On a high wall in the corner of Social Chain’s Manchester office, with a look of serene exasperation, Jesus Christ looks down on the sea of millennials and Generation Zedders (or whatever the dominant term is for the under-20s this month) tapping out tweets and social media stories. The mural, which stretches across the width of the office, is a riff on Leonardo’s The Last Supper. The faces of the disciples at the table, however, are not dipped towards plates of food, but into glowing screens. There’s Luke, gawping at an Instagram story on his phone. There’s Judas, tittering into an iPad. Christ, meanwhile, stands at the centre of the table, flanked by his inattentive followers, shoulders shrugged, palms upturned in part vexation, part resignation.
It’s a fitting mural for this three-year-old startup, not because of the implication that social media turns our gaze from higher thoughts, but because it is, to use a term often heard in Social Chain’s office, relatable. Who hasn’t, at one time or another, played the role of either Jesus and Judas at the dinner table, distracted by the buzzing of their Twitter or Facebook notifications, or silently fuming at a sibling’s unending fascination with the world inside their phone?
BUILD A BRIDGE TO FRANCE! I'll tell you an other way to cement our ties with continental Europe, Johnson, you colossal ballsac...ah, no, no negativity! Let's be positive! Let's SMILE! Web Curios' resolution to ensnare new readers with a sunnier, more positive outlook has lasted into the third week of 2018 which is, frankly, longer than I expected - such an achieve, and it's only January!
This edition of Web Curios is dedicated to all the poor buggers at Buzzfeed who've spent the past week sending 'last day at Buzzfeed' tweets and by so doing painting the picture of a company that really has managed to spaff an astonishing amount of VC cash up the wall with nothing approaching a business model to show for it. Good luck in the content farms, everyone, and thanks for all the words.
But you're not here for (surprisingly sincere, on reflection) goodbyes to journalists - you're here for LINKS! And oh my DAYS do we have links for you here at Curios - fat links, skinny links, funny links, scary links, and links which, should you click them, will forever give you the scarred and haunted air of One Who Has Seen Too Much. Roll up, roll up, step inside the tent, adjust your eyes to the gloom and CLICK YOUR LIFE AWAY.
This, as ever, is Web Curios.
Cryptocurrencies have been generating quite a buzz these past couple of years, causing massive disruptions to various industries by changing the way things are being done. These disruptions are evident in banking, trading, finance, commerce, and technology. Now, it seems like cryptocurrencies are making a beeline for the unlikeliest of worlds—the art world.
Multinational industrial services company Schneider Electric recently uncovered malware which was purposefully designed to shut down its safety controllers... you know, the types of control boxes used in nuclear power plants.
Artificial intelligence is beginning to replace many of the workplace roles that men dominate. The parts of those jobs that will have staying power are those that rely more heavily on emotional intelligence — skills in which women typically excel.
Many researchers are reporting, and our research confirms, that artificial intelligence (AI) will reshape our economy — and the roles of workers and leaders along with it. Jobs that don’t disappear will see a significant shift as the tasks that are easily and inexpensively accomplished by robots become automated. The work that remains will very likely focus on relating. To adapt and prosper, the smart worker will invest in “human relating” skills — empathy, compassion, influence, and engagement. For simplicity, let’s call these emotional quotient (EQ) skills. These are skills in which women commonly excel.
Gender differences are a sensitive topic and we address them in this article with trepidation. There is a fine line between understanding commonalities and stereotyping, and the debate about nature versus nurture is robust. But whether you believe that men and women, on average, have different types of brains (as Simon Baron-Cohen, a British clinical psychologist and professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, has theorized) or that gender differences are a result of cultural norms and conditioning (as numerous other studies have explored), the real-world results are similar: Men and women, on average, excel in different dimensions and take on different roles in the workforce. By no means does that suggest that men and women are not equal — just different.
It is clear that men have quite an advantage in the working world — just check out the latest research by McKinsey & Co. on gender equality in the workplace. Men have greater representation among leadership roles, greater presence in higher-paid industries, hold nearly 80% of board seats, and earn higher compensation on average, even for the same jobs.
We believe that AI has the ability to help level the playing field. It will do so, we think, by replacing many roles and functions where men typically dominate.
Fred Turner is one of the world’s leading authorities on Silicon Valley. A professor at Stanford and a former journalist, he has written extensively on the politics and culture of tech. We sat down with him to discuss how Silicon Valley sees itself, and what it means when the tech industry says it wants to save the world.
Let’s start with the idea that technology is always a force for good. This strain of thought is pervasive in Silicon Valley. Where does it come from? What are its origins?
It owes its origins to 1960s communalism. A brief primer on the counterculture: there were actually two countercultures. One, the New Left, did politics to change politics. It was very much focused on institutions, and not really afraid of hierarchy.
The other—and this is where the tech world gets its mojo—is what I've called the New Communalists. Between 1966 and 1973, we had the largest wave of commune building in American history. These people were involved in turning away from politics, away from bureaucracy, and toward a world in which they could change their consciousness. They believed small-scale technologies would help them do that. They wanted to change the world by creating new tools for consciousness transformation.
This is the tradition that drives claims by companies like Google and Facebook that they are making the world a better place by connecting people. It's a kind of connectionist politics. Like the New Communalists, they are imagining a world that’s completely leveled, in which hierarchy has been dissolved. They’re imagining a world that’s fundamentally without politics.
It's worth pointing out that this tradition, at least in the communes, has a terrible legacy. The communes were, ironically, extraordinarily conservative.
When you take away bureaucracy and hierarchy and politics, you take away the ability to negotiate the distribution of resources on explicit terms. And you replace it with charisma, with cool, with shared but unspoken perceptions of power. You replace it with the cultural forces that guide our behavior in the absence of rules.
So suddenly you get these charismatic men running communes—and women in the back having babies and putting bleach in the water to keep people from getting sick. Many of the communes of the 1960s were among the most racially segregated, heteronormative, and authoritarian spaces I've ever looked at.
My dinner-party party piece for many years was to say, “Well, actually, I invented Baileys. You know, Baileys Irish Cream. I did that back in 1973.”
If one of the unfortunate listening group is a woman – and this is based on actual past experience - she is likely to respond something like this: “Oh-my-God. Baileys. My mother absolutely adores it. Did you hear that, Jocasta? This man invented Baileys. It’s unreal. I don’t believe it. He must be terribly rich. Baileys Cream. Wow!”
And it’s not as if these rather posh people really adore Baileys. Or even hold it in the same esteem as, say, an obscure Islay single malt or a fine white burgundy from Meursault. Not a bit of it. They might have respected it years ago but most people of legal drinking age regard Baileys as a bit naff. To my mind, they’d be very wrong.
On December 3rd, 2007, Diageo announced the sale of the billionth bottle of Baileys since it was first introduced in 1973. That’s a thousand million bottles. And they will have sold at least a further 250 million bottles in the decade since then bringing the total up to something in the area of 1,250,000,000. If we assume that every bottle of Baileys delivered eight generous servings that suggests that over 12 billion glasses of Baileys have been poured since it all began.
The initial thought behind Baileys Irish Cream took about 30 seconds. In another 45 minutes the idea was formed. Baileys was like that for me. A decade of experience kicked in and delivered a great idea. It wasn’t as instant as it seemed. This is the story of its creation.
Look, whatever else might have happened in the world this week, it pales into insignificance when compared to THIS. Just enjoy it on a loop; you're welcome.
Anyway, I'm in quite a good mood today and so am going to try not to ruin it by ranting too much at you. It's Friday! It's the weekend (practically)! This week's Curios contains an uncommon number of excellent links! Oh, ok, fine, everything's still AWFUL, obviously, but manageably so. Sit back, relax, let my words permeate your consciousness like those weird little brain-burrowing worms in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan - because what could be nicer than having a whole week's worth of web insinuated into your consciousness on a Friday afternoon? Well, yes, fine, but you probably can't get away with that in the office whereas this can legitimately be timesheeted as 'general internet research' - HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE WELCOME TO WEB CURIOS!
Since 1965, British artist Stephen Willats has self-published Control magazine, a seminal forum for artists’ writings on art practice and social organization. With over 150 contributors throughout its 50-year run, Control has drawn on research from cybernetics, advertising theory, and behavioral science to develop models for how artworks operate in dialogue with an audience and society at large. Last year Willats published the 20th issue of Control, in which he continues to pose incisive questions about the ethics of information systems and networked artistic practice that feel more crucial than ever.
Cybernetics was famously defined by Norbert Wiener as “the scientific study of communication and control in the animal and the machine.” The models of feedback that cyberneticians developed were transdisciplinary from the outset, bridging the worlds of computation and engineering with those of design, art, and counterculture.
According to Anthony Hudek, “It is … Control’s function as a self-determining information network, instead of its content, that makes it truly cybernetic”: while being about networks, the magazine also represents a network in itself. Willats’ choice of title, Control, signals this departure from traditional models of editorial authority, seeking instead to develop a conceptual practice determined by the networked relationships of coordinating agents. Artists’ publishing served as a key means of actualizing these ideas. The magazine has always been self-published, self-funded, and free of advertising, while also attaining a broadly international reach.
The interview that follows focuses specifically on Control’s early years, notable for their iconic cover illustrations by designer Dean Bradley. Released between 1965 and 1970, Control’s first issues mark a period when cybernetic ideas resonated broadly within the visual arts, from Jasia Reichardt’s 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA London, to Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog in California. Willats’ own practice deployed the frameworks that he and his collaborators devised across Control’s pages in a variety of ways, from computer simulations to social and educational projects such as the Centre for Behavioral Art (1972-73). Control is not only a key node within Willats’ body of work; it offers a fascinating toolkit for reconsidering the present status of social hierarchy and networked interaction.
Ever wondered how to use protected images without permission, without payment of royalties or even giving credit to the creator? The European Union allows you to do exactly that, provided you do so via embedding. Rightly, creators and content providers refuse to accept this legal loophole. However, they are not just dinosaurs failing to embrace progress. This is a major problem where legislation is lagging behind.