Fandom and Neomedia Studies

This Week in FANS News (27 June — 3 July)

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This Week in FANS News (27 June – 3 July)


NBC Forgot How Alexander the Great Died

NBC had wanted to put out a new competition reality show, Ultimate Slip’n’Slide, premised on the childhood favorite summer pastime of many elder millennials. For some reason, it was planned to premiere right after the Olympic closing ceremonies. Alas, that will not happen now. A crew member tested positive for Giardia, a parasitic microorganism that can cause severe diarrhea. Though a different intestinal parasite was likely involved the death of Alexander the Great, the explosive diarrhea that these things can cause leads to massive dehydration, among other problems, which can be fatal if untreated. At least 40 crew members fell vigorously ill before production was halted. NBC is examining its options.


Linux Kernel Popped

Kangjie Lu and a graduate student at the University of Minnesota recently got their school banned from using Linux at all. Their experiment involved submitting “fixes” to the open source code that were actually exploitable vulnerabilities. Posited as a community project, others are supposed to vet these fixes before they go live. Unfortunately, Lu’s code got through this process unchanged. The number of applications that use Linux in some way is in the hundreds of millions and grows all the time, so this kind of thing is a serious problem. Lu insists that he was simply trying to point out a problem but that may not be the case next time. Read more here.


AIs Develop Trading Cliques

Modern markets are in very large part run by AIs. Humans may make the overall decisions, but AIs do a significant and growing proportion of the microsecond level trading that takes place at all hours around the globe. And, like their human counterparts, they seem to have developed the ability to form social cliques. An AI trader may develop an aversion to another AI and avoid it not just for milliseconds but for months at a time. Conversely, others that get along will trade together more often. Further, if one AI dislikes another, the friends of the first AI will generally follow its lead. Musciotto et al. do not posit a mechanism as yet but the results are likely going to affect trading for generations to come.


Academia and Fandom Can’t Agree on What Makes a Good Narrative

In a new paper, Toubia et al. demonstrate that there are very different criteria for what makes for a good popular culture text versus an academic text. Among fans, the texts (here including written, visual, and gaming narratives) that move the fastest from one thing to another are the ones that drive the most engagement. Contrariwise, as measured by citations, academics prefer slower rides that cover more ground in detail. FANS, as a hybrid organization, often sees extremes of both but prefers a middle ground for our own work.


Globalization Has Always Been Here

In an era when newly uploaded tracks from Brooklyn might be known in Shinjuku before anyone notices in Manhattan, globalization has become the norm. But many people think of it as a relatively new phenomenon. The reality is that globalization is the usual course of human history, only occasionally broken up by war or natural disaster but coming back together in a relatively short period of time. As evidence of this in Bronze Age Southwestern Eurasia, Ialongo et al. have found a system of shared bronze weights and measures that were considered the standards of exchange from Egypt to Mesopotamia. Later systems altered these standards only slightly and then used them across even wider areas, with the related sets of measures eventually stretching from the English Channel to the Indus River Valley. It is not certain if these standards were enforced by political entities or by merchants or how they originated, but they are often mentioned and taken for granted in ancient texts, ranging from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Vedas. While these early standards are a long way off from modern weights and measures, the idea they reinforced in civilizations across the world lives on today.



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