So I need your help.
I am working on a new project and I need pullquotes from people sharing their thoughts on my writing. Doesn’t have to be long, in fact 1-2 sentences is preferred.
Feel free to reply with yours or email me at jeff (at) jeffperry (dot) me.
Call me crazy but I am so uninterested in Apple AR/XR headset. I’m more interested in their new OS features for iOS and MacOS.
You know, what WWDC is literally meant for.
Stitch is absolutely beautiful, fun, and addicting. I’m so happy to be playing it in my down time lately. It’s the perfect mobile puzzle game.
I recently decided to try out Breath of the Wild for the first time and as someone who never was into Zelda games I have to admit that this game is absolutely fantastic. I know it’s not a hot take but I’d rather be 6 years late rather than never play it at all.
My view at career fair today.
OpenAI just released an official app and I have to admit, it’s one of the best AI apps I’ve used.
This is your friendly reminder to choose “Stop Testing” on any betas you’re not actively using on TestFlight.
As someone who has barely played BotW, should I play that game first before playing TotK?
I was going to watch the Trump town hall on CNN last night, but I decided to stare at a blank wall instead. It was a more productive use of my time.
Today Techdirt released their second game, Moderator Mayhem . It is a "game that lets you see how good a job you would do as a front line content moderator," Mike Masnick writes, "for a growing technology company that hosts user-generated content".
Not only does the game have you moderate content, but it also gives you feedback from your manager and the public.
Are you supportive of free speech, or too oppressive in your moderation? Are you allowing too much harassment and therefore not considered safe? One thing about the public is that they’re not shy about letting you know how they feel.
I did my first run on my lunch break at work and I absolutely plan to play more with this later.
Techdirt has managed to, once again, provide some fantastic context to what is going on in big tech and the platforms we all know and love.
Let's Write Some Letters
Jarrod Blundy recently announced his plans to write letters with readers and other writers online, a project that spawned from Jason Becker’s Letters project. Luckily, I snagged August as the month I will be writing letters to Jarrod.
However, I think that I want to make room to write letters to others interested in this as well. If you want to share a public letter with me get in touch with me and let me know what month(s) work for you this year. Here’s what it will entail:
- One letter per week.
- The first letter will be sent by you in the first week of the month and I will respond by week 2 of the month, and we will repeat this for weeks 3 and 4. In total, we will have each written 2 letters.
Here are the requirements that both Jarod and Jason use that I will borrow from:
- The person I’m corresponding with will write the first letter.
- I will respond during the same week. They do not have to write again until the next week.
- Each letter will be at least 250 words.
- I will post the correspondent’s letter followed by my response on my blog. If they have a blog, they can do the same and I will gladly link to them.
If this looks like something you would like to do feel free to get in touch with me now. I will update the below list once I have something scheduled, so feel free to refresh this before sending me your available months.
August: Jarrod Blundy, HeyDingus
- One letter per week.
At this point, Elon is just toying with news and media organizations. They truly should just make the active decision to leave. www.npr.org/2023/05/0…
New issue of Clicked it out!
This issue I talk about the new onboarding process for Mastodon, whether Twitter is still worth it for journalists, and 5 links to other interesting stories.
It's time for journalists to leave Twitter
I was listening to a recent episode of the podcast Hard Fork, and a specific part of it really resonated with me. It was where
Casey Newton was talking to his co-host, Kevin Roose, about NPR’s decision to leave Twitter after getting a “state-affiliated media” badge.
You know what I’ve been thinking about lately, Kevin? Do you remember during the Trump campaigns, when there would be these rallies. And in the center of the rally there would be a pit for the media. And a signature moment of every rally would be Trump pointing to the people in the media so that everyone at the rally could say, boo, we don’t like the press.
That is what Twitter has become. It is the press pit, where a bunch of people are standing around you in a circle, jeering. Adding this state-funded media badge was one of those steps. But I’m barely joking when I say that I think eventually every reporter who is still on the service will have a clown badge next to their username. And you just have to decide if you still want to be there when it happens.
I truly think this is just a matter of time, and if Elon listens to Hard Fork then he almost certainly has at least talked about it with his overworked developer team.
To add to this, I also read in a recent post by Pew Research that journalists on Twitter might not even be getting the views they deserve. Nearly 70% of journalists use Twitter as one of their top social media platforms. With that in mind, only about 13% of users use Twitter as their means of getting news.
The usage of Twitter by journalists is beyond disproportionate to their actual reach.
Huge Changes for New Mastodon Users
People signing up for Mastodon will no longer have to worry about what server to go to. Instead, Mastodon will now be defaulting to a server they operate. Eugen Rochko, Mastodon’s Founder and CEO, explained his reasoning for this saying that “[m]aking the onboarding process as easy as possible helps new users get past the sign-up process and more quickly engage with others.”
ZOOM OUT: The balancing act between usability and the open web is upon us. Instead of focusing on the decentralization of Mastodon, they are opting to choose something more closed.
- This follows a more centralized platform like Facebook and Twitter. Though you can change servers.
- Bluesky, Mastodon’s competitor, is also known to do something like this as well for new users.
Substack co-founder denounces bigotry, but has no plan jeffperry.me/substack-…
Substack co-founder denounces bigotry, but has no plan
Shortly after Substack announced their Twitter competitor Substack Notes Nilay Patel interviewed Substack’s CEO, Chris Best, to talk about it.
In it, Patel asked Best if the statement “all brown people are animals and they shouldn’t be allowed in America” would be censored on Substack Notes. Best refused to say that it would, and when pressed further by Patel the CEO responded saying, “I’m not going to get into gotcha content moderation” because he didn’t think it’s “a useful way to talk about this stuff.”
On April 21st, a week after the Decoder interview went live, Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie wrote a company statement via Substack Notes:
Last week, we caught some heat after Chris didn’t accept the terms of a question from a podcast interviewer about how Substack will handle bigoted speech on Notes. It came across poorly and some people sternly criticized us for our naivety while others wondered how we’d discourage bad behaviors and content on Notes. We wish that interview had gone better and that Chris had more clearly represented our position in that moment, and we regret causing any alarm for people who care about Substack and how the platform is evolving. We messed that up. And just in case anyone is ever in any doubt: we don’t like or condone bigotry in any form.
Spoiler alert: McKenzie doesn’t have any actions or policies laid out to explain how Substack will combat bigotry. “Caught some heat” is about as bad as it gets from a company statement. It might as well have said “got caught being shitty.”
The “heat” in question were from an episode of Decoder where Chris Best, CEO of Substack, refused to say that “all brown people are animals and they shouldn’t be allowed in America” would violate their content guidelines.
It gets worse, in classic whataboutism McKenzie argues that the other social media companies aren’t doing much to fight bigotry despite their huge content moderation teams.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others have tens of thousands of engineers, lawyers, and trust & safety employees working on content moderation, and they have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into their efforts. The content moderation policies at some of those companies run to something like 150 pages. But how is it all working out? Is there less concern about misinformation? Has polarization decreased? Has fake news gone away? Is there less bigotry? It doesn’t seem so to us, despite the best efforts and good intentions of the most powerful media technology companies the world has ever known.
Now, this doesn’t mean there should be no moderation at all, and we do of course have content guidelines with narrowly defined restrictions that we will continue to enforce. But, generally speaking, we suspect that the issue is that you can’t solve a problem (social media business models) with a problem (a content moderation apparatus that doesn’t work and burns trust). So we are taking a different path.
That “different path,” McKenzie explains, is “changing the business model.” How will they change this business? Basically making the creator do their own content moderation. Substack decided to look at their writers, the whole reason Substack is making money, and telling them to figure it out themselves.
Truthfully this is a bad company statement trying to walk back Chris Best’s blunder on Decoder. In fact, it made things even more rocky for Substack.
Substack is a place where writers can write what they want to write, readers can read what they want to read, and everyone can choose who they hang out with. It’s a different game from social media as we know it.
No it isn’t, this “game” is the same on Facebook, Twitter, and more. There can be simple and no-nonsense content moderation policies in place and people who disagree on the platform.
Just because you are removing and disallowing someone from saying “all brown people are animals and they shouldn’t be allowed in America” doesn’t mean that everyone will suddenly be the same ideologically. You can have rules in place to prevent violence while having a healthy discourse.
I wrote before about Substack’s poorly written content guidelines and I said, “this isn’t an endorsement to spread hate but it certainly doesn’t thwart any of that kind of behavior either.” While I still believe that, the more Substack dives in to their content moderation guidelines give me pause. It makes me believe that Substack is less making a critical error and more deliberately dog-whistling.
Some people feel similarly, one being Mike Masnick at Techdirt. He explained the Nazi bar story on Reddit and how, with comments like Best’s on Decoder, Substack is allowing more Nazis to come in to Substack’s metaphorical bar.
But Substack is a centralized system. And a centralized system that doesn’t do trust & safety… is the Nazi bar. And if you have some other system that you think allows for “moderation but not censorship” then be fucking explicit about what it is. There are all sorts of interventions short of removing content that have been shown to work well (though, with other social media, they still get accused of “censorship” for literally expressing more speech). But the details matter. A lot.
If Substack truly wants to be a place for everyone to come and discuss things that matter to them, they cannot continue with this hands-off approach. Content moderation is messy, and it isn't easy to handle. That being said, Substack needs to roll up their sleeves and embrace the mess. Otherwise they will drive more and more people off of their platform.
Nick Heer writing on Pixel Envy:
Here are three relatively recent interactions I have had with independent software developers:
- In November 2020,1 I suggested a separate display of the optional
external_urlproperty for JSON Feeds in NetNewsWire. I was not sure how to program this, but I thought it was a reasonable idea and, fortunately, Maurice Parker and Brent Simmons agreed. Within a week, it was part of the application. (Because this is open source software, I feel comfortable being precise.)
- A reader emailed me with questions about iPhone photography. That gave me an idea, which I sent off to a developer, who responded positively to the suggestion.
- I encountered a strange bug in a Safari extension. I emailed the developer with specific conditions and a screenshot, and received a reply mere hours later asking for more information. A busy week got in the way of my reply, so the developer emailed again several days later to follow up. I was no longer able to reproduce the bug but it was nice to be reminded.
These are just a few of the numerous pleasant experiences I have had with independent software developers. I cannot say the same is true of big corporate developers — not even close.
When I buy and use software from an independent developer, it feels like I am establishing a relationship with the person or small team that built it; it feels like we both have a stake in the success of the product. But when I use software made by a massive company, I can feel the power imbalance in the pit of my stomach.
Could not agree more.
I truly feel more connected with indie apps and services over big-name corporate brands. Do I still choose the big names over indie? Sure, but I don't feel good about it.
The indie apps I do use are the ones I will happily pay yearly subscriptions for because I know that the money I am paying goes to the people that put their blood sweat and tears into what they make.
- In November 2020,1 I suggested a separate display of the optional
Too Many to Manage
The chatty-chat-social media landscape has become a little overwhelming, for me, since Twitter's collapse. I find myself juggling and managing;
The only reason Wavelength seems somewhat appealing is that in any group that I am part of, no one sees or would have my phone number, unlike Telegram or WhatsApp, as far as I know. Still, I am not sure I want to manage this many things.
The competition for chat apps has began to get quite saturated to say the least. Like most things many people will pick where most of their people are and let the rest fall to the wayside. For me Mastodon is the biggest one, but I am using 3-5 other ones to keep up with everything going on in this space.
Which reminds me, if you want to follow me you can do so here:
Apple’s Newsroom Blog Debuts New ‘Quick Read’ Post
Jarrod Blundy writing at HeyDingus:
Tonight, I noticed something curious about Apple’s latest post to their official Newsroom, a blog of sorts where the company makes public statements and press releases. The post regarding the opening dates for their two newest retail stores is categorized as a ‘Quick Read’, complete with a lightening bolt icon and pop-up interaction from the main Newsroom feed.
Still, it’s nice to see Apple join in on the return of personal blogging with something new, however minor it may be, on their blog.
Jarrod also makes a list of a lot of posts from Apple with similar word counts but significantly different categories.
It is interesting to see yet another distinction without a difference though.
Preserving the Wilhelm Scream
Craig Smith wrote a very interesting post for Freesound. In it he explained how took tape with sound effects ranging from the 30’s and 80’s and restored them. The kicker is that one of those recordings was the Wilhelm Scream.
The biggest issue he had was a lot of these tapes had sticky-shed syndrome. This is basically a breakdown in the binder that holds the magnetic tape together. A common fix for this is literally baking it for some time and then playing it again. That is exactly what Craig did, he took the newly baked tape (after some cooling) and recorded it for later restoration.
After recording it he then went ahead and did the lengthy process of restoring it in Isotope RX 10.
Not only is one of those pieces of tape he fixed the Wilhelm Scream but you can even listen to the recording of it as well.
Is Substack All Bad?
I have been eating popcorn all weekend as I read more and more about the dispute between Substack and Twitter. If you haven’t been following the Twitter and Substack drama, you can check out a great timeline of events from The Verge.
I’ll give you a small summary here in my own words, but truly you should look more into this if you haven’t, it’s one of the more fun bits of drama that I have seen in a while.
- Substack announces a new way to create and post short-form content called Substack Notes, which I shared my small bit of initial thoughts.
- Twitter subsequently disabled likes, replies, and retweets if they have a Substack link in it.
- Substack’s co-founder, Chris Best, took to Twitter to respond directly to Elon’s bullshit
- Several big names in Substack say they are leaving Twitter because of this, including Matt Taibbi (AKA the guy who took the Twitter Files from Elon and botched the whole thing)
- Twitter allows links to Substacks but annoyingly marks all of them as “unsafe”
- Twitter no longer allows you to even search the word “substack” and it is instead redirected to “newsletter”
- Twitter rolls back all of their gatekeeping to Substacks, except for search which is currently still redirecting “substack” to “newsletters”
With all of this going on, I think this is a good time to revisit an ongoing question I have, “Is Substack bad?”
Hate Speech on Substack
First off, I hate how Substack has become a safe haven for COVID deniers, antisemitic, homophobic, transphobic, and other hateful content that does real harm. I find the lack of any kind of moderation a mistake on Substack’s part.
When I think of Substack, I always think about Medium and how that platform became the place for good writing and independent publishing. I remember going to Medium everyday to see what was new. While the platform isn’t what it used to be, it is still among one of the biggest places for independent publishing. I bring them up because I was comparing Medium’s content guidelines to Substack’s. What I found made me realize what I think Substack is missing. They don’t make a big enough stand against hate speech. Let’s compare, shall we?
Medium’s Content Guidelines regarding hate speech:
We do not allow content that constitutes or promotes violence, harassment, or hatred against people based on characteristics like race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, caste, disability, disease, age, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.
We do not allow posts or accounts that glorify, celebrate, downplay, or trivialize violence, suffering, abuse, or deaths of individuals or groups. This includes the use of scientific or pseudoscientific claims or misleading statistics to pathologize, dehumanize, or disempower others. We do not allow calls for intolerance, exclusion, or segregation based on protected characteristics, nor do we allow the glorification of groups which do any of the above.
We do not allow hateful text, images, symbols, or other content, including in your username, profile, or bio.
Substack’s Content Guidelines regarding hate speech:
Substack cannot be used to publish content or fund initiatives that incite violence based on protected classes. Offending behavior includes credible threats of physical harm to people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or medical condition.
The key difference here is how Substack seems to only care about violence. There is nothing said about harassment or hatred toward someone or a group of people. To me, this isn’t an endorsement to spread hate but it certainly doesn’t thwart any of that kind of behavior either.
Also, Substack all but admits that the ball is in your court when it comes to content moderation.
The philosophy behind these guidelines also applies to Substack readers. We believe that writers are responsible for moderating and managing their communities, but there are some occasions when we will review reports of readers’ comments to enforce these guidelines.
What Substack Gets Right
Aside from the long-standing issues with content moderation and hate speech, I must admit that Substack gets a lot right for writers and journalists. Here are just a few that I have in mind.
- Substack has allowed for independent publishing to thrive and have a second renaissance
- Readers are able to directly support the work they support in one spot
- Creators are able to get up and running on Substack in minutes, eliminating the laborious process of setting up a site or blog
So, is Substack bad?
I’ve shared my conflicted feelings about Substack, but this Twitter drama puts yet another wrinkle into it. Truthfully, I can’t help but find myself aligning more with Substack’s point of view rather than Twitter’s.
I think Alex Cox said it best in their recent post on Patreon hoping to raise money for their cat who needs cancer treatment. By the way, if you are able to kick a few bucks to Alex you absolutely should. It was at the end in a FAQ.
Isn’t Substack gross?
I mean, I don’t like plenty of the people who use their platform, but that’s true of most services that focus on the “creator economy.” I see Patreon and Substack more as a way to communicate with a core group of people whose feedback I respect.
This is something that I think rings true for me as well. I don’t love Substack as a platform but I think there is more good coming from it than bad. With them getting Twitter’s full attention I think only makes them even stronger. What they do with that added strength and power remains to be seen.
Are you going to Substack now?
Personally, I don’t think I have ever had a larger audience than the one I had on Substack, and I often wonder if I should return to that platform.
Ultimately, I feel that there are too many unknowns to justify going back. Things like the volatile economics, the previously stated issues with hate speech, and my ongoing worries what the platform will do next prevent me from firing up another newsletter.
Instead, I am doubling-down on this blog. So if you like what you’ve read please share it with a friend of yours and subscribe to the RSS feed.
Mehdi Hasan Dismantles the Entire Foundation of the Twitter Files as Matt Taibbi Stumbles to Defend it
Along with the full interview of MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan interviewing Matt Taibbi, Tech Dirt goes into even more detail about the errors and inaccuracies Taibii brought with his reporting on the Twitter Files.
Hasan came prepared with facts. Lots of them. Many of which debunked the core foundation on which Taibbi and his many fans have built the narrative regarding the Twitter Files.
Since the interview, Taibbi has been scrambling to claim that the errors Hasan called out are small side issues, but they’re not. They’re literally the core pieces on which he’s built the nonsense framing that Stanford, the University of Washington, some non-profits, the government, and social media have formed an “industrial censorship complex” to stifle the speech of Americans.
Tech Dirt does a fantastic job of breaking down multiple points where Taibbi got things wrong and flat-out omitted vital context. I highly recommend reading it rather than taking my small quotes here.
I am so happy I didn’t believe the hype when it came to this “historic” information. I knew something smelled fishy from the start, and it’s clearly only gotten more rotten.
A Better Shade of Blue
Daniel Jalkut on Red Sweater’s blog:
A few weeks ago, I found myself staring at the about box for the app, and this default shade of blue stood out to me:
There’s nothing particularly wrong with it. It is, after all, the default color for all links. But I’m not sure anybody spent much time weighing the aesthetics of the default HTML colors. To my eye, the saturation reads “1990s” and “Windows”. When I see that default color on a web site, the site comes across as less refined. And suddenly, my app felt less refined as well. Here’s how the same default link looks in MarsEdit 5.0.5:
It’s just another arbitrary color, but it’s my choice. I think it looks nice. It’s a better shade of blue. I liked it so much I changed the default blue in MarsEdit’s Plain Text syntax highlighting as well.
I know this is a really simple change but it reminds me of what my thought process was when I made this website. I spent so much time trying to kill and default blue links that were around.
Also, the shade of blue Daniel Jalkut chose is damn near perfect.
Introducing Substack Notes
In the coming days, we will start rolling out a way for writing, ideas, and discussion to travel through the Substack network. We’re calling this new product Notes.
In Notes, writers will be able to post short-form content and share ideas with each other and their readers. Like our Recommendations feature, Notes is designed to drive discovery across Substack. But while Recommendations lets writers promote publications, Notes will give them the ability to recommend almost anything—including posts, quotes, comments, images, and links. Our goal is to foster conversations that inspire, enlighten, and entertain, while giving writers a powerful growth channel as these interactions find new audiences.
While Notes may look like familiar social media feeds, the key difference is in what you don’t see. The Substack network runs on paid subscriptions, not ads. This changes everything.
The lifeblood of an ad-based social media feed is attention. In legacy social networks, people get rewarded for creating content that goes viral within the context of the feed, regardless of whether or not people value it, locking readers in a perpetual scroll. Almost all the attendant financial rewards then go to the owner of the platform.
By contrast, the lifeblood of a subscription network is the money paid to people who are doing worthy work within it. Here, people get rewarded for respecting the trust and attention of their audiences. The ultimate goal on this platform is to convert casual readers into paying subscribers. In this system, the vast majority of the financial rewards go to the creators of the content.
So just that I have this clear Substack is making short form content, but because they aren’t a “legacy social network” it’s somehow better than Facebook or Twitter?
Tack this on with the fact Substack is asking readers for funding gives you a company looking to get as much money as they can and keep people on their app and website as long as they can.
As we develop Notes, we will focus on building a system that lets people control the contours and boundaries of their subscription universe so that it is easy to keep trolls out and even easier to let valuable contributors in. The goal here is not to create a perfectly sanitized information environment, but to set the conditions for constructive discussion where there is enough common ground to seek understanding while holding onto the worthwhile tension needed for great art and new ideas. It won’t feel like the social media we know today.
While Substack doesn’t necessarily have an infinite scroll they do have a ranking algorithm, check marks for highly successful Substacks, and now something they claim isn’t Twitter but looks a lot like Twitter.
Substack was once my home for Clicked and other works I made, and I liked what it had to offer back then. However, I am happy to no longer have my work there because this is just another weird and concerning decision from them.