Culture Featured Technology

Culture companies have forgotten how culture works

Hollywood executives have detached cultural works from cultural meaning, losing sight of the anchor of their business. They’re currently chasing the enshittification cycle down, down, down, dreaming that AI will allow them to cut all their costs (people) while pocketing even more profit because they’ll be able to produce endless “good enough” content.

Ed Zitron writes:

It’s somewhat cliché, but Hollywood is not concerned about creating interesting, or good, or unique content, but more content that can be used to make more things that can be used to make more profit to increase the stock price. It’s not about whether something’s good, or new, but whether or not it is marketable and “good enough” for consumers…

As Tim Carmody highlights, studios are barely entertainment companies anymore as they move into streaming, with the entertainment they make merely the hook for their real profit-centers. They make culture, but they value culture only insofar as it makes them money. The end game they envision is generating content for next to nothing; with an endless supply of content, everyone will find something good enough to watch, letting them maintain a vast customer base.

Towards that future, studios are self-cannibalizing their own industry by destroying career development for writers. They don’t value storytelling or recognize script-writing as a craft needing industry knowledge. As Dave Karpf writes, studios will satisfice their processes and products using AI if they can get away with it, accepting mediocre scripts as the price of profitability.


Science Fiction

Re-watched Dune

Watched Dune: Part One from

A noble family becomes embroiled in a war for control over the galaxy’s most valuable asset while its heir becomes troubled by visions of a dark future.

I thought I’d want to split this into two nights, but two and a half hours went faster than I recalled.

The Emperor plotline makes very little sense, unless it’s meant to serve as a warning to all the other houses.

I don’t think they pulled off a cohesive culture for the Atreides: they drew from multiple cultures, but pulled directly from them rather than integrating them — a Japanese tree inside their home on Caladan, Spanish bullfighting, Scottish bagpipes. To me, that felt worse than just adapting elements into something unified, but it could be intentional to remind us the Atreides are colonizers, or I suppose the filmmakers could be accused of cultural appropriation if they changed things? I think they’re more successful in creating the technology: tools like thumpers and the compass thing feel real, the projector technology is cool, and the way thopters fly seems to have been thought through.

Jessica is a badass, and I hope she gets more of a chance to use her power and skills in part two.

I’m still not sold on Gurney’s character. The intensity of the training scene is fantastic — and then there are weird moments insufficient to give him character, like awkwardly joking with his lord, then flipping his shit any time anyone else disrespects or even approaches him. My husband said he’s meant to be a bard but all his guitar scenes were removed. It’s also a shame he’s not given an on screen death — I wonder if it got cut. Or maybe he lives and I’ve forgotten in the twenty years since I read the book 😂

Some scenes in this movie are great, while others make me go huh, why did they keep that.

The Harkonnen sudden focus on exterminating the Fremen people feels like it comes out of nowhere.


Re-watched Dune – November 2022

Re-watched Dune – July 2022

Watched Dune – October 2021


The report vs transmedia communications


Our two literary theory concepts—paratext and transmedia storytelling—map nicely onto alternative approaches for WonkComms.

The big, honking report is The Thing. The blog posts, the op-eds, the roundtable forum, the tweets, the media write ups, the infographics…

all function as paratexts, as “extra stuff” that’s great to have but not always a requirement.

That “extra stuff” exists to “hype, promote, introduce, and discuss” the main text—which is probably a big .

Versus the transmedia model:

This is the  model. It’s one in which you create  that you can remix and push out across multiple channels. No single output is a “main” thing. Rather, each blog post, each tweet, each infographic, each op-ed tells part of the story.

To consider as I start working on reports and plans in government: what is the best format and approach to information? As a long-form print designer I am a fan of making reports better, but alternative formats like websites could be something to consider too.


Imbue world building with a sense of history through embedded mini stories

Bookmarked Don’t Just Create One Big Story, Build a Mosaic of Tiny Stories! by Charlie Jane Anders (

A really interesting story, often as not, is one that atomizes down into a bunch of smaller stories that feed into the main narrative.

How many of the details in the story, how many of the touchstones, contain stories of their own? Characters can have backstories, but so can places and things.

An interesting approach to world building — though I’ll admit I often don’t care that much about that level of detail 😂

Technology Writing

Bias is baked into the current state of AI fiction writing

Bookmarked Wordcraft Writers Workshop (

The Wordcraft Writers Workshop is a collaboration between Google’s PAIR and Magenta teams, and 13 professional writers. Together we explore the limits of co-writing with AI.

Interesting assessment of co-writing with an AI — it’s limited by its inability to perceive / remember context, a very generic, stereotyped and mainstream understanding of genre and stories, and mediocre prose without voice.

Allison Parrish described this as AI being inherently conservative. Because the training data is captured at a particular moment in time, and trained on language scraped from the internet, these models have a static representation of the world and no innate capacity to progress past the data’s biases, blind spots, and shortcomings.

The computer trying to insert a man into a lesbian love story 😬 We see time and again technology incorporating and reflecting real world biases. It feels like they think preventing bias is an afterthought, something that can be fixed after the fact. These tools will likely become quite important in the future.  Can someone integrate people of color and queer people into their design process upfront?

I am intrigued by co-design, and feel like this project could benefit from it: learning upfront from writers what their biggest struggles are and where they wish they could have assistance. This feels a bit like, “we made a thing that makes words, let’s have some actual writers try it out and see what they do with it 🤷‍♀️”

One thing that writers often need is bit part characters. With existing biases, will the AI suggest all straight white men to fill these roles? When they create characters of color will they be caricatures?

Again, the training set proves itself essential to the tool — and behind many of its failings.

I read Robin Sloan’s short story, which was a clever little work that capitalized on the program’s strengths while critiquing reliance on shortcuts (and maybe poking a bit of fun at GRRM).

Fantasy Romance

Re-watched Tangled

Watched Tangled from

The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but now that a runaway thief has stumbled upon her, she is about to discover the world for the first time, and who she really is.

Disney does story structure well. Quite a lengthy introduction to the two love interests before their meetcute around 20 minutes in, but does a good job setting up their external quests. The 50% everything changes beat ties the plot and emotional journey together nicely, his admission of a secret prompting her to share one that then offers a solution to their conundrum. Talk about an all is lost moment SPOILERS he legit *dies* and she thinks she’s lost her powers and her abusive kidnapper who she nevertheless has feelings for has just died also — and then she magically mysteriously brings him back to life (with love?).

(Ugh I can see when this stuff works in other people’s stories, why is it so hard to reverse engineer and apply to mine? 😂😭)

Disney can also be good at humor, when they don’t fall back on body shaming — mime interrupting a chase scene good, mocking a guy who wants true love for his appearance bad. Also they cannot handle not vibing the villain as an oversexualized contrast to the pure innocent heroine, with heavy eye makeup and low cut top in a rich red on the mother and no makeup and a lavender dress on the golden haired princess. Is it just me or is the villain also coded Jewish? 😬 (OK not just me 😬😬😬)

The abusive mother is almost too painful to watch, I fast forwarded through her where I could.

Sigh, they cannot resist those traditional gender roles — irritates me every time that it ends with him teasing her that she asked him to marry her, but then admits he asked her after she complains. Maybe they wouldn’t put that in today? 😒

I bought this a while back digitally on Amazon and hot damn that video quality is bad. Did I not spring for hi def or are they cheaping out on their hosting, because that was dithered and fuzzy.


Creating a large cast

Bookmarked Cast Calculus – TV Tropes (TV Tropes)

One of the first choices any writer has to make is how many characters will lead the narrative. Believe it or not, that number matters. Too many, and you can barely get attached to anyone, just one and you’ll never believe the author would kill …


Watched How to Plot Your Novel



Watched How to Write a Novel from Scenes

Watched How To Write A Novel From Scenes Writing Great Scenes Video 5 from YouTube

I’m so excited for this video, because it’s the most in-depth and specific I’ve ever gotten in explaining how I go from a spark of an idea to a full-length novel.

0:00 Intro
2:18 Get An Eagle Eye View
6:06 Brainstorm Scenes
10:23 Fill In The Gaps
11:19 Example of Scene Cards
21:45 Start Writing
30:20 Final Thoughts

  • pair the most dramatic genre moments with the big plot points

Ideas for brainstorming scenes:

  • imagine imagery
  • imagine the character going through their life
  • what are the obstacles between the pair?
  • when is their first kiss?
  • when do they tell each other they love each other?

Make sure you know the hook of the scene, and the outcome of the scene to work towards as you write

After writing each scene, check in with your outline and see if it needs an adjustment / another scene inserted


Developing character goals


To test that their goal is concrete, it should fall into one of four categories: win, stop, escape, or retrieve.

Also like the way she connects theme and character: framing the misbelief as the opposite of the theme.