DataDownload: It’s Facebook’s metaverse, we just live in it
DataDownload: It’s Facebook’s metaverse, we just live in it A weekly summary of all things Media, Data, Emerging Tech View this email in your browser
Last week I was a judge for the ASCAP Music Studio Challenge Program demo day produced with the NYC Media Lab. You’ll be able to see the presentations in a few weeks, but I’ll give you an advance peek. It was amazing. As the news can seem a bit grim some days, there’s nothing better to lift your spirits than to see teams of smart young innovators… creating the future.
Back in the early days of the web — Neal Stephenson — in 1992’s Snow Crash — coined the term Metaverse. Stratechery has a great piece on the Metaverse. It’s a must-read. Wired is all in on using AI to fight misogyny.
And speaking of AI, if a machine is going to read your resume, you best write it with an algorithm in mind, says the MIT Tech Review. Gaming — which has been growing like crazy… has a Netflix/Spotify moment on the horizon, with a great piece in Protocol.
Today’s newsletter is full of goodness. A piece on Sarcasm, a deeper look into “stupid” infrastructure, and more. So, enjoy, share, and as always — we love hearing from you.
The NYC Media Lab Must-Read A Guide to the Metaverse(s)
Facebook is all-in on the metaverse. Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We believe that [the metaverse] is going to be the successor to the mobile Internet. In addition to being the next chapter of the Internet, the metaverse is also going to be the next chapter for us as a company.” Satya Nadella actually beat him to the punch. Way back in May of this year, he declared that “the metaverse made up of digital twins, simulated environments, and mixed reality, is emerging as a first-class platform. With the metaverse the entire world becomes your app canvas.” What is the metaverse? It’s complicated. If you want a deep dive, here’s a 10-part primer from Matthew Ball. Here’s the TL;DR.
The term metaverse was coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992’s Snow Crash. According to Ben Thompson at Stratechery: “Stephenson’s Metaverse had many of the qualities Zuckerberg and Ball highlighted, including persistence, being synchronous and live, and the quality of being filled with ‘content and experiences created and operated by an incredibly wide range of contributors.’” Thompson is skeptical of Zuckerberg’s metaverse-evangelism, however, quoting William Gibson in that “the future is [already] here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Further, “Facebook’s grand metaverse mission sounds an awful lot like VR re-branded.”
Stratechery / 14 min read
Misogyny is rampant online. A 2020 Plan International study, one of the largest ever conducted, found that more than half of women in 22 countries said they had been harassed or abused online. Social media platforms deploy AI content moderation “solutions”, but they’ve mostly proven to be woefully inadequate. In Denmark, Nina Nørgaard, a PhD candidate at IT University of Copenhagen, led a team of seven full-time employees to review and label social media posts they deemed misogynistic. People of different ages, nationalities, and political views were chosen to reduce the possibility of bias from a single worldview. According to Nørgaard: “The great thing is that they don’t agree. We don’t want tunnel vision. We don’t want everyone to think the same.”
The project is considered a success by its researchers, who say “AI fine-tuned with the dataset can recognize misogyny on popular social media platforms 85% of the time.” The posts were written in Danish, but the process can be applied to any language. As the haphazardly-collated data used to train GPT-3 or ImageNet come under fire for implicit bias, the Danish researchers’ approach could be a helpful contribution.
WIRED / 12 min read Read More Tech+Media Looking for Work? Here’s How to Write a Résumé That an AI Will Love.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. But what if you need to wow a machine, not a person? AI recruiting tools are the new normal, so it’s time to rewrite the resume rulebook. According to Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO at Zip Recruiter: “Conventional wisdom will kill you in your search for a job. You want the simplest, most boring resume template you can find. You want to write like a caveman in the shortest, crispest words you can.”
Now that your CV’s zippy, prepare an alternative version just in case you encounter a human. “Some students tell me, ‘I made sure that my resume was filled with keywords. And now it sounds kind of like a cheesy marketing document,’” says Gracy Sarkissian, executive director at NYU’s career center.
MIT Technology Review / 6 min read Read More The Game Industry Is Bracing for Its Netflix and Spotify Moment
Are Blu-ray gaming discs destined for the same fate as CDs, Blockbuster Video stores, and Netflix’s iconic red envelopes? Microsoft seems to think so. It’s pouring big bucks into Xbox Game Pass, which already boasts over 18M subscribers paying $9.99 a month for over 100 games. Karl Slatoff, president at Take-Two Interactive, has a different view: “We’re highly skeptical that subscriptions will be the only way or the primary way that interactive entertainment is distributed.”
Like musicians who decry Spotify, many game developers fear a subscription or playtime-based future. Reacting to Google Stadia’s recent announcement of a subscription pro-tier that pays out based on playtime, gaming news curator Ryan Brown tweeted: “I feared this day…. Devs being paid based on playtime is the true horror of the subscription-based future.”
Protocol / 12 min read Read More Sensor Journalism May Have Lost Some of Its Buzz, but It’s Also Gotten Cheaper and Easier to Pull Off
The glory days of sensor journalism, when “it seemed like every big ambitious newsroom was checking ground temps in search of cicadas, measuring summer heat in Harlem apartment buildings, tracking Romanian air pollution, or uncovering toxins in West Virginia rivers” may be in the rearview mirror. But, ironically, the IoT widgets that fuel such stories are cheaper than ever. Now that the tech needed for sensor journalism is so accessible, maybe it will earn a place on more reporters’ utility belts.
Nieman Lab / 4 min read
Read More What We’re Watching I Changed Astronomy Forever. He Won the Nobel Prize for It.
Growing up in a Quaker household, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was raised to believe that she had as much right to an education as anyone else. But as a girl in the 1940s in Northern Ireland, her enthusiasm for the sciences was met with hostility from teachers and male students. Undeterred, she went on to study radio astronomy at Glasgow University, where she was the only woman in many of her classes.
In 1967, Burnell made a discovery that altered our perception of the universe. As a Ph.D. student at Cambridge University assisting the astronomer Anthony Hewish, she discovered pulsars — compact, spinning celestial objects that give off beams of radiation, like cosmic lighthouses. A visualization of some early pulsar data is immortalized as the album art for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures.”
But as Ben Proudfoot’s “The Silent Pulse of the Universe” shows, the world wasn’t yet ready to accept that a breakthrough in astrophysics could have come from a young woman.
NY Times (YouTube) / 16 min watch
In this recent episode of Stuff You Should Know, the hosts try to get to the bottom of how sarcasm works. Find out “why people sometimes talk like jerks and how sarcasm isn’t all bad.” Really? Yes, really.
Spotify / 48 min listen
Listen Now Virtual Events Free Event: The Rise of Newsletters with Fortune, Morning Brew, and The Information
Date: August 10, 5PM-6PM EDT
“In the panel, we’ll speak with the reporters and editors who run some of the most influential and widely read newsletters: Andrew Nusca, Executive Editor of Morning Brew; Lucinda Shen, Editor of Fortune’s Term Sheet; and Kaya Yurieff, Reporter at The Information.” Register Here. A Deeper Look Forget Smart Cities, ‘Stupid’ Infrastructure Is The Solution For Future Transportation
When discussing the future of city infrastructure, Chairman Emeritus at the Electronic Frontier Foundation Brad Templeton prefers simpler today rather than broken tomorrow: “Infrastructure changes at the pace of decades, while digital technology changes daily. You can’t plan for 2030s digital cars with the knowledge of 2021.”
The internet, after all, got as big as it did by being as simple as possible, as David Isenberg’s wrote in his 1997 essay, Rise of the Stupid Network. “You can’t plan for 2030 in 2021 so you don’t. Instead, you keep what you must build simple and put as much as possible into software. That’s because you can change all your software in 2030,” says Templeton.
“A virtue of stupid infrastructure is you don’t define functionality like lanes and stations in advance. Contrast that with typical rail lines, which make two limiting decisions. The first is to use rails. While pavement carries pedestrians, scooters, cars, bicycles, trucks, vans, buses, robots and vehicles yet to be invented, rails are designed to handle trains, trains, trains or trains.”
Forbes / 19 min read