Discover more from Follow Friday
How AI might destroy the internet as we know it
Plus: Why you should watch Indiana Jones in black & white, and the Star Wars prison is good, actually?
Welcome to Follow Friday, and an early happy 4th of July to all who celebrate.
The new Wes Anderson movie Asteroid City is very good, FYI. My new third-favorite Anderson picture, with the gigantic asterisk that the three films of his I haven’t watched yet are widely beloved: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic.
I know, I know. I’ll get to them, I promise.
The single best thing I saw online this week: I had heard before that Ocean’s Eleven and Magic Mike director Steven Soderbergh had re-edited the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, in black & white, with no dialogue and no John Williams score — but I have never investigated why. This video from CinemaStix explains why this is not just a weird filtering of a classic film: Soderbergh used it to study Steven Spielberg’s masterful direction in Raiders and even in the clips here, I get it. Every piece of media I watched this week post-this video, I noticed how much sloppier and less visually interesting the blocking and camera moves were. Neat.
You can watch the B&W “Raiders” here.
The best podcasts I’ve heard recently
Speaking of Dr. Jones … I devoted a lot of my non-work podcast listening time this week to this superb episode of Screen Drafts, in which Joanna Robinson, Mallory Rubin, and Bryan Cogman ranked the top 13 films starring Harrison Ford. The official runtime of this episode is 5 hours and 33 minutes, which is why I listened at 1.3x speed and also skipped over a bit, but that was still a significant chunk of time… and it was worth it. As is the norm on Screen Drafts, there are debates & disagreements, and a bit of angst over certain movies that don’t make the cut, but also some hilarious moments of serendipity, including a rare last-second veto. The final list really captures the sweep of Ford’s career in a satisfying way.
Like a lot of people (too many, as it turns out), I laughed off the $4800 (minimum) price tag of Disney’s soon-to-be-defunct Galactic Starcruiser, the Star Wars-themed resort in Florida in which everyone is a participant in a two-day Westworld-style immersive experience. Early reviews were not compelling, and photos of the on-theme “cabins” made it look sort of like a George Lucas-branded prison. So imagine my surprise when, listening to this episode of Podcast: The Ride with actor Andrew Barth Feldman, I caught myself thinking “wait, this actually sounds fun.” Several times. Not $4800 worth of fun, mind you, but he really turned me around to the idea that something like this should be attempted again.
An audio podcast that is mostly two people on stage reacting to pictures that listeners cannot see should not work, but it’s to Conan’s immense credit that the latest interview episode of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend does. It also helps that the guest is one Sir Paul McCartney, who’s promoting a new book of photos he took on the road with the Beatles in 1964. At this point he’s a veteran podcaster, but I was still surprised by how well Conan described each photo as he and Sir Paul reviewed them. And of course, all the stories about being a Beatle at the height of Beatlemania are fascinating.
Sidebar: Does anyone know why Substack only sometimes supports Apple Podcasts embeds? I’m sure I’m the only one who cares, but it drives me a little nuts when I have to use a Spotify embed like I did above for Podcast: The Ride.
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help i’m obsessed with this troll-y game
I don’t know if Wordle deserves all the credit, but it certainly feels like the success of that game has given us a renaissance of small time-wasters that you can play in any browser. My latest obsession is The Password Game, an inspired parody of all those sign-up forms that make you jump through hoops to generate a secure password.
It starts off simple enough, with numbers and special characters. But then you start to get rules like this:
I promise, it only gets sillier from there. I’m currently stuck on Rule 16, which requires an understanding of optimal chess strategy. Play The Password Game here.
The latest from LightningPod
Here’s what I’ve been producing and editing this week:
On Grit, Lacework CEO Jay Parikh talked with Joubin Mirzadegan about disrupting yourself, surviving Facebook’s era of "move fast and break things," refusing to compromise on greatness, and — a man after my own heart — being on time. “It’s just really important as a leader to set the standard for how everybody else should be respected,” he says. “I’m like, no, I disrespected 10 minutes of your time. So I take that really seriously.”
And on Building Better CMOs, Colgate-Palmolive exec Diana Haussling spoke with Greg Stuart about how to innovate at a 200-plus-year-old company, the balance between ambition and fear of failure, and rethinking marketing fundamentals like the funnel: “The way that we assume consumers are going to sit down, experience our campaign, then they're going to make a list, and then they're going to go... Those days are no more.” I also loved her comments about Pride Month near the end.
Making the “Avengers Assemble” scene even better
As people have been saying for years, one of the biggest problems with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the fact that the music in these big action-adventure films rarely feels memorable or special. Other than the main Avengers fanfare (bum-BUMMM buh-buhhhhhh buhh-BUMMM), I couldn’t hum any piece of MCU music. And yet, I adored this video by Jonathan Gerber imagining what the “portals” scene in Avengers: Endgame would sound like if arriving characters were accompanied by the themes from their respective movies. It absolutely works:
The best thing I’ve read this week
I am not an optimist, but I am a positive person by nature: I try to look for the good side of things, and to do my part in making them happen. That extends to the internet, which is why I started the Follow Friday podcast in the first place. But as crystallized in this excellent essay by James Vincent for The Verge, AI is ushering in a dark future for crucial parts of the web.
To wit, tech companies are trying to stay ahead of the curve, and Google is even considering whether a ChatGPT-like AI bot should replace its iconic links to search results. But of course, bots aren’t actually coming up with answers independently. They are scraping, rewriting and repackaging others’ work, and sometimes introducing misinformation in the process:
… if Google goes ahead with its current AI search experience, the effects would be difficult to predict. Potentially, it would damage whole swathes of the web that most of us find useful — from product reviews to recipe blogs, hobbyist homepages, news outlets, and wikis. Sites could protect themselves by locking down entry and charging for access, but this would also be a huge reordering of the web’s economy. In the end, Google might kill the ecosystem that created its value, or change it so irrevocably that its own existence is threatened.
Read the whole thing: AI is killing the old web, and the new web struggles to be born
Palate cleanser: “The world’s ugliest dog”
His name is Scooter and he was almost euthanized, but now look at him! “Scooter fearlessly navigates obstacles, swaying side to side on his two front legs, conquering stones, curbs and steps with unwavering determination.” We stan a fearless, ugly king.
Trust me and click these:
Alex Goldman confirms a Disney World conspiracy theory. I KNEW IT!
And Slate confirms that everyone in Trader Joe’s is hooking up
Speaking of dystopias, let’s check in on Facebook: Yep, still bad
This is one of those headlines that the main character would skip over in the first scene of a zombie movie.
The Grimace shake trend, explained
Semi-related: A brief history of viral marketing campaigns
And here’s “Baby Got Back,” by Elvis Presley