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Not entertaining. Not engrossing. But fun.

Read to the end for a poem the New Yorker is too cowardly to publish

They’re Playing Yu-Gi-Oh! In The Hellthread

I’m actually impressed with how overwhelmed by Bluesky I am. Opening it feels like the social media equivalent of staring directly at the sun. So much stuff is happening on the app at once that getting a sense of the macro conversation feels almost impossible. Though, to be clear, nothing that’s happening on it is actually important, per se, but it is exciting to see a new social network start to gain momentum and evolve after so many years of watching existing ones stagnate.

As I wrote in the weekend edition, the major event on Bluesky over the last few days was the emergence of “hellthreads”. Basically, if any thread of replies gets too long, the thread will break. It will no longer load properly, but the notifications still work. And if you reply to a hellthread or, I suppose, a thread that subsequently turns into a hellthread, there is no way to mute the notifications. This is, objectively, extremely funny and has effectively turned Bluesky into a series of gigantic unnavigable message board posts that are floating around the site at random. I once described Twitter in the Musk era as “Reddit moving at the speed of Tumblr.” And Bluesky is currently Tumblr moving at the speed of old Twitter. But let’s back up because Bluesky is still invite only, so chances are the majority of you reading this don’t have a great frame of reference for how the site feels right now.

Up until last week, Bluesky was mostly the platform’s own dev team and your usual tech early adopter types. A lot of crypto guys, people in San Francisco posting photos of their various hikes, startup weirdos, etc. Then, between last Monday and last Thursday, Bluesky started opening up its waitlist for invites. A bunch of popular shitposters and large existing networks from Twitch, trans Twitter, and then, shortly after, tech media all showed up on the site. And so the last five days on Bluesky have felt like the inverse of the last six months on Twitter: The cool people are overrunning the lame ones.

And that’s when the hellthreads started appearing. The first one was started by Fortune reporter Kylie Robison by accident. And, immediately, the new cohort of users on Bluesky figured out how to mess with the bug. There are people roleplaying in them. And also, at one point over the weekend, there were a lot of people posting photos of their ass in the hellthreads. And, yes, new Bluesky user Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saw the asses.

There are a lot of lessons to take from the almost immediate success of Bluesky. The first is probably the importance of doling out invites at the right pace and to the right people. This is, incidentally, something I did with my own Discord, where invites were drip-dropped over a period of months until it filled up, which meant that a culture on the server had time to take root in a natural way.

Another key takeaway here is that, at least for now, Bluesky’s content moderation strategy is working. When you open up Bluesky for the first time, you’re greeted with a series of toggles that allow you to decide exactly what you see in the app. You’re given the option to limit things like “Explicit Sexual Images” via a “show,” “warn,” or “hide” setting. In a sense, most platforms have some version of this, but I’m not sure I’ve seen it so prominently featured on an app before.

And, lastly, and most importantly, it seems like Silicon Valley has forgotten that social networks can be fun. Not entertaining. Not engrossing. But fun. I think it comes down to figuring out the ratio of play and trolling. I often think about it like a good house party. If a sink overflowed at a house party you were at, would the people there find a way to have fun with it? Or would it ruin the vibe? Tumblr is the best example of a community that has mastered the art of turning a bug into a feature. The users there are ready to play and always experimenting with new ways of interacting with each other. And I’m seeing a lot of that same spirit on Bluesky right now. But this energy also feels extremely tenuous. The platform is small and it feels like we’re only one big controversy away from a make or break moment for the app.

And I hate to end this on a bummer note, but it’s important to be clear about this. There is a global right-wing movement that agrees on almost nothing other than the desire to overrun online spaces with annoying discourse, harassment, intimidation, and violence. They have made it their central project for almost a decade and any new social network that gets popular enough will be targeted by these people. They’ve done it to Reddit, to Tumblr, to Twitter, to YouTube, you name it. And if Bluesky successfully takes off, they will show up there too.

Though, as Twitter and Bluesky user vrunt recently skeeted: “If it isn’t against the terms of service, people are gonna do it. That’s true now and it will only get truer as this place gets more users. Trying to get early adopters to all agree to some social contract is a waste of your time. Let’s just post.”

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The Twitter App Is Using 30% Of My Phone’s Battery

Elon Musk runs Twitter like the Trump administration ran America, so every few days there’s a new Twitter storyline they want to jam down our throats. So, right now, we’re meant to be waiting for the roll out of a new micropayment feature.

I could write heaps of text here about why this is a dumb idea that doesn’t make any sense, but the main thing is that people from Twitter just don’t click on articles and never have. Also, micropayments don’t work for digital media. They never have and they never will. Micropayments work for e-books and mobile games, but the content-consumption loop for a news publisher is simply not strong enough to support a digital media outlet at scale.

But anyways, the more important thing is that Twitter’s iOS app is destroying my phone’s battery. I have a fairly new iPhone 14 and, according to the battery monitor, it’s currently using around 30% of my battery every day to use the app for around 34 minutes a day, according to my screen time monitor. I tweeted about this and it seems like this is true for a lot of people, as well. I can only say this anecdotally, but I started noticing this was a problem in the last couple months. I thought it might be the amount of videos that show up on the timeline now, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the app itself.

Here’s A Big List Of All The AI Grimes Songs So Far

A user on the Grimes subreddit is compiling all of the songs people have made featuring an AI model of Grimes’ voice. As the top commenter wrote, “they're p bad” lol.

Still, I think the Grimes AI deal is a really fascinating test case for how this kind of thing could work in the future. If you haven’t been following this, Grimes announced she’d split royalties 50/50 with anyone that uses an AI clone of her voice to make a song. She has a list of things that the songs can’t include, like hate speech. And she set up a website that lets you register what you made. And the fact that her fanbase, as a community, is participating, even if everything they’re making sucks, is notable.

TikTok Vs. The Egg Guy

This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by Tyler J. A TikTok user named @brentcaverly has spent the last few days attempting to swallow an entire hardboiled egg (that he bought from his local gas station). TikTok’s moderation team is not happy about this and keeps taking down his videos. Apparently, this is a dangerous endeavor and they’re afraid other users might try it too.

Yesterday, @brentcaverly posted a video captioned, “Live by the egg, Die by the egg,” where he explained that he would be giving up on the challenge, at least, on TikTok. He said that it was never about the eggs for him, but the idea behind it.

How To Make AI Video

AI-generated video is the next wave so I wanted to jot down the main ways it’s working right now. You basically have three options. The first, and easiest, is using Runway. It has what’s called text-to-video editing and, just as you would with an app like Midjourney, you put in a prompt and it spits out a video. There are other things Runway can do, but that’s how a lot of AI video footage is being created.

Another way you can do this is via rotoscoping. The “anime” that was created by YouTube production studio Corridor Crew was made by taking footage of one video and, frame-by-frame, masking it with AI imagery created by a custom Stable Diffusion library.

The third way you can do this is by using an AI image generator like Midjourney, asking it to render what are essentially keyframes, feeding those into Runway, and then assembling all of it via another program like After Effects, which is how Twitter user @Pizza_Later made this cursed pizza commercial.

The 100 Gecs Subreddit Is Making A Spotify Playlist

They’re still working on it, but I’d say what they’ve got so far is pretty darn good!

A Good Tweet

(Please click here to see the tweet on Twitter because embeds are still broken.)

Some Stray Links

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

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