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Instagram account mocking repetitive posts is dead wrong

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Instagram is an aspirational place, filled with repetition and a homogenous aesthetic – one user mocks it, but we support you and your efforts.

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instagram repeat

There are no new ideas. There are iterations of old ideas and once in a blue moon, innovation and creativity align and we’re presented with a really good refreshed take on an old idea that feels brand new. We know this and it’s okay.

However some of us pretend we don’t know that. Some of us are inspired by other people’s ideas and are moved to replicate those ideas to a T.

So it should come as no surprise that a cheeky Instagram account should emerge showing us all how non-creative we all are. @insta_repeat  currently boasts 271,000 followers and promises “Deja Vu Vibes.”

Scrolling through the feed, you’ll find pics of faceless longhaired girls wearing hats staring a foggy evergreens, a bunch of someones in bright red jackets solo canoeing on still lakes on misty mornings and white, disembodied hands holding out orange leaves against forests during golden hour.

On Instagram, imitation truly is the sincerest form of aspiration and as cheeky and eye roll inducing this account is, there’s something deeper behind it.

Here’s the thing – creative impulses have become more and more homogenous and this is because we have inspiration at our fingertips and in our pockets at all times. We no longer have to search for inspiration because it’s just a few scrolls and swipes away and this lends itself to hard replication.

For example, some of us remember a time before the Internet and certainly before social media, when if you wanted to find out about a new band thousands of miles away from your tiny town, you had to go to into the nearest city and find the weirder record  store and search the stacks to find their album.

The same goes for fashion. A lot of us subscribed to magazines and literally waited out the month to get our next fix.

In that searching came waiting and during the waiting, came inspiration and time to create something new or at the very least, something informed by what we were taking in. But now, there is no waiting, there is only consuming. When content is free and easy to access, there is no digestion period. There is only more content and an increased urge to replicate the idea as closely to the original as possible.

The homogenization is seen in makers and crafts fairs all the time.

Go to any of them in Austin, for example, and you’ll find it hard to swing a dead cat and not hit succulents in whimsical pots, delicate thin metal jewelry, and rustic leather goods.  We also see the same blue or pink cakes being cut into at gender reveal parties, and a lot of us went to weddings lit by fairy lights and were forced to drink out mason jars.

Trends become trends because they inspire replication because they are aspirational. And this is fine.

Not everyone can be punk rock. Not even punk rock.

Further, Google and Microsoft has spent exorbitant amounts of money to stitch together users’ “repetitive” pictures from across the globe to create interactive, multi-dimensional scenes you can explore online. But what do they know!?

So should @insta_repeat stop you from snapping a picture of the sun setting over the Grand Canyon or taking that pic of your bent legs on the beach that let’s everyone know you’re enjoying your trip to that resort in Tulum everyone goes to?

No, it shouldn’t, because at least you’re creating or trying to create and that’s more than what a lot of people do with their free time. So go out there, wrap yourself in a serape and see the world.

Hates gonna hate, but who cares? Not you, Hot Dog Legs.

Meg Furey-Marquess is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. She has covered tech for The Metro Silicon Valley and The Bold Italic. She was named one of the Top 39 Writers on Medium in 2016.

Social Media

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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Stock market

I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Social Media

Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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facebook portal

Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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