038: The other side of the internet


Basically

This week, Trump uttered “both sides”. The manufacturing council shrunk more still. Bannon crawled back to the womb. Terror hit The Rambler. A landslide washed Sierra Leone. Big Ben shut er down. Nokia coined the bothie”. A disaster hedge got good news. More on the Slinky’s war-torn history. A most liked tweet. But may it all be eclipsed by the only true good news—tomorrow!


Verbatim

Juggalos march on DC to crash the pro-Trump rally. Cause ICP fans are brothers in the struggalo.”

No one thought the American culture wars would come down to a battle between fans of a clown rap group and fans of a reality TV businessman (who happens to be the president), but when you really think about it, it was inevitable.


Welcome to A-B-Z-Town


Things

@lilmiquela is lives on the other side of the internet. Unlike @TayandYou—Microsoft’s half-baked, crowd-sourcing AI-identity—Miquela is taking things day by day, just like the rest of us. She’s dropped a single, been interviewed by Vogue, and crossed over into fashion. We’re waiting on the Vetements collab and Kanye feature.

SB Nation, the seed that eventually grew into the billion dollar Vox Media empire, feels like a holdover from the old world of blogs – a vast network of passionate and ultra-specific fan sites that can be more insightful and fun to read than most of the sports journalism they track. Sad, then, to read this excellent investigation at Deadspin that paints the whole enterprise as an aggressive charade, exploiting an army of barely paid workers, ratcheting up the demands on them daily for the good of the mother brand. Why are we even surprised?

As we always say, all the most interesting things happen in infrastructure (and then we say, no wait come back!). Critical, invisible background services are a fascinating battleground in wars we don’t usually see. This week Cloudflare, a service designed to transparently keep big websites online, terminated the service of some notorious Nazis, and in doing so smashed their comfortable Valley delusion that service providers should be passive, helpless witnesses to hate. It’s refreshing to read how open CEO Matthew Prince and his team have been in recognising the really dangerous precedent they’ve set. There’s safety in neutrality. Comfort. These decisions are dangerous. They do set awful precedents. They go against the rule of law. But those things are on one side of the scale. On the other side? Nazis. Moral ambiguity is just part of the uniform for now, folks.

Corporate America has a role to play in the resistance. Following the lead of Merck’s CEO Ken Fraser, many corporate leaders have now spoken out against Trump. Even James Murdoch(the son of that other Murdoch), the CEO 21st Century Fox (the parent of that other Fox), has done so. The lordly style of these statements can be off-putting, and the prospect of coordinated inter-corporate entities isn’t quite the ray of hope we were looking for. But now is not the time for businesses to prioritize their brandvoice, or be modest about their power in government.

Angela Nagle, the author of Kill All Normies, argues that Charlottesville might be the end of the Pepe era of the alt right. Critics like Nagle perhaps overstate the role the trolls played in the last election, but still she has been very good at documenting this most hyperreal of conflicts. Now that it’s irretrievably and violently spilled out into the very, very real, the questions only become harder to answer. One we’ll sadly continue to see answered for some time to come: “What will be the real-world consequences of forcing such figures out of their semi-ironic anonymous online fantasyland, and potentially thrusting them into a toxic flirtation with violent offline tactics?”

Motherboard break an iPhone down to its constituent metals, and head down the mine shafts they came from.

The correct method of, and reasoning for, the mixture of whisky and water is a debate that’s as old as Scottish time. Unless you’re civilised, of course, in which case the answer is “one little splash into a neat nip”. But say you’re not, Nature has you sorted in the form of actual peer-reviewed whisky science, figuring it out at the molecular level. Honestly, though, just ask this guy.  

Two of the greatest: Margaret Atwood on Ray Bradbury.


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