I’m Telling You, Folks, Big Tech Can Read Our Minds

by Shelt Garner

A number of things have happened recently that lead me to believe Big Tech can read our minds via our electronic devices — specifically our cellphones. The most conspicuous abuser of this technology is Tik-Tok.

Now, let me be very specific — I’m talking about instances where my For You Page on Tik-Tok presents me information fits a very specific metric: information that no one but me knows. So, we can dismiss any instances where I’ve spoken to someone about something, or texted, or messaged, or posted about some bit of personal information. I’m talking about a very specific type of information.

So, I’ve written before about Tik-Tok presenting me with information about women who have a very specific phenotype. So specific, in fact, as to be down to that of an individual woman. It’s beyond spooky. The most recent instance of this happening is with something gross — ear gunk.

I’ve been having an excess of ear wax recently and, until now, absolutely no one knew this about me. But, lo and behold, Tik-Tok was serving me ads about how to reduce ear wax. I’m well aware that such niche ads are everywhere these days and correlation is not causation.

But it is, if nothing else….spooky.

One day, when MAGA becomes technology-hating Patriot Party– it’s possible it’s mind-reading technology that they will really get worked up about.

What MSM Can Learn From Nascent ‘Tik-Tok Journalism’

by Shelt Garner

Absolutely no one listens to me. But I will suggest, in passing, that MSM should study the growing number of people doing journalism on Tik-Tok. Such journalism is a lot like TV journalism, but it’s a lot tighter because they have only a minute — though that may be expanded to three minutes soon.

I read exceptionally well-written articles from the New York Times and they’re just too long. Give me 300 words and a Tik-Tok-style video instead. Unless something radical is done to traditional journalism, it may fade away entirely. Such a “radical” thing might be to re-imagine what a news story is. You can convey a lot of information via a Tik-Tok video and if you have the imprimatur of the New York Times on such a video, it would be quite good.

But, again, lulz. No one listens to me.

Even if I’m right, I won’t get any credit for it.

Tik-Tok Is Extremely Brazen About Reading My Mind Using Digital Telepathy

by Shelt Garner

Tik-Tok is going to get Big Tech in trouble. Let me give you an example.

Recently, I came out of the shower and looked on the floor. I saw how wet the floor was and thought about how I didn’t want to get my feet wet.

I did not tell anyone this. I didn’t write a blog post, text any one, nothing. The concept’s sole existence was in my mind.

Within moments, I looked at my Tik-Tok For You Page and, surprise, what video do I see, but one about to keep your bathroom floor from getting wet when you take a shower.

This type of thing happens so often with Tik-Tok that they have to be reading my — and millions of other people’s — mind.

If Tik-Tok has this technology, then Facebook and Google do, too. (Facebook has a patent on such technology, by the way.) And it’s possible that was why Tik-Tok was so bent out of shape about giving its algorithm to any new American owner — they were worried their extremely good, extremely intrusive Digital Telepathy technology would fall into the hands of the Americans.

So, I suspect China’s government is using Tik-Tok to read American minds.

Tik-Tok Can Read Our Minds

by Shelt Garner

Let me put some context to this — I have no idea if I’m right on this and, given my pretty bad history of making false assumptions, I probably am. And I would add that I generally don’t believe in conspiracy theories.

But hear me out on this one.

I have noticed from Facebook and Google and now Tik-Tok a level of knowledge about my private, mental dialogue that is inexplicable. For instance — why is it that Tik-Tok recommends videos to me of women who look eerily like my personal “one that got away?” They keep doing stuff like this to an extent that is enough to be very jarring.

And Facebook keeps recommending ads to me that make absolutely no sense unless you knew specific things about me that I have told no one about. No Tweets. No emails. I haven’t even vocalized them.

The technology to read people’s minds — in a very ham handed way — exists. It’s been perfected enough for Facebook to patent it.

I’m probably wrong. But how Tik-Tok, Google and Facebook could possibly know such things about me if I’m the only person who knows about it is extremely puzzling.

TikTok As A Music Discovery Vehicle For The Olds — Madcon’s ‘Beggin’

Me on TikTok.
Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Editors’s Note:

This is an example of how if I had been a bit more focused and stable (read: less drunk) when I was younger, I probably could be writing for Vox after having worked at Nick Denton’s Gawker Media for a few years. I could be a Blue Check Liberal on Twitter ranting about Brooklyn and smelling my own farts with The New York Times’ Trump Whisper Maggie Haberman.

Anyway, let’s get to the point.

So, I’m old. I’m a middle aged white dude who occasionally dips my mind into the TikTok universe. I’m also a former DJ at an expat bar in Seoul. So when a song of note I’ve not heard of pops up, my ears perk up. Right now, GenZ is obsessed with a song I’d never heard of.

It has a beat and you can dance to it. I really liked the sort of explosive bass line about 20% in. After hearing it on TikTok repeatedly, I finally grew curious. I was afraid it was going to be like that song “I’m Not An Addict” by K’s Choice that I thought was “I’m Automatic” and couldn’t find for 20 years. Thankfully, this was not the case. I found it almost immediately on YouTube. Here’s where things grow even more interesting. The song is actually pretty old. It’s from 2009-2010.

Ok, things are going well. It’s a great deep cut hip-hop song I didn’t know about. It’s a song I love right off the bat. I am likely to listen to it a zillian times over the next few days. Definitely has a poor man’s OutKast vibe to it. It could be a little better in some respects, but it’s a solid song as is.

I did a bit more investigation and lo and behold, it’s a cover.

The original is amazingly great. I hate that I hadn’t heard it yet. It’s a deep cut from the 1960s. It could have been updated either as hip-hop song or a just a general pop rock song with the right producer. It’s very dancable. It needs to have a little bit of a deeper bass for modern audiences, I feel, however. The Madcon cover popular on TikTok does, in fact, fix that problem.

Anyway, maybe I’m stating the obvious, but it seems as though TikTok is a pretty solid discovery tool for the audience. The only problem is, of course, it’s its entirely organic. You never know what song is going to catch the attention of GenZ.

Someone should hire me to start a neo-Gawker wanna be. Sigh.

Could TikTok Disrupt Twitter?

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

As you may know, when Twitter first came into existence, people did not know what to do with it. A lot of people took pictures of their food, for instance. Only gradually did people realize it had the potential to a whole lost of other things, especially breaking news.

I have long thought that there was something missing from Twitter. I want the ability to have intuitive “video tweets” in the sense that I would record a short video and then someone would respond in kind. Twitter has this ability already, in a sense, but I have never seen two people actually talk to each other back and forth using Twitter’s primitive and klugy video message feature. In my imagination, this new service would have it’s video tweets threaded so you could make some sense of it. I have only recently learned that TikTok has the basis for this notion. It wouldn’t take too much to change the interface just a little bit to make whole platform not only a whole lot more useful, but a whole lot more engaging for older people.

The only reason why older people need to get involved is the natural evolution of a social media platform to go from a silly toy of teens to something useful for adults with, like, careers and stuff. But I suspect my vision for TikTok is a ways down the road. And it may not even be TikTok that does it. It may be a similar service that caters to adults from the get-go.

One barrier to this idea, of course, is vanity. Just like the video phone never took off, there’s a chance that a “video Twitter” will never take off because people are so used to tweeting in the bathroom or at night before they go to sleep that they simply will have no interest in the very thing I propose.

I don’t know. Just an observation.