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In one of the most dramatic, rapid rise and falls in recent music history, the rapper FN Meka has been dropped by his record label less than two weeks after Capitol Music Group first announced the deal, citing a horrendous online paper trail of racist, offensive, and culturally insensitive content. FN Meka garnered a massive social media presence since his debut in 2023, garnering over 220,000 Instagram followers atop another 10.3 million on TikTok, but it only took a few days’ worth of viral backlash for the performer to fall from digital grace.
[Related: How artificial intelligence exploded over the past decade.]
FN Meka isn’t “real,” in so much that he is a sentient person He’s an AI-generated rap avatar created by Anthony Martini and Brandon Le back in 2023 that relies on proprietary music technology from an industry development company called Vydia to generate beats, melodies, and even lyrics “created using thousands of data points compiled from video games and social media” that are subsequently rapped by anonymous human for actual songs. Singles like “Moonwalkin’” and “Florida Water,” the latter of which even has a music video featuring guest spots from actual, human rappers, have garnered millions of listens.
But while FN Meka’s data points derive from human emotions and experiences, the end-result has long been an uncomfortable, socially tone-deaf project whose avatar raps and posts to social media about its “experiences” with the prison industrial complex, police brutality, and racism. After Capitol’s announcement earlier this month, one of FN Meka’s Instagram entries in particular went viral due to its absurdly insensitive content clearly designed to explicitly reference real Black men’s trauma.
Industry Blackout, a nonprofit dedicated to pursuing racial equity within the music business, called out Capitol’s decision to enter into a partnership with Martini and Le’s Factory New imprint via social media earlier today. “While we applaud innovation in tech that connects listeners to music and enhances the experience, we find fault in the lack of awareness in how offensive this caricature is,” the group said in a statement. “It is a direct insult to the Black community and our culture. An amalgamation of gross stereotypes, appropriative mannerisms that derive from Black artists, complete with slurs infused in lyrics.”
[Related: This new AI tool from Google could change the way we search online.]
Capitol, for its part, is taking a more apologetic tone during the fallout. “We offer our deepest apologies to the Black community for our insensitivity in signing this project without asking enough questions about equity and the creative process behind it,” the company said in a statement. “We thank those who have reached out to us with constructive feedback in the past couple of days—your input was invaluable as we came to the decision to end our association with the project.”
It’s unclear what will become of FN Meka moving forward, along with the technology behind him. Even devoid of its problematic underpinnings and culturally appropriative foundations, creating a completely artificial artist and brand has huge implications for both the entertainment industry and creative labor in general. The discussions surrounding integrity, originality, and innate humanity within AI-derived art are as endless as its possibilities to go horribly, uncomfortably awry.
“The question was: How do we break an avatar as if it was a real artist and not a spectacle? It unfortunately turned into a spectacle anyway,” Martini said in his discussion with The New York Times. “… Some of the early content, now if you take it out of context, it obviously looks worse or different than it was intended.”
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Battlefield 2042 just dropped from the top 50 most-played Xbox games
If you’re a Battlefield player, it’s possible that you’ve noticed the game 2042 is no longer in the top 50 most-played games on Xbox.
The top 50 games are those with the highest number of players in a single hour.
The game has been performing poorly since its launch with reported glitches and a revamped progression system.
The Battlefield franchise has been a mainstay of the Xbox Live charts for years but it seems the luck is changing if the latest reports are anything to go by.
When the official date and game requirements were announced, things seemed to be moving swiftly in the right direction.
However, the recent release of Battlefield 2042 has not only been a disappointment for fans of the Battlefield franchise but it’s also brought down the series’ ranking in the top 50 played games on Xbox Live.
The game suffered from technical issues at launch, including rampant crashes and memory leaks. The game also featured a revamped progression system that turned off many fans of the classic Battlefield experience.Drop from the top
Battlefield 2042 is not in the top 50 most-played games on the system, despite releasing just about three months ago. Battlefield 2042 has been on a downward trend for months, with many users complaining about bugs, glitches and boring gameplay.
This is pretty surprising, considering that Battlefield 2042 was once the most played Xbox game on Steam. Now, Battlefield 5 seems to be progressing at a faster rate leaving Battlefield 2042 behind.
In fact, according to data from Steam Charts, Battlefield 5 is now more popular than Battlefield 2042 on PC. Server issues aren’t the whole story here, though. The game’s retention numbers are also low, with about half of all players who try the game giving up after just one match.A fall from grace
Battlefield 2042 is no longer being played by many people and has fallen off a major leaderboard that tracks the most popular multiplayer games on the Xbox One. The slip from charts is not a good sign as reports also indicate the numbers on Steam are also not doing so well.
This isn’t a good sign for the game’s future, because if there aren’t that many people playing it, then it’s probably on its way towards going free-to-play.
A quick glance at the top 50 most-played games on Xbox includes; Halo Infinite, Apex Legends, Grand Theft Auto 5, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Fortnite, with the number 50 slot going to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.Free or not, problems are still there
EA hasn’t made any official announcements about Battlefield 2042 going free-to-play, but this move would make a lot of sense for them.
If Battlefield 2042 is going to make a comeback, it’s going to need to do more than just make its premium content free – it will need to overhaul the game’s core mechanics.
EA has been under a lot of pressure recently due to the loot box debacle and some other decisions that upset their customers. This is mostly because the last Battlefield game did not meet expectations within the company.
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Record Financial Year for University Bond rating agency Moody’s upgrades BU’s outlook
BU has had a string of record-breaking years financially, generating $157.5 million in operating reserves during fiscal 2024. Photo by Cydney Scott
Boston University ended the last fiscal year with record operating reserves and a record sum of cash gifts from a record number of alumni. Those results cap a string of strong years that have in part led Moody’s Investors Service to revise BU’s rating outlook from “stable” to “positive.”
The University generated $157.5 million in operating reserves when fiscal 2024 closed June 30, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. Those funds support the academic mission of BU, with approximately $100 million earmarked to support physical plant renovations and expansion across the University, such as the Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering and the new studio theater and production and education facility for the College of Fine Arts, says Derek Howe, BU’s vice president for budget and capital planning.
The remainder of these reserves are funds generated as part of revenue-sharing agreements with the University’s various schools and colleges and provide support to the academic and research mission of the University. Examples include upcoming initiatives such as the General Education program, the common core required of undergraduates across all academic programs, starting with the freshman class entering in 2023, Howe says.
“Fiscal 2014, 2024, 2024 were all record years for reinvestment into the University,” he says.
Martin Howard, senior vice president, chief financial officer, and treasurer, says BU’s financial health reflects the University’s growing reputation and increased interest on the part of student applicants—as witnessed by the growth and quality of the undergraduate applicant pool and the recent growth in graduate enrollments—as well as its fundraising and sponsored research funding (which mostly comes from the federal government). More than half of the University’s operating revenues is from net tuition and fees.
Sponsored research revenue totaled $307 million in fiscal year 2024, a small increase over the previous year. That’s noteworthy “in this extremely competitive environment for research funding,” Howard says. BU’s admission in 2012 to the Association of American Universities, a consortium of 62 leading public and private research universities, bolstered the University’s positioning for research support, he says.
Howe says that BU’s efforts at operating efficiently also played a part in its financial situation, adding, “We are always looking for continuous improvement.”
The University’s financial performance contrasts with that of many peers. “The trends at Boston University are more impressive in the context of stagnant or declining operating trends for many rated institutions of higher education,” says Howard.
Moody’s revised outlook for BU signals the potential for a credit rating upgrade if these financial trends continue. The credit rating measures an institution’s ability to repay borrowed capital; the higher the rating, the easier it is for the University to access debt capital at lower borrowing costs. BU’s current rating is A1. (Moody’s ratings range from Aaa to C, with numbers added within each grade for further differentiation.)
In revising its assessment of the University’s rating outlook, Moody’s report cited BU’s “improved ability to invest in strategic initiatives and grow financial reserves through strengthening cash flow, monetization of real estate, and fundraising combined with a moderate reduction of liquidity risks in its debt portfolio” while noting “its organizational culture of continuous improvement and benchmarking for driving operational efficiencies and strategic use of resources.”
On the fundraising front, BU enjoyed a record $157 million in cash gifts from more than 51,000 donors in fiscal 2024, says Scott Nichols, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. Nichols says fiscal 2023 is off to a hotter than usual start as well. The first quarter of every year, July through September, “is usually the worst of the year for us,” he says. Fundraising during the first quarter in recent years averaged $14 million. This year, he says, BU raised $35 million, with a big boost from two large gifts over the summer of $8 million and $10 million.
Since April 2010, all gifts to the University have been part of its comprehensive Campaign for BU, with a goal of $1.5 billion by its end in 2023. When the last fiscal year closed in June, $1.045 billion had been raised.
Nearly 300,000 gifts have been given to the campaign so far, including 167 gifts of $1 million or more. That exceeds the number of gifts that size given to BU between its founding in 1839 and the start of the campaign, Nichols says.
BU recently made the CASE 50, the list of the world’s top fundraising universities compiled by the Council for the Support and Advancement of Education. To crack the list, schools must meet several criteria, among them having had a $1 billion campaign. That was the University’s original goal, and when it was met in April, the Campaign for BU upped its target.
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Alto’s Adventure, an endless snowboarding odyssey for iOS unlike any other, has received its first major content update after making its App Store debut in February of this year.
Available free to existing users, the ‘Workshop’ update includes support for Apple’s 64-bit processors, iOS’s low-level graphics frameworks called Metal, along with a bunch of other new things.
Alto’s Adventure 1.1 also packs in six new languages and a bunch of fun new items available via the in-game workshop, such as helmets, llama horn, wingsuit timer and more.
Here are some of the new items in Alto’s Adventure 1.1.
Wingsuit timer lets you fly even greater distances by increasing the duration of the wingsuit timer. Like other new items, the new wingsuit timer is available in the workshop, provided you have collected enough coins to buy it.
The new helmet protects you from a single crash per turn, but won’t rescue you from chasms. For that, you’ll need the Chasm Rescue update, described as “a magical pickaxe that saves you from a single chasms per turn.”
And this is how it works.
Seen further below: the new helmet in action.
Check out the stampede.
The update includes too many improvements, bug fixes and enhancements to describe individually so check out the official changelog below for the full list of changes.
Alto’s Adventure 1.1 changelog:
Helmets—Carved from wood, these helmets will protect you from a single crash per run. They wont help with chasms though!
Pickaxe—A magical pickaxe that saves you from a single chasm crash per run.
Llama horn—A blast from this mighty horn will cause a llama stampede! Once purchased, this item will appear at random on the mountainside.
Llama horn strength—Increase the strength of the llama horn to cause even bigger stampedes!
Wingsuit timer—Increase the duration of the wingsuit timer to fly even greater distances!
Coin magnet and hover feather—Upgrade the magnet and feather timers even further than before!
6 new languages:
Added 64-bit and Metal rendering support
Added spring loaded “quick select” menu to player button (tap and hold to open)
Options to change player and access the workshop from end-of-run screen
Replaced Chinese Traditional and Japanese fonts with language-specific variants
Improved vertical camera tracking when approaching chasm
Fixed bug with goals 32-3 and 46-3
Fixed bug that would cause Izel’s wingsuit rocket sound to get stuck on
Recovering after a fall gives you a speed boost
Replaying tutorial can be canceled by returning to home screen
Various other UI additions and improvements
Built by Snowman, Alto’s Adventure is one of the best games in the App Store.
It’s stylized graphics, unique artwork style, smooth execution, addictive concept and evolving challenges have kept me glued to my iPhone countless nights.
Simulated night and day and weather conditions, backdrops like Chasm, Dawn, Forrest, Night, Snow and Storm, more than 200 goals to compete, each carefully handcrafted and raising the ladder in terms of the skills required, somber soundtrack and sound effects designed for an immersive experience and other perks make this game a must-have, in my personal opinion.
Check out my review of Alto’s Adventure.
The 77-megabyte app requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with iOS 7.0 or later and is optimized for the iPhone 5/5s/5c, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus screen resolutions.
Alto’s Adventure is $1.99 in the App Store.
Could AI content creation positively impact your SERP visibility?
Ready to ramp up your content creation output and efficiently scale your strategy?
AI content generators are here and ready to help you increase your output – and here’s what you need to know.
On June 14, I moderated a webinar with Connor Carreras, Sr. Director of Digital Customer Success at Conductor.
Carreras provided critical insights on how you can integrate AI into your content marketing strategy to boost your SEO results and stay ahead of the competition.
Here’s a summary of the webinar. To access the entire presentation, complete the form.Basics Of AI & Large Language Models
Does AI genuinely understand its output? Does it comprehend context and words like a human speaker would?
LLMs, or large language models, predict the next part of a sentence using a complex system.
However, they may miss the underlying meaning.
Thus, when using AI tools, remember that they might only sometimes convey the intended message, even though their sentences are grammatically correct.What This Means For You
The good news is: Google doesn’t oppose AI-generated content.
As long as your content demonstrates E-E-A-T and meets the searcher’s needs, Google will not penalize you for using AI to assist with content generation.
[Check out Google Search’s Guidance about AI-Generated Content] Instantly access the on-demand webinar →
Still, using AI will help if you were wary of accuracy and originality. Generative AI only works with existing data and can’t create entirely new ideas.
So, if you rely entirely on AI, consider adding your unique touch or experiences, as AI can’t provide this.Tips For Your Content
To apply generative AI to your writing, start with Prompt Engineering.
Simply put, this is the act of giving the proper instructions to GPT for the desired result.
Instead of asking GPT for something general, you should give it instructions that match what it has learned to get the outcome you desire.
[Discover the best prompts] Instantly access the on-demand webinar →Tip 1: Use AI To Brainstorm New Content Ideas
For brainstorming, you can ask the AI, for example, for five ideas in a specific category. It can provide suitable subheadings, which can structure your long-form content.
This method offers a valuable way to obtain a high-level summary of common themes around a topic.
It helps identify relevant long-tail keywords, questions, and other aspects to cover.
You can then add your voice and style to the writing, avoiding the originality problem. Since it provides an outline, you don’t need to scrutinize factual errors or AI-generated fabrications.
[Get an example] Instantly access the on-demand webinar →Tip 2: Use AI To Write Parts Of First Drafts
This is excellent for obtaining targeted content for small sections and incorporating it into your writing.
It helps with focus and can provide snippets, paragraphs, or sentences to enhance your work, especially when aiming to rank for specific keywords in an article.
[Get proof] Instantly access the on-demand webinar →Tip 3: Use AI To Revise Existing Content
OpenAI has trained the model for suggestions and revisions, yielding targeted and clear results.
By providing a framework and specific question, the model generates revised content that directly answers the question and aligns with the intent of the section.
[Find out how this addresses originality & tone] Instantly access the on-demand webinar →Tip 4: Review Content & Provide Feedback
By doing this, AI tools serve as your writing buddy, providing concise feedback and suggestions. Explicit constraints and specific directions are necessary for focused guidance.
It offers feedback on content relevance and provides targeted recommendations, making it valuable for keyword targeting.The Biggest Takeaway
AI is a tool, not a magic wand. It opens opportunities to enhance content creation and improve efficiency and effectiveness.
However, it’s important to remember that AI is imperfect and only brings something partially new.
Instead, it works as a valuable partner in content production.[Slides] Enhancing SEO Content Writing With AI: Opportunities & Challenges
Here’s the presentation:Join Us For Our Next Webinar! KPIs, Metrics & Benchmarks That Matter For SEO Success In 2023
Reserve my Seat
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal
An infographic explaining how inbound marketing works together with content marketing
Whether you call it inbound marketing, social media marketing or content marketing, we’re broadly referring to the same thing; at least that’s how we see it.
Dave and I believe that inbound marketing starts with considered, quality content, well published and promoted that, in turn, drives the inbound benefit through sharing and search.
The ‘free bonus’ is that you’re link-building and gaining social signals for search engine optimisation as well creating great content – something so often over-looked and under-valued.The Content Marketing model infographic
This Content Marketing model was developed at First 10 Digital when working with a client who wanted to understand the full process for her team. We hope our infographic will help you plot your success too.Content marketing blueprint
People liked it so much we thought it deserved a more polished design with Smart Insights input – so here it is along with a few notes.
Have a look, and please let us know what you think.A simple model that still requires hard work to implement
While not making light of the reality of hard work involved in considering how to integrate this model with your wider plans, including ongoing social and search marketing, I hope the simplicity of this process still really jumps out. We’ve have much more detail on how to apply it to create a content marketing strategy here:
Recommended Guide: Content marketing strategy
: Content marketing strategy
Our 88 page Ebook features a workbook format with checklists and examples that makes it quick to scan to develop a strategy and apply the practical tips and tools.Excellent branded content
You’re not in the game without it, I’m afraid.
It’s easy to over-egg the channels, especially social media, yet even social media experts will tell you that without the objects around which to socialise and share there is little chance of interaction or sharing.
And, for most of us, the best object is relevant, quality, branded content (by definition that’s not quick or easy!) that’s exceptionally well seeded.Develop a connected hub
This may be a fascinating and well considered hub like American Express’ Open Forum or something relatively simple like Eloqua’s much applauded and popular Revenue blog.
Don’t over state it – it’s still a blog but it’s a brilliant and relevant one. Design your hub in line with other assets, think about the positioning (how great is Elqoua’s Revenue proposition considering they sell marketing software), and then get your quality content on there.
The high end will consider the awesome but extremely pricey Gigya, or cheaper Janrain.Publish and promote
This is the crucial step, the bit that really is hard work.
How and where to seed with influencers in your market, the portals and the bloggers who have the credibility and reach that you need.
And, don’t forget the social networks, communities and forums where your audience is already talking about related stuff.
‘Free’, no, ‘Easy’, no – since when was great marketing ever easy though?Spark interaction
All that content needs to drive somewhere, to your content hub most likely, although the idea of ‘fulfilment’ can take place anywhere, really.
Suffice to say that in return for making it worth someone’s while to interact with you,you capture new potential customers and, more importantly, their permission to continue an ongoing dialogue that moves them, presumably, towards the sale of a product or service.
The focus is on the relationship, which is why email and social media combine so well.
Relationship building or interaction takes place wherever your audience is, in social network, on your site, etc.Sell
I toyed with omitting this from my blueprint list but, at the end of the day, it’s the commercial reason we create valuable content.
If you’re offering a solution your target market finds very valuable, then content marketing is simpler for you.
Focus on providing valuable solutions to your target market, don’t pitch and scream about your products off the bat. People are looking for solutions, not your product or service.
Offer them what they need and want – the secret to effortless selling.Free SEO prizes
The issue of miss-selling of ‘SEO’ by so many of the agencies plying this trade is almost too tempting to ignore here. In my experience these agencies are often guilty of making what’s actually quite a simple process (I did not easy!) seem like a dark art. I’ll avoid the temptation to pursue this now and keep my supporting thoughts to myself until another time!
If you succeed in creating great content, you should benefit from two free bonus prizes in relation to your natural search marketing:
Free prize #1 – If you (or your SEO agency) follow this content marketing process, I hope its ability to drive link-building is evident. The most important factor in gaining the desired search rank is: develop content worth re-sharing and worth linking to!!
Free prize #2 – Your quality content, well marketed on the most relevant sites, ensures that you develop a brand footprint in Google and Bing that’s wider than the one ordinarily enjoyed by your chúng tôi don’t have to directly rank for everything; indeed, this is increasingly hard to do.Imagine an extreme example – the BBC website picks up on your content and publishes it, quantum leaping you up in SERP visibility. Who equates to the BBC in your market?For example, a Gap travel company might strive to have content worthy of Lonely Planet or relevant specialist blogs or forums, such as niche opportunities in volunteer travel or snowboarding.
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