By Matt Birchler
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How Web3 Folks See Video Games (it’s not what you expect)

Luke Winkie: Play-to-earn gaming sounds too good to be true. It probably is.

“We started with a very simple thesis, which was to bring property rights to gamers. The idea behind that was that gamers are a little bit like slave labor. You play a game, you spend money in a game, you buy virtual items, but at the end of the day, you don’t actually own anything. You just have a license to use it in the game. You’re not really getting what you pay for,” said Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca, a blockchain gaming developer

Describing playing video games as “slave labor” is not something I was expecting to see from the web3 crowd, but here we are.

Nobody Wants to Go There

Casey Newton:

All of this sets aside the fact that there is a strong market demand for content moderation. Platforms that allow extremism to proliferate quickly become ghost towns; most people don’t want to see racist idiocy every time they log on. Platforms remove hate speech and various other forms of harm primarily because to allow it to remain poses an existential threat to their businesses.

And:

As with everything in content moderation, all of us would draw the lines differently according to our own beliefs. But Texas makes it a crime to draw almost any lines at all, and it’s extremely difficult to imagine how any big site could function in the state in a world where HB20 stands.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you want more speech, you have to accept some moderation. There are websites online with very little moderation, and they are widely considered to be hellscapes that most people see as a red flag when they tell you they visit them (to test this, on your next date tell the other person that you're really into 8chan and see if they're more or less into you 🚩).

Again I find myself wondering why I'm the one, a bleeding heart liberal, telling Texas (and Florida before it) that governments mandating moderation rules for private companies is government overreach.

Round and Around We Go

2019: Apple poaches top Google machine learning expert as it continues to expand AI team

Apple has poached one of Google’s top artificial intelligence engineers as it continues to build up its AI team. Apple recently hired Google’s Ian Goodfellow to join its “Special Projects Group” as a director of machine learning.

Today: Apple Executive Who Left Over Return-to-Office Policy Joins Google AI Unit

An Apple Inc. executive who left over the company’s stringent return-to-office policy is joining Alphabet Inc.’s DeepMind unit, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Well there you go.

The Perfect Currency for a Fraud-Free World

This interview is pretty long, but it's worth a read. This bit stood out to me because it really does show the scale we're dealing with when it comes to Bitcoin.

The problem with the Global Public Square is that it is a single, limited entity, and you have only so much you can add to it at any given time. So Bitcoin burns that much of the world’s electricity to be able to process somewhere between three to seven transactions per second across the entire world.

3-7 transactions per second is just so absurdly slow. For context, I work for a large payments company and we process well north of 1 billion transactions per year. In 2018 there were 174 billion non-cash payments (mostly card, but some checks) in the US, or about 5,500 transactions per second. That number has only gone up in the past few years.

This will of course result in reference to the Lightning Network:

“Oh, but there’s this lightning network thing that allows these layer two transfers in a trustless environment, so you aren’t trusting the central Chivo app.” That is still limited to adding three to seven people per second globally to the system. So you can’t actually onboard that system. It just doesn’t scale.

And finally, the thing that always gets me: the "oh you had fraud, too bad for you" issue of crypto.

Modern finance has this rule that anything electronic needs to be reversible for short periods of time. This allows an undo in case of fraud. Have you had your credit card compromised before? I’ve had my credit card numbers stolen a couple of times. The amount of money I lost is zero. Because we have both good fraud protection and good ability to reverse transactions. That does not exist in the cryptocurrency space.

Sometimes There Aren't Words

Internet Blue: Disregard the Words

Yet looking back on the last decade or two, the most transformative consumer products – and generational changes in behavior – have often been the most difficult to describe. The ones where words escaped us initially.

This is a really good article about how things like Notion, Snapchat, and the iPhone are hard to explain in words to someone else why they're incredible, and that's often an indicator that a product is truly special.

The Dark Side of Celebrity Fandom

Kaitlyn Tiffany: Johnny Depp and the Dark Side of Celebrity Fandom

Depp supporters have also suggested that Heard’s daughter, Oonagh, who was born via surrogate last year, is secretly the child of Elon Musk, and that Musk has some larger role to play in an immense conspiracy.

I'm only vaguely following along with this story, but it does seem to touch on a very common trope of narrative-building around celebrities and finding storylines that aren't actually there.

Zelda, Fonts, and Magic (Newsletter #112)

Happy…late Friday! I've decided that in order to avoid burnout, I need to be more flexible with this newsletter, and this week that means doing a late-Friday edition, which is just more fun anyway, right?!

  • Want to play the original Zelda in your browser? Why not?!
  • Bakewell is a slick font that is just affordable enough that I'm trying to find an excuse to use it somewhere…
  • Coverture is a cool little Mac app for creating animations that you can export as code for the web. Here's a tweet with a preview.

The Videos

My new goal is to figure out how to get my employer to buy this for me too.

I don't know who needs to hear this, but Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed full run is on this channel…it hasn't aged particularly well, but the nostalgia trip here was intense for me.

Are you tired of 75% and 60% keyboards? What about a 300% one?

Watch this if you want to have empathy for what video folks go though to remove echo from their audio tracks.

And why not a little more magic to round it out? David Blane goes to the MKBHD studio to show them some impressive tricks.

The Tweets

A Haven for Forbidden Apps

Jared Newman: How AltStore is building a haven for forbidden iPhone apps

“You would think that allowing high performance apps would be to Apple’s benefit as they keep making more and more powerful iPads, but the state of (allowed) iPad software has been stagnant,” says UTM’s developer, who goes by the pseudonym Osy. “It’s one of the reasons I worked on UTM in the first place, because I thought it was a pity that such powerful hardware doesn’t have any software to take advantage of it.”

I just made a video about 1Password's new Universal Autofill feature and one of the things I called out there was how this is a great example of what's great about macOS: the OS didn't support something so AgileBits made it happen anyway. The tragedy of the iPad is that it has an incredible amount of power, but it's limited by whatever Apple allows people to do with it. Meanwhile, if you can dream it, you can probably do it on the Mac.

People act as if opening up the iPad to do more would turn it "just into another Mac" and I flatly reject that idea and I think it's a lazy argument. The iPad has gained tons of features over the years and it's still managed to be completely distinct from the Mac at all points in its history. Remember when we were debating whether a file system even made sense on the iPad? Or how a cursor and laptop form factor would make it too Mac-like? Or how about when we argued whether showing more than one app on screen at a time was something the iPad should do at all?

I really hope Apple has plans to make the iPad, specifically the iPad Pro (iPad Studio?), more capable.

Dogecoin is Going to the Moon on WordPress!

I saw this headline,455 Million WordPress Websites Can Now Accept Dogecoin, and of course I had to see what this was all about.

According to DogeDesigner, a UX/UI specialist and graphic designer at Dogecoin Foundation, millions of WordPress websites can now accept Dogecoin using the WooCommerce plugin "Easy Dogecoin Gateway" built by the Dogecoin developer known as "inevitable360."

A couple things here. First, this headline (and the plugin author's tweet) are hilariously optimistic. There are 455 million Wordpress sites out there, but none of them can accept Dogecoin until they install the plugin. Also, this is a WooCommerce plugin, so only WordPress users using WooCommerce can use it. The best numbers I can find show about 3-5 million sites with WooCommerce, so 99% of those 455 million are actually not able to use this.

Ok, so we went from 455 million to 5 million, but how many people have actually downloaded it?

Oh, a couple dozen.

I have no beef with this specific plugin, but I wanted to call this out because this is how I see so many, "Company X is bringing crypto payments to millions!" headlines actually work when you dig into them a little. It's all hype all the way down.

A Fandom That Doesn’t Want Me

This post is a day late, but all the Star Wars talk yesterday and the new Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer got me thinking about where I am with Star Wars right now. I was about 12 years old when I first saw A New Hope, and I’ve been a huge fan of the franchise ever since. Despite being disappointed on numerous occasions, I still eagerly anticipated each new movie/game/whatever with optimism.

My general feelings have changed in the past couple years, though, and it all started with…you already know what I’m going to say…The Last Jedi.

Now I really love The Last Jedi. Yes, it’s got a few cringy moments, but this is Star Wars, camp is built in and every mainline film has cringe-inducing moments here and there, so…whatever. The film was beautifully shot, was original in many ways, had great action, and was just flat out the most fun I had at a Star Wars film since Empire.

No, what made me shift on Star Wars was the massive negative reaction this film got from the fanbase. People can enjoy or dislike whatever they want, that’s fine, but my enjoyment of this movie seemed to make a shocking number of Star Wars fans mad. I can count on one finger the number of people who disliked The Last Jedi and asked me why I liked it. Everyone else had some variant of, “OMG IT’S TRASH, YOU’RE WRONG, AND HERE’S WHY,” (yes, even in real life with aquantances). It was so bad that much like “Trump” and “Elon” I didn’t even dare use the text “The Last Jedi” in a tweet because doing so would guarantee my mentions would be filled with randos telling me how wrong I was.

And this is of course nothing compared to what people directly connected to the film got. Rian Johnson was public enemy #1 for many people, and let’s not even get into what Kelly Marie Tran dealt with in terms of abuse.

And this was different from what I had known of the prequel trilogy. If I tweeted today, “I loved The Phantom Menace,” my replies would be asking me why I liked it so much and that “man, I should rewatch that to see if it’s better than I remember.” If I tweeted the same thing about The Last Jedi, I don’t think the replies would have as much curiosity.

Basically, my enjoyment of a particlar Star Wars film made me feel alienated from the Star Wars fandom in general. I felt it was a club I didn’t want to be involved in, and even if I did, it seemed they didn’t want me. I’m sure other fandoms are like this to some extent as well, I just haven’t experienced anything at this scale and with this much anger in any other media I’ve enjoyed in my life.

I think this is why I have been a bit more tepid about Star Wars content after this. I still had affection for the stories and characters, but the distance I felt from the fandom made me less interested in the whole thing.

All that said, the new Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer looks great, and I have high hopes that it will bring me unabashed joy for a few weeks this summer. I hope that I can love Star Wars again and that the toxicity I’ve associated with its fandom over the past few years can fade away.

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