I’ve been listening to mostly the same podcasts for the past two years. To be entirely fair, there’s been a lot for me to catch up on, since I got into podcasts late in general and very late in regards to some of these longer-running podcasts, specifically. That said, I hit a point last summer where I was entirely caught up and had listened to or watched all of the Patreon bonus content I cared for, but I wound up starting a string of full-series re-listens that I’m still working through now instead of trying something new. I needed something familiar and comfortable, so I just listened to stuff all over again. Some of it was nice, since I missed things here or there the first time and a second listen-through cemented the stories and characters I loved so much more firmly in my mind. Most of it, though, was just something I enjoyed to fill the silence of my evenings, combat the tinnitus I’m developing, and drown out the constant thumping, bumping, and creaking of my upstairs neighbors. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve pushed myself to start trying new things again, I’ve finally started making progress on my “to-listen” pile.Continue reading
Getting Back Into New Stuff (Anime Edition)
After years of living alone and even more years of borrowing someone else’s Crunchyroll account, I’ve finally started watching new stuff again. Mostly anime right now, since I don’t feel like wading into the intermittent cesspool that is Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or whatever else I’ve got out there. So much TV and streaming-centric movie stuff has happened in the last decade and so much of it ran for so long that even thinking about trying to catch up on what I’ve missed or saved for later has me feeling fatigued. In the anime sphere, it’s a bit easier. Most shows feel like they take longer to come out, the overall runtimes/episode counts are shorter, and it’s also a bit easier to get recommendations from my friends since I’ve watched so much less anime than any other type of TV show. I can usually just ask for the top five shows from a few people and watch what comes out of that without needing to worry too much about whether or not my taste aligns with my friends’.Continue reading
An Angry Rant About Algorithmically Generated Images and Media
Every time I see someone posting photos of themselves that they’re run through the latest in algorithmic art theft and image editing, I find myself screaming in my head “did these people learn NOTHING from the stupid facebook quizzes of the 2010s???” History is cyclical and it is frustrating to watch so many people I know repeatedly make the same mistakes about their digital footprints. It is difficult to fault them, at times, since the entire internet aparatus these days is set up to scrape as much of your personal information as it can, but given that all they have to do is read a EULA or keep up with all the art theft, copyright infringement, and actual damage to the artistic professions that these media-generating algorithms are doing these days, I find myself losing respect rather than feeling a desire to educate.Continue reading
Spending My Time And Attention
As you might have guessed from the subject matter of my blog posts of late, I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and the role it plays in my life. Which is actually just a piece of what I’ve actually been thinking about recently. And by “recently” I mean “for most of my adult life but in a new sort of context.” I’ve been thinking a lot about my time, my attention, my effort, and how I spend all three of those things. The recent focus of this mental exercise was inspired by a thread I saw on Twitter a couple weeks ago (that I unfortunately can’t find again) that made some bold claims about the amount of money and energy spent on advertising to people against their consent. I mean, all you need to do is look at how many ad-blocker programs exist for web browsers and phones to see how much people want to avoid it, and so much money gets spent on not only bypassing those things, but filling as much of the world with advertisements as possible.Continue reading
You Don’t Need To Hit The Ground To Know What Will Happen When You Fall
Last night, I engaged in a choatic bacchanal during what some alleged might be the final hours of Twitter’s life. Of course, the site is still up this morning and I don’t think most people truly believed the website was going to abruptly vanish at some point. It was (and still is) pretty clear that Twitter is going to diminish and fade into obscurity or diminish and transform into something else, just like every other social media site that has fallen by the wayside over the years. After all, it’s not like MySpace is entirely unavailable, it’s just irrelevant. Things on the internet tend to not vanish completely so much as fade from public reckoning or change so completely that they’re actively abandoned. Thus far, neither has entirely happened yet, but last night marked the end of an era as, if the reports prove true in coming days, most of Twitter’s employees have left the company.Continue reading
Cohost Is My New Home Away From Twitter (And Here)
I’ve been exploring cohost.org for a few days now. I made an account months ago (cohost.org/LiteraryWizard), back when the whole Tweluskian debacle began, and didn’t really use it much. Also, Tweluskian is a fun portmanteau of Twitter, Elon, and Musk I made up that feels like it’s probably either memorable or pretty clear about its meaning without attracting weird nerds who wanna defend their billionaire bestie from any kind of rightly earned criticism since even my account attacts them if I type his name into a tweet. Anyway, I wish I had spent more time on cohost, so I’d be more familiar and immersed in the social media platform by now as I’m trying to use it more. It is difficult to figure out how cohost works, as a social media site and media sharing platform, while also monitoring the development of whatever the heck is happening at Twitter.Continue reading
Social Media Migration
I wrote a whole post about what feels a lot like passing the point of no return on Twitter’s decline and eventual collapse, since the day I wrote this is the day that the world’s richest man showed up to make “good” on a dumb-shit promise he made because he’s actually also a moron and has only managed to get this far because consequences don’t matter to rich people. I went on a whole rant about corporate dystopia and the collapse of modern civilization because there’s less and less metaphor separating us from sci-fi and cyberpunk dystopias every day. It was cathartic, but probably not helpful to read since most people probably don’t care. Twitter, despite how large it feels to me as an active user, is not that big. Lots of people rarely or never go on that site and, honestly, we’d probably be better without it.Continue reading
I’ve always been a little suspicious of digital ownership and things that exist only online. Even back in the early days of buying CDs on iTunes and being forced to log in to my account if I wanted to listen to them on my computer, I was always a compulsive downloader and hard copy producer. After all, you could get around the limits of iTunes if you burned a CD and then ripped the songs off the CD using a different service than iTunes. Made it a lot easier to transfer music from the family PC (which was the only PC connected to the internet in my family’s house for a very long time) to my personal laptop (which wasn’t allowed to connect to the internet and didn’t even have wi-fi capability since I bought it with my saved-up babysitting money when I was 13). It’s not like I was giving the music to anyone or sharing it with people. I just wanted to get the Scrubs Soundtrack: Volume 2 from the family PC to my laptop so I could listen to while I wrote stuff or played Age of Empires II.
Since then, I’ve felt more and more justified in my mistrust of digital ownership as the primary vehicle for a lot of modern media. The internet is full of stories of people losing access to their digital libraries, either through unrecoverable music service accounts, closed amazon prime accounts, the ever-present specter of death coming to claim an old online game’s final servers, or the more recent sudden deletion of media as a new aspect of the usual corporate grift by a company working its way through consolidation. Not to mention the bevy of single-player games that had an always-online portion to them which now can’t be played because that online component is no longer supported by the developer. Plus the weird sites I can’t find anymore that let you digitally own movies before every single major network or movie studio decided to create their own streaming platform, while they were still resisting digital ownership on iTunes and Amazon. You know, the websites you used to go when you wanted to redeem the digital copy coupons that came in the big DVD/Blu-ray combo pack for major film releases.
A pretty frustrating picture begins to appear once you toss in all the other egregious examples of digital rights abuse like a huge number of NFTs, digital art theft (I’m looking at you, “AI” image production algorithms and those bots that scrape social media sites to create and sell unlicensed t-shirts), and plain old copyright infringement. The legal system just isn’t really for digital rights management and the existing systems are an enormous mess of one-off decisions that have somehow managed to shape the industry. It’s a huge, complex web of rights, legal systems, and capitalistic abuse that I’m certainly not going to be able to solve here. Hell, I can barely even comprehensively complain about it without needing to do some research to ensure my complaints are at least factually correct.
The one corner I feel the most qualified to discuss, given my own experiences, is the video game side of things. For example, I’ve been struggling lately with playing Splatoon 3. The game keeps disconnecting my switch from the internet despite my efforts to remove any barriers that could explain this weak connection on my end, to the degree that I’ve begun to get temporarily banned from online play when it happens. What’s most frustrating is that there’s very little of the game that I can enjoy on my own without using the internet. The primary focus of the game is the online matches and whatever system is in place to connect people might wind up preventing me from connecting at all. This isn’t the first game I’ve had this level of trouble with, or even the most egregious offender (though it does have an immediacy that is frustrating because it is otherwise an amazing game). I’ve had days of being unable to play Destiny 2, lost access to an Assassin’s Creed game, and own a whole pile of unplayable digital titles that I can only get access to if I spend money on moderately old Nintendo systems (my Wii’s network card just doesn’t work anymore).
It’s a frustrating problem, to own something and be unable to enjoy it. A problem that’s becoming more and more common with every passing year, as old consoles die, leaving game discs to gather dust in the corner since any attempt to maintain access to that game other than though official channels (which frequently means paying again) is treated as piracy. I’m not entirely unsympathetic to getting developers paid. Despite production costs skyrocketing (which is it’s own entire week of blog posts), game prices haven’t changed, making them more and more reliant on DLC, in-game purchases, or high sales volumes to make up the cost. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to pay more for a game than we do, and I don’t really mind paying yearly for updates to games like Destiny 2. After all, that’s a whole year’s worth of new content for another sixty or one hundred bucks or whatever. It’s pretty easy to justify paying that much when you consider that people pay ten to twenty dollars for a two to three hour movie. I get way more out of a video game that I’d get out of three or four movies (or two movies if you buy snacks).
Anyway, this went pretty far from my original point of digital ownership being the primary means of owning media these days. What really started this whole thing was the idea that anything we do on the internet, any digital media, would be available indefinitely. All of that is contingent on platforms being maintained and I think we all know that the current environment means that companies will start tossing shit aside the instant it becomes more profitable to do that than to maintain the platforms they’re running. I’ll be genuinely surprised if there’s anything but personal data downloads left of twitter by 2050. I wouldn’t be surprised it if was all gone by the year 2030, too. I know I sound old-fashioned and like a bit of a conspiracy theorist, but try to make sure you’ve got local copies of all your digital media, that you have the tools required to shift it from one form to another, and that you’re prepared to lose access to things you’ve been told would last forever because they’re digital. People said the same thing about books once and look at what happened to the Library of Alexandria. Nothing lasts forever.
This One’s About Anime And Guns
Content Warning: Discussion of guns, gun violence, and smoking in the third paragraph and onward.
I’ve been on a bit of an old anime kick lately. Which is probably not what you think it is, given my relative late-coming to the anime scene (college) and my refusal to ever really engage with it beyond a few highly-recommended classics due to my general preference to only watch shows with other people. I mean, a lot of people will recommend a show to you from their childhood or teenage and then refuse to watch it with you because they know it will ruin their nostalgic memories of it. It’s like they know it’s bad, but refuse to tell you that because that would mean admitting the quality of it is contained within the rose-colored glasses of yesteryear and the lower standards of youth. By refusing to watch anything but the stuff people would watch with me, I’ve managed to mostly avoid this pitfall of “shows I loved years ago.”Continue reading
Digital Object Impermanence Ruined Streaming For Me
I don’t watch a lot of movies. Or TV shows, for that matter. I live alone and don’t really have a lot of people who show up in my day-to-day life and share my interests in a way that would motivate us to watch the same shows across a distance (one exclusion being my younger sister, whom I’ve convinced to watch Steven Universe with me), so most of my leisure time is spent on video games, books, and the occasional TV show. It’s not that I don’t enjoy TV shows or movies, I just don’t think of them. Most new media exists only as a digital icon I can interface with through a streaming service, so I honestly just forget most of it exists. I have the same problem with e-books and audio books. I just forget they exist. I think the only reason I don’t have that problem with podcasts is because I keep my podcast app open on my phone all the time and listen to more podcasts than music these days.Continue reading