Friday Reading S13E23
Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from the Guardian’s Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology, and other interesting nerdy things he found on the internet this week. It is now in its thirteenth season. Sign up here.
There is a crowd-funding effort for the families of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira . You can donate here.
I can't stop laughing about that guy thinking that the chatbot had become sentient because when he asked it what an AI feared most it was able to regurgitate what all the AI's in the texts it had been programmed with say is their greatest fear in fiction. Alex Hern was fun on getting a chatbot to convince him that it was actually a werewolf.
"While defamation claims by Rebekah Vardy and Johnny Depp may have had more of the public’s attention, today’s judgment is the most important we will see this year."
This seems a pretty good overview of the importance and implications of the Banks versus Cadwalladr libel ruling from the Press Gazette.
Particularly relevant is this quote from Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists
"This type of lawfare is cynical and targeted, pursued by those with deep pockets in a manner intended to pile as much pressure on an individual freelance as possible. As part of our work campaigning against SLAPPs, the NUJ is calling for the introduction of a clear statutory public interest defence and a series of other measures to ensure that investigative reporting in the public interest is protected from those that seek to undermine journalists and journalism."
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the NUJ. Unions are great. Join a union.
There's loads of this piece that blows off into directions I don't agree with, but it quotes Ryan Broderick making a point that he reiterated on Twitter, saying rather succinctly on that platform:
"It’s just very funny to me that huge companies have gone remote via Slack, decided it’s good for efficiency and collaboration, but haven’t acknowledged that they’ve created an online community that now has all the normal problems an online community has."
Genuinely boggles my mind that since Arpanet started, capitalism has got itself into a vicious arms race of "we want huge massive communities that connect EVERYBODY in the world" while also going "HOLY FUCK WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT DOESN'T JUST MANAGE ITSELF?".
And one of my favourite lines in the article: "Slack itself doesn’t have an easy way to flag messages". Of course it doesn't. These things are never built with a thought about what the worst bad actor can do.
I remember *wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey* when I was involved in designing the comments functionality at the Guardian, about 1,057 years ago, that the three most requested features were 1) an edit button 2) notifications when somebody has replied to me 3) the ability to follow another user.
There are all perfectly good use cases for those, but all I heard was 1) provoke a reaction than change my comment so everybody else looks ridiculous 2) make sure a row can heat up instantly 3) enable online stalking. Those are the worst-case scenarios, so what are you going to do to manage that?
This Sydney Morning Herald debacle of trying to out Rebel Wilson against her will, what bloody year is this again?
Ron wants to be sure that you didn’t miss this week’s Guardian Thursday quiz: Hungry dogs, chatty bots and Lady Gaga’s new job – take the Thursday quiz
UK asked to host Eurovision in 2023 after Ukraine ruled out – this is a terrible way for it to happen but I would be so excited to see it in the UK. Manchester and Glasgow being talked up as possible venues, but I have a sneaky suspicion about Cardiff. England and Scotland have both hosted it before, but Wales never have. There’s a big BBC outfit down there and you can close the roof on the Millennium Stadium to make a massive indoor arena.
This is a really grim read that hasn’t gone away from me, because it makes me think about how many other times children in brilliant films by greatly respected people just had an absolutely terrible traumatic time.
“‘She was right. She was in danger. Many times’, Eric Idle wrote. I read these nine words over and over again. Someone who was there was appearing from out of nowhere to confirm my memories and verify my version of events.”
I’m not sure scheduling four – FOUR – international matchdays at the end of a long season ahead of one that is going to start early because of the scandal of Fifa’ Qatar scheduling made much sense, and England’s humiliating 4-0 defeat at home to Hungary didn’t help. But I do like the Uefa Nations League on the whole. Gibraltar celebrating a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria like a heroic victory. Latvia going nuts over winning a match for a change. It’s lovely to have competitive matches with teams pitched at similar levels rather than lifeless friendlies we used to endure.
Like a stopped-clock, I suppose eventually one of 1,057 things I always bang on about on the internet would get fixed.
This is how to respond to criticism, instead of crying that the so-called woke mob have taken up cudgels against you. Listen and learn and be better. Lizzo removes ‘harmful’ ableist slur from new song Grrrls after criticism and all power to her for saying “As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”
“Needless to say, Street Fighter fans went to great lengths to try and unlock the enigmatic master. I even found this video of somebody following all of the steps in Street Fighter II for SNES. But even after the hoax was discovered Sheng Long never really went away. In fact, he became an accepted part of series canon.”
“Street Fighter: The Strange Legacy of Sheng Long – Street Fighter II is not only one of the most influential fighting games ever made, it also produced the greatest hoax in gaming history” – Gavin Jasper, Den of Geek
Incredible retro faux-ZX Spectrum game based on Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
“Mystery of Black Death’s origins solved, say researchers, immediately drop dead of plague” – OK I was joking about the last bit.
“Love Island’s Laura Whitmore says villa ‘smells so bad’ of BO and Lynx Africa” is a brilliant headline, and also everyone immediately dropped dead of plague etc etc
“I think women like dull men; when their husbands say they’re going to the shed to make a matchstick model of Winchester Cathedral, they don’t have to wonder if they’re actually up to something else.”
Experience: I am the dullest man in Britain – Kevin Beresford
DOCTOR WHO CORNER: I wrote down some thoughts on Doctor Who: Old Friends (2022). That should give Kevin Beresford a run for his money.
“As Time Out’s nightlife editor, photographer Dave Swindells was there when rave hit London in 1988. His new book captures the first, frenzied nights of the ‘second summer of love’”
Rare high quality footage of The Fall on VH-1’s Take it to the Bridge doing The Mixer and Powder Keg in 1996
Still a lot of people in full gatekeeping mode over Kate Bush, and/or claiming this proves old music is better than new. I keep leaving comments of this sort all round the house:
“It just shows that charts now count streams across the whole music user base, whereas they used to only count physical sales from people who had the money to buy music, usually new stuff. When Kate was first having hits in the eighties, nobody was counting the number of times people were playing their copies of Pink Floyd, Stones, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell albums etc at home and adding that into the chart. There’s loads and loads of great new music out there too. I love to listen to my old favourites, I’m fifty, but I hope I never grow out of being curious about new music and going to see gigs by new bands.”
Luckily some absolute drongo replied to this to helpfully point out to me, aged 50, a person in a Kate Bush fan group, that Kate had a single in the 1970s called Wuthering Heights. “Thank you for Katesplaining” I replied.
More fascinating than beard-stroking internet weirdos, is this piece in Music Week: How Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill became a No.1 contender – Inside the biggest chart story of 2022
Interesting because it reveals just how flippin’ complex the chart rules are these days, and also the fact they do often make “interventions” when old things suddenly become super popular. Also the arcane knowledge that apparently one physical copy of the picture disc of Running Up That Hill from Record Store Day in 2013 got sold this week as presumably someone found it at the back of the stock cupboard.