DataDownload: The rise of the TikTok fame machine

DataDownload: The rise of the TikTok fame machine A weekly summary of all things Media, Data, Emerging Tech View this email in your browser

Today — we’re thinking about the world. As New York returns, India struggles. TikTok grew well beyond its roots in China, but the innovation and approach are most certainly unfamiliar. PlayStation has gamers on the edge of their seats. And the Media Lab’s conversation about NFT’s has taken the future of Art to a whole new level.

Hope you’re having a good week. And remember, wear a mask.

As always, look forward to hearing from you.


Steven Rosenbaum
Executive Director
The NYC Media Lab Must-Read Fact-Checking Modi’s India Happy one year anniversary to Rest of World, a tech news publication launched by Eric Schmidt’s daughter Sophie Schmidt. The nonprofit was started to bring global stories, told through local voices, to the US. This week’s featured story covers the amazing work being done at Alt News, which fact-checks India’s deluge of social media misinformation.

Rest of World / 31 min read Read More The Real Story Behind TikTok

We’ve been covering various aspects of ByteDance’s business for a few years now — it’s fascinating to read about how the company’s second official app, Toutiao, laid the groundwork for algorithmically-generated content that would eventually lead to the rise of TikTok and the rest of the company’s successful portfolio. Just as interesting is the story behind the one ByteDance and TikTok likes to tell. We saw a glimpse of that with The Intercept’s report on how TikTok mods were told to suppress “ugly and poor” people on the platform.

More recently, Forbes opened the curtain some more, describing toxic workplace practices like supervisors belittling employees and expecting them to work until 1AM. Vox recently spoke with Foundering host Shelly Banjo on the “inner workings of the TikTok fame machine, the rivalry with Facebook, and the fact that the most common misconception people have about TikTok is that it’s all fun and games.”

Vox / 11 min read

Read more Tech+Media The PlayStation 5 Is Starting to Look Like the Revolution It Promised

The PS5 sold enough units and made enough money to be considered the biggest console launch in US history. Whenever a new console is about to be released, PlayStation chief architect Mark Cerny travels the glove talking to developers about the capabilities. He purposefully seeks out people with strong opinions, “who clearly lay out all the issues they’re having with the hardware, so that we can get busy thinking about how we can address those in the future.” Somehow, miraculously, the (virtual) PS5 conversations weren’t so contentious as previous years.

WIRED / 12 min read Read More You Can Now Buy NFTs on eBay, and ‘Blockchain-Driven Collectibles’ Are Coming Soon

EBay has given the go-ahead to sell NFTs on its site, though in a controlled environment: “At the moment, eBay wants to make sure that NFTs are listed by trusted sellers, and only in certain categories like trading cards, music, entertainment, and art.” In the company’s announcement, eBay said collectibles aren’t anything new for the platform — whether digital or physical, “any form of collecting is about the convergence of passion, interest, and opportunity.”

Furthermore: “In the coming months, eBay will add new capabilities that bring blockchain-driven collectibles to our platform. I’m looking forward to bringing on new creators to share their passions in ways we can’t even imagine yet.”

The Verge / 2 min read Read More Wow! MIT’s Color-Changing Paint Could Make Your iPhone Look Different Every Day

MIT researchers, when not busy building robots that can see through walls, are developing photosensitive paint, called ChromoUpdate. Clear when applied, the paint reveals hidden pigments when exposed to particular frequencies of light. “As MIT postdoc and the project’s lead researcher Michael Wessely explains, there are all sorts of benefits to a color-changing paint. He suggests that designers, in particular, would be able to test products quickly, swapping out colors and patterns in minutes.”

Fast Company / 4 min read

Read More What We’re Watching Can NFTs Fund the Future for Artists?

NFTs have taken the Metaverse by storm and are shaping up to be the defining technology of this era. But what do NFTs mean for copyright law? And climate change? Can NFTs fund the digital future for artists? On May 13th, we discussed what the future of NFTs means for ownership, creativity, and legacy with the following artists, innovators:

NYC Media Lab (YouTube) / 68 min watch

Watch Now What We’re Listening To Podcast: Facebook’s Oversight Board Has Upheld the Trump Ban. What’s Next?

“Nilay Patel talks with Kate Klonick, a law professor at St. John’s University Law School and one of the foremost chroniclers of Facebook’s moderation efforts. Kate has been researching and studying Facebook’s Oversight Board from its inception.”

Spotify / 57 min listen

Listen Now Virtual Events Job Offer: Community and Project Lead at NYC Media Lab
NYC Media Lab team is seeking a Community and Project Lead who will cultivate a community of practice across newsrooms, universities, startups, and the broader community of those interested in the intersection of AI and journalism. Apply Here. A Deeper Look Neural Implant Lets Paralyzed Person Type by Imagining Writing

Recently, researchers implanted two brain chips on a paralyzed patient’s premotor cortex, an area thought to be associated with “forming the intentions to perform movements.” Researchers asked the patient to imagine writing letters on a page, then captured the corresponding signals. They found they could then decipher the correct character with 94% accuracy. See the system in action below.

Ars Technica / 5 min read

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