The voice assistant seemed so cool and made so much sense. What happened?
If you follow Internet of Shit, you already know. This Bloomberg story about Alexa adoption suggests even the biggest players in voice-enabled hardware are struggling to find their why.
We have several Echos in our house, all of which are used for extremely banal reasons that are just easier than connecting dumb speakers by bluetooth for the most part, or pressing buttons on an oven timer. Of course, they were envisioned as transformative technology, not egg timers.
Bloomberg doesn’t go deep on this, but points to the overall onboarding experience as being where users seem to check out, if not shortly thereafter. Some of the complaints are familiar: in an effort to get you to do more with the device, it starts asking you if you’d like to try new skills, few of which have any relevance to what you’ve been doing with it.
Dieter Bohn wrote how we’re still getting voice assistants wrong for the Verge in 2019 and if you search the title of this post, you’ll find no shortage of commentary. Heck, Android Authority asked their readers if they used them and the overwhelming majority said no. To be clear, this isn’t that they struggle with natural language processing — they absolutely do — it’s also that they don’t seem to connect to any patterns in usage and then develop intelligence built around it. Isn’t this what AI and machine learning is all about to the layperson?
It’s not just Alexa; it’s every voice assistant I’ve ever used. If you’ve found any Alexa skills or routines useful, share them below.
Stereogum’s Tom Breihan on the Pitchfork Music Festival:
I find something quizzical and honorable in this: A whole festival built around music that is not, in any way, designed for partying. In a way, isnâ€™t that the logical endpoint of a decade-plus of internet music consumption? Weâ€™ve all spent all this time finding music on our computers and piping that music directly into our ears, rarely if ever having real-life conversations about some of the artists who mean the most to us. Why shouldnâ€™t we be dedicating entire festivals to that same antisocial experience?
Need a #latepass here, but I’m not altogether sure what this is about. I attended the show Saturday with a friend, courtesy of Pitchfork, and found myself chatting with present and former Pitchfork critics, as well as the Super Furry Animals in the VIP.
There was also a massive crowd in Union Park singing “Barbara Ann” as I left. It sounded about the same as when I first experienced the Beach Boys 30 years ago at the Great Allentown Fair.
The way MTV Geek’s Alex Zalben described Hawkeye to Jesse Thorn on Bullseyemade it sound like American Splendor with a bow and arrow. He wasn’t wrong. I just finished reading #10 and I’m ready for more.
Beautifully drawn and brilliantly written, Hawkeye’s life outside the Avengers is positively spellbinding. The issue dedicated to Hurricane Sandy may be one of the most moving tributes imagined. The artists comprising Team Hawkguy are doing something truly special.
Freedom will be remembered as a story that captures a very strange chapter in American history. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but the mood of the last decade is something Franzen nails. His characters represent the amoral fugue state we drifted off into collectively after 2003. I’m not even sure his hollowed out characters could realistically course correct, yet they do, and for that reason I was somewhat disappointed in the novel.
Equally terrifying, alt-country act Walnut Surprise represented one of the worst musical movements of the decade. We have only ourselves to blame.