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Julie Plavnik

Julie Plavnik

1 year ago

Why the Creator Economy needs a Web3 upgrade

More on Society & Culture

Sam Warain

Sam Warain

1 year ago

The Brilliant Idea Behind Kim Kardashian's New Private Equity Fund

Source: Jasper AI

Kim Kardashian created Skky Partners. Consumer products, internet & e-commerce, consumer media, hospitality, and luxury are company targets.

Some call this another Kardashian publicity gimmick.

Source: Comment on WSJ Article

This maneuver is brilliance upon closer inspection. Why?

1) Kim has amassed a sizable social media fan base:

Over 320 million Instagram and 70 million Twitter users follow Kim Kardashian.

Source: Wikipedia, Top Instagram Account Followers

Kim Kardashian's Instagram account ranks 8th. Three Kardashians in top 10 is ridiculous.

This gives her access to consumer data. She knows what people are discussing. Investment firms need this data.

Quality, not quantity, of her followers matters. Studies suggest that her following are more engaged than Selena Gomez and Beyonce's.

Kim's followers are worth roughly $500 million to her brand, according to a research. They trust her and buy what she recommends.

2) She has a special aptitude for identifying trends.

Kim Kardashian can sense trends.

She's always ahead of fashion and beauty trends. She's always trying new things, too. She doesn't mind making mistakes when trying anything new. Her desire to experiment makes her a good business prospector.

Kim has also created a lifestyle brand that followers love. Kim is an entrepreneur, mom, and role model, not just a reality TV star or model. She's established a brand around her appearance, so people want to buy her things.

Her fragrance collection has sold over $100 million since its 2009 introduction, and her Sears apparel line did over $200 million in its first year.

SKIMS is her latest $3.2bn brand. She can establish multibillion-dollar firms with her enormous distribution platform.

Early founders would kill for Kim Kardashian's network.

Making great products is hard, but distribution is more difficult. — David Sacks, All-in-Podcast

3) She can delegate the financial choices to Jay Sammons, one of the greatest in the industry.

Jay Sammons is well-suited to develop Kim Kardashian's new private equity fund.

Sammons has 16 years of consumer investing experience at Carlyle. This will help Kardashian invest in consumer-facing enterprises.

Sammons has invested in Supreme and Beats Electronics, both of which have grown significantly. Sammons' track record and competence make him the obvious choice.

Kim Kardashian and Jay Sammons have joined forces to create a new business endeavor. The agreement will increase Kardashian's commercial empire. Sammons can leverage one of the world's most famous celebrities.

“Together we hope to leverage our complementary expertise to build the next generation consumer and media private equity firm” — Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian is a successful businesswoman. She developed an empire by leveraging social media to connect with fans. By developing a global lifestyle brand, she has sold things and experiences that have made her one of the world's richest celebrities.

She's a shrewd entrepreneur who knows how to maximize on herself and her image.

Imagine how much interest Kim K will bring to private equity and venture capital.

I'm curious about the company's growth.

Frederick M. Hess

Frederick M. Hess

11 months ago

The Lessons of the Last Two Decades for Education Reform

My colleague Ilana Ovental and I examined pandemic media coverage of education at the end of last year. That analysis examined coverage changes. We tracked K-12 topic attention over the previous two decades using Lexis Nexis. See the results here.

I was struck by how cleanly the past two decades can be divided up into three (or three and a half) eras of school reform—a framing that can help us comprehend where we are and how we got here. In a time when epidemic, political unrest, frenetic news cycles, and culture war can make six months seem like a lifetime, it's worth pausing for context.

If you look at the peaks in the above graph, the 21st century looks to be divided into periods. The decade-long rise and fall of No Child Left Behind began during the Bush administration. In a few years, NCLB became the dominant K-12 framework. Advocates and financiers discussed achievement gaps and measured success with AYP.

NCLB collapsed under the weight of rigorous testing, high-stakes accountability, and a race to the bottom by the Obama years. Obama's Race to the Top garnered attention, but its most controversial component, the Common Core State Standards, rose quickly.

Academic standards replaced assessment and accountability. New math, fiction, and standards were hotly debated. Reformers and funders chanted worldwide benchmarking and systems interoperability.

We went from federally driven testing and accountability to government encouraged/subsidized/mandated (pick your verb) reading and math standardization. Last year, Checker Finn and I wrote The End of School Reform? The 2010s populist wave thwarted these objectives. The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Trump/MAGA all attacked established institutions.

Consequently, once the Common Core fell, no alternative program emerged. Instead, school choice—the policy most aligned with populist suspicion of institutional power—reached a half-peak. This was less a case of choice erupting to prominence than of continuous growth in a vacuum. Even with Betsy DeVos' determined, controversial efforts, school choice received only half the media attention that NCLB and Common Core did at their heights.

Recently, culture clash-fueled attention to race-based curriculum and pedagogy has exploded (all playing out under the banner of critical race theory). This third, culture war-driven wave may not last as long as the other waves.

Even though I don't understand it, the move from slow-building policy debate to fast cultural confrontation over two decades is notable. I don't know if it's cyclical or permanent, or if it's about schooling, media, public discourse, or all three.

One final thought: After doing this work for decades, I've noticed how smoothly advocacy groups, associations, and other activists adapt to the zeitgeist. In 2007, mission statements focused on accomplishment disparities. Five years later, they promoted standardization. Language has changed again.

Part of this is unavoidable and healthy. Chasing currents can also make companies look unprincipled, promote scepticism, and keep them spinning the wheel. Bearing in mind that these tides ebb and flow may give educators, leaders, and activists more confidence to hold onto their values and pause when they feel compelled to follow the crowd.

Mike Meyer

Mike Meyer

1 year ago

Reality Distortion

Old power paradigm blocks new planetary paradigm

Photo by Alex Radelich

The difference between our reality and the media's reality is like a tale of two worlds. The greatest and worst of times, really.

Expanding information demands complex skills and understanding to separate important information from ignorance and crap. And that's just the start of determining the source's aim.

Trust who? We see people trust liars in public and then be destroyed by their decisions. Mistakes may be devastating.

Many give up and don't trust anyone. Reality is a choice, though. Same risks.

We must separate our needs and wants from reality. Needs and wants have rules. Greed and selfishness create an unlivable planet.

Culturally, we know this, but we ignore it as foolish. Selfish and greedy people obtain what they want, while others suffer.

We invade, plunder, rape, and burn. We establish civilizations by institutionalizing an exploitable underclass and denying its existence. These cultural lies promote greed and selfishness despite their destructiveness.

Controlling parts of society institutionalize these lies as fact. Many of each age are willing to gamble on greed because they were taught to see greed and selfishness as principles justified by prosperity.

Our cultural understanding recognizes the long-term benefits of collaboration and sharing. This older understanding generates an increasing tension between greedy people and those who see its planetary effects.

Survival requires distinguishing between global and regional realities. Simple, yet many can't do it. This is the first time human greed has had a global impact.

In the past, conflict stories focused on regional winners and losers. Losers lose, winners win, etc. Powerful people see potential decades of nuclear devastation as local, overblown, and not personally dangerous.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was a human choice that required people to acquiesce to irrational devastation. This prevented nuclear destruction. Most would refuse.

A dangerous “solution” relies on nuclear trigger-pullers not acting irrationally. Since then, we've collected case studies of sane people performing crazy things in experiments. We've been lucky, but the climate apocalypse could be different.

Climate disaster requires only continuing current behavior. These actions already cause global harm, but that's not a threat. These activities must be viewed differently.

Once grasped, denying planetary facts is hard to accept. Deniers can't think beyond regional power. Seeing planet-scale is unusual.

Decades of indoctrination defining any planetary perspective as un-American implies communal planetary assets are for plundering. The old paradigm limits any other view.

In the same way, the new paradigm sees the old regional power paradigm as a threat to planetary civilization and lifeforms. Insane!

While MAD relied on leaders not acting stupidly to trigger a nuclear holocaust, the delayed climatic holocaust needs correcting centuries of lunacy. We must stop allowing craziness in global leadership.

Nothing in our acknowledged past provides a paradigm for such. Only primitive people have failed to reach our level of sophistication.

Before European colonization, certain North American cultures built sophisticated regional nations but abandoned them owing to authoritarian cruelty and destruction. They were overrun by societies that saw no wrong in perpetual exploitation. David Graeber's The Dawn of Everything is an example of historical rediscovery, which is now crucial.

From the new paradigm's perspective, the old paradigm is irrational, yet it's too easy to see those in it as ignorant or malicious, if not both. These people are both, but the collapsing paradigm they promote is older or more ingrained than we think.

We can't shift that paradigm's view of a dead world. We must eliminate this mindset from our nations' leadership. No other way will preserve the earth.

Change is occurring. As always with tremendous transition, younger people are building the new paradigm.

The old paradigm's disintegration is insane. The ability to detect errors and abandon their sources is more important than age. This is gaining recognition.

The breakdown of the previous paradigm is not due to senile leadership, but to systemic problems that the current, conservative leadership cannot recognize.

Stop following the old paradigm.

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Boris Müller

Boris Müller

1 year ago

Why Do Websites Have the Same Design?

My kids redesigned the internet because it lacks inventiveness.

Internet today is bland. Everything is generic: fonts, layouts, pages, and visual language. Microtypography is messy.

Web design today seems dictated by technical and ideological constraints rather than creativity and ideas. Text and graphics are in containers on every page. All design is assumed.

Ironically, web technologies can design a lot. We can execute most designs. We make shocking, evocative websites. Experimental typography, generating graphics, and interactive experiences are possible.

Even designer websites use containers in containers. Dribbble and Behance, the two most popular creative websites, are boring. Lead image.

Dribbble versus Behance. Can you spot the difference? Thanks to David Rehman for pointing this out to me. All screenshots: Boris Müller

How did this happen?

Several reasons. WordPress and other blogging platforms use templates. These frameworks build web pages by combining graphics, headlines, body content, and videos. Not designs, templates. These rules combine related data types. These platforms don't let users customize pages beyond the template. You filled the template.

Templates are content-neutral. Thus, the issue.

Form should reflect and shape content, which is a design principle. Separating them produces content containers. Templates have no design value.

One of the fundamental principles of design is a deep and meaningful connection between form and content.

Web design lacks imagination for many reasons. Most are pragmatic and economic. Page design takes time. Large websites lack the resources to create a page from scratch due to the speed of internet news and the frequency of new items. HTML, JavaScript, and CSS continue to challenge web designers. Web design can't match desktop publishing's straightforward operations.

Designers may also be lazy. Mobile-first, generic, framework-driven development tends to ignore web page visual and contextual integrity.

How can we overcome this? How might expressive and avant-garde websites look today?

Rediscovering the past helps design the future.

'90s-era web design

At the University of the Arts Bremen's research and development group, I created my first website 23 years ago. Web design was trendy. Young web. Pages inspired me.

We struggled with HTML in the mid-1990s. Arial, Times, and Verdana were the only web-safe fonts. Anything exciting required table layouts, monospaced fonts, or GIFs. HTML was originally content-driven, thus we had to work against it to create a page.

Experimental typography was booming. Designers challenged the established quo from Jan Tschichold's Die Neue Typographie in the twenties to April Greiman's computer-driven layouts in the eighties. By the mid-1990s, an uncommon confluence of technological and cultural breakthroughs enabled radical graphic design. Irma Boom, David Carson, Paula Scher, Neville Brody, and others showed it.

Early web pages were dull compared to graphic design's aesthetic explosion. The Web Design Museum shows this.

Nobody knew how to conduct browser-based graphic design. Web page design was undefined. No standards. No CMS (nearly), CSS, JS, video, animation.

Now is as good a time as any to challenge the internet’s visual conformity.

In 2018, everything is browser-based. Massive layouts to micro-typography, animation, and video. How do we use these great possibilities? Containerized containers. JavaScript-contaminated mobile-first pages. Visually uniform templates. Web design 23 years later would disappoint my younger self.

Our imagination, not technology, restricts web design. We're too conformist to aesthetics, economics, and expectations.

Crisis generates opportunity. Challenge online visual conformity now. I'm too old and bourgeois to develop a radical, experimental, and cutting-edge website. I can ask my students.

I taught web design at the Potsdam Interface Design Programme in 2017. Each team has to redesign a website. Create expressive, inventive visual experiences on the browser. Create with contemporary web technologies. Avoid usability, readability, and flexibility concerns. Act. Ignore Erwartungskonformität.

The class outcome pleased me. This overview page shows all results. Four diverse projects address the challenge.

1. ZKM by Frederic Haase and Jonas Köpfer

ZKM’s redesign

Frederic and Jonas began their experiments on the ZKM website. The ZKM is Germany's leading media art exhibition location, but its website remains conventional. It's useful but not avant-garde like the shows' art.

Frederic and Jonas designed the ZKM site's concept, aesthetic language, and technical configuration to reflect the museum's progressive approach. A generative design engine generates new layouts for each page load.

ZKM redesign.

2. Streem by Daria Thies, Bela Kurek, and Lucas Vogel

Streem’s redesign

Street art magazine Streem. It promotes new artists and societal topics. Streem includes artwork, painting, photography, design, writing, and journalism. Daria, Bela, and Lucas used these influences to develop a conceptual metropolis. They designed four neighborhoods to reflect magazine sections for their prototype. For a legible city, they use powerful illustrative styles and spatial typography.

Streem makeover.

3. Medium by Amelie Kirchmeyer and Fabian Schultz

Medium’s redesign

Amelie and Fabian structured. Instead of developing a form for a tale, they dissolved a web page into semantic, syntactical, and statistical aspects. HTML's flexibility was their goal. They broke Medium posts into experimental typographic space.

Medium revamp.

4. Hacker News by Fabian Dinklage and Florian Zia

Hacker News redesign

Florian and Fabian made Hacker News interactive. The social networking site aggregates computer science and IT news. Its voting and debate features are extensive despite its simple style. Fabian and Florian transformed the structure into a typographic timeline and network area. News and comments sequence and connect the visuals. To read Hacker News, they connected their design to the API. Hacker News makeover.

Communication is not legibility, said Carson. Apply this to web design today. Modern websites must be legible, usable, responsive, and accessible. They shouldn't limit its visual palette. Visual and human-centered design are not stereotypes.

I want radical, generative, evocative, insightful, adequate, content-specific, and intelligent site design. I want to rediscover web design experimentation. More surprises please. I hope the web will appear different in 23 years.

Update: this essay has sparked a lively discussion! I wrote a brief response to the debate's most common points: Creativity vs. Usability

Micah Daigle

Micah Daigle

1 year ago

Facebook is going away. Here are two explanations for why it hasn't been replaced yet.

And tips for anyone trying.

We see the same story every few years.

BREAKING NEWS: [Platform X] launched a social network. With Facebook's reputation down, the new startup bets millions will switch.

Despite the excitement surrounding each new platform (Diaspora, Ello, Path, MeWe, Minds, Vero, etc.), no major exodus occurred.

Snapchat and TikTok attracted teens with fresh experiences (ephemeral messaging and rapid-fire videos). These features aren't Facebook, even if Facebook replicated them.

Facebook's core is simple: you publish items (typically text/images) and your friends (generally people you know IRL) can discuss them.

It's cool. Sometimes I don't want to, but sh*t. I like it.

Because, well, I like many folks I've met. I enjoy keeping in touch with them and their banter.

I dislike Facebook's corporation. I've been cautiously optimistic whenever a Facebook-killer surfaced.

None succeeded.

Why? Two causes, I think:

People couldn't switch quickly enough, which is reason #1

Your buddies make a social network social.

Facebook started in self-contained communities (college campuses) then grew outward. But a new platform can't.

If we're expected to leave Facebook, we want to know that most of our friends will too.

Most Facebook-killers had bottlenecks. You have to waitlist or jump through hoops (e.g. setting up a server).

Same outcome. Upload. Chirp.

After a week or two of silence, individuals returned to Facebook.

Reason #2: The fundamental experience was different.

Even when many of our friends joined in the first few weeks, it wasn't the same.

There were missing features or a different UX.

Want to reply with a meme? No photos in comments yet. (Trying!)

Want to tag a friend? Nope, sorry. 2019!

Want your friends to see your post? You must post to all your friends' servers. Good luck!

It's difficult to introduce a platform with 100% of the same features as one that's been there for 20 years, yet customers want a core experience.

If you can't, they'll depart.

The causes that led to the causes

Having worked on software teams for 14+ years, I'm not surprised by these challenges. They are a natural development of a few tech sector meta-problems:

Lean startup methodology

Silicon Valley worships lean startup. It's a way of developing software that involves testing a stripped-down version with a limited number of people before selecting what to build.

Billion people use Facebook's functions. They aren't tested. It must work right away*

*This may seem weird to software people, but it's how non-software works! You can't sell a car without wheels.

2. Creativity

Startup entrepreneurs build new things, not copies. I understand. Reinventing the wheel is boring.

We know what works. Different experiences raise adoption friction. Once millions have transferred, more features (and a friendlier UX) can be implemented.

3. Cost scaling

True. Building a product that can sustain hundreds of millions of users in weeks is expensive and complex.

Your lifeboats must have the same capacity as the ship you're evacuating. It's required.

4. Pure ideologies

People who work on Facebook-alternatives are (understandably) critical of Facebook.

They build an open-source, fully-distributed, data-portable, interface-customizable, offline-capable, censorship-proof platform.

Prioritizing these aims can prevent replicating the straightforward experience users expect. Github, not Facebook, is for techies only.

What about the business plan, though?

Facebook-killer attempts have followed three models.

  1. Utilize VC funding to increase your user base, then monetize them later. (If you do this, you won't kill Facebook; instead, Facebook will become you.)

  2. Users must pay to utilize it. (This causes a huge bottleneck and slows the required quick expansion, preventing it from seeming like a true social network.)

  3. Make it a volunteer-run, open-source endeavor that is free. (This typically denotes that something is cumbersome, difficult to operate, and is only for techies.)

Wikipedia is a fourth way.

Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites and a charity. No ads. Donations support them.

A Facebook-killer managed by a good team may gather millions (from affluent contributors and the crowd) for their initial phase of development. Then it might sustain on regular donations, ethical transactions (e.g. fees on commerce, business sites, etc.), and government grants/subsidies (since it would essentially be a public utility).

When you're not aiming to make investors rich, it's remarkable how little money you need.

If you want to build a Facebook competitor, follow these tips:

  1. Drop the lean startup philosophy. Wait until you have a finished product before launching. Build it, thoroughly test it for bugs, and then release it.

  2. Delay innovating. Wait till millions of people have switched before introducing your great new features. Make it nearly identical for now.

  3. Spend money climbing. Make sure that guests can arrive as soon as they are invited. Never keep them waiting. Make things easy for them.

  4. Make it accessible to all. Even if doing so renders it less philosophically pure, it shouldn't require technical expertise to utilize.

  5. Constitute a nonprofit. Additionally, develop community ownership structures. Profit maximization is not the only strategy for preserving valued assets.

Last thoughts

Nobody has killed Facebook, but Facebook is killing itself.

The startup is burying the newsfeed to become a TikTok clone. Meta itself seems to be ditching the platform for the metaverse.

I wish I was happy, but I'm not. I miss (understandably) removed friends' postings and remarks. It could be a ghost town in a few years. My dance moves aren't TikTok-worthy.

Who will lead? It's time to develop a social network for the people.

Greetings if you're working on it. I'm not a company founder, but I like to help hard-working folks.

Luke Plunkett

Luke Plunkett

1 year ago

Gran Turismo 7 Update Eases Up On The Grind After Fan Outrage

Polyphony Digital has changed the game after apologizing in March.

To make amends for some disastrous downtime, Gran Turismo 7 director Kazunori Yamauchi announced a credits handout and promised to “dramatically change GT7's car economy to help make amends” last month. The first of these has arrived.

The game's 1.11 update includes the following concessions to players frustrated by the economy and its subsequent grind:

  • The last half of the World Circuits events have increased in-game credit rewards.

  • Modified Arcade and Custom Race rewards

  • Clearing all circuit layouts with Gold or Bronze now rewards In-game Credits. Exiting the Sector selection screen with the Exit button will award Credits if an event has already been cleared.

  • Increased Credits Rewards in Lobby and Daily Races

  • Increased the free in-game Credits cap from 20,000,000 to 100,000,000.

Additionally, “The Human Comedy” missions are one-hour endurance races that award “up to 1,200,000” credits per event.

This isn't everything Yamauchi promised last month; he said it would take several patches and updates to fully implement the changes. Here's a list of everything he said would happen, some of which have already happened (like the World Cup rewards and credit cap):

  • Increase rewards in the latter half of the World Circuits by roughly 100%.
  • Added high rewards for all Gold/Bronze results clearing the Circuit Experience.
  • Online Races rewards increase.
  • Add 8 new 1-hour Endurance Race events to Missions. So expect higher rewards.
  • Increase the non-paid credit limit in player wallets from 20M to 100M.
  • Expand the number of Used and Legend cars available at any time.
  • With time, we will increase the payout value of limited time rewards.
  • New World Circuit events.
  • Missions now include 24-hour endurance races.
  • Online Time Trials added, with rewards based on the player's time difference from the leader.
  • Make cars sellable.

The full list of updates and changes can be found here.

Read the original post.