Five Things: March 2, 2023

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New AI-generated RadioGPT can broadcast voice, DJ music and find local news stories | Isaac Muk

RadioGPT will then create scripts for shows, scouring through thousands of local Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts to find out what topics are trending, and play music. It can then immediately publish broadcasts and shows as podcasts by using a POST add-on, which is also designed by Futuri. To support and promote the shows, RadioGPT can create website blogs, social media posts and even short form video content.

I regularly alternate between my own playlists and YouTube Music’s algorithmic recommendations I’ve heavily influenced throughout the pandemic, and I occasionally look up lyrics or an artist to learn more about a song I like. I also hate traditional radio with a passion — WWOZ and WFMU are exceptionally notable exceptions! — so the idea of AI-assisted radio doesn’t seem all that radical to me. Leveraging machine learning to aggregate and distill tidbits of information about songs and artists, and keywords to connect current trends to relevant songs isn’t Skynet-level technology, it’s basically Pop-Up Video 3.0. The scraping of local news content from social media is just a dystopian bonus!

At best, you’ll get an interesting playlist interrupted with milquetoast sound bites from random audiobook narrators. At worst, you’ll get a misogynistic Nazi quoting Elon Musk and Scott Adams, and misinterpreting Bruce Springsteen lyrics. I suspect the former will be Apple’s version, while Spotify will host the latter. Google will find an unsatisfying middle ground, and then shut it down a year later.

Even the automated publishing and sharing isn’t all that impressive because it’s just doing what these things do best: mining and reproducing what already exists more efficiently than Buzzfeed and its myriad imitators have been doing for years with diminishing returns.

Related, I was reading a Mets’ game recap the other day and wondered if it was written by AI. The game summary is another heavily templated format that’d be easy to automate, but there was a weird uncanny valley feel to the order of the words that raised a flag for me. It could also have just been written by an underpaid intern. Social media has lowered the bar so much in so many areas that these efforts will continue to gain traction and be treated as a much bigger deal than they really are while ignoring the many, many downsides until it’s too late.

The “Pivot to AI” is already underway.


Is there a future for video games journalism? | Luke Winkie

And yet, even as the hobby’s imprisoning nicheness crumbles, a ton of journalists on the games beat have suddenly found themselves out of jobs. The field is in the midst of a brutal, paradoxical contraction. The world’s power brokers are investing desperately in the games industry, but games media is another story entirely.

Everyone in vertical media eventually has a “come to Jesus moment” when they realize their core audience’s interests don’t align with their own ideals and/or primary business model. It happened to me with comics many, many years ago (“Thing is, no one really wants comics journalism.”), and I’ve experienced it in other verticals over the years, including writing, publishing, and libraries.

Gaming journalism is one of the more interesting verticals because, unlike publishing and libraries, it’s a humungous, worldwide industry that entertains hundreds of millions of people while generating billions and billions of dollars every year for companies of all sizes. It’s also an industry that is increasingly less dependent on traditional media channels to reach its audience, and often does a better job of giving that audience what it actually wants.

Most gamers don’t care about inside baseball until it affects the release date of their favorite game. Exposés on crunch, diversity, exploitative mechanics, etc. are white noise compared to gameplay previews, launch dates, walkthroughs, and entertaining livestreams. As a result, influencers and random fans on Twitch often have more credibility with other gamers than your average journalist does.

The lack of interest in capital-J Journalism isn’t new, it’s just become harder to subsidize as media fragmentation continues to shift ad revenue away from traditional outlets with any pretense of editorial credibility in favor of more flexible influencers and social networks. The Washington Post, in particular, is arguably better off covering gaming as a business in the technology section, leaving the ad-driven reviews and lifestyle content to outlets with less editorial friction and lower expectations of their audience.


The New Black Film Canon | Aisha Harris & Dan Kois

Even as the landscape has shifted, there’s more power than ever in understanding the films that brought us to this moment and the new ones taking us into the future. So it seems only fitting to revisit the Black Film Canon and update it to reflect the rush of great movies that have arrived since 2016, as well as reconsider the films made before 2016 that we missed the first time around.

I was disappointed to realize I’ve only seen 20.5* of the 75 films on this list, and there are several I’d never even heard of. Of those I’ve seen, I agree that Do the Right Thing could be considered the best of them, although Moonlight would be the other strong contender. I preferred Menace II Society over Boyz in the Hood back in the day, so it was disappointing to see the former missing, but I was glad Juice made the list. Same for I Like It Like That and Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., the latter of which a friend recently revisited and put back on my radar.

The one I most disagree with is Nope, a perfectly fine movie with some interesting subtext, but not one I’d elevate alongside the far superior Get Out. (Sorry, Scott; it didn’t earn a second viewing.) As much as I love Chadwick Boseman, I’d debate swapping out the first Black Panther for its meatier sequel, and as well represented as Spike Lee already is, I’d argue Da 5 Bloods deserves a spot on the list.

*NOTE: We started watching When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts years ago, towards the end of my obsession with the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, but only watched the first two acts because it was so depressing and started to feel like I was indulging in misery porn. NOLA still holds a special place in my heart, but I only fill it with things that spark joy nowadays — mostly food and music — and am hoping to go back for another long overdue visit in the next couple of years.


Getting the Most from Your Treadmill Workout | David Roche

My hypothesis is that for my brain, treadmill running is the ultimate in negative reinforcement, turning what I consider a joyous act of self-expression into a numbers game. Megan might be motivated by the very thing that undermines me. It’s similar to how different athletes might run with music, while others think it’s a horrid cheapening of the sport.

I’ve never been a fan of treadmills. The mental gymnastics required to pretend I’m not just running in place are challenging, even with a TV or podcast to distract me, and a fan attempting to replicate a sense of actual movement. While they’ve been nice to have as an option in hotels while on work trips, I’ll always prefer running outside if at all possible. Unfortunately — whether it’s a hotel in a pedestrian-hostile location, or the weather is just too cold to tolerate — having access to a treadmill can be the difference between maintaining your fitness and having a miserable few Winter months.

Last November we finally bought a treadmill of our own, mainly for my wife and daughter to do some cold weather walking, but since it was there, I gave it a shot, too. It was fine at first, especially as the temperature began steadily dropping outside. A month later I decided to sign up for my first half marathon since 2019, and I’ve had several days where the treadmill has kept me on my training plan rather than skipping a day or three.

One of its biggest benefits has been managing a slower pace in the early weeks of training, because I have a bad habit of always running at full strength, risking burning out on longer distances. The downside, of course, is that slower pace feels very different on the road, and my Garmin watch frequently chastises me for going too fast. Overall, I’m still not a fan, but there’s no way I’d be on track for possibly beating my target goal of two hours without it.


Why I Don’t Give Career Advice: Army Dazed | Me

This week on the pod, special guest, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez walks us through his career in publishing as well as how this was formative to constructing his value system, and advice for people who want to enter the industry.

I recorded a few episodes of “The People’s Guide to Publishing” podcast at the end of 2022 with Microcosm‘s dynamic duo, Joe Biel and Elly Blue, and one of the topics we discussed was my unusual career path in publishing. That conversation unexpectedly made me think about, and remember somewhat fondly, my time in the Army — two things that don’t happen very often.

So, I wrote a whole blog post about it, as one does!

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