Sin City

The Business Model (Social Distortion)

[#SinCity]

Ninamori eats a popsicle. (Detail of FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet')

This is the rule: You are not allowed to feel surprised at the state of things.

We’ve arrived at the sad, dumb point in history at which the only thing less surprising than acts of mass violence are the ways in which our planet’s mega information distributors muck everything up with ensuing frauds, hoaxes, and confusion. The problem is thoroughly identified: Facebook, Google, and, to a lesser extent, Twitter have the quality control of a yard sale and the scale of a 100,000 Walmarts. But despite all our railing and shaming, these companies have a major disincentive to reform: money.

In the wake of yet another American massacre, this time in Las Vegas, media scrutiny is aimed once more at Facebook, Google, and Twitter, for the same old reasons. The sites, time after time, and this time once more, served up algorithmic links to websites peddling deliberate lies and bottom-feeder misinformation. These companies provided an untold mass of online users with falsehoods posing as news resources, as is completely normal now and only noteworthy because it was pegged to a heinous national tragedy. The discussion will now swing from “This is bad” to “What can be done?”, and we can expect all the typically empty pro forma reassurance from Silicon Valley public relations offices. Don’t expect much more.

(Biddle)

(more…)

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Trivia, But Not Trivial

Undated photo of the iconic sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas.  The sign was designed by Betty Willis in 1959.  (Photo: Sam Morris/AP)

Associated Press brings us the sad note:

The woman who came up with a neon sign that has welcomed countless visitors to “fabulous Las Vegas” since 1959 has died.

Betty Willis, credited with designing the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, died in her Overton, Nev., home on Sunday, according to an obituary on the Virgin Valley & Moapa Valley Mortuaries’ website.

The 91-year-old artist’s often-copied sign sits in a median in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard south of the Strip.

“It’s the most recognizable icon in the world,” said Danielle Kelly, executive director of The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, where the signs of Sin City’s past are retired and on display.

So recognizable an icon is hardly a trivial contribution; be not surprised should Betty Willis turn up on trivia night at the pub in the near future.

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Image note: Undated photo of the iconic sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas. The sign was designed by Betty Willis in 1959. (Photo: Sam Morris/AP)

Associated Press. “Betty Willis, who designed iconic ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign, dead at 91”. New York Daily News. 21 April 2015.