I personally have been noticing more and more how technology and algorithms seem to bounding expression online and off, particularly around content creation, but also with influencers and personal branding and so on. It feels like 90% of the shit being pumped out is super amplified to draw notice or for signaling, and while this is not a new phenomenon of course, it still feels weird to see ordinary people at restaurants taking pictures of their food, or sucking up to some corporation online for the chance to win a prize
I feel this pressure too. The pressure to get noticed. To tailor content to what will rack of the most views. To post that tweet that will make me look like a smart, funny guy who has something valuable to say and oh by the way you should totally follow me. And I hate it. And I try not to care about numbers. But it still feels really shitty when something you spent a month working on and genuinely find really cool gets a total of ten views while a picture of a goat in a sweater just when viral. And what if the audience is right?
There has to be something better. I hope that we can grow beyond changing ourselves to fit the algorithm, and re-focus on using technology to create new ways of sharing and expressing and relating to each other. One fun example of this that Lanier gave: creating technology that would let people communicate like cuttlefish (specifically the shifting skin colors and textures). That optimistic vision still feels as radical and fresh today as it did when I first read the book in 2010. I just hope it's not too late
I personally think you are in for a very rude awakening. This is exactly what people are trying not to do with Machine Learning. It is always, almost, about profiling you, about finding out who you are in order to offer you what you already know, to limit your horizon, to "tailor" your "experience" and the span of possibilities.
As a very technical fellow told me: "when you read three political news in a row we set a badge, you are now politically minded."
This, sadly, doesn't fit your yearning for us growing "beyond changing ourselves to fit the algorithm."
My prediction is that it will get worst before it gets any better at all.
The first thing we'd probably do with cuttlefish suits anyways is stick ads all over them. Then the company that makes them would get acquired
Of course it will be abused, and it will be abused from the outset. The powers that be already define hate speech vs dissent, propaganda vs news, terrorists vs. freedom fighters, scientism vs science, et cetera.
Big Tech and Western governments together control of the flow of information. Previously, the blue-flavored regime held that control and abused it terribly. Now, the red-flavored regime has it, and people are finally noticing. God help us if people far, far worse gain that control in the future and start defining what is unacceptable speech.
This is an easy target. Whenever you get that argument you go all: "it's a bit unsettling that you find censor-happy human-out-of-the-loop algorimhms good, but I thank you for you honesty."
Then you recall that you are a programmer: "you know what, I should definitely program an algorithm that censors all positive talk about censor-happy human-out-of-the-loop algorithms. Thanks for the idea."
The corollary is 30 ton tractor trailer changing lanes on the highway, and concluding that there's no traffic because it would prefer not to see it.
Censoring the rear view mirrors is a bad idea no matter how much you hate what you see in them.
Facebook was an effective rear view mirror, for a whole lot of us. The more savvy among us could see the storm clouds gathering on the horizon literally almost since the beginning , but certainly by late 2014/early 2015 it was plainly obvious that psyops were afoot, though even to a lot of plugged in hackernews type people the full-blown industrial scale of it all wasn't immediately obvious.
That's whats so insidious. It's the model. It's the first person perspective that facebook locks you into. It looks like reality, and it contains people you know, but it is not real.
You don't really know who wrote what, who liked what, etc. There's no global view of facebook for a user. I think that's the problem.
The first person view that you're locked into with facebook, makes it trivial to manufacture the appearance of group consensus when no such thing exists in the real world (if you have access to the backend).
The problem really is facebook, not the concept of social media all together. The problem is also that Facebook knew what it was doing. They were building a political doomsday machine from the get-go, they knew that's what they were doing, and they designed specifically to that goal for a decade with practically limitless funding.
Perhaps was my comment too hypothetical? :]
Thankfully, this sort of thing is exactly what the Internet was designed for ..
Senator Grassley also said yesterday at the very end of the Zuckerberg hearing that he hopes someone with Zuck's influence and other such platforms would do something to "reduce the cynicism people have towards Congress."
That sounded pretty scary. I get that the mainstream media (and more recently Facebook propaganda, but this is definitely a much older issue) is partly to blame for polarizing America, but asking companies to actively try to influence how people think about their governments sounds like the wrong direction to take to me. I also don't think it's any better than say Fox News trying to polarize people.
This is what many don't understand, or don't want to understand, this is why some big players are pissed at Facebook, very very pissed.
She was supposed to win, they had to help her win.
Date: 2016-01-02 22:07
Subject: RE: Happy New Year
I am thrilled at the progress Hillary is making.
2015 was challenging, but we ended in a good place thanks to your help and support.
Look forward to working with you to elect the first woman President of the United States.
Have a great New Year.
I was hoping that when they started realizing the potential, they'd feel threatened and require it to cease working that way. Instead they all run PR campaigns on social media, and they probably collect data on their voters too if they can.
It's just too disgusting to bear. Not just the US either, this is happening all across Europe.
At first I stopped in from time to time to get my outrage on (I never interact with them, just read) and to feel smug that I am intellectually superior to them and their followers.
But then I realized that if way back, at the very beginning of your thought process you start from a false premise, everything else can follow reasonable and logical methods. It's almost like chaos theory, small differences in the starting position can have vastly outsized differences at the end.
I've used this experience to go back and look at my "starting" positions. And I've horrified myself too. So on the whole it's been an enlightening experience.
So now I can say that I am firmly on my way to understanding them now (and myself too) even though I diagram with them vehemently.
I don't use Facebook much, but if I did, I would want to be able to tell the algorithm "take 50% of what you want to show me based on my preferences and show me the exact opposite"
The problem is that your definition of bullshit might be different than mine, so any filter you come up with will have issues.
If you think you've got yourself into a situation where you're immune to the filter bubble, that just means you've created one so comfortable that you never get prodded by anything.
For me this is where these YT tropes get interesting. When you get past the thumbnails of the mega channels with multiple full time employees who are obviously doing something very baity and strategic, you’re left with the ordinary channels who mimic these tropes likely without deep consideration or even consciousness.
It’s just more of a will to survive kind of thing, and thus an entire ecosystem shapes its own desires by way of unknowingly optimizing for an algorithm which itself is based on honing in on community trends.
Can we not design a better fitness function?
People do write replies, but I feel the conversation is much terse these days. I enjoy HN because in general the crowd here is more mature and willing to invest in an informative thoughtout reply instead of just witty one-liners for karma (which I'm glad people here downvote).
But yeah, I wonder what if we took away the "likes". We had an internet and community without them before.
PS Thanks for the book recommendation.
I'm not sure how recent that phenomenon actually is. I think it's more that the social tools where people congregate made it easier and even incentivize responses.
A larger number of people with less to say will respond because these systems are designed to cultivate response.
You can ignore prime top level directives only for so long.
This is an interesting thought. It does simplify expression, but in sum I don't think it's that much different than life before the like button.
We press the like button all the time in real life. Giving thumbs up, a quick nod of the head, or clapping.
From that standpoint, the like button is just the digital manifestation of how we showed engagement with "content".
Where I see we run into problems is that a "like" has different meanings depending on the person and context. Unfortunately algorithms aren't able to fully understand these nuances yet, so we end up with the same stream of youtube videos in our feed or the same 5 songs in our pandora playlist. Which means on the backend we're stuck with a certain set of "almost-but-not-quite-right" labels in a system which will then make "almost-but-not-quite-right" decisions.
Folks at the edges may get incorrectly lumped into the wrong group and, in milder cases, receive content they aren't interested in, in extreme cases, be flagged as a "potential terrorist".
It's tough. I do think my life is generally better off with intelligent algos removing friction, aiding in discovery, and anticipating my needs. But to do so, those same algos need an almost infinite amount of info about me to be able to infer context and nuance.
> We press the like button all the time in real life. Giving thumbs up, a quick nod of the head, or clapping.
Oh no, I don't think real life expressions can be summed or approximated into a binary thumbs up vs no thumbs up (there's no thumbs down). For example, we express a lot more by how eagerly we raise our hands while giving a thumbs up, or how our eyes approve (or disapprove) while giving the quick nod, or how hard (or sarcastically mild) we clap.
I think there is always an amount of uncertainty in real life expression that gets lost the moment we transform them into certain form.
My point is more about the way people use the like button has corresponding actions in "real life".
A thumbs up can be used to convey a variety of emotions. Happiness, irony, and other meanings depending on culture.
However on FB, the like button has an implied set of narrow usage. You use it to acknowledge, approve, like things. It's not as useful as in real-life because you can't as easily interpret context or add accompanying signals like a furrowed brow or a smile.
The usage set is more narrow/different and I think most people recognize that when they give a thumbs up on FB vs. when they do so in real life.
I find this really frustrating in the arts and entertainment space - the bar for entry seems to be getting higher and higher because of these ultra competitive optimisations. I guess the difference now is that people view making video content on the internet as a career (or at least a way to make money) rather than just as a hobby.
He replied 'I haven't stepped in a supermarket in months, I do all my groceries online. It is much more efficient'.
I have to admit I felt dumb for not optimising my time like he does. But reflecting on it, I feel sad that our private time is becoming a soulless corporate enterprise where everything has to be optimised.
Your private time is just that, yours. I tried doing the over optimizing and in the end, it stressed me out way too much.
I do see human contact in the grocery store... it's between the employees of the store, who know each other, and actually have some sort of relationship, not with the faceless masses that transiently stream through. Of course they don't get to just chat the whole time, but humans being humans, they manage to find some time.
If you choose to value relationships with the people around you then the world doesn't have to have changed very much at all.
My point is, compared to going to the butcher and baker, who are artisans running businesses that are to some extent expressions of theirselves and maybe even their heritage, a supermarket is relatively soulless.
Save the time and do something like dance, art, or sports.
I recently started playing Sea of thieves and it is a breath of fresh air. There are no gameplay changing items, and no real purpose to grinding, meaning the journey and execution of your goals are the focus. Sure you are getting sweet loot, but when it boils down to it there is actually no real purpose for getting more gold in the game.
It really shifts the focus and also means there is no "perfect play" or wholy correct way to play the game.
Right, so you can boost the signal (curators, youtube face, clickbait title) or reduce the noise (lesser crappy content). Reducing the noise seems to be harder when so many people have this false confidence that their half-baked ideas are worth sharing.
I was Raid Leader and Guild leader (my guild was second on the server) in WoW and it was always like that. It's about time optimization, raids are really hard for newbies, they stand in shit and some of the raids on early stages are for example DPS oriented (kill the boss before he enrages etc) so you need to have good gear and know your rotation. When raid wipe because of you after 10 minutes of boss fighting and then again same thing on same boss happens, people get angry because you are holding them down, the whole team. If someone has 60 minutes that day to clear whole raid then he wants to play with experienced people and not to wipe very often.
You should do LFR first couple of times, all dungeons and special daily quests to get around your BiS gear from non-normal+ raid sources. You should watch on youtube guides to know how to fight particular boss too, you should come prepared for raid.
I recently spotted a channel that features what seems to be animal traps (for mice, snakes, fish etc). All of their videos have hundreds of thousands of views, and all are 100% fake. It's hard to know if you're not outdoortsy, but they're all fake.
Essentially they're not just producing garbage content, they're also intentionally damaging the perception and world model of the people watching their videos.
Why is this "allowed" to run? Why aren't the knowledgable people calling them out? Because Youtube completely destroyed the comment feedback system.
Negative comments and critisism is burried, new comments and unpopular/harsh comment are deranked, so all you get is dumb catchy comments that increase view time.
Of course this is only the top of the iceburg in a sea of garbage content, but it shows where we're heading, and it'll only get worse with the proliferation of machine learning tools, especially lifelike text-to-speech technologies.
The "hey guys" think is more about a certain overly-enthusiastic and grating tone and approach, see Unbox Therapy for example.
"One weird trick to find the 13 most extreme reaction faces to mundane topics (you won't believe how number 5 lets you make money from home!)"
COPS CALLED!! (NOT CLICKBAIT)
WHAT'S up guys, today we're ...
Maybe I should look into a browser extension that de-caps such texts...
It used to be that in order to drive clicks you needed to have female cleavage in your thumbnail. One YouTuber (RadicalSoda) still includes an image of a cartoon woman showing generous cleavage in each of his videos, despite himself being the only person actually appearing in most of them.
And then there's YouTube voice. I don't even think I can imitate it but there's a distinctive cadence and inflection that YouTubers seem to have embraced. I once saw a ten-year-old use it in a toy-company-sponsored video. Yes, ten-year-old kid paid to hawk toys on YouTube instead of just playing with them or whatever. Then again, we have stories of some Hackernews hearing their 3-year-old use "don't forget to like and subscribe!" as a farewell.
There's a link in the OP to an article analyzing this: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/12/the-l...
Eh, it's basically newscaster voice with added emotion. Not any weirder than any other profession where clear understandable diction is important.
You can see it on this video:
I didn’t upload this thumbnail, YouTube picked it. If you looked through the video manually you might not even notice that such an expressive YouTube face was in there, but YouTube found it when I uploaded it and picked it as the thumbnail.
These YouTube thumbnails are basically pushing all the buttons in the human brain as hard as they can without getting whacked from the site. The only harder button I can think of is nudity but that won't be permitted. (In fact, if you've never thought of it this way before, consider that it won't be permitted precisely because it hits the buttons too hard. There are reasons beyond stereotypical moralistic "prudery" to resist slathering public spaces in nudity and sexual content.) So once they burn out this button... which they will, eventually, though much like the market, people can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent, so to speak... what comes next? People will eventually develop a sort of mental callous around this and on one level or another resist being yanked around so casually. What will replace it?
And it bothers me. Even Linus put up a video explaining that he's sorry for the annoying thumbnails but it drives views.
It's like the 90s where ads became increasingly intrusive to attract the user's attention (flash animations, games, showing some skin, etc). But then you had Google come along and say "text ads only", and that seems to have curtailed how bad ads can get.
So whatever solution happens will have to happen from the top down.
He seems to have the same facial expression in all of them. I don't think putting a big picture of your face on the preview is a bad thing, it makes it easier to visually filter videos by creator.
(I'm actually a bit concerned it might be too effective. It may be the case that anyone wise enough to properly use one has already worked out other effective mechanisms to obtain the effect with less of the danger.)
Also, this thing exists: https://pavlok.com/
The idea is that these pictures will be in a library of thousands, and it has to stand out, regular faces don't. It is not a YouTube thing. It happens even in traditional newspapers as they battle against each other in the newsstand.
Also, I wouldn't say all of these are clickbait. The Needle Drop's videos are basically all just him making hilarious faces.
Traditionally, clickbait refers to a type of optimisation for more 'static' media outlets- those with more rigid publishing chain: writer <editor <owner.
Youtube's low barrier to publishing disrupts that, so we now have viewers assuming editor + owner role with their newfound power of directing attention. So now users demand to be catered to. Sense on entitlement is at the center of this thing.
It's definitely a problem. Clickbait thumbnails blatantly misleading people into clicking. It comes down to poor link integrity, which Google was apparently against at one time, now they basically encourage it.
There's great stuff on youtube, but the trash pile is bigger than ever and gets more clicks.
The classic example one of the oldest custom thumbnails on youtube that I recall, is that roller-coaster in mid air. Millions of views, as people clicked to see a coaster they didn't know existed. Of course, the video has no such coaster, and as a result thousands of dislikes. But who cares about dislikes when you have 40m views and counting on a rubbish generic video with misleading thumbnail.
I mean, I know we are living through basically the same thing with climate change and large corporations in reality but a novel would be cool too.
He's a musician and synthesizer enthusiast, granted electronic music and synths have taken on a pretty youthful market in recent years (thanks to cheaper products and a larger acceptance of the genre) but Andrew becoming a YouTube personality in this space was definitely met with backlash from the community.
It wasn't for the content itself, I really respect the guy as both a musician and video editor, but it's the gimmicky persona, the little "signature" things he does in his videos, the all too-perfect sheen put on top of his content, the silly faces on the video thumbnails that draw people's attention, the inauthenticity of it all. It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, at least in the electronic music/synthesizer communities I visit (full of people who have been working with synths and modular instruments since the 70s/80s).
Now I realize it's not just his gimmick, it's everyone who hopes to ranks' gimmick!
> YouTube, a subsidiary of the holding company Alphabet, Inc. — formerly Google, Inc.
YouTube isn't an Alphabet company, but still part of Google itself.
Here's the exact channel that caused me to realize: https://www.youtube.com/user/Davie504
This is a message I'm always teaching my kids "these are actors, they don't act like normal people, they exaggerate and pretend, are fictional, etc". They've seemed to pick up on the fact that these strange creatures before them are truly out of our everyday experience and are treated accordingly rather than taken as an actual subpopulation of folks they just haven't met yet.
Side note is he coining the term "YouTube Face"? I've never heard that before...
AVGN makes those faces all the way throughout his videos, because he is an actor, and he is acting out an exaggeration of his frustrations with video games. If it weren't acting, then you'd see the same level of crazy in common video game review articles.