Let's funge some pics
Read to the end for a truly great Omegle moment
The Super Fungible Token
For the last few months, I’ve been helping organize a project called Digital Void and we now have a brand new website designed by the incredible Jenn Schiffer. We’re a collective focused on internet culture literacy and education (we’re not an intellectual dark web scam school lol). Our main focus is live events that bring together researchers, educators, journalists, and (sometimes) comedians. Our lead producer Josh Chapdelaine produced two amazing nights in New York last year and we had planned to have a bunch more at the start of this year, but, you know, stuff happened. We’ve been busy over the last few weeks, though.
The Super Fungible Token is a real minted NFT. It was burned on the Algorand blockchain, which is about as carbon neutral as a blockchain can get right now. And it integrates with NFT marketplaces like Algogems. But here’s the catch: If you head over to the Super Fungible Token website, you can copy and paste any image (including other NFTs) into our “funge bar” and it will make that image the image that our SFT points to. For a while yesterday, our SFT was a pic of Mark Zuckerberg posing with a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, this morning I turned it into a GIF of cybergoths dancing. We also threw away the credentials to the wallet that currently owns it. So our SFT will live forever on the blockchain and can easily transform into any other NFT, but no one can sell it.
Why did we do this? Well, first, because it’s funny. I’m not saying you should, but if you wanted to troll an overly-zealous NFT collector, instantly turning an already-listed NFT into their expensive monkey JPG is a pretty funny way to do it. But second, and more importantly, it’s a fun way to show people how this tech works. And, no, our SFT doesn’t steal anything. It doesn’t even host the images it’s pulling in. It’s simply a URL redirect that lives on the blockchain. Head over to the site and play around with it! Anything you funge will then be tweeted by our SFT Twitter bot.
Next up, in February, I’ll be helping another Digital Void member, Jamie Cohen, an assistant professor at Queens College (with an actual PhD in internet culture), teach a virtual course hosted on remote-learning platform Chapter. It’s called “Rise Of The Meme,” and over four weeks, we’ll be tracing how we went from LOLcats to TikTok. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I think it’ll be a lot of fun! And Digital Void is, COVID-permitting, doing another live event in March. We’re working with some great groups in Washington, D.C., and will hopefully have more details on that shortly!
Lastly, if Digital Void is something you’re interested in getting involved with, either as a speaker, an artist, an educator, or you just think it sounds cool and you want to talk about it, shoot me a message! We have a small budget (we’re not a DAO) and a bunch of fun ideas — we have a white paper on the doge meme coming down the pipeline shortly — and we’re looking for more folks to work with!
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To Defeat The Doomscroll, We Must “Rewild” Our Attention
Now, more than ever, it is difficult to make your experience on the internet not suck. And now, more than ever, it is of the utmost importance that you make the effort anyway. Going cold turkey is nobody’s idea of a good time. Sure, there are those that recommend it, and you can pay thousands of dollars to go on a no-electronics retreat for a week to “get away from it all,” but dollars-to-donuts you’ll just end up at home doomscrolling again when it’s all over. I am the last person to propose anyone chuck their phone into a lake. In fact, I like my phone and the friends that live inside it. I am just well aware that I have to balance out my exuberant app use with equally exuberant use of the buried power of the web to stimulate and challenge my brain, or at the very least, to stop it leaking out of my ears.
Someone whose philosophy dovetails neatly with mine is the writer Clive Thompson, who introduced his concept of “rewilding your attention” in a blog post inspired by other blog posts (how quaint!). Critiquing the “intellectual monocropping” of mainstream algorithms, and their emphasis on recency and popularity, Thompson proposes an active strategy that incorporates RSS feeds, “prospecting” through single-subject forums, reading old books, and linksurfing from blog to blog. You might do some of this stuff already — I certainly do [ed. note: So do I] — but it’s nice to be able to give a name and defined purpose to this motley collection of practices.
From Thompson’s Twitter feed I learned about Marginalia, which describes itself as “an independent DIY search engine that focuses on non-commercial content and attempts to show you sites you perhaps weren't aware of in favor of the sort of sites you probably already knew existed.” Typing in “Garbage Day” got a lot of results from programmers’ blogs talking about implementing garbage collection in code
Thompson also recently released a tool called the Weird Old Book Finder, which takes advantage of one way in which the internet of 2022 is different than that of 2005: the immense book-digitization projects that have resulted in a massive corpus of public domain scans from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. “Garbage Day” returns as its result the 1919 City Bulletin Supplement from the city of Columbus, Ohio. In 1919 there was a decrease in garbage from 1917 of approximately 9 percent, apparently. Is that because of… the war? The pandemic? Who knows! But what if you tried to find out??? [Ed. note: That bulletin supplement is actually what inspired the name of this newsletter.]
Rewilding sounds simple enough, but to cosplay the 2000s internet requires dedication. Google Search’s SEO shittification has made it hard to stumble organically on interesting stuff solely via the web. So it helps that rewilding can have a social element. If you follow people and accounts who are dedicated to digging cool stuff up, chances are you will experience the trickle-down benefits of their digital-horticultural strategies. Curation for personal betterment might mean, in part, engaging with a curatorial community, versus one solely focused on trends and news.
Exploring the wilds of the web can be, in my experience, as much of a serotonin boost as refreshing an algorithmic feed. It can give you weird and fun stuff to talk about and also help build the sort of resilience one needs to endure The Platform and not burn out completely.
The r/antiwork Implosion
Earlier this week, Doreen Ford, who also goes by Doreen Cleyre, a 25-year-old trans woman who works as a dog walker, went on Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime. Clayre is one of the longest-running mods of the r/antiwork subreddit. The interview was, to put it mildly, a train wreck. Though Watters is incapable of fully expressing emotion on his face due to the almost-becoming-a-cat-man levels of plastic surgery he’s seemingly had since he first went viral for racially harassing Chinese people on the streets of New York City back in 2016, he spent the entire interview unable to contain his glee at Ford’s awkward and uncomfortable presence on camera. Ford clearly should not be the spokesperson of a massive labor movement and, based on the reactions from the r/antiwork subreddit, seems to have made the decision to go on Fox News unilaterally.
r/antiwork users erupted angrily after the interview hit the internet. And then Ford apparently started deleting copies of the Fox News clip from the subreddit, which caused even more outrage. On Thursday, the community temporarily went private and a spinoff was created called r/WorkReform, but it only has about 500,000 users, which is a far cry from r/antiwork’s 1.7 million.
I thought one interesting take on this was from a user who compared it to surprisingly similar drama that happened around r/WallStreetBets last year. But the most thoughtful response from was from a user named u/salikabbasi, who wrote a massive post about how betrayed members of the community feel by the whole thing.
“What's absolutely disgusting and disappointing, is that her ego allowed her to go into an interview completely unprepared to do anything but what she personally feels is relevant to her, and almost none of what she said was about the movement at all,” u/salikabbasi said. “She knows there's a difference between people being 'anti-work' literally, what she represents, and people who want a more balanced work life and labor market, but she doesn't care. She doesn't care if she misrepresents 1.7 MILLION people.”
There are also some troubling questions circulating about Ford. Screenshots of Ford admitting on Facebook to some pretty serious accusations of sexual misconduct have been posted to various subreddits, though the original post in question is no longer public on Ford’s Facebook. There are also conspiracy theories that Ford was somehow paid off to be extremely cringe on TV due to how articulate and thoughtful she was in a previous interview in October. And there seems to still be some question, also, about whether or not Ford is even still a mod or admin of the subreddit.
It’s worth pointing out that this likely isn’t going to kill the Great Resignation. The subreddit was, obviously, an important place to organize, but in many ways, the community’s job is already done. It was a good place to perfect the movement’s main viral weapons — screenshots of texts from awful bosses and painful, but concise anonymously-shared bad work stories — but the sentiment behind the project has grown large enough to sustain itself online across any and all platforms.
But the entire mess happening at r/antiwork basically checks every box of what happens when a leaderless Reddit movement gets too big. These communities bubble up quickly and build a strong identity, without any real irl cohesion. Internet content creates the illusion of connection, which can then pop like a bubble violently when real-world dynamics suddenly become relevant. And then usually infighting, conspiracy theories, and splinter groups follow. In fact, there’s drama already happening in the new r/WorkReform subreddit. Users seem to be upset that one of the mods works at a bank.
Welcome “Candle Funeral” TikTok
A user named @krazykyle1 has been “killing” candles and holding “candle funerals” on TikTok. What does that mean exactly? Well, basically, @krazykyle1 lights a candle and then puts the lid on it until the flame dies out. Here’s a Tumblr mirror of a video where @krazykyle1 executes a whole bunch of candles with a squirt gun.
The Ska Scene Did Not Have A Great Week
Long time Garbage Day readers know that I love ska and I’m originally from the Boston area. What maybe you didn’t know is that my favorite band of all time is the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. For a while, I was going to their yearly Christmas show, the Hometown Throwdown. (Though, I will say, when it comes to seasonal Boston punk shows, the best one was always the Big D And The Kids Table Halloween show.)
So the news this week that the Mighty Mighty Bosstones broke up has been hard for me. Normally, I wouldn’t include this in the newsletter and just quietly grieve, but according to a post going around the Bosstones’ subreddit, the breakup may be due to the band’s lead singer Dicky Barrett being connected to a video made for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s recent antivax rally. Rolling Stone has a good piece on the whole thing.
But it wasn’t just the Bosstones that made headlines this week. There is apparently a lot of drama kicking off in the band Less Than Jake’s Discord because, you guessed it, they’re releasing NFTs. I will say, their NFTs aren’t a terrible idea. I mean, one of the NFT tiers gives you free shows for life, but still, I’m going to guess that there aren’t a lot of folks in the DIY ska punk community who are all that psyched about buying and selling digital assets.
Either way, both of these stories are, I guess, a small victory for the folks who hoped ska would become relevant again!
Is Tumblr Actually Coming Back?
The Financial Times has a great piece out this week on the 2022 Tumblr resurgence. Unfortunately, though, a screenshot from the article has gone viral on the platform for the wrong reasons. In the piece, Matt Mullenweg, Wordpress co-founder and current CEO of Auttomatic, the company that now owns Tumblr, muses that Tumblr might be perfect for NFTs. And the reactions haven’t been nice!
“Oh we are gonna eat this mfer alive huh,” one user wrote.
Though, for the most part, users do seem sorta-kinda excited that their community is getting a bit of attention again. “tumblcore girlies on tiktok will either save this hellsite or curse it even more,” another user wrote.
This Twitch Stream Was Generated By An A.I.
This was sent to me by a reader named Priyanka. It’s called dinnerpartyai and it was created by a company called Transitional Forms. It’s an experiment to see if you can create a fully-automated TV show. It combines a language processing A.I. that generates an infinite amount of dialogue, fully modular character rigs, and a camera system that runs autonomously. The result? Mostly insane gibberish. But still a cool idea!
It’s All Kicking Off On Indian Farmer TikTok
This is an absolutely bonkers thread of Indian famers doing cool stuff on TikTok. Definitely worth clicking in and checking it out. But, also, as Glitch CEO Anil Dash pointed out, you should also read up on the Indian farmer protests that are stretching into their second year now. I wrote about the protests a few times in Garbage Day last year actually. I was particularly interested to see if that protest movement could successfully connect to broader “milk tea alliance” that activists across South Asia were trying to organize, though that seems to have died down a bit.
Some Stray Links
P.S. here’s a truly great Omegle moment.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***