Kickstarter’s CEO, Perry Chen, is resigning


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Kickstarter CEO and co-founder Perry Chen has resigned from his role as chief executive of the company. Chen wrote in a blog post today that he will remain chairman of Kickstarter’s board, and that he intends to focus on “high-level and long-term company needs” from that position.

Chen has been with Kickstarter since its beginning, serving as CEO for its first five years. He stepped down for the first time in 2014, leaving the role to co-founder Yancey Strickler, and returned in 2017 after Strickler decided to leave the company. At the time, Kickstarter had planned to look at outside candidates, according to Buzzfeed News, but Chen quietly stepped in and assumed the role once again.

This latest resignation comes the same day as…

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Kickstarter’s staff is unionizing


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The staff of Kickstarter announced plans to unionize today. If recognized, Kickstarter would be the first major tech company with union representation in the United States.

Members of the union, which goes by Kickstarter United, say they want to improve inclusivity and transparency at the company. To unionize, they’re working with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153. In a statement, the union said:

Kickstarter United is proud to start the process of unionizing to safeguard and enrich Kickstarter’s charter commitments to creativity, equity, and a positive impact on society. We trust in the democratic process and are confident that the leadership of Kickstarter stands with us in that effort….

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Reddit bans r/watchpeopledie in the wake of the New Zealand mosque massacres


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Reddit has banned r/watchpeopledie, an infamous subreddit that hosted videos of people dying gruesomely. The ban comes after the subreddit re-hosted videos of the recent mosque massacres in New Zealand. According to the new landing page, the subreddit was banned for violating Reddit’s content policy about glorifying or encouraging violence.

A Reddit spokesperson provided this statement: “We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites or glorifies violence will get users and communities banned from Reddit. Subreddits that fail to adhere to those site-wide rules will be banned.”

A source at the company agreed with that assessment, confirming that when communities encourage posting either the shooter’s…

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Apple has been quietly hiring iconic artists to design Apple Music playlist covers


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     The company plans to redesign thousands of them

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The attention economy is dead


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The attention economy is dying, and it’s not pretty; there is only so much time in the day to pay attention to things, and we as a society have reached the limit. (By things I mean ads.) Fortnite, though, has managed to stay culturally relevant and even grow since its 2017 launch — which is unusual. And that’s because its creator, Epic Games, has figured out how to get people to keep paying attention.

“Paying attention” was a phrase before it became a literalization, before canny people realized just how much money time is worth. The advertising industry — and therefore the industries it supports, like the media — is predicated on the idea that if you’ve heard of something and have a positive association with it, you’re more likely to…

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The provocateur who went out into the cold


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     Laura Loomer protested at the Twitter building in New York a second time

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Fortnite showed us the future (and the past) of live music


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The other day, the electronic musician Marshmello, real name Christopher Comstock — who wears a white, marshmallow-shaped helmet on his head while he’s performing or in public (and at presumably no other times) — stopped by Pleasant Park for his biggest performance yet: to 10 million virtual people in the massively popular battle royale game Fortnite. It was, by all accounts, a resounding success. Players loved the 10-minute, no-weapon experience, and according to the concert discovery service Songkick, the event drove a 3,000 percent page view increase on Marshmello’s page and made him the most visited artist on the platform.

“Marshmello has had more fans looking for tickets on Songkick during the past 4 days than he’s had over the…

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Peach isn’t dead yet


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Social media is increasingly the internet: Facebook was founded in 2004, and it ate the web as we knew it then — a collection of microsites and curiosities run by so many individual proprietors, individually. It used to be that personalization was what you did to your site; now it’s found in the ads you’re served. Peach — the microblogging platform— was seemingly designed against those circumscribed possibilities, as an antidote to the weird world-eating dominion of the Twitters and Facebooks and Instagrams of the universe. Its whole purpose was to bring people back to the early days of online, when the only limits were in what you could code. To describe it in a line: Peach is an online diary that you can share with your friends, like…

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Rep. Devin Nunes repeated a 4chan meme on national television


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Last night on Laura Ingraham’s show, The Ingraham Angle, a strange thing happened. (Stranger than usual, I mean.) Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) stopped by for an interview, ostensibly to talk about Representative Adam Schiff’s latest actions regarding the ongoing Russia probe. “This is clearly an investigation again, without a crime. We’ve looked for two years — didn’t find anything, at all,” he said, which is misleading at best. He went on to speak about the “cottage industry” of press people who are following the case and reporting it, so the public has an idea of what goes on behind closed doors. Nunes sounded offended when he reported to the Capitol for what was, in his words, a routine meeting, and he saw many camera people waiting for…

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Woody Allen sues Amazon for $68 million for refusing to release his films


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Writer-director Woody Allen filed a $68 million lawsuit against Amazon Studios today. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, Allen claims the company breached its contract with him when it declined to release four of his films.

“Seeking to capitalize on Mr. Allen’s international stature, talent, and track record, Amazon—a technology giant but Hollywood novice—sought to develop its nascent entertainment studio by entering into a series of deals with Mr. Allen and his company, Gravier, promising to finance and distribute his future films and to be his “home” for the rest of his career,” the suit reads in part. “In June 2018, however, Amazon backed out of the deals, purporting to terminate them without any legal basis for doing…

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What’s in your bag, Marlon James?


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When Jamaican novelist Marlon James walks into a room, you know it. It’s not that he’s particularly dominating or otherwise physically intimidating — although he is more than six feet tall — it’s that he has the thing casting agents call “presence.” He’s there there. That translates to his books, too: his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings was released in 2014 to rapturous reviews, and it won the prestigious Man Booker prize. His latest book Black Leopard, Red Wolf is out this month. It’s the first entry in James’ Dark Star trilogy, which he’s described as an “African Game of Thrones,” an epic populated with characters who aren’t usually seen in more European books.

“It was really very simple!” James says. “I was trying to write a…

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Gavin McInnes is suing the SPLC for defamation


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It was nearly 70 degrees F and cloudy in Montgomery, AL this afternoon, when Gavin McInnes — one of the founders of Vice, and more recently the founder of the violent right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys — walked up to a small PA system in front of the headquarters of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and began to speak about how the legal advocacy nonprofit had ruined his life. “It’s a dangerous precedent to set. Because what they do is, they cast this wide net of ‘everyone’s a Nazi’ and they start destroying lives,” McInnes said, after accusing the anti-hate group of changing their mission after raising money to expand their operations. “In a way, the SPLC is terrorizing people by telling them we live in Nazi America.”

What…

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Ace Combat 7 turns tense dogfights into goofy anime fun


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On December 17th, 1903, in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the Wright brothers made the first crewed, powered flight in an aircraft that wasn’t a hot air balloon. By the time World War I broke out in 1914, nations had realized how important airplanes were to combat, and an aeronautical arms race began that’s never ended. The world had changed. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a product of that shift It’s a romp through the unfriendly skies, and it’s a ton of cartoony fun.

It’s the seventh entry in the main Ace Combat series — the 17th, if you count the more minor releases for various platforms — since Air Combat began in 1995. The first game was an arcade-style fighter sim that pitted you against the forces of terrorism (as one part of…

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Porn: you know it when you see it, but can a computer?


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     Training an artificial intelligence to recognize nudity is more difficult than you think

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Skrillex says composing Kingdom Hearts III’s theme ‘was like a dream’


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Today, Kingdom Hearts III — the 11th game in the long-running Square Enix and Disney franchise — is out worldwide. Music has always been integral to the series, and composer Yoko Shimomura has worked on every release. But more recognizable than the compositions are the main games’ theme songs, which, for the last two installments, have been written and recorded by the Japanese pop singer Utada Hikaru. (If you’re a Kingdom Hearts fan, hearing the opening notes to Utada Hikaru’s song “Simple and Clean,” the theme from the first game, will shove you directly into your feelings.) Tetsuya Nomura, the game’s director, brought Hikaru back to create a third theme song for the series, and she brought along Skrillex, the legendary electronic…

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NY state senator calls on Google to remove conversion therapy app


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Google’s Play Store is currently hosting a gay conversion therapy app from a religious group called Living Hope Ministries. The app gives users access to recordings of sermons, text devotionals, and at least one podcast; there’s a section for “help,” which appears to mostly contain stories telling gay readers that their sexuality can be ignored or changed.

For New York State Senator Brad Hoylman — whose bill prohibiting conversion therapy in New York was recently signed into law, and who represents the district where Google has its New York City headquarters — that’s unconscionable. “Google [is] planning to have about 7,000 employees in our Senate district, so I would urge them to remove the app post-haste,” he says. “I’m hopeful that…

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Finally, an ad you can expense (ft. 2 Chainz)


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The podcaster and pundit Matt Christman tweeted something prophetic on January 20th, 2017, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as the president of the United States of America: “This is the stupidest day in American history, a record that will be broken by every subsequent day in American history.” Two years later, I can exclusively confirm that he was correct. Each day brings new horrors, a fresh level of hell to navigate. For example, today I learned that the eels in the River Thames — there are eels in the Thames? — have gone insane on cocaine from Lehman Brothers bankers, who were apparently holding a 10-year anniversary party, for some reason? This is all real. It has made me wonder who’s running the show.

As stupid as that is,…

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Twitch re-bans streamer charged with assault after briefly letting him come back


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Today, the Australian Fortnite streamer MrDeadMoth — otherwise known as Luke Munday, 26 — was banned again from Twitch for an indeterminate period of time, after an outcry from the gaming community. Just under a month ago, on the evening of December 9th, Munday was streaming to thousands of viewers of when he could be heard allegedly assaulting his partner. “How many times do I have to tell you?” he asked her, audio of the incident showed. His children’s cries can be heard in the background.

Munday was then charged with assault and banned from Twitch. But on December 30th, he posted a tweet advertising a new stream. As Dexerto reports, “[u]sers in his chat who referenced the December 9 incident were banned or timed out from chatting.”…

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Fortnite was 2018’s most important social network


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It’s easy to forget that Fortnite — a cultural phenomenon that now has over 200 million registered players — began as a failure. It was conceived as a player vs. environment game that Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney described as a cross between Minecraft and Left 4 Dead in 2015, before co-opting the last-man-standing mechanics of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and becoming the biggest game on the planet. Fortnite stole that idea and then perfected the formula by making it less technical and more accessible; it won the fight for battle royale’s soul by being bigger, wackier, and just more fun than PUBG’s sterile, militaristic experience. Fortnite became the better game by leaning into goofiness.

The game’s real achievement is subtler,…

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The bots of the future are going to use our own metadata to seem more human


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Today the internet is a quagmire of captial-c Content, made navigable by retweets, likes, and favorites; everything posted can be quantified by its corresponding reactions. Though in aggregate it may seem like noise, to people in the business of disinformation, there’s a valuable signal there to be picked apart and studied. Our activity on social platforms — those favorites and likes and retweets — are a form of metadata that can help manipulators and their bots appear human to the algorithms that police social networks. And that problem is about to get a lot worse: bots are starting to mimic your social media activity in order to look more human.

“For users and platforms alike, it is getting harder to discern ‘real’ users and authentic…

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