Hey: Your data-driven headlines are probably just drivel after all, but that's OK

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A few years back, a writer friend who worked at a prominent blog explained to me that her employer's sensationalist, runon headlines were crafted with the help of a cutting-edge A/B testing system. Each article would go live with multiple versions of the same headline; the version to draw the most clicks would become the canonical version. This, I thought, this is the future: algorithms drawing on user feedback to adjust our texts on the fly for maximum impact.

In 2012, I was among the millions of Americans who noticed that Barack Obama and his campaign staff had started writing some kinda weird messages to me. They'd arrive with subject lines like "Hey" or "Would Love to Meet You." They got talked about at dinner parties. After Election Day, explanations were offered in the press. These weren't the brainchild of a mad creative subject line marketing genius. No, they were carefully tested beforehand among multiple variations sent to smaller groups of supporters, and only the most successful versions made it to the full campaign email list. Obama's campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars through email direct marketing. 

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Watch 'This is the ENDD' Online

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This is the ENDD is streaming via New Museum's livestream. [The event is over, but the stream is still archived online].

The order of events:

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Wavelength: The VAPECRU Mixtape

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In conjunction with This is the ENDD and at the invitation of event presenter Mathew DryhurstAaron David Ross of Gatekeeper has compiled a mixtape exploring the vape aesthetic. The resulting work is available to stream and download below, along with a statement by ADR. The compilation will be given a public premier tomorrow at Beverly's (21 Essex St New York, NY 10002), following the conclusion of the conference, at 630pm. 

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Welcome to the Internet Smoking Room

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Following the conclusion of This is the ENDD and Pinar&Viola's front-page exhibition, this project can be found here permanently.

This weekend, to coincide with This is the ENDD: a Forum on the E-Cigarette, the front page of Rhizome.org will present The Smoking Room, created by Pinar&Viola and programmed by Gui Machiavelli. In this lush chatroom, you can wield strange new kinds of e-cigarettes and blow virtual smoke shapes while talking to friends and strangers.

I know. Vaping is not smoking. This is rule #1 of vaping culture, a distinction of paramount importance for vapers (who rightfully want to avoid the social stigma of the cigarette) and e-cigarette manufacturers (who want to avoid tobacco-style regulation). Therefore, in their marketing of this emerging technology, the manufacturers have trodden a fine line between reminding potential users of the good, old-fashioned "benefits" of smoking, and establishing their product as something new and hi-tech and detached from bodily consequence. In a word, as something virtual.

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Before and After UbuWeb: A conversation about artists' film and video distribution

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Jason Simon, Untitled (Video Against AIDS), 2013. Three facsimile cassette wraps and original printed materials. 

Beginning in 2009, artist Jason Simon worked with media scholar Cynthia Chris to investigate various distribution channels for artists' films and videos. This collaborative research has fed into Simon's own work, which draws on curatorial, documentary, and installation practices to reflect on the same issues of moving image circulation. In this interview, curator and writer Jacob King discussed this research with Simon in relation to his recent exhibition at Callicoon Fine Arts in New York.

Jacob King: Can you tell me a bit about your project with Cynthia Chris and how it got started?  It seems to me that, today, amidst both an unbridled expansion of the art market and a rapid digitization of moving images, there is an amazing degree of uncertainty as to how a given film or video might circulate.

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Always Evolving, Historically Rooted — Rhizome Needs Your Support

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Still frame from Cory Arcangel, Various Self Playing Bowling Games (2011), as featured in Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools, curated by Christiane Paul for the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Rhizome puts the future of new media art in dialogue with its past — support the conversation, donate today.

Rhizome has been online since 1996 and I have been lucky enough to witness its growth from an informal email list to the organization it is today.

What I appreciate about Rhizome is that even as it continues to evolve and reinvent itself year after year, seeking out emerging ideas, artists, and areas of practice, it remains firmly rooted in a historical context. This can be seen not only in its pioneering work in the field of digital preservation, but also in programming and writing that finds contemporary relevance in media archives and brings different generations into dialogue.

Rhizome is a vital link between the past, present, and future of art and technology.

Support them, as I do. Give today.

— Christiane Paul, curator and scholar

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Bitcoin and the Speculative Anarchist

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Kari Altmann, image from Soft Mobility Abstracts (2014). 

When I tell my close friends—who know of, and share, my anti-capitalist anarchist views—that I own some cryptocurrency (my current holdings equal something under 10 USD) I get the same sort of looks that I did when I told them in 2009 that I used Twitter. "How can you support that libertarian bullshit?"

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Artists in the C A S C A D E: Kari Altmann and Rhizome's Insta

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#softcontrolabstracts 2012-ongoing @softmobility @karialtmann

In recent years, a central challenge for Rhizome as an internet-based organization has been adjusting to the C A S C A D E (to expand on a phrase coined by Gawker Deputy Editor Max Read), the torrent of feeds that more or less constitute the contemporary (though rapidly changing) internet. Most of our traffic comes to Rhizome via these feeds—Facebook and Twitter, of course, and the new ones that are angel-invested into reality every day. Still, we don't jump onto every rapidly popularizing forum; we have one of our own to cultivate.

All of this is all to say that we never had a compelling reason to start an Instagram account, or, let's say, a compelling way in which to use the platform. But this changed last fall, when artist Ed Fornieles suggested that he launch and operate an account on our behalf as a way of layering up the "character" of Rhizome for his LARPesque gala, New York New York Happy Happy. In the weeks leading up to the event, his posts staged a descent into moneyed debauchery (champagne, neoclassical painting, Macklemore) and creepy biotechnologies (cloning, intense photos of eyes). It was an oddly charged experience for us at IRL Rhizome, at times agonistic: one image was taken down for infringing Insta’s Terms of Service (it was a guy’s bethonged butt with the text "Believe in the Booty") and we asked Ed to take one or two down for broaching our (flexible to a point!) sense of institutional responsibility.

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