‘996’ Is China’s Version of Hustle Culture. Tech Workers Are Sick of It.

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Rank-and-file tech workers in China, discouraged by a weakened job market and downbeat about their odds of joining the digital aristocracy, have other ideas.

They are organizing online against what in China is called the “996” culture: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

For years, Chinese tech employees have worked hours that make Silicon Valley’s workaholics seem pampered. Now they are naming and shaming employers that demand late nights. Some programmers are even withholding their creations from companies that they think overemphasize 996.

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When Did Celebrities Get So Bad At Taking Criticism?

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Reviewers and artists work in a complicated, symbiotic relationship where both need the other. And new digital platforms have made that relationship even more fraught; as Alison Herman writes at the Ringer, “Thanks to social media, it’s both harder than ever for stars to shield themselves from the noise and easier than ever for them to respond directly to what surely feels like an all-out assault on their character.” But it’s not a journalist’s or critic’s job to fluff a celebrity’s ego.

As a famous person, you have agents, managers, makeup artists, hairstylists, friends, family, internet fans, IRL fans, strangers on the street, Twitter, Instagram, stan culture at large, and the people buying tickets to see you live, who are all more than happy to let you know that you’re the greatest person in the world. To expect the same from writers doing their best to honestly and insightfully assess your work or your public image is a misunderstanding of what we’re trying to accomplish.

We All Work For Facebook

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Typically, we don’t think of social media use as labor. Finding your way with Google Maps seems (particularly to those of us old enough to remember planning a trip with paper maps) like a luxurious free service. Keeping up with distant friends on Facebook feels like recreation. Answering questions on Yelp about whether the library you just visited has a wheelchair ramp is like a tiny public service.

But, of course, these companies aren’t providing anything for free. In Radical Markets (2017), Eric A. Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, and E. Glen Weyl, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research and visiting scholar at Princeton University, make the case that companies should pay for the information they collect from us. They point to Big Tech’s use of our data, not just to choose what ads we’ll see—or to sell to questionable political targeting operations—but also to create new technology. Facebook and Instagram (a Facebook property) use the images and videos we upload to power machine learning. That’s where new artificial intelligence products like face recognition and automated video editing come from. Translating a photo caption for your friends helps teach Google Translate how languages work. When you click the boxes on ReCAPTCHA, the ubiquitous anti-spam tool owned by Google, it helps computers learn to digitize text and—probably—improves self-driving car technology.

Why Everyone Is Watching TV with Closed Captioning On These Days

Ice Law Order

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A few months ago I noticed that several friends (who speak English and aren’t deaf) routinely watch TV and movies with closed captions and subtitles on. I asked about this on Twitter and the resulting thread was fascinating. Turns out many of you watch TV this way for all kinds of different reasons — to follow complex dialog in foreign or otherwise difficult accents, some folks better retain information while reading, keeping the sound down so as not to wake sleeping children in tight living spaces, and lots of people who aren’t deaf find listening difficult for many reasons (some have trouble listening to dialogue when there’s any sort of non-ambient noise in the background).

Who is ‘cliff wife’? What is a ‘wife guy’? Why is it a meme?

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A man was walking with his wife, when she fell down a small hill; it was quite a tumble and she was shocked, but pretty much uninjured. The man – YouTuber Shaun McBride – decided to film the whole thing, before uploading it as some kind of inspirational brush-with-death morality tale.

“I watched my wife fall off a cliff … you’re [sic] whole world can change in a matter of seconds,” he wrote.

For many, it is breathtakingly funny: from the unnecessary drama, to the truly small cliff, to the terrible editing, which clearly reveals how much of his own wife’s words McBride cut out.

For the Outline, Tom Whyman explains: “A Wife Guy is defined by the fact that they have done something which involves a wife, whether their own or someone else’s — call this a Wife Event. A Wife Event can take many forms, but it necessarily involves the internet in some way (a long-distance online relationship; a fake social media account; a prominent Instagram presence) and, when discovered, will be widely discussed online. The tone of this discussion will typically be mocking.”

Group Chats Are Making the Internet Fun Again

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Like Facebook at its best, they’re pocket sources of interpersonal nourishment. Some of my group chats were created for utilitarian reasons, like planning a bachelor party, but have since outgrown the limiting stricture of “having a particular reason to exist.” Most have been freewheeling and themeless since their inception, cast haphazardly and sustained by gossip and boredom and the opportunity to make fun of someone else’s typos. The paradigmatic message of the group chat is one my friend Sam sent recently: “Wanna see something mildly funny?” In group chats, the answer is always “yes.”

Sliding Backward on Tech? There Are Benefits

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Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, decided to downgrade her tech two years ago. It has worked out, with paper and DVDs instead of the latest apps and gizmos.

Same thing with paper calendars; they’re just better. I get irrationally impatient with the slowness with which people tap meetings into their calendars on the phone. It is at least 30 seconds faster to write it in an old-timey agenda…

I am fairly confident that I’m the last DVD subscriber to what was once called Netflix and is now DVD.com, and my queue is maxed to the 500. I don’t subscribe to any streaming services, nor does our television have an antenna set up for network TV. This makes my decision around what to watch really easy: There are only four choices.