Showing all posts tagged: humour

You don’t get 100,000,000 followers without telling a few stories

15 August 2023

After reading Move fast and beat Musk: The inside story of how Meta built Threads, by Naomi Nix and Will Oremus of The Washington Post, I’m certain the story behind the launch of Meta’s rival to Twitter, Threads, is ripe for adaptation to the big screen.

In exactly the same way The Accidental Billionaires, the 2009 book by American author Ben Mezrich, about the founding of Facebook, spawned the 2010 David Fincher made movie, The Social Network.

All the ingredients of a thriller-like race against time are there. Trust me. So here I am, calling action.

First, opportunity presents itself:

The mercurial Musk had just taken over Twitter. Amid the ensuing chaos, [head of Instagram Adam] Mosseri’s boss at rival Meta smelled opportunity.

Next there are senior Meta executives on family holidays in Europe, taking breathless phone calls from their boss in the middle of the night:

It was nighttime in Italy, and Mosseri spoke softly to avoid waking his sleeping wife. The group discussed Twitter-like features they could add to existing apps, including Instagram.

What? Enhance an existing app to make it look like something it isn’t? Are you for real? No, the boss wants to land the legendary three-thousand pound marlin here:

Zuckerberg, however, had a different idea: “What if we went bigger?”

Now that exact requirements are understood, and the enormity of the task at hand can be seen in the cold light of day, the inevitable panic begins to set in:

“Oh God, we’ve got to figure this out, because [Zuckerberg is] very excited about this,” Mosseri recalled thinking. “Sometimes you can tell when he kind of gets his teeth into something.”

The last thing, of course, you want to do is disappoint the boss. But you know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough get going:

With a mandate from Zuckerberg to take a big risk, Mosseri assembled a lean, engineer-heavy team of fewer than 60 people to hack together a bare-bones app on a breakneck timetable more reminiscent of a start-up than an entrenched tech giant.

That paragraph sounds like it packs a punch, but a sixty person team is hardly “reminiscent of a start-up”. Instagram, which Threads is built upon, was, at the beginning, the work of two people, Michel Krieger and Kevin Systrom. But who cares? This is the movies, and all audiences want is a great story.

And size of the development team notwithstanding, there were challengers aplenty. Mainly what product features not to include, rather than what to ship:

To keep things moving, the Threads team punted thorny decisions and eschewed difficult features, including private messages and the ability to search for content or view the feeds of people you don’t follow.

But the clock is ticking. No one knows when the competitor — he who must not be named — might snatch back possession of the ball, and wrest the game away from the team we’re barracking for. But (naturally) such fears prove to be unfounded:

That night, a “core group” worked together at Meta headquarters while Mosseri and other team members chatted on an internal messaging forum, watching the sign-ups pour in. Mosseri recalled astonished team members asking, “Are we sure about these numbers? Can someone double-check that the logging isn’t messed up?”

And there we have it, the happy ending. One hundred million app signups. But wait, how can you call ever declining engagement, and plummeting time spent on the platform, a happy ending? Of course you can’t, but don’t you see where this is going? Wait for it. Wait for it. To a sequel, of course.

Watch this space, you will not be disappointed.


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Legal Lullabies: find hidden TOS sleep inducing algorithms

4 August 2023

How many hours of sleep are lost, each night, across the world, to the likes of Facebook, TikTok, Twitter/X, Instagram, and (maybe) Threads? Too many to count, I’m guessing.

But there may be a panacea, by way of, ironically, the same tech companies who developed these sleep depriving products. Legal Lullabies (how about that domain name, hey?), from the TLDR-Institute (The Lazy Data Research Institute), takes the terms of service (TOS) of tech companies and converts them to a sleep inducing lullaby. Reading lengthy TOS sends me to sleep, during the middle of day, when I’m wide awake, so they’d surely work a treat late at night.



Announcing the winner of the 2023 Lyttle Lytton Contest

24 July 2023

Last month the winners of the Lyttle Lytton Contest were announced. The Lyttle Lytton is a literary prize, but not of the usual variety. Instead of celebrating the good or excellent, Lyttle Lytton honours the worst of the worst. In this case bad, or terrible, would-be opening sentences from novels that will likewise turn out to be awful. The lines are not taken from actual published works though, instead they are devised by contest participants vying to write the best bad sentence they can think of.


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What to do when no one likes the quirky links that you curate

11 July 2023

Well this wasn’t part of the plan. Imagine you’ve set yourself up as the editor of a (possibly informal) email newsletter featuring (what you consider to be) interesting, funny, and quirky links.

Except no one you send the newsletter to (possibly whether they wish to receive it or not) seems to find anything you’ve compiled to be the least bit amusing. Welcome to the world of online (sort of) publishing. The only consolation (maybe) is no one can unsubscribe.

But stick with it I say, you never know when you might strike a chord with someone one day.


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Are you a movie buff, or a Buzzfeed movie buff?

30 April 2023

According to Buzzfeed, if you’ve seen the following fourteen movies, you’re a movie buff:

Methinks a number of movies, one in particular, have been omitted from this list…



Amelie was a KGB spy says filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet

22 March 2023

Twenty-one years after he made Amélie, full title The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain, starring Audrey Tautou, the film’s director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has revealed Amélie was actually a KGB spy. He makes the startling admission in a short film, Amelie: the Real Story, which uses scenes from the original 2001 made feature. A master of cunning, our Amélie, but we all knew that.

Did no one ever wonder how a young waitress afforded such sophisticated decoration for a flat in Montmartre, one of Paris’ most expensive districts?

You know, I did wonder, because I wanted to live in apartment exactly like Amélie’s.


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What if 2001: A Space Odyssey was directed by George Lucas?

4 February 2023

Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey is remixed with George Lucas’ 1977 space opera Star Wars, by YouTuber Poakwoods, and this is the result.

Truly awesome.

Also, it seems hard to believe from the third decade of the twenty-first century that less than ten years separate 2001: A Space Odyssey and the first Star Wars film.


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The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for awful novel opening lines

18 December 2022

Not a literary award at all, more of an anti-literary award really, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC), which has been running since its inception at San Jose State University in 1982. But unlike the literary awards we are more familiar with, the Bulwer-Lytton recognises terrible writing, and envisages the worst possible opening sentences to what will be awful novels.

Joe Tussey, from Daniels, in the U.S. state of West Virginia, was named winner in the 2022 adventure category, for this opener:

“Hoist the mainsail ye accursed swine” shouted the Captain over the roar of the waves as the ship was tossed like a cork dropped from a wine bottle into a jacuzzi when the faucet is wide open and the jets are running full blast and one has just settled into the water with a glass of red wine to ease the aches and pains after a day of hard labor raking leaves from the front yard.

The BLFC accepts nominations, the usual categories, including fiction, crime, and young adult, in the form of the worst paragraph you can devise, all through the year.


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A guide to your spooky season Michael Myers-Briggs Type

17 October 2022

Arms wrapped around trees trunks, spooky, photo by Simon Wijers

Image courtesy of Simon Wijers.

Hot off the desk of writer, actor, and comedian Simon Henriques. Understanding your Michael Myers-Briggs Type is never more important than during spooky season:

It’s important to keep in mind that no Michael Myers-Briggs Type is the “correct” one — every style of silent, masked stabbing spree is equally valid. Instead, use your type as a jumping-off point to honestly reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, as well as just your personal preferences for how you enjoy to ruthlessly murder.


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Bicycles and the damage they have caused by Paul Fairie

29 August 2022

Paul Fairie, a researcher at the University of Calgary, and humourist, has, based upon clippings from vintage newspapers, concluded that bicycles are responsible for all sorts of problems:

  • A decline in marriages
  • A decline in book sales
  • Appendicitis
  • A decline in furniture sales
  • An increase in the number of women smokers
  • A decline in grain consumption
  • The closure of a Christian society (so now we know…)
  • The decline in trans-Atlantic travel
  • A condition referred to as “bicycle face”

Bicycle face, in case you’re curious, is described as being “the sentimental side of that tired feeling”. It possibly also applies to cyclists riding on a footpath (especially when a dedicated bike lane runs adjacent to the same road), who look passed pedestrians as though they are invisible.


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