Given enough bandwidth, even the warm sensation of touch might be simulated and perfected by machines - digital and otherwise. The current developments of the silicon and fiber optics industries should neither scare, embolden, or deceive us in regards to what applied mathematics can bring about in this world. Presence, just like collaboration or dissent, can be achieved by many different configurations of atoms and bits.
The friction of urban everyday life, in all its glory and discomfort, can also be picked apart and assimilated by software interfaces, turned into a series of discrete steps and connected operations. First communications and media, then work and commerce, transport and medicine, culture and violence. Each of these former continuous, noisy and entangled aspects of modern cities become their own virtual niche, adjacent and hyperlinked to everything else.
A microbial planet requires smooth, cold, efficient protocols. A thriving city requires sustainability, wealth, and the excitement of innovation. The human body demands more.
The playing field of who and what we want to identify with and aspire to be and do has expanded. It has also reorganized our communities under different personality cults: more generous, pro-social, and giving.
This is important. Thanks to platforms like Instagram, Twitch and TikTok, our consumption choices across categories are now more susceptible to social influence than to individual preferences – although, as we’ll see, TikTok operates somewhat differently. But how we influence each other is unpredictable. A celebrity cannot make popular a product no one wants. At the same time, we seek ideas and trends that capture our imagination, conversations, and a cultural moment.
Social influence rests on the fact that, when faced with an abundance of choice, we habitually rely on others to know what to buy, read, wear, or listen to.
Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death. Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hoped of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco.
For a music industry hobbled by a year of shuttered festivals, silent clubs, and canceled recording sessions—an industry that had generally been financially imperiled and uncertain since the invention of Napster—this was yet more evidence of the growing impact of TikTok on the music industry.
Three short years after its debut in America, the Chinese-owned app could have been relegated to Gen Z teens who embraced the dance fads and quirky memes that quickly dominated the platform. Instead, TikTok is now considered by many to be a major player in music, with the power to reinvent the path to stardom and upset the long-held power imbalance between artists and executives.
In the introduction to the Whole Earth Catalog in 1968, I wrote, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” More recently, in “Whole Earth Discipline” (2009), I wrote, “We are as gods and have to get good at it.” What changed between those two statements is global warming, which changed the sense of who the “we” is.
By contrast, the “we” of climate change has almost nothing to do with individuals. It’s the “we” of civilization: Civilization now has powers, godlike powers.
Are NFTs a fad or do they represent the future of the art market? That is the question Christie’s appears to be testing later this month when it becomes the first major auction house to offer a standalone NFT (Non-Fungible Token) work of art.
For some, such as Jason Bailey, the founder of the analytical database artnome and digital art specialist, the current attention to NFTs is not surprising. As he puts it: “The centre of culture and influence has long been moving from the analogue world to the digital world”—and the pandemic is no doubt accelerating this shift.
As recently as fifteen years ago, the term “content” was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against “form.” Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should.
“Content” became a business term for all moving images: a David Lean movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl commercial, a superhero sequel, a series episode. It was linked, of course, not to the theatrical experience but to home viewing, on the streaming platforms that have come to overtake the moviegoing experience, just as Amazon overtook physical stores. On the one hand, this has been good for filmmakers, myself included. On the other hand, it has created a situation in which everything is presented to the viewer on a level playing field, which sounds democratic but isn’t. If further viewing is “suggested” by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema?
The rise of ghost kitchens and digital restaurants — also known as digital kitchens, cloud kitchens, and virtual restaurants, depending on how deep inside restaurant industry parlance you venture — is perhaps the defining dining trend of the past few years.
By one industry estimate, there are now about 100,000 virtual restaurants in the United States alone, with many bearing suspiciously search engine optimized names like the Omelette Farm and Pizza of New York. Research firm EuroMonitor predicts that ghost kitchens will be a $1 trillion industry in the next 10 years.
During the police brutality protests in Nigeria in October, bitcoin saved the day when the government shut out protesters from using local payment platforms for collecting donations to support it.
In the last five years, Nigeria has traded 60,215 bitcoins, valued at more than $566 million which, apart from the US, is the largest volume worldwide on Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. The data scraped from Coin Dance shows from the beginning of May 2015 to the middle of November this year, bitcoin trade in Nigeria have increased yearly at least 19% in volume since 2017, and the highest volume (20,504.50) was traded in 2020.
Can love be quantified? Most people would probably say no, but China’s celebrity super fans disagree. They measure their devotion to their favorite stars by the hours they spend obsessively promoting them on social media.
The phenomenon has turned China’s top internet platforms into a battle zone in which warring fan groups compete to get their idols to the top of the trending charts. These campaigns have become so intense, fan groups have set up dedicated “data fan” divisions. Group leaders operate special social media accounts to coordinate their troops of data fans — and exhort them to prove their loyalty by raising their “data contributions.”
If you make your living as an influencer on TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, or any other social media platform, you will soon have union protection. SAG-AFTRA has announced a new influencer agreement, which allows anyone who is paid to advertise products via their individual social media platforms to be covered by the union.
“The Influencer Agreement was created in response to the unique nature of Influencer-generated branded content and offers a new way for influencers to work under a SAG-AFTRA agreement. We want to be able to support both current and future SAG-AFTRA members in this space and for them to be able to access the benefits of union coverage,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a statement to Backstage.
Previously, the union had covered advertising done by YouTubers. This new influencer agreement takes it one step further: it will cover advertising work across all social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, and TikTok.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first video game therapeutic as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, based on research by UC San Francisco’s Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD.
Gazzaley concluded that these adults’ improved performance after playing the game was due to enhanced function in a brain network involved in cognitive control, which is necessary to pursue goals. With the new FDA approval, children can now be treated with a kids’ version of the technology, called EndeavorRX. Gazzaley is a co-founder of Akili Interactive, which produces EndeavorRx, and which conducted pivotal clinical trials of the game as an ADHD treatment with researchers at Duke University and elsewhere.