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Apr 2, 2023 5 min read

🎙️ Big Tech Little Tech #22: VTubers, Lil Miquela, DPReview, Spotify and conker police

Shaun and Rick talk about VTubers and other virtual influencers using YouTube and Instagram to make a living. What’s our fascination with fantasy characters? Plus, Ikea drones, au revoir DPR, the Utah Social Media Regulation Act, remembering Max Headroom, and Spotify’s VPN blame game.

🎙️ Big Tech Little Tech #22: VTubers, Lil Miquela, DPReview, Spotify and conker police

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‎Big Tech Little Tech: VTubers, Lil Miquela, DPReview, Spotify and conker police on Apple Podcasts
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00:00 Preamble

Ahead of his five-day cycling marathon, Rick announces the purchase of a new bike. Shaun suggests he take a massage gun with him to pummel the lactic acid out of his 107-year-old sinews.

02:50 Tempting Tech

Rick's tech of the week is the news that home furnishing retailer Ikea will have 100 drones flying around its European warehouses (during off-hours) taking stock of inventory. It's not a novel case by any means. Car maker Seat has been using drones above production lines for a couple of years (but whether it still does is another question).

Shaun’s tech of the week is an obituary to DPReview, a site he’s relied on many times to stay up to date with camera technology. As part of its job cuts, Amazon is closing the site after 25 years of operation. Sadly, the closing of the site also means decades of content will disappear. RIP DPR.

09:45 Tech News

  1. The BBC has joined other organisations in “advising staff to delete TikTok from corporate phones because of privacy and security fears”. Reuters says “advertisers are seeking assurances from TikTok”.
  2. A 3D-printed rocket called Terran-1 took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida this past week. 85% of the rocket was 3D printed.
  3. The US Federal Trade Commission is proposing a formal ban on subscriptions that are simple to start but difficult to stop. Amazon Prime had to simplify its cancelation process last year in the EU under regulatory pressure.
  4. In America, the governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, has signed a bill that will require under-18s to obtain the consent of a guardian before joining social media platforms.
The Utah Social Media Regulation Act. Social media platforms will have to conduct age verification for all Utah residents, ban all ads for minors and impose a curfew, making their sites off limits between 10:30pm and 6:30am for anyone under 18. Is Rick impressed? No, he’s cynical and thinks it’s political, which is what it looks like.

“It's one country, but they've got 50 different ways of running it,” says Rick. "I think there's more about politics in this than there is around the actual sense of protecting people.”

12:24 VTubers and digital influencers

VTubers are virtual YouTubers – content creators who use 3D avatars or characters to interact with their audience rather than their own face. MarketWatch says the global VTuber market size was valued at $2188m in 2022, “and is expected to expand, reaching $13,265m by 2028”.

Rick and Shaun start their discussion with some background as to what a VTuber is, as well as YouTube Super Chat.


33:41 OUTRO

The Playlist is a Netflix show about the origins of Spotify. Rick hasn’t seen it yet, which is unlike him, but it possibly boils down to Netflix not serving it up for him in Spain. This takes our hosts down the VPN route, and how the Spotify support team is blaming Rick for all sorts of guff.

The winner in all of this? Probably Apple Music.

Further Reading

Virtual Humans & Quest for Realism, Experience & Influence
Wiser! #9 (Premium): Virtual Humans. Mark Zuckerberg says that Mixed Reality is the next big thing.

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