Can we have slow media?

I deactivated my Facebook last month. Here's what I've been up to.

This newsletter was distributed via Mailchimp on 14 April 2019. The following content was reformatted for Substack.

Photo by your truly. Full series of photos available on Kennedy Magazine.

Since I deactivated my Facebook and decided to start this newsletter, I've been asking myself: What was it about Facebook that made it so hard to leave? How do I retreat back to alternative forms of communication without diluting those which give value to my day-to-day activities?

This newsletter hopes to serve those functions Facebook used to serve for me – to keep in touch, and to share cool movies, music and articles from the Internet and beyond. Each newsletter, sent once every month or two, includes a "theme" that is embodied as a question (see above).

As a journalist paving my way through the complicated world of "content creation," I want to make sure this is a newsletter you would keep reading. My subscriber list includes a small group of friends and acquaintances who either, by the fate of the Facebook algorithm, signed up to my newsletter or I've interacted with via e-mail. So, shoot me a message with your initial thoughts and whether there's anything that could be better.

Without further adieu, here's...

What I’m Reading

How TikTok is Rewriting the World* (The New York Times)

You've probably seen videos from TikTok in your favourite meme page or in the form of targeted advertising. Little is known, though, about the Chinese-owned platform beyond its Y2K demographic, which uses a unique algorithm that's a cross between your familiar self-curated feed and computer-generated inference. "It is constantly learning from you and, over time, builds a presumably complex but opaque model of what you tend to watch, and shows you more of that..."

*I wrote a short commentary on this article on Twitter.

Old, Online, And Fed On Lies: How An Aging Population Will Reshape The Internet (Buzzfeed News)

This illuminating piece examines the digital consumption habits of the Boomer generation, who are seven times more likely to disseminate online fake news than their younger counterparts.  

What I’m Watching

You can follow the movies I've been watching on Letterboxd – a social networking site for sharing opinions and reviews on films.

Pi (1998)

One of the most underrated films by the director of Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky. A mathematician loses his sh*t trying to crack a "pattern" in the stock market. Incredible sound design and cinematography, shot on 16mm Kodak Tri-X Reversal Film 7278.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011)

Director Adam Curtis argues computers have "distorted and simplified our view of the world around us," having failed to "liberate humanity." This episode of the series investigates how cybernetics and systems theory were applied to natural ecosystems, relating to the false idea that there is a balance in nature. 

Ingrid Goes West (2017)

With all this talk about spending too much time on social media, this dark comedy about a rogue Instagram stalker in Los Angeles will leave you unhinged.

What I’m Listening to

Podcast: 'Can you tell if you live in a bubble?' Beyond Today

"It’s often said that we get trapped in online "filter bubbles” or “echo chambers” and that we don't get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. It’s a convincing narrative - but is it true? And how do you know if you live in one?" asks Amol Rajan, Media Editor of the BBC, in this episode of Beyond Today.

Track: 'Papua New Guinea' by The Future Sound of London

Something you'll probably see here time and time again is my love for electronic music. The name of this music is self-explanatory, having pushed the boundaries of the genre by merging influences from ambient techno, trip-hop and acid house. This melodic track from 1992 was way ahead of its time.  

Cultural Learnings is a newsletter written by Sai Villafuerte. You can support it by sharing this post, emailing your thoughts or answering this survey.