Living for the Moments

Let's begin off topic.

I hesitated to share the link to this really informative article. It's from a new website publication called The Outline. I hesitated because the layout of the website; it't trying to be something groundbreaking when nobody asked for it to be anything else. Can it just be a great venue for the news because of its content alone?

Josh Topolsky, was previously both the editor of Engadget and The Verge, he came up with the concept. Currently I'm surviving off his tweets when he directly links to stories on his site. I can't be bothered navigating it.

Anyway besides that hinderance, here's the direct link to the article here, don't even try to navigate the site, you'll be cerebrally confused and visually paralysed for minutes on end.

The article itself is informative on the effects of live-streaming on performers taking ever increasing risks with stunts because of a willing, waiting and watching audience.

The fact people are watching in their millions is purposely pushing stunts to be ever more dazzling just for the views. The reality created by this new unquestioned type of audience participation has led to the deaths of some the individuals doing the stunts. 

That's the summary, read the rest yourself.

I found this story personally engaging, immediately because of course I live-stream as well. I can attest to this feeling and have gone out of my way to push myself to do things I wouldn't have done had I not been filming it in the first place. I'm entering a different world, a bubble with an augmented (my) self. So much so I feel uncomfortable if the phone connection dies and reality abruptly comes rushing back in.

In these live-streaming scenarios, I feel the audience is on my side and I want to entertain. I even walked into the ocean last week (the Vibrams I was wearing helped btw). I've been aware of this state for some time now because I know ordinarily what I think I'm capable of. Knowing ones true self though is already a large philosophical discussion and in short, I believe our selves are already changing. I guess in this situation, its doing more because its an extreme form of focus on the one holding the phone.

Case in point, I'm committing myself to a multi-year, live-streaming project exploring Hong Kong, because of my directly engaged and dedicated audience, this impetus can be both benign, inspiring and potentially a troublemaker. Before live-streaming I wasn't really trying to see everything Hong Kong has to offer. Now people want to be entertained I'm constantly thinking of new things to see for those viewers and importantly for myself. Quite rightly, the motivation is for me to explore Hong Kong for myself first and bring people along. Not primarily do it for fame, money etc.

I'm glad the article exists, it's part of an ongoing discussion I have with myself and where social media is taking us, it put into words something that I could relate to. I'm definitely going to read more on the topic as this medium matures. I hope people watching me can better appreciate me say I say, 'Live-streaming is life-changing'. 

The Rump on Trump

We Still Aren’t Talking to Each Other.

It started with these two tweets that arrived on my timeline earlier this week.

Yes of course people overlooked racism in some form if we are to believe that is the pressing issue. We are self interested creatures. What for a moment if racism isn't everywhere across the United States, but putting food on the table is?

I replied to the second tweet; asking where are the racists shouting from the street that should be upset at Trump for immediately going back on his most infamous campaign promise to ban all Muslims from entering the country? He wants to vet them now, a position other republican candidates took earlier this year. I’m still wondering where the outcries are, they never made it to my twitter feed even when I asked for help on the topic.

Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) is right, it IS counterproductive to state everybody is racist, will fighting racism lead to paying the rent for some people? Sadly no it won't. People vote for priorities, not ideals especially if people aren't the victim of racism. The thing is, there have been people of colour who have voted for Trump.

I don’t like those tweets because they are trying to reduce a complex political outcome to one reason. One reason to explain nearly 60 million reasons for voting for Donald Trump. There is never one reason for anything, so stop it.

It contributes to a lazy mentality that is more likely applicable to a minority of those who voted. The rest of the voting base simply haven’t made it their priority because how do you find time to stamp out racism (which seems like a nebulous idea) compared to getting food on the table and looking after one's family? Hello, we are tribalistic-vote-for-my-team type of creatures!

Don't forget that all the rust belt states that voted for Trump voted FOR President Obama back in 2008 and again in 2012. As Michael Moore stated “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest fuck you ever recorded in human history”. Not a fuck you to racism, a fuck you to the system. Remember these are also the people, the media couldn't even care about, these were the people who were scared to reveal their true voting intentions incase of being labelled a racist. That reads like people were scared because they wouldn't be given a chance to explain themselves to a reasonable level. The progressive left is too quick to judge and castigate.

Labelling those 60 million voters as racists absconds us of any further action on our part because we can pretend there is nothing else to discuss. A nation isn’t going to heal itself without a proper understanding of one another through proper dialogue. Tweets don't mean shit, facebook is a minefield. 

Lets point out, the winners don’t give a fuck what you call them because they won anyway. Second, the progressive left has been calling out anybody for the slightest infraction as racist for what seems like an eternity. The word 'racist' has lost its impact. It doesn’t allow people to think anymore, it’s just another insult/label we’ve over used in our western society. It’s not even a constructive path to get someone on your side.

I'm not asking for an opening of hearts either. Just stop pouring scorn on so many people when you don't really know why they were motivated to vote Trump.

Watching the Young Turks below dismiss States in the lead up to Trump’s election on the night was ridiculous. They literally said, ‘oh have Kentucky, who cares”. They dismissed the first three states that were counting votes. That should have been a sign.

The whole exchange was gross, because of the geographies and its cherry picking towards their candidate. To me that says larger States like California will carry the people forward, we don't need those votes from those people. Those people have become easy to dismiss (just like the media and Hillary did) and we are still doing it. The losers are still dismissing the winners. Nothing is going to change unless people listen and engage.

The other line of reasoning was non-racists voted Hillary, therefore everybody voting Trump is for racism. That’s an igonrant logical fallacy if I’ve ever come across one.

Anyway, having said that, this is the wrong kind of discussion to have period. There are larger ones. Ones that keep us divided as a people. This belief that racism and sexism is running rampant across America can’t be the catch all argument from progressives.

He isn't a Racist

This focus on what Trump says is also harmful, the media ate it up for the past however many years because it brought it a wonderful ratings hit and put Trump inside a narrative that would set him up against Hillary. The media couldn’t stop reporting every single issue he held an opinion on. We all waited for his latest gaff to shoot him in the foot. Nothing happened. I read somewhere “the media took him literally, the people took him seriously”. (Just to note, I googled it afterwards and here is a decent write up on the situation.

Personally I don’t even think Trump is a racist, he’s an old man talking, that’s how they talk, we should focus on how he acts. We are wasting so much time on words instead of actions. Just a note who does he employ? Link 1, link 2, link 3. If anything he's an opportunist. So stop conflating the two.

 Comment from Reddit. Ironically from someone calling themselves 'Darth Trump'.

Comment from Reddit. Ironically from someone calling themselves 'Darth Trump'.

A few weeks ago on Periscope I kept using the word ‘midget’ and everybody mentioned that it was wrong, I never knew because I'm not a day-to-day part of western culture. I can say midget all day in Hong Kong, and nobody is going to tell me otherwise, the same perceptions around that word don’t exist. I can also say oriental and nobody will find it offensive. (By the way for the record, it isn’t offensive here).

I’m living in a bubble, cut off from the West. Now imagine Trump’s bubble? He's 70 years old, set in his ways and he’s going to say stupid shit. My grandma said racist words that was part of our everyday language to describe and reference people. It was just a word to describe, not to insult. Was she a racist, by today's standards yes I guess so. The media also weren’t present in front of my grandma by the way taking her out of context either.

Not all Trump Supporters were White

When it comes to racism, the media stoked those flames and took him out of context on a number of occasions especially the 'Mexicans aren’t sending their best'. The media twisted it to make it sound like he disliked all latinos. Follow Red Pill Philosophy on Youtube, he’s a Latino and I’ve been watching him praise Trump throughout the campaign. He’s antagonising, but he’s mostly correct about the things he speaks.

We've seen the muslim woman who voted for Trump as well. Dig deeper you'll find more people of colour who voted for Trump.

But here is the thing, how many of us truly listened to those who opposed our own views and didn’t block them on social media platforms. I’m guilty of this, I block those I didn’t like.

People think I’m Pro-Trump and I know I’ve been blocked, they might have wanted a definitive answer instead of wanting to inquire, misunderstood my tweets because I’m saying we should give Trump a chance. I’m taking Trump seriously as so many people voted for him. Along the way I think we’ve gained an ability to take everybody at face value or suppose rather than ask ‘why?’. As usual we attack first, ask questions later to quote Ron Johnson.

Got to Follow the Law, Let Him Do His Thing or Go Full Godwin's Law

Let the guy take office (that means stop protesting). He’s already on the record for saying that we can throw at him later. Aside from calling Trump supporters racist I’ve seen tweets where we are cherry picking the worst parts of Hitler so they could be applied to Trump. 

People are screaming Hitler and nobody cares! Yet the holocaust is still in living memory! Crazy right? Hitler hasn’t happened yet and when it does I can get involved, but to brandish the incoming government with these traits now is far to early. Save it, otherwise it has no venom for later. Remember, Hitler killed people to get into government. Hillary killed people while IN government. Trump hasn't killed anybody, yet (and I'm talking with the socially acceptable sense like Barack Obama has).

We so desperately want Trump to fit into an established evil man narrative, we don’t want him to be a complex individual, we want him to be a complete Hitler or Emperor Palpatine figure we can dehumanise, or like before he was elected, a complete joke*. Again if we lash out all the time and he has total power in government is he going to act in your favour? Yes ridicule him some more in the hope he changes his ways. That has always worked.

From what I’ve understood, Trump doesn’t want WW3 with Russia and he doesn’t want America to continually police the world and have all its fingers in all the pies. This says a lot about my interests, I care about global issues rather than domestic. I want to see how he plays out on the world stage for everybody's benefit. Aside from WW3 I’m concerned about global warming, let’s see what happens there, especially when China of all nations have called on Trump to get America to do its part.

Second, I’d be more concerned about the people he’s surrounding himself with, all these fucking Republican dicks who were around in the 80’s. Fuck me haven’t they died of old age yet?

Trump is a man with no government experience so he’s going to look towards Newt Gringrich? Fuck me. These are establishment figures. It’s going to be the same old Republican party by the looks of it. Then there is this.

These are the things to get upset about. The best part if there is a positive takeaway, these are issues that both those who voted for and against Trump can take issue with.

Got to let go of what the media and Facebook are doing.

Last but not least (I want to be short on these points), we’ve got to get out of our collective bubbles. This goes back to the first point. Listen to the people we don’t like, ask ourselves why, and also realise we are being manipulated by algorithms (please FB question your influence) on top of news agendas at every turn now. We had the media spin us lies for the past two years on this presidential race, never mind all the other news stories ‘that bleed’.

Look at this piece from The Guardian newspaper.

The issue here isn’t that Trump inherits them, its that ANY incoming President gets their hands on these tools and sets a precedent and example for other countries to do the same. The USA has created the template.

The article focuses solely up Trump inheriting these tools while Obama failed to shut the programs down, would this article have existed under Hillary? I wish I had some sort of device that would let me play out different real life scenarios. Why didn’t people scream absolute bloody murder at Barack Obama for continuing to use them? Those screaming ‘racist’ and ‘Hitler’ at Trump on Twitter didn’t focus on Obama’s administration to the same fervour in my opinion. 

To be fair to the Guardian and the New York Times they have both published 100 articles (can’t go past ten search pages) and 1,573 articles respectively on the topic of drone strikes.

We should have shouter louder at Obama. 

Can we take a minute and remember I think we forgot he was the President when he’s part of pop culture and all those funny meme’s, mic drops and late night chat shows. We humanised him above and beyond Bush and we fucking loved him. But guess who else is part of pop culture with his own fanbase? Some of us saw it coming all along.

Personally I’m exhausted, but it goes on. Just a few tips to leave you with. 

  1. Get off Facebook and the social media sites. Don’t take them seriously, don’t rely on them as a replacement for real discussion, at least you know who you’re responding to and the engagement is true. Also oh my quad!, if you disagree with someone it isn’t the end of the world, that’s life.**

  2. It might help if you also unblock 1 person you disagreed with. Throw them back out there, give them a second chance.

  3. The media haven’t learnt anything, but we can. We have to raise that curtain together. Look at the news the day after when the media had a collective moment to wonder what happened before they went back to business. Did they decide to shine light on the real issue and report the Dakota pipeline protests so we can question government policy? No, they covered the anti-Trump protests so we can mock them.*** Again setting us up against one another, being divisive as usual. They aren’t changing. You change.**** 

  4. The media made some of the biggest fuck ups and nobody has been fired. Think about that.

  5. Stop pointing at the people and expecting them to change, change comes from the top. It’s cliched, but change comes from becoming intolerant of what we are told by the media and government. Hold them to account, not ‘Joe Blow’ as Michael Moore describes.

*Do you remember all the navel gazing we did when it comes to Game of Thrones characters? None of them are really purely evil, and none of them or really purely good. The characters set up in those books are deliberately complex and flawed so we sit and think about what it is to be human. All that flies out of the window when looking at real complex people. I'm interested in why, my current theory is we're prepared to explore the fantasy of others for an hour because we're detached personally from those people and its entertainment. Real life analysis of people isn't as mediative it seems.

**This is the reason why I don’t take Facebook seriously and neither should you. It’s been proven we all get different feeds that provide immediate value for us and sets up echo chambers.

***The media would rather cover the protests than a pipeline because of money and identity politics. They still want people to be divided, keep the heat turned up, the media are still after Trump because Trump isn’t invested in the media, he doesn’t even want a press core to follow him.

**** Give a follow to these guys on Twitter: 

JordanChariton, Mehdirhasan@IndepStream@medialens@FAIRmediawatch@AlterNet

Podcasts to note on this topic.

Podcast Grow Big Always - How culture controls our decisions

Tangentially Speaking - 210 (Primal Parenting)

Dan Carlin’s - Common Sense episode 311 - Trumped

Ghosts Haunt Us All on the Periscope App

What is Ghosting?

Everyday, viewers of the popular live-streaming app 'Periscope' make reference to something called ‘ghosting’.

What this means is, the viewer can make a comment and the broadcaster won’t see the comment on their screen. In many cases the viewer has to tap out another comment again to be seen.

This has been happening on the Periscope platform for an unusually long time now. Many broadcasters with large followings including myself are left wondering why doesn’t Periscope fix this key aspect in their social network as they continually update the app with new features. Many broadcasters have even raised the issue with Periscope who flat out deny they've ever been contacted about this issue and it's the first they've heard about it. Conspiracy theorists start your engines!

Broken comments don’t seem to be an important issue while at the same time live streaming is seen as the new frontier for social media when ‘engaging’ with large audiences. Periscope almost seems contradictory for its purpose.

Live-streaming is a brand new form of media, users say its more open, honest and being present live is what makes it all that much more tantalising, probably because you can influence the camera operator as well. But it appears Periscope is kneecapping itself with a frustrating experience for those who simply want to chat to their favourite broadcasters.

Here’s some reasons as to what I think is going on. Without Periscope to comment all I can do is guess. Let’s start with the biggest and probably the most egregious reasons.

Chat Flow Moderation

Many people on Periscope don’t understand that it's very likely that comments are ‘ghosting’ by design. Tyler Hansen a Periscope developer (search for @tyhan1 on Periscope) has actually explained an algorithm Periscope have been employing since before July of 2016 (July 2016 was when Tyler made his broadcast). You can still watch the original video in Tyler’s recent broadcast list titled "Periscope Designer. I want to talk about “broadcast too full”. If he deletes it after my mentions I have a copy of the video saved.

Tyler cites various reasons for employing such an algorithm towards the betterment of busy broadcasts on the network. If there are too many comments at any given time, the ‘chat flow’ is managed and various comments disappear from the broadcaster’s view. That means they don’t see the comment, but the other viewers actually do.

Periscope through Tyler make the point that these comments that disappear are probably useless to the broadcaster anyway.

So the argument goes, the chat is far to busy for a broadcaster to reply to everyone, and the algorithm is making decisions for the broadcaster as to what they should be able to respond to. I hope many of you see some of the problems stemming from this already. As an aside, how does this even scale? I don’t have actual written proof, but Tyler had stated that only 1 comment in 30, in busy scopes are managed. Does this scale? If not, why bother? If it does scale, to what extent?

I wouldn’t call it censorship per say, but can you imagine the uproar if Twitter decided not to deliver all the tweets on their network or iMessage and Snapchat decided to actively choose what they thought was best for you?

Another part of the argument for the system to be in place is to manage foreign language comments. I agree there is no value when somebody is typing in Russian to an English speaker or vice a versa (I still get those guys though in my broadcasts). I don’t know how Periscope determines the language preferences of the broadcaster, but I would make a guess at the keyboard and language preferences on the device are being looked at

My issue with this at the moment is Periscope doesn’t know which languages I speak if I don’t set up my preferences  on the device accordingly.

My simple layman’s solution would be instead to deliver a pop-over message in the chat to a viewer that the language of the broadcaster is different to their own and any messages sent might not be understood. To me it’s more honest as the viewer understands whats happening much more clearly instead of just having their comments disappear. The experience is explained properly and they already have such a pop over when somebody types naughty words.

Removing comments doesn’t enhance the experience, it places blame on the broadcaster for being unresponsive.

There is a theory this chat management flow algorithm would benefit celebrities and gives viewers the illusion they can now communicate to their idols without hinderance. Maybe this is true, but it’s Periscope that is then actively ruining the experience for their platform. 

We are such petty creatures and it does the Periscope platform no favours if people do not have an enjoyable experience when they don’t understand why their comments are being ignored. Frustrated viewers are going to tap ‘x’.

I preferred back in the day for the chatroom to have the ‘broadcast too full’ sign, that way I knew I could relax and just watch. I don’t need to always chat, somebody would probably chat for me. As Tyler explains, Periscope have felt the pressure from many people emailing them expressing their desire to chat in ANY given broadcast. Did Periscope understand scale from the very beginning?

Periscope themselves still haven’t communicated this very important change to their platform even though their main periscope account has at the time of writing 9.2 million follows. Tyler with his 17,000 followers has been the only person on record from Periscope to discuss this. Why?

Its actually been up to Periscope broadcasters to continually inform others of these changes through their own broadcasts everyday whenever there is an issue arising in the chat when the broadcaster doesn’t see them. This is ironic given the nature of Periscope, you would think disseminating this important information in an official manner would be easy peasy.

Periscope have a history of being poor communicators, the big issue last year was not explaining the distribution of hearts to broadcasters. Broadcasters who had found out, did the work of explaining the changes to their followers. This situation didn’t concern me much, but changes to the way the chat operates is a major aspect of the apps operation. It shouldn't just be tinkered with, with hardly a mention.

This needs to be discussed to the whole community without it turning kafkaesque. 

Bugs

Before we demand Periscope spill the beans on its inner workings. People need to remember all the little bugs inside Periscope. How large a part do they play? Periscope is probably more likely to have various bugs because it is so cutting edge in its application. We as viewers have to accept the app is buggier than we think. We just do okay? People complaining about frozen screens, missing audio and scopes suddenly quitting have to realise they are at the forefront of technology.

I bet many people haven't given a thought as to what is happening in the broadcast, the video stream for example operates independently of the chat stream and hearts. This is why in some cases the video and hearts continue to work even though comments don’t load or have you seen that burst of chat activity once a video connection is applied again? Something has probably caused packet loss and the app is trying to re-sync everything.  This can explain why if you save videos to your camera roll, hearts and comments aren't saved also. It's a difficult technology to sync up.

Tyler in his broadcast has assured his viewers that mutual follows are unaffected by the chat moderation. Mutual followers are never moderated/filtered for their comments.

I doubted this at first, but then even in my own private scopes with less than 20 people watching, people would disappear and report 'ghosting' when messaging me afterwards. In some cases, all the comments and hearts stopped coming on my screen. Viewers are literally typing comments to me and I can't see them. My private broadcasts can’t be moderated during these broadcasts, these are bugs pure and simple, but I had to go through a long process to believe this wasn’t part of the designed ghosting experience that Tyler discussed.

My takeaway though is the user-end experience of such bugs in conjunction with the chat management features has us confused.

Periscope should be much more open to what they are doing on the platform. Audiences are reacting in real time now, we keep being told live-streaming is new media, but does Periscope truly understand how fast we can communicate now with this new media? Hear say becomes facts so quickly now.

Now, of course no company raises the issue of software bugs unless they are truly catastrophic, no software company will publicly address all the bugs and all the time. So things are better left unsaid unless its crippling the application in a very public fashion. For example, Periscope recently updated the app and DJI drones wouldn’t work through Periscope, somehow that bug slipped by and they had to reference it in the next update because it is a tentpole feature for broadcasters.

So why wouldn’t Periscope address the ghosting issue, it IS a larger issue for the platform beyond a few drones not being able to get on the network. Here are a few ideas

  1. It’s going to remain buggy.
  2. Periscope don’t care enough to fix it as they have other priorities. 
  3. The management of comments is exactly what they want.
  4. The chat flow management isn’t actually a big issue, as it’s being applied to only busy broadcasts with an undetermined number of viewers inside, the ghosting we typically see are actually just the bugs. 
  5. We as broadcasters are encountering something called the ‘Invisible Gorilla’ affect.

The lack of a true discussion of the chat management algorithm, the various bugs on the platform and the invisible gorilla create an even larger problem for Periscope. One where we conflate these issues into one against Periscope as wholly a conspiracy that they are manipulating the chat in every single scope. 

The Invisible Gorilla

This is now possibly too famous for people not to know, but if you don’t, watch this video here.

In this video we are asked to count how many times is a ball passed between players wearing the same colour shirt. While this is happening, a gorilla comes onscreen. Many people don’t see the gorilla until it’s pointed out after what they missed.

In a second study for people who think if they concentrate hard enough they will catch all the weirdness of the first video a similar test is applied. I’m not going to spoil it so watch it here.

The second video proves that even if people concentrate, it makes things even worse. How do you feel? Knowing you are going to miss comments regardless? We collectively don’t want to feel like we don’t have control over the situation do we?

I would say a similar outcome is playing out before our eyes while broadcasting. There is no escaping the fact we are going to miss comments no matter what and then later attribute this to Periscope ‘ghosting’ the comments. Of course with this Gorilla theory put forward, we have to doubt ourselves and give Periscope some slack.

Try this mental_floss exercise, watch your own eyes actively work against you as you try to see all the dots at any given time. Ain’t happening yo. Please remember, in the last video and the mental_floss article, you're aware to this trickery now. Imagine what it was like before.

It isn’t Periscope’s job to educate us to this path of disappointment for live streaming. It isn’t normally something we should have to deal with either. We are hitting the limits of human concentration. Just like the software bugs, we are possibly placing too much on Periscope's shoulders when determining how negligent they are being towards the community. 

Solutions

I don’t believe in complaining about something unless I’m providing a solution or solutions. This is what I think Periscope can do and should do. 

  1. Let broadcasters have control over the scroll speed in their own scopes, or at least slow it down in a way that’s managing the speed of the comments in real time rather than look at what comments should be there how or not.
  2. Turn off flow moderation, we can’t see all the comments even with 'help' from Periscope.
  3. Redesign the chat so the broadcaster can scroll through the comments, you don’t even need to change the visual aspects of the UI. Allow broadcasters with a swipe to go back and forth through the comments like they do on Facebook. Periscope is treating the comments as a people problem when it is actually a technical problem. This is the most baffling aspect as Facebook are using what I think is the answer even though Facebook operates at a much larger scale. What is the excuse here Periscope?
  4. Speak to the community properly and explain changes to the network otherwise hearsay runs rampant. Periscope have something that only Youtube has (From Periscope’s perspective Youtube would be a great case study in how not to piss off your community). Both social networks have love from communities in abundance, these apps should be a pleasure to use as a viewer and work like a charm for creators. Don’t make the community use your app only because there isn’t anything better out there.

These solutions should benefit everyone, if you disagree I'm listening. I didn't write this article out of dislike for anyone in particular at Periscope so please don't take this personal, especially Tyler, he's just the only one putting himself in the positions I find him in because HE also cares about the platform, we just need to understand each other better, hence my desire for Periscope to be more communicative. It can only bring benefits, again using YouTube as the case study, YouTube aren't open nearly enough towards their community and money IS involved between network providers and its creators. How annoyed are we going to be when the platform is monetized?

Periscope, you need to do what Apple does and control the message. It's one reason why I do my satirical fake features on Periscope, because I can get away with it, people believe any old shit and the rumours stick around for months on end. Some of you at PeriscopeHQ have noticed me by now, there is a serious point being served by my joke scopes.

I hope Periscope change their attitude as a whole before serious monetising of the platform occurs. If nothing else, explain comment flow moderation on your main channel and stop leaving your users in the dark.