August 1, 2023

Snippet: Hollywood CEOs Would Sooner Wreck an Industry Than Suffer Bruised Egos ☇

Justine Bateman for The Daily Beast:

It’s the wrong attitude. It’s not the attitude of their predecessors. The people before them, at least outwardly, had a professional humility regarding both their positions within Hollywood and the vitalness of the artists. They understood that association with a great film or series was the pinnacle and the true reward of all this hard work. And the contracts were made to reflect that, such as the 1960 SAG agreement that established residuals, pensions, and health insurance for its members. The current CEOs, on the other hand, give off the air of factory owners pissed that their “workers” aren’t making “the stuff” they need for their shelves. This lack of humility—and their refusal to accept that they merely fund and/or distribute these fantastical packages of writing, directing, acting, and all the rest—will be their downfall.

At some point, they stopped caring about the films and series, and fixed their eye exclusively on their company’s stock price. Or, as Emmy Award-winning writer Lila Byock recently explained about the majority of projects made, “The reason it’s so hard to make anything original today is that originals force studio executives to cede their power to creatives. Sequels & franchises put the executives in charge.”

I briefly flirted with a career in media and I’ve been saying this for years—while we have an explosion of great content at our fingertips thanks to streaming, it feels like everything mass-market is a sequel, reboot, or superhero movie (How many times does Warner Bros. try and fail to do something in the DC universe? Do we need yet another flimsy thing in the periphery of Marvel?). Art for the sake of art doesn’t seem to impress the bean counters, even if it’s something mainstream audiences can get into.

This type of attitude from Bob Iger and David Zaslav is rather pathetic, especially as their companies haven’t exactly been flourishing under their “leadership” lately.

July 24, 2023

Snippet: RIP Twitter’s Iconic Bird Logo ☇

Jon Porter for The Verge:

Early Monday morning, Twitter began replacing its blue bird logo with a fan-made “𝕏” logo. The same X also appears on Twitter’s homepage, as a profile picture for its official @twitter account, and on a splash screen displayed while the website loads. The blue bird logo hasn’t been expunged from the service entirely — it still serves as the website’s favicon and remains prominent throughout the mobile apps — but we’re now knee-deep in a haphazard rebranding that was announced by Elon Musk yesterday.

Not that anything from Twitter will surprise me these days, but I think it’s worth going on the record that Elon Musk is a moron and terrible businessman. Although there’s been a lot of damage done to the brand, Twitter is still recognizable—”X” is not. The bird is cheerful, “X” feels technical and oppressive. Then again, the dude has been obsessed with the letter X for decades like some braindead Sesame Street character telling you that today’s episode of bigotry and ignorance is brought to you by the letter X. It just feels incredibly cheesy, yet trying to be cool and edgy.

Furthermore, I’m convinced that Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino is also a bozo—just about every one of her posts and internal memos feels like airy public-relations nonsense that is ignoring what a cesspool Twitter has become. I don’t think she’s doing much to lead Twitter, but just act as an insulator. She’s not fooling anyone, but then again, her last employer was Comcast.

At least retiring the bird and name will sort of put a final chapter to “old Twitter,” especially as the bird concept was from the Iconfactory.

July 11, 2023

Snippet: You’re So Vain, You Probably Think This App Is About You: On Meta and Mastodon ☇

Watts Martin:

So if Threads isn’t trying to overwhelm and destroy Mastodon, why have ActivityPub support at all? Two answers. First, “Look, see? We’re open!” is not only perceived as a great talking point these days, it’s perceived as a regulatory relief valve. Look, see? ActivityPub! We’re open!

Second, remember that the business model for Threads is keeping you on Threads. If 95% of your friends are on Threads but 5% are over on that weird Mastodon thing, now you don’t have to use Mastodon to follow them! Just follow them from Threads! Woo! […]

The argument Mastodon is collectively mustering against Threads is, at the end of the day, “but Facebook is evil!” Again, no argument. But Mark Zuckerberg is evil in the way of a greedy, privacy-flouting tech bro, not in the way of Sauron. Not only would the “extinguishing” part of “embracing, extending and extinguishing” Mastodon be extremely difficult at a technical level, the plausible ROI on doing so would be minimal at best—and probably even counterproductive.

Having been watching this unfold, I think this really gets to the nuance of the situation. One can dislike and not trust Facebook Meta, while also being optimistic about interoperability. As for the long-term intentions, Martin is absolutely correct: Mastodon’s user base is a rounding error in comparison.

July 9, 2023

Snippet: Facebook’s Threads Is So Depressing ☇

Jason O. Gilbert:

What does Threads feels like?

Threads feels like when a local restaurant you enjoy opens a location in an airport.

It feels like a Twitter alternative you would order from Brookstone.

It feels like if an entire social network was those posts that tell you what successful entrepreneurs do before 6AM.

It feels like watching a Powerpoint [sic] from the Brand Research team where they tell you that Pop Tarts is crushing it on social.

It feels like Casual Friday on LinkedIn.

None of this analysis feels untrue.

July 7, 2023

Snippet: The Dream Police They Live Inside of My Headphones ☇

“Ricky” for Council Estate Media (via Matt Birchler):

In some countries, employers already demand workers switch their webcam on at all times while they’re working from home. Who needs privacy? We are, after all, the full property of our employers and have no value as individuals. Let’s look at how we can get even more invasive, shall we?

So these headphones that I wish weren’t real, what are they and what do they actually do? Well, according to Farahani, they monitor your brain activity and can tell when you’re focusing on your job, day dreaming, chatting to your colleagues, or even browsing social media. They can send a live feed of your brain activity to your employer who can look into your mind at any time. They can even tell when you’ve got the hots for a co-worker and this can be used to enforce policies against office romance…

Thanks, I hate it here. Anyone else think we computered too much?