Links to the Past

IG ‘Threads’, NBC ‘Peacock’, ‘NCAA Football’, Photo Text Search, Matrix 4, Windows 95

I’m finally nearly almost through a bunch of rather random links I had saved to share over the past several weeks, at which point I’m going to experiment with sharing things a bit more in real time (except for the occasional great read that may be timeless, of course). For now, continue to enjoy the random.

Instagram’s Forthcoming “Threads” App

Here’s a scoop from Casey Newton from over a month ago:

Screenshots reviewed by The Verge show an app that’s designed to promote constant, automatic sharing between users and the people on their “close friends” list on Instagram. Opt in to automatic sharing, and Threads will regularly update your status, giving your friends a real-time view of information about your location, speed, and more. At the moment, Threads does not display your real-time location — instead, it might say something like a friend is “on the move,” according to sources familiar with the matter.

You can also update your status manually, with statuses appearing in the main feed along with messages. It’s the latest effort to automate status sharing using mobile phone sensors and one-tap status sharing. (An app called Status tried something similar in 2014, and Danny Trinh’s Free app took another approach in 2015.)

As I originally quipped on Twitter, Path lives! I find it fascinating how many people I come across to this day that miss Path, the more intimate, mobile-first social network. And, in fact, I think people miss it even more these days because of the times in which we live. Path seems to be one of those unfortunately great examples of a service that was just a bit too early.

So can Instagram reboot the idea with their massive network? We’ll see. My guess would be that it won’t work — at least not as they intend — because Instagram wasn’t built for this purpose. I think IG Stories works because at the end of the day, the product is still about sharing images. Sharing other things, even when you already have the concept of “Close Friends” (which I use not actually for close friends but just for anyone I’ve actually met, since I have a public profile — except for you, you’re totally a legit close friend), seems too tangential to the mission. But I guess it’s good that it’s a separate app in that regard. Also, Peach!

NBCUniversal’s ‘Peacock’ Could Spell Trouble for Hulu

Julia Alexander:

‘This is Us’ is a perfect example of how complicated the streaming wars are going to get for consumers and why Hulu may start to feel less necessary. Under the agreement between NBCUniversal and Disney, which now fully owns Hulu, NBCUniversal properties will continue to run on Hulu for the next five years, but they’ll also run on Peacock. Shows like ‘This is Us’ will effectively be split between the two services. Older episodes will run on Hulu (at least for the next five years), while new episodes released post-deal will run on Peacock. That means to watch all of ‘This is Us’, people will have to subscribe to two services. Or start looking at pirating.

I continue to think about this last part quite a bit. It’s becoming more clear by the day that consumers are going to have no idea where or how to find what they want to watch. So the hope would be that they default to watching whatever is “on” (whatever is served to them on the various streamers). Or that they subscribe to 6 or 7 different services (at least!). But even then, we likely are going to need some unifying UI to make this system actually usable. You know, like the cable guide ;)

‘NCAA Football’ Is Still Alive… on the Internet

Michael Weinreb:

Burhans is not now, nor has he ever been, an employee of Electronic Arts, the video game giant and creator of NCAA Football, which last published a new version of the title in July 2013. He has never been paid a single cent for his labor, nor have any of the other handful of editors with whom he works. But for the past several years Burhans and his group have tasked themselves with keeping ‘NCAA Football’—which was discontinued in the wake of Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA and EA, a case that sought compensation for the commercial use of student-athletes’ names and likenesses—alive on the internet.

Burhans and his fellow editors work off of the shell of ‘NCAA Football 14’, the final version of the game, which feels increasingly outdated with each passing year. Their avocation involves updating the game’s rosters before a given season, and then posting links to those rosters on the gaming website Operation Sports. This means re-creating every player (up to 69 per roster) on more than 100 FBS teams, down to their eye color and face mask design.

I used to love NCAA Football, the video game. More than Madden. So much so that I would buy and download various mods to get the real names/rosters each year as well. It’s amazing that these guys are still doing this for a game (the last version of the game) which is five years old.

They rely on research. They spend hours digging through recruiting websites, searching for player images on Google, and finding the statistics of incoming freshmen. They have a scale that allows them to convert 100-meter dash times into 40 times. And many of the editors adhere to a ridiculously detailed rating system that Burhans created, which utilizes analytical scales to make subjectivity virtually impossible. The formula is so complex that A.J. refers to Burhans as “A Beautiful Mind,” though Burhans tells me he “sucked at math,” and never went to college. “I went full-blown nerd when I created my scales,” he says.

Love it. It’s just the cherry on top that the main guy is a Michigan fan as well. #GoBlue Aside: I’m very curious to see if the latest news around California signing into law the bill that allows college athletes to profit off of things such as their likeness, changes the equation for games like NCAA Football. Do I smell a comeback?

Google Photos Can Now Search for Text in Images

Abner Li:

Photos will now also look for text that appears in images. This allows you to search for words and bring up all results where that phrase physically appears, no matter how small or if it’s at an angle. It performs particularly well on screenshots, but also works on any text that appears in an image.

This both works and is amazing. It feels like this has been drastically under-hyped. I don’t know about you, but I now take pictures of everything for memory purposes, if nothing else. And a lot of times that includes things with text. Being able to search such images by such text is an absolute game-changer. And it will only get more so over time.

'Matrix 4' in the Works with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Borys Kit:

“We could not be more excited to be re-entering The Matrix with Lana,” said Toby Emmerich. “Lana is a true visionary—a singular and original creative filmmaker—and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing and producing this new chapter in The Matrix universe.”

"Many of the ideas Lilly and I explored 20 years ago about our reality are even more relevant now,” said Wachowski. “I’m very happy to have these characters back in my life and grateful for another chance to work with my brilliant friends.”

A legit “woah”. I understand why people hate it when old classics are pulled off the mantle and dusted off, but when said classics ended with sort of a thud, it’s a no-lose situation. Reeves and Wachowski have a real chance to course-correct after the lackluster second and third films (though — while it has been a while since I’ve seen it — my guess the second film, Reloaded, has aged better than the third, Revolutions). The first film is so good, that it deserves the shot. Carrie-Anne Moss will be back too!

Inside, Outside

Some thoughts on the Downton Abbey movie — which is very good! — and how it points to a potential future for streaming and beyond.

I was there at launch (well, at a local CompUSA in Cleveland, Ohio) and remember this well. This video is amazing, it feels like it’s from 100 years ago.