What a Game of Thrones protest petition says about modern popular culture

You can count me among the legions of viewers who found themselves disappointed with Game of Thrones this past weekend. It wasn’t so much the violence or the evil depicted, as the abrupt, cheap-feeling reversal. In response, I did what any good, 21st-century cultural critic does: I took to Twitter to whine and cuss about it, along with about half of my timeline.

It is part and parcel of what it means to consume entertainment and art in the 2010s. The interactive, participatory nature of the Web has turned pop culture into an event, and moments like Game of Thrones’ denouement are among the few remaining collective popular experiences we have.

But if the reactive nature of online culture is one aspect of the fun, it also has a tendency to take on a life of its own. The latest example: there is now an angry Change.org petition titled “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers.” As of writing, it has 588,000 signatures.

Such fan rage has become normal in the last decade. It emerged out of more traditionally “nerdy” corners of the Web, particularly video games, a field which has since become notorious for fans harassing creators. And somewhere in between the sense of democratic participation and petulant, angry dissatisfaction is the lingering sense that the Web may be doing something terrible to art — at once commodifying it and stultifying it.

It’s not that the ability of fans to make their voices heard is unequivocally a bad thing. In many cases it has allowed previously marginalized voices to make themselves heard. Girls creator Lena Dunham, for example, reacted to vociferous criticism of her show by trying to diversify its cast and its concerns. There is also the more straightforward fact that fans can let creators know things they have overlooked, from plot holes in Star Wars to unfair design in video games.

What’s more, criticism is essential to art. Film as a medium developed in conjunction with film criticism, and it is hard to find an author these days who is not also a literary critic. There is a healthy dynamic between entertainment and its interpretation that, at its best, can be mutually productive.

But what is happening online these days seems far from best. Instead, when hundreds of thousands of people sign a petition demanding that a TV show be changed to suit their whims, it …read more

Source:: The Week – Tech


A Confused Police Officer Pulled Over a Self-Driving Vehicle on Its First Day Carrying Passengers

(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — A self-driving shuttle got pulled over by police on its first day carrying passengers on a new Rhode Island route.

Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements says an officer pulled over the odd-looking autonomous vehicle because he had never seen one before.

The bus-like vehicle operated by Michigan-based May Mobility was dropping off passengers Wednesday morning when a police cruiser arrived with blinking lights and a siren.

With today’s launch of self-driving shuttles in Providence for @RIDOT, Rhode Island become’s @May_Mobility‘s third state. This 5 mile route serves commuters and their communities, and is our biggest launch so far! The shuttle is free- come ride with us! #LittleRoady pic.twitter.com/4FTS3YG9Yb

— Edwin Olson (@edwinolson) May 14, 2019

It was just hours after the public launch of a state-funded pilot shuttle service. The shuttle offers free rides on a 12-stop urban loop. Each vehicle holds six people, including an attendant who takes control when the self-driving technology falls short.

Clements says the curious police officer had a cordial conversation with the attendant and didn’t issue any tickets or warnings.

…read more

Source:: Time – Technology


Facebook Tightens Live-Stream Rules in Response to the Christchurch Massacre

Facebook is tightening restrictions on its live-streaming feature in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, as world leaders prepare to meet for a summit aimed at curbing online terror.

The social media giant said it is introducing a “one-strike” policy, which temporarily restricts access for users that break Facebook rules. The company did not specify which offenses will be covered by the policy or the length of suspensions for rule-breaking users.

“Live can be abused and we want to take steps to limit that abuse,” Facebook said in a statement. The company said they plan to extend the restrictions over the coming weeks, including to the creation of ads, but did not lay out specific plans.

Facebook has come under fire for its role in online terror since 17 minutes of deadly shooting in New Zealand that left 51 people dead were broadcast on Facebook Live. In the 24 hours after the attack, the company scrambled to remove 1.5 million videos containing footage of the bloodshed.

New Zealand’s Prime Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron will host a summit starting Wednesday where they plan to ask tech giants to sign a pledge called the “Christchurch Call” to agree to combat extremism on the internet.

Ardern said the new rules are a step in the right direction.

“Facebook’s decision to put limits on live streaming is a good first step to restrict the application being used as a tool for terrorists, and shows the Christchurch Call is being acted on,” Ardern said in an email from her spokesman, according to Reuters.

Read More: Your Facebook App Looks Very Different Today. Here’s How to Use the New Design

Facebook also announced a $7.5 million investment into a partnership with three universities – the University of Maryland, Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley – to research new methods to find edited versions of content.

Several countries have taken steps to regulate online content since the attack. Last month Australia passed legislation setting out fines and punishment for social media sites for hosting hate content, and the U.K. has proposed making social media executives personally responsible for harmful content shared on their platforms.

…read more

Source:: Time – Technology