1. Tumblr and WordPress.com in deal with OpenAI and Midjourney

It looks like it's getting harder and harder to keep our work (or 'content,' if you must) out of the claws of all the generative AI scraping operations out there. My beloved Automattic, the force behind WordPress where I created all my blogs hitherto, and the parent company for Tumblr since 2019, is talking with Open AI and Midjourney about sharing data.

This can't end well. Private posts and materials like my blogs should be excluded, but it's only a matter of an 'oopsie' to see that stuff end up in the training data as well. And with big tech, it's all too often a matter of asking forgiveness after the fact, instead of permission before.

I am not naive in thinking we can put that genie of generative AI back in the bottle, but I do think it would be nice if we don't assume that everything online is fair game for extraction. If you don't know what I'm talking about, y'all should go read Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.

2. Carl Bovis, nature (bird) photographer

I love Carl's pictures. I bought some digital downloads to use in my slides for teaching, just to have a nice image to start our session. Students liked it enough they even asked 'where is the bird this week?' when I occasionally forgot it!

Carl had built a really nice community on Twitter, and then that site started to go downhill, so he's building a presence in other areas, such as Instagram, Mastodon, or on Kofi –where he also posts longer form messages and pictures for his followers.

Treat yourself to a delightful little break on your social media timeline(s), and give Carl a follow!

3. Early 20th Century India captured on film

Thanks to the brilliant and informative Bollywood episode of 'You're Dead to Me' (erm, totally not biased about this show, which allows me my claim to fame as appearing on BBC Radio 4!), I went hunting for the British Film Institute's collection on India. Professor Sunny Singh mentioned that the Tiktok-like short films are now available in digital format. Read more about the project from the curator Robin Baker. If you're in the UK, you can use the BFI viewer, but those of us outside of Albion will have to do with what's on ye olde Youtube. You'll still find plenty there to see how they Tiktoked back at the start of the previous century!

4. Stuff that's dead

Seth Godin wrote this in 2011, but it's still relevant: 'Bring me stuff that's dead, please'. The current AI and LLM hype obscures the interesting, real contributions those technologies could make. For the moment, there are too many ethical red flags for me (energy consumption, origin of training data, to name but two), but there is a lot of promise if humans can get it right. The shift to generative AI also means that those who stay behind in the realms of human-created images and stories are those who work there because it's worth it to them. They have something to say, they don't do it for the money because they money ran off elsewhere. Let me know what great dead stuff you've come across recently!

Featured image by Alan Levine, "Got links?", CC license. Cropped to size.

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