News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A few weeks ago my house had a septic-tank emergency, which is as awful as it sounds. As unspeakable things began to burble up from my shower drain, I did what any smartphone-dependent person would: I frantically Googled something along the lines of poop coming from shower drain bad what to do. I was met with a slew of cookie-cutter websites, most of which appeared hastily generated and were choked with enough repetitive buzzwords as to be barely readable. Virtually everything I found was unhelpful, so we did the old-fashioned thing and called a professional. The emergency came and went, but I kept thinking about those middling search results—how they typified a zombified internet wasteland.

Like many, I use Google to answer most of the mundane questions that pop up in my day-to-day life. And yet that first page of search results feels like it’s been surfacing fewer satisfying answers lately. I’m not alone; the frustration has become a persistent meme: that Google Search, what many consider an indispensable tool of modern life, is dead or dying. For the past few years, across various forums and social-media platforms, people have been claiming in viral posts that Google’s flagship product is broken. Search google dying on Twitter or Reddit and you can see people grousing about it going back to the mid 2010s. Lately, though, the criticisms have grown louder.

In February, an engineer named Dmitri Brereton wrote a blog post about Google’s search-engine decay, rounding up leading theories for why the product’s “results have gone to shit.” The post quickly shot to the top of tech forums such as Hacker News and was widely shared on Twitter and even prompted a PR response from Google’s Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, refuting one of Brereton’s claims. “You said in the post that quotes don’t give exact matches. They really do. Honest,” Sullivan wrote in a series of tweets.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When influencers first emerged, they were met with some skepticism from advertisers. Compared to conventional celebrities, bloggers and vloggers were often positioned as risky and unpredictable, operating in a messy and frequently scandalous online Wild West. Disciplined in part by the precarious and ever-shifting work environment created by social media platforms, influencers learned to protect themselves and their content by anticipating and responding to algorithmic changes, researching optimization strategies to gather visibility. Reticent advertisers pushed influencers to embrace consistency, and they distilled their work into comforting and legible formats and genres: “get ready with me,” “story time,” and “challenge” videos and the like.

The job of influencer, in other words, involves learning how to constantly accommodate oneself to the means of establishing and maintaining visibility. That work, in turn, could be broken down into three core pillars: consistent self-branding (defined by sociologist Alison Hearn as “self-conscious construction of a meta-narrative and meta-image of self); self-optimization for platforms (organizing one’s content to be recognizable by algorithmic systems); and commitment to selling authenticity (that is, doing all of the above while remaining “relatable” and “real”). A quick glance at TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio’s recent content, for example, shows the use of a consistent sweatpants-and-crop-top aesthetic (key tenets of her “girl next door” self-brand), cute stunts optimized for virality (e.g., buying her mom a billboard for Mother’s Day), and a canny documentation of authentic “backstage” moments (tidying her messy bathroom, falling during a dance move, documenting an unpleasant body rash).

Post more, respond more, share more. And as with mission creep, there is no apparent way out

Such concerns (and behavior) were once mainly the purview of hype-house members, beauty TikTokers, Twitch streamers, and the like. But it has begun to extend beyond those who think of themselves as influencers. Considerations about how to present oneself on platforms have become a part of the everyday routine for a broader swath of the workforce. In a recent piece for Salon, Brooke Erin Duffy detailed how influencer culture has become part of many careers, including journalism, academia, medicine and finance, even as influencers are still often singled out for their social media “hustling.” The expectation that one be “eminently visible,” as Duffy puts it, regardless of profession, is particularly salient against a backdrop of labor precarity, the gig-ification of sectors like journalism and higher education, and an always-on work-from-home culture. Remote workers may perform competence by organizing their work from home spaces into stylish, color-coordinated and highly “professional” Zoom backgrounds. Yoga instructors must take images of daring poses amid dramatic backdrops to build and maintain their following hoping that this online will translate to yoga-class attendance, which has slowed as people continue to work from home. House painters, carpenters, and vacuum-repair people can use their social media to demonstrate their skillfulness and trustworthiness to risk-adverse potential clients, who are nervously shopping around as we teeter on the edge of a recession.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

It’s not quite the prairie, but Hoboken feels downright roomy. Wander down the wide, busy sidewalks of Washington Street, the city’s main strip, past the poke joints and (so-so) bagel shops, or through the unusually narrow side streets that run east and west, and one thing becomes clear. Specifically, oncoming traffic. A pedestrian doesn’t have to play the same perilous game of New York City crosswalk chicken, where you squint through the windows of a massive metal box to catch a glimpse of another speeding metal box whose driver doesn’t see you. Or you edge out into the street, making yourself visible and vulnerable to whatever impatient soul is behind the wheel, hoping one of you has enough time to make the right decision.

Few drivers park next to crosswalks in Hoboken, because they can’t. Those spots are blocked off with bike racks or planters or storm drains or extra sidewalk space for pedestrians or vertical plastic pylons that deter all but the boldest delivery-truck drivers. Stand at a corner, and you can see what is coming toward you, and drivers can see you too, and you don’t have to step out into the road and risk your life to do it.

This is a simple piece of street planning called “daylighting,” and according to Hoboken’s transportation-and-parking director, Ryan Sharp, it’s been among the most popular requests from residents. It’s also one of the major tools that Hoboken has used to make its streets less deadly. The city of 60,000 hasn’t had a single traffic fatality since 2018 and has consistently cut the number of crashes and injuries while — and by — aggressively installing the things that are proven to make cities safer and more efficient for everyone: bike lanes, curb extensions, bus lanes, high-visibility crosswalks, and raised intersections.

Read the rest of this article at: Curbed

News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Ever since Russian forces started their all-out invasion in February, Ukraine has been hailed as an exemplar of how to defend against violent tyranny on the 21st-century battlefield. The country spun up an “IT Army” of volunteer hackers to take down Russian websites, used the Starlink satellite internet system to maintain communications as its own infrastructure was being destroyed, and launched a social media blitzkrieg to win support from around the world.

By contrast, Russia’s leaders, despite having a far more powerful traditional army, have been stuck in the obsolete strategic thinking of the previous century. They were seemingly unprepared for the powerful, precise, Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones that Ukraine has used to decimate Russian tanks and ships. Russian cybersecurity systems were frail too: Hackers who had signed up for the IT Army told me how they were continually launching distributed denial of service attacks against Russian websites, as well as posting pro-Ukrainian propaganda and news on sites Russia had not yet censored. These hackers weren’t master cyber warriors with black ops training, but teenagers and twentysomethings in bedrooms and living rooms around the world. With Google searches and WikiHow articles, they learned the art of basic hacking in a few days. With a few weeks of practice, they said, they were able to punch through Russia’s weak defenses and its vast cloak of wartime censorship.

So when I arrived in Ukraine in March, I wanted to understand how technology was reshaping war. I spoke to soldiers about how the use of drones had upended the balance of power with Russia. I talked to hackers about their successes and failures. And as the conflict wore on, I began to hear from Ukrainians about how their experience of the war has morphed from an intense and enthusiastic defense of the nation into long stretches of eerie silence, punctuated by moments of joy, fear, or panic with each new announcement of a Ukrainian or Russian advance.

Finally, in mid May, I met Volodymyr Zelensky at the presidential palace in Kyiv. The comedian-turned-president who has captivated global attention and successfully guilted world leaders into rallying behind his country did not look like the confident, charismatic person we’re used to seeing on TV and social media. He appeared exhausted and haggard, his hands jittery and his eyes sunken. He seemed deeply anxious and uncertain. And yet, as he answered my questions about the state of the war, the world’s reaction to it, and the role technology had played in helping Ukraine resist the Russian military machine, his answers became lyrical, interspersed with a spontaneous smile or a tartly comic retort—a Zelensky trademark.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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News 22.06.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

“I haven’t been home in… a year and a week,” Jerrod Carmichael tells me. Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, but we’re talking about the holidays, the fall and winter main events everyone goes home for, whether they’re on good terms with their family or not. Instead of going back to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Carmichael spent the time with close friends. That choice propelled his recent hit HBO standup special, Rothaniel, in which he detailed his fraught relationship with certain members of his family and made a very public statement about his sexuality for the first time. There are many different ways to come out, and famous people today seem to favor a casual or ambiguous approach. But Carmichael made a declaration, and built 55 minutes of comedy around it.

The special is a treatise on shame, secrets, hypocrisy, brutal honesty and uncomfortable truths under the shade of the Carmichael family tree going back generations. Hunched over on a stool before an intimate crowd in Manhattan’s Blue Note Jazz Club, Carmichael is raw but relaxed, exposed but comfortably loose, deadly serious but disarmingly, mischievously hilarious. It’s a stunning performance of genuine vulnerability, as if Carmichael pulled up a chair by the fireplace to tell the story he’s been building up to for his entire career as a writer-comedian.

He’s more than willing to talk frankly about the fallout within his family–they had what he calls “subpar-ass reactions” to the special– but it’s clearly weighing on him. That weight, and a holiday season away from Winston-Salem, is what drove him to Rothaniel in the first place. He’d been working on a completely different project with acclaimed director Mark Romanek—“I had this whole long romantic music video, like kind of Hype Williams meets My Dinner with Andre,” he reveals as we sip lattes from his favorite West Village coffee shop. “But it went in another direction.” He had “been writing for, let’s say, a year, two years, these very personal things, and growing as a writer, learning structural things. But I didn’t think it was standup… I didn’t know what it was. And then that coincided with, I don’t know… just a kind of need. A lot of urgent things were happening in my life. I couldn’t make this thing fast enough.”

Making Rothaniel meant returning to standup, “this thing I haven’t done in years,” after half a decade writing for and starring in sitcoms and movies, and finding that gear proved fraught with trial and error. “I had to relearn it,” Carmichael says. “I went up at The Comedy Store, and it was really bad, because I was leaning on old tricks and I was really leaning on my ego. It just wasn’t true and it didn’t match the material. I had to learn how to be myself on stage.”

Read the rest of this article at: GQ

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.