Welcome to onfocus—a weblog by Paul Bausch where I post recommended links, my photos, and occasional thoughts. Subscribe here if you like RSS.
The Verge
“I don’t really see any good that can come from Reddit going public,” Dan M. told me. “Not to sound dramatic but it kinda feels like the final nail in Reddit’s coffin after years of degrading quality.”
Same, they treat their volunteer moderators like expendable cogs and all of their revenue depends on them. Add the new pressure of shareholders to the situation and it seems like a recipe for meh. Feels like someone’s cash out before the end.
Ars Technica
Canada-based University of Waterloo is racing to remove M&M-branded smart vending machines from campus after outraged students discovered the machines were covertly collecting facial-recognition data without their consent.
Surveillance capitalism is going just great. I guess we can thank these developers for not bothering to obfuscate the names of their dystopian programs.

Side note: if the thing you are purchasing has a camera and/or microphone it will likely be used in an unintended way by someone. Always pay more to buy dumber machines if you can.
The Reframe
So we can see that Republicans don’t even actually care about securing the border in the cruel ways they say they want to secure it; not as much as they want to establish that only they get to decide what happens to human beings in this country whether or not those human beings are at the border or anywhere else. A bipartisan bill allowing them to do everything they say they want to do simply doesn’t send the authoritarian message as much as doing it illegally in defiance of a Democratic president would.
Speaking of newsletters that recently moved away from Substack, I’m happy to see The Reframe free. Democrats need to stop playing this game where they try to give Republicans everything they want to shut them up. They will not be appeased and their requests gain legitimacy in the process.
The Nation
His position as a justice on the highest court in the land should require more candor, not less, in reporting the kind of relationships the Ethics in Government Act requires be made public.
Not to mention his failure to recuse himself on cases where his wife is an activist for one side. Law and order for thee but not for me.
Washington Post
Her case highlights a chilling reality of post-Roe America: Medical exceptions to abortion bans have not stopped doctors from turning away patients with significant pregnancy complications, often with harrowing consequences.
Abortions are health care. If Texas doctors are erring on the side of legal caution at the expense of someone’s life, something is seriously wrong.
Pitch work is basically when a director, writer, producer, or any combination of those get together with an artist and say, “We want to pitch to studios and we need imagery.” All of that has now been given to generative AI.
Fascinating interview with concept artist Karla Ortiz about the impact of generative AI on her industry.
To even entertain the idea of building AI-powered search engines means, in some sense, that you are comfortable with eventually being the reason those creators no longer exist. It is an undeniably apocalyptic project, but not just for the web as we know it, but also your own product. Unless you plan on subsidizing an entire internet’s worth of constantly new content with the revenue from your AI chatbot, the information it’s spitting out will get worse as people stop contributing to the network.
Speaking of newsletters that recently moved away from Substack, Garbage Day made the jump to Beehiiv. Go read about AI search nihilism and a bunch of other stuff.
Two recent verdicts have now left Donald Trump on the hook for nearly half a billion dollars.
Some accountability in this world after all.
Drone armies, expanded overtime pay and over-the-counter birth control pills are just some of the new things Biden has ushered in as president that you might not have heard about.
Things we might know about if we had a functioning media.
In recent years, the web has become increasingly monopolized by the small group of powerful companies that have come to be known as "Big Tech". He will hear no argument from me on that point, although the role his own company played in that particular shift is a large and completely unmentioned elephant in the room throughout a book in which he continually condemns these "power brokers" and "capricious gatekeepers" that "squelch competitors" and keep a "stranglehold ... on our lives".

We're all trying to find the guy who did this.
Speaking of newsletters that recently moved away from Substack, Molly White's Citation Needed is always great and this review of a recent "bestselling" crypto hype book is devastating and hilarious.
Obviously a guaranteed ten percent raise is wonderful, and I assumed that whatever subscriber losses I suffered in migrating would at least be offset by that. But in fact, as you can see, paid subscriptions are significantly higher since the move. There were about 175 new paid subscribers in my first two days on Beehiiv, which looks to me like a direct measure of the demand that was being suppressed by potential customers not wanting to pay for Substack.
I'm one of these 175 that didn't want to pay for Substack. Nice to see the transparency here and it's great to be able to support and read Tabs again. I hope others can follow Rusty's lead.
All of the major tech companies conducting another wave of layoffs this year are sitting atop mountains of cash and are wildly profitable, so the job-shedding is far from a matter of necessity or survival.
Short term stock boost is more important than people. Thanks, job creators!
« Older posts