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Today in techno-pragmatism, and Intern Meggie is coming in hot.
Katie Notopoulos has some ideas on how to fix the internet but since they’re in MIT Tech Review instead of BuzzFeed News (RIP) she apparently had to recap the entire history of the internet first. If you’re familiar with the 2,500 words worth of events between Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog and the launch of Instagram Threads, you can skip down to “How to fix it“ where Katie proposes that the answers are:
Pay for stuff,
More blogs, Discord communities, etc.
Across Discord servers and Telegram group chats, potentially thousands of people participate in what is loosely known as Comm, a nebulous network of hackers, gamers, and young girls who are sometimes targeted by other participants.
…the overriding context of many relationships inside Comm is that of members trying to control and threaten girls.
Chats from other Comm members show that at one end of the spectrum, the men get clingy and defensive, saying they somehow “own” this girl. As the scale moves further to the right, that activity becomes darker. Girls are told to write the hacker’s handle onto the body in pen. That writing can sometimes be in blood. Some of the men extort the girls to produce sexual imagery or videos, which can then be used to blackmail and control them further. On the far end of that spectrum, the men sometimes point weapons into the girl’s face, and film it for their amusement.
Look I don’t really disagree with Katie—I mean here I am writing a newsletter where one of the main selling points for a paid subscription is our excellent private Discord (see Claire Zulkey on that in Inbox Collective today, bee tee dubs). But Dave Karpf’s response to Marc Andreessen’s magnum doofus “Techno-Optimist Manifesto” is a good reminder that human social problems can’t be solved with technology alone. In his concept of “technological pragmatism” Karpf rejects both techno-optimism and techno-pessimism as a false dichotomy and suggests that instead we need to ask questions like:
(1) how do these technologies actually work? What are their actually-existing capacities and limitations?
(2) how are they likely to be incorporated into existing social practices? What economic, political, and cultural practices will they amplify? What will they disrupt? How will the existing institutional forces of money and power warp their deployment?
(3) who is positioned to do what to alter this likely trajectory? Which possibilities ought to be promoted or foreclosed, and through what means?
A Discord server can be used to coördinate a Bitcoin heist, or to coördinate a relay race team. A hammer can build things or break things. No platform or protocol can provide less toxic online experiences by itself, what matters is how much care and thought we put into how we use them.
How’s The House?
The Wall St. Journal published a real “bosses say” of an article about U.S. workers (specifically the Lazy Youngs) finally taking some of the meager sick time they’re owed, here in the fourth year of a pandemic. I know a lot of people don’t have a WSJ subscription so I’ve included below a lightly-edited screenshot that I think conveys the general gist.
Intern Meggie came in HOT today, let’s go—
The “Justin Timberlake is Canceled Tour” is rolling through town this week and Honey? I’m driving the Bus!! Britney Spears opened up to People Magazine in a feature discussing excerpts from her memoir “The Woman in Me” about her Blackout period, shaving her head, and—oh yeah—HAVING AN ABORTION WITH JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE.
The starlet said the decision was reached primarily on his behalf. Justin was not ready to be a father and Britney did not see a baby as a tragedy. Meanwhile Justin didn’t want the book to come out and wants everyone to “move on from the past.” I mean come on. That’s suspicious as fuuuuuu-
News of the abortion has fans looking at both artists’ discographies a little more carefully. Like most people, I was under the impression Spears’ breakup song Everytime was a response to Timberlake’s Cry Me a River—a somber tune indicating she’s nothing without him. Now in retrospect, people have noticed subtle nods to loss of life in Spears' music video and they’re flabbergasted by Timberlake’s cold response that she could just cry him a river.
AND he mocked her sex life publicly throughout the 2000s!? JAIL.
Literally what use is Justin Timberlake outside of the Trolls movies? All he does is ruin the careers of female musicians and laugh about it later. You can’t distract us with an *NSYNC reunion!!! It won’t work!!
#FreeBritney forever. EVERYONE better get her book October 24th.
—Meggie Gates will tell us how they really feel about Justin Timberlake, someday.
Today in Crabs:
Today in Fancy Sports: This excellent Washington Post analysis of a Formula One pit stop is one of the few examples of unique web design improving the story. And in Financial Times Rosanna Dodds investigates the ethics of grouse hunting in Scotland. FT if you’re reading, I am available to “investigate the ethics” of a wide range of luxury travel experiences. Call me 📞.
Turns out most of the Bandcamp employees who are being laid off in the music site’s sale happen to be union eligible. Weird! Very good Kyle on how social media went rapidly from “the first TikTok war” in Ukraine to the trashfire of misinformation we have today on the war in Israel.
Today’s Song: Caroline Polachek performed “Dang” on The Late Show and no one has made better use of the normally-sterile variety show music stage since Future Islands. You really want to watch this.
Scheduling Note: Tabs will be off both Gentleman’s and People’s Friday this week while I attend an advanced rescue rigging workshop. If I don’t fall off a cliff, we’ll be back Monday. You should still subscribe, even though there will not be a subscriber-only post this week. It’s an investment in the future. Whose future? Only the future will tell.
Thanks Intern Meggie who is widely acknowledged to be “crushing it” in the words of one fan, Mysterious Benefactor Ruth Ann Harnisch, and Music Intern Sam.
Also extra special thanks to Discord Moderation Intern Jane Davis, the real reason the Tabs Discord is so good, who was unfairly left out of the newsletter Discord article today. She’s the one who created and maintains the “Google Doc that provides background on the community’s culture and how to navigate the server, including an emoji dictionary,” not me.