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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

Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.

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Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.

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Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.

Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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