The Dark Side

The moderators told me it’s a place where the conspiracy videos and memes that they see each day gradually lead them to embrace fringe views. One auditor walks the floor promoting the idea that the Earth is flat. A former employee told me he has begun to question certain aspects of the Holocaust. Another former employee, who told me he has mapped every escape route out of his house and sleeps with a gun at his side, said: “I no longer believe 9/11 was a terrorist attack.”

Chloe cries for a while in the break room, and then in the bathroom, but begins to worry that she is missing too much training. She had been frantic for a job when she applied, as a recent college graduate with no other immediate prospects. When she becomes a full-time moderator, Chloe will make $15 an hour — $4 more than the minimum wage in Arizona, where she lives, and better than she can expect from most retail jobs.

The tears eventually stop coming, and her breathing returns to normal. When she goes back to the training room, one of her peers is discussing another violent video. She sees that a drone is shooting people from the air. Chloe watches the bodies go limp as they die.

She leaves the room again.

From here. The story of those who moderate content on Facebook is haunting and infuriating.

A More Flexible Frame

Writing online has always been a good way for me to get ideas out in front of me where I can see them properly.  Which is another way of saying I reached a personal completion of the goals of the game but kept playing it in weird ways.

But the elder game notion is fascinating to me.  Given that I’m never going to blog like it’s 2001, or 2009, or 2010… and I wanted a more flexible frame to present thoughts and not fully baked considerations (there’s an elder blog phrase for you, from Simon Reynolds on Blissblog, once a distant blogging relation of mine) and status notes/images and even station idents if I feel like it.  These things are, in large part, captured in the net of elderblogging, in that they are things that surround “a blog” without actually, kind of, beinga blog.  Tumblelogs gave us permission for quotes and asides and photos to be in the weave of a blog, and, without wanting to get into the ancient hellscape of blogging about blogging, it’s sometimes worth considering how the vocabulary of writing online evolved over the years.

From Warren Ellis’s newsletter this week. Things I’m thinking a lot about, especially as I restart this place as a going concern again. The “elder game” mention is a reference to this.

The New World

Winter has arrived with savage consequences for digital publishers, including BuzzFeed. In the space of two weeks, about 2,100 jobs have been lost across the media, with many disappearing from purely digital publishers. BuzzFeed’s layoffs amounted to 15% of its total staff, a loss of around 220 jobs across all departments, including in its widely admired New York newsroom. On Friday, Vice, another media company once associated with fast growth, said it would lay off 10% of its workforce, while last month, the phone company Verizon, which owns Huffington Post and Yahoo, cut 800 workers in its media division. In the UK, the Pool, a website aimed at women launched in 2015 by radio presenter Lauren Laverne and magazine editor Sam Baker, went into liquidation, with 24 journalists facing redundancy.

Many of these layoffs played out in real time on Twitter as journalists reported on the fumbling and often ineptly cruel ways in which they were let go. Reporters at Vice knew of the layoffs and sometimes had their email accounts closed before being told by the company they were among the casualties.

From here.

Yes, most outlets regularly aggregate other publications’ work in the quest for readership and material, and yes, papers throughout history have strived for the grabbiest headlines facts will allow. But what DailyMail.com does goes beyond anything practiced by anything else calling itself a newspaper. In a little more than a year of working in the Mail’s New York newsroom, I saw basic journalism standards and ethics casually and routinely ignored. I saw other publications’ work lifted wholesale. I watched editors at the most highly trafficked English-language online newspaper in the world publish information they knew to be inaccurate.

“We do things a little differently than you might be used to,” U.S. editor Katherine Thomson told me, early in my time there.

She was right.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history, The Man in the High Castle considers the question of what would have happened if the Allied Powers had lost World War II. Almost 20 years after that loss, the United States and much of the world has now been split between Japan and Germany, the major hegemonic states. But the tension between these two powers is mounting, and this stress is playing out in the western U.S. Through a collection of characters in various states of posing (spies, sellers of falsified goods, others with secret identities), The Man in the High Castle provides an intriguing tale about life and history as it relates to authentic and manufactured reality. The hour-long dramatic pilot stars Alexa Davalos (Mob City) as Juliana Crain, Luke Kleintank (Pretty Little Liars) as Joe Blake, Rupert Evans (The Village) as Frank Frink, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat Legacy) as Tagomi, Joel De La Fuente (Hemlock Grove) as Inspector Kido, Rufus Sewell (Eleventh Hour) as John Smith and DJ Qualls (Z Nation) as Ed McCarthy. The pilot was directed by David Semel (Madam Secretary, Heroes) and written by Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), both serving as Executive Producers. Also executive producing are Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) and David W. Zucker (The Good Wife), with co-executive producer Jordan Sheehan of Scott Free Productions (The Good Wife, The Andromeda Strain), and Executive Producers Stewart Mackinnon and Christian Baute of Headline Pictures (The Invisible Woman). In addition, Isa Dick Hackett will executive produce and Kalen Egan will co-executive produce on behalf of Electric Shepherd (The Adjustment Bureau). Christopher Tricarico (May in the Summer) is also Executive Producer.

And this will be available on my Internet next week, you say?

(It’s one of the next round of Amazon pilots, available Jan. 15.)

In order to really take podcasting to the next level, the natural social habits of people needs to be included in how they are found, downloaded, listened to, and discussed afterwards. New approaches, new software, and a new frame of mind will be required to do it. What follows are a bunch of ideas on how each anti-social aspect of podcasting could be improved.

From here.

File under “Not Read Fully Yet, So Don’t Consider This An Endorsement, More A Reminder To Myself To Check It Out Later.”