Operation Foregone Conclusion

It's Filterworld pub day, let's get that bread.

Zeynep Tufekci went down for a li’l nap in early 2016 and just woke up again to publish the piece she was working on at the time about what Trump voters really want. Turns out it’s an authoritarian who will tell them lies they enjoy hearing. Who knew! “Perhaps acknowledging that Trump’s appeal isn’t that mysterious can help people grapple with its power.” Surely this will—

—hold on, I’m hearing… yes, there’s breaking news from the Republican primary, aka Operation Foregone Conclusion, where Trump stomped Ron DeSantis into a honking anti-woke paste in Iowa last night after months of what Rolling Stone’s Nikki McCann Ramirez and Asawin Suebsaeng called: “a campaign-wide culture of not just wanting to beat DeSantis, but to salt the wounds, scorch the earth, and set ablaze as many of the governor’s future prospects as they could.” Relatable!

Asa Hutchinson apparently dropped out… of this race, I guess? Not sure anyone knew he was in. Having contested the minimum face-saving one state, Vivek Ramaswamy also dropped out to prepare for the Trump VP invitation he was always running for but will not receive, and Nikki Haley is still in but sounds like she doesn’t plan to do any more debates, so the next debate is going to be very embarrassing for DeSantis when he’s the only one on stage and still manages to lose.

If you find politics depressing today, I recommend David Marchese’s interview with pipeline detonation instructor Andreas Malm:

Could you give me a reason to live?
What do you mean?

Your work is crushing. But I have optimism about the human project. I’m not an optimist about the human project.

Obviously it won’t make you any less depressed, I just thought you might as well check it out while you’re already in the right mood.

Previously in “celebrity pants addictBuzz Bissinger. The list of things that have happened now includes the Lincoln, Nebraska Bobcat rampage and it always will. Buffalo Bills fans are feeding the pit to guarantee wins. Everybody loves Chicago’s new tourist destination: the Rat Hole. And Luke Winkie survived the twenty four hour “Moby Dick” marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Chicagoan Winslow Dumaine, who, and I mean this in the least judgmental way possible, looks exactly like someone named “Winslow Dumaine,” kneels in front of a square of concrete sidewalk with what is unmistakably the imprint of a large rat pressed into it.

“It’s just this perfect example of visual storytelling.” —Winslow Dumaine via The Washington Post

🤑 Today in Sponsors:

Kyle Chayka has been a friend, a Tabs reader, and a frequent source of tabs for over a decade, so I would have happily promoted his new book for free. But he asked if I’d run a paid ad for it, so what am I supposed do? Turn down a little free Random Penguin money for something I was going to do anyway? En esta economia?

The Filterworld cover, featuring a yellow person-icon-shaped cookie cutter, next to a blurb by Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Ahktar that says “Necessary reading for anyone who has wondered just how, in expanding our world, the internet has ended up emptying our experience of it. Timely, erudite, important.”

The internet is mostly bad. Tabs is good because Rusty uses his human brain to sort out what is good and interesting (or bad and interesting) from what is just bad. In my new book Filterworld: How Algorithms Flattened Culture (available in bookstores and online today) I argue that we’re letting machines do too much of that sorting. All of our automated feeds are turning us into more passive consumers and creators who are pressured to produce only what works for Instagram, Netflix, TikTok, and Spotify. The book charts how this exploitative ecosystem of algorithms came together and how we can start to break it apart. I can guarantee that if you like this newsletter, you’re going to like Filterworld. Kyle Chayka

If you want a taste, Kyle’s in The Guardian today with a long excerpt from the book that I would have included here even if he weren’t paying me.

Today in Scams

The Guardian found the actor who played the fictional CEO of crypto scam Hyperverse, “an Englishman living in Thailand” who was surprised to find out that recording videos where he pretends to be the CEO of a company he doesn’t know anything about isn’t normal.

“I was told I was acting out a role to represent the business and many people do this,” Harrison said. He said he trusted his agent and accepted that. After reading through the scripts he said he was initially suspicious about the company he was hired to represent because he was unfamiliar with the crypto industry, but said he had been reassured by his agent that the company was legitimate.

In Vice Tim Hume has a profile of an ex-member of Andrew Tate’s toxic MLM grustle-bro cult “The Real World,” which dovetails extremely well with Cory Doctorow’s post yesterday about the ouroboros of “passive income” scams which turn every victim into a new scammer:

Con artists start by conning themselves, with the idea that "you can't con an honest man." But the factor that predicts whether someone is connable isn't their honesty – it's their desperation.

Doctorow also tied in the “rise and rise of botshit,” observing that “while we're nowhere near a place where bots can steal your job, we're certainly at the point where your boss can be suckered into firing you and replacing you with a bot that fails at doing your job.” Gen Z is fighting a desperate rearguard action against the bots by covering their noses in pictures, while OpenAI just quietly scrubbed its former prohibition against use in “military and warfare” applications. That’s probably fine, right?

And Cat and Girl’s Dorothy Gambrell posted a comic about finding herself “listed in the court document of artists whose work was used to train Midjourney” while just trying to just be a small-time creator without enriching the platforms.

Today’s Song: Janet Jackson, “No Sleeep”

Music Intern Sam sent me this and I was like: “Janet Jackson?” But then I listened to it and I was like: “Janet Jackson.” Meet me here tomorrow, when I will probably be like: “jAnEt JaCkSoN.”