Volv Concierge Issue #38

🎙️ 'Middle class' pop is just what we need

Hello everyone. Shannon here, hope y'all caught a much-needed break this long weekend. Some important events have occurred over the past few days, which I will delve into shortly. Then I'll explore some fascinating developments in media and pop culture. Finally, I'll conclude with an essay on Worldbuilding in Tech, followed by this week's vibes. Stay tuned 🤘

  • 'All eyes on Rafah' — We can't afford to look away

Graphic videos of babies beheaded and kids burnt alive at Rafah refugee tents (an area deemed safe) reiterate the horrors of what's happening in Gaza. At least 45 people were killed during Israel's attack, most of them women and children, sparking protests worldwide. Israeli PM Netanyahu called the attack "a tragic mistake" but vowed to press ahead... Since then, more attacks have followed and the city's two hospitals have been hit. World leaders condemned the massacre, sure, but the US, Canada, and most of Western Europe still won't recognize Palestine's independence (only 145 countries recognize Palestinian statehood).

  • BuzzFeed, loved by Millennials, could go 'anti-woke'

Former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has become the #4 stakeholder and now owns 8% of BuzzFeed. Supposedly in the running to be Trump's VP, he could significantly reshape the editorial focus and impact the media industry as a whole. BuzzFeed has already shut down its news division and is embracing AI.

  • The rise of 'middle class' pop

Camilla Cabello's 'alt' pop rebrand is one thing, but Kim Petras, Sabrina Carpenter, and Troye Sivan are on a whole new spectrum. Their internet fan bases propelled them towards success: commercial appeal is not so hot for this crowd, they value unique sound, aesthetics, and attitude. Gotta say, after the decadence of the Met Gala, this new cohort is bringing something fresh to the pop music genre.


Two weeks ago, I explored how world-building influenced the fashion industry. This week, I want to delve into the world-building of technology.

World-building in tech is pervasive, especially when once-unattainable fictional worlds, complete with exposition and lore, become reality. Many of the most extraordinary scenarios envisioned by creators of film, TV, and books—often from decades ago—have now materialized.

Let's start with Sam Altman's fascination with the sci-fi movie 'Her' — his ambition to make it a reality is well-known. 

The film's plot centers on a man's relationship with an AI named Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The AI is capable of learning and developing its own personality, mirroring Altman's vision for artificial intelligence. Controversially, he even used Scarlett Johansson's voice in ChatGPT without her consent in his commitment to this vision, which is evident in his tweet.

Next is Satya Nadella. Last week, Microsoft launched a new AI feature called Recall, which takes screenshots of everything on screen, allowing users to scroll back in time. This feature has been heavily criticized and is quite literally inspired by an episode of 'Black Mirror.' 

Meanwhile, Elon Musk's xAI startup is influenced by one of his favorite sci-fi books, Douglas Adams's 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.' The book's supercomputer, which provides the answer to "life, the universe, and everything," seems to have inspired xAI's mission to "understand the true nature of the universe."

As Elon has said, "Everyone has their sort of favorite philosopher, but my favorite philosopher is Douglas Adams."

Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and the like have all become revered tech leaders, reaching the apotheosis of the tech world. Their innovations are widely celebrated, along with their robotic dispositions. However, it goes without saying that without the visionary ideas of writers, innovations like video chatting, cell phones, tablets, drones, and robots might never have come into existence.

The impact of world-building resonates throughout the very essence of our society.

Writers hold a pivotal role; among them, fiction writers stand as indispensable architects of our cultural and technological landscape. They have long served as the cornerstone of the world economy, shaping narratives that stimulate minds and propelling innovation forward. 

 Vibes for the week:

  • I’ve been fascinated with this wikireader—an offline portable reader for Wikipedia. It launched in 2009. If anyone has any leads on where I can get one, do share. It also kinda reminds me of a hardware version of Volv.

  • I want to learn more about art, so I’ve been following The Art Market Guy on Instagram quite intently.

  • As a long-time The Cranberries fan, I never thought any song cover would ever do justice to O’Riordan’s unique vocals, especially her distinctive yodels, but I’ve been obsessed with this acoustic cover of Linger. Need it on Spotify, stat. 

I'd love to hear from you! Leave your feedback here.

This newsletter was edited by Ishita Sen.