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Internet Culture

The Verge’s Internet Culture section is the home for daily coverage of how our online lives influence and are influenced by pop culture and the world around us. The ways in which we communicate, create, and live with each other have been radically altered by the internet’s powerful connective tissues, from the platforms we inhabit, like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram; to the policies, laws and guidelines that govern them (or don’t); to the subcultures, communities, and memes that bring us together there — for better or worse. Here you’ll find our coverage of life on the web, with an eye on what’s next.

Subscription services are changing our relationship to gaming

In countries like Argentina, where physical games are exorbitantly expensive, services like Game Pass present a more affordable — but flawed — alternative.

Physical media week

Exploring the importance of discs and cartridges in an increasingly digital age.

Limited Run gives digital games a physical legacy

CEO Josh Fairhurst believes that people will still care about physical media, even if the future looks bleak.

Flop rock: inside the underground floppy disk music scene

Floppy disks are facing extinction, but musicians are still pumping out DIY music projects.

Glenn or Glenda?

The Vergecast team threw out some ideas yesterday for what random names Google will use for future chatbots. I like “Fancy Geoff.”

Give it a listen if you want to catch up on stuff like Gemini’s first big controversy, The adventures of Apple and the post-quantum cryptography, and your place in Reddit’s AI-training corpus. Also, two lightning rounds!

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A nation of lurkers.

I’ve mused before on the correct number of posters and influencers vs lurkers required on text-based social networks — but refrained from commentary on video. (I don’t watch much.) Anyway this survey data suggests my theory applies there too: most people don’t post. That means posters are weird outliers who should be studied in a lab.

About half of TikTok’s users have never uploaded a video; a normal user hasn’t so much as updated their bio. Why, then, is TikTok successful? Posters.

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Matt Levine has some thoughts about Reddit offering its stock to Redditors.

There are rumors the Reddit IPO is happening soon. Some of the most active Redditors may get the opportunity to buy in at the IPO price. Is a new meme stock in the making? Maybe!

In the 2020s, some companies are owned in large part by retail investors, and some of those investors are more interested in being part of an online community of investors, and trading jokes and memes, than they are in financial analysis. And you can make those investors happy in less traditional ways, like by giving them popcorn or buying a gold mine or doing a YouTube interview with no pants on.

This voice actor knows *just* how infuriating she sounds when you’re on hold or scanning produce.

This TikTok video from Tawny Platis is making the rounds, and for very good reason! It seems she’s the robotic voice behind a few of the most infuriating automated voices in our lives — and despite her incredible range, companies apparently still ask for these specific tones. Don’t miss this video from her as well.

Spike Jonze’s Her holds up a decade later

A decade later, Spike Jonze’s sci-fi love story is still a better depiction of AI than many of its contemporaries.

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AI at Work

How AI can make history

Large language models can do a lot of things. But can they write like an 18th-century fur trader?

Bluesky CEO says full hashtag support is coming.

“Linkifying them is the logical next step,” CEO Jay Graber said while discussing the use of hashtags on the Twitter alternative platform on the Techmeme Ride Home Podcast,

Graber also said Bluesky, which recently opened, now has nearly 5 million users and will soon roll out moderation services, enabling “any third-party service that wants to build, you know, a labeler or an annotator some way of giving input to the network.”

Google’s latest doodle roasted me on Valentine’s Day.

The doodle is a combination dating app and high school chemistry lesson. Answer a few questions and find out what element you are, then swipe left and right to bond or deny other elements.

It’s an annoyingly good time. I love the chemistry jokes, but did it really have to do me like that?

An image of quiz results. It says “CHLORINE: Swipe right if you have a passion for cleanliness. I have a very reactive personality, so chances are we’ll definitely find something to bond over, but be warned: you can have too much of a good thing (I’m best enjoyed in low doses).
I’m great, but also I’ll turn your hair green and can be combined with other elements to make acid.
Screenshot by Alex Cranz/The Verge

Filed under:

AI at Work

The text file that runs the internet

For decades, robots.txt governed the behavior of web crawlers. But as unscrupulous AI companies seek out more and more data, the basic social contract of the web is falling apart. 

Toward a unified taxonomy of text-based social media use

Or how Threads’ Adam Mosseri needs to stop worrying and learn to love the bomb.

Happy Friday! Here are some cats singing.

I love this trend? More pet videos online please.

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How one artist feels about her work being scraped for AI.

Dorothy Gambrell of Cat and Girl (IYKYK) has made a comic about being named as one of the artists used to train Midjourney. Gambrell refers to herself as “small-time” and her discussion of her ambitions may clarify why a lot of creators feel exploited by scraping.

Cat and Girl


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What do you do when men of the internet keep hitting on your bot?

I have often wondered why internet assistants invariably have female names. Anyway, here’s an easy solution to the problem from Ask A Manager:

As for what to do … if you just want it to stop, the easiest answer is to change the name to a very male-sounding one. I will personally pay you thousands of dollars if changing the bot’s name to Wayne doesn’t put an immediate end to this.

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“Online returns are such a pain that more than 40% of consumers say they would prefer to sit in rush-hour traffic.”

Online shopping hit a new peak over the 2023 holiday season — and now the returns are upon us. But as online shopping gets increasingly competitive, there are new struggles around return policies. That may be an area for increased competition:

As consumers begin factoring in how time-consuming and costly making returns can be, they skip over buying goods from certain online stores altogether. According to the NRF and Happy Returns survey, 50% of shoppers have abandoned a purchase because the return policy was too bothersome.

2023 Wrapped culture is out of control.

It’s one thing when it’s Spotify, Apple Music, or SoundCloud, but these recaps from Culver’s, Dunkin (it dropped the “Donuts” from its name in 2019), Chick-fil-A, and Shake Shack are taking the whole year-end recap trend a little too far. Especially when they’re personalized.

Year-end recaps from four fast food outlets.
Culver’s, Dunkin, Chick-fil-a, and Shake Shack

Pondering the biggest orb

It’s a TV. It’s a roller coaster. It’s a 4D Disney World experience. It’s the Sphere, and it’s a lot more fun than my phone.

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In honor of the upcoming Festivus, Outdoors has published an airing of the grievances.

Can you guess which national parks these people are reviewing?

Too many people, not enough stores, not enough places to buy food.

Absolutely horrible disappointment. There wasn’t a single pickleball court in sight.

The whole place smelled like farts.

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John Herrman is such a good blogger it’s disgusting.

“Partnerships like this should complicate this story of inevitability for companies like OpenAI, the world-beating firm that, before it takes over the economy, and before it must be stopped from taking over the entire world, must first, for some reason, pay for a big subscription to Politico Pro.”