All the CEOs want to be podcasters now

Read to the end for Applejuiceification

The Boat Guys Are Back

On Tuesday morning, a large Singaporean container ship named the Dali slammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, destroying it. Six people are still missing and presumed dead. Video of the Dali hitting the bridge immediately started getting shared to most major social networks, but it has been particularly viral on X, the everything app.

The platform has reportedly lost a fifth of its users since it was purchased by Elon Musk, but its dumbest and/or most racist power users — and also some journalists — are still very active on the app. And those power users were quick to spin together a whole bevy of deranged conspiracy theories about why this tragedy happened. As 404 Media put it, “The amateur bridge engineers have logged on.”

Here’s a good thread collecting some of them, but they range from racist complaints about diversity and foreign workers to ramblings about Hamas involvement to one very complicated theory positing that the bridge was actually detonated by explosives as a false flag operation to distract the world from Diddy’s house being raided by Homeland Security. Oh, also, this guy thinks Obama did it, I guess.

Mashable’s Tim Marcin, citing me (thank you 😘), was quick to connect how X users are treating the bridge collapse to the recent Kate Middleton frenzy, writing, “To a certain subset of people, it appears, nothing can be as it seems — there has to be a nefarious or salacious backbone to any story, no matter how obviously tragic.”

But the endless conspiracy theories about the Baltimore bridge collapse isn’t happening just because a large chunk of American internet users are dangerously paranoid freaks. Though, they definitely are. The info hell we currently live in was created by a new type of user that only appeared about four years ago — vague business background, doesn’t really know anything, loves charts, doesn’t have any kind of irl support network to tell them to log off. And these Policy LARPers have figured out that attention is a market and information is a widget, whether it’s real or not.

And it’s hard to overstate how new this phenomenon is. In the 2010s, the prevailing attitude about the Internet was that people who mattered didn't really have to be on it. They may have owned parts of it — CEOs, business leaders, landlords, etc., might have been on LinkedIn, if anything — but they weren’t doing much publicly online. Journalists, creatives, celebrities, and politicians might have had to dance for their supper on social media, but the guys with the money had better things to do. Excluding Gary Vaynerchuk, of course.

Then the pandemic hit and suddenly all these money guys did not have better things to do. And worse, they were completely powerless to do anything about the entire world shutting down. Which appears to have made most of them completely insane. So they all rebooted their Twitter accounts and discovered they really liked posting. And they really, really liked pretending they were experts.

In fact, the defining text of the early pandemic wasn’t written by someone with a background in public health or epidemiology. It was a Medium post (Substack hadn’t really broken through just yet) written by Tomas Pueyo, the vice president of an educational program called Course Hero. It was titled, “Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now,” and, to be clear, it was mostly fine. But it launched a thousand imitators.

The success of Pueyo’s post, which was viewed over 40 million times, was a real breakthrough moment for this very specific new kind of awful man online. And the arrival of these guys has been, essentially, a massive disaster for society, in general, but, specifically, the web. We’ve spent the last four years managing these guys and their various podcasts and blog posts. They were the driving force behind the Web3 bubble, those moronic live video apps, the metaverse, and Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

The only bright side here is that these guys actually aren’t very good at posting. We’re only seeing them now because Musk reset the scales and gave them a bunch of cheat codes for attention. And I’m pretty confident that once the other 4/5ths of Twitter’s audience leaves, these guys will fade away with it.

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Friends! Hello! Mike Rugnetta here. Today, there is a new episode of Never Post, our podcast about and for the internet!

In today’s episode – out around noon ET on Weds – we chat with two researchers about how the idea of the “megadungeon” from tabletop roleplaying games (!!) can help us understand the modern media-and-tech landscape. We also wonder why so much audio on the internet seems to be bad on purpose. Clipping, distorted, degraded …

Find Never Post at, this RSS feed, and wherever you get podcast ✌️

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A Good Test Of How Online You Are

AI Streams Are Actually Very Popular

—by Adam Bumas

I thought that people had lost interest in endlessly-streaming AI recreations of TV shows last year, after both the AI Seinfeld stream and the AI Steamed Hams stream got banned from Twitch – not for violating copyright, but for the fake Jerry Seinfeld and fake Principal Skinner (respectively) using hate speech.

I couldn’t have been more wrong! A clip of an AI Family Guy stream made the rounds on Monday. Posters could pay to make the characters say things, and X user abcdentminded put an asterisk into the prompt, which apparently makes the AI Brian voice try to repeat everything it’s said since the beginning, making it completely flip out.

I was curious how popular this was, both generally and specifically. After some digging, I found a bunch of proof-of-concept videos for shows like South Park and The Simpsons, which didn’t build enough of an audience to support the suite of expensive AI models you need to make these streams. Only two seem to be sustainable, and both are still going strong. “AI Peter” (as the Family Guy stream is known) and the much more popular “AI Sponge”, which gives the same treatment to SpongeBob, and is big enough to have Wikipedia and TVTropes pages.

SpongeBob and Family Guy are obviously perennials when it comes to Weird Internet Things, but the much more important factor in their survival is the community they’ve fostered. The two streams have their own dedicated fandoms now, centered on Discord servers, where they have jargon, in-jokes and drama just like any other niche fan community. Both AI Sponge and AI Peter have faced multiple copyright strikes, bans, and the loss of AI models, but as long as the community remains active they aren’t going anywhere.

The Ongoing Death Of The Media Has Finally Come For Right-Wing Media

According to The Righting, right-wing digital media is crashing hard right now. Visits to The Drudge Report are down 81% over the last four years, right-wing publishers like The Federalist have lost almost 90% of their traffic, and even Fox News is hurting. The question is why.

Semafor’s Ben Smith thinks X has consolidated the conservative media and shut out smaller right-wing outlets. Possible. Former CrowdTangle CEO Brandon Silverman thinks it’s because Facebook stopped promoting news content. More likely, if you ask me.

The right-wing bear market though has immediately started causing issues for the loose conservative coalition on X, though. Nick Fuentes and the Gen Z groypers have broken rank (again) with Evangelical Christians and are fighting about Israel. Ben Shapiro fired Candace Owens and won’t explain why (though, most likely it was also because of Israel). And a former employer of Steven Crowder’s is suing him for an allegedly toxic and abusive work environment.

Party’s over, folks. Time to give up the media and learn to code.

The AI Car Girl Wasn’t Made With AI

As the Community Note underneath this post explains, the “AI video” of the woman in her car talking about deodorant was not generated with AI. It’s a real woman, her name is Ariel, and she’s in a real car.

The video was created by a service called Arcads, which takes a script and uses an AI to re-dub people’s videos and lip-sync it to new audio. There are a bunch of services like this. But the AI did not make anything here. Just altered existing footage.

My theory is that we’re beginning to hit a wall with generative AI. It’s not that it isn’t getting better — it is — but we’re getting a clearer understanding of what it can and can’t do. And the reality is that AI is sort of boring. Which is fine, of course, but I don’t think AI companies and AI accelerationists are particularly happy about that. And so I think we’re going to see a lot of overstating of what AI can do over the next few months as they try and keep the hype cycle going.

Munchables Has Been Compromised

I repeat, Munchables has been compromised.

Munchables, btw, is a crypto-based game. According to Web3 Is Going Great’s Molly White, “Schnibbles grow on every realm across the Munchable's world. Each realm has their own unique and distinctive schniblet. When creating an account for the Munchables, you must choose the location of your snuggery.” Got that?

On-chain investigator ZachXBT discovered that four of the devs working on Munchables were likely the same person, who was sending funds to themselves. I hope everyone’s schniblets are safe.

Cosplayer Big

Karina Coser is a 6’1” Ukrainian cosplayer living in China. She’s especially popular with young women on Chinese social media. Her story is nuts. She married a Chinese man at a young age, he cheated on her, her fans hated him, they stayed together, but then, last November, he drowned while they were on vacation in Bali. And Coser’s fans are really happy about it.

If you click through on the tweet above there’s a bunch more wild details about Coser. Anyways, glad everything worked out in the end, I guess.

P.S. here’s Applejuiceification.

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***


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