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He wakes up in London, jet lagged and still thinking about this week's meetings. Heathrow was crazy, the new apartment still smells of paint. People want the app to default to the last folder you picked a clip from, to add to Reels, because now it just goes back to the gallery root. They're right, two teams he needs to mobilize for a quick sprint, get it out there when things are settled and there's sheets on the bed, make it one of the great, memorable updates. Busy street noise outside. China, algorithmic reputation, composability, the Oversight Board, crypto, the creator economy, breakfast, finally.

"Few people talk about it these days, but back in '92 this brilliant computer scientist from Yale wrote a book outlining a horizontal and deep chronological information feed. This soft time machine used depth, instead of height, as the organizing metaphor for interacting with files and other digital objects on a screen. Very clever stuff, could have been a thing." The office is nine minutes away from the competition, the real reason he's here. Third meeting today, trying to go a little beyond the beyond, expand what the local crew has got going on in terms of historical frameworks. Gelernter had seen it: the traditional Internet flipped on its side in digital space-time. It's going to take a lot more than good video recommendations if we want to bring the fight to the neighbors from Farringdon East. 

"Years later, in 2007, four guys from the Valley created a different kind of feed that would aggregate all your socials into one timeline, one integrated and intersectional interface. It was a brilliant symbol of a future that never happened. The first idea, the deep feed, got watered down and eventually lost inside iOS. The second, the lifestream, was sold and chopped to pieces by our parent company, assimilated into the news feed." He remembers the rumors about the acquisition he heard as a young product manager, now standing in an impossibly large and green landscaped rooftop garden, surrounded by a transparent safety glass pane, trying to call home. Sunset over King's Cross. He could record this week's video from up here, reveal how the app will start interoperating with its rivals. Give them a taste of the web3 counteroffensive he's been secretly tasked to execute. 


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Time to start taking the internet seriously

on Aug 29, 2022 07:44 pm

Nearly all flowing, changing information on the Internet will move through streams. You will be able to gather and blend together all the streams that interest you. Streams of world news or news about your friends, streams that describe prices or auctions or new findings in any field, or traffic, weather, markets — they will all be gathered and blended into one stream. Then your own personal lifestream will be added. The result is your mainstream: different from all others; a fast-moving river of all the digital information you care about.

The Internet’s future is not Web 2.0 or 200.0 but the post-Web, where time instead of space is the organizing principle — instead of many stained-glass windows, instead of information laid out in space, like vegetables at a market — the Net will be many streams of information flowing through time. The Cybersphere as a whole equals every stream in the Internet blended together: the whole world telling its own story.

Copyright infringement in artificial intelligence art

on Aug 29, 2022 03:36 pm

As AI creative tools are becoming widespread, the question of copyright of AI creations has also taken centre-stage. But while copyright nerds obsess over the authorship question, the issue that is getting more attention from artists is that of copyright infringement.

AI is trained on data, in the case of graphic tools such as Imagen, Stable Diffusion, DALL·E, and MidJourney, the training sets consist of terabytes of images comprising photographs, paintings, drawings, logos, and anything else with a graphical representation. The complaint by some artists is that these models (and accompanying commercialisation) are being built on the backs of human artists, photographers, and designers, who are not seeing any benefit from these business models. The language gets very animated in some forums and chats rooms, often using terms such as “theft” and “exploitation”. So is this copyright infringement? Are OpenAI and Google about to get sued by artists and photographers from around the world?

This is a question that has two parts, the input phase and the output phase.

The Fake Artists Problem Is Much Worse Than You Realize

on Aug 27, 2022 09:58 pm

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The fake artist problem on streaming platforms is far more ominous than it seems at first glance. You might think this can’t be much different than a cover band, no? Or, at worst, maybe it’s just another form of music piracy, which has been happening for ages.

The root of the problem is the increasingly passive nature of music consumption. People will often ask Alexa, or some other digital assistant, to find background music for a specific task—studying, workout, housework, relaxation, etc. Or they will rely on a pre-curated playlist for that purpose. They don’t pay close attention to the artists or song titles, and this is what creates an opportunity for abuse.

Commodity Kardashians

on Aug 27, 2022 07:38 pm


Technology does not want to replace you. It wants to make you interchangeable.
The shift to an assumed-interest feed (rather than an expressed-interest feed) means it’s harder for anyone to build a lasting audience. This shift doesn’t simply weaken existing winners; it undermines the ability of anyone ever to win.

Shein: The TikTok of Ecommerce

on Aug 27, 2022 10:30 am

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Shein (pronounced She In) is the fastest-growing ecommerce company in the world. It reportedly did almost $10 billion in revenue in 2020, and has grown over 100% for each of the past eight years. The company is based in China, yet spurns its local market in favor of selling abroad. Shein sells into nearly every other major market in the world, with the notable exception of India, where it was banned along with TikTok and 57 other Chinese apps last June.

When it is discussed, Shein is compared to fast-fashion or ultra-fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, Fashion Nova, or ASOS, but it’s… faster. A recent feature by data analytics firm Apptopia concluded that, “Shein is so far ahead of its direct (fashion industry) competitors that it’s difficult to even compare them.” It’s essentially defining its own category, which Matthew has coined Real-Time Retail.

The shock and awe of state-sponsored women’s fashion

on Aug 27, 2022 10:30 am

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I think that, because we’re in a capitalist society, we think of AIs as amplifiers for production and consumption. But they can force-multiply on any vector if suitably directed. And, I don’t know, could you weaponise the fearsome AI that is the Gen Z fashion app Shein?

A fashion hack isn’t like the other global infrastructure exploits I’ve previously wondered about because it isn’t entirely obvious what you’d use it for. But the thing about state-sponsored attacks is that they’re a bit like magic tricks: they operate at a scale which is absurd, which makes them unimaginable, and that’s why they work. Like artificial weather or guided influenza.

How the information age really began

on Aug 27, 2022 10:29 am

Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing are all celebrated as computer pioneers, but the name of John von Neumann, a brilliant Hungarian-American mathematician once nearly as well known in America as Albert Einstein, is more likely to elicit blank looks than knowing nods.

While the ENIAC was born as a machine of war, built for a single task, he understood that the future lay in a greatly more flexible device that could be easily reprogrammed. More importantly, von Neumann saw more clearly than anyone on the ENIAC team — and perhaps more clearly than anyone in the world — the best way to structure such a machine.

The result of his musings, First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC, would become the most influential document in the history of computing. ‘Today, it is considered the birth certificate of modern computers,’ says computer scientist Wolfgang Coy. Curiously, von Neumann was men- tally prepared for this cutting-edge contribution to computing by his early abstruse mathematical work on set theory.

Censored: the exhibitions that Instagram doesn’t want you to see

on Aug 27, 2022 10:29 am

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Artists need a platform to be seen; before Instagram, that platform was usually the exhibition space. Integral to the existence and success of art that pushes boundaries, powerful exhibitions naturally pull together artists who are speaking on provocative themes. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the exhibitions that are facing censorship are those that are tackling themes of representation, identity, disability, abortion and sexuality—all rights that are under threat and debate and, therefore, are fertile ground for artists.

I count myself as a Black Ukrainian: the fashion designer starting again in Budapest – video

on Aug 27, 2022 10:29 am

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‘Welcome to the refugee lifestyle,’ says Eno Enyieokpon, who is re-establishing his brand, Enno, in Budapest having left everything behind in Kyiv. Identifying as a black Ukrainian, Eno says most of the ideas that have changed his life as a designer have come from tough times in Ukraine.

As he waits to bring his machines from Kyiv, and works on new shows while navigating the unfamiliar Hungarian system, he is optimistic about the future, telling other Ukrainian refugees: ‘If we had the will to withstand the Russians we also have the willpower to move and forge ahead in life.’

‘We Own It’: The Chinese Homeowners Squatting in Unfinished Buildings

on Aug 27, 2022 10:29 am

Like thousands of others in China, they have poured their savings into buying a presale apartment — only to see the developer fall into financial difficulties and halt construction on the project. Presales have become standard practice in China. In 2021, 87% of new homes in the country were sold while still under construction, up from 63% in 2005. Most buyers pay for their apartments months — or even years — before they are finished.

The model has supercharged China’s property market, enabling developers to finance massive amounts of construction. But now, the real estate sector is facing a financial crunch. Across the country, developers are struggling to service eye-watering debts, and bringing projects to an abrupt standstill.

Dave Chappelle’s Not Kidding

on Aug 23, 2022 10:36 pm

The function of humor as a release from the forbidden thought explains why some of the most productive sources of jokes are authoritarian societies, because they forbid so much. In the squares of Moscow today, protesters physically reenact an old Soviet joke, demonstrating with blank signs because “Everybody already knows everything I want to say.” That same function of comedy explains why “woke America” is the target of so much satirical humor today, because so much of wokeness aspires to forbid.


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The Blind Machine is a publication about Pop Culture, Software Studies, Business Strategy, Media Platforms, Algorithmic Management, Game Design, and everything in between.
Copyright © 2022 chumbo, All rights reserved.

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