To help you navigate what’s happening in the internet universe, we bring you Limelight – a monthly column from our friends at the creative studio, Day light.
Five weeks to Christmas and the internet still isn’t giving up its chaos.
Apart from all the anti-Semitism Ye (Kanye) losing a billion dollars in one day dystopian drama, celebrities dressing like other celebrities all Halloween, Elon is just doing his usual creepy thing and the viral meme costume pack no one was safe, here is what has been happening on the internet lately:
Deep 90s nostalgia
A trend we affectionately call “Dawson’s Creek Chic”, this one begs the question lately… are we all living in a perpetual episode of Friends/Charmed/Aaliyah music video?
From the rebirth of earphones with chords and Windows 95 Cursor Effects point and shoot camerastiny handbags and the wave of touring 90s banger bands (Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada, Fatboy Slim), for anyone living in that era, walking down a main street right now felt like a deep dive in a time that we never thought we would return to.
Trends have always run in period cycles, but this latest trend towards low-rise jeans, the Ashley Tisdale at the Teen Choice Awards Aestheticsand the huge resurgence of ecstasy-grunge-club-era music reflects a collective rebound to simpler times before the invention of Bebo, Life on Mars was a Bowie song and not an Elon Musk-directed hellscape .
With most of the world borders lifted and people living with the feeling of… reviving, concerts are back with a vengeance. But what comes with it is the revelation that the musicians are actually make more money from merchandising than from selling records or touring.
Not to mention the fact that 100,000 songs are being dropped on Spotify a day, which is slowly turning the music streaming app into YouTube (as YouTube tries to be more like Spotify), and the industry is collectively gearing up to Artificial intelligence to flood it with a single warm rhythm.
Great dark tech
The post-pandemic boom is truly over for Big Tech (think Microsoft, Alphabet, Snap, Meta, Amazon), with many reported revenue declines, which should keep falling.
Forbes economist Morgan Stanley thinks the S&P 500 could fall another 10-20% this year after having already fallen to 20%. But what does this mean for a simple smartphone owner who doesn’t want to go into space? With over 100,000 jobs lost in tech layoffs this year alone, expect less R&D and buzzing new features and more upgrades on existing software, bug fixes and fragmented platforms to develop in the wake of Twitter’s recent crisis.
Think back to the golden days when Instagram was just a humble app for photos and not central to how we document our lives.
Enter TikTok. In a recent newsletter, a media company The party of the future wrote about the pressure put on record labels to have their songs go viral on the platform in order to have a chance at success. Journalists are being pushed to tokify their stories in 60-second reels, and there’s even been a trend towards self-diagnosis via the platform. If Zoomers get not only their news but also their medical advice via an app, it begs the question… who is going to pay for mainstream media – or anything else – in the years to come?
This space is changing rapidly, and it’s somewhat scary to predict where artificial intelligence will be in six months.
Recently, AI has graduated from controversial graphic design tools like Steady broadcast to web plug-ins like Draw anyone. Users submit 5-10 selfies and get a range of artificially constructed portraits in different visual presets to choose from (Psychedelic? Painter? Hotter than Reality? Dealer Pick). Its likeness and ability to mimic artistic styles and intimate details shows just how advanced and technical (and… terrifying) development in this space is becoming.
Instagram has been getting angry lately because large-scale influencers have been asking their fans to join them on new platforms like Geneva, Communities and Discord because it’s easier for them to communicate privately with groups, share “exclusive content” and, of course, earn money.
In a knee-jerk reaction, it launched a myriad of different products that continue to make their way to the mainstream, like subscriptions, badges for superfans (yawn), and a feature called Group Profiles that essentially mimics Discord. Take-out? Fandom has never been such a great way to quit your day job and make some money from your content.
The power of the pod
This American Life spin-off podcast Serial, which launched in 2014, took the world by storm with its 12-part investigation into the 1999 murder of a Baltimore teenager and created a whole subsection of true crime groups we didn’t know were we desperately needed.
Fast forward nearly eight years later, and this year alone, the subjects of Serial (Adnan Syed), The teacher’s pet (Chris Dawson), and Your own garden (Paul Flores) have all been exonerated or convicted in the past two months. What does this tell us? The power and necessity of independent media and investigative journalism is immense, essential and should never be underestimated.