Jesus Christ, Is Meta Thirsty About Being Considered Hip

by Shelt Garner

Because of my fucking severely broken right ankle being in the process of healing, I’m stuck on the couch writing, developing, reading — and watching TV.

While I love the idea that, essentially every waking hour is now going to be focused on working on one of my four thrillers, or a scifi pandemic novel or a scifi screenplay or a short story, I fucking hate watching TV.

I keep seeing Meta’s fucking thirsty ad begging for hip POC to give them street cred. This, of course, is never going to happen. That ship has sailed. It’s all about Tik-Tok now. And should the “metaverse” take off, it’s more likely to be some small startup with really cool features that blows up and gets the street cred that Meta is begging for.

Ok, guys, we get it.

The reason why the Meta ad is so thirsty is this: they have a group of young men and women POC who are seduced by the amazing potential of the Meta platform. We see their faces in EXTREME CLOSE UP, giving us the sense that they’re about to cum because of how great and wonderful Facebook — I mean Meta — is.

It’s so over the top and transparent that, ugh, it’s just very dumb and a waste of time. Meta, however, does have a lot of money. So I guess it’s at least possible that through sheer force of will provided by a few billion dollars of marketing over a few years that they might get their wish.

Burn Hollywood, Burn: My Hot Take On The ‘Death Of Movies’ Discourse

by Shelt Garner

There’s a lot of buzz of late about the “death of movies.” And, sadly, I fear some of it may be right. American culture is facing something of an existential crisis because the very idea of any sort of “mainstream” is now beginning to melt away. Identity politics is now so absolute that the legitimacy of any heteronormative story is up for debate in the overwrought conversations of Twitter.

I know I sound a little too Joe Rogan with the above, but it comes from a place of love — a love of movies as an art form.

You know it.

Here’s what I think is going to happen — movies are going to continue to drift into culture insignificance until one of a few things happen. If we stop being force fed movies about people running around in capes, then, maybe people might sit up and take notice. But this is unlikely to happen because you can make a shit ton of money with movies like that, so, lulz.

Another way to “fix Hollywood” would be to end “Woke Hollywood.” Instead of trying to make us more woke, tell us a good story. Don’t worry about identity politics — tell a good story. I want less Beanie Feldstein screeching about lesbian sex positions to a Plain Jane lead in Book Smart and more, I don’t know anything. I only keep ranting about how much I fucking hated Book Smart because I was shamed into seeing it by my center-Left echo chamber and the movie is the epitome of preaching to the audience about how being woke is so important.

But, as I always say whenever Book Smart is brought up — I wasn’t the audience. So if you’re a bi-curious high school girl in the suburbs of LA, you probably loved that movie.

Yet another way that movies may come roaring back is because of technology. It could be that once we fully transition to MX (VR and AR) or, hell, even some sort of Strange Days-like MindCap technology, that movies will, like vinyl, make a big comeback as young people grow disillusioned with immersive media.

The crux of the Hollywood’s current problem is a combination of industry dynamics and the need for it to suck its own cock when it comes to there being a “message” in movies. America is so tightly wound at the moment, that a huge segment of the potential viewing audience is turned off with Woke Hollywood, hence the popularity of message-free MCU movies.

I only get a little upset about this specific issue because I love movies. It’s not that hard to tell a great story in a movie. Hell, *I* want to tell a few of those great stories so bad that I recently bought Final Draft. So, lulz.

But are movies dead? Yes, in the short term. Long term, however, I believe they’ll turn out just fine. We just need a New Era of story telling that harkens back to the early 70s.

A Former Blab User’s Observations For Tik-Tok

by Shelt Garner

The video conferencing service Blab may one day be looked back upon as the Amiga of such things. It was way ahead of its time and it definitely gave a sense of the community building potential of video conferencing when combined with discovery.

On paper, at least, Blab was a multi-functional platform that could have been used for everything from a “video Reddit” to online dating to a robust podcasting platform, to you name it.

But the very thing that made it so great — it’s very cool discovery feature — was ultimately its downfall (in a sense.) Once hateful trolls got a hang of the service — and were willing to be on camera — that was the end of Blab at least from the community standpoint.

I use Tik-Tok a lot these days and occasionally — when I’m not worried the service is, like, fucking reading my mind — I wonder if they could somehow crib the best bits of Blab and give Facebook a run for its money.

The answer is I don’t know.

The reason is, Tik-Tok is a handful as it is. Throwing in four way video conferencing with discovery would face the exact same problems that Blab had. So, on paper, yes, adding Blab features to Tik-Tok would probably take it to the next level and make it potentially a Facebook killer.

But, in reality, you would have to be a lot and I mean A LOT smarter than me to figure out how to cherry pick Blab’s best bits without it slamming into the bonkers troll problem that Blab experienced. So, in the abstract, yes, it would be great for Tik-Tok to bring the Blab experience to the masses but it would be seriously playing with fire on a practical level.

So, I don’t know. I do think there is a way that Tik-Tok could grow as huge as Facebook under the right conditions — Facebook is a utility that is hated by a huge swath of if its user based. Whenever we move from Web 3.0 to Web 4.0 everything will be “disrupted” again and new titans will arise. It may be that we skip the video and VR phases altogether and go directly to MindCaps.

Or something.

Anyway, I miss old Blab. We hardly knew yuh.

Why Elon Musk’s ‘Neuralink’ Is Such A Dumb, Misguided Idea

by Shelt Garner

This is so frustrating. Elon Musk wants to rummage around in my brain with something that requires drilling a hole in my head and hooking up directly to my wetware. I find this very dumb and misguided because Arthur C. Clarke in his book “3001: Final Odyssey” comes up with a far more practical — and less intrusive — answer: the mindcap.

Now, some context.

There’s evidence that Facebook has, at least, a patent on some sort of mind reading technology. And hardly a day goes by that I don’t use Tik-Tok and think its reading my mind in some way. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does happen, it’s very spooky.

As such, if it’s possible they’ve figured out a way to read my mind in some way via a non-contact solution, why not develop a form of that technology that involves a skullcap of some sort laced with electrodes (or whatever) that touches my skull and allows the same things we hope for with the Neuralink without the risk of accidently being given a lobotomy.

It seems very obvious to me that if you could sell people at $1,200 mindcap that skips the middle step of wearing MX (VR / AR) equipment. It definitely would aid in the adoption of such technology if you didn’t have to overcome the resistance to wearing bulky goggles and allowed people to “see” and “hear” media using their own minds.

But, go ahead Elon, keep drilling holes in people’s heads.

Jesus Christ Is Hollywood A Mess

by Shelt Garner

Hollywood is currently so out of fumes that it makes you wonder if we’re finally at the end of the post-9/11 Era, at least when it comes to the arts. Hollywood has squeezed ever penny it could possibly get out of the MCU and all of the major franchises are in various stages of clusteruckery.

It’s possible that the last big Avengers movie might be it. That might mark the end of about 20 years of Hollywood history. The question, of course, is what happens next.

As I’ve said before, I think the 2020 election is going to decide what happens. Given that something truly astonishing would have to happen for House Trump not to end the Republic by winning the election, I would lean on the side of Hollywood entering its late Weimar Republic stage. As House Trump strangles freedom after freedom in quick succession, it seems as though it is only a matter of time before it comes after Hollywood.

Hollywood is going to face an existentialist choice.

Does it allow itself to be enveloped by House Trump or does it bounce? Given the fast majority of major Hollywood producers are “Germany Industrialists” in their politics, I think we all know the answer to that question. But I guess it’s somewhat possible that some of Hollywood might decamp to somewhere like Australia…maybe Perth? because of the weather and land requirements it needs. Though, honestly, given how much is done on a soundstage with CGI, some of the coming Hollywood diaspora might endup in Great Britain.

But, on a broader level, it makes you wonder if we do manage to have some semblance of normal life in the next four years, what will it look like? I can’t think of a single major Hollywood franchise that has not either been played out or driven into the ground. Right now, both Star Wars AND Star Trek are dead in the water for various reasons.

As such, it would seem to make sense that given how art abhors a vacuum, that something completely new might pop out pretty soon. Or, if you really wanted to be depressing — given how everything sucks — you could say that the economics of Hollywood has changed so drastically that we just going to tread water until AR / VR (MX) finally matures enough that mainstream storytelling goes in that direction, with some sort of fusion with the video game industry occurring.

Given how dark things are right now, I don’t have much hope. And, yet, history has shown that someone, somewhere may very well do SOMETHING original that is both a creative and financial success for Hollywood. But it could be that “woke” Hollywood is the future of things and we’ll have to wait, like, 40 years until the founding of a Second Republic for everything to get sorted out.


The Death Of Star Wars & The Potential Rise of “Foundation” In The Age Of MX

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m developing and writing a novel and as such I have storytelling on the brain. The more professional in my mentality towards this endeavor, the less I want to talk about exactly what I’m doing and how.

But I do find the future of storytelling worth writing about while all of this is going on. It seems to me that the traditional film industry is about to have its Napster moment. Not because some punch in his bedroom creates and app that destroys the movie industry’s business model, but because at some point we’re going to find ourselves in the Ready Player One universe for real for real.

I just don’t see the titans of the movie industry being as fleet footed as the gaming industry. There’s going to come a point between now and, say, 2030, when some upstart gaming startup figures out a way to give us OASIS. When that happens, the passive movies will become the vinyl of Generation Z or beyond.

This is not something I look forward to. I love traditional movies, but the writing is on the wall as they say. All that needs to happen is for MX gear’s price point to be low enough and wireless broadband speeds to be fast enough that it makes economic sense. Traditional Hollywood film studios aren’t going to know what hit them.

Why watch Star Wars, A New Hope, when you can “play” it (or something similar) with a few million other people. The Star Wars universe is big enough that should a MX startup, say, buy Disney, they could create an OASIS-type environment large enough for that to happen. Now, I also love the Foundation series, so logically, it would make more sense for such a startup to buy the rights to Foundation, flesh out the saga’s universe in an MX environment and make $1 trillion.

But, sadly, no one — but no one — listens to me.

And, yet, this is on the horizon. This is happening. It’s just a matter of the details of how, exactly, it does so.

Blogging, The Death Of “Passive” Film & The Rise of MX

by Shelton Bumgarner

Blogging is dead, long live blogging.

I was, in a minor way, one of the first “bloggers,” even though that’s not what it was called nor did I have any influence beyond the readership in the Virginia newspaper business. I used to run the Virginia Press Association’s Website and in about 1999, I turned into a blog.

But those days are long, long gone.

Now, of course, it’s all about Twitter.

This is a really bad situation for a number of reasons, but there’s no easy solution. Twitter’s population says more about us as a culture than it does technology and its uses. The window of opportunity that existed at one point to “kill” Twitter is long closed.

I say this because we’re kind of in a holding pattern before the rise of MX (AR and VR) resets everything and we have a new normal. It’s just taking MX longer than I expected to take over everything. But it is coming and as such everything is going to change in a pretty abrupt manner whenever it does.

Blogging in its traditional form gave a lot of people who would otherwise never get a traditional column in a newspaper an opportunity. This leveled the playing field and led to a brief moment in time when a few people actually were able to become break out stars.

The rise of MX is likely to bring with it a new type of media star as well. It’s possible that the YouTube stars and Twitch stars of today will morph into the MX stars of tomorrow. The notion of telepresence in itself is such a huge disrupter that we’re likely not to know what hit us.

One interesting thing is what will be the MX media company of the future that none of us see coming. What will be the Netflix of MX? While Facebook is obviously in a great position to benefit greatly from MX, it’s likely to be an upstart that fills the media space that doesn’t even exist now.

My best bet whatever it is, it’s going to come from the gaming industry and it will be the thing that is the final death knell of traditional passive movie making. I suspect that movies will, in 20 years, be something along the lines of vinyl. While everyone else is running around an MX environment, “playing” the latest Star Wars immersive movie, a core group of people will want to sit back and watch the passive version of the original movies.

This company — whatever it’s called — will likely warp the entire media landscape in a manner we can’t predict. A lot depends on the vision of its founder. I suspect Facebook will corner the market in AR, while this new company will produce an MX environment that is pretty expansive.

The problem is, of course, that we have no idea who will the winner is or when all of this is actually going to happen. A back-of-the-envelope guess is sometime between now and 2025.

I guess the point is, blogging is where it all started and we’re about to enter a new era where the rules change quickly and in unexpected ways.

A Perfect Storm — #MX & Disrupting Twitter With A Startup To Facilitate Radical Resistance To Trump

By Shelton Bumgarner

We are at an inflection point. The online media business is contracting because it’s based on a 20-year-old lie. At the same time, growing numbers of people know they’re angry about Trump but they can’t quite articulate what it is they feel.

I propose that you could use the passion of what I call The Radical Resistance to found a news and mobilization app that, if designed properly could disrupt Twitter in a big way during this small window of opportunity before MX revolutionizes everything and hits the media reset button.

I have explained this in great detail before (below, and elsewhere.) Anyway, it can be done, just someone needs to be willing to throw cash at the idea.

It goes without saying that a lot of people are unhappy with both Twitter and Trump. It seems pretty obvious as well that if you did a venn diagram of these two groups the overlap would be the core of a new social media service designed to not only kill Twitter, but bring down Trump.

So, even though I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn, here’s how I feel you could accomplish these two goals in tandem.

First, you designed a service from the ground up specifically meant to have a robust on-boarding system as well as one that once and for all fixed the problem of the online harassment associated with bots and trolls. It would likely be popular almost instantly. That is the crux of the weakness with Twitter. Twitter is dead in the water in some respects and it wouldn’t take that much to kill it if you simply addressed the major problems with Twitter in an intuitive, effective manner.

An unintended consequences of all of this is a lot of celebrities, though leaders and content providers who are extremely unhappy with Twitter would flock to a service that gave them a better experience from the get-go. They, in turn, would bring with them a lot followers who simply wanted the opportunity to engage them like they currently do on Twitter.

Meanwhile, a lot of people know that should Trump finally do the unconscionable and fire Bob Mueller, that they’re going to want to take to the streets. But the United States isn’t South Korea. If you wanted to bring down Trump through people power, it would be a complex, national affair. You’d have to keep the protests legal and regular for no other reason than if you just protested without the proper permits, etc., you’d just get arrested.

Bringing down a president with people power in the States would be require the single greatest popular unrest the country has ever seen. It’s the kind of thing social media was designed for, but never, to date, used to do so in a developed country. So, I believe, you’d need a whole new service designed to specifically facilitate massive, regular nationwide protests if you wanted to bring down Trump.

Put these two concepts together in a social media startup, and I think it would be pretty effective. It would serve as the core of a Twitter killer that would blow up pretty quickly.

The question, of course, is how to actually do it. Probably crowdfunding it our best bet. So, it’s likely that we’d have to wait for Trump to fire Mueller before all the pieces fell into place. I just can’t see an angel investor being willing to shell out the money needed to design such a service. But if Trump finally swerved into a full blown autocrat, I think Americans wouldn’t stand for it. America isn’t Turkey, for Christ’s sake.

One feature I think a lot of content providers would like in my vision of this is that Verified account holders would have more power than the average user. I think if you gave specific power to Verified account holders, they would feel they were stakeholders in the service and their engagement would be higher.

As I have said before, I think you should divide the service into Groups that are divided into threaded Discussions. There would also be a strong video element to the service, whereby you’d be able to have four-way video chat with people in the context of a threaded discussion. This doesn’t even begin to address the features you’d need to facilitate people organizing mass protests.

V-Log: Vision 2020 — The Rise Of MX & The Death Of Social Media

by Shelton Bumgarner

The future is on its way, folks.

America 2029: Immersive Media & The Death Of The Film Industry

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m not going to get into the economic, political or environmental dystopia I believe the United States will be in by 2029 unless some very drastic, very radical things change, like, now. So let’s take a walk down what the online media world might look come January 2029.

First, let’s start with a little speculative anecdote.

You’re in your self-driving car, watching the local news as you head home from your 1 day of physically being in the office. (Immersive media has rendered physically going into work nothing more than a cultural chore of habit.) You notice that Gone With The Wind has been released and using a combination of eye movement and non-audible voice commands, you “subscribe” to the “experience” so you and your wife can “play” the immersive movie when you get home.

Your car parks itself and out of middle-aged habit, you check your snail mail. Your neighbor walks by with his dog. The two of you are Facebook friends and as such you barely have a traditional conversation. You eye what’s floating around each other and interact with the immersive Facebook quickly and silently. You might interject a word or two simply because something you interact with is interesting, but in general the event is simply a pause that ends as quickly as it begins.

Walking into your home, you sync up with the home’s IOT environment and as such learn what may or may not have happened in the house while you were busy at work. You always have the option to do this via MX at work, but it’s frowned upon. Your wife comes up and and you hug and see that your young child continues to grow quickly and in a cute fashion. The baby is asleep in her crib, but you see via MX some of the cuter moments of the day. Your wife is on leave because of the baby and will soon return to work. The two of you go to the Ready Player One-type tread mills and proceed to “play” within the Gone With The Wind environment. Thousands of other people have approximately hours to roam around the environment and get to not only see, but interact with, AI actors playing the different parts of the original movie, only now you have photo realistic Vr instead of the passive nature of film. All of this will be produced not by a film studio, but by a gaming studio.

It seems to me that the movie industry in 10 years will be where the newspaper industry is now — contracting in what seems like a moment-by-moment basis, leaving a lot of people looking at each other and wondering, “Why does it still exist?” Leaving out the possibility of a vinyl record-type revival at some point, it’s likely that the video game industry will battle and defeat the movie industry with the rise of immersive media.

I say this because the movie industry — like the newspaper industry — is slow to change and based on a business model that makes some assumptions that will soon enough no longer be true. With the newspaper industry it’s that people are willing to wait as long as 24 hours to read the news, while with the movie industry it will be that people will want to passively watch a story being told in the dark with a group of loud, often rude people. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love movies. I love everything about them. I love how they’re made. I love the rise and fall of stars and I love the sparkly nature of showbiz itself.

But, alas, I love newspapers, too, and in 10 years time, I doubt very many of them will exist.

So, what will replace the movie industry? I suspect it will be the video game industry hyped up on the technological advancements of immersive media. By “immersive media,” I mean what some people refer to as MX (AR/VR). Any media where you are assumed to interact with the media in some way. So once social media becomes integrated with AR, then some basic assumptions we have about the fate of Facebook and Twitter may fall by the waist-side. Meanwhile, the entire movie industry, I fear, simply won’t exist as we know it in 2029. Or, if it does, it will be a fraction of its size or own entirely by different gaming companies.

While in some ways, this is kind of old news, I think from a practical economic and social stand point, we’ve barely scratched the surface of trying to understand how immersive media will change every day life.

Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He is working on his first novel. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.