Meatspace is Lora and Sarah’s weekly digest of weird/wack/need-to-know tech news — and our warm takes on all of it.
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If this amazon wristband that reads ur emotions based on the tone of ur voice were to read our emotions this week it would read…..grateful and happy. :) For this is our one year anniversary issue!
It has been one year since we launched this newsletter largely bc we wanted our friends who weren’t each other to understand what we meant when we referenced Elon’s extravagant dramas (were we ever so young!). Over the course of this year, we have been so pleased to introduce many of u to the term meatspace, which btw means -- in the parlance of 90s hackers -- the opposite of cyberspace.
We are so thankful to all of u who have spent 52 Fridays with us -- and to those who have spent only a few or maybe even just one (welcome!).
To celebrate our bday, we wanted to share some special highlights of this year.
We got to interview several v cool people working to make tech more inclusive/interesting/less dystopian, including founders; editors; writers; and even a venture capitalist! Here are all the interviews we did. Pls read; weep; follow them on twitter:
Graham Starr - Senior Staff Editor at NYT/former Craigslist ghostwriter
Taylor Lorenz - Atlantic staff writer/influencer thought leader
Naomi Fry - New Yorker staff writer/college scam expert
Andy Weissman - Venture Capitalist!
Summer Emerald - painter of jeff bezos portraits, among other things
Amanda Mull, Atlantic staff writer/mall queen
Madison Malone Kircher, New York Mag staff writer/niche beef aficionado
Thank u to all of these great people!!
To celebrate a fun year, we are having a bday bash! U are all invited. It is on June 21 at location tbd in Brooklyn, the night after we are going to be on an Internet Explorers PANEL about Facebook (more details to come on that).
Until then, we too will be meditating on the passage of time…….
The only influencer we currently care about is Diane Keaton, specifically when she’s posting about these high fashion wide-legged jeans. But 49 million other influencers had their personal info publicly posted on the web this week, TechCrunch reports! The leaked database (which could be accessed without a password) was linked to Mumbai-based social media company Chrtbox. FB disputes their report tho?! Saying that the Chrtbox site had publicly available info not just from insta? Regardless, it’s not a great look, especially after facebook quietly admitted to security vulnerabilities in Insta last month.
Also, read Taylor Lorenz’s latest on the Twitch influencer suing his video game collective -- and what this could mean for how the influencer industry is regulated.
SHARING => CARING
Airbnb at last is turning over data about its short-term rentals to the City of NY. Paris Martineau in Wired reports on the city’s subpoena; the court order; and the data on thousands of both anonymized and named hosts that Airbnb has reluctantly shared with Bill de Blasio’s New York City.
Speaking of de Blasio...hate to see both that his presidential campaign announcement was scooped by a high school journalist (Tyler Foggatt in New Yorker spills all), and that he and his wife tweeted this unfortunate pair of anniversary notes.
Uber is also being forced to share data w cities! Chicago was the first to win access to anonymized info on trips logged and trip costs in April; a San Francisco court of appeals just ruled that Uber has to share that stuff with them too, which they’ll use to determine whether drivers are paid minimum wage.
Meanwhile, Martha Stewart simply KEEPS starring in Uber ads. In the words of reader Andrew S, “Nothing says we’re ready to go public like an insider trader.” Boom!
Turns out having a digital servant with a woman’s voice perpetuates as much sexism as the situational reality implies!! A study out of UNESCO shows that when you ask several voice assistants sexually harrassy things, they reply... like this:
Bet we all have a sense of who programmed them!! “Hmmm I just don’t get this whole gender thing.”
Also, we have to tell you that Robbie Tripp dropped his music video to his single “Chubbie Sexy” this week, but we do not have to tell you to watch it. Lyrics include: “She like a dude that’s woke, we like a girl that’s weighty.” “Yeah she got big thighs like a mermaid.” Do mermaids have thighs?
IS THIS CAMP
Are u a worried parent of proto-socialist tween?! (Meatspace reader demographics say... probably not but) if so ur in luck because now you can send them to what are basically brainwashing camps built to make them luv money again by “activat[ing] the entrepreneurial mindset”!!! This NYT feature on “capitalism camp for kids” takes us inside places like Camp Millionaire and Bizkamp and Kamp for Kids (run by Biznovator), where ppl as young as literal toddlers are taught to pitch ideas, shoot Youtube videos, and “monetize their hobbies.”
If they work hard enough there, perhaps they can grow up to be people like... the editor of Esquire, Jay Fielden! He stepped down this week, posting a “plandid” (planned candid, baby!) Instagram post announcing his departure in the style of Jack Nicholson (holding many expensive bags). It inspired this tribute to fancy men by Anna Silman. Stay fancy!
And, to make working fun for those older than 4 and un-unionized, Amazon warehouse workers in five locations are able to “play” a “video game” about them working, while they work. WaPo describes it as “Tetris, but with real boxes.” We prefer 2048!
BONUS [AFFRONT TO/AFFIRMATION OF?] CAPITALISM: Stockton, California’s Universal Basic Income experiment has started. Annie Lowrey talked to some of the people who’ve been getting the $500 a month.
A doctored video of Nancy Pelosi is floating around (h/t thommy c). In it, she’s giving a speech, but it’s been slowed down such that it seems like she’s “drunk” or “stammering.” Trump tweeted about it gleefully (!) Tbt to our deepfakes issue from November -- remember when that altered video of Jim Acosta karate-chopping an intern circulated, and he was banned from the White House press rooms!?
Joan Donovan (a researcher from Harvard Kennedy’s Shorenstein Center who also just starred in the latest episode of Crazy Genius on the far-right web) calls this new genre of deepfake the Cheap Fake! Stay tuned for forthcoming research from her and colleague Britt Paris on that.
The New Yorker and the Washington Post released back-to-back dunks on San Francisco, lamenting the loss of the “soul of the city” (read CityLab for a dunk on that phrase). It apparently eked out after all the tech bros poured in!! Good points were made, but we’ve heard this story before, and before that, and before that. Hmmm Daily published a funny response as if written by AI.
Post Tati-James Charles beef, covered in last week’s beef-filled issue, Youtube is going to start abbreviating follower counts for influencers. That means you won’t be able to watch them plummet as James’ did or rise as Tati’s did! Goodbye, sister...
“Sledgehammer Shannon” is Uber’s worst nightmare! (a class-action lawyer) (Mother Jones)
Relatedly, here’s the antitrust legal argument that could break up uber (Jalopnik)
If you have Wrangler on ur Bootie, you can access secret behind the scenes footage from the Old Town Road music video lmao (Adage)
Facebook scrubbed 2.2 billion fake accounts in just the first quarter of 2019!! (CyberScoop)
Another review of Jenny Odell’s fab book, How to Do Nothing (The Nation)
Snapchat employees used this tool called Snap Lion to spy on users and send info to the police. (Motherboard)
“Three nights ago, I was up late on Twitter, and I was in a mood.” (Medium)
Insane Tinder hack just read it (the Cut)
Katie Notopolous on why ppl tweet teeny hard-to-read screenshots from a paywalled site when they are writing a book (Buzzfeed)
One last question: Can this be real
From the bottom of our hearts/at the bottom of the sea,
Sarah and Lora
Correction: A previous version of this issue omitted George Civeris from our list of interviewees. We extremely regret the error. George — we love your work.