Tim Boucher

Questionable content, possibly linked

The algorithm does not know me

Not long ago, I got into a bit of a fight with Spotify support because I had explicitly turned off autplay of suggested songs after my album or playlist ends because I hate their recommendations, and don’t want to be forced to listen to things I don’t intend to. They told me it must be a problem with my Sonos, and I should contact them, which I contested.

I found out later that it was indeed not caused by me or my Sonos (as I always maintained), but by product changes they pushed through that amounted to a “feature not a bug” that causes autoplay to always function on connected devices. And of course they autoplay you the bullshit they want you to hear, not what you actually want…

Now, I get into support fights with some regularity. I guess it is a combination of leftover “support rage” from when I was doing that job, combined with the always-on nature of our connection to digital products these days. And, of course, how frequently something goes wrong… Anyway, it’s rare that I get public “you were right” vindication like this, but I will take it. At least they allow you now after the fact to disable autoplay on connected devices.

This leads me to my next gripe: the Spotify 2021 playlist of what were supposed to be my best songs. It’s usually sort of fun to go through and review this playlist each year, but this year I noticed something annoying as hell. First, there were a bunch of songs on there that I swear I’ve never even heard before. How could they be in my top 100 songs or whatever? Impossible!

Second, I also noticed that there was a preponderance of songs in there that I actually don’t really even “like” but had merely tolerated, because for some reason Spotify is always inserting them into playlists I would find myself listening to because of a given genre. Why do they do this? Is it because of payola from record companies? I mean, it must be.

The point I want to make here though is a simple one. It applies as much to Spotify as it does to other websites where an algorithm is trying to foist upon me recommendations that I am supposed to like, because supposedly other people who are “just like me” also liked them. The frequency with which these recommendation algorithms are just straight up wrong is annoying at best, and soul-deadening at worst. To make matters worse, trying to re-write the history of the past year & my musical listening patterns (one of my foremost pleasures in life), and claiming that the things you forced me to listen to are my favorites.

I’ve had just about enough of this crap… and yet I don’t see any end in sight unless I stop using services based on algorithmic recommendations altogether.

Games are better than social media

I’m a few years behind, but I picked up Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag on Nintendo Switch to play over the holiday break. And of course, I’m loving it. Except for all the stupid “simulation” stuff involving having to walk around in the Abstergo offices… those parts drive me insane. Just let me blow up ships please…

The point I want to make though, in brief, is a simple one. After years spent on social media, and having had to work on it professionally, I’ve decided that I think playing games is way way healthier than “playing” social media. Not all games are created equal, of course, but by and large, games are professionally designed. They go through team review, iterations, and have many contributors. They have budgets. They’re intended to be fun and make money.

Versus social media which is like, any yahoo with a keyboard who may be drunk or high or have a mental illness, or have caught some kind of extreme form of radicalization… all of that wrapped up inside of venture-capital backed echo chambers where anger & being shitty out loud is incentivized. Don’t get wrong, some good comes of social media – I guess. But I’m not sure it is that which was promised us in the ads. I’m not sure it’s “togetherness” and “communication” so much as it is things that are occasionally funny or cute pictures of puppies and stuff. The rest I could kind of take or leave. Just let me get back on my pirate ship please, or let me sneak up behind someone out of the bushes and knock them out and loot them. I’ll take games over social media any day. I used to shit on games, but there’s so much more there than we give them credit for.

Having what you need

I’ve noticed a phenomenon – especially in carpentry, but appears in other settings too – where I will need a specific piece of wood at a certain (random) length as part of a build. And then I poke around for two seconds in the garage or basement, and I end up finding a piece that is exactly the right size, and doesn’t even need to be cut. Often as not, it’s not only the correct length, but it may also be the correct width on top of that.

How does this happen? It’s a mystery to me still, one which I warmly welcome when it occurs. As a sign of… something. It doesn’t matter what. A sign of probably having done a lot of past jobs, and materials, etc. getting built up into a backlog. But I tend to think of it as something more.

I remember first voicing this observation out loud when I was doing some WWOOFing in Greece. The guy I was staying with, who was British, upon hearing what I’d observed stated, “Your whole life can be like that…” Meaning, I guess, that you need something, and have the solution to that need near to hand.

It’s funny because when it happens it seems almost magical or mystical, but its results are intensely practical and of the moment.

Reminds me also of a theory in anthropology, that hunter-gatherers were the “original affluent society.” Wikipedia:

“Sahlins observes that affluence is the satisfaction of wants, “which may be ‘easily satisfied’ either by producing much or desiring little.”[1] Given a culture characterized by limited wants, Sahlins argued that hunter-gatherers were able to live ‘affluently’ through the relatively easy satisfaction of their material needs.”

Anyway, it’s a nice place to be in where finding a pre-cut piece of wood of exactly the right size can make your day. I’d call that affluence for sure.

New review

Another great review of Conspiratopia on Goodreads, via someone who found it on Reddit & enjoyed the book:

“Really great piece of litterature that reads like you’re living the story right next to the protagonist.
The subtle escalation towards what the narrator fears is really well done, during reading i was like uh oh, Uh Oh, UH OH thats not good: then the end happened…

Also the satire aspect is actually funny, and found myself laughing out loud !

Keep up the good work 👍 !”

Thanks for reading, my friend!

Observation on Reddit bans

I guess it’s true what they say, that the path of the righteous self-promoter is beset on all sides by the inequities of complainers and the tyranny of power-mad subreddit moderators.

Having spent quite a lot of time promoting Conspiratopia on Reddit, I’ve managed to rack up probably a dozen permanent or temporary bans across a variety of subreddits.

One thing I’ve noticed is that, without fail, it is the subs which are ostensibly dedicated to “freedom” and/or questioning authority, and exploring alternative viewpoints are 100% the quickest to ban you over the smallest or imagined infractions. Almost as if they were not-so-secretly just authoritarians wearing disguises! It would be exhausting if I didn’t just chalk it up at this point as part of the cost of doing business.

Quick update & new review excerpts

Recently passed 600 NFTs given away, and more than 300 people have now downloaded Conspiratopia.

Continuing to see some really nice reviews being posted on Goodreads by new readers. Here are some excerpts.

S.I. writes (archive) in part:

“I think this is a great comment – a raw, unbiased account – of what a normal joe goes through in the internet, and how fake news, viral stories, conspiracy theories all work as a sort of “cult” to attract people into performing certain activities online. Whether it’s marketing companies giving out free coupons in exchange for lenghty opinions on a certain product or a terrorist cell looking to get their positions tweeted out, it usually starts out by getting your attention – a bored, maybe uneployed and disfranchised person – and inciting your curiosity.”

N.J. writes, in part (archived):

“With crazy twists and turns, this short book is a hell of a ride!”

Very positive and thoughtful reviews coming out from early readers of this book. Super nice to hear. Big thanks to everyone!

If anyone wants some $CONSPIRACY tokens, leave a comment with wallet address on Medium or send a message on the contact form at lostbooks.ca.

Happy New Year all!

New review on Goodreads!

Awesome new 5/5 review up on Goodreads for Conspiratopia by a reader named Petron (archived):

“Wow readers, a real standing ovation for the author, and certainly an authority for new generations of writers and readers for sure. I couldn’t sleep all night after reading Conspiratopia because my mind was looking for a solution all night long, involuntarily. An amazing adventure for any crypto enthusiast, cryptopunk, dinosaur and anyone who thinks that is the smartest and knows everything about surfing, different markets and surfing the sea of talents, I mean. Try to find your own key to the new dimension. Truthly recommend.”

Wow! Thank you so much, my friend!

Third New Conspiratopia Review

Another new and very positive review of my book, Conspiratopia, by Sukhmanjot Hans, posted to Goodreads, and their blog (archived).

A quick excerpt, but go read the whole thing!

This book has an exceptional storyline, something that I haven’t read before. It talks about Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and the futuristic world corresponding to how things are in the world today. […]

I actually liked the storyline and the concept was completely mind-blowing and genius. I always wondered about Artificial Intelligence attacking us or taking revenge from us by making us work from them as we make them do (Its confusing but its still something to think about). Not to lie, I was really invested in the story and also its really easy-to-read and perfect for beginners who’s into sci-fi and utopian worlds.

Thanks so much for all the kind words!

Second New Conspiratopia Review!

I’m excited to see so many positive reviews about my new book, Conspiratopia. The latest entry comes from a blog called The Wayward Reader (archived), who also rated the book 4/5 stars. Whoohoo!

Some selected excerpts, as this is a fairly long review:

My opinion of the book: This book is funny, clever and often hits close to home. I was thrown off by the dialogue including texting abbreviations at first and this made me feel really old! I adjusted though and only had to pause occasionally to ponder a new abbreviation. The characters are shallow, we don’t know much about them but in this story it works well. It is a very fast paced and entertaining book. People who text, game, and like online conspiracies should really have fun with this one! I am most impressed with how Timothy S. Boucher took so many different threads of modern life and managed to weave them into a very uniquely entertaining book. Great fun to read! […]

My youngest daughter doesn’t like to read. As a book lover, I feel like I failed in some way. She has read a few books and each time she does, I always am curious to see what captured her attention. I realize that she needs a book to meet an interest or experience that she has or would like to have. After I read this book, I called my daughter and read a chapter to her. When I finished, she was laughing and said I think you’ve actually found something I might read. She related to the language and circumstances!

Very fun to hear people from different walks of life, and different age groups getting a kick out of this book! Thanks everyone!

If you’d like a review copy of Conspiratopia for your blog, podcast, or to review on social media, please reach out to the publisher.

First Conspiratopia Review!

Yesterday brought the first review of my latest book, Conspiratopia, via a blogger in Croatia who runs a book review WordPress site called Soph’s Book World.

Here’s a direct link to the review, an archived version, and a copy on Goodreads. Since it’s a short review (and a short book!), I thought it appropriate to copy the whole thing here for future reference. Soph’s Book World gave the book 4/5 stars:

I must admit satire is not my usual pick (as a matter of fact, I haven’t read something like this since high school), but, as shallow as it might sound, that gorgeous cover drew me in. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Our main character is just a normal dude, jobless, living with his mother and playing games all day, and he doesn’t mind it that much. However, when he stumbles upon a great job, which is taking surveys for a bunch of money, of course he doesn’t decline. So what if he has to give out a bunch of his personal info, at least he got free VR glasses and a pizza! But soon he finds out it would’ve been better if he signed a deal with the devil himself.

This was such an interesting book and definitely a breath of fresh air in comparison to my usual romances and fantasies. I would say if you’re also like me and don’t really know much about satire (or conspiracy theories), you might enjoy this.

This definitely made me think of myself, as I also do surveys for money in my free time and I also have all those apps where you spend hours upon hours playing games for a few cents. So I just might not be that different from our main character lol.

To summarize, this was a very interesting and quick read and even though it might seem as a harmless fictional story, it has a deeper meaning. The way you portray it comes to you. I quite enjoyed it and if you think this is the content you might like, definitely pick it up!

Very nice review, and it’s heartening to hear that the reviewer liked it, despite not being too steeped in satire as a genre, or conspiracy theories. I hope to have a few other bloggers who will publish reviews as well in the coming weeks.

If you’re a blogger, podcaster, or social media influencer who would like a digital copy of the book for review, please let me know. You can contact me at the Lost Books site.

Also, the book is available as an NFT. Here are more details!

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