The Internet Should be a Communist Utopia. It’s Not, Because of the Filter Bubble

When you talk about the filter bubble, you’re talking about something quite specific. It’s the heavily curated ecosystem of the internet. A set of rules that filter all of the world’s information and organize it into what algorithms expect you to want to see — algorithms that suggest your next video on YouTube, or show you an article on Facebook.

At first, it can seem like a user friendly way to prioritize and curate the internet according to a set of personalized boundaries. You only see relevant content, and it brings order to the sprawling, chaotic internet.

In the era where fake news and propaganda virally populates Facebook — the world’s biggest news aggregation platform — it’s gone from being a user-friendly convenience to a threat to how we perceive the world around us.…   [continue reading]

Secret Cave Podcast S02E01: Gay

As the first official episode of the new season, Lee thought it best that we open with something ridiculously divisive and offensive. He’s still not sure why.

Anyway, we have a protracted discussion about the use of the word “Gay” and terminology in general. We also spiral off and talk about drugs, and have an argument about numbers. Lee introduces our new segment, “Show and Tell”, where we each bring in one talking point and have an argument.

Topics:

  • On the new format for season two
  • A discussion on using the word “gay”
  • The schoolyard origins of “gay”, and its implications
  • What it means as slang in Northern England
  • The history and different connotations of “gay”
  • On the reappropriation of negative terms
  • Arguments about terminology in To Pimp a Butterfly
  • When slurs are and aren’t shocking
  • Does “gay” have an actual homophobic connotation in America vs.
…   [continue reading]

Why Adult Swim’s Kingsway is Set in a Fake ’90s Operating System

If I’ve learned anything from the fringes of comedy in the past year or so, it’s that old-looking shit is apparently hilarious. Not monochrome or vintage, but trashy VHS tapes, pre-internet computers, glitchy edits, and archaic internet junk.

Adult Swim’s new PC game was announced today, complete with a VHS tape-style announcement video. The game itself is set inside a mock operating system reminiscent of the days where Minesweeper and Solitaire were the main digital pastimes.

Interest in VHS distortion hasn’t been this popular since people were searching it to genuinely remedy their failing home cinema systems, and the trend of retro computers is spiking.…   [continue reading]

Andrew DeYoung Interview: 555, Improvised Films, and ’90s VHS Tapes

Director Andrew DeYoung doesn’t get excited by scripts, beautiful lighting, or painstakingly manufacturing a perfectly orchestrated film. Andrew’s obsession is with the unintentional comedy of everyday interactions and tense situations. He often explores what happens when you mix actors with people who don’t know they’re on camera, and collates the best shots into a narrative.

After stumbling upon his first major release (555, which I reviewed here), I had to find out about him, his other films, his process and his inspirations. Partly because there’s very little information about it online, and partly because I needed to satisfy my curiosity after watching 555 and the rest of his work in one neurotic, coffee-fueled sprint at 5am.…   [continue reading]

Neural Network Art: From AI Nightmares to Alien Volcanoes

As we’ve seen from many Twitter bots, software is more than capable of creating captivating art.

But art created by neural networks moves past basic random patterns, using millions of source images, and AIs so advanced they can create surreal landscapes from scratch, paint portraits of dog-men and model alien volcanoes on planets we can’t closely observe.

In this post, I’m going to explain how neural networks — software designed to emulate the human brain — generate images, and speculate what that could mean for the future of art and entertainment.

…   [continue reading]

Viral Videos and Hyperreality: How Attention is Manufactured On a Massive Scale

Viral videos are a strange cultural phenomenon.

They’re your classic fail compilations, your controversial quotes clipped out of interviews, your Cat Falls in Bath, Disembowels Owner (MUST WATCH!!)s. Or — more interestingly — a document of some tiny, insignificant moment that was never ready to be scrutinized by millions.

Videos go viral by chance: they happen to be picked up in the right place at the right time, someone will get it up on the front page of reddit for a few hours, and it’ll blow up. Millions of views overnight, coverage from every major news outlet on the planet, and some drugged seven-year old babbling nonsense in the back of his dad’s car is suddenly world famous.…   [continue reading]

555 Review: Greed, Jealousy, and Doomed Ambition in Nightmare Hollywood

Anyone who puts their work in the public eye — whether it’s writers, actors, musicians or directors — is torn between one main motivation and one main fear:

On one side, there’s the overwhelming desire to take the risk to show your work to other people. Go to an audition, pitch an article, send out demo tapes.

At the same time, there’s the crippling fear that you’re not worth anyone’s time. The fear you’re doomed to fail, living in perpetual obscurity, always looking for the one big break.

There’s no better setting to encapsulate this duality than Hollywood — the grim stage for nightmarish, disastrous satire like Mulholland Drive, Sunset Boulevard, Maps to the Stars, and now 555.…   [continue reading]

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: How a Failed 70s Obscurity Was Brought Back to Life

Comics intimidate me.

There’s nothing like almost a full century of universe-building to make you feel like you’re at the center of some huge, complex web of references and in-jokes designed to keep the insiders in and the outsiders out.

When I saw the first issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, I’d not heard of either character before and imagined that there’d not be any references to miss. As if I needed more proof that the world of comic books has a high barrier to entry for a pedantic completionist like me, I was wrong.

After reading #1, I realized it was full of allusions to past releases that I had no idea existed.…   [continue reading]

Living Through Lenses

I’ve worn glasses since I was four years old. I’ve watched TV from birth.

Some of my fondest memories come from getting up before the sunrise to watch the gradually improving sequence of cartoons that were broadcast from 5am onwards. The Tweenies, The Hoobs, Arthur. All watched from the carpet, 2 feet away from the screen.

Having older parents, I was late getting new technology. So, the first computer we had in the house was a square clunky Windows laptop my dad got given for remote work. I remember, on the days where he was out on a sales call and I was home sick from school, trying to find my way around the labyrinthine internet on a connection that was only fast enough to transmit emails at the speed of physical mail.…   [continue reading]

Deep into Freudian Hell with The Binding of Isaac

I’m lying in bed, eyes closed. I’m on one and a half hearts, scouring bloody, bombed out rooms for a health pickup before facing the boss, dodging spiders, rushing past spiked blocks, or setting fire to my mother’s leg as it stomps down from above. Even when I have my eyes closed, I can see the flashing interface, and feel the urgency of my shots and movements.

The Binding of Isaac has taken over my life.

My first reaction to Isaac (and all games of its kind) used to be: “nope, too hard and frustrating”. It was also an unfair eye-roll at it and all games of its kind that seem to rely on outdated mechanics and graphics because of budget.…   [continue reading]