👨‍🌾 everything is farmville.

on the agenda this week: a new year, mass internment camps, korean fried chicken and eight clams with sensors.

📖 reading time: 4m 01s.

hi :) happy new year!

i know that nothing actually changes as we begin a new year but i’ll happily participate in this irrational celebration and look to the future with some unfounded optimism.

i think it’s more important now than ever.

cases are at an all-time high here in ireland as we enter what i think is the ninth month of rolling lockdowns.

the first vaccinations are being rolled out around the country. a best case scenario sees the most vulnerable vaccinated soon, and someone like me receiving the vaccine at some point in q3 2021, but i’ll continue to sit tight and see.

stay safe and mask up.

tag me on instagram or follow me on twitter if you enjoy this week's brain drain.

a special thank you to my paid subscribers: i really appreciate the support.

👂 earworm: listen to akurei.

📚 word of the week:


relating to or denoting mental images having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible.

his eidetic memory went to work, conjuring an image of a large-scale map he had once studied.

- fantastic universe, january 1954

🧠 brain candy:

🇨🇳 buzzfeed used public records, satellite images & interviews to find and map scores of factories built right inside xinjiang's mass internment camps. an ex-detainee who was forced to sew school uniforms said that inside, "i felt like i was in hell.”

🕵️‍♂️ daniel gross on the need for a new google. nothing wild here but i don’t think i’m alone in thinking that search has gotten noticeably worse.

🦠 year 2: what happens next with sars-cov-2 depends on how our immune systems react to the vaccines, and whether the virus evolves in response. both factors are notoriously hard to predict.

🍗 how koreans were first introduced to american-style fried chicken during the korean war.

📱 great piece on understanding the complex international war to be the digital bank for the african consumer including some bonus goodies about kai os, a new mobile operating system that runs on affordable phones.

🇵🇱 at a water plant in poland, there are eight clams with sensors attached to their shells. if the clams close because they don’t like the taste of the water, the city’s supply is automatically shut off.

🤪 mildly humorous:
💡 longer reads:

🇩🇪 franco a.

a german army officer used shoe shine and makeup to pose as a refugee in 2017. the ruse, prosecutors say, was part of a far-right plot.

at the height of europe’s migrant crisis, a bearded man in sweatpants walked into a police station. his pockets were empty except for an old cellphone and a few foreign coins.

in broken english, he presented himself as a syrian refugee. he said he had crossed half the continent by foot and lost his papers along the way. the officers photographed and fingerprinted him. over the next year, he would get shelter and an asylum hearing, and would qualify for monthly benefits.
his name, he offered, was david benjamin.

in reality, he was a lieutenant in the german army. he had darkened his face and hands with his mother’s makeup and applied shoe shine to his beard. instead of walking across europe, he had walked 10 minutes from his childhood home in the western city of offenbach.

the ruse, prosecutors say, was part of a far-right plot to carry out one or several assassinations that could be blamed on his refugee alter ego and set off enough civil unrest to bring down the federal republic of germany.

the officer, franco a., as his name is rendered in court documents in keeping with german privacy laws, denies this. he says he was trying to expose flaws in the asylum system. but his elaborate double life, which lasted 16 months, unraveled only after the police caught him trying to collect a loaded handgun he had hidden in an airport bathroom in vienna.

“that was really a shocking moment,” said aydan ozoguz, a lawmaker who was commissioner for refugees and integration at the time. “the asylum system should identify cheaters, no doubt. but the bigger story is: how could someone like this be a soldier in germany?”

👉 read more via the new york times.

👨‍🌾 everything is farmville.

farmville—which helped transform facebook from a place for friends and family into a time-eating destination in itself—shut down on december 31st. its legacy of addictive behavioural traits carries far beyond gaming.

in early 2009, when facebook was still nascent in its efforts to swallow as much of the internet as possible, online games were not yet the behemoth they would become.

then, that june, came farmville. if you weren’t among the tens of millions of people tending a cartoon patch of land on facebook each day, piling up an endless stream of cutesy collectibles, you were still getting copious nags and nudges from your friends asking for help. the game either pulled facebook users into an obsession or persistently reminded them that they were missing out on one.

the flash-based game created by zynga, designed to be played within facebook, is shutting down on thursday — yes, there were people still playing it — though its sequels that can be played through mobile apps will survive. but the original farmville lives on in the behaviors it instilled in everyday internet users and the growth-hacking techniques it perfected, now baked into virtually every site, service and app vying for your attention.

at its peak, the game had 32 million daily active users and nearly 85 million players over all. it helped transform facebook from a place you went to check in on updates — mostly in text form — from friends and family into a time-eating destination itself.

“we thought of it as this new dimension in your social, not just a way to get games to people,” said mark pincus, who was chief executive of zynga at the time and is now chairman of its board of directors. “i thought: ‘people are just hanging out on these social networks like facebook, and i want to give them something to do together.’”

👉 read more via the new york times.

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