_Reddit. The Real World and Keeping Up With The Kardashians producer Bunim/Murray is behind a comedy competition series for social media site Reddit. It marks the aggregator and discussion board firm’s first move into live original content. Reddit, which is one of the most visited websites in the world, will air daily live stream series PhotoshopBattles Live via its r/PhotoshopBattlescommunity, which has over 17M followers. The series, which launches today, is hosted by Shrill star Patti Harrison and will see a group of comedians offer their commentary across a range of photo-editing battles from Reddit users. Banijay-owned Bunim/Murray is producing with digital marketing firm Shareability, which is invested in 2019. KC member D Bloom: “ One of the more unusual bases for creating a reality competition that I can think of. But perhaps, with 17 million subscribers to the subreddit that inspired it, Reddit and Bunim/Murray are onto something here.
_Facebook has announced that it has managed to compile a collection, 2,200 hours’ worth, of first-person footage from around the world as artificial intelligence training material in a project called ‘Ego4D’. With this, the company has set out to equip AI with the capabilities to “interact with the world like we do, from a first-person perspective.” Although AI often learns through being fed existing data like photos and videos, the “next generation” of AI will instead use “videos that show the world from the center of action.” 700 participants consented to their daily lives being recorded in this way, resulting in the astounding amount of information collected by 13 universities and labs across nine countries. Facebook claims that it is 20 times larger than any other collection of footage.
From the Future Party newsletter, why Facebook is aggressively heading for the Metaverse: teens not only don’t care about the Facebook platform, they’re not interested in Instagram as much anymore. Instagram of course had challenges during lockdown because some of its most important genres – travel, fashion, beauty – were hit hard. But this suggests the problems are even deeper and more long-lasting.
Facebook has just announced it's going to hire 10,000 people in Europe to develop the "metaverse". This is a concept that is being talked up by some as the future of the internet. But what exactly is it? KC member: “From the Inside Business newsletter….wonder if they’re hiring heavily in Europe purely because lots of coding talent there, they can’t hire people in the U.S. anymore, hiring there will quell some EU privacy pushback or some other reason”.
_Google. The ‘Pocket Gallery’ was first launched in 2018 by Google’s Arts & Culture department, inviting users to “visit” galleries in augmented reality through their smartphones and view the artwork. This includes pieces that aren’t usually accessible by the public, even in real life or exhibitions that are “impossible” to put on. For example, all of Vermeer’s artworks were united in one for the first time thanks to this technology. Now, the team is announcing the expansion of the Pocket Gallery to the web. This means that even without an AR-capable smartphone, patrons will be able to pay a 3D visit to galleries worldwide just through their desktops. “Simply open your favorite browser to discover all our Pocket Galleries in 3D,” Google writes. “Take an art tour of the world in sound, go spelunking among some of the oldest paintings known to man at Chauvet Cave, marvel at miniatures scenes from ancient India, or discover the man of contradictions in Klimt vs. Klimt.”
_Microsoft is pulling the plug on LinkedIn in China, following interference from the government in that country. KC member:” So the announcement today that Microsoft is pulling LinkedIn, which it owns, out of China is a weird one. There will still be a job board that operates under the LinkedIn brand, but it looks like it will be closed to posts containing news stories and people’s opinions’.
_League of Legends Wild Rift finally made its way to China. Tencent’s Riot Games officially launched this mobile game in mainland China on Friday. This is the tenth year since League of Legends entered the Chinese market, and Tencent is expecting a boost in its stock prices brought by this power IP.
_Roblox is working to make player avatars more life-like and customizable, choices that fit well with the company’s aspirations, both to keep the platform attractive as its young core user base ages up and to enable many forms of self-expression across its endless hub of virtual worlds. KC member D Bloom “From a newsletter called The Hustle. A couple of keys, I think, is the ability to have much more evocative avatars, with layered clothing (I’m sure the luxury brands are happy to hear this) and heads/faces that change expression in line with what they’re saying. Seemingly not big steps, but important ones to make it more engaging. Also, note how much the company is paying out to its developers….”
_Instagram. A week after a human error that kept social media users out of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger for hours, Facebook-owned Instagram is experimenting with notifications to let people know if there’s an outage or technical issue.
_Netflix. Earlier this week, Netflix got caught up in a bit of a furor when an employee who called out transphobic “jokes” in a Dave Chappelle special was suspended from her position. Although she’s since been reinstated, and the company said her suspension had nothing to do with a Twitter thread she wrote, the LGBTQ+ community is still campaigning against the firm’s decision to keep the stand-up comedy show on its roster.
_The Path to Metaverse Will Go Through Videogames... Key Quote: Tech companies aiming to build the new virtual communities known as metaverses will first have to master all aspects ofvideo gaming and potentially pursue acquisitions, according to Michael Wolf, co-founder, and chief executive of consulting firm Activate Inc. (WSJ)
_In recent years, soccer federations in the US, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have started adopting more stringent measures against heading for younger players. And now, a new virtual reality (VR) training app could allow players to train their skills without using a ball. Emerging research such as a 2019 study by the University of Glasgow has shown that former professional soccer players are three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia and five times more likely to die of Parkinson’s than a regular person. As with any sport, results often triumph over the safety and health of the players. According to Input, some coaches are concerned that not allowing younger players to practice heading could lead to them not harnessing the skill during their professional careers. This is where Player 22, the VR training app, aims to solve the problem. Created by Rezzil, the sports app will allow players to develop and practice their reading skills without the need for an actual ball. By working together with professional coaches from UEFA, and big-name stars such as Thierry Henry and Gary Neville, it has developed technology to facilitate this training—risk-free.
PEOPLE, CULTURE, MEDIA
_Canva. Visual communications platform Canva has, until now, been rooted in graphic design. Its easy-to-use functions, templates, and user interface have made it an accessible tool for many. Now, the brand has announced that it’s expanding its creative suite into the world of video creation. This will come with new offerings such as editing, recording, and collaboration tools. Alongside this, countless customizable video templates, for creations like TikTok advertisements and Twitch banners, and a large media library will also be made available via the platform.
_Sneakers and Bots. About 60 percent of Bodega’s sales went to shoppers gaming the system with bots, timesaving automation software used to speed through checkout. The bots had claimed hundreds of pairs of New Balances for a single customer; many other shoppers failed to secure just one. “We got destroyed by bots,” said Jay Gordon, one of Bodega’s owners. “It was making it impossible for our average customers to even have a shot at the shoes. Can Shopify Stop Sneaker Bots?
_Do these photos look real to you? Your answer could be cause for concern. And that’s terrifying. Interestingly enough, Bendiksen’s “Veles” is all about the manufacturing of “fake news,” which seemed to start in earnest around the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It seems this explosion of fake news was largely fueled by our incessant use of social media. Fake News
_Minus. In response to the undeniable mental health strains, social media has placed on society, Ben Grosser, artist, and professor at the University of Illinois took it upon himself to come up with a thought-provoking social network that had the opposite effect. The platform, called Minus, seems similar to Facebook at first. It allows users to upload personal posts, and interact with others through comments. However, there’s a stark difference—users are only permitted 100 posts for their entire lifetime.
_The Intellivision Amico is a new gaming console geared toward family-friendly content and games with an age rating of below 10 years old. Sure, consoles aren’t exactly the rarest thing on Earth, but this one has a rather interesting take on the concept of game ownership. Its games, which are already on sale in bundles of eight despite the actual console not being out—or even having a confirmed release date—yet also act as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These unique tokens ensure that there is only one “true” owner apiece. The Amico is known to have radio-frequency identification (RFID) support, which is a technology usually used to track physical items. The game cards for this console, however, aren’t designed to be used in the way a physical cartridge or CD-ROM would. Instead, the user will have to scan the card, which prompts a download before it can be linked to the system. NFT Video Games Are Now On Sale, Even Before The Compatible Console Itself
__One of the most interesting EDM musicians (a former computer programmer and animator), Deadmau5 is taking his unusual set of skills into the Metaverse, building his land using Epic Game’s Core build-your-own tools and platform. It’s a purposeful step beyond what happens in Fortnite, more like what happens on Roblox and Minecraft but with better (still cartoony) graphics. He has big long-term plans for making it a place where he and fans interact and engage. Most interesting as an expression of a particular artist’s wide-ranging vision.
_NYC's Skyline Gets More Surreal With All-Around Mirror Room 1,000 Feet Up. There’s more to explore from the Big Apple than its, well, core. Up above, the city has introduced an array of breathtaking attractions, including an observation ride atop the Rockefeller Center and an all-glass elevator at the new Summit One Vanderbilt. Speaking of which, the 59-story skyscraper, which will open to the public on October 21, is now home to a fully mirrored room it dubs “the world’s most immersive observatory.” Designed by Kenzo Digital, the Transcendence 1 room will serve as the highlight for the artist’s growing Air experience in the building. After taking a 42-second ride via a mirrored and illuminated elevator to the 91st story, 1,000 feet up, guests will find themselves surrounded by reflections of the New York City skyline captured by the immersive Transcendence 1, with the Transcendence 2 room directly above stretching this dream of endlessness.
_Since the pandemic began last year, doctors around the globe have reported an increase in the number of teen girls being evaluated for tics and mental illnesses, with some saying TikTok videos could be the culprit. According to The Wall Street Journal, doctors had been baffled by the sudden spike in patients (of that age group) reporting symptoms of tics, as well as mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. And the cause of this alarming trend could be due to social media, with medical journals citing teens had been watching more videos of individuals with mental illnesses or Tourette’s syndrome on TikTok. Tourette’s syndrome.
_Visa. Following a high-profile purchase of a ‘CryptoPunk’, a piece of artwork in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), Visa has announced that it’s teaming up with renowned NFT artist Micah Johnson to help digital creators learn more about NFTs and cryptocurrency. By educating digital creators on the rising market and its potential, Visa hopes to “lower the barrier to entry” as NFTs are said to make it easier to monetize talent and build businesses. In this new program, Visa is recruiting creators who are interested in monetizing their content in the form of an NFT, via open call. An initial “class” will be chosen from the applications, and the firm will offer consultations on navigating the world of the blockchain and sponsor the creators’ work.
MMMM OF THE WEEK
_Extra chaos! A new video-conferencing platform called OOO (from the makers of mmm-hmmm) transposes faces randomly on backgrounds such as classic DVD covers (with your face replacing ones on the cover), a scrolling 8-bit video game, or floating above a bonfire. (Fast Company)
_Forbes reports that a bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the victim of this new scam. Criminals had deep faked the voice of a company executive to trick the bank’s manager to unknowingly transfer funds worth US$35 million straight to the criminals in early 2020.
_The city of Vienna is taking an offbeat approach to the censorship of art and has turned to using the adults-only online platform OnlyFans to put its most "explicit" artworks on full display. The tourism board for the Austrian capital is now presenting art from four of Vienna's most revered museums on the adults-only platform in response to the blocking of some artistic content containing nudity on social media. Some of Austria's museums, including the Albertina Museum and the Leopold Museum, have recently been presented with problems when posting their artwork to social accounts -- resulting in the censorship of some art pieces that include nudity. In July, the Albertina Museum's TikTok account was suspended -- and later blocked -- for displaying works by the Japanese artist and photographer Nobuyoshi Araki that showed a partially obscured breast. Back in 2019, Instagram said that a painting by the legendary Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens violated its community guidelines. Earlier this year, when the Leopold Museum marked its 20th anniversary, a video uploaded to Facebook and Instagram which contained work by Koloman Moser was rejected because it was flagged as "potentially pornographic" by the platforms. Now, these works and more of Vienna's "18+ content" can be found on full, unfiltered display on OnlyFans -- a subscription-based website best known as a platform for sharing and viewing pornographic content.
_'Squid Game' Outfits For Pets Are Here So They Can Claw Their Way Into A Win . Is your pet’s insatiable appetite for snacks adding to your debt? Get it to pay rent—if not by trying its paws at the risky Squid Game for a shot to win big money, then by looking cute in these outfits and becoming an overnight pet-influencer. With the South Korean Netflix series riding on a high now, some businesses are rushing in and finding new, safer ways to make bank. According to Bustle, some places like Hong Kong-based pet apparel brand Canis Club have started retailing miniature, four-legged versions of the tracksuits and hoodies from Squid Game, just in time for Halloween.
_The critic Dean Kissick writes about content, brands, and millennials in the cheerfully titled “The Downward Spiral.” Key excerpt: "Today’s most vital cultural forms are your identity, personality, and image. And in this new cultural paradigm, the artist’s performance of themself is often more important than the art they make. The persona is the message.” (Spike Art) Read all info in KC member Ben Dietz newsletter on substack.
_Kyle Chayka on Raya and scaling intimacy (to a point)Key Quote: “The future may look more like hundreds of Rayas, each with its paying members and rigorous community regulation.” (New Yorker) Info here. Sic newsletter, KC member Ben Dietz.