The Summer of Solanaceae

PLUS: “It Whips the Llama’s SaaS”
June 7, 2024
Image credit: IKEA, Roblox, Kotaku

The New Rite of Passage: Child Labor? Old criticisms of child labor policies have resurfaced against Roblox following the announcement of an IKEA program to hire digital CX staff for £13.15. The 10 open roles for “virtual Swedish meatball chefs” will staff IKEA’s Roblox activation in customer service roles.

Our take: As concerns around white collar ‘laptop jobs’ loom, new entry-level workforce jobs may look more like the Roblox positions in a virtual IKEA. They’re not alone—Chipotle and RyanAir have similar programs. Future Commerce tracks the progress of brand activations for Gen Alpha on the Roblox brand activation tracker, which has just been updated for H1 2024. New brand entries include Walmart, Netflix, and Hilton Hotels.

Instagram is experimenting with forced ad breaks, preventing users from skipping ads. This trial aims to boost ad visibility and engagement, reflecting the ongoing challenges social media platforms face in balancing monetization and user experience.

Image credit: Magnoli Props

Taschen, But for Nerds. A 500-page replica of the Ghostbusters Tobin’s Spirit Guide is set to be released by Magnoli Props. The $275 souvenir was announced via teaser video right as Ghostbusters are returning to popular culture, and is the latest in a trend of high-end collectibles of nostalgic media. We previously reported on the growth of high-end media reissues, like the White Stripes’ 25th anniversary re-release of Elephant on Ultra Reel, which clocked in at $500 smackeroos.

Murdering the Mystique. MSCHF CEO Gabriel Whaley gave a rare public interview with Business Untitled, a relatively unknown business podcast. The elusive CEO dished on details that had previously been undisclosed, including how many Big Red Boots were officially produced (just 200 pairs). The appearance is the latest in a series of media impressions for the art-collective-cum-brand, spurring speculation that they may be gearing up for a fresh round of funding.

Image credit: Jonathan Anderson on TikTok, Gianna Rosina on Twitter.

The Solanaceae of Summer? Jonathan Anderson’s heirloom tomato clutch for Loewe lands right on time to be blamed as multiplayer hyperstition, but is anything but. “We had already made it for next season,” said Anderson. Boys Club gives a great rundown of the discourse.

Go Sauce Yourself. According to Hidden Valley’s recent press release about its collaboration with HelloFresh, “Recent survey data shows that nearly half (48%) can’t imagine life without [ranch],” which means the public school system has utterly failed—and they need to read more fiction. The Ranch Tasting Flight will keep them from putting an end to their miserable existence with four distinct ranch flavors and a (are you kidding) special ranch flask. I’ve always wondered how ‘the other half’ lives. Now I wish I didn’t.

Pictured: Linamp, a project bringing the Winamp aesthetic to physical hardware. Image credit: Linamp.

Let’s Get Phygital, Phygital. I can’t help that you don’t like the word ‘phygital,’ because that’s literally what you call it when digital aesthetics influence real life. Following the announcement that Winamp will open source its software, user Rodmg on the Hackaday forums announced a new project to make a real-world Winamp; specifically inspired by the Winamp 2.91 default skin. There are plans for EQ and playlist modules, which will be real-life component audio devices, a la vintage Hi-Fi systems, which Winamp was originally modeled after. Art imitates life imitates art.

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