Endings give us space. Endings make room for beginnings.
But the standard mode now of so many online services and tools is to give us unending streams that feel hard to break out of. The infinite scroll on social media chief amongst them, but many news sites have adopted similar when you reach the bottom of a news story. Why show the bottom of a page when they can show you another exciting story (and earn another pageview)?
The autoplay on streaming services is one that I have enjoyed in many contexts, but now I’m trending toward turning it off where I can. Largely because it’s become overzealous, allowing just a few seconds after the final moment of action in a TV show or movie, scrolling rapidly across a countdown that leaves us leaping for the remote to stop it from skipping ahead.
With TV shows, this ‘autoscroll’ removes that moment to soak in what you just saw, to chat about what we liked or didn’t like about it, or to just decide we’ve finished without feeling like the streaming services has now already marked the next episode as started.
The worst on this front is when the final episode of an entire TV show gets autoblasted into oblivion by a trailer for some other show we had no interest in seeing.
The end of a season of a show, or especially the end of an entire series, should have room for a sacred moment! Like the end of a novel, you need some moments to reflect on what you’ve just enjoyed. You don’t want to have to leap to action to defend your access to this space in between.
But when every single content object is treated as simply a link to the next content object, it’s time to pull back some control.
Instagram has actually done better than most with its “You’re all caught up” feature. With its default presentation that no longer runs chronologically, it’s hard to know if you’ve seen all the latest posts from the people you follow. Reaching this message means you now know you can stop. Of course, many people might type in a search or find some other angle to explore within Instagram. But the service has given you a clear line in the digital sand: “You have seen everything there is to see in your standard feed, now make a choice about what you want to do next with your life.”
But now Instagram is adding ‘suggested posts’ to keep you scrolling after you’ve hit that end point. I’m sure it will work for many people. But c'mon… give us a break…
I get it. I’m probably an edge case. But I’m sure many people know they could use a little more time to pause to consider if they want to load another page of social posts, or to choose what they watch next and not just binge ever onward.
Options are the key. Fine, keep your defaults, just give us more controls we can go mess around with in the settings menu. Let us set a count on how many auto things we get before we are asked to load more. Let us say the end of a series should be treated as a hard stop versus the typical end of an episode. Let us decide we want chronology instead of algorithmic feeds (thanks Twitter).
Just let us decide.
This week we touch on Google’s Aussie fight, old school gaming, Lovecraft Country, Microsoft Flight Simulator and plenty more. Hit it!
An amazingly detailed study of health information on Facebook. Almost 4 billion views of misinformation over the past year, with the top 10 websites spreading health misinformation receiving 4x the traffic of the top ten legitimate health information services. And just 16% of misinformation was labelled under Facebook’s fact checking systems. This report had little trouble finding the biggest sources of misinformation, but Facebook somehow can’t stop it? Bollocks.
The report even offers actionable solutions. Imagine that.
I think a shuffle is a positive in the quest for more controls. It also sits in the friction space of giving more opportunity for serendipity and surprise than the binge focus of endless ‘play next’ loops.
An advanced new botnet is hard to detect and with no centralized control server, it’s harder to take down.
FYI, it doesn’t work this way. This is essentially a scam and eBay should shut this shit down. Either Epic will update Fortnite to keep working as per Apple’s terms of service while the court case plays out, or with the next major Fortnite update the game will stop working on iPhones (as stated by Epic). Buying one with it installed won’t maintain access past the next week or two. Ungh…
More Facebook Evil Du Jour
But please, Facebook, tell us again how you’re working hard to be a force for good in this world?
Instagram has largely kept a distance from the Facebook quagmire (ish), but this is an interesting story on how its focus on aesthetics have made conspiracies like QAnon seem more palatable for mainstream consumption instead of the crackpot insanity that it really is.
Why try to read the room when no one cares and nothing matters anymore? The Twitter thread from the announcement has some excellent responses. One from HTC Vive is particularly outstanding.
A very interesting new attempt at building a micropayments-focused browser experience, with some solid partnerships behind it all. Key to the idea is that the payment system could be interchangeable, so it could potentially start a micropayment ecosystem rather than be Yet Another Service trying to become the control point.
Just Plain Cool
This is just wonderful. It’s like a monolith, beautifully rendered as it soars mysteriously above the Melbourne suburban skyline. In the gorgeous escapism of Microsoft Flight Simulator, it’s more real than real.
The crazy tower is there because there’s a weird error in Microsoft’s Bing Maps data. I hope I can visit the strange object this weekend before it is corrected out of the game.
As this story shows, there’s plenty more weird mapping errors being discovered around the world too. Who’d have thought MSFS would become an error alert system for Bing Maps?
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