We're posting every XOXO talk on YouTube, one every weekday in speaker order, and we're a little over halfway through. There's some really amazing stuff in there already, it's hard for me to even pick favorites. Jonathan Mann and Gina Trapani are personal highlights.
The most popular talk we've ever had, by a decent margin, is Anita Sarkeesian talking about the tactics used by sexist jerks to discredit her and other women online. Go watch it. There's an interesting behind-the-scenes story there, but maybe another time.
I just posted Justin Hall's talk today, and it's pretty great.
When he gets onstage, you can see he's visibly shaken. That's my fault. Before I introduced him to the stage, I told the audience that his site was the inspiration for teaching myself HTML in 1995. I told him I'd followed his life online for over 20 years, he opened my eyes to ways of using the web I'd never considered, and that he deeply influenced the way I thought about technology.
I made Justin Hall cry. And then we cut out my intro from the video, making him look like a big crybaby. Whoops!
There's so much I love about Justin's talk.
In 1995, starting at age 19, he started spilling the most intimate details of his life online, from his father's suicide, the drugs he was taking, and the interactions he was having with friends, family, lovers, and long-time partners.
He wanted everyone to experience this, so spread the word in person and on TV and on roadtrips, an evangelist for the web as a personal communications medium. A Johnny Appleseed for HTML, trying to use technology to generate empathy.
It didn't play out quite like he expected.
It takes a profound sense of self-awareness to realize the flaws in your deepest-held beliefs, talk about them publicly, and do the work to fix them.
"We're all scientists of our own lives. We're all constantly running experiments, every day. And what the web allows us to do is to share our data. What are we learning about our experiments, about what it means to be a good person and be connected?
We can use the web to share those truths with each other and evolve them, because we don't know!
Let's learn together until we're dead."
Sounds good to me.
When 4chan started banning every Gamergate-related thread from its videogame forum, the infuriated gamers fled to 8chan (aka ∞chan), a year-old spinoff with its own unique origin story. Gamergate was welcomed with open arms. (I'm guessing Moot wasn't heartbroken to lose their business.)
So, I know this is a cheap thrill, but I find it incredibly satisfying to read threads on 8chan from Gamergate supporters mourning all their fallen heroes.
But as Gamergate continues to grow, and its accompanying campaign of harassment escalates, more and more artists, writers, and critics are publicly taking a stand against it.
That's led to a lot of disappointment and frustration from pro-Gamergate supporters mourning the betrayal of their heroes, as they disappear one by one into their Social Justice blacklists.
For someone who's sick of the abuse, these 8chan threads are pure schadenfreude:
Among the fallen heroes mentioned: Patton Oswalt, Seth Rogen, Felicia Day, William Gibson, Tim Schafer, cartoonist Mariel Cartwright, Joss Whedon, writer Greg Rucka, Wil Wheaton, writer Jim Sterling, John Scalzi, Adam Sessler, Jon Stewart, and the creators of Raspberry Pi, who came out forcefully against #gamergate.
When prompted for alternatives to their lost idols, a handful of names are mentioned, but only those who have remained silent on the issue. Their best hope is that the silent are secretly on their side, since nobody else creating stuff seems to be. They mention Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann, and the artists behind the Oglaf and Nedroid comics as possible supporters.
I wondered aloud on Twitter if their silence actually meant their support. Anthony from Nedroid immediately replied:
Oglaf's Trudy Cooper replied later that night:
This morning, Jeff Gerstmann posted a strong statement against Gamergate in an editor's letter on Giant Bomb:
So when "GamerGate" rose up to cover over a campaign of harassment with a veneer of concern for the ethics of games journalism, it more or less set off every single disgust alarm I have. Though I'm sure some good people have been roped into this mess under this guise, the ethical concern portion of all this is largely a farce, a fallacy.
Cross those three off the idols list, I guess.
Towards the end of the thread, one commenter summed it up, "We have to accept that pretty much the entirety of western society has turned against us and chugged kool-aid like crazy."
I've said it before—creating something new and putting it online is an act of bravery, and it exposes you to a tremendous amount of criticism. At any level of popularity, you deal with kneejerk contrarians, self-entitled fans, and anonymous haters—the bread and butter of the Gamergate movement.
It's not too surprising that they're having a hard time winning their heroes over to their side.
@waxpancake One would think the realization that "all my heroes are against me" might lead to some faint flicker of self-reflection.— Patrick Smith (@Patrick5mith) October 17, 2014
Twitter's for 140-character short-form writing and Medium's for long-form. Weirdly, there really isn't a great platform for everything in the middle — what previously would've just been called "blogging." Mid-length blogging. Middling.
I think that's partly why seeing Matt Haughey, Paul Ford, and Michael Sippey restart regular blogging on Paul's delightfully retro tilde.club is so refreshing to me. I miss seeing people I admire post stuff longer than a tweet.
So I think I'll try doing the same thing here. In the early days of Waxy.org, before I launched the linkblog, I used to blog short posts constantly. Multiple times a day. Twitter and Waxy Links cannibalized all the smaller posts, and as my reach grew, I started reserving blogging for more "serious" stuff — mostly longer-form research and investigative writing.
Well, fuck that. I miss the casual spontaneity of it all, and since I'm pretty sure hardly anybody's reading my site again after the death of Google Reader, the pressure's off.
What do I have to lose?
Update: Nice, Gina Trapani's in too.
For the second time in 18 months, I've lost a friend to depression—a unique, young talent with their greatest years ahead of them.
Chloe Weil tasted words. She was vulnerable to rich emotional experiences in the summertime. She hated her birthday, and she hated surprises. She had a cat named FACE that was famous on Reddit for a day. She helped us listen to songs traveling across the stars.
She was, in short, a badass.
She poked fun at her depression, even as she was fighting it.
Chloe, I wish I'd told you in life how much I admire you, how incredibly talented I think you are. You continually made things, and like your synesthesia, they revealed someone who experiences the world unlike anyone else I know.
I wish I'd been able to say these words to you in person, instead of writing them to you in death, so that you could have tasted every one.
Adam Lisagor's pioneered a style of promotional video that's changed how startups market themselves. They exude a nerdy cool, clearly showing the product or service, explaining why it matters and why you should use it with a deadpan sense of humor.
I never feel like they're selling to me, and Adam seems to only make videos for stuff he loves, turning Sandwich Video into a stamp of approval for great new things.
For me, the best Sandwich Videos are the ones with Adam himself. They always make me want to give him a hug, and then hand him all my money.
As a tribute, here's every single video featuring Lonely Sandwich as pitchman in chronological order. At the same time.
I don't even know where to start, so I'll just start with the news:
- In a surprising move, Yahoo sold the Upcoming.org domain back to me.
- I want to build a new Upcoming.
- I launched a Kickstarter project to make it happen.
I wrote much, much more on the project.
Yes, this is insane. More thoughts soon.
This month, I joined The Message, a new collaborative writing experiment on Medium with an all-star list of some of my favorite writers—danah boyd, Anil Dash, Craig Mod, Rex Sorgatz, Paul Ford, Joanne McNeil, Virginia Heffernan, Clive Thompson, Quinn Norton, Robin Sloan, and Zeynep Tufekci.
The Message may sound like a simple group blog, but I'm using it as an opportunity to play with Medium as a new medium for writing, pushing its publishing and communication tools to try new things that I can't really do here on Waxy. I'll still republish most of my posts here for permanent archiving, but inevitably, they'll lose something in the translation.
Before publishing anything on The Message, I wanted to know what Medium was capable of, so I published this.
I followed it up by glitching LinkedIn. That was fun.
This morning, I published my first official post on The Message, my take on the GIF pronunciation war. Short version: CompuServe didn't actually invent the animated GIF, as we know it, so doesn't get to dictate how it's pronounced. It's a product of the web era, invented by Netscape and popularized by an entire culture.
I hope you like it.
My talk, like New Zealand itself, was a bit of a whirlwind. I roused the hungover crowd on Friday morning with a look back at my childhood on the Sunset Strip and how it shaped my later views on creative and financial independence. The talk's now online, and you can watch it here. I'm pretty happy with how it came out, hope you like it.
Five years ago, I wrote about how I transcribe audio with Amazon's Mechanical Turk, splitting interviews into small segments and distributing the work among dozens of anonymous people. It ended up as one of my most popular posts ever, continuing to draw traffic and comments every day.
Lately, I've been toying with a free, fast way to generate machine transcriptions: repurposing YouTube's automatic captions feature.
How It Works
Every time you upload a video, YouTube tries to generate a caption file. If there's audible text, you can grab a subtitle file within a few minutes of uploading the video.
But how's the quality? Pretty mediocre! It's about as good as you'd expect from a free machine-generated transcript. The caption files have no punctuation between sentences, speakers aren't broken out separately, and errors are very common.
But if you're transcribing interviews, it's often easier to edit a flawed transcript than starting from scratch. And YouTube provides a solid interface for editing your transcript audio and getting the results in plaintext.
It took about 30 seconds for TunesToTube to generate the 15-minute-long video, three seconds to upload it, and about a minute for the video to be viewable on my account.
It takes a bit more time for YouTube to generate the audio transcriptions. Testing in the middle of a weekday, it took about six minutes to transcribe a two-minute video, and around 30 minutes for the 15-minute video. Fortunately, there's nothing you need to do while it processes. Just upload and wait.
I ran a number of familiar film monologues through the YouTube's transcription engine, and the results vary from solid to laughably bad. I've posted the videos below with the automatic transcription and their actual text.
As you'd expect, it works best with clear enunciation and spoken word. Soft words over background music, like in the Breakfast Club clip, falls apart pretty quick. But some, like Independence Day, aren't terrible.