Staurt Ian Burns on Marvel and its impact on the film industry:

Also, there’s no point blaming a studio which turns out two-four films a year for “ruining cinema” as though the audience is a sheep like mass.  Hollywood has had its own hand in this by producing so many average films which strain for mass appeal to the extent they don’t appeal to anyone.

These two muppets are amongst the richest people on the planet, with a global impact on human relationships. And then they do this.

This piece from Robin Sloan is looking more prescient by the day: the last decade’s platforms are over.

Yes, the Inuit have dozens of words for snow – but what does each one mean exactly?

What a fascinating watch.

Craig Hockenberry:

“It feels like the time is right for a truly universal timeline. That notion excites me like the first time I posted XML status to an endpoint.”

In other words, it’s time to build ActivityPub clients, not just Mastodon ones.

Universities are already rethinking teaching and assessment in the light of AI tools.

D&D’s OGL was a corporate con job

Cory Doctorow on the Hasbo D&D OGL rugpull:

If you’re a game designer who was pissed off because the OGL was getting ganked – and if you’re even more pissed off now that you’ve discovered that the OGL was a piece of shit all along – there’s a lesson there. The OGL tricked a generation of designers into thinking they were building on a commons. They weren’t – but they could.

Source: Pluralistic: John Deere’s repair fake-out; Good riddance to the Open Gaming License (12 Jan 2023)

The science of stupidity

Stupidity is a very specific cognitive failing. Crudely put, it occurs when you don’t have the right conceptual tools for the job. The result is an inability to make sense of what is happening and a resulting tendency to force phenomena into crude, distorting pigeonholes.

Source: Why some of the smartest people can be so very stupid - Psyche Ideas

Heavy Metal x Indian Singing

This is just brilliant:

[via Boing Boing]

Holy crap, this Rackspace email outage looks very bad indeed.

This is a really good defence of RSS as the basis of podcasting

If you’re involved with podcasting, you need to understand this. Without RSS, big companies can start locking up the medium. 

An interesting set of predictions for 2021. If the world shifts its focus from solving the COVID crisis to solving the climate crisis, we might just have a chance as a species.

What can we do to help that happen?

Parole by election

John Naughton on why the US election is consuming his brain, despite the fact he lives in the UK:

Maybe it’s because there’s a possibility that on November 3 something might change in the US, whereas we in the UK are stuck with the worst government in living memory for another four years. So we’re like long-term prisoners serving time and looking enviously over the wall at our fellow-prisoners in the US who might just be paroled on November 4.

This is bleak news: Guardian announces plans to cut 180 jobs. 70 are editorial jobs. Best wishes to my friends and former students working there.

Clare Foges:

Politics can either be a parlour game of ideological point-scoring or it can be the business of meaningful change. To be the latter our politicians must avoid the temptations of descending deeper into the culture wars.

What you need to know about Dominic Cummings

John Naughton:

I’ve been reading Cummings’s blog since long before anyone had ever heard of him. Here’s what I’ve concluded from it… 1. He’s a compulsive autodidact. Nothing wrong with that, but…

As you might imagine, the picture does not get prettier from there onwards. One of the fascinating things about Cummings is that his history and his thinking is there for anyone to read - even if it is rather mutable

Why a vaccine is unlikely in 2020

Don’t hold your breath for a COVID-19 vaccine in 2020:

It is only once researchers have taken the time to understand the context of results that they can start turning them into effective applications or treatments. The real cost of good research is therefore time.

Where is the coronavirus information campaign?

This is a good point in an otherwise rather run-of-the-mill “tutting at the tutters” piece:

It is strange that we are not being bombarded with adverts along the lines of the ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ campaign about what we should be doing and are instead reliant on – often inaccurate – memes being shared over social media.

This is certainly the case in my neck of the woods, and those confusing messages are leading to tension. The lack of clear, central advice means that people are starting to form pro- and anti-online mobs around the issue of driving somewhere to exercise or walk your dogs, for example.

Spectator: The ugliness of coronavirus shaming

A Tory rebellion for the self-employed?

10 Days That Changed Britain:

There is a growing Tory backbench rebellion on the lack of measures aimed at self-employed people. MPs expect Sunak to have to “go further” once again next week to protect the self-employed.

Good. Because we really have been hung out to dry so far.

Supermarket delivery is being overwhelmed

Lewis Dormer:

25% of UK shoppers polled by RetailX have reduced or completely stopped shopping ‘in person at physical stores’ while 5% report a temporary increase

Online grocery deliveries are now fully booked for over two weeks in many parts of the UK. If we’re expecting whole families with symptoms to self-isolate for a fortnight, they’re going to need find ways of upping availability of delivery slots.

This is an absolutely fantastic essay on how fragile the cultural works created on the web have become, through the lens of the late Clive James’s website: Internet Amnesia.

How much more vulnerable is all that creativity locked away in the big social platforms?

This post by Euan Semple, which is an expression of moral relativism (or adjacet to it, at least), feels both elementally true to me - but also a dangerous way to think about one of the things he mentions: Facebook.

It feels, at some level, that it lets the people in charge off the hook.


Podcasting the great outdoors - one of the ways I try to disconnect from work over the weekend.

Spotify is trying to become podcasting’s gatekeeper. We musn’t let them.

Whatever happened to Yahoo’s digital time capsule?

Marie Boran asks if everyone has forgotten about Yahoo’s digital time capsule?:

This was to be opened on the company’s 25th anniversary on March 2nd, 2020, but the webpage looks abandoned; according to the webpage countdown there is still a decade left until the capsule opens.

So much of 90s/00s digital culture is gone. Future historian will lament that we were so careless with the archive of the formative days of our digital culture.