SWAN of the Week, Number 172

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Happy Friday! 

I’m learning many people are just now tuning into the election for the first time. It’s the standard two-week run up to voting day where normal people start paying attention to advertising, issues, and politicians. But since I voted weeks ago, I spent time away from the political churn each night reading books with my AirPods in. 

This week I revisted Simon Stålenhag’s hardcover art books “Tales From the Loop” and “Things From the Flood.” Stålenhag’s paintings and stories take place in an alternate version of Sweden in the ’80s and ’90s and include all kinds of fantastical technology, science, and the human consequences of our relationship with technology. It’s calming to transport oneself into this parallel universe where down is sometimes up, and there’s no logical conclusion… since that’s a normal feeling these days.

And the absolutely perfect soundtrack for hours spent paging though sci-fi art books during a pandemic is Deftone’s new album, Ohms

For fans of Deftone’s White Pony, this is going to be the the sequel for which you’ve been waiting 20 years. The album is so heavy, so deep, and it’s more than evident Chino Moreno recorded his vocals and the band mixed and mastered the album while separated in lockdown. Especially in songs like ‘Pompeji,’ where Moreno sings about our stay-at-home lifestyle with lyrics like “Locked in the core of the tower, I’m patient, In no hurry to leave, Life has been lonely, it might be forever.” 

Ohms is ferocious, and upon repeated listens, punches you in the stomach and asks you to come back for more. We’re accustomed to that feeling at the seven month mark of the pandemic, and I have to admit I’ve listened to this album at least 4x/day for two weeks. It’s bruising, and my Spotify algorithm may never recover. Stream it here

I’m also now about 100 pages into The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff, so if any of you want to read it in the next week or so and do a book club Zoom, let me know. 

Meanwhile, you can back Stålenhag’s latest Kickstarter here, and Tales from the Loop Season 1 is streaming Amazon Prime – complete with a beautiful and haunting Philip Glass soundtrack. And I highly recommend it. Watch here

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Social Pulse, Week of 2-25

I’m loving this Reddit post with a data visualization of when each social media platform was generating its maximum buzz on Google – dating back to 2004 in the Friendster and Myspace days. You’ll see Facebook is lowest and Instagram is highest today.

TikTok’s pitch deck leaked this week, and says its 27m users open the app 8 times a day in the U.S. Did you know the NBA has a team of several employees dedicated to the app and posts five to six videos per day? And despite the growth and buzz, this week TikTok was hit with a record FTC fine for illegally collecting personal information from kids. In response, the company introduced a separate app experience for younger US users in which they “cannot do things like share their videos on TikTok, comment on others’ videos, message with users, or maintain a profile or followers.” And they’ve launched a series of educational videos about Community Guidelines.

Speaking of online safety for kids, YouTube is disabling comments on almost all videos featuring children.

This week Medium CEO and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams  announced that Medium is taking down its paywall for readers that visit the site through Twitter. Free Medium content sounds great, except the move could impact their creator-friendly compensation approach.

Move over puppy dog filter, Instagram’s creators are moving face filter design forward with a less cutesy look and more of a futuristic and experimental art vibe, often covered in gloss.

Patreon is a well-known membership platform that allows content creators to run a subscription content service and get paid for their content. This week Facebook began expanding access to its Patreon-like service, giving more page owners the ability to start offering content to their subscribers for a monthly fee. Early indications is that “Facebook Fan Subscriptions” may not be the best deal — giving Facebook a lifetime license to use their work and the right to take up to a 30 percent of subscription fees.

Twitter’s team has released a new podcast called ‘Character Count’ that gives a window into marketing insights on the platform.

In 1980 the Japanese electronics manufacturer Roland released one of the most important musical instruments of our lifetime, the TR-808. Although it wasn’t the first drum machine, the 808’s signature low end bass and unique sounds came to define hip-hop and influence countless genres and artists – from Marvin Gaye to Run-DMC to Whitney Houston to Kanye to Rihanna. Amazon Prime Video has a fantastic documentary called 808 that tells the amazing backstory of this electronic instrument. Put it in your queue for the weekend binge!

Here’s the trailer!