Creepy TikTok algorithm and the rat room


At the end of this email, I’ve linked to an Amber Ruffin video called “Catatonic” that describes how Pepper and I spent most of our time this week.

In our podcast, we talk about Leonard Shoulders, who fell through a sidewalk into a concrete room full of rats. This seems like something that would happen in a Hammer horror movie while you were exploring Dracula’s castle, not something that would happen while you were waiting for the bus. Imagine calling in sick to work with that excuse.

Also, we discuss how TikTok’s algorithm seems to have figured out how to notice things about what you watch that you haven’t noticed yourself. Other sites want to figure out your conscious reason for viewing content and show you more of that; TikTok wants to use unintended signals. Watching less than 100 TikTok videos led me to a male version of Pepper. He has the same interests, background and went to the same school. It was eery! If you’re interested in dipping your toe into the TikTok world, you should follow Night School, Angela Shier’s newsletter about the endless stream of videos cascading through her feed is a quick way to catch up.

You can subscribe to our podcast by searching for “Baffling Cyclops” on your favorite podcast app. Or subscribe on Apple Podcast or YouTube.

I was so excited to get Philip Treece’s amazing new book Magic Paper: Conjuring Epherma, 1890-1960. It collects mostly self-published magic books and periodicals from the same time period the “zine” started, and there are many similarities. It’s a fascinating visual history of a hidden world.

Surveillance footage of Mr. Shoulders falling through the sidewalk into a room full of rats.

Tyler Gaca’s YouTube Channel and TikTok!


Thank you for reading and listening!

David and Pepper

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