027: The owls are not what they seem


Basically

This week, the sun rose slowly. Chelsea Manning posted to Instagram. Robert Mueller took the wheel. Trump set about a foreign trip”. Roger Ailes died. (Sadly, his legacy did not.) The best mummy yet made its grand debut. Presidential ducks got their exit strategy. The King gave up a secret. Sweden gave up Julian Assange. Alas, Disney not give up the money.


Verbatim

If the modern media landscape is a pile of smouldering rubble, then this delicious piece of reporting from the depths of the Third Annual Content Marketing Conference is a high-definition glimpse at the other side. Bullshit, thy name is Content:

The Content Marketing Conference takes place in a wing of the Westin Hotel. The spectacular, light-filled lobby is abuzz with men and women ages 20s to 50s in biz attire tapping on laptops, while others quickly wheel compact travel luggage over polished marble. A long escalator to the second floor is decorated with decals of male and female Superheroes soaring through space: neon-green faces, neon-green capes. Spandex-enhanced anatomies accompany motivational implorings such as “Rid the World of Bad Content.”


Things

Don’t worry, the Svalbard seed vault is probably fine. It’s just all of us who are doomed.

Speaking of which, here’s everybody's favourite World Economic Forum with a handy, deceptively bland report on capitalism’s vision for our AI, robotics and 3D-printing driven industrial future. We’re going to have to spend a few weeks digging through this one, but for now we’re most looking forward to elderly factory workers augmented for further years of labour with a snazzy robot exoskeleton. Opportunity!

In a loose collection of reports that build into a kind of alternative history of modern Cuba, Polygon paint a fascinating, politically nuanced portrait of the country’s gaming culture, from underground arcades and trade networks to a travelling console repairman’s never-ending struggle against dust.

The hawkish but fascinating War on the Rocks blog has a go at the defense industry’s obsession with Silicon Valley thinking as a substitute for effectiveness – if you were looking for the blog post that draws the line between Juicero and Afghanistan, here it finally is. It argues that to push back against this model requires the adoption of another industry’s approaches, leading to the surreal thought of what the military might learn from banking. At least it’s a relief from the endless parade of former military strategists selling business consultancy, no?

Twin Peaks burned brightly and fizzled out after only two seasons. The show may have paved the way for premium cable dramas, but now it’s a latecomer to the reboot phenomena. Hopes are high, but expectations perhaps sensibly low, for season three – whatever it achieves, it can’t possibly mess with our expectations of the form like it did back in the day. The original run played lovingly with soap opera conventions, but not so much as to unseat General Hospital as an icon of the form. The show is now its 55th season and has transformed into a direct vehicle for public health PSAs / sneaky pharmaceutical marketing.

Previously, we wondered what Zuck was doing campaigning across America like a politician. It might have something to do with the politically sensitive data that Facebook is hoarding from independent researchers. As he’s spending his wedding anniversary sitting on a porch in rural Maine, we can trust Facebook to act in everybody’s best interest as an extragovernmental authority on all things internet, right? No one wants an open internet anymore, anyway.

DRM killed the bunnies: Virtual rabbits across Second Life will fall asleep on Saturday then never wake up, now that their digital food supply has been shut down by a legal battle.

The publishers are fleeing Medium, but if you listen to Craig Mod (usually a good idea), the new membership model might actually prove lucrative for some of its better known individual writers. “Netflix for text” sounds like a lovely stretch, but “an alternative to Patreon for straight-up writing” we can get behind. Let’s see how that applies to somebody with a smaller reach than Mr Mod – another meritocracy channeling meagre cash to the same voices as before isn’t going to solve anything systemic.

Peer reviewed! At least in mice, a low dose of THC appears to reverse some of the memory decay associated with aging. This does seem to run counter to the results our own years-long informal trials have shown, but we don’t imagine these scientists will be short on volunteers for the human trials.

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Last week was the week of the fidget spinner. This week, Nathan J. Robinson with the final word in the delightfully titled “In Defense of Liking Things”: shut the hell up and just spin the damn thing.


As the permafrost melt starts seeping in, send us some friends to grab a bailing bucket and join in our singalong, won't you?