News 05.07.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

News 05.07.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web
News 05.07.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web
News 05.07.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

I was trying to find a TikTok video to show my mom when the realization hit me: I am becoming her.

That is to say, I’ve aged out of the intended and desired audience for popular new apps. They’re no longer made with me in mind, and there’s a steeper learning curve that I’m less willing to overcome. Apps used to be intuitive to me and gave me the experience I wanted and expected. TikTok does not. At first, I assumed it’s because I’m past whatever the age threshold is for learning new things, like the boomers singled out in a popular Facebook group for making basic posting mistakes. This sort of thing is suddenly less funny to me.

But maybe it’s not so much that I’m old, but rather I’m old school. TikTok is the ultimate example of how our digital world is shifting from seemingly limitless possibilities and choice — the internet of my formative years — into a controlled experience that’s optimized to know or decide what we want and then deliver it to us. And TikTok is one of the best examples of this change.

TikTok is also one of the most popular apps in the world, so, to be absolutely clear, this is more of a me problem than it is a TikTok one. Younger people are TikTok’s core user base, but the app is not exclusive to them. People of all ages use TikTok just fine. Some find it even easier to use than other social media apps, and they like it more, too. You don’t have to be a digital mobile app native to get TikTok. But I bet that helps a lot.


Read the rest of this article at: Vox

Without institutions and practices that can establish and preserve the credibility of information, there is no solid ground for democratic discourse. What we will see instead is an “arms race of ploy and counterploy” in which the whole notion of objectivity is a casualty of the battle of truths, as Daniel Dennett, the philosopher of consciousness, has put it.

Indeed, we are already seeing all that is solid melting into information we no longer know if we can trust. As another philosopher, Byung-Chul Han, observed in an interview with Noema, democracy requires a common narrative of binding values, ideals and shared convictions. But “the informatization of reality leads to its atomization — separated spheres of what is thought to be true. … Bits of information provide neither meaning nor orientation. They do not congeal into a narrative. They are purely additive. From a certain point onward, they no longer inform — they deform.”

Today, he argues, democracy has given way to “infocracy” as peer-to-peer connectivity “redirects the flows of communication. Information is spread without forming a public sphere. It is produced in private spaces and distributed to private spaces. The web does not create a public.”

Writing in Noema, Renée DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory points out that the elite gatekeepers of yesterday’s mass media were often castigated for “manufacturing consent” among a “phantom” public by leaving too many voices out. What may be worse is that the structural fragmentation of today’s digital media ecosystem is manufacturing a level of dissensus detrimental to the possibility of arriving at consensually agreed truths necessary to hold any society together.

Read the rest of this article at: Noema

Gen Zers are still in the early stages of their careers and personal finance journeys, but their financial habits are already proving to be radically different from those of their predecessors. With heightened levels of anxiety about the future grounded in very real socioeconomic and environmental issues, Gen Zers are reconfiguring their approach to money.

For those beacons of anti-capitalism and pivotal figures in the Great Resignation, financial success in the age of “late-stage capitalism” looks very different from how other generations may have defined it.

Gen Zers have encountered their own set of unique challenges entering the workforce at a time of global societal uncertainty. From graduating during a global pandemic to current fears around inflation, wage stagnation, growing inequality, and an impending recession, many feel that the cards are stacked against them. A recent study by Fidelity Investments found that 45% of people ages 18 to 35 “don’t see a point in saving until things return to normal.” In that same age group, 55% said they put retirement planning on hold during the pandemic.

The future doesn’t look much better. With growing anxiety around climate change and the deterioration of traditional safety nets like Social Security, there is a general air of unease amongst many Gen Zers.

Read the rest of this article at: Fortune

News 05.07.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

In 1863, when much of the United States was anguishing over the Civil War, an entrepreneur named Michael Phelan was fretting about billiard balls. At the time, the balls were made of ivory, preferably obtained from elephants from Ceylon—now Sri Lanka—whose tusks were thought to possess just the right density. Phelan, who owned a billiard hall and co-owned a billiard-table-manufacturing business, also wrote books about billiards and was a champion billiards player. Owing in good part to his efforts, the game had grown so popular that tusks from Ceylon—and, indeed, elephants more generally—were becoming scarce. He and a partner offered a ten-thousand-dollar reward to anyone who could come up with an ivory substitute.

A young printer from Albany, John Wesley Hyatt, learned about the offer and set to tinkering. In 1865, he patented a ball with a wooden core encased in ivory dust and shellac. Players were unimpressed. Next, Hyatt experimented with nitrocellulose, a material made by combining cotton or wood pulp with a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids. He found that a certain type of nitrocellulose, when heated with camphor, yielded a shiny, tough material that could be molded into practically any shape. Hyatt’s brother and business partner dubbed the substance “celluloid.” The resulting balls were more popular with players, although, as Hyatt conceded, they, too, had their drawbacks. Nitrocellulose, also known as guncotton, is highly flammable. Two celluloid balls knocking together with sufficient force could set off a small explosion. A saloon owner in Colorado reported to Hyatt that, when this happened, “instantly every man in the room pulled a gun.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 05.07.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

Clicking the channel over to Turner Classic Movies, with its ad-free screenings of old films, curated introductions by experts, and interviews with directors and movie historians, is a genuine pleasure. The channel’s deep library, presented with thought and care and largely composed of titles from the history of Warner Bros., MGM, and RKO, is one of the most impressive film archives around, and it’s available to basically any cable subscriber. There are few viewing experiences left in the world of television that I might call “wholesome,” but TCM is one of them.

So last week’s news that TCM—a small part of the Warner Bros. Discovery media umbrella—had been targeted for layoffs and budget cuts by Warner CEO David Zaslav felt like a sad reflection of our current media landscape. TCM’s existence felt anomalous in a world where even big streaming networks are starting to push out ad-supported tiers; its expert curation was a rarity, given that most apps burden the viewer with picking what to watch from thousands of choices with very little guidance. TCM is where I’ve watched many unheralded masterpieces for the first time, scouring through the listings to find noir classics and Golden Age musicals, but also underseen gems such as Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground and Paul Bartel’s Eating Raoul.

Anxiety about TCM’s future has simmered since Warner Bros. began its merger with Discovery in 2022. Zaslav started to make cuts across the portfolio once the deal was completed, letting employees go and even shelving entire finished films as part of tax write-offs. In January, TCM’s long-running host Ben Mankiewicz reassured fans that the channel’s future was secure, saying Zaslav was passionate about TCM. Six months later, Zaslav slashed the channel’s staff from 90 to “about 20,” according to The Wrap; the cuts included Pola Changnon, TCM’s general manager who’d logged 25 years at the company. Changnon and many of the other people let go had deep institutional knowledge of the network’s library, which informed TCM’s masterful curation.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic