CategoryMedia and Culture

The Ingredients of a Successful Meme

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When war came to Ukraine,Kate-Yeonjae Jeong found out the same way most young people discover what’s happening in the world. The 17-year-old high school student from Houston learned about the Russian invasion on TikTok. In an essay published by The New York Times, she explained that in late February she was going about her usual routine—“homework, short respite on TikTok, repeat”—when between...

How Brands Handle Hashtag Harassment

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It took Dollar General less than a week to fire Mary Gundel. A store manager in Tampa, Florida Gundel was earning $50,000 a year, according to the New York Times, and had received an award for her hard work and dedication just months earlier. What moved her from a “Top 5%” Dollar General employee to a Lyft and Uber driver was a series of posts that Gundel made on TikTok. At the end of March, she...

What It Takes to Be an NFT Artist

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At first, it looked like the biggest art heist in history. As rumors spread that online art marketplace OpenSea had been hacked, the estimated value of the stolen artworks reached as high as $200 million. It was as though someone had broken into Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and walked off with almost the entire gallery. In fact, the raid turned out to be a lot smaller than initial reports...

Building Your Substack Newsletter

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In May last year, Andrew Walker, a portfolio manager at Rangeley Capital, and host of the Yet Another Value podcast, made the switch. After several years of blogging, he decided that he’d had enough of the technical problems that came with managing a site on his own. At least once a month, he noted, something on the site would break, requiring a few hours to fix. So he followed the direction of...

The Blockchain Trends You Need to Know

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When the blockchain launched in 2008, the expectation among enthusiasts was that Satoshi had created a new technology that would soon reshape the world. Money, in particular, would never the be the same. Instead of the whim of a central banker determining the value of a national currency through the printing of more cash, a connected world would use a limited currency whose value would be...

Digital Art Gives Creatives New Opportunities… and New Gatekeepers

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On January 1, 1971, Henry Darger wrote an entry in his diary. “I had a very poor nothing like Christmas. Never had a good Christmas all my life, nor a good new year, and now… I am very bitter but fortunately not revengeful, though I feel should be how I am.” It was his last entry. Two years later, the hospital janitor died aged 81 at St. Augustine’s Home for the Aged. He was buried...

The Rise and Rise of the Virtual Influencer

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Grime’s gestation lasted more than a year. In November 2018, the Canadian techno star registered a Twitter account called WarNymph. It wasn’t until January 2020, though, that the account received a matching Instagram stream and its first post. WarNymph, the world learned, was a winged baby with pixie ears and a bow and arrow. She grew up quickly. A few weeks after recording a message predicting...

Podcasting Is Still HAVING ITS DAY

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It started in a basement. Sarah Koenig, a producer on This American Life, a weekly radio program, had pitched a new kind of show. Instead of choosing a different theme for each episode and creating stories related to that theme, Koenig and her colleague Julie Snyder would tell a single, long story over multiple episodes. The show would follow a format as old as Dickens. Each episode would build...

The Work of Professional Meme Makers

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In November 2015 stock photographer Antonio Guillem posted a picture on Shutterstock. It showed a young man walking in a city street with his girlfriend. His head is turned back and he ogles a woman walking in the other direction. His girlfriend has a look of disgust. The picture was shot in Gerona, Spain, and it was one of a number of pictures that Guillem had made featuring the same three...

China’s Social Media World is Way Better Than Ours… And That’s Okay

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In January this year, a man in China’s Bozhou city received a parking fine. He wasn’t happy about it. “Grandma’s legs!” he wrote on WeChat Moments, using a light Chinese curse. “I only parked for ten minutes to pick up my kid and it’s a 100 yuan fine.” The next day, the local police wrote their own post on Weibo, a kind of Chinese Twitter. The post reported that a man in Bozhou county had been...

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