DataDownload: OnlyFans owns your hustle A weekly summary of all things Media, Data, Emerging Tech View this email in your browser
Today, a newsletter full of… news.
First up, OnlyFans. Great Vanity Fair piece about user-generated porn, and the crazy battle to keep bankers and customers happy. The Center for Media Engagement has a great piece on anonymity and responsibility. Then, we check out Hacker News… and its predictive powers. NY Mag has a great story on the arrest of the 25th most powerful radio host (didn’t know there was radio power ranking).
Not that you should feel bad for Joe Rogan, but it seems like his Spotify cage may be chilling his massive megaphone. We’ve got a great video on Hydrogen fuel, from The Economist. And our podcast this week is all about memories, real and imagined.
Finally, the New Yorker has a great piece on the world’s largest AI chip. So, enjoy — share — and grab Summit Tix to our 2021 Summit.
As always, your feedback and thoughts are appreciated
The NYC Media Lab
Invitation: Purchase Your Discounted Early Bird Tix for “Summit 2021: Future Imperfect”
New York City’s tech and media sectors have been fielding many curveballs. And yet, in the face of disruption we continue to innovate, no matter how uncertain the future may seem at times. In the spirit of endless innovation and exploration, NYC Media Lab is thrilled to host “Summit 2021: Future Imperfect” from October 6–7, 2021.
Our two-day online conference will once again bring together 1,000+ virtual attendees from NYC Media Lab’s core community — including executives, university faculty, students, investors, and entrepreneurs — to explore the future of media and tech in New York City and beyond.
Discounted early bird tickets are now available through September 15 (they’ll save you $10 per ticket). Are you a current student, faculty member, or friend of the NYC Media Lab? Go ahead and reserve your free ticket (and be sure to register using your .edu email address). Register here.
OnlyFans built a user-generated content empire with a dirty secret — porn. Despite having over 130M users and being on track to make $12.5B in gross value next year, the UK-based media platform reportedly faced pushback from investors, bankers, and payment processors over “sexually explicit content.”
When OnlyFans recently announced a crackdown on the content that fueled its meteoric rise, the backlash was swift. Accused of betraying the sex workers largely responsible for the OnlyFans’ success, the company quickly backpedaled, announcing via tweet that it was suspending the prudish policy change.
Sexually explicit content creators on OnlyFans have been granted a deplatforming reprieve for now, but, according to author Delia Cai: “What OnlyFans’ betrayal of sex workers — followed by that abrupt reversal — also makes apparent is the central mythology undergirding the rising class of creator-driven platforms at large: the flawed belief that you, the creator, are ever the one in the driver’s seat.
Vanity Fair / 6 min read
Do you prefer to remain anonymous? The answer to that question — and your attitude towards anonymity in the media you consume, and the way you communicate — may be shaped by your politics, age, and the amount of time you spend online.
An extensive study found that the “use of anonymous communication can be controversial amid tensions between the desire to hold people accountable for their communicative behaviors and the desire to protect people from unjust retaliation when they do speak.”
Center for Media Engagement / 13 min read Read More Tech+Media Is Hacker News a Good Predictor of Future Tech Trends?
Y Combinator’s Hacker News has long been considered a barometer of “what’s next” in tech. Many startups draft their staff to upvote company posts the moment they go live in a bid to edge their way up the rankings. But how good is Hacker News really at predicting the next big thing? James Potter tracked some of the biggest tech topics of the last 15 years to see if Hacker News is truly the crystal ball many believe it to be.
When Bitcoin received its first HN mention, it was over a year before Florida man Laszlo Hanyecz forked over 10k BTC for two Papa John’s pizzas. If Hanyecz — the hungry early bitcoin adopter — had managed to stave off the munchies until today, he would be $482M richer.
Potter examines other tech hot topics like NFTs, machine learning, and Tesla and concludes: “Hacker News is typically ahead of the mainstream, often by a few years, but you would need to be paying very close attention to catch the early mentions of a new tech trend.”
James Potter / 4 min read Read More The High Priest of Cryptopia Regrets Nothing
On March 16th, 2021 camo-clad federal agents rolled out in BearCats to raid the home of the 25th-most powerful radio host in the US. Ian Freeman, co-host of Free Talk Live, is also the ringleader of The Crypto Six — a ragtag band of libertarians that include somebody named Nobody and a self-identified “transsexual Satanist anarchist.”
To say Freeman has authority issues is an understatement. Synonyms for government tacked up on his broadcast studio walls include “goons, tyrants, despots, parasites, thugs, mafia, idiots, liars, thieves, lunatics, killers, and gang members.”
Freeman was a vocal early supporter of bitcoin — but his aim wasn’t to make money. It was to wrest control of it from the government. According to his co-host, convicted murderer Mark “Edge” Edgington: “He could have moved anywhere in the world. He could have had women, and pools, and drinking. He could have had whatever lavish lifestyle you can imagine.”
Why did the federal government target Freeman? “For the first time in generations, if not most of human history, the individual can finally have control over money,” he says. “No wonder they’re upset.” The government begs to differ, alleging that Freeman ran a sophisticated multimillion-dollar racket that enabled “hordes of cybercriminals” to scam victims and launder money. Freeman — who founded the crypto-worshipping Shire Free Church — remains unrepentant. “Is there something I regret? I mean, of course not,” he says. “This is my mission. I’ve been given this mission from God to get this alternative form of value into people’s hands.”
New York Magazine / 26 min read Read More Joe Rogan, Confined to Spotify, Is Losing Influence
A year into Joe Rogan’s knockout $100M deal with Spotify, the rough-around-the edges MMA commentator and standup comedian’s cultural influence is on the wane. Spotify doesn’t share listenership stats, but The Verge found a novel way to measure Rogan’s faltering reach.
Since becoming a Spotify exclusive, guests on the Joe Rogan Experience have received a “Twitter bump” — an increase in followers — of +/- 2,000 after a show with Rogan. That’s down 50% from an average bump of 4,000 followers between December 2019 and November 2020.
One reason Rogan is punching below his weight may be his dependence on one platform. Rogan’s full YouTube episodes typically generated millions of views and led to viral snippets on Twitter and other platforms. Now, YouTube only gets Rogan clips — and they don’t always reach the million-view mark. Google Trends also paints a picture of a heavyweight in decline, with searches for “Joe Rogan” taking a decisive dip.
The Verge / 8 min read
It’s been hailed as the fuel of the future. Hydrogen is clean, flexible, and energy-efficient. But in practice, there are huge hurdles to overcome before widespread adoption can be achieved.
The Economist (YouTube) / 8 min watch
Our memories are easily contaminated. We can be made to believe we rode in a hot air balloon or kissed a magnifying glass — even if those things never happened. So how do we know which of our memories are most accurate? Cognitive scientist Ayanna Thomas explains how we remember, why we forget, and the simple tools we all can use to sharpen our memories.
Spotify / 49 min listen
Listen Now Virtual Events Free Event: NYC Media Lab Summit 2021 — Future Imperfect
Date: October 6–8
Our two-day online conference will once again bring together 1,000+ virtual attendees from NYC Media Lab’s core community — including executives, university faculty, students, investors, and entrepreneurs — to explore the future of media and tech in New York City and beyond. Register Here.
Free Event: Responsible Tech Summit
Date: September 15, 10AM EDT
The Responsible Tech Summit is an all-day gathering brings together a diverse range of participants that are committed to building a better tech future. Register Here.
Free Event: YC Demo Day
Date: August 31 — September 1
Twice a year, Y Combinator’s latest batch of startups present to an invite-only audience of approximately 1,500 investors and media. Register Here. A Deeper Look The World’s Largest Computer Chip
Deep learning and other data-intensive applications — like mining bitcoin — are largely dependent on GPUs, chips originally designed for rendering graphics. But they’re not as efficient as they could be. They may be 100x better at crunching big data than CPUs, but Andrew Feldman, co-founder at Cerebras, is betting big on bigger chips, tailor-made for AI.
He’s not alone. More than 200 startups are designing AI chips, a market estimated to approach $100B by 2025. According to Aart de Geus, chairman at Synopsys: “The world has figured out that A.I. and A.I. chips are now infrastructure. It is at the heart of enabling the next two decades of fundamental change to mankind.”
The New Yorker / 20 min read