn’t make the toilet art. I’m going to need some time to process this. “Why did Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven never claim Fountain as her work? She never had the chance. While she lived the urinal was thrown out, became lost and quickly forgotten. She died in 1927, eight years before Bréton attributed Fountain to Duchamp for the first time. Decades after her death Duchamp began to commission the first replica of Fountain. While he rose to superstardom, she ended as a footnote in the history of modern art. Her artist career is exemplary for what has happened to countless other female artists who were ignored, marginalized and ostracized from the canon.”

Pensive face with monocle. Very smart people got together to discuss emoji. “Most agree that the icons are not quite a language—the emoji vocabulary is made up almost entirely of nouns, and there’s no real grammar or syntax to govern their use—but their influence on internet communication is massive. By 2015, half of all comments on Instagram included an emoji. On Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app, over 5 billion emoji are sent and received every day. From an academic point of view, that presents a wealth of data to understand communication, behavior, and language online.”

The Fall of The Simpsons: How it Happened - YouTube
⌨️ Itty Bitty Site
🗞 Independent Voices, a digital collection of alternative press newspapers. 
🕹 The entire history of World Of Warcraft
😭 Reader is (still) dead. 
🎣 Below the Surface, a digital catalogue of things found at the bottom of a drained canal. 

This is good. Everything you’ve heard about Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix stand-up show is true and I can’t believe you haven’t watched it yet. “I’m talking about work that makes instant evangelists of those who behold it, that has people rushing to their social channels to urge strangers to watch this now, it changed my life and it will change yours too. When it happens, that kind of swooning tends to pass into legend; we roll our eyes when we hear about people passing out in front of Impressionist nudes at Parisian salons as if they’d never seen cellulite before. But every now and then, a work by a new voice breaks through, and sharing it with others becomes a compulsion, even a kind of moral duty. This is what has happened in recent weeks with Hannah Gadsby’s revelatory hour-long comedy special which started airing on Netflix in late June.

Porn, except for racists. We live in an age of endless porn, so of course racist porn is a thing. “When asked to use hate speech on set Price refuses—but also offers different types of dialogue to appease the producer, playing up the racial aspects. “I personally don’t like racism in porn. I’ll play it up nicely and be flirtatious about it,” says Price. “I’ll say things like ‘hot chocolate daddy’ but I won’t say the N-word. It’s degrading in my opinion.””

Five copies for my mother. There’s a new Rolling Stone. It’s like the old Rolling Stone, but slightly different. “Each issue will feature more new music, more political coverage, more of the best and brightest in pop culture. Our logo has also undergone a subtle but significant update… What isn’t changing is our commitment to deep reporting, unforgettable interviews, criticism you can trust and political journalism that speaks truth to power.”

WEEKEND READING
Hello Fresh: The World's Most Ruthless Food Startup
Bo Burnham’s Age of Anxiety
How "Armageddon" Became The Ultimate Disaster Movie (In More Ways Than One)
CM Punk was the Best in the World
Are Humans Really Blind To the Gorilla On the Basketball Court?
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