Interesting Links – Week Of 1 March 2021

Interesting links from around the web.
Yep, this picture is supposed to symbolise the ‘links’ of the ‘web’. I know, it’s terrible.

Sunday, lazy Sunday. Except we’ve made the most of it today by going on a two hour walk. I’m now sat at home with aching legs, but I know it will all be worth it once we finish our current 10,000 steps a day challenge at the end of March.

I’m going to use Sunday’s on my blog to do a quick round-up of all the interesting articles and websites I’ve found over the last week. I’m going to call the extremely creative name of Interesting Links.

While we have access to all the information we could possibly wish for, our attention spans can be pretty shit. Today our attention spans seem limited to about as long as it takes to read a tweet or a Facebook post. So, I try to fit some quality reading time in and take the time to read long-reads and full articles that aren’t clickbait rubbish. I also try to branch out and read about as many interesting topics as I can, so there will often be a lot of variety in the things I share here.

So, here are a few things I’ve read online this week.

We’ve all been a little bored during lockdown, and for some people boredom means spending more money, which is extremely easy to do when you’re stuck buying everything online. In this Guardian article we see the rise of ’emotional spending’.

I think it’s been a thing for as long as it’s been easy to buy things on the Internet, but the lockdown has no doubt caused a surge in it.

Moving away from people who have apparently been flush with cash during the pandemic, to those who are job hunting. Job hunting is something that’s become much harder during the pandemic, especially as more companies have been shedding staff over hiring them. If you are job hunting, you may be surprised to find out that an AI might be rejecting your job applications before a human even views it. Because algorithms now seemingly run every aspect of our modern lives.

Speaking of algorithms, let’s talk about TikTok.

I open the TikTok app from time to time when I want a quick laugh, as the algorithm has figured out what I like to snigger at and presents it on its ‘For You’ feed. I can’t really say I’m much of a user of the app, as I’ve never uploaded a video and I open it far less than I open other social networks. But I’m not the target crowd, Generation Z is, and they like to poke fun at millennials like me, as this article in The Walrus talks about. They’re a generation that’s never known a time before the Internet, and I don’t envy the social pressure of oversharing your life online.

By the way, I realise the irony of that last sentence when I’m now writing about my life on a blog (itself a relic of Web 2.0). I’m from the generation where having a LiveJournal was the cool thing to do (LiveJournal is still very much a thing in Russia, where it’s servers are now based, although writer George R.R. Martin carried on blogging there as late as 2018). So, I’ve been in a similar position. But we also didn’t have the Internet in our pockets wherever we went (we had Snake and expensive SMS text messages). The Internet was something you connected to at home, and usually only when your parents allowed you to. The social networks we all use today didn’t exist then either, it was all chat rooms and MSN Messenger.

Anyway, the point is that I choose to blog now. It’s not a rite of passage of being a teenager like TikTok seems to be for Gen Z.

If we’re talking about being older, I have started to realise that I’m not as good at video games as I used to be. I still think I have pretty good reaction times, honed from a lifetime of being a gamer, but I’m going to come out the worse off if I’m going up against a 15-year-old in Call of Duty (and that ultra-competitiveness is the main reason I don’t play much multiplayer anymore, as I don’t have the time to put into improving my skills in a game like a teenager does). So, I whole heartedly agree with Swapna Krishna, writing in Wired, who makes the case for more easy modes in difficult games.

Now I’m not saying that a series like Dark Souls should have an easy mode, as those are games that are known for being brutal. But other games, especially those that have an enticing story you want to see play out, should definitely be more accessible for casual players. The game that’s mentioned in the article, Control, added an assist mode to help players who were struggling. This allowed them to explore more of the mysterious world that developer Remedy had built and see it through to the ending.

I personally didn’t find Control all that difficult, aside from a couple of occasions, but I’m still all for giving players that option. There are other challenges that developers can give players other than laborious combat.

During the course of the pandemic, millions of students across the world have had to continue their studies from home. Some University students watching online lectures have found that, when they go to contact the lecturer to ask questions, the professor in question was actually dead. As The Verge investigates, it turns out that universities have been using recorded lectures and neglected to tell students that the person teaching them was no longer alive.

While there is the issue of whether or not the dead person had given their consent for the lectures to be used after their death, the more pressing issue for students is that they expect to be listening to live lectures from someone who can answer their questions. If that’s not the case, you may as well just be watching a video on YouTube, and that’s not what they’re paying thousands for.

I can sympathise with Seen, who wrote to Wired to tell them that they keep staring at their own face when on a Zoom call. It’s such an easy thing to do, because you’re not used to seeing yourself as other people see you. I’ll be talking about something and be staring at my face while I do it, and I’m not really sure why. It’s very off-putting.

Reading this somewhat put me at ease, but I still hate it. I’m not a big fan of seeing photos of myself, so staring at my mug for about an hour isn’t all that fun.

This was only supposed to be a few links and a brief explanation about what you’re going to get if you click on them. But, as per usual, I’ve ended up rambling on for over 1,000 words.

I’ll leave you with this gem from the No Context Humans Twitter:

You’ll come out thinking that this guys an idiot, but he definitely knows what he’s doing. You can watch more of his actually educational videos over at ElectroBoom.

If you have anything interesting that you’d like me to read, feel free to leave it in the comments and I may feature it next time. Same time next week?

If you’ve not yet seen it, check out my post on The Mystery Flesh Pit National Park. It’s as weird as it sounds.

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