Aug 12, 2017

Weekend Reads: DuckTales, Star Wars Forevermore, Firefox’s Future, Transhumanism & Religion

Also: Novelists tussle on Twitter, improving Apple’s Safari browser, Facebook and the Church.

DuckTales

If you’ve heard the DuckTales theme, then you know how catchy it is. Chances are, you’ll be humming it for the rest of the day now. Here’s the story of how it was created. “[T]he DuckTales theme also happens to be a superb piece of music. It’s not only a high point of an underrated musical form, but an exquisite miniature pop classic in its own right.”

And speaking of DuckTales, the new reboot is apparently quite good. “Is the 2017 DuckTales as transcendent a piece of animation as, say, Steven Universe or Avatar? No. It’s aimed a very young audience with an added number of references and Easter eggs for the parents who watched the original show to enjoy. But it’s an extremely smart update that knows exactly what to keep and what to change.”

Star Wars Lightsaber Duel

Back in 2015, Wired wrote about Disney’s plans to turn Star Wars into a forever franchise. “The shared universe represents something rare in Hollywood: a new idea. It evolved from the narrative techniques not of auteur or blockbuster films but of comic books and TV, and porting that model over isn’t easy. It needs different kinds of writers and directors and a different way of looking at the structure of storytelling itself. Marvel prototyped the process; Lucasfilm is trying to industrialize it.”

Young adult authors are being subjected to an incredible amount of scrutiny on social media. “Many members of YA Book Twitter have become culture cops, monitoring their peers across multiple platforms for violations. The result is a jumble of dogpiling and dragging, subtweeting and screenshotting, vote-brigading and flagging wars, with accusations of white supremacy on one side and charges of thought-policing moral authoritarianism on the other.”

Firefox

Mozilla has lost a lot of ground over the years but they have very high hopes for Firefox 57, which comes out this November. “[S]enior Mozilla managers gave me an exclusive look at all facets of Mozilla’s recovery effort — everything from frank admissions of Firefox’s recent failures to disclosure of a possible membership plan to make money while flexing its political muscle around issues like encryption and net neutrality.”

John Gruber argues that more people would use Apple’s Safari browser if it displayed favicons in tabs. “I, as a decade-plus-long dedicated Safari user, am jealous of the usability and visual clarity of Chrome with a dozen or more tabs open. And I can see why dedicated Chrome users would consider Safari’s tab design a non-starter to switching.” Make sure to check out the screenshots for clear examples of what he’s talking about.

Facebook Screenshot

In an increasingly non-religious nation, Facebook is offering alternatives to church membership — for better or worse. “Zuckerberg sees what sociologists, pastors, and many of the rest of us have noticed: People are looking outside of the typical affiliations — and outside of the church — for meaning, purpose, and community.”

Many of the most secular and non-religious supporters of artificial intelligence still use a lot of religious language to describe the singularity. “The tech folk who also invoke these metaphors and tropes operate in overtly and almost exclusively secular spaces, where rationality is routinely pitched against religion. But believers in a ‘transhuman’ future — in which AI will allow us to transcend the human condition once and for all — draw constantly on prophetic and end-of-days narratives to understand what they’re striving for.”

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