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Enter, tastefluencer: The rise of a curator economy

People get thousands of likes on their wedding posts. Abhay Arora gets as many on a post about a wedding playlist. Last week, he uploaded a carousel post on his Instagram account, @thatmusicproject, featuring clips from nine popular wedding songs in Hindi and Punjabi. It fetched over 20,000 likes. His cheeky caption pegged itself to the viral news of the moment: “Leaked wedding playlist for Kiara and Sid’s big-fat Indian wedding.”

A few rows below, he has another playlist—a curation of songs th

What you liked, shared, subscribed to in 2022

What you liked, shared, subscribed to in 2022

This is not the first year-in-review piece you’re reading and it won’t be the last.

It is fashionable to do a Spotify-Wrapped-esque edition around this time of the year but it’s also good to be aware that you cannot emulate the pop culture significance of a year-ender that shows you the mirror while violins play in the background. With that preemption, let’s look back at our journey of understanding the world of Like.Share.Subscribe through this ye

The internet's shiny new toys and you

The internet's shiny new toys and you Writing about the internet increasingly feels rather confusing. Is this a reality show one is watching unfold? Is it a circus? Dystopia? Or all of the above? AI’s various gifts set the internet ablaze these past few weeks. In the first week of December,'s ChatGPT, AI-generated-text chatbot, mesmerized everyone on my timeline. Soon, there was a palpable fear that it may eat up many jobs. By the end of the fortnight, though, it was clear that the chatb

The season of 'seenzoned' and too many notifications

Nipun Jain has a complicated relationship with social media notifications. When she receives one, the 26-year-old artist finds herself reacting to it in her head but often forgets to share her reaction with the sender. “If it’s something funny they send, for instance… I see, I laugh, I move on.” Two days later, she realises she has missed responding but a “haha” won’t suffice now, “so you tell yourself you will send a proper reply in a bit”. That almost never happens. “I think I have lost touch

Can IMDb fix the fault in its stars?

Himanshu Khanna would like to create an IMDb rival. IMDb, or the internet movie database, is a 32-year-old one-of-a-kind online film directory owned by Amazon. It is a user-operated site, meaning anyone can add and edit the content on the site if they have an IMDb account (which is as basic as creating an account on any social network). Over the years, users have populated this site with upwards of 477 million data items, including details like the title and release dates of content across multi

We need to TikTalk

It has been two and a half years since TikTok got banned in India for security concerns. Half a dozen homegrown alternatives have come up during this period. Some folded over time, and others consolidated. And even as YouTube and Instagram plan to roll out monetisation of their TikTok equivalents, Shorts and Reels, respectively, (many) Indian creators haven’t been able to move on from the Chinese app that fetched them millions of followers and a global audience. Anushree Jain says she knows crea

Are you a social media user or are you being ‘used’ by it?

We are all social media users, but some of us are actively realising how social media is ‘using’ us. While the epiphany applies to all, it affects professional content creators rather deeply. “You find yourself putting things out just because the algorithm needs feeding… a monster designed to forget you the second you stop feeding it,” says comedian Rohan Joshi, via an Instagram post earlier this week. “This isn’t a bug but the future,”

Bro, I accidentally got a million followers

“It took me seven years to reach a million [followers], and then 20 more days to hit another million. It surely is a lot to take in.” A popular entertainment content creator sent me this note via their agency earlier this week. The hike in their Instagram follower count in the last three weeks, in their own words, is “surreal”. Since this was around the same time that a “glitch” led to a massive drop in followers for several digital creators on the platform, many initially thought a sudden spike

Where are all your ‘likes’ going?

Aman has given up on ‘likes’. The 25-year-old software developer, who posts contextual memes at @AmanHasNoName_2, gets an average of 50 likes on an Instagram post even though his analytics show the post has been shared or saved by four times as many users. Despite content gaining massive traction on social media platforms, people are not getting as many ‘likes’ on their viral posts as they once used to. Frustrating as it may seem to creators–because the ‘number

But first, let me take a self-assessment

So, Twitter has been Elon-ed. YouTube has seen a rare ad revenue drop. Meta’s virtual reality bet is making its actual reality look like a “train wreck”. Add to this the most alarming internet controversy of this month (IYKYK, and no, I am not referring to Pak Bean!)... Safe to say these are interesting times to be a tech reporter. But this is the last Sunday of the month. Time to reflect on reader feedback for the past few newsletters as I unpack all of

Maybe we’ve got the Gen Z and “cringe” emojis debate all wrong?

A lot (of confusion) can happen over an emoji. Apoorva Gupta was woken up at night by her parents one day. Her brother–who lives overseas–had sent them a ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji on WhatsApp, which they misinterpreted as him crying over something. “They were so stressed until I explained that the emoji actually conveys he is laughing hysterically,” recalls the 23-year-old product manager from Pune.

Emojis are an integral pa

Instagram Close Friends, Twitter Circle, and the magic of restricted access

“I post a lot of Stories on Instagram,” says Kanishka Thakur, a 24-year-old digital marketing professional from Nashik. Aware that her stream-of-consciousness uploads can come across as spammy, she is often concerned that her serious Stories might be overlooked by a portion of her 20,000 followers on the platform. So, she tries a hack sometimes: “Every time I have to post serious content as a Story, I post a Story for th

Taking a pause from moonlighting to moonwalk

Pardon the click-baiting on display here because we won’t be discussing moonlighting. It’s the last Sunday of the month, so today we shall moonwalk. Let’s move forward by gliding backwards to look at the reader insights that added to the stories from the past few weeks. Last month, we delved into the discourse around the declining relevance of ‘follower count’ on social media. We concluded that it was time to retire from this obsession with follower count and talk about the ‘engagement rate’ ins

Are you getting your 'Product-Creator Fit' right?

There’s a category of creators broadly defined as the “Instagram models”. The term is mostly used to refer to women Instacelebs who have a huge following and post content on trending reel formats interspersed with thirst traps. They’re regularly roped in for brand collaborations in categories like beauty, fashion, and lingerie. An obvious choice, one would think. But many brands don’t realise that unless a woman creator is specifically catering t

That popular show/movie: Now Playing at a Reel near you

In an Instagram Reel with over 63,000 likes, content creator Srishti Dixit mentions highlights of the recently released Hindi action-fantasy flick, Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva. It gives you a sense that Alia Bhatt may have spent most of her screen time in the movie yelling “Shiva” with a nasal twang. It reveals the possibility of a cameo by Shah Rukh Khan. And that there’s perhaps an iconic dialogue somewhere involving the word ‘button’. T

Reading between the highlights

“While the asymmetry of romantic power is unbearable, it is yet to be declared a criminal offence.” On Thursday, Tahini Bhushan, a 35-year-old lawyer from Noida, told me that these lines from economist Shrayana Bhattacharya’s book, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh, had been highlighted 64 times on Kindle. Two days later, as I sat down to write this letter, I noticed that the highlight count had gone up to 98. [Page 21 in font size 2, in case you’d like to check]. When you’re e-reading a book on Kin

The '0.5x/ultrawide lens picture' trend and our relationship with body image

“Are you taking this in 1x or 0.5x? Take it in 0.5x.” These days, whenever Simran Jain (@simranbalarjain) gets clicked with her friends, she ensures the picture is captured in ‘0.5x’. What the kodak is that, you ask? It’s an ultrawide lens setting available in the in-built cameras of the latest iPhone models, starting from iPhone 11. An ultrawide lens, as the name suggests, widens the field of vision compared to a regul

Kala Chashma and the crusade for original artist’s credit on the internet

Last week, I managed to speak to Amar Arshi, the voice behind Kala Chashma, the 90s song that’s now become a worldwide sensation. This is all thanks to a video–of an Oslo-based dance group Quick Style’s performance at a wedding–that started doing the rounds on the internet roughly three months ago. The song they groove to is a remix of Kala Chashma from the 2016 Hindi film, Baar Baar Dekho. Hundreds of thousands of people,

Gone from cloud to colloquial, still not sure if hashtags matter

Aashi Adani, a beauty and fashion creator, hasn’t used a single hashtag beneath her Instagram posts in over a year now. Earlier, adding up to 30 hashtags–the maximum that Instagram allows–was quite common for creators like her. Aashi has over 167,000 followers on the platform. On the internet, the concept of a hashtag (characterised by the ‘#’ symbol) was invented in 2007 by Silicon Valley product designer Chris Messina. It was to

When Guardians of the Galaxy’s director got involved with our newsletter

Journalists get a variety of nightmares. A recurring one is finding a factual error in your story after it is published. Earlier this month, this bad dream came true for me. In response to the newsletter on how Stranger Things got Gen Z humming 80s music, a reader commented that the Marvel franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, was also instrumental in reviving international bangers from the 70s and 80s in a similar fashion. “
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