Categories
Pop Culture Technology

Facebook’s GIPHY Acquisition is Evil Genius

I’ve seen a decent amount of bewilderment as to why Facebook would spend $400, 000 on an acquisition of GIPHY.

Honestly, I find it surprising that so many people would be confused by this because truthfully, it’s a brilliant strategic move.

To understand why, one only needs to look at all the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons that litter the web currently.

Even when you’re not using Facebook, every ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ button on the web uses browser cookies, IP addresses, and a host of other methods to track your behavior. These embedded pixels monitor almost your entire browsing experience and report it back to Facebook, who then uses it to profile you to better target ads at you.

But as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself has pointed out:

“I believe the future is private,”

https://www.wired.com/story/f8-zuckerberg-future-is-private/

This is remarkably prescient and brilliant positioning. Because from a PR perspective, it makes it seem like Facebook is moving towards caring about privacy, when that is not really what he means at all.

In the last few years, we have seen the rise of tools like Slack and Discord to communicate and organize. These are perceived as “private” communities to users. And they represent a challenge for Facebook because our behavior in them is cut off from their data mining.

For Zuckerberg, “the future is private” is a challenge the company faces, not a business opportunity. Facebook’s continued growth requires a way to peer into our private communities.

So how do you find a way to track things that go on inside those walled gardens?

Same way you would the web: Tracking pixels.

And who has a large market share of image files embedded in closed chat conversations and “private” communities?

GIPHY.

Categories
Chicago Design Pop Culture

‘Baseball’s Dad’ & Infrequent Somethings

Hey Friends,

After the success of the calendar and the poster I’ve started a mailing list for you to get updates about my creative projects. I sent out the first email a little earlier to everyone who signed up for the previous two items and I announced a third which is now on sale. You can read about it below.

If you’re interested in signing up to receive the email I’ve embedded a form to the bottom of this post. I promise only to message you when I’ve got something to say and I promise never to share your info with anyone without your explicit consent. Cheers!


So, yesterday was of course ‘Opening Day’ of the baseball season and it was also the launch day of an exciting project I worked on with my friends Erin Watson and NickD. Erin describes it here to her poetry mailing list:

It’s not exactly a poem, but I’m delighted to present a new zine I created with the design help of my loving partner, my friend John Morrison, and my very dumbassed private Twitter account. It is an extended meditation on the dad zeitgeist and baseball as storytelling through the persona of Baseball’s Dad, an ur-father-figure loosely based on Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon.
The one poetic aspect of Baseball’s Dad as a project, aside from the repetition of the structure, was choosing exactly what detail would be the most dadlike for each scenario. What song would Baseball’s Dad play to accompany his snifter of good scotch when his handsome baseball sons clinched their spot in the World Series? “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, of course. What cereal would Baseball’s Dad eat straight out of the box in his underwear one late night? Certainly Golden Grahams. It could be no other.
And because I care more about people than baseball franchises, I’m donating half the proceeds from the zine to two Chicago-based organizations that are making the world a little safer for some of the people whose lives are most threatened in our current political hellhole. Check out the great work that 
Brave Space Alliance and CAIR Chicago are doing.
You can buy your copy of the Baseball’s Dad zine right here, or save on shipping and pick it up at Uncharted Books or Quimby’s if you’re local. Or you can wait six weeks and get it at the Left The Prairie table at one of our most wonderful annual events for people who care about independent literature and art, Chicago Zine Fest. (Say hi to me at the Chicago Books to Women in Prison table if you go.)
Happy opening day of baseball to Baseball’s Dad and to you. Enjoy the springtime; reply with any and everything that’s on your mind.

I designed the cover and hand screen printed each of them myself so each one is unique. If you’re interested you should pick one up through Erin’s store. I’m very proud of it and it supports some great causes.

A table covered in screen printed covers to 'Baseball's Dad.'

That’s all for now friend. Go forth and be awesome.
– John

Categories
Chicago Design Pop Culture

‘Be Alert For Fascist Regimes!’ limited edition poster

Be Alert For Fascist Regimes Wrigley Field Parody Poster

This morning I printed up a small number of proofing posters parodying the iconic Wrigley Field ‘Be Alert for Foul Balls!’ signs and will be giving some out for free to on a first come, first serve basis.

If you like the Cubs but you’re not a fan of divisive rhetoric and authoritarian politics I’d be happy to send you one.

Interested? Fill out the form at the link below and I’ll be in touch.

https://subism.activehosted.com/f/2

Cheers!

Categories
General Pop Culture

Regarding Chris Cornell

I had the chance to see Audioslave live in concert right after their first album was released. They were incredible.

I can’t say I was ever the biggest Soundgarden fan, but ‘Blackhole Sun,’ ‘Spoonman,’ ‘Ty Cobb,’ and ‘Rusty Cage’ are all songs I’ve LOVED at different points. The Johnny Cash cover of ‘Rusty Cage’ is perhaps one of the most underrated tracks of the American Recordings sessions with Rick Rubin. Looking through their catalog today, I was taken aback by really how much of it I knew and loved already.

I can’t say I ever knew all that much about Chris Cornell. I never really felt the need to make a point to. That said, I always admired his talent and passion. His artistry, his craft, and his ability to capture emotion both lyrically and aurally.

I can’t help but think of my friend Matt Ryd at times like these. Matt was a good friend and a talented musician. Unfortunately, we lost him to suicide a few years ago as well. I feel like he’d have a lot of say on this topic.

I’ve seen people on Twitter say, “Chris somehow didn’t know how much people loved him.” And while I appreciate the sentiment, that irks me.

We don’t know Chris’s struggle, but I do know that depression is a cruel master. Yes, support and love and care can help, definitely, but it’s not that simple. Matt always used to say that he couldn’t kill himself because he couldn’t do that to the people who loved him. He knew he was loved, and yet, here we are.  The whole world can love you, and you can still hate yourself or face crippling anxiety. Many “normal” people do.

This moment, while we mourn Chris, it isn’t just an opportunity to share the suicide hotline number (1-800-273-8255). That is good, that does help, but we should talk about mental illness in the open.

We need to stop stigmatizing it. We need to treat it as any other illness. As my friend Katherine put it:

Yeah, it’s like saying someone who died of cancer didn’t know how loved they were. It doesn’t have a direct correlation to the disease.

We can start de-stigmatizing by stopping using terms like “crazy” and “psycho” offhandedly to dismiss things we disagree with. And more importantly, those of us who can need to start talking about our own struggles. Not for attention or pity, but to normalize it, to remove the shame for others.

That said:

I suffer from anxiety, and it has fucked up my life pretty hard at times. I used to have full-blown panic attacks and shut down. They are less common now, but it’s taken a lot of work for me to get here, and I still have a lot of work to do.

One of the biggest things that has helped has been talking about it. In talking to friends about it, I’ve had more and more people tell me about their own struggles.

That’s the key:

You are not alone. There is no “normal.” Even the most “together” people in the world have stuff they suffer from. They just hide it because of fear or shame and the stigma associated.

We need to defeat that stigma.

This is literally a matter of life and death for someone you love.

Speak up.

Thanks.

Categories
Chicago General Pop Culture

‘The FeverTones’ – ‘Phantom Dreams’ Music Video

A few months ago, I did some background extra work in a music video for my friend Sarah Snow’s band ‘The FeverTones.’ Today they released that video. It’s for their track ‘Phantom Dreams,’ and not only does the video look amazing, but the song is a heck of a jam.

Check out the video below.

The video was shot at ‘Uptown Arcade‘ here in Chicago which is a pretty cool venue with tons of free-play arcade games and a healthy selection of whiskey. Definitely worth a visit some time.