Hi, welcome to your Weekend!
In a week that witnessed a “Category 5 Kardashian-Jenner hurricane” on Instagram, my colleague Annie offers a timely toolkit to reining in your lackluster social media feeds. I probably spend less time scrolling IG and TikTok than my Gen Z coworkers, but I, too, have been shocked at how misaligned my feeds are lately. That sentiment was shared by our boss Jessica, who recently said something to the effect of, “Who will rid me of these troublesome baking videos? I hate baking videos!”
Turns out, Jessica, the only person who can fix your feed is you. This one-sided relationship with social media does beg the question about who’s really in charge here—the companies or the customers? One wonders why we all seem so content to not only provide monetizable content to Big Tech, but free labor as well. Those adorable animal videos must be really addictive.
Now onto our stories…
Margaux profiles the latest—and maybe last?—unicorn of the NFT bubble. Magic Eden was founded by a crew of opportunistic Aussies after the NFT boom crested in early 2021. Less than a year later, it had become the second-largest NFT marketplace in the world, behind OpenSea. But now, with the values of digital profile pictures rapidly shrinking, what are Magic Eden and other new NFT marketplaces from Coinbase, Reddit and GameStop even fighting for?
We assume our social media feeds know us—but what happens when the content recommenders get us all wrong? This week saw an avalanche of algorithmic angst led by Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian. But what can the average user do about an algorithm gone awry? To learn how to retrain recommendations on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other social sites, Annie sought advice from a few algorithm coaches.
Kate listens to the rumblings down in South Florida, where the last few years of hoopla are running up against harsh realities. “I think it’s now clear that the hype was probably 10 times the substance but the substance was big enough for it to be a turning point,” said one local seed investor. Though some of Miami’s allure has faded with the crypto downturn, there’s no denying the city’s greatest asset, according to super-booster VC Keith Rabois: “I wake up every morning and I’m in paradise.”
An old boss once told Day One Ventures founder Masha Bucher that “he would never invest in any founder who had an uncharged phone because it meant the person is a mess.” She took the advice to heart. Now she runs her $100 million fund almost entirely from her (never depleted) phone—sometimes even leaving her laptop at home when she jets off on work trips. Here, she gives us a peek inside her constant companion.
Watching: A documentary filmed entirely in VR
It’s safe to say we were skeptical of a movie filmed exclusively on VRChat, a virtual reality platform. But Joe Hunting’s new documentary for HBOMax, “We Met In Virtual Reality,” manages to take a kitschy premise and turn it into a heartwarming doc, full of feeling and humanity (despite showing no actual humans). Hunting follows a number of real VRChat users, going past their cartoony, tail-adorned avatars, and digging deep into the ways VR has saved a number of people—from offering a refuge from grief to helping the lonely find love.
Reading: Damien's choice—painting or arson?
In a display of artsy bravado that makes submerging a shark in formaldehyde seem tame by comparison, superstar British artist Damien Hirst plans to incinerate over 4,000 multicolored, polka dot paintings he originally made in 2016. Each of the pictures has a corresponding NFT and Hirst offered the tokens’ owners the chance to trade in the digital item for the physical work. They could have one or the other—the actual painting or the NFT, but not both—with Hirst promising to destroy any unclaimed paintings. He intends to set the works ablaze as part of his London show “The Currency,” the Guardian reports, which opens in September.
Noticing: Will the metaverse kill the video star?
How do you judge coolness in the metaverse? Ask MTV’s Video Music Awards, which will hand out a Best Metaverse Performance trophy at the Aug. 28 awards show. In debuting the new field, the VMAs get to spotlight the biggest names in pop, including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and BTS. But none of the nominated artists really created a virtual music video per se—five of the six simply staged virtual concerts for video games like Fortnite and Roblox. Far from proving the metaverse is cool, the performances mostly underscore a fundamental problem: What’s been hyped as a vibrant, immersive, three-dimensional realm still falls pretty darn flat.
Makes You Think
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.
Weekend Editor, The Information