I've been reducing my social media and general online life consumption recently. I'm sometimes reading actual books, sometimes on paper!
That said, I still need to keep up with what's going on, so I continue to check my RSS feeds and some curated follows on Mastodon, as well as occasional dips in to the latest algorithmic timeline offerings from Threads.
This morning Mastodon brought up a link to an article with a headline that has perhaps the densest collection of trash terms I've seen in one place. Besides "on", "is", and "by" everything else in this is terrible:
Crypto botnet on X is powered by ChatGPT
The article itself is quite informative, actually, though not particularly surprising. That headline though! Let's take it word by word:
- Crypto is down from last year's peak hype, leaving it mostly to hucksters and charlatans and criminals - like these people.
- botnet a collection of automated accounts, used to game online services for things like pump-and-dump schemes. Elon Musk made many claims about clearing out all the bots during his purchase of Twitter last year and, predictably, has generally made the problem worse.
- X is the new name for what used to be Twitter. I spent over a decade building up a community and an online home and a really solid set of curated news feeds there, but I only go there now to post links to this blog. Elon has ruined a once great place. That said, I'm feeling like my life is better for it in the end. Whenever I do pop back in there, it feels a bit like coming back to my home town after a year away at school: the place has changed, I've changed, but some people are still there doing like they've always done, but it feels different now.
- ChatGPT is the new hype machine, now that Crypto has collapsed. The thing with ChatGPT is, unlike crypto, it's actually quite useful sometimes. I used it a bit just this week and it was very helpful, though over half of what it said was wrong. I've definitely felt that ChatGPT/AI has jumped a bit of a shark recently: we've figured it out some more and are getting to know its limitations better - yes it has limitations, regardless of what the hype masters may try imply. Anyhow, it was inevitable that a system for spewing out endless reams of mediocre text would be used for crypto-shilling botnet content.
This reminds me of one of the things that finally got me to give up on Twitter:
It's got it all:
- An anime character avatar and Japanese-sounding username.
- a video (which I didn't watch) that implies Elon is involved with this particular hype, and also features a douchy-looking guy (apologies if he's actually someone famous - I didn't actually watch the video).
- "innovative solutions that revolutionize traditional notions of financial possibilities" ugh so many red flags in this one sentence
- surprise capitalization of "Your" - typo or dog-whistling to narcissists?
- a domain name that manages to squeeze "quantum" and "AI" buzzwords in as well. "Quantum" has been a classic red-flag term since the 1990s.
- blue check - these people paid the richest man in the world $8 to seem more important.
- "Promoted" - they paid him even more money!
My timeline filling up with this kind of thing really helped me kick the Twitter habit. Sorry to have foisted this on you as well, but at least it's contextualized a bit. Online culture is often like the kid who comes home carrying a pile of dog poop announcing "hey look what I almost stepped in!" Well, even if I did bring this home, at least you can now be more careful where you put your feet while you're out there.