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Issue #18 – Playing With Reality – Fandoms, Factory TikTok, Deepfakes and the Metaverse🚀🔮🌟

Thijs Pepping
June 29, 2021

“Playing with Reality” is the title of our upcoming book on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Playing with Reality is about how humans continuously manipulate reality and how new digital technology tools enable us to go one step further in this ancient game. This includes modern phenomena like conspiracy theories such as QAnon, Deepfakes, and fake news, but also virtual humans such as CGI Influencer Lil Miquela and virtual worlds like Fortnite.

MUST READ: The New Fandom Formula

Zoe Scaman did a hell of a job by creating this presentation that describes how the future of marketing, brands and fandoms will look like. It’s a must read!

The Rise of the $10 Million Disc Golf Celebrity

“To millions of kids, TikTok and YouTube are mainstream entertainment. They don’t watch TV. Sometimes you need to get onto TV to get credibility with boomer CEOs. But for individuals, you can often monetize better on your social media. […] In niche sports, social media is 10 times—maybe 100 times—more important to an athlete than it is in mainstream sports. You want people to feel like they’re a part of this journey.”

Model with 480,000 followers exposes how ‘fake!’ Instagram is

“It’s no secret that many Instagram users doctor their photos for internet clout. However, one fitness model has set out to expose just how “inauthentic” the site can be — by sharing shocking photos of herself before and after digital manipulation.”

The Chinese content farms behind Factory TikTok

“It’s hard to describe Factory TikTok as just one type of video, but each clip — in its own way — offers a strange glimpse into how mundane objects are made. It can be hypnotizing to peer into this industrial world, which is usually obfuscated by complex supply chains. […] Like everything it depicts, Factory TikTok itself comes from a factory — one manufacturing a constant stream of viral videos designed to sell products.”

People thought it were authentic videos created by real factory workers, but it is just a clever marketing ploy. Everything is fake.

David Dobrik Was the King of YouTube. Then He Went Too Far.

where the lines are constantly blurred between fantasy and reality, what’s genuine and what’s content; where everyone is having fun, no one could possibly get hurt, and the rehabilitation of one’s reputation is just $200 and a call to a casting agency away.”

My alter ego’s about to live large in the Metaverse!

My alter ego’s about to live large in the Metaverse! Xanadu begins…almost!

“Blu is my alter ego and we’re setting out to build our corner of the metaverse, DIY style – and it’s all happenin within our spaceship called Xanadu. Thanks to the insane power of the Unreal Engine, my 12 year old self (Blu) thinks he can finally live out any adventure he can virtually concoct!”
It is becoming increasingly easy to turn yourself into a VTuber. Combine it with the so called Metaverse and a new media format is born. We will probably see a lot of these shows starting to pop up in the coming year. After all, 2021 is the year of the avatar.

The World Needs Deepfake Experts to Stem This Chaos

“To stem the potential chaos of both real deepfakes and claims of deepfakes that exploit our inability to discern falsified video from real, we must ensure that the professionals and committed individuals who spend their days sorting fact from fiction have the skills and tools available to them to question and interpret videos, to appropriately incorporate the outputs from media forensics and detection tools, and to explain these to their audiences and publics. The future doesn’t have to be one in which anything can be called a deepfake, anyone can claim something is manipulated, and trust is further corroded.”
We need real deepfake experts that help us to define what’s real and what’s not. About a year ago we interviewed Nina Schick about her book Deepfakes and the Infocalypse. She might be a good starting point!

Nina Schick @ What Matters Now TV – Deepfakes and the coming Infocalypse

Revisit the Reality Show

On the 15th of June 2021 we organized our yearly summit. This year we tried to answer the question how digital technology is changing our relationship with reality. More than 1000 people have already watched our show. So if you want to know more about deepfakes, virtual humans, cgi influencers, synthetic media, AR, VR and mixed reality, then please watch our show.

VINT Symposium – The Reality Show


Playing with Reality is a weekly newsletter in which SogetiLabs’s Research Institute VINT examines the future where synthetic reality becomes part or our objective reality. We investigate the impact of new technology on people, organisations and our society. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at

About the author

Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society.


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