Goodbye, For Now

There’s just no telling how it might turn out this time. Probably good.

Yesterday The Atlantic announced a “licensing and product [deal] with ChatGPT parent OpenAI” which was immediately criticized by… The Atlantic, where Damon Beres called it “A Devil’s Bargain” and Jeffrey Goldberg peevishly tweeted that “@OpenAI should answer questions from reporters, particularly those from affected journalism organizations.” Vox Media announced a similar partnership, to which the Vox Media Union said whoa there, we did what now? In the Atlantic’s press release, CEO Nicholas Thompson purportedly says “We believe that people searching with AI models will be one of the fundamental ways that people navigate the web in the future.” Does Nick Thompson truly believe this? With all due respect to the Atlantic comms department:

Bugs Bunny wearing a large cowboy hat and a gunbelt, with the caption “WHO’S WE?”

If you think about it, mixing some of our delicious journalism candy into this bucket of rat poison makes the whole bucket a little safer to eat, so who can say whether it’s a good idea. As Beres writes:

You might remember when, in 2016, BuzzFeed used Facebook’s livestreaming platform to show staffers wrapping rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded; BuzzFeed, like other publishers, was being paid by the social-media company to use this new video service. That same year, BuzzFeed was valued at $1.7 billion. Facebook eventually tired of these news partnerships and ended them. Today, BuzzFeed trades publicly and is worth about 6 percent of that 2016 valuation. Facebook, now Meta, has a market cap of about $1.2 trillion.

There’s just no telling how it might turn out this time. Probably good.

georgia-lux posted “its funny how you can tolerate people saying things to you online that you'd absolutely knock their teeth out for saying to you in real life, like ‘hey check out this Wall Street Journal article’"

Totally unrelated to the above, John Herrman has some thoughts about “Why AI Search Blew Up in Google’s Face.”

Understanding that you’ll encounter some nonsense, scams, jokes, and ads on the way to finding what you’re looking for, or realizing that you won’t, is part of the job of using Google. By attempting to automate this job, Google has revealed — and maybe discovered — just how hard it is and how alien its understanding of its own users has become.

And just to throw another random link at you, here’s Anil Dash on the idea that “The Purpose of a System is What It Does.” If you read all of these things and they seem to suggest a broader analysis of what’s going on in technology and media right now, it’s probably just an illusion. A kind of Eisensteinian montage effect. Anyway pretty soon we’ll be generating our bot twaddle in actual human brain organoids. No time to quibble, the torment nexus is right around the corner.

David Roth posted “A thought I had earlier that I hate enough to share is that most of ‘Losing My Edge’ works in a Trump voice, and that effectively all of the ‘I was there’ parts are basically note-for-note Trump stuff. He was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band, but he was very nasty to ‘Trump.’“

Today in Crabs: A day late but just barely sneaking in before the hiatus, THE CITY sent Gwynne Hogan to the annual New York horseshoe crab census. I know horseshoe crabs aren’t really crabs, but if you think about it they’re not exactly not crabs either. And in The Times William J. Broad called anglerfish “ghoulish creatures.” Sabrina Imbler would never.

Today in Pads: Buy Paul Reubens’s perfectly preserved mid-mod Los Feliz house for only five million dollars, and then please don’t tear it down and put up a McMansion.

Finally: Alexandra Petri, “Twelve Angry Trump Jurors.”

Song of the Season: It’s the last day of Season X so Music Intern Sam and I scrolled through the playlist to pick a favorite. I’d call “Not Like Us” the most iconic song of the season, but Sam suggested Mikayla Geier’s “Dance of the Trees” and I can’t say he’s wrong.

Here we are again at the precipice of a long hiatus, and I find that I still don’t have anything better in me to say about it than what I wrote the first time this happened, in 2016, as reproduced in this 2022 lore dump:

If Tabs is about anything, it’s about how way leads on to way, how things are all connected, and if you pay close attention to the little stupid things, you can learn more than you’d ever have expected about the big important things. Like those photo mosaics, huge historical shifts in human life are made up, at very close range, of petty arguments and Venmo payments, hot takes and Twitter beefs, mistakes and misinterpretations, accidental discoveries and forgotten headlines. The tabs are the angels in the architecture.

The angels in the architecture of Tabs are the generous crew of friends and volunteers who just keep doing things when I ask them if they want to, including Alison Headley, Garrett Miller, Jane Davis, Sarah Dell'Orto, Allegra Rosenberg, and Sam Gavin. Along with the many legitimate professional journalists who have contributed tabs and answered my dumb questions I’d like to especially thank Tom Scocca and Liz Lopatto for their consistently excellent advice. Everyone in the discord has helped keep me sane and informed over the course of many months of sitting in my bedroom alone, typing. Thanks to everyone who paid for a subscription so I didn’t have to get a real job. And most importantly: thank you for reading.

The comments are open to everyone if you’d like to sign my yearbook. And I’ll see you on the trail!

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