It should not have been influenced by previous searches). This automation takes us to very, very strange places, and at this point the rabbithole is so deep that its impossible to know how such a thing came into being. Once again, a content warning: this video is not inappropriate in any way, but it is decidedly off, and contains elements which might trouble anyone. Its very mild on the scale of such things, but. I describe it below if you dont want to watch it and head down that road. This warning will recur.
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The above example, available until recently on Amazon, is one such case, and the story of how it came to occur is fascinating and weird but essentially comprehensible. Nobody set out to create phone cases with drugs and medical equipment on them, it was just a deeply weird mathematical/probabilistic outcome. The fact that it took a while to notice might ring some alarm bells however. Likewise, the case of the keep Calm and Rape a lot tshirts (along with the keep Calm and Knife her and keep Calm and Hit Her ones) is depressing and distressing but comprehensible. Nobody set out to create these shirts: they just paired an unchecked list of verbs and pronouns with an online image generator. Its quite possible that none of these shirts ever physically existed, were ever purchased or worn, and thus that no harm was done. Once again though, the people creating this content failed to notice, and neither did the distributor. They literally had no idea what they were doing. What I will argue, on the basis of these cases and of those Im going to describe further, is that the scale and logic of the system is complicit in state these outputs, and requires us to think through their implications. (Also again: Im not was going to dig into the wider social implications of such processes outside the scope of what i am writing about here, but its clear that one can draw a clear line from examples such as these to pressing contemporary issues such. Its important to stress that I didnt set out to find this particular video: it appeared organically and highly ranked in a search for finger family in an incognito browser window (i.e.
Stock animations, audio tracks, and lists of paper keywords being assembled in their thousands to produce an endless stream of videos. The above channel, videogyan 3D Rhymes — Nursery Rhymes baby songs, posts several videos a week, in increasingly byzantine combinations of keywords. They have almost five million subscribers — more than double bounce patrol — although once again its impossible to know who or what is actually racking up these millions and millions of views. Im trying not to turn this essay into an endless list of examples, but its important to grasp how vast this system is, and how indeterminate its actions, process, and audience. Its also international: there are variations of Finger Family and learn Colours videos for Tamil epics and Malaysian cartoons which are unlikely to pop up in any Anglophone search results. This very indeterminacy and reach is key to its existence, and its implications. Its dimensionality makes it difficult to grasp, or even to really think about. Weve encountered pretty clear examples of the disturbing outcomes of full automation before — some of which have been thankfully leavened with a dark kind of humour, others not so much. Much has been made of the algorithmic interbreeding of stock photo libraries and on-demand production of everything from tshirts to coffee mugs to infant onesies and cell phone covers.
And yet, there is something weird about a group of people endlessly acting out the implications of a combination of algorithmically generated keywords: Halloween Finger apple Family more halloween Songs for Children kids Halloween Songs Collection, australian Animals Finger Family song finger Family nursery Rhymes, farm. Wild Animals for kids, superheroes Finger Family and more finger Family songs! Superhero finger Family collection, batman Finger Family song — Superheroes and Villains! Batman, joker, riddler, catwoman and on and on and. This is content production in the age of algorithmic discovery — even if youre a human, you have to end up impersonating the machine. Other channels do away with the human actors to create infinite reconfigurable versions of the same videos over and over again. What is occurring here is clearly automated.
I have no idea where they came from or the origin of the childrens rhyme at the core of the trope, but there are at least 17 million versions of this currently on, and again they cover every possible genre, with billions and billions. Once again, the view numbers of these videos must be taken under serious advisement. A huge number of these videos are essentially created by bots and viewed by bots, and even commented on by bots. That is a whole strange world in and of itself. But it shouldnt obscure that there are also many actual children, plugged into iphones and tablets, watching these over and over again — in part accounting for the inflated view numbers — learning to type basic search terms into the browser, or simply mashing the sidebar to bring. What I find somewhat disturbing about the proliferation of even (relatively) normal kids videos is the impossibility of determining the degree of automation which is at work here; how to parse out the gap between human and machine. The example above, from a channel called bounce patrol Kids, with almost two million subscribers, show this effect in action. It posts professionally produced videos, with dedicated human actors, at the rate of about one per week. Once again, i am not alleging anything untoward about bounce patrol, which clearly follows in the footsteps of pre-digital kid sensations like their fellow Australians The wiggles.
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I am not alleging anything bad about Play go toys; i am simply illustrating how the structure of facilitates the delamination of content and author, and how this impacts on our awareness and trust of its source. As another blogger notes, one of the traditional roles of branded content is that it is a trusted review source. Whether its Peppa pig on childrens tv or a disney movie, whatever ones feelings about the industrial model of entertainment production, they are carefully produced and monitored so that kids are essentially safe watching them, and can be trusted as such. This no longer applies when brand and content are disassociated by the platform, and so known and trusted content provides a seamless gateway to unverified and potentially harmful content. (Yes, this is the exact same process as the delamination of trusted news media.
Facebook feeds and in google results that is currently wreaking such havoc on our cognitive and political systems and i am not going to explicitly explore that relationship further here, but it is obviously deeply significant.). A second way of increasing hits on videos is through keyword/hashtag association, which is a whole dark art unto itself. When some trend, such as Surprise Egg videos, reaches critical mass, content producers pile onto it, creating thousands and thousands more of these videos in every possible iteration. This is the origin of all the weird names in the list nurses above: branded content and nursery rhyme titles and surprise egg all stuffed into the same word salad to capture search results, sidebar placement, and up next autoplay rankings. A striking example of the weirdness is the finger Family videos (harmless example embedded above).
That should give you some idea of just how odd the world of kids online video is, and that list of video titles hints at the extraordinary range and complexity of this situation. Well get into the latter in a minute; for the moment know that its already very strange, if apparently pretty harmless, out there. Another huge trope, especially the youngest children, is nursery rhyme videos. Little baby bum, which made the above video, is the 7th most popular channel on. With just 515 videos, they have accrued.5 million subscribers and 13 billion views.
Again, there are questions as to the accuracy of these numbers, which Ill get into shortly, but the key point is that this is a huge, huge network and industry. On-demand video is catnip to both parents and to children, and thus to content creators and advertisers. Small children are mesmerised by these videos, whether its familiar characters and songs, or simply bright colours and soothing sounds. The length of many of these videos — one common video tactic is to assemble many nursery rhyme or cartoon episodes into hour compilations —and the way that length is marketed as part of the videos appeal, points to the amount of time some kids are spending. Youtube broadcasters have thus developed a huge number of tactics to draw parents and childrens attention to their videos, and the advertising revenues that accompany them. The first of these tactics is simply to copy and pirate other content. A simple search for Peppa pig on in my case yielded About 10,400,000 results and the front page is almost entirely from the verified Peppa pig Official Channel, while one is from an unverified channel called. Play go toys, which you really wouldnt notice unless you were looking out for it: Play go toys channel consists of (I guess?) pirated Peppa pig and other cartoons, videos of toy unboxings (another kid magnet and videos of, one supposes, the channel owners own.
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Surprise Eggs videos depict, often at excruciating length, the process of unwrapping Kinder and other egg toys. Thats it, but kids are captivated by them. There are thousands and thousands of these videos and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of children watching them. From the article linked above : The maker of my particular favorite videos. Blu toys Surprise Brinquedos juegos, and since 2010 he seems to have accrued.7 million subscribers and just under 6 billion views for a kid-friendly channel entirely devoted to opening surprise eggs and unboxing toys. The video titles are a continuous pattern of obscure branded lines reviews and tie-ins: Surprise Play doh Eggs Peppa pig Stamper Cars Pocoyo minecraft Smurfs plan Kinder Play doh Sparkle Brilho, cars Screamin Banshee eats Lightning Mcqueen Disney pixar, disney baby pop Up Pals Easter Eggs surprise. As I write this he has done a total of 4,426 videos and counting. With so many views — for comparison, justin biebers official channel has more than 10 billion views, while full-time celebrity pewdiepie has nearly 12 billion — its likely this man makes a living as a pair of gently murmuring hands that unwrap Kinder eggs. (Surprise-egg videos are all accompanied by pre-roll, and sometimes mid-video and ads.).
the time, in pushchairs and in restaurants, and theres always a bit of a luddite twinge there, but i am not a parent, and Im not making parental judgments for or on anyone else. Ive seen family members and friends children plugged into peppa pig and nursery rhyme videos, and it makes them happy and gives everyone a break,. But I dont even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down. Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what i am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage ive seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring. To begin: Kids is definitely and markedly weird. Ive been aware of its weirdness for some time. Last year, there were a number of articles posted about the surprise Egg craze.
The culture, politics, and interpersonal relationships which I consider to be central to my identity were shaped by the internet, in ways that I have always considered to be beneficial to me personally. I have always been a critical proponent of the internet and everything it has brought, and broadly considered it to be emancipatory and beneficial. I state this at the outset because thinking through the implications of the problem i am going to describe troubles my own assumptions and prejudices in significant ways. One of the thus-far hypothetical questions essays i ask myself frequently is how I would feel about my own children having the same kind of access to the internet today. And I find the question increasingly difficult to answer. I understand that this is a natural evolution of attitudes which happens with age, and at some point this question might be a lot less hypothetical. I dont want to be a hypocrite about. I would want my kids to have the same opportunities to explore and grow and express themselves as I did. I would like them to have that choice.
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Im a writer and artist concerned with technology and culture. I usually write on my own blog, but frankly i dont want what Im talking about here anywhere near my own site. Please be advised: this essay describes disturbing things and links to disturbing graphic and video content. You dont have to read it, and are advised to take caution exploring further. As someone who grew up on the internet, i credit it as one of the most important influences on who i am reviews today. I had a computer with internet access in my bedroom from the age. It gave me access to a lot of things which were totally inappropriate for a young teenager, but it was.