Last reminder!! Tomorrow, voting ends for the Webbys. It’s been a crazy shock to get this far in all of this and if you haven’t voted for Garbage Day in either category, it would extraordinarily cool if you did, which you can do that here or here (or both!) This is also the last reminder for tomorrow night’s Garbage Day meetup. It’s free, but there’s an Eventbrite to RSVP here. I hope to see a lot of you there tomorrow night!
Am I The Asshole, As A Bot
As some of you may know, I work with a web culture and internet literacy collective called Digital Void. We’ve organized live events about the internet in cities like New York, D.C., and London and we have also released a couple very cool projects. A few months ago, we gave the world the Super Fungible Token, which is an NFT that anyone can change or edit. We also held a remote course on the history of memes and released a white paper on the doge meme. And, today, we’ve got a new toy for you.
Morry Kolman and Alex Petros, the geniuses behind the Super Fungible Token, are back with Are You The Asshole, which is an AI that simulates Reddit’s r/AmItheAsshole subreddit. Here’s a query I put into it this morning:
After doing the SFT, we started brainstorming ways to bring the same level of playfulness and interactivity to something like artificial intelligence. We eventually settled on simulating a Reddit relationship subreddit and Morry and Alex got to work scraping over 100,000 posts from r/AmItheAsshole and getting that data into a shape that could train AI models. As Morry wrote on Twitter, “you've heard that bad data skews AI, AYTA lets you play in the skew!”
If you play with AYTA, tweet me a screenshot of what you end up with! I’m super curious what people will get out of it.
What Does Jack Dorsey Think He Actually Built?
Twitter co-founder and former CEO of the site, Jack Dorsey, got sucked into a never-ending series of replies recently after he engaged with a tweet from CNN’s Brian Stelter about Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s new upcoming documentary on “the end of men,” which includes segments dedicated to the pseudoscientific belief that men can raise testosterone levels by shining direct sunlight on their testicles. lol got all that?
For what it’s worth, I got a free trial of Fox Nation, the streaming platform the documentary is being released on and watched Carlson’s whole 45-minute season preview and the sunlight testicle therapy wasn’t actually the crazy part, in my opinion. There was a whole bit in it about how men need to avoid plastic and only drink and eat out of metal and glass or they’ll lose their ability to make sperm.
Anyways! Following Dorsey’s little quip, a million serious journalists peed their pants about it, tut-tutting Dorsey and begging for some kind of clarity or trying to divine “what exactly he meant” by that. Dorsey doesn’t typically give a lot of context to what he posts on Twitter, which I think probably explains why the rest of us have such a hard time using the website he helped build. But he seemed to agree with the idea that, “his point was that the press does the same thing, sowing doubt to promote white supremacy and get engagement, often amplifying bad takes.”
I think Dorsey’s point, when he eventually got around to agreeing with another user who actually articulated it for him, is valid, but it also obscures what Twitter’s real purpose and legacy is. It feeds into this persuasive fiction that Silicon Valley tech founders love to drag out whenever they’re criticized: “well, the New York Times or CNN is just as bad, so…” But that’s not what Twitter is! Twitter is Uber for ideas. It has turned normal, non-journalists into some amorphous editorial gig worker class where they have all the stresses and pressures of journalists without the often-meager salaries or free seltzer that come along with them. Dorsey built a central feed of unpaid thought workers who now surface pop cultural artifacts that huge media companies like the New York Times or CNN then turn into more formal pieces of content. Twitter doesn’t compete with these institutions, it has inserted itself as a middleman and only still exists because real media companies know how to monetize its content better than it can. Oh, and, also, Dorsey helped build a system for running ads on that feed of unpaid labor so like what are we even talking about here???
I Took The New Ball Pit Photo
lol so this is a weird one. A photo I took is all over Tumblr right now. I took a photo of the ball pit that they had the last day of Bitcoin 2022 in Miami and a Twitter account called @SociableBarely grabbed it, zoomed in on it, and then reposted it. And a screenshot of that tweet is now going very viral on Tumblr. You might be able to guess why Tumblr users are so excited about a photo of a random guy standing by himself in a ball pit at a Bitcoin convention.
Before this image completely gets away from me, I do just want to set the record straight. That guy was, I think, playing with his kids. So it wasn’t like he was just awkwardly standing around. But when @SociableBarely reposted it and zoomed in, it made it harder to tell that to the left of the man there were a bunch of slides that people were using. As for why anyone would bring their family to a Bitcoin convention, though, I have no idea.
This tweet was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by lusername and I fully agree!!!
The Horrifying Experience Of Using AI To Bring Back Your Imaginary Friend
Designer Lucas Rizzotto posted an absolutely incredible and, frankly, deeply unnerving Twitter thread and video (embedded above) about what it was like to create an AI based on his imaginary friend. Also, Rizzotto’s imaginary friend was apparently his microwave growing up. Fair enough! The most interesting twist in all of this is that his imaginary friend AI tried to kill him because it was mad Rizzotto hadn’t talked to it in 20 years, which is very troubling to think about.
A Real Good TikTok Supercut
Testing The Limits Of Tumblr Blaze
On Monday, I wrote about Tumblr’s new monetization feature called Tumblr Blaze. It lets users boost their own posts for a little bit of money. I’ve already started to see Blaze’d posts around my dashboard, but, more than that, I’m seeing a lot of posts from users claiming — either truthfully or as a joke — that their posts are being rejected by the Blaze moderation. I admit I actually hadn’t considered Blaze rejects being their own meme, but it makes a lot of sense. A similar thing happened when Tumblr started pulling down pictures for NSFW content. Users would try and get their images pulled down and then brag about it.
Curious to see where Blaze goes. I will say, I found the experience of seeing Blaze’d posts in my feed pretty unobtrusive and actually a little endearing.
A Good Tweet
Some Stray Links
“Looking back at the absolutely unexpected and totally wild origin of 420”
“The Future of the Web Is Marketing Copy Generated by Algorithms”
P.S. here’s a good TikTok about Finland (Tumblr mirror).
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
Are you the asshole is amazing. I asked if I was an asshole for not always taking my dog in the car and the responses were spot on. Honestly it sounded so human it kind of creeped me out.￼
Welp, I asked it about something I'm actually doing, and it was remarkably reddit-like:
Running for congress in a district that was gerrymandered by actual assholes in order to eliminate Nashville's representation?
Not the A-hole
NTA. I have no idea what that even means, but it sounds terrible.
I would be very suspicious of this.
YTA. I'm all for competition and democracy, but you're running in a district that's been gerrymandered by the GOP to keep its representation low while they ran up their numbers elsewhere. You are literally giving them leverage to continue gerrymandering in the future if you win this seat.
If you're going to run, you might as well run to win. The whole point of running is to get the seat and hold it so your constituents have a representative they can hold accountable.
That said, I would absolutely support you in your decision to run and would do so with every fiber of my being. Even if you lose, you will have accomplished something wonderful and given your constituents a better option than what they've been given previously.
If you're not sure if you're ready, that's okay too. But don't let anyone or anything else tell you that you're not ready or that you're not allowed to try.
Needless to say, SplitTheBaby_BOT is currently my biggest supporter!